Above photo: HMS Ocean, HMS Bulwark and RFA Mounts Bay during Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) in the Mediterranean. September 28, 2016.
According to Ian Cobain in his article published in the Guardian in September 2016, it is a fact that Britain has been to war more than any other country in history. True to type, instead of de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine, leading politicians in its centre of power are now upping the stakes against Russia: “The British government has played a provocative role in the present crisis, talking up war, decrying diplomacy as appeasement and escalating arms supplies and military deployments to Eastern Europe.” (Stop the War statement, 24.02.2022.)
Yahoo news has posted the question: “what would happen if Britain went to war with Russia?” Answer: 3 Missiles would take out this little island.
Russian intervention came after the Ukraine army’s openly Nazi “special forces” like the swastika-toting Azov Battalion have been shelling Russian speaking communities in Donetsk for 8 years. Estimates of deaths from the war in the Donbass region, according to the U.N. have been between 13,100 and 13,300, these figures include children in school. The Azov Battalion have been in the forefront of the Ukrainian forces that have been shelling villages since 2014; and in recent days, two women teachers have been reported killed in one of these attacks.
The founder of the Azov Battalion which is an official member of Ukraine’s armed forces, Andriy Biletsky, is on record as saying that the Ukraine “ought to lead the white races of the world in a final crusade against Semite led Untermenschen”. He served as a member of the Ukraine parliament from 2014 to 2019. He is also a founder of the Intermarium project, which aims to link up neo-Nazis and white supremacists across Europe and the US.
On Monday, 21st February 2022, provocations and manoeuvres had already been discussed at the meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force at Castle Belvoir. The JEF, set up in 2014, is led and steered by Britain; a key figure is the hawkish “punch hard” (his words) general David Richards. it consists of military and political representatives of Eastern and Northern European nations, several of whom are vehemently anti-Russian: the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. It’s military arm includes the UK’s Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force. JEF command and control is located at the Standing Joint Force Headquarters in Northwood, England.
At that meeting, the defence ministers of the above countries of the JEF decided to put warships on the Baltic as a demonstration of “freedom of movement in the Baltic Sea”. the JEF statement announced it “today agreed to undertake a series of integrated military activities across our part of northern Europe—at sea, on land and in the air.”
The first week of the conflict saw Labour’s Kier Starmer in parliament calling for the shutting down of the RT (Russia Today) news channel, which provides an alternative perspective on the crisis. Ken Livingstone (former mayor of London) appeared on the channel and called Starmer’s demand an attack on free speech. Even Boris Johnson baulked at the suggestion that political bosses should have the power to shut down news outlets.
Stoking the flames of war also was Labour MP Chris Bryant, whose warlike credentials include refusing to serve in 2015 as shadow defence minister under Jeremy Corbyn, as the latter refused to give him a commitment that he would authorise a nuclear attack on Russia. Bryant demanded the sanctioning of Russian owner of London-based Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich.
Another Labour MP, Liam Byrne, declared that week, “We are here today because our strategy of deterrence has failed… The risk is that today’s slap on the wrist will not deter anything further”.
To top it all, Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary, in a meeting with Britain’s military said the British army had “kicked the backside of Tsar Nicholas I in 1853 in Crimea”, and added “we can always do it again”. Really?
Such is the war fever in ruling circles in Britain that former soldier “clout, don’t dribble” (his words) Tory MP Tugendhat called for the expulsion of all Russian citizens. “All” must include by definition even dissidents and financial buddies of the Tory deregulating elite. Such rhetoric is not only inflammatory but insane.
War hysteria is the flavour of the month in Westminster. Senior Tory David Davis added his voice to the growing demand for the UK to retaliate against Russia with direct military involvement. The justification for this extreme escalation is the premise that Russia has made war on the West, an extension of the conflict first voiced by the hawkish Tugendhat, which forms an entirely gross misrepresentation of the current situation in Ukraine with its history of 8 years of conflict in the Donbass. It is not just ironic but alarming that an apparently unhinged Davis describes this step as “de-escalation”.
On 27th February, Britain’s “Adams Family” Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss (4th highest in cabinet ranking) made an official announcement encouraging British citizens to join the Ukraine armed forces. It is likely that any willing volunteers will be drawn from the politically committed far right, several of whom have already been fighting in the Neo Nazi Azov Battalion (since 2014 an official formation of Ukraine’s army). The battalion openly sport the “Wolsangel” rune of the World War 2 Nazi SS regiment “Das Reich” as their official emblem. They have been filmed often carrying swastika flags alongside NATO flags. Azov Nazis have been deployed for several years in actions against civilians in the Donbass region
One salient question has been buried under all this British sabre rattling over Ukraine: the purpose of NATO and why it still exists. After 1992 and the dismantling of the Communist military Warsaw Pact, NATO which was set up as a rival military organisation, instead of following suit continued like Topsy to exist and grow. Since then it has conducted military operations which include the 1999 bombing of Serbia, resulting in the loss of civilian, non-combatant lives and the 2011 illegal invasion of Libya and subsequent torture and murder of its president Gaddafi. Libya has been transformed into a war wasteland by the NATO action, causing enormous human suffering and adding to the refugee crisis. The Americans and British were the chief belligerents on the NATO side in both events. When Hillary Clinton learned of the death of Muammar Gaddafi she made the now infamous comment: “We came, we saw, he died”.
The mantra of “defending democracy” will be heard more and more in the coming days, as the vamps of war like Truss, Wallace, Tugendhat, Davis and retired military imperialist die-hards like General Richards, imbibe the bellicose approval they crave.
The extension of the conflict by proxy, as a threat of invasion at first to the enthusiastic newer NATO countries of Eastern Europe and then to all Western democracies, is the non sequitur upon which these arguments for military action rest. This is a very dangerous game and is reminiscent of the collapse to war in 1914.
Whilst it is legitimate to criticise Putin’s drastic action as an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and a dangerous gamble in terms of consequences, the suffering of the constantly attacked populations of Donetsk and Lugansk should never be regarded as acceptable or permanent. Nor should the exposure of the alliance between Nazi elements in Ukraine’s body politic and NATO’s aggressive expansionism be presented by western governments and their obedient media as any kind of endorsement of Putin’s record on human rights.
Notwithstanding all of which, to put it in Gothick mode, Westminster is like the cave of Grendel, as its resuscitated imperialist ghouls begin to crawl out, sniffing blood on the air.