Thursday, 14 December 2017

Chaos rules in Ukraine

Arsenyi ‘Maidan’ Yatsenyuk Confirms He Staged a Coup in Kiev and Was Ready to Flood Crimea in Blood

Ukraine goes on spiralling down

As political conflict continues and corruption remains as before even Ukraine’s most fervid Western friends are now in despair

Alexander Mercouris

13 December, 2017

As news of the bizarre antics in Kiev involving former Georgian President Mikheil Saakachvili – now released again this time by a court after having been arrested for a second time – continues, I recently read an article about Ukraine which gives just about as bleak a picture of the state of the country as it gets

.the news out of Ukraine over the past few weeks has been dire. The country’s prosecutor general has disrupted investigations by its National Anti-Corruption Bureau with the apparent consent of Mr. Poroshenko. The interior minister has intervened to protect his son from similar scrutiny. Officers in the security service, the SBU, have tried to arrest Mikheil Saakachvili, the former Georgian President turned Ukrainian corruption fighter, only to be driven back by protesters. Prosecutors are targeting anti-corruption activists; the army, interior ministry troops and private militias work at cross-purposes, answering to different politicians or oligarchs. Mr. Poroshenko’s government has been seriously weakened.

This is in fact an accurate description of the sort of things that happen in Ukrainian politics in any given week. The only thing that makes these events at all unusual is that they are being written about in this way by a journal which up to now has been one of the most fervid supporters of Ukraine’s Maidan “revolution” (aka “the Revolution of Dignity”).

That journal – from whose latest article on Ukraine the above extract is taken – is The Economist.

The Economist is not the only pro-Maidan anti-Russian journal to write recently about Ukraine in this way. An article in the website of the rigidly Atlanticist Atlantic Council makes the same points.

Hand-wringing about continued corruption in Ukraine following the Maidan “revolution” is nothing new. Former US Vice-President Joe Biden said many of the same things about corruption in Ukraine and the need for ‘reform’ there during a visit to Ukraine in September last year.

The latest flurry of Western complaints about the state of Ukraine come alongside publication of data about the disastrous decline of Ukraine’s economy. Here is how an article from RT sums it up

The latest research shows the people of Ukraine have the worst living standards among all of Europe.

An average Ukrainian earns just €190 per month, or just a little over $220, according to the study by The highest average net salary, according to the analysts, is in Switzerland. An average Swiss earns no less than $5,000 per month after taxes.

In November, Ukrainian Economy Minister Stepan Kubiv admitted the economy lost $15 billion annually after Russia closed its borders to consumer goods from Ukraine, almost a fifth of the country’s GDP.

The current gross domestic product of Ukraine is $93 billion. Before the Maidan revolution at the end of 2013, Ukraine’s GDP was $183 billion.

The RT article overstates the extent of the contraction of Ukraine’s GDP. The figures given are based on calculations of Ukraine’s GDP based on the exchange rate of Ukraine’s currency relative to the US dollar. This is an artificial measure of GDP vulnerable to changes in the exchange rate.

If the more accurate purchasing power parity measure of GDP is used then Ukraine’s GDP increases to $368 billion, which however is still less than a tenth of Russia’s.

This is a precipitous decline for what was once one of the most economically developed regions of the USSR, and which because of its Soviet legacy of strong industries, rich farmlands, large population, abundant natural resources and access to the sea ought to be a rich country.

Suffice to say that whilst living standards in Russia are now significantly higher than they were before the Soviet collapse, Ukrainian living standards – which have never recovered to their Soviet levels – have since 2014 fallen back still further.

Ukraine’s tragedy is that there appears to be no route out of this crisis.

As it happens every so often one comes across claims that the situation in Ukraine is ‘stabilising’. Then something happens – such as the bizarre antics involving Mikheil Saakashvili – which shows the opposite.

On the question of the economy, I remember having identical discussions in the mid 1990s with various people about the ‘economic stabilisation’ which was supposed to be happening in Russia.

When an economy has contracted as severely as Russia’s did in the early 1990s and as Ukraine’s did in the period 2014 to 2015 even minimal amounts of economic activity – such as always happen even in the most collapsed economies – can distort the statistics to make the situation look better than it really is.

