What lies behind the warmongering by Der Spiegel?
By Christoph Dreier
8 August 2014
Since the crash of the Malaysian Airlines passenger plane MH17 over eastern Ukraine, the anti-Russian propaganda campaign in the German press has taken on a new quality. A confrontation with the second largest nuclear power in the world is being ever more openly demanded, with Germany’s leading news magazine Der Spiegel playing a leading role.
Last Monday, the magazine appeared under the title “Stop Putin Now!” Pictures of dozens of MH17 victims were in the background. In the edition’s lead article, the editors directed a verbal tirade against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the rebels in eastern Ukraine. It declared that all diplomacy had failed and that a firm response from the West was necessary.
Only a day after its publication, Der Spiegel was compelled to acknowledge on its online platform that the edition had provoked a number of strong reactions, particularly on social media. Furious readers had described the title page as “warmongering.” The editors described the accusation of warmongering as an “absurd claim.” Der Spiegel had not demanded a military offensive against Russia, they insisted, but merely “tough economic sanctions.”
This is a poor effort at denying the obvious. Economic sanctions are a prelude to war. If a country is placed under economic pressure and politically destabilised, the danger of a military conflict inevitably arises.
Der Spiegel’s lead article is disgraceful war propaganda. Authored in militarist tones, it is full of lies and animosity. Although it remains totally unclear who shot down the Malaysian passenger plane, Der Spiegel declares that the rebels in eastern Ukraine, and President Putin along with them, are responsible.
“The trail of evidence is clear,” the magazine wrote, even claiming that this was murder. The rebels had thus deliberately shot down the plane with the intent to kill.
Without providing any evidence for such charges, Der Spiegel called for the European powers to force Putin to cooperate and ditch their “cowardice.” “The wreckage of MH17 is also the wreckage of diplomacy,” the magazine stated. This is an explicit call for a military confrontation with Russia, which could result in a nuclear war.
Even Jakob Augstein, joint owner of Der Spiegel and a regular columnist on Spiegel Online, admitted that the logic of this policy leads to military conflict. He wrote in a column last Thursday, “A trade war is also a war.” As before the First World War, sanctions intensify conflicts and increase the danger of war.
Augstein does not represent a principled antiwar position. He is expressing much more the worries of a section of the ruling class at the current confrontational course against Russia. The position of this layer is also illustrated by the financial daily Handelsblatt, which has warned that the economic consequences of a policy of sanctions for Germany would be enormous. In addition, the danger of a Russian-Chinese alliance was growing. Augstein concludes by describing a course of confrontation as ill-considered and risky.
Augstein then sharply attacked the media, accusing it of putting the government under pressure. “With rare unanimity, the German media has pushed the policy in Ukraine,” wrote Augstein. “The German government is constantly having to justify its restraint. But after the shooting down of the Malaysian plane there was no more holding back, finally we can go after Russia! In this summer of 2014, our journalists are having their own August moment.”
This is undoubtedly a correct description of the media drive over the last weeks and months. However, it raises more questions than it answers. If the media is pressurising the government, who is providing the media with its line?
Augstein knows more about this than he admits. He represents his family, including 24 percent of the shareholdings, in Spiegel Publishing’s shareholder meetings. As joint owner, he must know why Germany’s largest news magazine is campaigning for an aggressive policy, which by his own admission amounts to nothing less than the issue of war or peace. He must be well informed about the background to the war propaganda, but leaves it at a general critique, without naming those responsible by name.
The World Socialist Web Site pointed out that the US magazine Time, Britain’s Economist and Der Spiegel published very similar articles simultaneously, which all bore the signature of the CIA. Several months ago, the WSWS reported on the close connections between German journalists and US think tanks, and showed how they systematically prepared the return of German militarism.
Der Spiegel’s chief editors were completely changed last year. Since September 1, the chief editor has been former DPA journalist Wolfgang Büchner. One of his first personnel decisions was the hiring of the editor of the tabloid Bild newspaper, Nikolaus Blome, as head of the paper’s Berlin office and member of the editorial board. In these roles, Blome is heavily involved in working out the line of the magazine.
The appointment of Blome took place against the wishes of the other editors and provoked sharp debate. For the first time in the history of the liberal magazine, a journalist took on a leading position at Der Spiegel who had worked for 16 years at the right-wing, conservative and pro-US Axel-Springer publishing house.
Blome came to prominence at Bild for his backing for the former German defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. He also publicly defended the removal of German President Christian Wulff, in which Bild played a major role.
Since Blome began working at Der Spiegel on December 1, he has been a leading participant in the anti-Russian propaganda campaign and the calls for a return to German militarism. In April, the magazine published a sympathetic interview with a member of the fascist Ukrainian Right Sector, which was heavily involved in the overthrow of elected president Viktor Yanukovitch. Several Spiegel articles on Ukraine have been written directly by Blome, including the article on the title page of the latest edition.
Augstein was one of the few employees who welcomed and defended Blome’s appointment. “Good people always get the breaks,” he commented at the time of the debate on Blome’s move. Since January 2011, Augstein and the former Springer journalist have been debating on their own talk show on the Phoenix news channel, where Augstein plays the “left” and Blome the conservative.
So what does Augstein know about developments behind the scenes? Who ensured that Der Spiegel led a propaganda campaign for war against Russia? Augstein is silent on these issues, in both his Spiegel column as well as in his own weekly magazine Freitag.
Germans Abandon Major News Sites in Anger Over Slanted Russia Coverage
Triggered by reader disaffection, internet traffic has collapsed for half a dozen major German media websites
Nov. 6, 2014
Der Spiegel – on its way out?
What's going on in the German media is huge. It is one of the most popular subjects on our site. The US and UK media have been hugely biased in their coverage of Russia, but German media has been far, far, worse, to the point which strains credulity.
Now it turns out that part of the reason is CIA fiddling with German media outlets. Coming on the heels of the Snowden revelations, this has Germans seriously ticked-off. Here's the latest revelation from our correspondent in Germany.
