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Muscovite Hybrid War on the West

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  • #31
    Originally posted by troung View Post
    If someone volunteered to fight in a SS regiment folks would have no problem calling them a nazi. You claim your imaginary brother fought in a fascist battalion. That makes him a fascist, no question on the matter. You managed to pick an ideology that people in the US have no time for.
    I would agree with the SS which to be a member of one was also required to be a Party member; not so with Azov; you were not required to join a political Party to serve.

    Originally posted by troung View Post
    A bizarre use of words a foreign propagandist would have selected for them to virtue signal with their bosses. It is something one expects with someone copying and pasting approved terms into a browser.
    I rarely agree with my superiors - never have. If truth hurts they like you can suck it up.

    Originally posted by troung View Post
    As said your crappy propagandist stick. you make sure you let people know your brother is a nazi and you whine constantly about American politics in a way to tick off people who voted in our Red Emperor; whiny and nazi. Clunky use of English, nazi ties, generally whiny and unsophisticated, and you claim ties with the government there. You have suggested you have government relationships and here you are putting forward the Ukraine as causal fascists who hate the current US government and the folks who voted it in.
    I say it how I see it. I do not apologise for that to you or anyone else. I believe I have duty and right to something like that.

    Originally posted by troung View Post
    As I said I just lean to you being a walt with no family that served in a militia, no ties to any military or Intel circles, and just too unsophisticated to see through DNC or RF propaganda.
    From a person who has never been Europe most likely, let alone Central Europe, knows nothing of my family present or past I forgive your ignorance while lamenting it.


    • #32

      I rarely agree with my superiors - never have. If truth hurts they like you can suck it up
      Superiors, so folks are writing and approving your statements?

      Or is that supposed to be some James bond stuff?

      From a person who has never been Europe most likely, let alone Central Europe, knows nothing of my family present or past I forgive your ignorance while lamenting
      You haven't done any covert anti Russian service, you aren't some high ranking government official, you aren't a mover and shaker in eastern European circles. I don't need to live in Poland to spot your walting.

      I would agree with the SS which to be a member of one was also required to be a Party member; not so with Azov; you were not required to join a political Party to serve.
      You volunteer for a fascist unit especially when there are other options, you are a fascist. Folks dont have to dig into how much of the platform an individual will publically admit to supporting. A bit like a foreign fighter joining ISIS, follow up clarification need not be done.
      To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


      • #33
        Originally posted by troung View Post
        Superiors, so folks are writing and approving your statements?

        Or is that supposed to be some James bond stuff?
        James Bond is fiction if you had not realised. No I am not anything of his sort. Nor as I have said do I usually agree with my superiors; my mind is my own and I say what I think. Sometimes I am wrong but with Muscovy rarely.

        Originally posted by troung View Post
        You volunteer for a fascist unit especially when there are other options, you are a fascist. Folks dont have to dig into how much of the platform an individual will publically admit to supporting. A bit like a foreign fighter joining ISIS, follow up clarification need not be done.
        Suppose they invade Alaska and volunteer militia sprang up to defend your legitimate territory and citizens? Do you chose by flag which to join?

        I know you're a tyrant fan but I am proud to be democrat in the true sense. Sic semper tyrannis! You have grown complacent in the West, fat in mind, overly confident. Your last election was hacked - not ours. You have been attacked by the same enemy that has invaded us. I am not anti American for telling the truth. Your President is totally compromised - still. I am more of a US patriot than you for pointing it out. Keep swallowing the unreality pills if you wish - calling Ukraine a 'fascist nation' with no proof - but you are at war too.


        • #34
          James Bond is fiction if you had not realised. No I am not anything of his sort. Nor as I have said do I usually agree with my superiors; my mind is my own and I say what I think. Sometimes I am wrong but with Muscovy rarely.
          Superiors... lol... larping...

          Suppose they invade Alaska and volunteer militia sprang up to defend your legitimate territory and citizens? Do you chose by flag which to join?
          Wouldn't join Nazis, Nazis wouldn't let me join them. Oil and water. Thought wouldn't even cross my mind to run with Nazis. And yet here you are trying to get some clout with that Romanian guy because you have a nazi brother.

          I know you're a tyrant fan but I am proud to be democrat in the true sense. Sic semper tyrannis! You have grown complacent in the West, fat in mind, overly confident. Your last election was hacked - not ours. You have been attacked by the same enemy that has invaded us. I am not anti American for telling the truth. Your President is totally compromised - still. I am more of a US patriot than you for pointing it out. Keep swallowing the unreality pills if you wish - calling Ukraine a 'fascist nation' with no proof - but you are at war too.
          Bad reciting of your fall back talking points.

          Fat fingering on the internet isn't slaying tyrants. Per your own bad propaganda reciting you are disheveled and waving a cup around at a metro station and yelling in the direction folk with real jobs who won't give you money or larp with you on the internet in fascist grab. Putin trembles at you and your superiors (agent super-chekist-mafia-hunting-spy-lord-honey-trap).

          Fascist nation: as stated if people have you to go on the takeaway is that the place is full of fascist admiring whiners.

          You don't seem sophisticated enough to see through DNC talking points. Our election wasn't hacked or stolen, we got the guy we voted for per our system of voting (set up by some of the best men in history). Glad for it. Hopefully we give the Maga-Emperor another four years.
          Last edited by troung; 26 Jul 19,, 07:55.
          To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


          • #35
            Your attacks on my Brother who you have never seen, demean you not he or I. The facts about either of us you do not know.

            Your attacks on Ukraine as "fascist nation" are unsupportable. Nor do you have anything to condemn in the Putin regime's support of far right wing criminals in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

            All your insults toward me prove not one thing. They are a waste of your time and mine in reading them. Understand and learn.

            Moscow next Saturday looks ready, judging by last Saturday, a good weekend vacation for you.



            • #36


              • #37

                Your attacks on Ukraine as "fascist nation" are unsupportable. Nor do you have anything to condemn in the Putin regime's support of far right wing criminals in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.
                You claim all types of top secret ties with cloak and daggery superiors, and when you needed to pick a cool brigade for your brother to claim to fight in you picked an overtly fascist one. Huge numbers of non fascists there, plenty of non facist parties, plenty of non fascist units but here you are goose stepping. You went full das reich cosplay in this James bond nonsense dragging the Ukraine into disrepute.

                Your attacks on my Brother who you have never seen, demean you not he or I. The facts about either of us you do not know.

                Well i know what's not true.
                Last edited by troung; 30 Jul 19,, 13:41.
                To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                • #38
                  I am no James Bond - nobody ever was. If you want to go after real far right Ukrainians (and others) please do so.

                  I give you a clue:
                  SARASTUS interview with Олена Семеняка (Olena Semenyaka), international secretary of National Corps

                  The interview was taken by Verkkolehti Sarastus on the eve of the Awakening conference in Finland on April 6.

                  1. You are a prominent figure in Ukrainian nationalist circles, and you also have close connections with many other European nationalist / identitarian movements. You have worked with the Right Sector and the Azov Regiment. Can you tell our readers little about yourself and your history in politics?

                  Thank you for your kind words! In short, my journey into the nationalist circles began with the history of ideas and university studies and, as of now, it has come a full circle, because our nationalist movement has reached such a point of development that I have to pay the primary attention to the education program for a huge base of our activists, as well as contribute to the development of a new humanitarian and scientific matrix for the entire Ukrainian society.

                  As a university and post-graduate student, I researched the legacy of German Conservative Revolution focusing on Ernst Jünger’s work and his dialogue with Martin Heidegger on transcending old metaphysics of the West and the prospects for the “return of the gods.” The most important philosopher who shaped their discussion of the ways to overcome European nihilism, of course, was Friedrich Nietzsche, and my personal introduction to Nietzscheism, in turn, were Jack London’s novels. Without the powerful drive behind philosophy of life I would hardly become a practical architect of paneuropean ideas advocated by Ernst Jünger, Julius Evola, Oswald Mosley, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle and other icons of the geopolitical Third Way. Thus my theoretical studies and practical activities, basically, coincide.

                  At first I developed them within the metapolitical community named Ukrainian Traditionalist Club, then, when the Maidan Revolution broke out, I put accumulated international contacts in the service of promoting post-revolutionary Ukraine as a space of political freedom and opportunities to develop the geopolitical Third Way between the West and Russia. After Right Sector got fragmentized and collapsed as a broad national-revolutionary movement, I continued my work on behalf of the newborn Azov Movement headed by Andriy Biletsky. Currently, Intermarium (the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea union) as a platform for the “relaunch” of the West is the official geopolitical doctrine in the party programme of National Corps, our parliamentary wing.

                  In other words, apart from the geopolitical (military, economic, cultural, informational and so on) cooperation, the foreign policy of National Corps rests on the sophisticated metapolitical conceptions, including the “horizontal” (cultural and civilizational analysis, ethnography, identity politics, etc.) and “vertical” (the “spherical” model of history, archeofuturism, the dynamic approach to Tradition, a special way of modernization, etc.) aspects, which I highlighted in my speech at the latest Etnofutur conference in Tallinn attended by many Finnish participants. As a result, together with colleagues, we initiated metapolitical cooperation of the international department of National Corps under my leadership with the Plomin Club in charge of various education projects to bring our longtime synergy to the next level. My current activities are at the intersection of these two structures of the Azov Movement.

                  Sadly, Guillaume Faye, French theorist of Intermarium, has died not long ago. Our task, I believe, us to continue elaborating his conception in the geopolitical framework of Intermarium.

                  2. Nationalists were in the frontline of Maidan demonstrations in 2013 and they have an important role in the ongoing war, but they haven't gained significant popular support in Ukraine. Do you think this situation might be changing in the future?

                  Actually, the possibilities of the Ukrainian nationalist movement have increased dramatically since the revolution. I have to add that the Maidan Revolution is incomplete, and the grip of the oligarchic media shaping or, more precisely, ”representing” the popular sympathies, is still very strong in Ukraine. Current Ukrainian president (the next election will be held in the end of March) Petro Poroshenko may be described both as West-oriented and right-populist. To get financial support from the West, which, needless to say, does not reach Ukrainian economy and army, Poroshenko constantly expresses his dedication to ideals of the ”open society” and ”progressive values” in the education system. However, since the Ukrainian society is not so ”open-minded,” the main slogans of Poroshenko’s preelection campaign realistically targeted conservative feelings of Ukrainians (”Mother tongue! Army! Faith!”). In economically weakened Ukraine, I can assure you that exit polls showing high ratings of the establishment are completely falsified.

