Tag: russia
Former Putin Speechwriter Predicts 'Military Coup' Will Depose Russian Despot

Former Putin Speechwriter Predicts 'Military Coup' Will Depose Russian Despot

Militarily and politically as well as economically, the war in Ukraine has been a major drain on Russia. President Vladimir Putin and his allies in the Kremlin were hoping for a quick, easy invasion, but Ukrainian forces have been much more skillful fighters than Putin anticipated.

Moreover, the invasion of Ukraine has had an unintended consequence: the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Sweden and Finland, for many years, stayed out of NATO; in 2022, they applied for membership. And U.S. President Joe Biden, in contrast to former President Donald Trump’s anti-NATO views, has welcomed NATO’s expansion.

Despite all that, an obstinate Putin is determined to keep fighting in Ukraine. But Abbas Gallyamov, a former Putin speechwriter, is predicting that Putin’s days as president of Russia will be ending sooner rather than later.

During a Monday, January 30 appearance on CNN, the 50-year-old Gallyamov argued that because of all the hardship the war is causing in Russia, Putin will likely be removed from power via a military coup.

Gallyamov told CNN’s Erin Burnett, “The Russian economy is deteriorating. The war is lost. There are more and more dead bodies returning to Russia; so, Russians will be coming across more difficulties, and they'll be trying to find an explanation why this is happening, looking around to the political process. And they'll be answering themselves: 'Well, this is because our country is governed by an old tyrant, an old dictator.’”

The former Putin speechwriter, born in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 1972, predicted that a military coup will occur in Russia sometime within the next 12 months.

“So, in one year, when the political situation changes and there's a really hated unpopular president at the head of the country and the war is really unpopular — and they need to shed blood for this, at this moment — a coup becomes a real possibility,” Gallyamov told Burnett.

The United States isn’t the only country that is having a presidential election next year; Russia has one scheduled for March 2024. But Gallyamov fears that Putin may cancel Russia’s 2024 elections, which will only add to the tensions in that country.

Gallyamov told Burnett, “Judging by his actions, when he is escalating on something without necessity, he might really cancel the elections. Without victory over Ukraine, he'll face difficulty with the Russians. Russians don't need him if he's not strong. He might really declare the martial law and cancel the elections.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Why Those Leopard II Tanks Are So Vital To Ukraine (And So Menacing  To Russia)

Why Those Leopard II Tanks Are So Vital To Ukraine (And So Menacing  To Russia)

This is the latest report in my months-long coverage of the war in Ukraine. For more reporting like this, and to read my screeds about the reprehensible Republican Party, please consider becoming a paid subscriber.

The Associated Press headlined the big meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Ramstein, Germany, last Friday this way: “Ukraine will have to wait longer to find out if it will get advanced German-made battle tanks.” The problem was Germany, which manufactures and exports the tanks. They had not yet agreed to allow European countries to send the Leopard II tanks to Ukraine.

Yesterday the AP led with this: “The German government will not object if Poland decides to send Leopard II battle tanks to Ukraine, Germany’s top diplomat said Sunday.” That’s newspeak for Germany caving to international pressure that was poured on in buckets last week after Germany initially stuck to its policy of not allowing shipment of its tanks to Ukraine to fight Russians on the front lines. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, on a French television show, said Sunday that Poland had not formally asked for permission to ship the Leopard tanks, but confirmed, “if we were asked, we would not stand in the way.”

Poland announced today that the government would ask permission to send the tanks but added that they had already planned to supply the advanced battlefield weapons even if not given permission.

In a BBC TV interview today, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba put out an appeal to all European countries with Leopard tanks in their arsenals “to immediately, officially request the German government to allow delivery of these tanks to Ukraine."

The way Poland has been talking, it wouldn’t surprise me if Poland was not already secretly training Ukrainian tankers who are qualified to drive and shoot Russian T-72 tanks in their arsenal, which they have captured a good number of from Russians on the battlefield.

The Leopard II is a modern tank with multi-layered armor and a 120 mm smooth-bore main gun. The tank is powered by a 1500 HP 12-cylinder diesel engine, can reach speeds of 40 MPH, and has a 300-mile range, which is fairly extraordinary for a main battle tank. The Leopard has a gyroscopically balanced main gun, which means it can fire on the move. The tank has night-vision aiming sights, laser range-finders, and two co-axial machine guns. The design of the Leopard’s main gun allows it to fire several different kinds of tank ammunition produced by multiple allied countries.

Germany has said that it designed the Leopard II tank so it can be driven and fired by citizen-soldiers, their version of our National Guard. This means that the training to use the Leopard is not as lengthy or complicated as what is necessary for the U.S.-made Abrams tanks.