They call it the Ulfkotte-effect. And it's beginning to resemble an avalanche.
Since the publication of Udo Ulfkotte's “Gekaufte Journalisten“ in September – now a #1 Amazon bestseller, in which he charges that the CIA regularly bribes top German journalists, himself included, – German readers' disaffection towards their mainstream media appears to have crossed a point of no return.
Granted, sales of newspapers and magazines have fallen everywhere, not just in Germany. But this is different. This is a boycott that is affecting web traffic. Germans are steering clear of mainstream media websites.
Many Germans have not been too shy to announce their intention on social networks. Some have uploaded videos calling for a boycott on YouTube. Others have created groups calling for the same on Facebook.
The other visible result of reader disaffection has been that throughout September the number of unique visitors to six major German newspapers and magazines was falling steadily.
In October, it simply sank.
Yet up until early summer these same websites had been generating a large and stable amount of traffic. This is an unprecedented trend, and one that is wholly distinct from the fall in newspaper sales generally.
The graphs below show Google analytics provided by Alexa, a company that specializes in actionable analytics for the web.
Six different media sites – and they are all going down
The Spiegel's infamous “Stoppt Putin Jetzt” July 29 cover apparently played a key role in incensing public opinion. An official readers' complaint against Der Spiegel's cover was upheld in August by the German Press Council. The latter ruled that the pictures of MH17 victims on the cover had been “instrumentalized in the context of a political statement.”
Germany's print media was warned even before that, on April 28, when Cicero, a leading German monthly, published a column titled: “Pride after the Fall”. The captions read: “Newspapers die. The reason: they go against their readers. The current Russia reporting is an example. That's not the way to engage with readers.“
The author, Alexander Kissler wrote: “Every quarter the newspapers sector grieves. This is when plummeting circulation figures are released. The curve travels from top left to bottom right, in fact it is not a curve anymore, but a straight line, unstoppable on its way to Zero.“
German media was quick to go on an offensive against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, but just as quickly found itself on the defensive against its readers.
Now, after a further worsening of circulation figures during the spring, web traffic has declined as well.
And it still looks like just the beginning. Has the time come to print a book titled: “2019: The Last Copy of Der Spiegel?” – if the German print media will survive even until then, that is.
"Europe Is Under Threat By Russia" George Soros Warns The EU To Take Action, "Freedom Isn't Free"
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/05/2014
Authored by Kevin O'Brien and Gabor Steingart, originally posted at Handelsblatt,
E.U. May Crack Over Ukraine, Soros Warns
The legendary Hungarian-American investor, George Soros, told Handelsblatt that the European Union and euro currency zone could unravel if member countries can't agree on a unified response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
The European Union and the euro could founder if its members don’t stand together against Russia, George Soros said Tuesday in Düsseldorf. Source: Frank Beer for Handelsblatt George Soros, one of the world’s richest men and a tireless defender of Central European democracy, warned that the European Union, a mainstay of post-war stability, could dissolve and unravel if the 28-country bloc can’t agree on a common response to Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine.
Speaking on Tuesday in Düsseldorf at a dinner sponsored by Handelsblatt, Mr. Soros, an 84-year-old Hungarian-American who survived the Holocaust and then fled the Soviets, said the future of the European alliance of nations stretching from Ireland to Estonia could hang in the balance.
Russia this year seized the Crimean peninsula from the Ukraine and is now arming and supporting a separatist movement in the eastern part of the country, an action which has been met with economic sanctions from the United States and the European Union.
The sanctions have hurt Russian and European trade, and have led to a slowdown of economic growth on the Continent. In Germany, some business and political leaders are now calling on political leaders to abandon the E.U. sanctions.
In other parts of Europe, the call is growing louder for a softer line with Russia.
“I think the real question is whether the European Union will break up over Russia," Mr. Soros told 400 people at a dinner held in a Düsseldorf museum by the German financial publishing group. “The E.U. is under threat from Russia... The E.U. is broken, and it is not functioning."
Mr. Soros, a legendary investor and hedge fund manager whom Forbes estimates is worth $24 billion, warned of an E.U. breakup and a breakup of the euro single currency zone, which includes 18 E.U. countries, including Germany.
In an interview with Gabor Steingart, the Handelsblatt publisher and the son of a Hungarian emigrant to Germany, Mr. Soros urged Europeans to stand together against Russia, which he said is bent on reasserting its military hegemony over parts of the Continent.
“Wake up Europe," said Mr. Soros, who had just returned from a visit to Ukraine. “There is now an alternative to the European Union, a different way to run a state through use of force. I’m talking about (Vladimir) Putin’s Russia. The reason he is making headway is because of the failure of the E.U."
The son of Jewish parents in Budapest, Mr. Soros survived the Nazi occupation and left the Hungarian capital and Soviet control in 1947 as a 17-year-old for Britain, where he attended the London School of Economics before emigrating to the United States.
Western economic sanctions against Russia, which are limiting the ability of Russian businesses to obtain financing on the global market, are a necessary evil, Mr. Soros said. He lauded the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, for supporting the E.U. penalties.
“I think Angela Merkel has proven herself to be a true European stateswoman in recognizing the danger that Putin represents," Mr. Soros said.
The sanctions, however, are helping Russian hardliners close to President Putin consolidate power and influence in the Kremlin, which in turn is sharpening and stiffening Russia’s response to Western penalties, he said. Some oligarchs unhappy with the worsening situation are sending their families abroad and preparing for their own exits, he said.
In many cases, though, any assets they leave behind are being taken over by Russian hardliners, which is worsening the spiral of recrimination with the West, Mr. Soros said.
“The sanctions are an evil but they are a necessary evil and are having the very bad effect in Russia of actively strengthening Putin’s role," Mr. Soros said. “There is taking place a concentration of his closest allies." Sentiment in Germany is split over E.U. sanctions against Russia.
