chemical warfare

Ukraine accuses Russia of using chemical weapons

The Public Relations Service of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine accused Russia of using chemical weapons in the ongoing conflict, with a staggering total of 815 recorded attacks since the commencement of the large-scale war. The report highlights the use of munitions equipped with poisonous chemical substances, particularly grenades such as the K-51, RGR, and RG-Vo, which contain the dangerous chemical compound CS. To gather evidence, Ukrainian radiation, chemical and bacteriological intelligence units have been carrying out sampling of soil, vegetation, and ammunition fragments, which are then sent for analysis. Documented cases of the use of dangerous chemicals are being submitted to investigative bodies as part of open criminal proceedings. (Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine via WikiMedia Commons)

Moscow protest

Dozens detained at Moscow anti-mobilization protest

Russian law enforcement detained at least two dozen people at a protest in Moscow, as wives and relatives of service members fighting in Ukraine demandedĀ their return. Those arrested included journalists covering the protest and human rights monitors. KinĀ of the soldiers gathered to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, outside the Kremlin walls. The demonstration marked 500 days since President Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilizationĀ of up to 300,000 military reservists for the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine.Ā The call-up prompted more than 260,000 men to flee the nation, with Moscow reportedly setting up draft offices at borders to intercept fleeing reservists. (Photo:Ā astrapressĀ via The Moscow Times)


ICJ issues mixed ruling in Ukraine case against Russia

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) foundĀ that Russia failed to investigate Ukrainian claims that Russian nationals financeĀ terrorism in Ukraine, in violation of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (ICSFT). The ruling, however,Ā rejected requests by Ukraine for a plethora of provisional measures. Ukraine had requested the ICJ declare Russia in violation of both the ICSFT and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), seeking a court order demanding Russia comply with its obligations under these conventions. Ukraine also requested that the ICJ order Russia to prosecute certain officials, such as the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, and further requested reparations for civilian shelling. (Photo: ICJ)

wagner group

‘Blood gold,’ diamonds behind Russian war effort

Gold-mining operations in Africa under the control of the paramilitary Wagner Group are funneling money to the Kremlin for the Russian war effort in Ukraine, according to a new report by watchdog organizations. “The Blood Gold Report,” prepared by the Consumer Choice Center and Democracy 21, finds that Wagner has laundered some $2.5 billion in proceeds from its African operations since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, helping Moscow to ride out international sanctions. In the Central African Republic, Wagner is said to have exclusive operational control over the country’s largest gold mine at Ndassima in return for its services in propping up the regime. The European Union meanwhile announcedĀ  sanctions on Russia’s state-owned diamond giant Alrosa and its CEO, citing theirĀ “long-standing partnership with the Russian Armed Forces.”Ā (Photo of CAR army troops wearing the Wagner Group insignia via Corbeau News Centrafrique)

arm ukraine

Propaganda game in fight over Ukraine military aid

With Republicans holding up new military aid for Ukraine on Capitol Hill, Russia launched one of the most massive aerial assaults of the war, killing 40 in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro and Lviv. Ukraine retaliated the next day with a missile strike on the Russian city of Belgorod, killing at least 22. Russia counter-retaliated with a wave of drone strikes, damaging schools, hospitals and homes across Ukraine, killing at least 24. Russia accused Ukraine of using internationally prohibited cluster munitions in the strikeĀ on Belgorod, and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Of course, Russia has itself used cluster munitions since the start of the war in February 2022, despite international criticism from bodies including the UN Human Rights Council. (Photo from Little Ukraine, NYC: CounterVortex)


Russia: unprecedented number of treason cases in 2023

The Russian authorities opened 70 cases in 2023 for “state treason” or “secret cooperation with a foreign state or organization,” according to a report from the human rights organization Perviy Otdel. Out of the 70 new cases initiated in 2023, in addition to 28 pending from previous years, courts found defendants guilty in 37 cases, marking an historical high. Some cases progressed swiftly from initiation to final judgment, spanning a mere month. Often, the Federal Security Service (FSB) conducted online sting operations, particularly targeting individuals opposing the war in Ukraine. Those charged under the treason statute, Article 275of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, may face from 12 years to life imprisonment.Ā (Photo: Wikipedia)


