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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Israel is rattled.

It’s now up to Iran (lead image, left, President Ebrahim Raisi)  leader of the Arab resistance and warfighting alliance – Hamas, Hezbollah, Ansar Allah (Houthis), and the Syrian and Iraqi groups – to demonstrate that they can stop the genocidal schemes of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), and the Jewish theocracy (right, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) it enforces as a state;  or failing that, to neutralize Israel’s capacities to fight a war of attrition over everything states must have – electricity, ports, money, firepower, defences.

The Arab leadership understood this before the Iranians. In 1983 Saddam Hussein told a meeting of Iraqi Army generals: “Human nature represented by the heart of the families and sisters of the Iraqi martyrs in their own weeping and mourning will always be felt; but the Iraqis are better prepared than ever to deal with it. If it ever happens that the Iraqi people were in a conflict with their Israeli enemy, then the Iraqis would be able to withstand three years of fighting in a war. However, the Israelis cannot withstand one year of fighting in a war.”   

Seven years later in 1990, Hussein was talking in Baghdad with Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization: “[Arafat]: [Israel] has 240 nuclear warheads, 12 out of them for each Arab capital…[Hussein]: I say this and I am very calm and wearing a civil suit [everyone laughs]. But I say this so that we can get ready at this level.”

Readiness at this level was not achieved by the Iraqis, or by Hussein himself. Hamas has demonstrated since last October that the Israelis are unready. Iran demonstrated this again last weekend, despite what Israel claims to have been a near-perfect interception rate: enough missiles got through to strategic targets to prove that with hypersonic speed, higher yield  warheads, and better accuracy, the next round of Iranian missiles will be unstoppable. This prospect is what is rattling the Israelis now.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

On Tuesday afternoon the Kremlin announced that President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi “at the Iranian side’s initiative.”

The Kremlin communiqué was posted at 1540 Moscow time.  What followed was reported by Raisi’s office at 1808 Tehran time.

There was a lag of two hours between the announcements. The two scripts are very different.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

No Russian military source will publicly express the line that Iran’s attack on Israel of April 14 was a strategic success, despite the tactical shortcomings. This is first of all because Iran is a strategic ally of Russia in its war against the US and NATO in the Ukraine, in Syria, and in Yemen.

It is also because of what may happen next. If Israel escalates by attacking Iran and striking at the country’s infrastructure, then Iran’s counter will be to take a page out of Russia’s book and commence the one line of attack which Israel, the US and their allies cannot withstand any better than Ukraine – that’s Electric War.  

For the seven months which have elapsed since Hamas began its operation against Israel on October 7, and Israel commenced its genocide against the Palestinians,  there has been no targeting by Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, or the Syrian and Iraqi groups of Israel’s highly vulnerable maritime gas platforms, gas pipelines, coal and oil-fired electricity generating plants, the coal and oil storages nearby, solar and wind power units, or the electricity grids keeping the country alight.

The Arab inhibitions and calculations are understandable. Iran’s will disappear if Israel triggers a new round of attacks.

If and when that happens, the Palestinian failure in the US and in Europe to counterattack and stop Israel financing its war through the $60 billion genocide bond issue won’t matter.  Bond holders don’t invest in blackouts.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

It was a relatively bright day, November 21, 1920, when Vladimir Lenin, having won the civil war and driven off the American, British, French, Canadian, and Australian invasion forces, announced: “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country, since industry cannot be developed without electrification.”  

Come November 2024 it will be a century and four years to count what Lenin meant,  and how Russia is proving itself against everything which the military industries, special forces, weapons, intelligence so-called, operations, and plans of the old invasion coalition, plus Germany, can throw at it.  So on November 21, 2024, it will be time to revise Lenin’s maxim to read:  Russia is military power plus the de-electrification of the countries which attack it.

This is electric war.

To make the war aim unambiguously clear, President Vladimir Putin ordered his ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Vasily Nebenzya (lead image, left), to read out a paper at his desk in the UN Security Council chamber on April 11: “very soon, the only topic for international meetings in Ukraine will be the unconditional surrender  of the Kiev regime.”  

Note what the terms “unconditional surrender of the Kiev regime” mean: total military defeat of the Ukrainian, American, British, French, Polish,  and other forces on the Ukrainian territory and in the air surrounding; surrender of the municipal administrations of the east-bank cities, including Kharkov, Dniepropetrovsk, and Odessa; disarmament and demilitarization of the territory between Kiev and the Polish border; exit of every member of the regime, starting with Vladimir Zelensky.