In a new book released this month, the former German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, who oversaw his country’s reunification 25 years ago and negotiated the withdrawal of Russian forces, takes aim at Ms. Merkel and European leaders for policies he said are isolating Russia.
Mr. Soros, however, said Europe needed to redouble its hard line against Russia, and said that U.S. President Barack Obama’s failure to take a strong immediate response to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine territory only emboldened Vladimir Putin, who could conceivably transfer his designs from Ukraine to the Baltic countries, which are now E.U. members.
"Freedom sounds like a free good, but you have to be ready to defend it," Mr. Soros said. “If you don’t put up resistance, it will become too hot to handle."
Pro-European Ukrainians are “fighting to defend Europe and the Europeans don’t realize it,’’ Mr. Soros said. Moving on to economic issues, Mr. Soros faulted Germany for doing too little to restore euro zone stability. He said the inflation-fighting mandate of the European Central Bank, which is based in Frankfurt, is no longer appropriate when deflation, not inflation, is the real threat.
The ECB is controlled by Germany, the zone’s largest economy and toughest enforcer of austerity demands on weaker euro countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, Mr. Soros said. Referring to the ECB president, Mario Draghi, Mr. Soros said: “Draghi can do whatever it takes (to save the euro) as long as he has the support of Angela Merkel," Mr. Soros said. “The ECB is independent as long as it has support from Germany."
German demands for austerity are wrong-headed, he said, and only serve to impede the euro zone’s recovery.
"The policy of austerity is inappropriate to the current conditions," Mr. Soros said. "We are in a situation of deflation and the policies are directed at inflation."
BBC, 8 November 2014 Last updated at 17:35 GMT
Ex-USSR leader Gorbachev: World on brink of new Cold War
At an event to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Sunday, Mr Gorbachev said the West had "succumbed to triumphalism".
Ron Paul Institute
Reckless Congress 'Declares War' on Russia
Written by Ron Paul
Thursday December 4, 2014
Today the US House passed what I consider to be one of the worst pieces of legislation ever. H. Res. 758 was billed as a resolution “strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.”
In fact, the bill was 16 pages of war propaganda that should have made even neocons blush, if they were capable of such a thing.
These are the kinds of resolutions I have always watched closely in Congress, as what are billed as “harmless” statements of opinion often lead to sanctions and war. I remember in 1998 arguing strongly against the Iraq Liberation Act because, as I said at the time, I knew it would lead to war. I did not oppose the Act because I was an admirer of Saddam Hussein – just as now I am not an admirer of Putin or any foreign political leader – but rather because I knew then that another war against Iraq would not solve the problems and would probably make things worse. We all know what happened next.
That is why I can hardly believe they are getting away with it again, and this time with even higher stakes: provoking a war with Russia that could result in total destruction!
If anyone thinks I am exaggerating about how bad this resolution really is, let me just offer a few examples from the legislation itself:
The resolution (paragraph 3) accuses Russia of an invasion of Ukraine and condemns Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. The statement is offered without any proof of such a thing. Surely with our sophisticated satellites that can read a license plate from space we should have video and pictures of this Russian invasion. None have been offered. As to Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, why isn’t it a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty for the US to participate in the overthrow of that country’s elected government as it did in February? We have all heard the tapes of State Department officials plotting with the US Ambassador in Ukraine to overthrow the government. We heard US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragging that the US spent $5 billion on regime change in Ukraine. Why is that OK?
The resolution (paragraph 11) accuses the people in east Ukraine of holding “fraudulent and illegal elections” in November. Why is it that every time elections do not produce the results desired by the US government they are called “illegal” and “fraudulent”? Aren’t the people of eastern Ukraine allowed self-determination? Isn’t that a basic human right?
The resolution (paragraph 13) demands a withdrawal of Russia forces from Ukraine even though the US government has provided no evidence the Russian army was ever in Ukraine. This paragraph also urges the government in Kiev to resume military operations against the eastern regions seeking independence.
The resolution (paragraph 14) states with certainty that the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 that crashed in Ukraine was brought down by a missile “fired by Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.” This is simply incorrect, as the final report on the investigation of this tragedy will not even be released until next year and the preliminary report did not state that a missile brought down the plane. Neither did the preliminary report – conducted with the participation of all countries involved – assign blame to any side.
Paragraph 16 of the resolution condemns Russia for selling arms to the Assad government in Syria. It does not mention, of course, that those weapons are going to fight ISIS – which we claim is the enemy -- while the US weapons supplied to the rebels in Syria have actually found their way into the hands of ISIS!
Paragraph 17 of the resolution condemns Russia for what the US claims are economic sanctions (“coercive economic measures”) against Ukraine. This even though the US has repeatedly hit Russia with economic sanctions and is considering even more!
The resolution (paragraph 22) states that Russia invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008. This is simply untrue. Even the European Union – no friend of Russia – concluded in its investigation of the events in 2008 that it was Georgia that “started an unjustified war” against Russia not the other way around! How does Congress get away with such blatant falsehoods? Do Members not even bother to read these resolutions before voting?
In paragraph 34 the resolution begins to even become comical, condemning the Russians for what it claims are attacks on computer networks of the United States and “illicitly acquiring information” about the US government. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations about the level of US spying on the rest of the world, how can the US claim the moral authority to condemn such actions in others?
Chillingly, the resolution singles out Russian state-funded media outlets for attack, claiming that they “distort public opinion.” The US government, of course, spends billions of dollars worldwide to finance and sponsor media outlets including Voice of America and RFE/RL, as well as to subsidize “independent” media in countless counties overseas. How long before alternative information sources like RT are banned in the United States? This legislation brings us closer to that unhappy day when the government decides the kind of programming we can and cannot consume – and calls such a violation “freedom.”
The resolution gives the green light (paragraph 45) to Ukrainian President Poroshenko to re-start his military assault on the independence-seeking eastern provinces, urging the “disarming of separatist and paramilitary forces in eastern Ukraine.” Such a move will mean many more thousands of dead civilians.
