Tag: ukraine
Villages Evacuate After Ukraine Dam 'Partially Destroyed' By Russia

Villages Evacuate After Ukraine Dam 'Partially Destroyed' By Russia

Kyiv (Ukraine) (AFP) - A Russian-held dam in southern Ukraine was damaged on Tuesday, with Kyiv and Moscow accusing each other of blowing it up while locals were forced to flee rising waters.

The dam was partially destroyed by "multiple strikes", Moscow-installed authorities claimed just as expectations were rising over the start of Ukraine's long-awaited offensive.

Ukraine, however, accused Russia of blowing up the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant.

"The terrorists' goal is obvious -- to create obstacles for the offensive actions of the armed forces," Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky convened a meeting of his National Security Council over the Russian "war crime", said his chief of staff, Andriy Yermak.

Several villages have been "completely or partially flooded" following damage to the dam and evacuations from the area have begun, a Ukrainian official said.

"About 16,000 people are in the critical zone on the right bank of the Kherson region," Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Kherson miliary administration, said on social media, adding that there was flooding in eight areas along the Dnipro River.

'Defensive Operations'

The Kakhovka dam, seized at the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, notably supplies water to the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Built on the Dnipro River in 1956, during the Soviet era, the structure is partly made of concrete and partly of earth. It is one of the largest pieces of infrastructure of its kind in Ukraine.

News of the damage came after Zelensky praised his troops for advances claimed near the devastated city of Bakhmut, while Russia said it had repelled a large-scale attack.

"Well done, warriors! We see how hysterically Russia reacts to any step we take there, all positions we take. The enemy knows that Ukraine will win," Zelensky said in a video message published on social media.

Earlier, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar had noted "some success" on the battlefield.

"The Bakhmut sector remains the epicenter of the hostilities. We are advancing there on a rather wide front," she said.

"The defensive operation includes counteroffensive actions. Therefore, in some sectors, we are conducting offensive actions," Malyar added.

In May, Russia said it seized the now-destroyed eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the scene of the longest and one of the bloodiest battles of the war.

Ukraine says it has been preparing a major offensive to recapture territory lost to Russia, but that there would be no announcement about when it would start.

On Sunday, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said words "can only do harm" and posted a cryptic tweet, quoting lyrics from the Depeche Mode song Enjoy the Silence.

US President Joe Biden wished Ukraine well on Monday in its expected counteroffensive.

Asked by AFP if he thought the expected Ukrainian pushback would work, the president answered by silently raising his hand and crossing his middle and index fingers.

The war has escalated in recent weeks, with increased attacks on both sides of the border with Russia.

Military experts expect Ukrainian forces to test Russian defences for weaknesses before starting a full-blown offensive.

'Large-scale Offensive'

Earlier on Monday, Russia's defense ministry said "the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors of the front" on Sunday in the south of the Donetsk region.

Moscow said it had thwarted the offensive, killing a total of "1,500 servicemen" and destroying more than 100 armoured vehicles.

But the claims were dismissed on Tuesday by the boss of Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, as "wild fantasies".

Prigozhin has been embroiled in a public spat with Russia's regular army and has accused Moscow's military leadership of not supplying enough ammunition, among other criticisms.

Large parts of Donetsk have been held by pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.

It is one of four eastern Ukrainian territories that Russia formally annexed in September last year, along with Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, despite never fully controlling them.

The ministry posted what it said was a video of the battle, showing Ukrainian armoured vehicles coming under heavy fire.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's top commander in Ukraine, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, "was at one of the advanced command posts", the ministry said.

The ministry later said it defeated "new attempts to pierce Russian defences" in southern Donetsk.

The Russian and Ukrainian claims could not be independently verified.

Paul Gosar

Paul Gosar Uses House Newsletter To Promotes Hitler-Loving Website

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) used his House.gov newsletter to direct people to a story posted on a Holocaust-denier website that praised him for attacking “Jewish warmongers” for their support of Ukraine. Gosar was promoting Veterans Today, an antisemitic website that has called the Holocaust a “lie” and a “hoax” and praised Hitler as a “great man” and “a man of valor.”

Gosar’s promotion of Veterans Today is another chapter in his extensive book of antisemitic associations. He has embraced Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes; praised Holocaust denier Vincent James Foxx and promoted his work (including in his newsletter); and defended and praised social media platform Gab and its CEO, Andrew Torba.