This is an ultimatum without alternatives for either Moscow or Kiev. In electric war, are there any alternatives?

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Triumphalism and self-promotion by US alt-media generals (er, colonels, majors, lieutenants) and Donald Trump contribute nothing of value to the Russian analysis of the Iran’s operation against Israel on Saturday night, April 13. That’s to say, analysis, not of who has gained, who has lost, but of what there is to be learned for fighting the next round.  

Not much, a Russian military source intimates. “A lot of fireworks but no real damage. The Iranians let it be known they wouldn’t go beyond fireworks . The panic and stampede like the situation in Jerusalem once again shows how jittery Israel is. But the Iranians have no fight left against this enemy – the last six months have shown it.”

Not much — a North American military source agrees. “I think it was a lot of noise-making all round. The Iranians telegraphed, then pulled, their punch. They did the same thing in January 2020 with Operation Martyr Soleimani.  A lot of noise was made about ‘punishment’, ‘revenge’, etc.,  while, at the same time, signals were sent to the enemy stating that an attack is imminent, is retaliatory in nature and not to be seen as escalatory. This is how the Iranian Government saves face while, in their mind, avoiding a direct major conflict which would certainly threaten their continued rule.”

In public at least, and for the time being, this is not the assessment of the leading Russian military blogger, Boris Rozhin, author of the Colonel Cassad short-read Telegram  and longer-read Live Journal.  His isn’t the place — nor is this — to anticipate the assessments under way at the General Staff and Kremlin, or to report how they are gauging the impact of what has just happened on Russian operations in the Ukraine war, if any.  

A small exception can be made for the Kremlin’s “I told you so” following Trump’s Schnecksville declaration on Saturday. “God bless the people of Israel,” Trump said. “The weakness we have shown is unbelievable and would not have happened if we were in office… America prays for Israel. We send our absolute support to everyone who is in harm’s way…We will restore America’s strength at home.”    

Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, is where Trump said this at a voter rally. He’s unlikely to know that the meaning of the Yiddish word, schneck, is a sluggard, an idler: Schnecksille is Bum’s Town. Trump’s statement there confirms part of the reason for President Vladimir Putin’s February 14 declaration of preference for Trump to be defeated in the US president election in seven months’ time.   

For public discussion in Moscow, there remains to be clarified why the Iranian drone wave, missile wave combination failed so much more comprehensively than the Russian operational method in the Ukraine. “The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] claims 99% of downed targets, the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]  claims 50% of successful hits (meaning ballistics),” Rozhin sums up. “It is obvious that Israel will in every possible way downplay the consequences of the strike and hide the victims and destruction, as this is a matter of military prestige. It is obvious that Iran will exaggerate the consequences of the strike as much as possible and carry out active information activities aimed at increasing the military prestige of the IRGC and the Iranian Armed Forces.”

“Israel is now at a fork in the road. To strike directly at Iran means to receive a retaliatory missile strike, an even more powerful one, which is guaranteed to penetrate the Israeli air defence system. At the same time, the United States has already stated that it will not take part in attacks on Iran, hinting that Israel should limit itself to something like the usual strikes against Hezbollah and Iranian proxies in Syria. Similarly, the European satellites of the United States actually warn Israel against attacks on Iran. But this, of course, will be perceived in Israel itself as a sign of weakness, because Iran has shown that it can directly strike directly at Israel, which is the intersection of all Israel’s red lines.”

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Advertisements for replacements of Vladimir Zelensky aren’t unusual, even if he has disposed of almost all of them already.

That leaves just one, Andrei Yermak, head of the Presidential Office —  prompter, grey eminence, comfort blanket of Zelensky in almost every significant move he has made since 2019– and now candidate to become prime minister in a revolutionary transfer of power in the Kiev regime,  reducing the presidency to a shadow; centralizing all military and civil command in Yermak’s office,  but letting Zelensky stay alive.

Advertising Andrei Yermak to be prime minister is unusual in Vzglyad, the semi-official platform in Moscow for political and security analysis. This is especially so at this point in time when President Vladimir Putin has identified the Kiev regime as responsible for the Crocus City Hall attack,  and  the General Staff are escalating the Russian offensive on the ground along the line of contact east of the Dnieper River,  and in the air deep into the west as far as Lvov.  

What war aim would be served by Vzglyad’s signal that Yermak may be an acceptable counterparty to the Kremlin for negotiations to end the war short of regime capitulation – unless the signal is a false flag,  intended to encourage Zelensky to save himself by eliminating Yermak, as he did General Valery Zaluzhny, and thereby leave nothing and no one in Kiev to put a brake on the Russian resolve to create a demilitarized zone all the way to the Polish border.