The mere fact for example that Ukraine this year has received $4 billion from abroad – $3 billion which it borrowed itself at very high interest, $1 billion which it was given by the IMF – which is a very considerable amount of money for a country like Ukraine (4.3% of GDP calculated on a nominal basis, 1% of GDP calculated on a purchasing power parity basis) will have made the GDP statistics about the economy look better than actual economic conditions in the country really are.

This is of course always assuming that the statistics are being collected and collated properly, which in countries such as Russia was in the 1990s and such as Ukraine is now they never are.

That Ukraine’s statistics are not reliable has in fact been confirmed by studies of its population statistics, which show massive distortions intended to conceal how bad the country’s demographic situation has become. There is no reason to suppose that the same distortions do not affect the economic data.

Again the example of 1990s Russia is useful. It is now generally acknowledged that Russia’s real economy continued to contract every year throughout the period from 1994 to 1998 when Boris Yeltsin’s government and the IMF were claiming to see in the statistics evidence of a ‘stabilisation’. The truth became clear in 1998 when the whole House of Cards, which was what the Russian economy had by then become, simply collapsed.

The event which precipitated the Russian economic collapse in 1998 was a collapse in oil prices. The event which averted a total collapse of Ukraine’s economy in the period 2014 to 2015 was also a collapse in oil prices.

The benefits of that oil price collapse have however been squandered.

The Maidan regime used the space the collapse in oil prices gave it to increase spending on the military and to reduce further Ukraine’s economic ties to Russia.

This is the exact opposite of what a Ukrainian government really concerned about the economy would have done. If Ukraine’s government had really been concerned about stabilising the economy it would have sought a rapprochement with Russia – Ukraine’s obvious energy supplier and the traditional market of its goods – and sought Russia’s help to bring the war in eastern Ukraine to an end.

None of that can however happen whilst the present Maidan regime remains in power since it would represent a repudiation of the Maidan movement’s entire programme, which is to distance Ukraine as far from Russia politically, culturally and economically as possible.

Which brings me back to the cause of Ukraine’s crisis.

Notwithstanding protestations to the contrary made by various people – including by the way President Putin – the issue behind the political conflict which in February 2014 brought the Maidan movement to power was not corruption; it was Ukraine’s relations with Russia.

In 2014 Ukraine’s oligarchs overwhelmingly backed the Maidan movement and bankrolled its protests since they were adamantly opposed to closer relations with Russia but wanted instead closer relations with the West.

This was because – diametrically opposite to what Western commentators say – they were alarmed by the way Putin’s government after 2000 managed to rein in Russia’s oligarchs, and were alarmed that if Russian influence in Ukraine grew so that Ukraine became fully integrated in the Eurasian institutions the same thing would be done to them.

The Western powers backed Ukraine’s oligarchs in 2014 because their entire policy since the USSR broke up in 1991 has been to detach Ukraine from Russia. This was what the benighted association agreement between the EU and Ukraine – the nominal issue behind the 2014 Maidan protests – was ultimately all about.

It was this mutual opposition to closer ties between Ukraine and Russia which created the commonality of interest between Ukraine’s oligarchs and the Western powers, both in 2014 and earlier, which set the scene for the 2014 Maidan ‘revolution’.

That ‘revolution’ of course needed its foot-soldiers who were to be found in Ukraine’s various ultra-rightist and neo-Nazi groups. However as The Economist slips out in the article which I have quoted from above, these “private militias….answer to different politicians or oligarchs” ie. they are ultimately controlled by the oligarchs as well.

Needless to say the great majority of Ukraine’s people were not involved in the 2014 events, and based on what I am hearing from people who know about the situation in Ukraine today, they have now become utterly cynical and disillusioned.

To imagine that such a system created as a result of what it is not altogether wrong to call a criminal conspiracy (after all it did result in the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s constitutional and democratically elected government) is capable of carrying out ‘reform’ or ending corruption in Ukraine is beyond fanciful, and it is testament to the seemingly unlimited detachment from reality of some people in the West that they still appear to expect it.