Gosar releases a weekly newsletter which includes a section about “Gosar in the News and Other Must-Read Stories.” His April 16 newsletter included a link to a February 26 Veterans Today post by senior editor Jonas E. Alexis that has the headline “Congressman: Jewish warmongers Nuland & Blinken ‘Are Dangerous Fools Who Can Get Us All Killed.’” (Gosar’s newsletter omitted the word “Jewish" before warmongers from its link description.) The Veterans Today article is actually a repost of an article by the Kremlin-funded Sputnik that did not carry the “Jewish warmongers” descriptor.

Gosar is sending readers to an antisemitic site that frequently publishes content denying the Holocaust. For instance, Veterans Today posted an article titled “Who Really Wanted the Holocaust? (Not the Nazis!)” which claimed to “document why it was that the Nazis did not want the Holocaust and why, instead, Jewish Zionists did” and another piece -- since deleted -- which claimed that “the Holocaust was in fact a (Big Zionist) Jew on (Little non-Zionist) Jew False Flag operation.” It also reposted a piece by neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin with the headline “Malignant Jew Goofball Dennis Prager Says You’re Going to Hell If You Don’t Believe His Ridiculous Gas Chamber Hoax.”

Veterans Today has published pro-Hitler propaganda. One piece (“A Defense of Hitler as a Heroic War Veteran?”) called Hitler “a man of valor” and “a great man.” Another stated that while Hitler “intended to save humankind, instead, he has been vilified with the epithet of being the most hated man—and most evil ruler—in human history.“

Jonas E. Alexis, whose byline is on the post that Gosar promoted, has a history of antisemitism. His prior articles include:

In 2017, Politicoreported that Veterans Today is connected to Kremlin propaganda and that “the site has consistently published articles that push the Kremlin party line.”

House Republicans reinstated Gosar to committee assignments after he was removed in the prior Congress for posting an anime video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

In The 'Wilderness Of Mirrors,' Who Leaked (And Changed) Ukraine Intelligence?

In The 'Wilderness Of Mirrors,' Who Leaked (And Changed) Ukraine Intelligence?

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The old saying “confusion reigns” is appropriate to describe the mood in Washington D.C. on the fifth day after top-secret Pentagon documents began appearing on social media sites like Twitter, Telegram, and 4chan last week. Nobody knows who the leaker is, and there are only hints as to what the purpose of the leaks might be.

Usually leaks of sensitive information have an agenda: the leaker wants to expose programs or information which the leaker opposes or believes to be illegal. Edward Snowden’s disclosure of highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) was such a leak. Sometimes the leak has to do with a grudge – a national political leader wants to embarrass a nation with which he or she is at odds. Sometimes leaks are purely political, as were the leaks by Russian intelligence of emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta in order to help the campaign of a politician Russia considered friendly, Donald Trump.

Sometimes secrets are leaked for unknown reasons by persons unknown, which appears to be the case with the Pentagon secrets that started showing up on social media last week. There are indications, some of them not so subtle, that the recent leaks were connected to or at least inspired by Russian intelligence. Some of the leaked documents are so-called slides that had been used to brief members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Others appear to be pages from briefing books that were seen by the Joint Chiefs. According to the New York Times, some of the documents appear to have come from the CIA’s operations center.

The U.S. gathers intelligence in a number of ways. The NSA picks up what they call “signals” intelligence from satellites, radio communications, cellphones, even scrambled conversations on wired telephone lines, which they de-scramble and interpret. The CIA gathers so-called human intelligence from agents on the ground and from open sources like news reports. One of the CIA’s main purposes is to analyze the material it has gathered, as well as help to understand information coming from the NSA and military intelligence sources. The Pentagon gathers its own intelligence using the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Office of National Intelligence, established after 9/11showed that communications among the various intelligence agencies was severely lacking, is supposed to oversee the whole web of data and intelligence gathering.

A number of the leaked documents were altered to show reduced Russian casualty figures in the war in Ukraine, while the Ukrainian casualties were higher than the figures originally on the documents. Who altered the documents is unknown, as is the motive. The fact that the figures favor Russia would appear to be a rather large clue until you consider that there could be ulterior motives behind the altered figures.

It could be one of those intelligence “wilderness of mirrors” mysteries. If the Russians penetrated U.S. intelligence and somehow got hold of the documents, they could have altered the casualty figures for propaganda purposes to show they were doing better in the war than the media has reported. The Russians may hope that because the documents come from an intelligence leak, they might be taken more seriously than official casualty figures released or leaked from the Pentagon.