To that end, the resolution directly involves the US government in the conflict by calling on the US president to “provide the government of Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal defense articles, services, and training required to effectively defend its territory and sovereignty.” This means US weapons in the hands of US-trained military forces engaged in a hot war on the border with Russia. Does that sound at all like a good idea?
There are too many more ridiculous and horrific statements in this legislation to completely discuss. Probably the single most troubling part of this resolution, however, is the statement that “military intervention” by the Russian Federation in Ukraine “poses a threat to international peace and security.” Such terminology is not an accident: this phrase is the poison pill planted in this legislation from which future, more aggressive resolutions will follow. After all, if we accept that Russia is posing a “threat” to international peace how can such a thing be ignored? These are the slippery slopes that lead to war.
This dangerous legislation passed today, December 4, with only ten (!) votes against! Only ten legislators are concerned over the use of blatant propaganda and falsehoods to push such reckless saber-rattling toward Russia.
Here are the Members who voted “NO” on this legislation. If you do not see your own Representative on this list call and ask why they are voting to bring us closer to war with Russia! If you do see your Representative on the below list, call and thank him or her for standing up to the warmongers.
Voting “NO” on H. Res. 758:
1) Justin Amash (R-MI)
2) John Duncan (R-TN)
3) Alan Grayson, (D-FL)
4) Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
5) Walter Jones (R-NC)
6) Thomas Massie (R-KY)
7) Jim McDermott (D-WA)
8 George Miller (D-CA)
9) Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
10 Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Published on Dec 5, 2014
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed HR 758 this week by a vote of 411-10, in turn approving a bill “strongly condemning the action of the Russian Federation under Pres. Vladimir Putin.” Some in Congress are saying could be the green-light to another cold war, and Ron Paul, a former member of the House of Representatives for Texas, is one of them. Speaking to RT’s Ameera David on Friday, Paul said he wasn’t surprised by the bill’s passage, but doubts many members of Congress bothered to read the act before approving it.
Russia demands Israeli explanation of air strikes in Syria
Strikes said to have hit weapons and a convoy destined for Hezbollah; Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the action.
By DPA and Haaretz | Dec. 8, 2014 | 1:44 PM
One of the attacks near Damascus yesterday, and Israeli attacks over the past two years, according to foreign reports.
Russia has demanded an explanation from Israel about air strikes in Syria on Sunday that the Syrian government attributed to Israel
"Moscow is deeply worried by this dangerous development, the circumstances of which demand an explanation," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
In a letter to the United Nations, Russia complained about Israel's "aggressive action" and demanded that such attacks should not happen again, the spokesman said.
Syria also complained to the UN about the strikes, demanding that the Security Council "severely condemn the Israeli attack and impose punitive sanctions on Israel due to its support of Syrian terrorist organizations."
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the reported strikes. "We have a firm policy of preventing all possible transfers of sophisticated weapons to terrorist organizations," Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio on Monday.
The Damascus airport warehouses reportedly targeted by the Israeli air strikes on Sunday held Iranian missile systems destined for the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, DPA reported, quoting a Lebanese security source.
A Syrian military source confirmed that the hangars at Damascus International Airport contained missiles but gave no details about their origin or destination.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, described the target as an import-export warehouse in the military area of the airport.
The Lebanese official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said a Hezbollah convoy heading to Lebanon had been hit in another set of strikes at Dimas, approximately half-way between Damascus and the Lebanese border.
The strikes hit an air base at Dimas where advanced Iranian drones were stationed along with Syrian troops and Hezbollah forces, the Syrian official said.
There have been several reported observations of Iranian drones during the Syrian conflict.
Iran is Syrian President Bashar Assad's closest ally, and Iranian-aligned Shiite militias including Hezbollah have played a key role in backing up his overstretched forces.
In Teheran on Monday, the Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers condemned the reported Israeli air strikes, calling them an act of aggression that proves Israel was "in the same trench" with extremist groups fighting the Syrian government.
The reference was to a United Nations report published last week which said that UN observers had observed Syrian rebels "sporadically ... interacting" with Israeli soldiers between the Syrian- and Israeli-controlled areas of the Golan Heights.
Speaking on Monday at a joint news conference in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Israel was trying to compensate for losses incurred by Islamic extremist groups in Syria at the hands of the Syrian army. He did not elaborate.
The state-run Lebanese National News Agency reported that Israeli troops were on alert along the Israel-Lebanon border on Monday.
The alert was mainly in the Shabba Farms area, the agency said, with patrols in the Wazzani and Kfarshouba hills areas and drones and helicopters flying overhead.
DECEMBER 09, 2014
Frack the EU!
Washington’s Frozen War Against Russia
by DIANA JOHNSTONE
For over a year, the United States has played out a scenario designed to (1) reassert U.S. control over Europe by blocking E.U. trade with Russia, (2) bankrupt Russia, and (3) get rid of Vladimir Putin and replace him with an American puppet, like the late drunk, Boris Yeltsin.
The past few days have made crystal clear the perfidy of the economic side of this U.S. war against Russia.
It all began at the important high-level international meeting on Ukraine’s future held in Yalta in September 2013, where a major topic was the shale gas revolution which the United States hoped to use to weaken Russia. Former U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson was there to make the pitch, applauded by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Washington hoped to use its fracking techniques to provide substitute sources for natural gas, driving Russia out of the market. This amounts to selling Europe a pig in a poke.
But this trick could not be accomplished by relying on the sacrosanct “market”, since fracking is more costly than Russian gas extraction. A major crisis was necessary in order to distort the market by political pressures. By the February 22 coup d’état, engineered by Victoria Nuland, the United States effectively took control of Ukraine, putting in power its agent “Yats” (Arseniy Yatsenyuk) who favors joining NATO. This direct threat to Russia’s naval base in Crimea led to the referendum which peacefully returned the historically Russian peninsula to Russia. But the U.S.-led chorus condemned the orderly return of Crimea as “Russian military aggression”. This defensive move is trumpeted by NATO as proof of Putin’s intention to invade Russia’s European neighbors for no reason at all.