The trouble is that though the people of Ukraine are utterly cynical and disillusioned, the extraordinary violence the Maidan regime can be counted on to use against people who it is able to define as ‘pro-Russian’ makes it all but impossible to see how a change of course can be brought about.

This opens the way for chancers and adventurers like Mikheil Saakashvili to make their pitch, which is what we are seeing in Ukraine now.

Needless to say if Ukraine had a properly functioning political system someone like Saakashvili would be making no impact there at all. The fact that he is making an impact despite the minimal level of his public support (no more than 2% according to some polls) shows how dysfunctional Ukraine’s political system actually is.

I would add that given how corrupt and politicised the Ukrainian judiciary has become, the fact that a court has now ordered Saakashvili’s release is a sure sign he is getting support from elements within the Ukrainian power system (Tymoshenko? Kolomoisky?) who are hostile to Poroshenko, and who are using Saakashvili as a weapon against Poroshenko.

The victims in all this are of course the people of Ukraine, who are trapped in a nightmare created for them by Western policy in exactly the same way and to the same extent that the people of Libya say are.

No wonder that with their living standards having collapsed and with all hope of things getting better having gone they are now voting with their feet, leaving Ukraine in growing numbers, causing Ukraine’s population to collapse, just as its economy has.

Georgian snipers reveal who sent them to the Maidan

December 13, 2017 - FRN - 
KP - translated by Inessa Sinchougova 

Russ Fort,
13 December, 2017

The shooting of people on the Maidan in Kiev in February 2014 was organized by snipers, who were specially brought to Ukraine . There were 50 of them. And they were divided into groups of 10 fighters, each of which acted on its own command. They were promised $ 5,000 each for such work. 

This was said on the air of the TV channel "112" by a Ukrainian lawyer of the former employees of the unit "Berkut" "Alexander Goroshinsky. The Ukrainian authorities, who received their posts after the victory of the Maidan, have so far been accused of shooting at the protesters. However,  Goroshinsky claims that he managed to obtain testimonies from two Georgian citizens, Alexander Revazishvili and Koba Negradadze, who confessed that they were among the mercenaries. Goroshinsky met with them in Tbilisi and they agreed to give evidence on December 12 at the trial of the Berkut case.

- Groups of mercenaries were brought to Kiev, who began to operate on February 20. They were given weapons and ammunition and distributed 10 people at different points. They, at the command of their commanders, were supposed to open fire indiscriminately at everyone - protesters and security officials, in order to raise panic," Goroshinsky told of the details of the testimonies. These mercenaries were promised $ 5,000 each. But now they are ready to name the names and executors of the crime, and the organizers.

As evidence, the lawyer showed a video in which former mercenaries named their names and signed the testimony. They expect by disclosing the crime, since they claim that two of their group, who were also at the Maidan, have already mysteriously disappeared.

Earlier, Italian "Channel 5" aired a documentary in which the same Koba Nergadze, Alexander Revazishvili and another mercenary - stated that they were mercenaries in 2014 and were sent to Kiev by ex-President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili . Among the snipers were also the Balts and  American instructor.

Barrow, Alaska warming so quickly the computers thought the data was unreal

Utqiagvik is warming so fast, NOAA computers removed the data because it seemed unreal

Author: Angela Fritz, The Washington Post

The NOAA Barrow Baseline Atmospheric Observatory, with the Arctic Ocean in the background. (Mike Worley, Bureau of Land Management)
Anchorage Daily News,
12 December, 2017

Last week, scientists were pulling together the latest data for NOAA's monthly report on the climate when they noticed something strange: One of their key climate monitoring stations had fallen off the map. All of the data for Utqiaġvik, formerly Barrow – the northernmost city in the United States – was missing.

No, Utqiaġvik hadn't literally been vanquished by the pounding waves of the Arctic Sea (although it does sit precipitously close). The missing station was just the result of rapid, man-made climate change with a runaway effect on the Arctic.

The temperature in Utqiaġvik had been warming so fast this year, the data was automatically flagged as unreal and removed from the climate database. It was done by algorithms that were put in place to ensure that only the best data gets included in NOAA's reports. They're handy to keep the data sets clean, but this kind of quality-control algorithm is only good in "average" situations with no outliers. The current situation in Utqiaġvik, however, is anything but average.

