Europe
ICBM

Russia escalates threats of nuclear war

In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s barely veiled nuclear threat upon announcing a mobilization of Russia’s reserve forces to reverse his recent losses in Ukraine, official and semi-official Moscow commentators have made such menacing completely explicit. Former Putin advisor Sergei Markov was interviewed by BBC Radio, whose anchor politely began with “Good morning to you.” Markov replied: “It’s not a good morning for everybody. In Russia there’s partial mobilization and for Western countries, for your British listeners, I would say that Vladimir Putin told you that he would be ready to use nuclear weapons against Western countries, including nuclear weapons against Great Britain. Your cities will be targeted.” (Photo: Wikipedia)

Planet Watch
doomsday

Nuclear war would cause global starvation: study

More than 5 billion people would die of hunger following a full-scale nuclear war between the US and Russia, according to a study led by Rutgers climate scientists, published in the journal Nature Food. The team estimated how much sun-blocking soot would enter the atmosphere from firestorms that would be ignited by the detonation of nuclear weapons. Researchers calculated soot dispersal from six scenarios—from a regional India-Pakistan exchange to a large US-Russia war. Under even the smallest nuclear scenario, global average caloric production decreased 7% within five years of the conflict. In the largest scenario—a full-scale US-Russia nuclear conflict—global average caloric production decreased by about 90% three to four years after the exchange. “The data tell us one thing: We must prevent a nuclear war from ever happening,” said Alan Robock, professor of climate science with the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University and co-author of the study. (Image: MoreSky)

Europe
Crimea

Nuclear flashpoint Crimea?

A series of explosions tore through a Russian airbase on the Crimean Peninsula, leaving one dead. Saki airfield is some 200 kilometers from the Ukrainian lines, and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office denied responsibility for the blasts. However, an unnamed Kyiv official anonymously told the New York Times that Ukrainian forces carried out an attack on the base. Zelensky later stated: “Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never give it up. This Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea—with its liberation.” But last month, in response to the arrival of US High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in Ukraine, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedevimplied that Ukrainian strikes on targets in Crimea would meet Russia’s stated criteria for use of nuclear weapons. Saying that the refusal of Ukraine and Western powers to recognize Moscow’s control of Crimea poses a “systemic threat” to Russia, he added: “Doomsday will come very fast and hard. There will be no hiding from it.” (Map via Wikimedia Commons)

Planet Watch
Nagasaki

Nagasaki mayor: ‘tangible and present crisis’ of nuclear warfare

In official comments on the anniversary of the 1945 US atomic bombing of the Japanese city, the mayor of Nagasaki sounded a note of alarm. Mayor Tomihisa Taue stated: “In January this year, the leaders of the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China released a joint statement affirming that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.’ However, the very next month Russia invaded Ukraine. Threats of using nuclear weapons have been made, sending shivers throughout the globe. The use of nuclear weapons is not a groundless fear but a tangible and present crisis.” (Photo: Pop Japan)

Europe
SS-27

Russia suspends compliance with New START

Russia officially informed the US that it is “temporarily” suspending on-site inspections of its strategic nuclear weapons, a condition of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Moscow accused Washington of seeking “to create unilateral advantages” and deprive Russia of “the right to carry out inspections on American soil” through the closure of air space to Russian planes and visa restrictions on Russian officials. The suspension comes a week after President Joe Biden said he was ready to work on a new nuclear arms deal with Vladimir Putin. New START, set to expire in 2026, is the last remaining arms pact between the US and Russia. The 2010 agreement limits the US and Russia to 1,550 deployed long-range nuclear missiles each.  (Photo: Russian SS-27 missile, via SIPRI)

North America
russian alaska

Russia: irredentist claims on Alaska

The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament threatened to “claim back” Alaska if the United States freezes or seizes Russian assets in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine. “Let America always remember: there’s a piece of territory, Alaska,” Vyacheslav Volodin said at the last session of the State Duma before summer break. “When they try to manage our resources abroad, let them think before they act that we, too, have something to take back,” Volodin said. He noted that deputy speaker Pyotr Tolstoy had recently proposed holding a referendum in Alaska on joining Russia. The day after Volodin’s comments, billboards proclaiming “Alaska Is Ours!” appeared in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, apparently placed by a local “patriot.” (Map via Wikipedia)

Watching the Shadows
anti-chomsky

Podcast: against Chomsky’s genocide complicity

In Episode 120 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg invites the enmity of his comrades on the left with a long-overdue deconstruction of the increasingly sinister, genocide-abetting politics of Noam Chomsky. In relentless sycophantic interviews, Chomsky inevitably opposes a no-fly zone for Ukraine, war crimes charges against Putin, or even sanctions against Russia, on the basis that such moves would lead to nuclear war. He offers no acknowledgment of how capitulating to Putin’s nuclear threats incentivizes such threats, and the stockpiling of missiles and warheads to back them up. This is part of a long pattern with Chomsky. He has repeatedly engaged in baseless “false flag” theorizing about the Syria chemical attacks, leading activists in the Arab world to accuse him of “regime whitewashing.” He similarly abetted Bosnia genocide revisionism, and denial of the genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia. All this can be traced to the analytical and ultimately moral distortions of the so-called “Chomsky rule“—the notion that we are only allowed to criticize crimes committed by “our” side. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image via social media)

Europe
stalin

Podcast: is ‘Neither East Nor West’ still possible?

