More skepticism over chemical warfare reports
Checking the sources with an eye on AZOV
The Ukrainian city of Mariupol is on the verge of falling to Russian forces after a brutal siege that has lasted more than 40 days. Recent reports of a chemical weapons attack are raising fears in the city, but is the threat real? — France 24
Officials say they are investigating an unconfirmed claim by a far-right Ukrainian regiment that a poisonous substance was dropped in the besieged city of Mariupol this week. The claim could not be confirmed by independent sources. — AP
More shocking news is coming out of Mariupol in southern Ukraine, about Russia’s alleged use of chemical warfare. Western media has been running with the story in screaming above-the-fold headlines. President Biden is already calling it “genocide” and planning to drop another $800M in drones, missiles, and tanks into the war zone. But after tossing the provocative term out there for the media to chew on, Biden now says he will "let the lawyers decide" whether or not to use that designation internationally.
The U.S. numbers alone are daunting.
“The scope and speed of our support to meeting Ukraine’s defense needs are unprecedented in modern times,” said John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. He said the approximately $2.5 billion in weapons and other material that has been offered to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration is equivalent to more than half of Ukraine’s normal defense budget. (AP)
It’s obvious that neither the US nor Russia are in any rush to pursue peace talks leading to a negotiated ceasefire and an end to this unwinnable proxy war. Until they are, thousands more Ukrainians will die and many more will be displaced while the disruption to the global economy will be enormous, threatening the lives, health, and livelihood of millions of poor people in every country.
The first thing I do when I hear new atrocity reports is look for the source. I’m always skeptical about war news, body counts, and claims of war crimes from all sides. It’s not because I doubt their possibility. It’s just that I know the intel agencies and propaganda mills are constantly churning out atrocity reports for domestic consumption as if the war itself wasn’t enough of an atrocity. Usually, the reports remain unconfirmed by independent agencies for months or even years. But by then it’s too late. Each story becomes another rationale for escalation and the injection of more arms into the war zone as the violence spins out of control.
The latest still-unconfirmed reports of chemical attacks in Mariupol have been traced back to the notorious AZOV Battalion, a neo-Nazi group folded into Ukraine’s National Guard. Despite the terrifying headlines, no credible western media are willing to confirm AZOV’s chemical weapons story.
The very presence of AZOV and other foreign or non-governmental mercenary groups like the pro-Russian Wagner Group, who themselves have been charged with committing war crimes only leads to more media fog. The Wagner group was reportedly founded by Dmitry Utkin, a former Russian army officer who fought in the Chechen wars.
Utkin supposedly has a passion for the Third Reich and for Adolf Hitler", and the group is named after Hitler's favorite composer, Richard Wagner.
In his daily video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that “we take [rumors of chemical warfare] as seriously as possible.” But he added authorities were unable for now to draw clear conclusions about what kind of substance may have been used. “Obviously it is impossible to conduct a full investigation and full analysis in the besieged city.”