One fixed truth about the development of tanks is that as they have gotten more complicated and additional requirements have been put on them, they have become more likely to break down, the distance they can travel before needing to be refueled is reduced, the training necessary to be able to deploy them in battle becomes longer, and there are stiffer requirements for soldiers to become tankers.

Older tanks like the American M-60 used in the Vietnam era were nearly self-explanatory. You could get into the gunner seat and with less than an hour of instruction, learn to shoot the thing. Accuracy at first wouldn’t be the best but driving and firing tanks is like anything else: you get better with practice. When I was a cadet at West Point, I was assigned as a so-called “3rd Lieutenant” to spend the better part of one summer as an executive officer of an armor advanced individual training company at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Out of 160 guys in the company, 140 of them had been drafted during Project 100,000, MacNamara’s cannon-fodder experiment which lowered the IQ level necessary for service, removed the requirement for a high school diploma, and gave county and state prisoners with less than two years to serve on their sentences the option to get out early if they “volunteered” for the draft.

Those were the guys I was in charge of teaching to drive and shoot tanks. I can tell you two things about that training company: One, no one was killed in training, and two, every soldier in that company graduated and was qualified at least minimally to drive and shoot the M-60 tank.

But the M-60 was a primitive weapons system compared to today’s tanks. The range-finder was optical, meaning as a tank commander, you looked through a scope and dialed knobs to match two lines to establish the range, and then you transmitted the range to the gunner over the radio, who dialed in the range on his sight, found the target in his sights and fired. Sometimes, those soldiers even hit what they were shooting at. Driving was done with two sticks that ran the left and right tracks, and gas and brake pedals. There was a transmission shifter that put the transmission in “go” and “idle,” and that was pretty much it. If you can drive a zero-turn lawn mower, you could drive an M-60.

The Leopard is much more complicated when it comes to firing its main gun, but driving it is very similar to the old M-60. Given what I can find out about the Leopard II, if Ukraine has soldiers who can handle the Russian T-72 tank, less than a week will be necessary to bring them up to speed on the Leopard II.

Which is great news for Ukraine. If other European nations, as expected, follow Poland’s lead and ship some of their Leopard II tanks, depending on how long it takes to get them there, Ukraine could have new Leopard tank units ready to go by March.

Germany has been reluctant to send its tanks or approve their shipment by other European nations because of “German culture,” according to multiple stories over the last few days. That’s shorthand for Germany being reluctant to get involved militarily in any conflict on the European continent unless their country is threatened, a hangover from German aggression in World War II. But that war ended almost 80 years ago. Everybody gets it that Germany has managed to cobble together what passes for collective shame over Nazism and the deaths they caused on and off the battlefield during that war. It looks like Germany, or more specifically, its politicians, are taking a deep breath and entering the real world. They’ve got these modern and deadly weapons systems. It’s time they used them for something other than decorative purposes in motor pools waiting for someone to attack them.

The Russians, chiefly in the person of State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, have been making their usual threatening noises, warning the rest of the world to leave them alone so they can continue murdering Ukrainian civilians at will. “Supplies of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime would lead to a global catastrophe,” Volodin said. Dimitri Medvedev, a former Russian president, chimed in by threatening to form a military alliance with "the nations that are fed up with the Americans and a pack of their castrated dogs."

Good luck with that, Dimitri. My advice would be to train your unlucky conscripts to duck.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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Why Zelensky Wore Military Green From The Battlefront To The Capitol

Why Zelensky Wore Military Green From The Battlefront To The Capitol

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, making his first trip out of his country since Russia invaded. But seeing Zelensky outside of Ukraine doesn’t make it possible to look at him and think this is business as usual, because Zelensky is not departing from the military green he has worn since the start of the war. By doing that, he is making himself a walking reminder that his country has been brutally invaded and that he was visiting the soldiers fighting on the front lines just days ago.

Zelensky arrived in the United States as, visibly, the president he has been since he stunned the world with his determination to stay in Kyiv despite enormous personal danger, from the time he rejected a U.S. offer to get him out of Ukraine by saying, “The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Prior to 2022, we had seen Zelensky in a suit. Sometimes he looked confident and charismatic:

Zelensky, a professional entertainer for much of his adult life, knows the power of symbolism, and he’s certainly working that. But he’s also earning the power of his appearance through his steadfastness. If he had fled at the beginning, he could have showed up in full military garb and it wouldn’t have worked. Probably quite the opposite.

Zelensky doesn’t try to cosplay as an actual soldier. He’s not out there looking like a member of the British royal family in a garish uniform studded with every medal imaginable. Instead, he shows solidarity with the soldiers and the regular Ukrainians fighting for their country by wearing an unadorned military green. While he’s not regularly at the front lines, and, again, isn’t pretending to be, he is very intentionally serving as a reminder to the world of the people who are there.

