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Robin Yassin-Kassab

Archive for the ‘Ukraine’ Category

Irrationality

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Over the last two weeks very many people have asked, is Putin rational? Worse, many have argued that Putin used to be a pragmatist, a master strategist, but that he’s suddenly gone mad.

Michael Flynn, Jill Stein, and Putin. Rightists and leftists united in useful idiocy.

In 1999 Putin was a little known prime minister aiming to become president. Then a series of bomb attacks destroyed residential blocks in Russian cities, killing hundreds. Many insiders blamed Putin and the FSB intelligence services for the attacks. One such insider was the defected FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who Putin’s men consequently murdered in London (in 2006). The FSB obstructed all attempts to investigate, so its guilt has never been proved. Observers must make up their own minds. There are many good sources of information on the topic. I first came across it in Masha Gessen’s excellent book “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.”

What happened next is not controversial. Putin blamed the blasts on Chechen terrorists, and on that pretext reinvaded Chechnya. The Chechen capital Grozny was leveled and tens of thousands of civilians were killed.

Was this behavior rational? Well, it worked. It made Putin very popular in Russia, easing his succession to the presidency. It established his reputation as a patriotic strong man. It quelled Chechen independence.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

March 8, 2022 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Russia, Syria, Ukraine

Ukraine Posts

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made me very briefly go back to Facebook. I’m no expert on Ukraine, but having watched the western mainstream buy Russian oil and gas and treat Putin as a statesman, and the western left and hard right spread Putinist propaganda, while Russia destroyed Syria, I am something of an expert on the appeasement of Russian imperialism. Fortunately that appeasement is ending. Here are my posts from February 22nd until March 3rd. By the end of February it was clear that global politics had completely transformed. (I’ll be leaving Facebook in a couple more days. I’m not doing politics any more. I’m writing short stories.)

From free Kafranbel, Syria, before the town succumbed to Russian bombs.

“Putin calls Ukraine a ‘brother nation’ as his armies invade it. Remember that Russian imperialism organised a genocide in Ukraine in the 1930s. Remember too (because you won’t read it in the newspapers) that the Russian imperialist terror bombing of Syria continues, on a daily basis.”

“Excellent that Germany seems to be cancelling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for Russian gas, even if it’s many years too late. The murder of tens of thousands of Syrians and the expulsion of millions by Russian bombs didn’t get in the way of this project, nor did the aggression against Ukraine in 2014. Finally some are waking up. Now it’s time for a purge of Russian gangsters from London, their money-laundering capital.”

“As predicted, appeasement brought us to this terrible point. Obama started it when his ‘red line’ over Assad’s chemical massacres vanished and he handed Syria to the Russians. This led to a vastly increased casualty rate in Syria, and the rise of ISIS. Trump continued the trend, withdrawing support from the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army when Putin asked him to, leading to the fall of that Front and the occupation of southern Syria by Russia and Iran. Trump also had American troops in NE Syria turning their camps over to the Russians. Europe ignored the obvious signs of resurgent fascism in Russia because it wanted Russian gas. The British welcomed Russian gangsters to use London as a money laundry. There are implications today for China, an expansionist and genocidal state which deeply penetrates Western economies.”

“In Syria Russia targeted schools, hospitals, markets, bakeries and residential blocks, again and again and again, murdering tens of thousands of civilians, destroying the democratic opposition and deliberately causing an outflow of refugees to Europe. Europe and America imposed no sanctions on Russia for this. Zero. Trumpists and Corbynists even admired Russia’s murder spree. Here is the result of such craven appeasement.”

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

March 1, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Russia, Ukraine

Binet, Hitler and Putin

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Putin1This (slightly subedited) was first published at the New Arab/ al-araby al-jadeed.

I’ve just finished “HHhH”, an excellent ‘non-fiction novel’ by the French writer Laurent Binet. It tells the true story of Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of top Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich co-ordinated by the Czechoslovak resistance and the British government.

In the Nazi surveillance agency, the SS, Heydrich was second in command only to Heinrich Himmler (or perhaps he was even more important than his boss – “HHhH” is the German acronym for ‘Himmler’s Brain is Called Heydrich’). He was the highest official in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, and the chief architect of the ‘final solution’ for Europe’s Jews – the Holocaust.

The larger background to the drama of the assassination is Britain and France’s betrayal of Czechoslovakia, the final layer in these states’ disastrous appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s.

Germany had been defeated in World War One. The post-war settlement forced Germany to pay enormous reparations to the victors. This national humiliation was immediately followed by economic collapse and social disorder. Hitler emerged from this context, a strong leader promising to restore German order and pride, identifying enemies domestic and foreign, and lamenting the scattering of the German people across various borders.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

March 22, 2016 at 1:19 pm