Meanwhile, the United States’ economic invasion has gone largely unnoticed.
Ukraine has some of the largest shale gas reserves in Europe. Like other Europeans, Ukrainians had demonstrated against the harmful environmental results of fracking on their lands, but unlike some other countries, Ukraine has no restrictive legislation. Chevron is already getting involved.
As of last May, R. Hunter Biden, son of the U.S. Vice President, is on the Board of Directors of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer. The young Biden will be in charge of the Holdings’ legal unit and contribute to its “international expansion”.
Ukraine has rich soil as well as shale oil reserves. The U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill is particularly active in Ukraine, investing in grain elevators, animal feed, a major egg producer and agribusiness firm, UkrLandFarming, as well as the Black Sea port at Novorossiysk. The very active U.S.-Ukraine Business Council includes executives of Monsanto, John Deere, agriculture equipment-maker CNH Industrial, DuPont Pioneer, Eli Lilly & Company. Monsanto plans to build a $140 million “non-GMO corn seed plant in Ukraine”, evidently targeting the GMO-shy European market. It was in her speech at a Chevron-sponsored meeting of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council a year ago that Victoria Nuland mentioned the five billion dollars spent by the U.S. in the last twenty years to win over Ukraine.
On December 2, President Poroshenko swore in three foreigners as cabinet ministers: an American, a Lithuanian and a Georgian. He granted them Ukrainian citizenship a few minutes before the ceremony.
U.S. born Natalie Jaresko is Ukraine’s new Finance Minister. With a Ukrainian family background and degrees from Harvard and DePaul universities, Jaresko went from the State Department to Kiev when Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet
foolsjohnstoneUnion, in order to head the economic department of the newly opened U.S. embassy. Three years later she left the U.S. Embassy to head the U.S. government-financed Western NIS Enterprise Fund. In 2004 she established her own equity fund. As a supporter of the 2004 Orange Revolution, she served on “Orange” victor President Viktor Yushchenko’s Foreign Investors Advisory Council.
Lithuanian investment banker Aivaras Abromavicius is the new Economy Minister, putting government economic policy clearly under U.S. influence, or rather control.
The new Health Minister, Aleksandr Kvitashvili from Georgia, is U.S.-educated and does not speak Ukrainian. He had served as health minister in his native Georgia, when U.S. puppet Mikheil Saakashvili was President.
The U.S. grip on Ukraine’s economy is now complete. The stage is set to begin fracking, perhaps transforming Hunter Biden into Ukraine’s newest oligarch.
Nobody is mentioning this, but the controversial trade agreement between the E.U. and Ukraine, whose postponement set off the Maidan protests leading to the U.S.-steered February 22 coup d’état, removes trade barriers, allowing free entry into E.U. countries of agricultural exports produced in Ukraine by U.S. corporations. The Ukrainian government is deeply in debt, but that will not prevent American corporations from making huge profits in that low-wage, regulation-free and fertile country. European grain producers, such as France, may find themselves severely damaged by the cheap competition.
The Russophobic Kiev government’s assault on Southeastern Ukraine is killing the country’s industrial sector, whose markets were in Russia. But to Kiev’s rulers from Western Ukraine, that does not matter. The death of old industry can help keep wages low and profits high.
Just as Americans decisively took control of the Ukrainian economy, Putin announced cancellation of the South Stream gas pipeline project. The deal was signed in 2007 between Gazprom and the Italian petrochemical company ENI, in order to ensure Russian gas deliveries to the Balkans, Austria and Italy by bypassing Ukraine, whose unreliability as a transit country had been demonstrated by repeated failure to pay bills or syphoning of gas intended for Europe for its own use. The German Wintershall and the French EDF also invested in South Stream.
In recent months, U.S. representatives began to put pressure on the European countries involved to back out of the deal. South Stream was a potential life-saver for Serbia, still impoverished by the results of NATO bombing and fire-sale giveaways of its privatized industries to foreign buyers. Aside from much-needed jobs and energy security, Serbia was in line to earn 500 million euros in annual transit fees. Belgrade resisted warnings that Serbia must go along with E.U. foreign policy against Russia in order to retain its status as candidate to join the E.U.
The weak link was Bulgaria, earmarked for similar benefits as the landing point of the pipeline. U.S. Ambassador to Sofia Marcie Ries started warning Bulgarian businessmen that they could suffer from doing business with Russian companies under sanctions. The retiring president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso from Portugal, who used to be a “Maoist” back when “Maoism” was the cover for opposition to Soviet-backed liberation movements in Portugal’s African colonies, threatened Bulgaria with E.U. proceedings for irregularities in South Stream contracts. This refers to E.U. rules against allowing the same company to produce and transfer gas. In short, the E.U. was attempting to apply its own rules retroactively to a contract signed with a non-EU country before the rules were adopted.
Finally, John McCain flew into Sofia to browbeat the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, to pull out of the deal, leaving South Stream out in the Black Sea without a point of entry onto the Balkan mainland.
This is all very funny considering that a favorite current U.S. war propaganda theme against Russia is that Gazprom is a nefarious political weapon used by Putin to “coerce” and “bully” Europe.
The only evidence is that Russia has repeatedly called on Ukraine to pay its long-overdo gas bills. In vain.
Cancellation of South Stream amounts to a belated blow to Serbia from NATO. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic bewailed the loss of South Stream, noting that: “We are paying the price of a conflict between big powers”.
Italian partners to the deal are also very unhappy at the big losses. But E.U. officials and media are, as usual, blaming it all on Putin.
Perhaps, when you are repeatedly insulted and made to feel unwelcome, you go away. Putin took his gas pipeline project to Turkey and immediately sold it to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. This looks like a good deal for Russia, and for Turkey, but the whole affair remains ominous.