                  In the beginning of March, National Corps forced Poroshenko to fire one of his protege who stole millions from the military budget of the country. However, the investigation was frozen, and the perpetrators were not arrested. Soon enough, during the rally of National Corps at the presidential administration and Poroshenko’s meeting with the citizens, which was disrupted by our activists asking him inconvenient questions, some of them were arrested as a result of clashes with the police. Currently, the confrontation between National Corps and Poroshenko gets ever bigger.

                  Moreover, the post-revolutionary political elite came to power in 2014 for two main reasons: 1) Right Sector, as a broad national-revolutionary movement, failed to produce the qualified personnel to occupy the abandoned state positions, so the power vacuum was filled with ”patriotic” and ”supportive of the revolution” oligarchs like Poroshenko; 2) success of the new ”national-liberal” elite has become possible only on condition of their accepting, basically, hijacking of the broad patriotic agenda to protect Ukrainian language, history, culture and national heroes. For instance, in 2015, veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, who are considered as ”collaborationists with The Third Reich” by Western and Russian institutions alike, were equalized with the veterans of the Red Army by the current government of Ukraine. But it goes without saying that it was just an act of political mimicry to please the ethnocentric sentiments of the masses which were awoken by the revolution. Likewise, Ukrainan government does not care about the cultural autonomy of national minorities from the neighboring countries, which harms Ukrainian relations with the natural allies from the region.

                  On a larger scale, the same strategy of hijacking the purpose of the Maidan Revolution is practiced by Western political elite and media expressing their support for the Ukrainians’ fight for democracy and justice. The main goal of this strategy is to downplay the role of the nationalist factor which completely carried out the revolution in the streets. For instance, nationalist Svoboda party, which entered a coalition with liberals during the Maidan Revolution, lost its positions for the very same reason as Right Sector gained little votes during the post-revolutionary parliamentary and presidential election: less “radical” political forces, in fact, have stolen their agenda.

                  That is why the Azov Movement, as the Ukrainian nationalist movement of a new generation, adopted a different strategy “from the military to politics,” which, again, I disclosed at the Etnofutur III conference in Tallinn as the one transcending the exclusive focus on parliamentary politics due to the very nature of the hybrid challenges to Ukraine and the world in the 21st century. Consequently, we develop not only the political party of National Corps and get ready to form a powerful faction in the Ukrainian parliament in autumn, but also pay attention to the titular for our movement military structure, the Azov Regiment of the National Guard of Ukraine (subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine), as well as develop the territorial defense (National Militia) and the veteran association (The Veteran Brotherhood) members of which are represented at the Civic Council at the newly created Ministry of Veterans of Ukraine. But the strategical emphasis is also laid on education projects striving for the counter-culture in a society and political freedom at universities, for we understand that any kind of right-populist success is short-term and insufficient.

                  3. The National Corps movement is ”parliamentary wing” of Azov. It is a fairly new movement, but it seems to be gaining support especially among the young people. It resembles CasaPound, European Identitarians and other non-conventional grass roots nationalist movements. Were those movements some kind of model for the National Corps?

                  It is true that the National Corps (Azov) movement has a wide following among the youth. A distinct subculture has been formed around the Azov movement, and it is easy to distinguish the ”Azovians” from activists of other Ukrainian nationalist organizations whose ideas and appearance alike have hardly undergone any changes since the 90-s. It is also true that CasaPound Italia, which has several longtime activists from Ukraine and was one of the first European organizations to attend and support the revolutionary Maidan, has always been a role model for us, Ukrainian nationalists of a new generation. One of our structures, the youth center named “Cossack House,” which is located at the very heart of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was modelled precisely after the famous squat titular for the CPI movement. It has a gym, a lecture hall, an art school, a recording studio, but, most importantly, it hosts the metapolitical Plomin Club, which, of course, also owes a lot to CasaPound’s Zentropa project, as well as French Nouvelle Droite. As pioneers of novel paneuropeanism, which is not surprising for an Italian organization, CasaPound were also represented at the Second Paneuropa conference in Kyiv by their foreign correspondent Alberto “Zippo” Palladino. Paneuropeanism as a project resting on two pillars, metapolitics and geopolitics, has brought me to Cossack House, too.

                  As for Identitarians, we indeed closely cooperate with them, especially with the German Identitarian movement (Flamberg Club, Jungeuropa Verlag). In spring of 2018, I spoke at the Ukrainian Evening in Halle hosted by the former, and in the end of summer talked about the paneuropean purpose of Intermarium at the First Jungeuropa Forum in Dresden organized by the latter. This February, I attended NPD’s Haus Montag Pirna, which also functions as their own metapolitical center. During the visit, we reached an agreement about the exchange of publishing initiatives with friendly publishing houses like Antaios Verlag of German Neue Rechte under the leadership of Götz Kubitschek. Kiuas publishing house of the fellow Finnish Identitarian organization Suomen Sisu is also very welcome to join them!

                  Last summer, I also visited Der III. Weg’s event “The Youth in Storm,” which contained a sports, metapolitical and musical parts. In May, I will speak at the conference organized by Portuguese organization eloquently named Escudo Identitário. Swiss, French, Flemish, Czech, Slovak, not mentioning Baltic ethnofuturist organizations and popular Identitarian video bloggers and activists, may be firmly counted among the allies of National Corps. Of course, our metapolitical initiatives are strongly influenced by the Generation Identity.

                  But the differences are also obvious, regardless of the growing focus of the Azov Movement on the parliamentary politics. Unique historical conditions, under which the guerilla unit quickly became the acclaimed professional Azov Regiment and young women like me got in charge of ambitious metapolitical and geopolitical projects, elevate us above the (sub)cultural level and make us set the global tasks. It determines the logic of the Azov Movement’s development and its main elements as of now: the Azov Regiment (the military wing), National Corps (the parliamentary wing), National Militia (the paramilitary structure), and over 30 social, sports and education projects functioning as independent NGOs. That’s also why, as a matter of fact, we build “the state within the state,” and some projects, for instance, the system of patriotic youth camps, are supported by the government. However, corruption, pro-Western puppetry and the fifth Kremlin’s column are problems too serious to overcome them by means of “entryism” only. We put pressure on authorities and stretch muscles to make it clear that the next Maidan Revolution, if their reckless and anti-national policies ever cause it again, will leave no room for their miraculous return in a patriotic disguise.

                  4. Is modern Ukrainian nationalism a direct heir of Stepan Bandera and the OUN, or do your ideas differ from earlier tradition? Obviously the Kievan Rus' is still an important historical fixed point for Ukrainian nationalist thought.

                  Modern Ukrainian nationalism, no doubt, would have never emerged without the unique organizational work carried out in the former century by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and determination to fight by its B (Bandera) faction. Absence of such organizations in the recent past explains why it is so hard for Russian nationalists, for instance, to transcend the subcultural level. In the Ukrainian case, since the formal revival of the Ukrainian state after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, such a basis has been already existing. Moreover, the military wing of the OUN, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) efficiently conducted a guerilla resistance against the Soviets and the NKVD as late as up to 1955. Not only the OUN-UPA formed a basis of the modern Ukrainian nationalism. Partisans of Kholodnyi Yar (Cold Ravine), which is a historical site of the Ukrainian Cossack military glory, and other fighters for the independence of Ukraine in 1917-1921 are direct predecessor of contemporary Ukrainian volunteer battalions and nationalist parties.

                  The military aspect of the Ukrainian nationalist cause has been revived to the fullest extent only by the Azov Battalion, the only Ukrainian volunteer battalion which has been expanded to the level of the regiment, although many nationalists, scattered around the units of the official Ukrainian Armed Forces and the National Guard of Ukraine, keep fulfilling their patriotic duty and sacrificing themselves for Ukraine, for instance, Right Sector’s Volunteer Ukrainian Corps. Yet, only the Azov Movement has managed to create the Military School named after Colonel Eugene Konovalets who founded the OUN. Its purpose is to provide officer courses, potentially, for the military of all the Ukrainian defense structures, as well as to restore the institution of sergeants which has been destroyed in the Soviet Army.

                  But the ideology, wider, theoretical framework of the Azov Movement is much more comprehensive, as well as the cultural and historical basis of the Ukrainian identity. I will not speak on behalf of other Ukrainian nationalist movements, because most of them are quite suspicious of the paneuropean or simply larger perspective which could merge their ideological borders. Thus our old idea to create the open university for activists of all the Ukrainian nationalist movements is still relevant.

                  National Corps has launched a historical project named Memory of the Nation to complement the state-sponsored decommunisation process which is often shallow and superficial. Our idea is not only to dismantle the communistic monuments but also to replace them with lesser known national heroes from this or that region.

                  Within this project, the signet of Sviatoslav the Brave, the warrior kniaz of Kyivan Rus’, not without efforts, was returned from Russia to Ukraine where it was found. This historical figure, true, is very important for the Azov Movement, as well as Ukrainian theorist of Intermarium Yuri Lypa and the ideologist of Natiocracy, Ukrainian third positionist doctrine, Mykola Stsiborsky.

                  However, there are historical projects at the intersection of our metapolitical and geopolitical activities which transcend the Ukrainian identity, ethnogenesis and state building. For instance, aforementioned founder of the OUN, Colonel Eugene Konovalets, during his stay in Kaunas, Lithuania, learned from experience of Lithuanian anti-Soviet partisans, Forest Brothers. Overall, one of the strategical goals of the Intermarium Support Group, which is coordinated by me, is to promote the regional, and, in the long run, paneuropean historiography of European nations.

                  Strictly metapolitical and scientific background for the Intermarium and Paneuropa geopolitical projects is provided by the Indo-European studies within which we also explore the Indo-Iranian cultural influences brought by Scythians and Sarmatians to the modern Ukrainian territory and the anthropological type. For, prior to Kyivan Rus’, there were the Gothian and Scythian Kingdoms in Ukraine, both of them unfolding also in Crimea and leaving there many traces. Scandinavian influences from the North and Greek from the South, in particular, were examined by Lypa in his many references to the trade route “From the Varangians to the Greeks.” Recent genetic research in Sweden suggests that the DNA of contemporary Swedes is almost identical to the peoples residing in Ukraine 5000 years ago who later migrated westwards and northwards.