Or the leaker may have altered the casualty figures to point the finger at Russia and away from him or her. The Times reported today that the leaked documents “look like hastily taken photographs of pieces of paper sitting atop what appears to be a hunting magazine. Former officials who have reviewed the material say it appears that a classified briefing was folded up, placed in a pocket and then taken out of a secure area to be photographed.” If the leak came from a person who works in the Pentagon and who has access to the papers circulating around the “E-Ring” where offices of top officials such as the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are, the leaker would certainly want to conceal his or her identity by the use of misdirection like the altered casualty figures.

The leaked information “includes sensitive briefing material on Canada, China, Israel and South Korea, in addition to the Indo-Pacific military theater and the Middle East,” which could be another way of pointing fingers away from the real purpose of the leaks, which appears to be influencing the war in Ukraine, according to experts interviewed by the Times.

Some of the documents show resupply data for the Ukrainian military, including amounts of ammunition, the shipment of new war materiel such as tanks and armored personnel carriers, and the schedules showing estimated arrival times in Ukraine. Other documents reveal that the Ukrainian military is running low on missiles for its air defense system. “Without a huge influx of munitions, Ukraine’s entire air defense network, weakened by repeated barrages from Russian drones and missiles, could fracture, according to U.S. officials and newly leaked Pentagon documents,” the Times reported this morning.

If the documents are accurate, and Ukraine’s air defenses have been seriously weakened, that would open to door to Russia making more use of its air force to attack Ukrainian artillery batteries. At this point, the battle fought along the 600-mile front lines of the conflict is an artillery war. With reports that Ukraine is already rationing artillery shells in its battle for Bakhmut, if Russia could strike directly at Ukrainian artillery batteries with its jets, that would be a serious blow to Ukraine’s war effort.

There were big reports in the Times and Washington Post about how the documents reveal the extent to which U.S. intelligence has penetrated the Russian military and intelligence services with so-called signals intelligence – that is, vacuuming up Russian communications on the battlefield, including those from the battlefield back to command and control centers in Moscow. In fact, both papers have reported that the leaked documents show the U.S. knows more about Russia’s strengths and weaknesses than it does about Ukraine’s.

Or maybe in the wilderness of mirrors from which the leaked documents emerged, it’s the other way around. If at least some of the top-secret documents were leaked intentionally by the U.S., that might be misdirection, intended to make the Russian military and intelligence services believe the U.S. has more information than it really does.

The truth could be somewhere in between. We may never know the truth of who leaked the documents and why, which is much more likely, and that may be part of the intention of the leaks to begin with.

Some reports say the leaked documents may sow discord among NATO allies by revealing the extent the U.S. spies on its friends. That seems unlikely to me, because Great Britain, France, Germany, and other allies have known for decades that the U.S. hoovers up intelligence from its allies and enemies alike with the massive capabilities of the National Security Agency. So when analysis of the leaked documents tends to show discord among NATO allies engaged in supplying Ukraine, that could be even more misdirection, meant to conceal the fact that there is no discord whatsoever, and everything with NATO and the Ukraine war effort is on track, well-coordinated, and working just fine.

The leak of one document dated March 1 about the training of Ukrainian units by NATO troops when General Mark Milley was in Germany to observe combined arms training of a Ukrainian battalion, would seem to be more of such misdirection. The leak may be pointing the finger at that specific Ukrainian battalion being observed quite publicly by Milley – there were stories and even photographs in the press at the time – in order to conceal the training of even more Ukrainian battalions elsewhere, such as Poland or Lithuania or even Finland, which had not yet finalized its membership in NATO but could have already been cooperating as a U.S. and NATO ally-in-waiting.

That the leaked documents raise more questions than they answer could be the real intent of the leaks. Keeping the Russians guessing about U.S. intelligence abilities is one of the main aims of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. The same goes for the leaked documents which appear to show that Ukraine is low on missiles for its air-defense system. That could be a complete lie, intended to lure Russia into using its air force jets so the Ukrainians can shoot them out of the sky with air defenses that were never weak to begin with.

Sometimes intelligence agencies will penetrate an enemy’s intelligence and leak secrets just to see what the enemy will do about it. Documents recently leaked on social media sites like Twitter, Telegram, and 4chan appear to show that the U.S. has penetrated Russian intelligence and security agencies far deeper than previously known. According to the Times, the documents show that “American intelligence has been able to obtain daily real-time warnings on the timing of Moscow’s strikes and even its specific targets.”