Russian oil as a means of coercion? If Putin could use Gazprom to get Erdogan to change his policy on Syria, and drop his determination to overthrow Bachar al Assad, in order to defeat the Islamic State fanatics, that would be an excellent outcome. But so far, there is no sign of such a development.
The switch from the Balkans to Turkey deepens the gulf between Russia and Western Europe, which in the long run is harmful to both. But it also sharpens the economic inequality between Northern and Southern Europe. Germany still gets gas deliveries from Russia, notably from Gerhard Schroeder’s co-project with Putin, Nord Stream. But Southern European countries, already in deep crisis caused largely by the euro, are left out in the cold. This turn of events might contribute to the political revolt that is growing in those countries.
As voices were being raised in Italy complaining that anti-Russian sanctions were hurting Europe but leaving the United States unscathed, Europeans could take comfort in kind words from the Nobel Peace Prize winner in the White House, who praised the European Union for doing the right thing, even though it is “tough on the European economy”.
In a speech to leading CEOs on December 3, Obama said the sanctions were intended to change Putin’s “mindset”, but didn’t think this would succeed. He is waiting for “the politics inside Russia” to “catch up with what’s happening in the economy, which is why we are going to continue to maintain that pressure.” This was another way of saying that stealing Russia’s natural gas market, forcing Europe to enact sanctions, and getting Washington’s bigoted stooges in Saudi Arabia to bring down petroleum prices by flooding the market, are all intended to make the Russian people blame Putin enough to get rid of him. Regime change, in short.
On December 4, the U.S. House of Representatives officially exposed the U.S. motive behind this mess by adopting what must surely be the worst piece of legislation ever adopted: Resolution 758. The Resolution is a compendium of all the lies floated against Vladimir Putin and Russia over the past year. Never perhaps have so many lies been crammed into a single official document of that length. And yet, this war propaganda was endorsed by a vote of 411 to 10. If, despite this call for war between two nuclear powers, there are still historians in the future, they must judge this resolution as proof of the total failure of the intelligence, honesty and sense of responsibility of the political system that Washington is trying to force on the entire world
Ron Paul has written an excellent analysis of this shameful document. http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archive ... on-russia/ and http://original.antiwar.com/paul/2014/1 ... st4I.gmail
Whatever one may think of Paul’s domestic policies, on international affairs he stands out as a lone – very lone – voice of reason. (Yes, there was Dennis Kucinich too, but they got rid of him by gerrymandering his district off the map.)
After a long list of “Whereas” lies, insults and threats, we get the crass commercial side of this dangerous campaign. The House calls on European countries to “reduce the ability of the Russian Federation to use its supply of energy as a means of applying political and economic pressure on other countries, including by promoting increased natural gas and other energy exports from the United States and other countries” and “urges the President to expedite the United States Department of Energy’s approval of liquefied natural gas exports to Ukraine and other European countries”.
The Congress is ready to risk and even promote nuclear war, but when it comes to the “bottom line”, it is a matter of stealing Russia’s natural gas market by what so far is a bluff: shale gas obtained by U.S. fracking.
Worse Than Cold War
The neocons who manipulate America’s clueless politicians have not got us into a new Cold War. It is much worse. The long rivalry with the Soviet Union was “Cold” because of MAD, Mutual Assured Destruction. Both Washington and Moscow were perfectly aware that “Hot” war meant nuclear exchanges that would destroy everybody.
This time around, the United States thinks it already “won” the Cold War and seems to be drunk with self-confidence that it can win again. It is upgrading its nuclear weapons force and building a “nuclear shield” on Russia’s border whose only purpose can be to give the United States a first strike capacity – the ability to knock out any Russian retaliation against a U.S. nuclear attack. This cannot work, but it weakens deterrence.
The danger of outright war between the two nuclear powers is actually much greater than during the Cold War. We are now in a sort of Frozen War, because nothing the Russians say or do can have any effect. The neocons who manufacture U.S. policy behind the scenes have invented a totally fictional story about Russian “aggression” which the President of the United States, the mass media and now the Congress have accepted and endorsed. Russian leaders have responded with honesty, truth and common sense, remaining calm despite the invective thrown at them. It has done no good whatsoever. The positions are frozen. When reason fails, force follows. Sooner or later.
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book, Queen of Chaos: the Foreign Policy of Hillary Clinton, will be published by CounterPunch in 2015. She can be reached at email@example.com
5/10/15 Patrick Smith
Patrick Smith, author of Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century, discusses the New York Times’ biased coverage of US troops operating on Ukrainian soil, and the risk of getting into a war with Russia.
What if Putin is Telling the Truth?
15.05.2015 Author: F. William Engdahl
1_20130220121459626On April 26 Russia’s main national TV station, Rossiya 1, featured President Vladimir Putin in a documentary to the Russian people on the events of the recent period including the annexation of Crimea, the US coup d’etat in Ukraine, and the general state of relations with the United States and the EU. His words were frank. And in the middle of his remarks the Russian former KGB chief dropped a political bombshell that was known by Russian intelligence two decades ago.
Putin stated bluntly that in his view the West would only be content in having a Russia weak, suffering and begging from the West, something clearly the Russian character is not disposed to. Then a short way into his remarks, the Russian President stated for the first time publicly something that Russian intelligence has known for almost two decades but kept silent until now, most probably in hopes of an era of better normalized Russia-US relations.
Putin stated that the terror in Chechnya and in the Russian Caucasus in the early 1990’s was actively backed by the CIA and western Intelligence services to deliberately weaken Russia. He noted that the Russian FSB foreign intelligence had documentation of the US covert role without giving details.
What Putin, an intelligence professional of the highest order, only hinted at in his remarks, I have documented in detail from non-Russian sources. The report has enormous implications to reveal to the world the long-standing hidden agenda of influential circles in Washington to destroy Russia as a functioning sovereign state, an agenda which includes the neo-nazi coup d’etat in Ukraine and severe financial sanction warfare against Moscow. The following is drawn on my book, Amerikas’ Heilige Krieg.