What follows is a verbatim translation of the publication on April 9 of a piece in Vzglyad by Vasily Stoyakin, entitled “The all-powerful ‘Green Cardinal’ is operating behind Zelensky’s back”.  There is no precedent in the mainstream Russian media, nor in military blogs and the internet media, for promotion of any end for the Zelensky regime, except its end.  A profile of Yermak which is neutral to positive towards the role he has played so far and may play in the future is so exceptional that the fact  it appears now is more significant than what the story, compiled from earlier publications, actually says.   

Oleg Tsarev, a leading Ukrainian opposition figure in exile in Russia and potential candidate for the Ukrainian president after the Russian victory, has ignored Yermak in his regular Telegram commentaries; Zelensky and Yermak targeted Tsarev for assassination in Crimea last October, but failed.

Dmitry Rogozin, a possible presidential candidate for the Russian presidency, has mentioned Yermak once in his Telegram channel, declaring: “the Bandera leadership of Ukraine has embarked on the path of ‘the final solution of the Russian question.’ Well, [they are] creative people. [They are] comedians [Zelensky], [television] producers [Yermak]. Hitler was also an artist. Mediocre. But in other respects he surpassed everyone. This, apparently, is enviable. They want to repeat it. We’ll have to do it again.”  Rogozin is currently senator for the Zaporozhye region. He was targeted for Ukrainian assassination in Donetsk in December 2022; he survived.

There are two reasons why Yermak might be considered by the Kremlin to be the substitute for Zelensky with whom a negotiated settlement can be reached. One is that it has reportedly happened before. In September 2020, when Yermak and Zelensky were meeting in Muscat, Oman, with the Omani foreign minister and other officials, the Russian Security Council Secretary, Nikolai Patrushev, flew to Muscat and reportedly met them for several hours. What happened between them remains secret. Less secret is that the aircraft on which the two Ukrainians returned to Kiev was identified to be the same aircraft which had brought Patrushev to Oman.

The secrecy was exposed by the US government’s propaganda organ, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and then amplified by the Ukrainian press.  Yermak claimed the report “does not correspond to reality”  attacking the US-financed Ukrainian source for “a blatant manipulation of public opinion [as]  part of the aggressor’s information operations against Ukraine.”  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed the reported meeting was “a classic example of fake news”.  

The second reason for possible Russian favour for Yermak is a long history of his family’s connections to Russia. His mother is a Leningrader; his father, a Jewish Kievan, served in a   Soviet government agency in Afghanistan;  since then he and Yermak himself have had personal and business connections with Russians engaged with the intelligence services.  

Stoyakin cites no official Russian source on Yermak and draws this uncertain conclusion: “Last year, it was assumed that in the event of Zelensky’s death, Yermak could head a particular  collective management body that would replace the president; according to the Constitution, the acting speaker [Ruslan] Stefanchuk should be, but he does not enjoy authority. Some western media even believe that Yermak may become Zelensky’s successor. Ukrainian political analysts, given Yermak’s low popularity, believe that the head of the OP [Office of the President] will try to become prime minister while retaining control of the president’s office. At the same time, the centre of the country’s political life will move to the government. However, it seems that such a change is possible only in peacetime – in wartime, the main focus is still on the military sphere, which is subordinate to the president.”

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Ice cream is ancient enough to have been demanded by at least three well-known emperors – Alexander the Great of Greece, Nero of Rome, and Charles I of England, all of them ill-fated.

Ice cream, as we know it, doesn’t become easy to eat until it ceased to be plutocratic.  Refrigeration technology, not political revolution, did the trick.

The industry of cows is a fillip, too. This is why New Zealand, world’s largest exporter of dairy products, is also the world’s leading consumer of ice cream. At 28.4 litres per person per annum, New Zealanders far outstrip Americans at 20.8 litres, and Australians at 18 litres. Sub-zero winter countries like Finland, Sweden, and Canada lag further behind.  In Europe’s hottest summer weather, Portugal is far ahead of Spain, France, and Italy in the volume of ice cream sold  but that’s because foreign tourists buy it, not the locals.

So when Soyuzmoloko, the Russian Union of Milk Producers, announced last week that in 2023 the volume of ice cream produced in Russia had jumped by 13%, and per capita consumption of dairy products had recovered to the Soviet level, the news is significant. It means that Russians eating more ice cream is a measure of confidence in the present value of their spending power, the future security of their savings, and victory in the present war.