                  Sacred geography, as both theoretical exploration and field studies of the ancient landmarks and “places of power” of modern Ukraine and beyond, helps us to revive and reaffirm beyond the later national divisions the unity of the region and Europe in the framework of archeofuturism meaning a unity of archaic world perception and brave “Faustian” projects.

                  5. You have been active in the Intermarium project. Intermarium was originally a plan pursued by Polish leader Józef Pilsudski, for a union of Central and East European countries. Now Central and Eastern European nationalists are trying to revive this idea as an alternative for EU and so-called Eurasian Union. Can you tell us more about that?

                  Actually, there were three similar conceptions of Intermarium in interwar Europe, and we refer to all of them in distribution materials of Intermarium Support Group, the international geopolitical project initiated by Andriy Biletsky, MP, founder and the first commander of the Azov Regiment and the leader of National Corps. Namely, Intermarium (Międzymorze) by Polish statesman and marshall Jozef Pilsudski, The Black Sea doctrine by Ukrainian geopolitician Yuri Lypa who was assassinated by the NKVD, and the Baltic-Black Sea vision by Latvian general Peteris Radzins, who was also a serviceman at the army HQ first of Ukrainian Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky, then Ukrainian People’s Republic headed by Symon Petliura. In this respect, it’s a unique figure from a point of view of shaping the regional consciousness, for he was both a Latvian and a Ukrainian patriot. Currently, we actively cooperate with Latvian coalition party, National Alliance, as well as The Society of General Peteris Radzins, and attended each other’s events in Ukraine and Latvia.

                  What is interesting, in spite of similar for all of them reorientation from the axis ”West-East” towards the traditional European ”North-South” axis, the composition of Intermarium was different according to Pilsudski, Lypa and Radzins. Lypa focused on the countries of the Black Sea basin and linked Ukraine to its ”shield,” Belarus, viewing Poland as a part of the Baltic region. Radzins included into the Baltic-Black Sea union the countries which comprised the Russian Empire: the Baltic States, Finland, Poland and Ukraine. Like Pilsudski, Radzins was concerned with the threat coming both from Russia and Germany (while Ukrainian Hetman Skoropadsky was Germany’s ally in the First World War), but, unlike Pilsudski and along with Lypa, he considered Ukraine the country bearing the responsibility for the future of the region, not Poland. Similarly to Lypa, Pilsudski complemented the supranational project of Intermarium with the idea of the Russian Empire’s partition into possible nation states: the doctrine of ”prometheism.” Unlike Radzins, Pilsudski did not include Finland into Intermarium, but included Romania along with Lypa. Pilsudski’s version of Intermarium, which was widened by Central-European states (Yugoslavia, Hungary and Czechoslovakia) became the basis for the modern vision of Intermarium as the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea union.

                  In 2015, it was revived by the newly elected Polish President Andrzej Duda who suggested to develop the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea partnership during his inauguration speech. At approximately the same time, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic established the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Group comprised of 12 EU member states. In 2016, at the Dubrovnik Forum they transformed the ABBS Group into The Three Seas Initiative. One of its panel discussions was entitled ”Strengthening Europe: connecting North and South.” In 2017, Donald Trump attended the summit of the Three Seas Initiative in Warsaw at which he not only expressed his political support for Poland in defiance of Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to impose sanctions on Poland for its refusal to accept migrant quotas distribution plan but also promised full financial assistance to the Three Seas Initiative, thus for the first time breathing life into the project.

                  Along with the Visegrad 4 (the unspoken fifth member of the latter is Croatia), The Three Seas Initiative may be viewed as autonomies within the EU, although, officially, they strive for a deeper integration. However, there is only one scenario, a military one, which would allow to build Intermarium from a scratch; otherwise, we suggest a realistic step-by-step strategy “from the autonomy to the sovereign military and political bloc,” at the initial stage also cooperating with “mere” reformists of the EU from the Right.

                  That’s why we suggest the experience of the Nordic Council as an appoximate role model for the first stage of the regional integration. Finland, as a member of the latter, knows that this is an international body to coordinate the governmental cooperation of the northern region’s countries aimed at increasing the competitiveness of the region and more efficient common solution of the economical, ecological and so on issues. Just like the envisaged space of Intermarium, the Nordic Council consists of countries which belong to different military and geopolitical unions: Norway and Iceland are NATO member states, but not of the EU; Sweden and Finland are members of the EU but not NATO; Denmark is a member of both the EU and NATO.

                  Likewise, the Baltic States, Hungary, Poland, Romania, etc. are both the EU and NATO member states, however, key countries necessary for the sustainable development of Intermarium are Ukraine, which is non-aligned, and Belarus, which at the moment tries to avoid a sad persepective of becoming a union country of the Russian Federation. The role model of the Nordic Council, though, allows these countries to cooperate with each other, regardless of the formal membership, within the common international practice of the parallel or multi-vector geopolitics. Big Estonian party EKRE, which included in the party programme the provision on the strategical course to develop Intermarium, apart from the euroatlantic cooperation, is a bright example of such wise and far-sighted approaches.

                  Finland, as a liminal in many respects country (both Baltic and Scandinavian, both European and Finno-Ugric, both Western and Eastern European, and so on), not mentioning the parallels between the Finnish and Ukrainian national-liberation struggles, occupies a very important place in the geopolitical program of the Intermarium Support Group and National Corps. Besides, it is connected to the Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian Federation, so the geocultural impact of Finland is enormous.

                  While Central-Eastern European countries try to question the ”center-periphery” model of the EU, Ukraine has valid reasons to approach the task of the regional reunification from a defense standpoint. Military buildup in Russia cannot be ignored by the region’s countries: Latvia, for instance, is very doubtful about NATO’s interference in case of the Donbas scenario in some Latvian cities where Russian speaking “minority” already prevails. Some ten years ago, such doubts about NATO’s omnipotence would be impossible in Latvia. But after 2014, the West’s reaction to the annexation of Crimea and the crisis of NATO clearly show that the latter will turn a blind eye to the hybrid warfare. Back in 2008, many believed that NATO’s refusal to accept Georgia as a member state was a clear allowance for Russia to invade Georgia and install there first puppet republics. In other words, it has been a long time since the region has been left to its own means, which is especially obvious now, after the collapse of the euroatlantic solidarity.

                  Therefore, Ukraine can easily become the trigger for the rearmament of the region and, eventually, the restoration of the all-European security system, as well as the creation of the nuclear shield for the Central and Eastern Europe. In this respect, developments in Ukraine and Japan are very similar: after the Second World War, the Soviet Union annexed “southern territories” of Japan, Kuril Islands, and only after the new North Korean tensions the US have given a green light to the rearmament of Japan by the very fact of abandoning the Pacific region. Although Ukraine did not suffer radical pacification like Japan, in 1994, under the Budapest memorandum, Ukraine renounced the third largest in the world nuclear potential in exchange for “security assurances” and “recognition of the political sovereignty and territorial integrity” by the US, UK and Russian Federation (later joined France and China), and one of the signatory countries, Russia, invaded Donbas and annexed Crimea. Needless to say, military cooperation with the region and modernization of the army is welcome at all levels of the Ukrainian society.

                  We remember very well that in the former century the West, represented by the Entente, was interested in Eastern Europe only as cordon sanitaire and the buffer zone. Against the background of quickly changing governments of Ukraine, Poland was selected as the last fortress of the West, but soon enough was sacrificed to the Third Reich and Soviet Union just like Ukraine. Today, little has changed, so those claiming about the Western imperialism on Zbigniew Brzezinski’s ”grand chessboard” forget a simple fact that the EU and NATO themselves made it clear that Ukraine was not welcome in these international structures in the next 20 years. Anti-Ukrainian Minsk peace agreements and Morel’s Plan, which allowed elections in the occupied zones of Ukraine without the restoration of the Ukrainian-Russian border and was rejected by the Ukrainian authorities only after 10,000-strong rally of National Corps in front of the Parliament, are another proof for the fact that the West is even less concerned about the fate of Eastern Europe than in the 20th century. However, we consider it as a unique historical chance to restore the geopolitical subjectivity of Europe and, in this respect, welcome the challenge.

                  The strategy of the Intermarium Support Group is to begin with the cooperation of the governmental structures of the region with NGOs sympathizing with the idea of Intermarium, then proceed to the alliance of the region’s parties sharing this geopolitical course (for instance, Latvian National Alliance, Estonian EKRE and Ukrainian National Corps), next, after their coming to power, to form the international interparliamentary body similar to the Nordic Council and, finally, to establish the Intermarium conferederation of sovereign European nations. We implement this strategy by promoting the project of Intermarium in Ukraine, the region and beyond, neutralizing potential ethnic conflicts in the region and organizing annual scientific and practical international conferences involving governmental and defense structures of the region’s countries.

                  Intermarium Support Group, founded by the leader of National Corps Andriy Biletsky in 2016, has already held three international conferences attended by Belarusian, Polish, Russian (Kaliningrad), Croatian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Georgian and Slovakian representatives, apart from Ukrainian ones. Hungarian, Romanian, Lithuanian and Polish military attache were present at the inaugural conference of the Intermarium Support Group. Besides, at the Third conference of the Intermarium Support Group, we set plans for future security cooperation with Damian Duda, the representative of the Academic Legion, the program of Polish Ministry of National Defense, and Croatian Brigadier General Bruno Zorica, who promised to assist the development of the Ukrainian Foreign Legion. The former plans will come to life as soon as this April at the Security Forum in Lublin, and the latter will most probably be implemented this September in Zagreb where the next Intermarium conference is scheduled. At the moment, Croatian nationalist parties in the government are forming a coalition which, in fact, will be hosting the event. Besides, precisely Croats openly admitted that their fight for independence happended not so much thanks to the help of the West as in defiance of the latter’s requirements.

                  Another important difference of our vision of Intermarium from the former century’s conceptions is the paneuropean perspective, which is actively discussed with sympathizers of the Intermarium from Western Europe interested in it as a platform for the restoration of the European superpower.