See what I mean about misdirection, confusion, and secrets? That’s the nature of the war-making beast. Keep the enemy off guard. Fill the enemy’s ears and eyes with lies. Having the lies come from leaks could be another way of ensuring that Russia takes disinformation more seriously than they would if the information came from elsewhere. The Pentagon and the CIA know that Russia’s satellite intelligence, both photographic and signals intelligence, is weak. The point is, Russia doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. Confusion is good, because it gives the U.S. and NATO the opportunity to turn the wilderness of mirrors into a carnival funhouse with the leaked documents as free tickets for the ride.

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..

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

desantis ukraine

Ukraine Officials Invite 'Former Officer' DeSantis To Visit War-Torn Nation

Ukraine has invited Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to visit the war-torn country after the Republican branded Russia’s unprovoked invasion a “territorial dispute” not amongst the U.S.’s “many vital national interests.”

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, Oleg Nikolenko, extended the invitation via Twitter on Tuesday evening, writing that DeSantis, a former serviceman, should be capable of distinguishing between disagreement and warfare.

“We are sure that as a former military officer deployed to a combat zone, Governor @RonDeSantisFL knows the difference between a ‘dispute’ and war. We invite him to visit Ukraine to get a deeper understanding of Russia’s full-scale invasion and the threats it poses to US interests,” Nikolenko tweeted.

The invitation came amid a cascade of criticism that followed DeSantis’s remarks characterizing U.S. support for Ukraine as the Biden Administration’s decision to back “virtual ‘blank check’ funding” of an “escalating foreign war over the defense of our own homeland.”

The Republican governor was responding to a questionnaire about the war in Ukraine that Fox News’s Tucker Carlson sent to several current and potential contenders for the 2024 Republican presidential nominee ticket, including former President Donald Trump.

In his response, DeSantis also opined that continued aid to Ukraine would “greatly increase the stakes of the conflict, making the use of nuclear weapons more likely,” signaling that he would tamp down on Ukraine aid — or kill it completely — if elected president.

"While the U.S. has many vital national interests – securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party – becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis said.

The governor’s stance on the matter, which mirrored Trump’s and those of the isolationist, MAGA arm of the GOP, drew a swift rebuke from other prominent Republicans.

In an interview Wednesday with New Hampshire Today, a morning radio show, former Vice President Mike Pence pushed back against DeSantis’ claims. He called Russia’s military efforts in Ukraine not a "territorial dispute" but “an unprovoked war of aggression.”

“Russia is attempting to redraw international lines by force," said Pence, who is reportedly mulling a 2024 presidential bid. “I strongly support continuing to provide the Ukrainian military the resources necessary to repel that Russian invasion.”

Nikki Haley, who launched her 2024 presidential bid in mid-February, also disagreed with DeSantis in her response to Carlson’s questionnaire.

"America is far better off with a Ukrainian victory than a Russian victory, including avoiding a wider war," Haley wrote, according to Fox News. "If Russia wins, there is no reason to believe it will stop at Ukraine. And if Russia wins, then its closest allies, China and Iran, will become more aggressive."

Senate Republicans, several of whom have sought support for Ukraine within their ranks, got in on the act, too — in support of the embattled U.S. ally.

“To those who believe that Russia’s unprovoked and barbaric invasion of Ukraine is not a priority for the United States – you are missing a lot,” Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) tweeted on Tuesday.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, rejected DeSantis’ sentiment that the Russia-Ukraine war was merely a “territorial dispute” of no interest to the U.S.

“Well, it’s not a territorial dispute in the sense that any more than it would be a territorial dispute if the United States decided that it wanted to invade Canada or take over the Bahamas,” Rubio told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday.

Sen John. Cornyn (R-TX), another Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Politico that DeSantis’ remarks had “disturbed” him.

"I'm disturbed by it. I think [DeSantis is] a smart guy… I hope he feels like he doesn't need to take that Tucker Carlson line to be competitive in the primary," Cornyn told the paper. "It's important for us to continue to support Ukrainians for our own security."

In recent remarks, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the Senate Republican whip, distanced himself from DeSantis’s position on the Russian invasion, telling reporters, “The majority opinion among Sen. Republicans is the U.S. has a vital national security interest... That's certainly the view I have.”