When the American poet Wallace Stevens wrote his poem “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” in 1922, he was holidaying in Cuba. Observing the funeral of a poor woman whose corpse was in another room, the guests were eating ice cream. The poet’s pessimistic conclusion was “Let be be finale of seem/The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream”.  Stevens was implying that ice cream is more permanent in life than life itself – at least among poor Cubans.

When Winston Churchill was in Moscow to meet Joseph Stalin on a sub-zero day in the autumn of 1944, he asked an aide what Russians he could see were eating as they stood in the city street. When told they were eating ice cream, Churchill reportedly said: “The people who eat ice cream in such cold weather are invincible.”  

None of Churchill’s successors in Europe or the US has got this message yet.  

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

“The unity of Russia’s multiethnic society,” President Vladimir Putin told the Russian Trade Union Congress on Thursday, “is the main fundamental condition of our success. In this connection, and based on the initial results of the investigation, we have grounds to believe that the main goal of those who masterminded the bloody and heinous terrorist attack in Moscow was to damage our unity.”  

Putin is repeating the message – four times in two weeks: earlier on March 23,   March 25,  and April 2   — because it happens to be true.

What also happens to be true is that during the Yeltsin period, when  asked by Moscow university students what I thought of anti-semitism in Russia, I said: Russians are the most primitive white tribe in the world – they are hostile to the other tribes, the Jews, Chechens, Armenians,  Chukchi, Uzbeks, Tajiks — each one of them equally. After this sociology was elaborated,  invitations to lecture at Moscow universities stopped.

The sociological problem which Russia’s enemies have is that the foreign white tribes, like the Galicians of the Ukraine, the Anglo Saxons, and the Blin-Noodle gang ruling Washington,  make the primitive sociological mistake of thinking they can trigger intercommunal warfare inside Russia, to weaken and break it up. The British Secret Service (MI6) made their first abortive attempts at this during the Bolshevik revolution and the civil war following. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and MI6 have been plotting the same thing since 1945, increasing the resources and accelerating their efforts in the Caucasus during the Yeltsin administration of the 1990s.

It is therefore no surprise they have convinced their Ukrainian counterparts to implement the same scheme. On Tuesday of this week, The Times of London headlined this plan “Ukraine Stokes Anti-Immigrant Tensions in Russia”. The newspaper – in the 19th century nicknamed “The Thunderer”, now owned by Rupert Murdoch, nicknamed “The Dirty Digger” —   reported an interview with Andrei Kovalenko, head of the Ukraine’s Centre for Countering Disinformation (CCD). By weaponizing local ethnic communities like the Tajiks in Russia, the operational objective, according to Kovalenko, is “to exploit divisions and distrust among the Russian public.”  

Kovalenko is conceding the Ukraine strategy behind the Tajik gunmen’s attack on the Crocus City Hall on March 22. But the foreign tribesmen have misread the Russian sociology again. The attack has failed in its war objective.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

In two public performances of less than two minutes apiece, Chrystia Freeland (lead images), Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and leader of Canada’s war against Russia, has demonstrated bizarre facial and upper torso symptoms.

Political analysts and psychiatrists have been asked if they believe Freeland is suffering from a clinical pathology or drug abuse. Cocaine use has been ruled out. According to a medical psychiatrist, “the display [of symptoms] is remarkable. And just as remarkable, they disappear when [Freeland] takes the tribune from the prime minister and starts to make a speech herself. The control of torso, eyes, and speech she shows then is not consistent with chronic cocaine use.” The source, who specializes in treating drug addiction, says that Freeland’s display of symptoms does not reveal the twitches, tics, or other involuntary muscular movements usually seen with cocaine users.

“What can I make of the relentless movements,” the source commented. “[They] are more or less non-stop and they serve to draw attention away from everybody but herself. In her speech, there was no restlessness.  It was fluent and clear. But she was the centre of attention then. It seems to me that with all her restless movements taking so many different forms she could still be the centre of attention…In some ways she was like the child who must always have attention.”

Another expert source believes Freeland’s symptoms have been diagnosed clinically in the US as Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). This has been reported in a research paper published in January of this year: “a chronic and enduring condition marked by a consistent pattern of attention-seeking behaviours and an exaggerated display of emotions. Typically emerging in late adolescence or early adulthood, individuals with HPD are often characterized as narcissistic, self-indulgent, and flirtatious. Individuals with HPD may feel undervalued when not in the spotlight, leading to a persistent need for validation…People presenting with HPD typically demonstrate rapidly shifting and shallow emotions that others may perceive as insincere…Women are four times more likely to be diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder than men.”