                  6. Some Central and Eastern European nations have complicated historical relations. For example, Polish and Ukrainian nationalists had their clashes before and during the Second World War. Do these things still cause mistrust or make cooperation difficult?

                  I would say, this is the historical background of all the European nations, that’s why we adopted the slogan, according to which we should look into the future, not into the past, and cherish ”futurology,” not history of European nations. It is true that the Ukrainians conducted the liberation struggle against the Polish Commonwealth and that the bloody ethnic conflict in the 20th century still casts a shadow over the modern Ukrainian-Polish relations. But there was an important precedent of the Polish-Ukrainian cooperation in the framework of Intermarium, too. In 1920, troops led by Josef Pilsudski, on the Polish side, and by Symon Petliura, on the Ukrainian side, carried out a joint successful offensive against captured by Bolsheviks Kyiv, which was officially entitled ”For Our Freedom and Yours.” Unfortunately, as soon as in 1921 Poland had to sign a peace treaty with the advancing Soviet forces, which put an end to the Ukrainian People’s Republic’s struggle for independence. Another, this time negative, historical lesson showing the importance of the regional unity soon followed: after Ukraine has been divided between Poland and the Soviet Union in 1921, Poland itself was split between the Third Reich and the USSR in 1939.

                  The conflict between Ukraine and Poland broke out in the 1940-s in the disputed territory of Eastern Galicia where Poland failed to provide cultural autonomy for the prevailing Ukrainian population. It was a typical violent peasant clash, but at the later stage of the conflict joined Polish Home Army and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the military wing of the OUN-B (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists headed by Stepan Bandera). Radicalized in response to the Polish administrative pressure, the OUN-B, however, set the goal of achieving the independent Ukrainian state and was against all kinds of foreign domination over the Ukrainian lands.

                  So, at that time, the anti-Soviet UPA received weapons from the Third Reich hoping that the political recognition of the idependent Ukrainian state would follow, but during the bloodiest phase of the conflict with Poland in 1943 Bandera has been already imprisoned in the German concentration camp. Later, up to 1955, the UPA waged a successful partisan warfare against the Soviets and the NKVD, that’s why you could often see at the revolutionary Maidan revived black and red flags of the UPA alongside the official blue and yellow Ukrainian flags. And, if the Poles and the Ukrainians had managed to overcome inter-ethnic tensions in the 40-s (precedents of joint anti-NKVD actions by the Polish Home Army and the Ukrainian UPA are also known), modern anti-Polish associations with the UPA would have been non-existent. However, in spite of these historical episodes, geopolitical and defense cooperation of National Corps and Poland flourishes.

                  The beginning of rapprochement happened on the historical grounds, though. In 2016, National Corps supported the address of Polish patriots to the Lviv City Council not to remove the lion sculptures paying tribute to the Polish youth fallen in the lost battles for Lviv, which is a normal practice in Poland regarding the Ukrainian monuments. After the ruling Polish party ”Law and Justice” (PiS) started ”historical wars” with Ukraine to consolidate their electorate around the image of the external enemy (which was stimulated by Petro Poroshenko’s vassal loyalty to Angela Merkel’s course), tensions between Ukrainian and Polish nationalist organizations started anew, but the cooperation within the Intermarium Support Group was not interrupted. Currently, we prepare the practical workshop on the Ukrainian-Polish reconciliation in the field of national memories of both countries, and position our efforts in this direction as a role model for other European nations: the Serbs and the Croats, the Greeks and the Bulgarians, the Poles and the Lithuanians, the Finns and the Swedes, the Slovaks and the Hungarians and so on.

                  As of now, the April Security Forum in Lublin with the participation of the officers of the LITPOLUKRBRIG (Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade) and our delegates, which will be held under the auspices of the Polish Ministry of National Defense, will crown three years of activities by the Intermarium Support Group in this field*. Another strategical for the development of the entire Intermarium direction was disclosed at the Third conference of the Intermarium Support Group by its longtime Polish partner Mariusz Patey, director of the Institute of Roman Rybarski. He presented the economical infrastructure of Intermarium comprised of the following key elements: Bank of Intermarium, Investment Fund of Intermarium and Solidarity Fund of Intermarium.

                  Needless to say, new nationalism and models of European unity suggested by third positionist authors like Ernst Jünger, Julius Evola, Oswald Mosley, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, Dominique Venner, etc. play a leading role in the supranational consolidation of the region. We consider it to be a fair exchange: we adopt Western European supranational approaches born among the ruins of the European superpower shipwrecked in the storms of the Second World War and offer instead the geopolitical platform of Intermarium as a springboard for its revival.

                  * After National Corps started holding 10 thousand-strong rallies at the presidential administration, as well as loudly asking questions during Petro Poroshenko’s meetings with potential voters all over Ukraine about the fate of millions of money stolen from the military budget by his fellow oligarchs, he put a political pressure on the Ukrainian consul in Lublin who, in turn, threatened the administration of the Marie Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin to create problems for the student exchange programs between Poland and Ukraine if they host National Corps and the Azov Regiment. Currently, both the Ukrainian side and the Poles who invited us boycott the Forum. Petro Poroshenko, though, has already bore the fruit of his policies: in the first round of presidential election on March 31, he gained only 16 % of the voters as compared to over 30 % of the main rivaling candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy. – OS (updated on April 4, 2019).

                  7. You have said that Russian foreign policy is only their version of globalism. What do you mean by that?

                  The Russian Federation itself is a multi-ethnic state with a severe “anti-extremist” legislation, just like in the Western countries, promoting multiculturalism, more precisely, the clash of the cultures under the guise of preventing the incitement of inter-ethnic, inter-religious and inter-racial hatred. The migration tendencies from the non-Russian parts of the Russian Federation and neighboring Eurasian countries like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are not only very active but are also endorsed by the authorities for economic reasons. As opposed to Ukraine, the Russian Federation signed a global UN migration pact. Back in 2011, spokesman of Federal Migration Service, Konstantin Poltoranin, was loudly fired for criticising the EU migration policy and urging the authorities to bring to Russia migrants of Slavonic origin instead of Asian. A big surprise is waiting for those Western Putin sympathizers who believe that they would enjoy political freedom in Russia lacking in their homelands.

                  Under the infamous “anti-extremist” article #282 of the Russian Criminal Code, in 2015 was banned the last nationalist party in the country (“Russians”), and the majority of Russian nationalists opposing both Russia’s multicultural policies and war on Ukraine fled to our shores. It was their one-way ticket, just like for the Belarusian nationalists. The fate of those Russian right-wingers who were eager to play into the hands of the regime by supporting the myth of the repressions against Russian (speaking) population and creating the illusion of the “civil war” in Eastern Ukraine, was not much different. Currently, they either get imprisoned for ridiculous charges on their return to Russia, or get sent to Syria. Russian government makes it clear that they don’t need passionary citizens who have the experience of real political struggle and know how to handle weapons.

                  Former colonel of FSB Igor “Strelkov” Girkin who left Donbas and now may be seen holding solitary protests against the probable return of the Kuril Islands to Japan, has sold this March his gold medal for the “reunification of Crimea with Russia in 2014” due to a lack of money and despision for Putin. Also, he admits that at present in Donbas may be found only mercenaries, not volunteers. It has never been so clear that the entire project of “Novorossiya” in East Ukraine was partially grassroots only in the very beginning of the conflict in Donbas and that it will end the next day Putin withdraws his forces from the latter.

                  Only rare right-wing battalions like Rusich were lucky to have left the territory of Donbas long before the collapse of the project of “Novorossiya” has become obvious, due to “a loss of understanding what they were fighting for.” Not only because Russian supervisors started eliminating the leaders of the “rebels” (Batman, Givi, Motorola, Zakharchenko and others). To prevent the Russian Maidan, Putin made everything possible to redirect popular discontent into the Ukrainian and Western side. The main myth exploited by the Kremlin for this purpose is the explosive mix of “Nazism” with “Americanism”: firstly, everything not “pro-Russian” is automatically labeled “anti-Russian,” secondly, it is equalized with “Nazism” in regards to the Russians, finally, it is portrayed as a useful instrument of American imperialism. Not surprisingly, the main basis of the modern Russian collective identity is the victory in the Second World War understood as the Great Patriotic War, and the celebration of the Victory Day over Germany on May 9 acquired really grotesque forms in the annexed Crimea and the “hero city of Sevastopol.”

                  Overall, there is not only severe “anti-extremist” legislation in Russia: it is also strictly prohibited to “revise the outcomes of the Second World War” and the role of Russia in it, as well to “glorify the collaborationists with the Third Reich.” Is it strange that those on the Right feel themselves very uncomfortable in the country where the cult of Stalin is at the same time ever growing?

                  The traces of quasi-Soviet mythology combined with Russian neoliberal policies are easy to spot in Donbas: radical leftist organizations from Italy and Spain, commies from Brazil and Texas, comic National Bolshevik from Latvia Benes “Black Lenin” Ayo, Buryats from faraway republics of the Russian Federation and hundreds of Chechen fighters sent by the president of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov. Many believe that at some point he may become the next Russian president, for his positions in Russia are quite strong (including his own paramilitary groups), and, after all, everything is about a purely statist might in modern Russia.

                  It brings us to another problematic issue of the modern Russian political landscape: Islam. Historically, Russia has the biggest Muslim minority in Europe, the same as the biggest mosque in Europe which is located in Moscow and was solemnly opened with the participation of both Kadyrov and Erdogan, president of Turkey. It should be added that, as compared to Soviet times, Russia has lost control over migration from the Caucasus, and inter-ethnic conflicts are mostly resolved in favor of non-Russians who are also increasingly represented in the power structures. At the same time, autonomist tendencies in some non-Russian republics like Tatarstan are not uncommon. These are the fruits of Russian multicultural policies, and many Russian nationalists admit that they supported Putin’s war against Ukraine precisely because they hoped that it would improve the position of Russians in the Russian Federation. But it turned out to be just another trap of the authorities for idealists and adventurers.