If climate change is a fiery coal mine disaster, then Utqiaġvik is our canary. The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth, and Utqiaġvik is in the thick of it. With less and less sea ice to reflect sunlight, the temperature around the North Pole is speeding upward.

The missing data obviously confused meteorologists and researchers, since it's a record they've been watching closely, according to Deke Arndt, the chief of NOAA's Climate Monitoring Branch. He described it as "an ironic exclamation point to swift regional climate change in and near the Arctic."

Just this week, scientists reported that the Arctic had its second-warmestyear – behind 2016 – with the lowest sea ice ever recorded. The announcement came at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, and the report is topped with an alarming headline: "Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades."

Changes in the Arctic extend beyond sea ice. Vast expanses of former permafrost have been reduced to mud. Nonnative species of plants, types that only grow in warmer climates, are spreading into what used to be the tundra. Nowhere is this greening of the Arctic happening faster than the North Slope of Alaska, observable with high-resolution clarity on NOAA satellite imagery.

"The current observed rate of sea ice decline and warming temperatures are higher than at any other time in the last 1,500 years, and likely longer than that," the NOAA report says.

In the past 17 years, Utqiaġvik, formerly Barrow, has experienced rapid warming. (NOAA)
In the past 17 years, Utqiaġvik, formerly Barrow, has experienced rapid warming. (NOAA)

At no place is this more blatantly obvious than Utqiaġvik. In the short 17 years since 2000, the average October temperature in Utqiaġvik has climbed 7.8 degrees. The November temperature is up 6.9 degrees. The December average has warmed 4.7 degrees.

The Utqiaġvik temperatures are now safely back in the climate-monitoring data sets. Statisticians will have to come up with a new algorithm to prevent legitimate temperatures from being removed in the future.

New algorithms for a new normal.

From the Arctic - 12/13/2017

On Thin Ice

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Found this on Twitter. Puts the phrase “on thin ice” in some perspective. Freaking Mid-December in total darkness up there and the ice is thin AF. Volume looks awful. Still largely open water in Chukchi Sea and northern Bering Sea and seriously recessed near Svalbard. Genuinely wondering if we will witness collapse of Arctic sea ice next warm season given this picture and relentless heat. 2016 may have set it on that track continuing into 2017 and soon ‘18. It just looks so bad yo! A major Arctic storm could shred the ice at any time frankly.

--Nicholas Humphrey, via Facebook

Methane 12 13 2017 North America. California is showing excess methane emissions.
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Methane at 2590 ppb

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Arctic Sea Ice daily ammo against Collapse Cultists & Climate Deniers.

Daily volume: 12,685 km³ (4th lowest for the date) Δ +188/day
+1257/week, +3,880/month, +1940/year, +918/5year (+7.8%)
–8,541 (–40% 80s), –7,103 (90s), –3,210 (00s), –89 (2010–16)
Daily extent: 11,289,242 km² (2nd lowest for the date) Δ +87k/day
+663k/week, +2,289k/month, +436k/year, –2k/5year (–0%)

2017 volume maximum 20,756 km³ on April 18th (*lowest*)
2017 volume minimum 4,539 km³ on September 11th (4th lowest)
2017 extent maximum 13,878,287 km² on March 6th (*lowest*)
2017 extent minimum 4,472,225 km² on September 9th (6th lowest)
However, the above daily numbers carry a taste of  ?. If you don’t want to cherry–pick your data to make a point, you may want to look at the latest, updated, running annual average. The ice, after all, has to be out there and survive those waves 24/7, 365 days of the year.
Annual volume: 12,799 km³ (*record* low) Δ +5.3/day
+31.9/week, +125/month, –930/year, –758/5year (–5.6%)
Annual extent: 9,949,084 km² (2nd lowest) Δ +1.2k/day
+10k/week, +56k/month, +214k/year, –20k/5year (–0.2%)
Source: JAXA / PIOMAS (app estimate) for December 12th 2017

Alaska sees record-high temperatures in December

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - An unprecedented heat wave has toppled weather records across Alaska.
The Juneau Empire reports the National Weather Service thermometer Friday at Juneau International Airport hit 54 degrees, tying the highest temperature recorded in December there.
General forecaster for the Weather Service in Juneau Devid Levin says the heat wave in Alaska is due to a big ridge of upper-level high pressure. With the jet stream moving to the north, warm air from the tropics has moved north, covering the state.
Records kept by the Weather Service since 1936 say three of the 10 warmest December days in Juneau's history have come in the past week.