CIA’s Chechen Wars
Not long after the CIA and Saudi Intelligence-financed Mujahideen had devastated Afghanistan at the end of the 1980’s, forcing the exit of the Soviet Army in 1989, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself some months later, the CIA began to look at possible places in the collapsing Soviet Union where their trained “Afghan Arabs” could be redeployed to further destabilize Russian influence over the post-Soviet Eurasian space.
They were called Afghan Arabs because they had been recruited from ultraconservative Wahhabite Sunni Muslims from Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and elsewhere in the Arab world where the ultra-strict Wahhabite Islam was practiced. They were brought to Afghanistan in the early 1980’s by a Saudi CIA recruit who had been sent to Afghanistan named Osama bin Laden.
With the former Soviet Union in total chaos and disarray, George H.W. Bush’s Administration decided to “kick ‘em when they’re down,” a sad error. Washington redeployed their Afghan veteran terrorists to bring chaos and destabilize all of Central Asia, even into the Russian Federation itself, then in a deep and traumatic crisis during the economic collapse of the Yeltsin era.
In the early 1990s, Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton, had surveyed the offshore oil potentials of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and the entire Caspian Sea Basin. They estimated the region to be “another Saudi Arabia” worth several trillion dollars on today’s market. The US and UK were determined to keep that oil bonanza from Russian control by all means. The first target of Washington was to stage a coup in Azerbaijan against elected president Abulfaz Elchibey to install a President more friendly to a US-controlled Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, “the world’s most political pipeline,” bringing Baku oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey and the Mediterranean.
At that time, the only existing oil pipeline from Baku was a Soviet era Russian pipeline that ran through the Chechen capital, Grozny, taking Baku oil north via Russia’s Dagestan province, and across Chechenya to the Black Sea Russian port of Novorossiysk. The pipeline was the only competition and major obstacle to the very costly alternative route of Washington and the British and US oil majors.
President Bush Sr. gave his old friends at CIA the mandate to destroy that Russian Chechen pipeline and create such chaos in the Caucasus that no Western or Russian company would consider using the Grozny Russian oil pipeline.
Graham E. Fuller, an old colleague of Bush and former Deputy Director of the CIA National Council on Intelligence had been a key architect of the CIA Mujahideen strategy. Fuller described the CIA strategy in the Caucasus in the early 1990s: “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power.”6
The CIA used a dirty tricks veteran, General Richard Secord, for the operation. Secord created a CIA front company, MEGA Oil. Secord had been convicted in the 1980s for his central role in the CIA’s Iran-Contra illegal arms and drugs operations.
In 1991 Secord, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, landed in Baku and set up the CIA front company, MEGA Oil. He was a veteran of the CIA covert opium operations in Laos during the Vietnam War. In Azerbaijan, he setup an airline to secretly fly hundreds of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda Mujahideen from Afghanistan into Azerbaijan. By 1993, MEGA Oil had recruited and armed 2,000 Mujahideen, converting Baku into a base for Caucasus-wide Mujahideen terrorist operations.
General Secord’s covert Mujahideen operation in the Caucasus initiated the military coup that toppled elected president Abulfaz Elchibey that year and installed Heydar Aliyev, a more pliable US puppet. A secret Turkish intelligence report leaked to the Sunday Times of London confirmed that “two petrol giants, BP and Amoco, British and American respectively, which together form the AIOC (Azerbaijan International Oil Consortium), are behind the coup d’état.”
Saudi Intelligence head, Turki al-Faisal, arranged that his agent, Osama bin Laden, whom he had sent to Afghanistan at the start of the Afghan war in the early 1980s, would use his Afghan organization Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) to recruit “Afghan Arabs” for what was rapidly becoming a global Jihad. Bin Laden’s mercenaries were used as shock troops by the Pentagon and CIA to coordinate and support Muslim offensives not only Azerbaijan but also in Chechnya and, later, Bosnia.
Bin Laden brought in another Saudi, Ibn al-Khattab, to become Commander, or Emir of Jihadist Mujahideen in Chechnya (sic!) together with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev. No matter that Ibn al-Khattab was a Saudi Arab who spoke barely a word of Chechen, let alone, Russian. He knew what Russian soldiers looked like and how to kill them.
Chechnya then was traditionally a predominantly Sufi society, a mild apolitical branch of Islam. Yet the increasing infiltration of the well-financed and well-trained US-sponsored Mujahideen terrorists preaching Jihad or Holy War against Russians transformed the initially reformist Chechen resistance movement. They spread al-Qaeda’s hardline Islamist ideology across the Caucasus. Under Secord’s guidance, Mujahideen terrorist operations had also quickly extended into neighboring Dagestan and Chechnya, turning Baku into a shipping point for Afghan heroin to the Chechen mafia.
From the mid-1990s, bin Laden paid Chechen guerrilla leaders Shamil Basayev and Omar ibn al-Khattab the handsome sum of several million dollars per month, a King’s fortune in economically desolate Chechnya in the 1990s, enabling them to sideline the moderate Chechen majority.21 US intelligence remained deeply involved in the Chechen conflict until the end of the 1990s. According to Yossef Bodansky, then Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in “yet another anti-Russian jihad, seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces.”
Bodansky revealed the entire CIA Caucasus strategy in detail in his report, stating that US Government officials participated in,
“a formal meeting in Azerbaijan in December 1999 in which specific programs for the training and equipping of Mujahideen from the Caucasus, Central/South Asia and the Arab world were discussed and agreed upon, culminating in Washington’s tacit encouragement of both Muslim allies (mainly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and US ‘private security companies’. . . to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in the spring of 2000 and sustain the ensuing Jihad for a long time…Islamist Jihad in the Caucasus as a way to deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism.”
The most intense phase of the Chechen wars wound down in 2000 only after heavy Russian military action defeated the Islamists. It was a pyrrhic victory, costing a massive toll in human life and destruction of entire cities. The exact death toll from the CIA-instigated Chechen conflict is unknown. Unofficial estimates ranged from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or missing, mostly civilians. Russian casualties were near 11,000 according to the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers.