In Episode 117 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg recalls the history of the Neither East Nor West position taken by anarchists and anti-authoritarians in the Cold War—seeking to build solidarity between anti-war and left-libertarian forces on either side of the East-West divide. With the world now arguably closer to military confrontation between nuclear-armed powers than it ever was in the (first) Cold War, is such a position still possible? The recent controversy surrounding a planned art show in New York City featuring the work of Russian anti-war artists crystalizes the dilemma. Weinberg also explores the paradoxically parallel thoughts of democratic socialist George Orwell and conservative moralist CS Lewis, both writing in the era of fascism, on the dangers of a “pacifist” position that abets aggressive war and totalitarianism. It is critical that progressives in the West avoid this trap by supporting the courageous Russian anti-war protesters—not (as some have) the war criminal Vladimir Putin. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Budapest 1990, Reddit)

Europe
Crimean war

Podcast: Ukraine & ‘the Russian menace to Europe’

In Episode 116 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg provides an overview of geostrategic and political thinking on the criticality of Eastern Europe and especially Ukraine, from the Crimean War to the contemporary catastrophe. Despite contemporary misconceptions, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels shared the perception of a “Russian menace to Europe” with theorists of Western imperialism such as Halford John Mackinder, Lord Curzon, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Nicholas J. Spykman, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Arch-reactionary or openly fascist conceptions of “Eurasianism” were taken up by the German Karl Haushoferand the Russians Mikhail Katkov and Ivan Ilyin—the latter a formative influence on Alexander Dugin, the intellectual mastermind of Vladimir Putin’s revanchist imperial project. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map of Crimean War theaters via Wikimedia)

Europe
Kremlin

Podcast: against Putin’s Big Lie

In Episode 115 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect Vladimir Putin’s ultra-cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Putin presides over Nuremberg-type mass rallies celebrating war and conquest, spews overtly genocidal rhetoric, and prepares concentration camps for the Crimean Tatars. Alexander Dugin, “Putin’s Rasputin” and the intellectual mastermind of his revanchist imperial project, has openly called for “genocide” of the Ukrainians. In areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia, a forced mass deportation of the populace is reported. Putin is clearly approaching a genocidal threshold in Ukraine—while imposting a totalizing police state within Russia. Yet, with unimaginable perversity, all this is done in the name of a campaign to “denazify” Ukraine. The painting of Ukraine as a “Nazi” state on dubious basis of a few ugly right-wing paramilitaries on the Ukrainian side is vigorously repudiated by the leadership of Ukraine’s Jewish community. Yet this “Big Lie” is credulously (or cynically) echoed by elements of the “left” as well as far right in the United States—who arrogantly refuse to listen to Ukrainians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Europe
kharkiv

Podcast: against pseudo-pacifist war propaganda

In Episode 114 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect Vladimir Putin’s cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism—now abetted by pseudo-pacifist war propaganda. “Anti-war” voices in the West join with Putin in relentlessly portraying Ukraine as a neo-Nazi state on the dubious basis of right-wing paramilitary groups on the Ukrainian side—while turning a blind eye to the totalizing dictatorship now unfolding in Russia, and the plethora of equally ugly right-wing paramilitary groups on the Russian side. The inevitable Noam Chomsky sees fit to protest a hypothetical No-Fly Zone (which has been rejected by NATO) rather than Russia’s very real bombardment and aggressive war against Ukraine. “Anti-war” clicktivists are also avidly sharing a video from the right-wing pundit John Mearsheimer, who essentially blames the Ukrainians for getting invaded. “Leftists” closing ranks with their supposed right-wing enemies behind Putin’s illegal war of aggression recalls George Orwell’s observation that pacifism “is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty.” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Wiadomosci)

Europe
tatars

Crimean Tatars take up arms for Ukraine

The Tatar people, whose homeland on the Crimean Peninsula was illegally annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, are now mobilizing across their diaspora to resist the Russian invasion of the Ukrainian heartland. The World Congress of Crimean Tatars released a statement calling the invasion “banditry,” and calling on Tatars everywhere to “fight against this immoral attack of Russia.” Crimean Tatars have also organized a volunteer battalion to resist the Russian invasion. In a video statement, battalion commander Isa Akayev taunted that “there is enough land in Ukraine to bury all invaders—and don’t forget to put seeds in the pocket so sunflowers grow.” This is a reference to the viral video in which a Ukrainian woman confronted a Russian soldier, saying: “Take these seeds and put them in your pockets so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.” (Image via Twitter)