And today, he has brought that reminder to Washington, D.C., just as Congress prepares to vote on a government spending bill that includes nearly $45 billion in funding for Ukraine. The U.S. politicians Zelensky encounters may be wearing traditional power suits, but by not joining them in that, he’s making a power move.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

House Republicans Preparing To Recycle Rudy's Kremlin Disinformation

House Republicans Preparing To Recycle Rudy's Kremlin Disinformation

We’ve been warned. When the Republicans take control of the House, it’s going to be all Hunter’s laptop, all the time.

Despite haughty GOP denials, the laptop story is probably a cover for another Russian hack and leak operation, and the Republicans are gleefully laundering it.

Republicans have browbeaten various social media execs – who are surely nervous about being called before GOP committees – into saying they were wrong to throttle access to what everyone correctly assumed was foreign election interference laundered through Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and election interference go-to-guy Rudy Giuliani.

Various major media outlets have authenticated a small percentage of the data dump as having belonged to Hunter Biden. But that’s exactly what you’d expect in a hack and leak operation. The question is whether the data were really abandoned by Hunter Biden or whether they were uploaded to that laptop as a pretext for trafficking in stolen secrets.

“That’s Rudy”

In October 2020, weeks before the general election, the New York Post ran a story about what Rudy Giuliani claimed was a hard drive abandoned by Hunter Biden at a computer repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware.

Over 50 retired intelligence pros signed an open letter arguing that L’Affaire MacBook bore all the hallmarks of Russian disinfo. Twitter’s former head of safety said this week that the story set off “every single one of my finely tuned [Russian intelligence] hack and leak campaign alarm bells."

Conveniently, the former shop owner who gave the data to Giuliani is legally blind, so he can’t say whether the man who dropped off the machines was Hunter Biden. He’s also a frothing conspiracy theorist who was unable to tell a straight story about the provenance of the laptop.

We know Vladimir Putin personally directed a campaign of interference in the 2020 elections that focused on feeding anti-Biden propaganda to influential Americans, including members of Trump’s inner circle, according to a 2021 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The report doesn’t name names, but contains enough clues to identify Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, as the useful idiot in chief.

This time, the collusion between Trump and the Russians was right out in the open. With Trump’s support, Giuliani spent much of 2019 ostentatiously shuttling to Ukraine and huddling with Kremlin-linked oligarchs, including an active Russian agent who was later sanctioned by Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s Treasury Department for interference in the 2020 election.

Data from Hunter Biden’s computer were on the market in Kyiv around the time Giuliani went disinfo-shopping. As you recall, Giuliani was searching for dirt in Ukraine because Hunter Biden sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, which, according to that ODNI report, was hacked by the Russian spy service known as the GRU in late 2019.

Multiple US intelligence agencies repeatedly and explicitly warned Donald Trump in 2019 that Giuliani’s bottomless thirst for dirt on the Bidens made him the target of a Russian intelligence operation. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien warned Trump that any information Giuliani brought back from his Ukraine junket should be considered “contaminated” by the Russians. Trump reportedly shrugged and said, “That’s Rudy.”

Stolen and dumped

Let’s not forget Trump’s first impeachment was the result of a desperate bid to wring dirt out of the Ukrainians. Trump froze congressionally authorized defense aid to Ukraine in order to strong-arm the country’s new president into announcing a bogus investigation into Hunter Biden.

Republicans have falsely claimed that forensic analyses have proven that the data was found on a laptop that Hunter Biden abandoned at a repair shop in Delaware. These analyses have shown that some of the materials were produced by Hunter Biden. But that’s how hack and leak attacks work.

In a hack and leak, data is stolen and dumped.

A largely genuine trove of stolen data is also the perfect place to hide forged or stolen elements, which enjoy unearned credibility because they’re packaged with real stuff. That’s why the victims of hack and leaks are advised never to confirm the authenticity of anything.

The attackers are counting on the public to draw the erroneous conclusion that, because some things are genuine, the whole package is real, and – most importantly – that it came from where the cover story says it came from, be that an imaginary collective of good-hearted “hacktivists” or a computer repair shop in Delaware. Anywhere but the GRU.

The GRU is notorious for hacking and leaking.

A GRU unit known as FancyBear or APT128 famously deployed this tactic against the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. They also targeted George Soros, the World Anti-Doping Agency, scientists investigating the poisoning of a former Russian agent, and countless others. For particularly high-value targets, GRU combines hacking with good-old-fashioned stalking, following their targets around, hoping to catch them using insecure hotel wifi.

Isn’t it a crazy coincidence that a disk image of “Hunter Biden’s laptop” was revealed to the world by the same guy who we know was the main conduit for Russian disinformation about the Bidens? A guy who has also been investigated for other kinds of election interference on behalf of Trump.

If you believe that, I’ve got an extended warranty to sell you.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.