Canadian political analysts report that Freeland’s condition has long been recognized among male voters; less so among female voters. The analysts also note that as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau loses general voter approval, and also the support of his Liberal Party constituency, Freeland’s ambition to replace him before the national election next year, is becoming more obvious.

Her HPD symptoms, the sources say, become extreme when she appears in public with Trudeau, revealing her impatience to replace him.

In this personal contest of wills and of political power in Canada, the national and provincial polls are showing that the looming defeat of Freeland’s side in the war against Russia, the partition of the Ukraine, and the loss of more than C$4 billion in Canadian military donations to Kiev,  are making no (repeat no) difference to the election outcome in Ottawa.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Go West, young man – that American slogan of the mid-19th century  is not an idea the Ukrainian men of Odessa,  Kharkov, Dniepropetrovsk, Poltava and Sumy can contemplate today as long as the danger of press ganging into the army in Kiev and Lvov is a higher risk to their lives than staying put in the eastern cities as they collapse.

They must calculate that they are better off trying to do without electricity in the east, and wait for the Kremlin to suspend the campaign – as it did during 2023 – or for the Russian General Staff to pressure the Novorussian cities to surrender to Russian control, when the Ukrainian men will be filtered but keep their lives.

The women and children, however, are evacuating from Sumy and Kharkov.*   The displacement of these easterners to the west, from Kiev to Lvov, is not yet being reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which publishes its Ukrainian population movement data in the third week of each month.  

At the end of December, the total number of internal refugees or internally displaced persons (IDP) in the bureaucratic records, was 3.7 million. This number is increasing sharply now, but the UNCHR reports are lagging by four weeks, and there are no reliable real-time figures available.

The Polish Border Guard, however, is reporting every two days the movement of Ukrainians into Poland and their reverse movement from Poland into the Ukraine. A surge out of the Ukraine, like that of the first months of the Special Military Operation in 2022, is not yet visible in the Polish data.    

In the Border Guard twitter reports for the month of March, there were big surges on March 1-3, March 8-10, March 18-19, March 22-24, and March 29-April 1. The timing reflects the weekends, and the flows out of the Ukraine into Poland were equally balanced by the numbers returning. That is, until March 22-24 when the electric war began in earnest, and 82,000 Ukrainians crossed into Poland, while only 72,900 returned. Over the Catholic Easter weekend of March 29-April 1, 108,000 moved into Poland; only 82,100 came back.  

The difference of 26,000 were not Easter pilgrims or holidaymakers. This the largest recorded at the Polish-Ukrainian border since 2022  – it is the beginning of a new Ukrainian surge out of the country into Europe.

Sources in Warsaw say there is “attention fatigue” towards the refugees on the part of the Poles. “There is nothing new in the local media on the flows of Ukrainians. No longer topic of interest.  The new Polish government plans allegedly to tighten financial rules for Ukrainian refugees in order to cut welfare costs and combat “the pathologies that currently exist.”

The Polish press reported late last week that “the most important change concerns the financing of refugees’ stay. The government intends to abolish the system that currently subsidizes the stay of refugees from Ukraine (PLN 40 [$10] per day per person) in small guesthouses where up to ten people live. Revolutionary changes for newcomers from Ukraine, especially those who benefit from free food and accommodation, are to be included in the draft amendment to the special act, which came into force two years ago.”   

Moscow sources believe the operational plan of the General Staff, agreed by the Kremlin since last month’s election, is to depopulate Kharkov and the surrounding region north to Sumy, and press equally hard  in the centre (Dniepropetrovsk) and the south (Odessa). For maps of the campaign so far, click.  

According to a Moscow source, debate over operational priorities in the political and military strategy is muted. “This time round,” the source believes, “the General Staff aims not to suspend the attacks, not to relieve the pace, so that the Ukrainian utilities cannot repair or restore power supplies — no repeat of the first phase of the electric war which stopped at the end of 2022.”

For the first phase of the electric war in 2022, read this.  

A western military source thinks the impact in the west, especially in the western region of Galicia around Lvov which is the historic centre of Ukrainian fascism, will be chaotic and violent between the established, well-off westerners and the incoming poorer easterners. “Another mass in-migration to Kiev and west won’t go over well when rent extortion meets high power tariffs, fuel shortages, outrageous grocery prices, then even wilder power tariffs in the midst of outages. This is when ‘the master race’ will forget all their ‘European civilization’ slogans, and start killing each other over a litre of gasoline. Is Russian intelligence factoring this into their strategy? Sure.”

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