It was warmer Friday in Juneau than it was in Houston, Jacksonville, Florida or Monterrey, Mexico.

Cesnorship on Facebook

Facebook is shitting down activist voices

All three of these women are a threat to the ruling narrative
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And others...

It is hard for me to imagine who Claudia Stauber was threatening or what community guidelines she was violating.

Must have been because she was speaking the truth.
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VICE comes out swinging at Fort Russ News, here's what we think

December 9th, 2017 - Fort Russ News -
- by Joaquin Flores - Please Support Flores' Patreon! 

Sometimes this gets so predictable -  I'm reminded here about those living in glass homes being advised not to throw stones. 

The Murdoch and Disney owned fake news 'billionaire blog', VICE News, came out swinging against our independent media outlet, Fort Russ, as we continue to make the establishment shake in its boots. 

We're not even going to get into how Vice News is a standard beltway publication posing as something hip and fresh, for that much sought after 35-55 age demographic - specifically those who are aspirationally  younger - still deluding themselves into believing they are 21 year old skateboarders with a bottomless trust-fund. Never ending reads about globe-trot for thrills at passe 1990's era party/drug destinations.  Oh really, Ibiza again? Burning Man? We're not exaggerating. But we're not going there.

In their latest hit piece against Fort Russ, they fall over themselves ridiculing our editorial line that the US's efforts to ban Russia from the 2018 Olympics were intended to shame Russia. Of course ours is a ridiculous idea, because never before in history have geopolitical rivalries or political crises had any influence on Olympic participation or outcomes. Except for 1956, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, and 1988. So there's that. 

What we've also said, is that this move will surely backfire - and western press iscoming around to this fact also. Yes, we'd get beat up if we were wrong, but nothing's worse than being right. 

But friends, readers, supporters, family - yes. This is far from the first time that the establishment has punitively lashed out against our paper. With a growing daily reach, and a growing presence in all spheres of social media - we're making an impact. It's no wonder that the Washington Post named us on their list of 'fake news' offenders. It's no wonder they had us on their short list of a dozen or so chief offenders, compiled - get this - by the Ukrainian NGO, PropOrNot. 

Yeah, our website is promoted by 'Kremlin linked accounts' - whatever that means. 

They base this vague but nevertheless defamatory smear, by using their very serious sounding 'Hamilton68' (tm) matrix, run by a US funded 'think-tank' which hosts its materials on an extremely hard to read and shoddy blog, called 'Alliance for Securing Democracy'. Basically if you look at the about section, they refuse to operationalize their terms for this 'Hamilton' matrix clearly, or to name the actual twitter accounts they track. 

But going on what they say, 'Kremlin linked accounts' are just accounts that have tweeted things sympathetic somehow to Russia. Given that the legacy media cacophony somehow lines up and follows their orders when it comes to encircling and weakening Russia on the military, geopolitical, and cultural fronts - it may have slipped the minds of a few greased-palmed establishment neoliberals that avoiding nuclear holocaust and broadening mutual understanding might be a good thing. Just maybe. 

And here we thought their accusation was something more concrete. But based on the non-stop degeneration of American news talking points, 'Kremlin linked' seems to be about as meaningful as 'links to Russia'. 

Our viral piece - TUE's: How Americans Dope and get away with it - read by hundreds of thousands and with a continued reach of god only knows how many more moving forward - certainly required that VICE be called in to do a little dirty work. But in the end, just driving more traffic our way probably wasn't what the had in mind. 

Busted - Russian Olympic Committee unmarked offices are actually HQ'd in Moscow, where the Kremlin is. 