Russia: ex-GRU officer to testify before ICC

Former Russian military intelligence officer Igor Salikov arrived in the Netherlands to testify as a witness at the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding Russian war crimes. Salikov took part in operations in eastern UkraineĀ as an officer of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU)Ā starting in 2014, and later served as a senior instructor for the private military company Wagner in Syria. In 2022, he was a commanderĀ in the private military company Redut during the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.Ā Salikov admitted to witnessing crimes against civilians, including child abductions.Ā (Photo:Ā OSeveno/WikiMedia)


Gaza & Yarmouk: forbidden symmetry

As Israel crosses the genocidal threshold in Gaza, a regional summit in Riyadh protests,Ā issuingĀ an urgent call for a ceasefire. Yet the regional powers at that summit are guilty of equivalent crimesā€”Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and Iran and the Basar Assad regime in Syria. Assad’s propaganda chief Bouthaina Shaaban especially decried Israel’s targeting of hospitals in Gaza. Yet just last month, the Assad regime bombed hospitals in Syria’s rebel-held north. Indeed, the Assad regime also savagely bombed and besieged Palestinians for months, at Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus. In Episode 200 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes with chagrin that key organizers of this month’s National March on Washington for Palestine included pseudo-left “tankie” formations that actively support the genocidal Assad regime. They also now abet Russia’s genocidal campaign in Ukraine, in which hospitals have been repeatedly targeted. This moral contradiction undercuts our effectiveness in advancing the demand for a GazaĀ ceasefire. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Palestinians awaitĀ aid distribution at Yarmouk, 2014. Credit: UNWRA)

The Caucasus

Anti-Semitic riots, attacks in Russian Caucasus

An angry mob in Russia’s Caucasus republic of Dagestan stormed the airport of regional capital Makhachkala, seking to confront passengers arriving on a flight from Israel. Some held signs reading “Child killers have no place in Dagestan” and “We are against Jewish refugees.” The National Guard only showed up hours after rioters had overrun all areas of the airport, including the runway. Clashes then ensued, with several arrested. There was a similar scene in the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt, after reports on social media claimed that “refugees from Israel” were being accommodated at a local hotel. Another such rally was reported from Cherkessk, capital of Karachay-Cherkessia republic. And in Nalchik, capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, an under-construction Jewish cultural center was set ablaze, with “Death to the Yahudi” written in Russian on one wall. (Map: Perry-CastaƱeda Library Map Collection)


Russia conducts simulated nuclear strike

Russia’s military conducted exercises with nuclear-capable missiles, shortly after the State Duma unanimously voted to revoke ratification of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The Russian Strategic Missile Forces command claimed the exercises were part of a regularly scheduled annual training drill held every October. But Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the exercises were to simulate a retaliatory nuclear strike to be carried out if Russia were attacked with nuclear firepower first. The Russian military widely publicized videos of the exercises across state media. According to the Kremlin, the exercises were overseen by President Vladimir Putin from a Moscow command center. (Photo: Kremlin)


Evidence mounts of Russian war crimes in Ukraine

A new UN report finds continued evidence of war crimes and human rights violations committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, including torture, rape and the deportation of children. The report, the latest issued by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, documents additional indiscriminate attacks with explosive weapons, resulting in deaths, injuries and the destruction and damage of “civilian objects.” For example, 24 people, mostly women and children, were killed in an attack on a block of residential apartments in Uman, a city in the Cherkasy region, in April.Ā (Map: PCL)


Ukraine & Palestine ā€” forbidden symmetry III

In Episode 197 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that as Israel crosses a genocidal threshold in Gaza, Vladimir Putin hypocritically protests the carnageā€”despite the fact that he has already crossed that threshold in Ukraine. This hypocrisy is precisely mirrored by that of Joe Biden. The moral position of Ukraine’s resistance to Russian aggression, occupation and genocide is undermined by the contradiction of its Western backers such as the US marshalling massive resourcesā€”in the very same legislation just introduced by Biden on Capitol Hillā€”to assist Israeli aggression, occupation and genocide. Listen on SoundCloudor via Patreon. (Photo: Maan News Agency)