                  Well-known enthusiast of the Russian Spring Alexander Dugin currently came to the same conclusion. In the latest issues of his author’s program “Expertise of Dugin,” he admitted that the foreign political achievements of Russia in Ukraine (if the loss of Ukraine at the expense of Crimea can be considered “achievement”) and Syria did not strengthen the Russian identity. Quite the reverse: the public discourse in Russia is dominated by the liberals and, at the moment, there are no possibilities for conducting conservative politics in Russia. It goes without saying that rumors about Dugin’s political advisement for Putin are groundless. He concludes that the best the Russians can do now is to develop a narrative of how to preserve the Russian identity in history waiting for the more favorable conditions in the future. Dugin still urges to support Russia and China on a foreign political arena “against the West,” but it is obvious that his understanding of the “multipolar world” does not perform its most essential identitarian function. For Kremlin, the only thing that matters is whether this or that government or political force is pro-Kremlin or not; certain identity is recognized only within the broader multicultural agenda and only as long as its sovereignty is compromised.

                  That’s why I call Kremlin’s policies just another form of globalization and offer instead the Intermarium union and the alternative paneuropean integration within which organic identitarian principles are secured and protected by the solidary foreign political course.

                  Some keep associating themselves with American military might and get proud of the West, others feel empowered by Russia’s attempts to challenge the West, but it’s just a passive applauding audience whose opinion about the political changes in the world is unimportant.

                  8. During the last two years, nationalist political parties and candidates have gained significant victories in the West. Some of these parties and candidates have pro-Russian sympathies, and others, like Polish Law and Justice party, are strictly anti-Russian. Do you think that this bifurcation can create serious problems in the future?

                  Over the course of years, most European forces (and those associated with American Alt-Right) who have been previously supportive of Russia either became neutral or started a dialogue or even cooperation with the Ukrainian side (National Corps). We haven’t tried to reach only French Front National due to the obvious fiancial ties between Marine le Pen and the Kremlin, but the intellectual exchange with French Nouvelle Droite and related currents is quite active (translations of Dominique Venner’s works, elaboration of the Eastern European version of Guillaume Faye’s archeofuturism along with EKRE and other regional allies and developing metapolitical initiatives in the vein of Alain de Benoist with the help of the French branch of the Reconquista movement).

                  The Reconquista Movement was founded in 2015 in Kyiv on the wave of the massive support of Western European volunteers for the Ukrainian resistance to the Kremlin’s hybrid warfare in the East of Ukraine. Finnish volunteers were also among the most enthusiastic fighters of the Azov Regiment. Initially, various branches of the all-European Reconquista Movement (Spanish, French, German, Greek, and others) were providing the information support for the Azov Regiment and the Ukrainian struggle for independence, just like the Azov Civil Corps. But, as a coordinator of this decentralized network movement, I offered a theoretical background for such cooperation which was eagerly accepted by our foreign allies: paneuropeanism and the geopolitical Third Way resting on a solid historical and conceptual foundation.

                  Accordingly, the Reconquista Movement set the horizons for the second, semi-official geopolitical strategy of National Corps which was formalized in its party programme along with the establishment of our parliamentary wing in 2016, as follows:

                  ”2.3.1. We feel ourselves a part of the European civilization, not seek to join the Brussels bureaucracy, so the priority of Ukrainian foreign policy is the policy of building a new community of European nations on the basis of a harmonious combination of traditional values and innovative ideas.

                  2.3.2. The nucleus of a new European unity should become the construction of Commonwealth of countries situated in the geopolitical space connecting the Baltic and the Black Seas. Namely with these countries the Ukrainian government builds strong and comprehensive (military, political, economic, energy, etc.) relationship.

                  2.3.3. Particular attention is paid to the creation of direct defense, economic and cultural relations, overcoming historical divisions and conflicts between the countries in the region. [...]”

                  ”Semi-official” not in terms of the idea, but in terms of the political allies joining the cause from the Western European side: Intermarium (the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea union) is a platform for a new paneuropean unity not only because these countries have shared values and well-preserved ethnocultural identities but also due to the state support for the alternative Central-European partnership in the region. In other words, the geography of Intermarium will expand towards the alternative paneuropean integration along with establishing the partnership relations with the Western European political parties and governmental structures.

                  Consequently, as soon as the Intermarium Support Group was founded in July 2016, the Reconquista Movement started inviting already existing and potential Western allies to attend the Intermarium conferences under the auspices of National Corps and discuss alternative or parallel European integration on this basis. At the first conference in Kyiv organized by the Reconquista Movement, it was resumed that the endgoal of such alternative integration is the Paneuropean Conferderation of sovereign European nations, or simply Paneuropa. The inaugural Paneuropa conference was attended by Swedish Nordisk Ungdom, CasaPound Italia, French GUD, now reborn as Bastion Social, as well as Ukrainian, Polish, Croatian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Russian nationalist organizations and representatives of German Neue Rechte and French Nouvelle Droite.

                  Pascal Lassalle, French New Right intellectual, the host on Radio Courtoisie and, since recently, French repesentative of the paneuropean Landsknecht Movement, also recited the address to the Ukrainian Reconquista by the latter’s head, famous co-founder of Terza Posizione Gabriele Adinolfi who, thanks to radical activism of this legendary Italian organization, supported the cause of Ukrainian national revolutionaries at Maidan. Along with my speech disclosing the paneuropean program of the Reconquista Movement and its role models in connection with the favorable geopolitical conjecture enabling the development of Intermarium, their contribution comprised the metapolitical core of the conference which is as important as the political will and agents ready to develop parallel to the EU supranational projects.

                  The Second Paneuropa conference was structured in accordance with the multi-dimensional ambition of the alternative European integration: political parties (German Der III. Weg and NPD, Italian CPI, Norwegian “Alliansen – Alternativ for Norge,” Ukrainian National Corps and Svoboda) and the metapolitical front (famous Swedish video blogger The Golden One, leading representative of the American Alt-Right Greg Johnson), as well as Ukrainian national-revolutionary organization.
                  No 'James Bond' involved. Just awareness and the ability to face reality so that we can deal with the problems. Your slanderous blaming everyone else syndrome solves nothing.
                  Last edited by snapper; 30 Jul 19,, 15:10.


                  • #39
                    Meanwhile in Muscovy (Omsk to be precise) Government critic and head of the Anti Corruption Foundation Alexei Navalny was yesterday 'poisoned'. His assistant said he drank some tea before boarding a plane where he became ill and passed out in the toilet. The plane landed again (or did not take off) and Navalny was taken to hospital where he was reported to be in a coma. His Wife was denied access to him (apparently she did not take their marriage certificate) but yesterday at least the doctors were saying he was poisoned. An air ambulance was sent from Germany but today the doctors say he is too ill to be moved.
                    Last edited by snapper; 22 Aug 20,, 16:05.


                    • #40
                      Navalny has now been successfully airlifted to Germany where he is said to be "stable."


                      • #41
                        Berlin hospital yesterday said they were 'sure' that Navalny was poisoned with a 'novichuk' type nerve agent; he is being kept in a medically induced coma and treated with atropine and athene which was found to work in Skripal cases. Muscovy now says if it was novichuk it must have been done in Germany...


                        • #42
                          Trump's press secretary refuses to blame Russia for the nerve-agent attack on Putin's top opponent

                          White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday decried the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny as "reprehensible" but declined to assign direct blame for the incident to the Russian government or Russian President Vladimir Putin.

                          McEnany said the Trump administration was "deeply troubled" by Germany's announcement on Wednesday that the nerve agent Novichok was found in Navalny's system. Novichok has been used to poison other Russian dissidents.

                          But she did not explicitly blame the Kremlin for the nerve-agent attack, instead saying that the administration would work to hold "those in Russia" responsible for the incident accountable.

                          "We're deeply troubled by the results released yesterday. Alexei Navalny's poisoning is completely reprehensible. Russia has used chemical nerve agents in the past, and we're working with our allies in the international community to hold those in Russia accountable," McEnany said, essentially repeating a statement from the National Security Council released on Wednesday.

                          Navalny is Putin's most prominent opponent and has faced various forms of harassment from the Russian government for years. In 2018, he sought to challenge Putin for the presidency but was ultimately barred from running for office.

                          The anti-corruption campaigner fell ill last month while traveling back to Moscow from Siberia. His aides immediately suspected he'd been poisoned. Russian authorities initially prohibited Navalny from leaving the country, but he was ultimately transferred to Germany for further treatment.

                          Trump has remained remarkably silent on the matter, even as he continues to attack his opponents and offer his thoughts on a variety of issues on Twitter. The president has faced widespread calls to issue a statement directly condemning the attack on Navalny, including from his former national security adviser John Bolton.

                          Other world leaders have forcefully demanded an explanation from the Russian government.

                          "It's outrageous that a chemical weapon was used against Alexey Navalny," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted on Wednesday. "We have seen first-hand the deadly consequences of Novichok in the UK. The Russian government must now explain what happened to Mr Navalny — we will work with international partners to ensure justice is done."

                          Former Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement Wednesday that directly blamed the Kremlin for Navalny's poisoning.

                          "Once again, the Kremlin has used a favorite weapon — an agent from the Novichok class of chemicals – in an effort to silence a political opponent," Biden said.

                          Navalny remains in intensive care in a Berlin hospital.

                          "Buy American!" ~ Vladimir Putin
                          “He was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities. He was an utterly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic personality, full of empty, infantile fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or a guttersnipe. He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this was another reason why they fell for him.”


                          • #43
                            short video:
                            Originally posted by Bloomberg_Quicktakes

                            NATO Chief Raises Alarm on Russia Military Build-Up Near Ukraine
                            15 November 2021

                            The head of the NATO military alliance urged Russia to prevent any escalation in the wake of its build-up of forces near the border with Ukraine.

                            “What we see is a significant, large Russian military build-up, we see an unusual concentration of troops and we know Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine,” Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the 30-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization, told reporters on Monday.

                            “We call on Russia to be transparent on their military activities, to reduce tensions and to prevent any escalation,” Stoltenberg said after talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels. “This is a clear message from all NATO allies.”

                            The build-up of tanks and troops near the border with Ukraine has western capitals worried that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be planning a repeat of the 2014 invasion. In Moscow, senior officials and others close to the leadership say the Kremlin aims to make clear that any further western steps to provide weapons or expand military facilities in Ukraine would cross Russia’s red line.