The Anglo-American oil majors and the CIA’s operatives were happy. They had what they wanted: their Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan oil pipeline, bypassing Russia’s Grozny pipeline.
The Chechen Jihadists, under the Islamic command of Shamil Basayev, continued guerrilla attacks in and outside Chechnya. The CIA had refocused into the Caucasus.
Basayev’s Saudi Connection
Basayev was a key part of the CIA’s Global Jihad. In 1992, he met Saudi terrorist Ibn al-Khattag in Azerbaijan. From Azerbaijan, Ibn al-Khattab brought Basayev to Afghanistan to meet al-Khattab’s ally, fellow-Saudi Osama bin Laden. Ibn al-Khattab’s role was to recruit Chechen Muslims willing to wage Jihad against Russian forces in Chechnya on behalf of the covert CIA strategy of destabilizing post-Soviet Russia and securing British-US control over Caspian energy.
Once back in Chechnya, Basayev and al-Khattab created the International Islamic Brigade (IIB) with Saudi Intelligence money, approved by the CIA and coordinated through the liaison of Saudi Washington Ambassador and Bush family intimate Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Bandar, Saudi Washington Ambassador for more than two decades, was so intimate with the Bush family that George W. Bush referred to the playboy Saudi Ambassador as “Bandar Bush,” a kind of honorary family member.
Basayev and al-Khattab imported fighters from the Saudi fanatical Wahhabite strain of Sunni Islam into Chechnya. Ibn al-Khattab commanded what were called the “Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya,” his own private army of Arabs, Turks, and other foreign fighters. He was also commissioned to set up paramilitary training camps in the Caucasus Mountains of Chechnya that trained Chechens and Muslims from the North Caucasian Russian republics and from Central Asia.
The Saudi and CIA-financed Islamic International Brigade was responsible not only for terror in Chechnya. They carried out the October 2002 Moscow Dubrovka Theatre hostage seizure and the gruesome September 2004 Beslan school massacre. In 2010, the UN Security Council published the following report on al-Khattab and Basayev’s International Islamic Brigade:
Islamic International Brigade (IIB) was listed on 4 March 2003. . . as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” Al-Qaida. . . The Islamic International Brigade (IIB) was founded and led by Shamil Salmanovich Basayev (deceased) and is linked to the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM). . . and the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR). . .
On the evening of 23 October 2002, members of IIB, RSRSBCM and SPIR operated jointly to seize over 800 hostages at Moscow’s Podshipnikov Zavod (Dubrovka) Theater.
In October 1999, emissaries of Basayev and Al-Khattab traveled to Usama bin Laden’s home base in the Afghan province of Kandahar, where Bin Laden agreed to provide substantial military assistance and financial aid, including by making arrangements to send to Chechnya several hundred fighters to fight against Russian troops and perpetrate acts of terrorism. Later that year, Bin Laden sent substantial amounts of money to Basayev, Movsar Barayev (leader of SPIR) and Al-Khattab, which was to be used exclusively for training gunmen, recruiting mercenaries and buying ammunition.
The Afghan-Caucasus Al Qaeda “terrorist railway,” financed by Saudi intelligence, had two goals. One was a Saudi goal to spread fanatical Wahhabite Jihad into the Central Asian region of the former Soviet Union. The second was the CIA’s agenda of destabilizing a then-collapsing post-Soviet Russian Federation.
On September 1, 2004, armed terrorists from Basayev and al-Khattab’s IIB took more than 1,100 people as hostages in a siege that included 777 children, and forced them into School Number One (SNO) in Beslan in North Ossetia, the autonomous republic in the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation near to the Georgia border.
On the third day of the hostage crisis, as explosions were heard inside the school, FSB and other elite Russian troops stormed the building. In the end, at least 334 hostages were killed, including 186 children, with a significant number of people injured and reported missing. It became clear afterward that the Russian forces had handled the intervention poorly.
The Washington propaganda machine, from Radio Free Europe to The New York Times and CNN, wasted no time demonizing Putin and Russia for their bad handling of the Beslan crisis rather than focus on the links of Basayev to Al Qaeda and Saudi intelligence. That would have brought the world’s attention to the intimate relations between the family of then US President George W. Bush and the Saudi billionaire bin Laden family.
On September 1, 2001, just ten days before the day of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, Saudi Intelligence head US-educated Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, who had directed Saudi Intelligence since 1977, including through the entire Osama bin Laden Mujahideen operation in Afghanistan and into the Caucasus, abruptly and inexplicably resigned, just days after having accepted a new term as intelligence head from his King. He gave no explanation. He was quickly reposted to London, away from Washington.
The record of the bin Laden-Bush family intimate ties was buried, in fact entirely deleted on “national security” (sic!) grounds in the official US Commission Report on 911. The Saudi background of fourteen of the nineteen alleged 911 terrorists in New York and Washington was also deleted from the US Government’s final 911 Commission report, released only in July 2004 by the Bush Administration, almost three years after the events.
Basayev claimed credit for having sent the terrorists to Beslan. His demands had included the complete independence of Chechnya from Russia, something that would have given Washington and the Pentagon an enormous strategic dagger in the southern underbelly of the Russian Federation.
By late 2004, in the aftermath of the tragic Beslan drama, President Vladimir Putin reportedly ordered a secret search and destroy mission by Russian intelligence to hunt and kill key leaders of the Caucasus Mujahideen of Basayev. Al-Khattab had been killed in 2002. The Russian security forces soon discovered that most of the Chechen Afghan Arab terrorists had fled. They had gotten safe haven in Turkey, a NATO member; in Azerbaijan, by then almost a NATO Member; or in Germany, a NATO Member; or in Dubai–one of the closest US Allies in the Arab States, and Qatar-another very close US ally. In other words, the Chechen terrorists were given NATO safe haven.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
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