So where's the beef? As we have said, the IOC is highly concerned that the Russian national team has links to Russia. Based on evidence they've scrutinized, they believe they've made a bullet proof case that this is indeed so. After all, both the Russian Federation and the Russian Olympic Committee are headquartered in Moscow, which is where Vladimir Putin spends much of his time, and where the Kremlin is also located. 

Oh VICE - why didn't they just stick to doing the same article again about Venice Beach skateboard subculture in the early 80's, or the sex life of the young Tony Hawk? 

Part of the deal of being bought out by Murdoch and Disney was having to soft-peddle fetish consumerism and imperialism. Really, even in its heyday, there were much better pubs out there like Adbusters. 

Well, VICE - thanks for the slander attempt, all that happened was an uptick in readership. As they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity. Especially for VICE - the dolts - their own occasional readers are out there looking for the next big thrill - and nothing thrills more than the forbidden fruit of 'Kremlin linked' agents at Fort Russ News. Gosh, that's almost sexy. 

America's secret deal with ISIS

Newsweek: Pentagon “Made Secret Deal with ISIS” to “Battle Assad in Syria”

The U.S. military allowed thousands of Islamic State militant group (ISIS) fighters to flee from their de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, in a secret deal that boosted the U.S. fight against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."

Veterans Today,

11 December, 2017

…by Jonas E. Alexis

Yes, Virginia, there is a diabolical ideology at work in Iraq and Syria. This diabolical ideology has been supported by the Pentagon, which got their support from the Neoconservative movement, which got their support from the Israeli regime, which has vowed to oust Assad by any means necessary, including aiding and abetting terrorist organs in the region.[1]
This is not conspiracy theory. It is not even a secret. All you have to do is ask Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren, who said in 2013 that “The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.”[2]
Oren said explicitly that terrorist cells like al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria “are pretty bad guys,” but Israel prefers them over Iran and the Assad government.
“Still, the greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc. That is a position we had well before the outbreak of hostilities in Syria. With the outbreak of hostilities we continued to want Assad to go.”[3]
Since Israeli officials still want Assad gone by any means necessary, they have invented all kinds of crazy ideas as to why Assad is a bad guy: Assad used chemical weapons on his own people; Assad was deliberately liquidating civilians; Assad “is like Hitler.[4] Blah, blah, blah.
But Newsweek itself has recently revealed that one of Israel’s main puppets in Syria, the Pentagon, has used ISIS to fight the Syrian government. Listen to this:
“The U.S. military allowed thousands of Islamic State militant group (ISIS) fighters to flee from their de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, in a secret deal that boosted the U.S. fight against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to a Pentagon-backed Kurdish commander who has since switched his allegiance to Turkey and who spoke to Reuters.
“‘[An] agreement was reached for the terrorists to leave, about 4,000 people, them and their families,’ Silo told Reuters Friday, claiming that all but about 500 who fled were ISIS fighters.
“A member of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces holds up an ISIS flag claimed after battling the militants in Raqqa, Syria, on August 14. A high-ranking commander of the mostly Kurdish force has defected to Turkey and claimed his former comrades made a secret deal to allow ISIS fighters flee. News of a covert agreement between the Syrian Democratic Forces and ISIS was first leaked last month after a BBC News investigation…
“The BBC investigation, citing an unnamed ‘Western officer’ who claimed he or she was present during the discussions, said 250 ISIS fighters left along with 3,500 family members, some of whom may have fled the country into neighboring Turkey.”[5]
What we are seeing again and again here is that the so-called war on terror is a smokescreen. New World Order agents invent that ideology in order to destroy countries they do not like. It’s just that simple.

  • [1] See for example Herb Keinon, “’Israel wanted Assad gone since start of Syria civil war,’”Jerusalem Post, September 17, 2017.
  • [2] Ibid.
  • [3] Ibid.
  • [4] Callum Paton, “Syria: Opposition compares Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad to Adolf Hitler at Geneva peace talks,” International Business Times, February 2, 2016.
  • [5] Tom O’Connor, “U.S. Made Secret Deal With ISIS to Let Thousands of Fighters Flee Raqqa to Battle Assad in Syria, Former Ally Says,” Newsweek, December 9, 2017.