                            longer video:
                            Originally posted by NATO

                            Press Conference:
                            NATO Secretary General with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba
                            15 November 2021



                            Last edited by JRT; 15 Nov 21,, 21:52.


                            • #44
                              I get what the Russians are doing here, it's gunboat diplomacy.

                              I don't understand at all what the U.S. and Europe are doing. "All signs point to a winter-to-spring offensive." Okay...what then?


                              • #45

                                Exclusive: Ex-Russian spy flees to the NATO country that captured him, delivering another embarrassing blow to Moscow


                                Michael Weiss
                                ·Sr. Correspondent
                                Thu, November 17, 2022 at 8:00 PM·30 min readArtem Zinchenko. (Photo illustration; Yahoo News; photos: Harrys Puusepp for Yahoo News, KaPo, GRU)
                                TALLINN, Estonia — “The Russians have no idea,” Alexander Toots, the head of Estonian counterintelligence, tells me, laughing.

                                “They have absolutely no idea he is here. You can be the one to tell them.”

                                Toots was referring to the defection of a Russian spy to Estonia. But Artem Zinchenko isn’t just any spy. He was the first agent of Russia’s military intelligence arrested by Estonia, in 2017, then traded back to Moscow a year later for an Estonian citizen in Russian custody. Zinchenko has now sought asylum from the very NATO country that unmasked and imprisoned him for spying against it.

                                Zinchenko’s defection has not been publicly disclosed by either side until now, in what must count as a humiliating blow not only to the Kremlin but also to his onetime masters in the GRU, as the former Soviet military intelligence service is still known.

                                In early October, the Estonian government granted Yahoo News unprecedented access to Zinchenko. Over the course of four hours he offered up his autobiography, reflective and remorseless, detailing his supporting role in the mostly unseen shadow play between Russian espionage and Western efforts to thwart it. Estonia, once occupied by the Soviets, is now at the forefront of countering Russian intelligence gathering and provocations on NATO soil.

                                As Zinchenko told it, his decision to defect was as much motivated by the Kremlin’s brutality at home and abroad as it was by what he saw as Estonia’s humanity toward him, an enemy agent. His cautionary tale is also an indictment of the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB case officer whose own spy apparatus has been weakened amid his Ukraine war, according to British intelligence.

                                Once a highly secretive and effective spy agency, the GRU in the past decade has come under heightened international scrutiny owing to a spate of compromised or failed operations. Foremost among these is the hacking and leaking of Democratic Party emails in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the botched 2018 assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal, another defector from its ranks, in Salisbury, England. The GRU is now reportedly assuming a firmer grasp on Russia’s faltering but gruesome campaign in Ukraine, where Zinchenko has relatives fighting on the frontlines on behalf of Kyiv against the very masters he once served.

                                The war, in fact, is the reason this GRU spy fled Russia.

                                I am sitting at a long wooden table at the heavily fortified HQ of the Kaitsepolitseiamet (KaPo), as Estonia’s FBI is known. It is Oct. 3 and I’ve only just arrived from New York in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, at the oblique request of Toots, who did not disclose the reason for my visit in advance owing to security concerns, claiming only that it would be worth my while.

                                “We have never had a case like this before,” Toots says, by way of briefing me on Zinchenko. “I don’t think anyone has.”
                                The headquarters of the Kaitsepolitseiamet (KaPo) in Tallinn, Estonia. (KaPo)
                                He is right about that. No one has ever had a case like this before, at least as far as is publicly known. The history of the Cold War and post-Cold War eras is rife with elaborate, almost implausible tales of defectors and double agents, sometimes even triple agents, spies who worked for one or more governments simultaneously for love or money or for the simple thrill of leading a hidden life. There are those with access to state secrets, some immeasurably valuable, who betrayed their country for ideological reasons or, as they often rationalize the treachery to themselves, perfectly pragmatic ones.

                                And now there is a historic first: the enemy spy who came back to the people who caught and released him.

                                “A lot of officers of the Russian services are against the war,” Toots says. “They consider it to be a crime against Russia and the Russian people. We will be more than pleased to interact with anyone else looking for a new place to live.”

                                When did Zinchenko defect?

                                “Very recently.” The exact date is withheld from me. Toots prefers not to say if KaPo facilitated the flight of Zinchenko and his family to Estonia but invites me to ask him when he arrives, which will be any minute now.

                                My next two questions are more provocative.

                                Did KaPo recruit Zinchenko while he was in Estonian custody and play him back to Moscow under the pretense of a spy swap, in order to allow him to gather intelligence for Tallinn from inside Russia?

                                Toots won’t answer that either. But in a way it is a moot point. Clearly he turned Zinchenko philosophically somehow in the year or so when he was his suspect and then prisoner. There is little other explanation for how the Russian felt comfortable reaching out to Toots, the man who arrested him, to ask if Toots might now become his protector.
                                Artem Zinchenko in custody in Estonia. (KaPo)
                                Finally, how can we be sure that Zinchenko hasn’t been sent here again by the GRU, perhaps in a psychological operation intended to muddy Western perceptions of Putin’s weakness or internal dissent in Russia?

                                At this question, Toots laughs again and shrugs as if to say, “Anything’s possible in this line of work.” Yet I am left with the strong impression that he’s certain of Zinchenko’s bona fides.

                                Talking to Toots is like this — by turns playful and frustrating.

                                At 52, he easily qualifies as Estonia’s George Smiley, novelist John le Carré’s veteran British spy and spycatcher, whose professional climax is blackmailing his Soviet nemesis, “Karla,” into defecting. In his 15 years in the job, Toots’s quarries have tended to be agents of Moscow; Zinchenko was the 10th he exposed in the space of nine years. Five GRU spies have been arrested since. There will be more; there will always be more.

                                Like Smiley, Toots snared a Russian spy who was a colleague and friend, an employee of KaPo who was secretly working for the Russians. Aleksei Dressen was arrested as he and his wife, Victoria, were about to board a plane from Tallinn airport to Moscow with a thumb drive full of classified intelligence.

                                Unlike Smiley, a portly homburg-and-specs relic of 1970s England, Toots could easily be mistaken for a suburban high school gym teacher. There’s an onomatopoeic quality to his surname, which is pronounced touts. He has a close-cropped haircut, an athletic build (he runs several miles a day), and I’ve never seen him in anything other than a polo shirt. He is unemotional and unaffected, almost to a fault, as though to behave otherwise in the role would be a dereliction of duty and an affront to the courtesy he extends to all members of his morally dubious profession, whatever side they’re on.

                                Toots speaks Russian flawlessly and is given to quoting proverbs and folk expressions in the language. One favorite: “Chaos is a trait of Russian culture. There always needs to be a shepherd; otherwise it’s anarchy.”

                                Now he is Zinchenko’s shepherd.

                                Toots shows me the February 2018 video of the handover on the Piusa River bridge at the Koidula border crossing, in southern Estonia, opposite the Russian city of Pskov. Zinchenko is being exchanged for Raivo Susi, an Estonian businessman convicted of espionage in Russia. The scene lacks the Hollywood drama one has come to expect from these occasions: the darkened no-man’s-land where two returnees from opposing sides of the Iron Curtain walk past each other across Checkpoint Charlie.
                                Estonian Raivo Susi, second from left, and Russian Artem Zinchenko, second from right, in a prisoner exchange at a border crossing in Estonia on Feb. 10, 2018. (KaPo via AP)
                                In the video, Toots meets his Russian counterpart, a middle-aged officer from the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, at the snowbound crossing. They shake hands and exchange pleasantries before the mutual orders are given to their people. Susi is taken out of a Volkswagen minivan by FSB guardsmen in balaclavas. Toots personally escorts Zinchenko, wearing a parka and holding only a small blue briefcase, to the custody of the Russian government. There are hugs of homecoming and polite farewells.

                                Now the former Russian spy is back in Estonia, standing in front of me.

                                Zinchenko is wispily thin, in a turtleneck and quite possibly in the same parka he wore when he crossed over into Pskov, with short, lank hair combed forward down his forehead. He could pass for a lab technician on his lunch break or a computer programmer who’s been up all night coding, confined to some halogen-bathed subbasement in Eastern Europe. He appears older than his 35 years, even though his manner is that of a younger man, tentative and halting. He is visibly nervous as he and Toots speak amicably in Russian.

                                I shake hands with Zinchenko. He apologizes for his English, which is better than he lets on, even if I occasionally speak too quickly for his ear and have to repeat myself. The first thing he volunteers is why he is here.

                                “The awful situation that took place on the 24th of February,” he says, referring to the start of Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine. “It is the worst scenario that could even be imagined in my mind, and it was not only because my relatives live there, but because of the huge number of innocent victims.”
                                Zinchenko and Yahoo News journalist Michael Weiss in Tallinn. (Harrys Puusepp for Yahoo News)
                                Like many Russians, Zinchenko has extended family members living in Ukraine and fighting the Russian invasion. Was he worried he would be called up, as per Putin’s recent mobilization order, and thus have to square off against one of them across the frontlines? No. He decided to flee Russia well before that Sept. 21 decree. Given that I was invited to Tallinn weeks before that, but Zinchenko defected “very recently,” I’d place the event sometime in the mid- to late summer.

                                How did he escape? Wouldn’t his movements within and outside Russia be monitored by the FSB, which controls the border guard, with his name easily flaggable, considering his previous work for the GRU? Zinchenko is that strange combination characteristic of a recovering spook, cagey while pretending to be guileless. “I'm not sure that they were able to detect someone after the so-called special military operation began,” he says, unconvincingly. “So I don’t think that they planned to look after me.”

                                He denies that KaPo helped him across the border. I don’t believe him and tell him so. He would not have risked such a dangerous move, or put his family into harm’s way by sending them ahead of himself, if he weren’t given ironclad assurances by the Estonians beforehand. Toots would not work any other way, and he would have insisted on arranging for Zinchenko’s safe passage somehow. Zinchenko doesn’t try to correct me when I press him on his point; nor does Toots, who is still here.

                                Zinchenko seems more sincere when he says he knew he couldn’t remain in Russia. After he came home in 2018, “everything had changed dramatically” as Putin’s autocratic presidency calcified into a remorselessly nostalgic and imperialist dictatorship. Any alternative or opposition politics could meet with only one of three fates: imprisonment, exile or murder. And he has experienced one of these in a far more liberal, law-abiding country already: Estonia.

                                “You know, before and during my process, I saw that the law works much better here than in Russia. During my situation, the Estonians told me they were not out to destroy my life or my business. This was a competition between intelligence services, they explained, and I was caught up in the middle of it.”

                                But why choose the Estonian model over the Russian? Zinchenko says he saw Putin’s regime as having “all the aspects of totalitarianism.”

                                The invocation of that loaded term so early in our conversation prompts me to ask about his own politics. He says he greatly admires Alexei Navalny, the now incarcerated Russian opposition leader, and was an avid viewer of Navalny’s viral videos exposing the levels of thievery and corruption in contemporary Russia.

                                “All this anti-corruption stuff,” Zinchenko calls it, “I supported. It’s very strange to find yourself living in a country where security guards, friends of our president, must be some kind of great businessmen that they’re earning so much money.”
                                Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny as seen via video link from a penal colony in Pokrov, Russia, on May 24. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)
                                Zinchenko says he, his wife and his kids all attended rallies in their hometown of St. Petersburg in defense of Navalny last year. Russia’s most famous dissident was detained at Sheremetyevo Airport in January 2021 upon arriving from Germany, where he’d spent five months recuperating from a life-threatening attempt to poison him.

                                Doctors in Berlin diagnosed the toxin Navalny was exposed to as the military-grade nerve agent Novichok. Western governments blame the FSB. Before leaving to return to Russia, Navalny recorded himself prank-calling Konstantin Kudryavtsev, one of the alleged assassins, posing as a bigwig in the Russian security establishment and demanding a thorough explanation as to how Navalny survived. Kudryavtsev obliged, offering everything right down to where on Navalny’s clothing (his underwear) the FSB hit squad laced the Novichok.

                                “I was nervous every morning after the Navalny rallies because I thought I’d be caught on CCTV cameras with my family,” Zinchenko says. “People were being arrested from facial-recognition software. I waited for a knock at the door.”

                                That knock never came. Instead, a devastating war did. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the disappearance of even the ability to attend rallies critical of the Russian government without reprisal, were the final straws for Zinchenko. “Of course, I want Russia to be part of the world, but I don’t see any future in this country except [that of] North Korea with this regime. I don't know if this is possible in America, but the president decided himself to begin a war. I think some institutions should not allow him to do this.”
                                Smoke rises from a military airport near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 24, the first day of the Russian invasion. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)
                                Zinchenko began making preparations, liquidating his assets and selling his St. Petersburg apartment. His wife and three boys left in advance and are now resettled with him somewhere in Estonia.

                                He took an enormous gamble, but it was worth it, Zinchneko believes, not just for what he was leaving but for what he was gaining — or regaining. He had fallen in love with Estonia.

                                A vulnerable neighbor of Russia, Estonia is home to 1.3 million people and has played an outsize role in helping Ukraine defend itself, donating a third of its defense budget and 1% of its GDP to Kyiv for security assistance. Along with Latvia and Lithuania, Estonia joined NATO and the European Union in 2004, in large part out of collective anxiety inculcated by a half-century of brutal occupation by the Soviet Union, which illegally annexed all three Baltic states in 1940 as part of Joseph Stalin’s deal with Adolf Hitler to carve up Eastern Europe. The Soviets deported tens of thousands of Estonians to the gulag, including the mother of Kaja Kallas, the current prime minister.

                                Since regaining its independence in 1991, Estonia has had to deal with a host of Russian security threats, including a major cyberattack in 2007 that halted the country’s government and economic services for a short while, plus an unremitting wave of Russian spies and agents provocateurs.

                                After Putin invaded Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the looming threat of another Russian conquest of Estonia weighed heavily on the country. A quarter of Estonia’s small population is ethnic Russians, whose loyalty in the event of an invasion has been questioned not only by the xenophobic far right but by members of the country’s liberal political establishment. As such, the malign designs of a much larger and militarily superior next-door neighbor preoccupy almost all of Tallinn’s national security resources. But it is in counterespionage, as helmed by Toots, that Estonia has distinguished itself within NATO.
                                Russian President Vladimir Putin at a parade marking Victory Day in Sevastopol, Crimea, on May 9, 2014. (Ivan Sekretarev/AP)
                                Throughout our lengthy conversation, Zinchenko’s guilt manifests in the coyness with which he alludes to and downplays his crimes against the nation he paradoxically loves. He repeatedly refers to his recruitment, espionage, arrest, conviction, imprisonment and repatriation in euphemisms. They are his “process” or his “situation.”

                                The Estonian government even let him conduct some business from his cell, something I find hard to fathom, although Toots confirms it, stating perfunctorily, “His business had nothing to do with his offenses against the state,” almost as if KaPo had investigated and exonerated a corporate entity.

                                What kind of business was it?

                                “Something like wholesale,” Zinchenko offers indistinctly, although I’d been told beforehand that he was a boutique designer, manufacturer and retailer of baby strollers. The design company was named after his wife. You can still see the strollers for Dana Investment advertised on an Estonian website whose name translates as “Mother’s World.” According to public records, the company’s revenue in 2017, the year of Zinchenko’s arrest, was about a million euros, up from just 391,000 euros in 2015. The business was taking off just as the ground beneath Zinchenko’s feet was vanishing.

                                What was Dana’s reaction to the “situation”?

                                “Not very good,” he says, although she stuck by him throughout, remaining in Tallinn with two of their boys — the youngest hadn’t been born yet — for a year and change after his arrest. “It was a very difficult period in my life and in her life, too.”

                                Nonetheless, Dana and the children visited Zinchenko in prison, and when he was traded back they followed him home to St. Petersburg. Zinchenko swears Dana never knew about his secret life working for the GRU, a life that lasted for almost a decade. Toots confirms this is true.

                                “The GRU knew everything about him and his family,” Toots had told me before Zinchenko arrived. He was not selected at random for recruitment; he was targeted because of his family’s pedigree, especially on his father’s side.

                                Grigori Gutnikov, Zinchenko’s paternal great-grandfather, joined the Red Army in 1936 and went to work two years later for the NKVD, as the KGB was then called. In World War II, Gutnikov was attached to SMERSH, the elite military counterintelligence department embedded within the ranks of the Red Army, established on Stalin’s secret orders.

                                SMERSH was founded to capture or kill German operatives working behind enemy lines — and also alleged Soviet deserters and traitors. Popularized but slightly mischaracterized by Ian Fleming in “Casino Royale,”his first Bond novel, SMERSH — a portmanteau of the Russian words smert shpionam, “death to spies” — was one of the most feared Soviet intelligence apparatuses, a fact made all the more remarkable by the brevity of its existence. It was disbanded in 1946. But it got up to quite a lot in just three years.
                                Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference in Germany in 1945. (AP)
                                SMERSH arrested a decorated artillery captain named Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who was stationed in East Prussia, for the offense of criticizing the Soviet dictator in correspondence with a friend. The “SMERSH officers at the brigade command … shoved me along to their automobile,” Solzhenitsyn recounted. So began the long journey back to Moscow, an eight-year internment in a host of Soviet labor camps and internal exile in Kazakhstan, all furnishing the sufficient and necessary conditions for the great writer’s landmark history, “The Gulag Archipelago.”

                                According to the scholar Vadim J. Birstein, “Overall, from 1941 to 1945, military tribunals sentenced 472,000 servicemen whose cases were investigated by military counterintelligence, and of them, 217,000 were shot.”

                                Gutnikov therefore wasn’t just a Red Army soldier and an intelligence officer; he wielded terrifying power over the rest of his compatriots, capable of determining whether they lived or died. His daughter, Tamara, married Albert Zinchenko, who started his military career in the Soviet Union’s Southern Army Group, in Veszprém, Hungary. In 1963 they had a son, Igor, Artem’s father, who followed in Albert’s footsteps, attending the Kyiv Army School as a tank engineer, then working as a tank factory manager in Ussuriysk, in Russia’s far east.

                                Albert and Tamara moved to Estonia in 1966 when Albert was assigned to a Soviet military base at Klooga. Igor, just 3 years old at the time, grew up mainly in the Baltic state.

                                The Zinchenkos never really “left” Estonia, even when Albert was deployed overseas, first to Vietnam, then to East Germany. Tamara grew to adore her new home. She was “a true Estonia fanatic,” according to a family friend, and even learned the Estonian language, a rarity for many ethnic Russians. (Estonian is linguistically related only to Finnish and has nothing in common with the Slavic languages.) Such proclivities might otherwise have earned her the suspicion of her own father, the Stalinist spy hunter.

                                Tamara and Albert purchased a dacha, or country house, by the seaside where he was stationed, at the tiny northern settlement of Klooga, once the site of a Nazi concentration camp during the German occupation of Estonia. Today it is home to an Estonian Defense Forces military training facility. They kept the house after the fall of communism and Estonia’s reclamation of independence and sovereignty in 1991. Artem spent his boyhood summers in Klooga. Albert “meant everything” to him, Toots says. “He was his hero.” When Albert died, Artem inherited the dacha.

                                I ask if his family lamented the end of the Soviet empire and all it stood for. Putin notoriously termed the event the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” Did Igor share in that view or pine for the past? Was he sovok, or “Soviet-minded”?

                                Artem Zinchenko says he can’t remember his father’s political views, but he recalls him being optimistic about Russia’s future during the Boris Yeltsin period. Igor’s technical skills as a tank engineer kept him off the frontlines amid Moscow’s wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya. But the family moved around the Russian Federation quite a lot, Zinchenko says, and he was raised as a bit of an army brat.

                                “I learned this term recently,” he says, “after connecting with a distant relative in North Dakota, who was an American army brat. He came from the White side of the family.” (Zinchenko is referring to the family side that fled Russia for the West after backing the anti-Bolshevik White movement in Russia’s 1917-22 civil war.)

                                When KaPo captured Artem Zinchenko, Igor, who retired from the Russian military as a colonel, told him that what he had done — spying for the GRU — was “very stupid.” Zinchenko insists the transformative decision of his life, to spy for Russia, didn’t really come up at all in the last four years in his conversations with his parents. (Another Russian proverb, albeit one Toots is unlikely to endorse: “The less you know, the better you sleep.”) Even still, his mother and father know he has defected.

                                “How were you recruited?” I ask Zinchenko about his decision to work for the GRU.

                                It was 2009. He was finishing his degree in global economics at St. Petersburg Polytechnical University. He sought to avoid compulsory military service by enrolling in classes that would allow him to graduate as a lieutenant, a workaround many Russian students utilized at the time to avoid yearlong conscription. “You should know that in Russia, in every university there are those connected to the government, there is some representative of the services looking to recruit people,” Zinchenko tells me. After one of the classes he took, a tall man who looked every inch the military officer introduced himself as a friend of the instructor.

                                Unlike the Soviet KGB, which was disbanded in 1991 and reconstituted later as two separate civilian intelligence agencies — the FSB and SVR, with domestic and foreign purviews respectively — the GRU never stopped working even after the collapse of the communist empire. Founded in 1918 at the prompting of Leon Trotsky, the GRU was once considered a highly secretive and effective spy agency. It was behind some of the most well-known Soviet agents in the United States, including Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss, and it was the incubator for some of the most influential defectors during the Cold War, including Col. Oleg Penkovsky, whose critical intelligence on Soviet missile capability helped the CIA and the Kennedy administration immeasurably during the Cuban missile crisis.
                                Oleg Penkovsky at his espionage trial in Moscow in 1963, where he was accused of leaking Soviet state secrets to the West. (Bettmann Archive via Getty Images)
                                In the last decade, however, the GRU has repeatedly done what no spy agency should: get caught red-handed. It has been named as the culprit in a spate of cyber operations, including debilitating cyberattacks against France, Georgia, Ukraine and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. GRU Unit 74455, also identified in the hack-and-leak operation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, was responsible for the worst cyberattack in history, the NotPetya malware infection. That infection initially targeted Ukrainian accounting software but rapidly metastasized, crippling computer systems across the world, including those belonging to the Danish shipping giant Maersk, the U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck and hospitals as far apart as Kyiv and western Pennsylvania, causing more than an estimated $10 billion in damage. GRU assassins have also tried and failed to murder people with poison — not just Skripal but also a Bulgarian arms manufacturer, along with his son and factory manager, all of whom suffered from Novichok-like symptoms in 2015.

                                Zinchenko claims not to be able to remember his spy recruiter’s name or to know whether it was even his real one. “Too many years have passed,” he says, rather too implausibly, given how fundamentally this person would come to alter his life. Let’s call the recruiter Vasily.

                                Vasily struck up a rapport with his target. “I don’t know exactly why he was interested in me, maybe because I was visiting Europe quite often,” Zinchenko says. Or possibly because of Zinchenko’s long-standing attachment to Estonia, and Grigori Gutnikov’s impeccable credentials? “It could be.”

                                Vasily set out in the customary fashion by offering to do hypothetical favors for Zinchenko, a way of forging trust and inculcating a feeling of indebtedness. Vasily assured him that should Zinchenko ever find himself in any kind of trouble as a fledgling businessman — Russia is, after all, a very corrupt country — he could always count on Vasily for help. Oh, and if Zinchenko was headed to Estonia, which he often was, might he bring his new friend something back, a trinket or souvenir — a postcard, say, or a copy of a newspaper, or a bottle of local alcohol? Tiny favors easily accomplished are a way of ensuring they’re inevitably returned, whether a target of cultivation and recruitment desires so or not.

                                Vasily would contact Zinchenko primarily by telephone, sometimes by email. They became “friends,” or so it seemed to Zinchenko at the time. On they danced for about two years, communicating through insecure means. “First, send an email from a new account,” Vasily would instruct Zinchenko, “and after that we’ll send you one back.”

                                That continued on until 2011, when Dana was offered a job as an accountant in India. They moved to Delhi, where, he explains, he got his first taste of official government work. He took a job with Rossotrudnichestvo, officially the cultural arm of the Russian Foreign Ministry, but unofficially a clearinghouse for Russian espionage and influence operations abroad. He and Dana spent about a year in Delhi, returning to St. Petersburg in 2012.

                                He is vague on what he did during that year. “I didn't want to have anything to do with the [Russian] government after this. It was a job without a purpose. There is no plan to promote Russian culture in India. It was all very stupid.”

                                Zinchenko claims that though Rossotrudnichestvo provided a supremely convenient cover for him in India, a populous nation in which spying is far easier than in a NATO or EU member state, Vasily ceased communication with him during his India sojourn. They reconnected once Zinchenko was back in Russia.

                                Did he ever suspect in the two years that had passed since meeting Vasily that his new friend was an intelligence officer?

                                “Yeah, why not?” he replies cavalierly. “Russia always wants someone for some purpose eventually. You’re always thinking about the services contacting you.” He admits to feeling excited and titillated by the prospect of becoming a spy or even just an informant. “I was a young boy. I was full of illusions about, I don’t know, stupid childhood dreams to become an officer,” he says. And yet I remind him that he took courses to avoid army service. He seems to have been subconsciously atoning for not following the path laid down by his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, a path that for each of them began with donning a uniform.

                                Zinchenko claims he had no idea which agency Vasily worked for, nor did he care. “No one told you you were recruited to Russian military intelligence. No one shows you a badge or an ID.” (This is true: Many agents don’t discover who their masters are until they’re caught in the West. Toots was the one to inform Zinchenko he was working for the GRU.)

                                The Rossotrudnichestvointerlude convinced Zinchenko he should forge ahead on his own as an entrepreneur, found a company and make money. What better place to do so than in his second home, Estonia, which he knew intimately and even had a dacha in?

                                He and Dana decided to move to Tallinn in 2013, obtaining legal residency. Vasily didn’t instruct him to move but was glad of the opportunity provided by a young prospect headed into the West. Now the favors grew a little more complicated and dicey, even though Vasily told Zinchenko not to worry, that what he was asking was by no means against the law. In fact, it was, under section 233 of the Estonian Penal Code, governing “nonviolent acts” committed against the Republic of Estonia, the violation of which being what Zinchenko was ultimately charged with.

                                “He’d ask me to go visit some Estonian company or building and take pictures of it,” Zinchenko says. He would drive around in his car, recording the routes taken and sites seen with a dashcam. Whenever I ask something pointed, such as what buildings he took pictures and video footage of, he refers me to his court docket.

                                At the time of our interview I hadn’t seen it, although the majority of what was publicly available consisted mostly of the electronic devices KaPo confiscated from Zinchenko after his arrest: laptops, mobile phones, SIM cards, etc. That version of the verdict did not state what these devices were used for or how Zinchenko carried out his assignments for Russian military intelligence. That part remained classified until I and an Estonian colleague from the news outlet Delfi successfully petitioned the Harju County Court in Tallinn, which tried Zinchenko’s case in 2017, to unseal the full verdict.

                                An unredacted five-page document tells a fuller story than anything Zinchenko offered in our four hours together. Vasily was one of three different handlers over the space of his eight years as a GRU agent. (Zinchenko would tell me only that Vasily introduced him to another man with whom he’d sometimes communicate.) He’d meet with each one face-to-face at liaisons in St. Petersburg, only a five-hour car or bus ride from Tallinn. Each handler tasked him with surveilling Estonia’s “objects of national defense” and its “vital services,” defined under Estonian law as critical infrastructure, power and electricity, telecommunications and banking services.

                                Zinchenko spied on Paldiski, a garrison town where Estonia’s elite Scouts Battalion, a veteran unit of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, was stationed. He also spied on Vasalemma, where NATO’s Ämari Air Base is located.
                                A Belgian F-16 fighter plane takes off from Ämari Air Base in Estonia in February. (Benoit Doppagne/Belga via ZUMA Press)
                                He gathered information, according to the verdict, about “the movement of the equipment of the Estonian Defense Forces, the Estonian Defense League [a national paramilitary organization] and Estonia’s military allies,” as well as “objects used for the state’s regulatory activities,” presumably the police and border guard facilities.

                                He spied on ports in a country with no shortage of them: two at Paldiski, in the northwest; one at Sillamäe, in the northeast; the main passenger port in Tallinn. He obtained what must have been easy-to-get open-source information on Estonia’s legal processes: how to acquire citizenship and residency permits, which Zinchenko clearly knew how to do from firsthand experience, and information on Estonia’s e-residency program, a kind of virtual citizenship that allows noncitizens to bank and to register companies.

                                His handlers further instructed him to acquire mobile phones and SIM cards purchased in Estonia for the purposes of the GRU’s operational work. They also wanted technical literature. The verdict names Russian-language newspapers published in Estonia, online articles in Estonian on military topics, and an issue of European Security and Technology, a German-language defense and security journal contracted by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defense and the Bundeswehr (Germany’s army).

                                Zinchenko did not feel like a hero when he went back to Russia after the spy swap. He regrets it and sees his tale as a cautionary one. “People thinking of doing such a thing should not think twice, but 10 times,” he says. “I am lucky. I only got five years. It could have been a lot worse.”

                                To this day he wonders why the Kremlin was willing to go to such lengths to get him home. He was no superspy, after all. He was just a foolish kid, perhaps a little too in awe of his family’s history, and enamored of the prospect of doing something to see its legacy continued.

                                I wonder why Moscow got Zinchenko back, too, and hazard a theory that it wasn’t because he was anything approaching a Russian James Bond — it’s because they wanted to know more about how he was uncovered. There have long been rumors in Western counterintelligence circles that the GRU in particular is infiltrated by moles or informants. Given that Zinchenko was the first GRU agent KaPo arrested, might the Russians have wanted to interrogate him to find out what the Estonians divulged about the evidence against him, the better to piece together if anyone on the Russian side was working for foreign intelligence?

                                “Surely you were debriefed when you got back to Russia, about your capture and imprisonment,” I say to Zinchenko.

                                He confirms that he was but doesn’t want to go into detail about what he was asked. “No one told me anything to this effect, but I am sure they were trying to find someone in their services who might be. … Maybe they found what they wanted. There are two to three hundred cases a year about moles in the different [Russian] services, and usually there are no names in the press, so I don't know — maybe they found what they wanted.”
                                There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov