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Orlov: Fact-Free Zone

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The fog of war that has been hovering over eastern Ukraine has now spread to the shores of the Potomac, and from there has inundated ever pore of western body politic. The party line is that pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17, using a surface-to-air missile provided by Russia, with Russia’s support and complicity. The response is to push for tougher sanctions against Russian companies and Mr. Putin’s entourage. None of this is based on fact. To start with, it isn’t known that MH-17 was brought down by a surface-to-air missile; it could have been an air-to-air missile, a bomb on board, a mechanical failure, or the same (or different) mysterious force that brought down MH-370 earlier this year. Mysteries abound, and yet western media knows it’s Mr. Putin’s fault.

Step through the looking glass over to Russia, and you hear a completely different story: the plane was shot down by the Ukrainians in order to frame the rebels and Russia in an attempt to pull NATO into the conflict. Here, we have numerous supporting “facts,” at varying levels of truthiness. But I have no way to independently verify any of them, and so instead I will organize what has been known into a pattern, and let you decide for yourself which story (if any) you should believe.

When trying to catch a criminal, a standard method is to look at means, motive and opportunity. Was the criminal physically capable of committing the act? Did the criminal have a good reason for committing it? Did the criminal get a chance to do it? One more criterion is often quite helpful: does the crime fit the perpetrator’s known modus operandi? Let’s give this method a try.


Did the rebels have the means to shoot down the plane? They have no military aviation and no functioning airport (the one near Donetsk is out of commission and occupied by Ukrainian troops). They have shoulder-fired missiles, which can take out helicopters and planes flying at low altitude, but are useless against airliners flying at cruising altitude. They also have a “Buk” air defense unit (one truck’s worth of it) which they took from the Ukrainians as a trophy, but it’s said to be non-operational. A rocket from this unit could have shot down MH-17, but only if it were integrated with a radar system, which the rebels did not have.

Did the Ukrainians have the means? They had five “Buk” units active in the area on that day, integrated with a radar system which was also active that day. (Deploying an air defense system against an enemy that does not have any aviation seems a bit strange.) According to a report from a Spanish air traffic controller who was working in Kiev (and has since been dismissed, along with other foreign ATCs) MH-17 was followed by two SU-25 jet fighters. According to a Russian expert on “Buk” systems, the damage to the fuselage visible on photographs of the crash site could not have been from a “Buk” surface-to-air missile, but could have been caused by an air-to-air missile fired by a SU-25.

Did the Russians have the means? Of course they did. Never underestimate the Russians.


The rebels had absolutely no reason to want to shoot down that plane. This leaves open the possibility that they shot it down by mistake, but that’s not a motive, and if that is what happened, then this is not a crime but an accident, because a crime is an intentional act.

On the other hand, the Ukrainians had a really good motive for shooting it down. This part takes a little more explaining.

You see, the Ukrainians have been doing everything they can to pull Russia into the conflict, in order to then pull NATO into it as well, because their chance of victory while acting alone is nil. To this end, they have been shelling civilian targets relentlessly, causing many dead and wounded, in the hopes that Russian troops would pour across the border to defend them. This failed to happen; instead, the Ukrainians have succeeded in precipitating a refugee crisis that has produced something like half a million refugees seeking asylum in Russia. This has had an effect opposite of the intended. Whereas previously the rebels’ recruitment activities were somewhat hampered by a wait-and-see attitude on the part of the population, now they have seen all they need to see and are ready to fight. Also, the Russian population inside Russia itself has found the stories of the refugees sufficiently compelling to open their wallets, so that now the rebels are drawing healthy salaries and have good kit and a steady stream of supplies. They are highly motivated to fight and to win, with a steady rah-rah of support coming from across the border in Russia, while the Ukrainian forces they face consist of underfed, untrained, badly armed recruits being goaded into battle by Right Sector thugs. Their recent battle plan was to directly attack the population centers in Donetsk and Lugansk while cutting the rebels off from the Russian border. One column managed to break through to the defunct Donetsk airport, where it has been kettled every since (it is currently trying to break out in the direction of Donetsk). The troops massed along the Russian border got kettled there and decimated, with quite a few Ukrainian soldiers walking across the border sans weapons seeking food, shelter and medical treatment.

So much for Ukrainian military strategy. But the other thing to note is that time is not on the Ukrainians’ side. First, a bit of background. Ukraine has always been a rather lopsided country. There are the Russian provinces in the east, which had coal, industry, good farmland, and lots of trade with Russia proper. They used to be Russia proper until Lenin lumped them into Ukraine, in an effort to improve it. And then there is western Ukraine, which, with the possible exception of Kiev, could never earn its keep. In terms of economic and social development, it resembles an African nation. Since its independence, Ukraine had subsisted through trade with Russia and through transfer payments from (Russian-speaking) Ukrainian citizens working in Russia. Because of fighting in the east, trade with Russia has been disrupted. Ukraine has been cut off from Russian natural gas supplies due to nonpayment; as a result, more and more Ukrainian cities no longer supply hot water, and come winter, there will be no heat. The economy is in freefall. The Ukrainian government received some funds from the IMF, but these are being squandered on the failing military campaign. The association agreement which Ukraine signed with the EU remains a dead letter because Ukraine does not make anything that the EU wants, and Ukraine has no money with which to buy anything the EU makes. So much for Ukrainian economic strategy.

And so, from the Ukrainian government’s perspective, shooting down an airliner and blaming it on Putin (which is something that western governments and media are only too happy to do) probably seemed like a good ploy.

What about Russia? Well, the Russian government’s chief concern is with avoiding becoming drawn into the conflict. The basic Russian strategy is, as I put it a couple of months ago, to let Ukraine stew in its own juices until the meat falls off the bone, and this strategy is working just fine.

It is important to draw a difference between the Russian state (Putin, the Kremlin, etc.) and the Russian people. According to Russian law, any Russian-speaking person born on the territory of the USSR has an automatic right to a Russian citizenship, so the people of eastern Ukraine are by default Russian citizens. It is a fine line between providing support to your fellow-Russians across the border as a people and being drawn into an international conflict as a nation, and the Russian government has been rather careful to preserve this distinction. Thus, the Russian government was very highly motivated to prevent this incident.


For the rebels, the opportunity amounted to looking up and seeing a plane. If, at that moment, they made the split-second decision to shoot it down using one of the “Buk” rockets (provided they had one ready to go) without radar support they could have only fired that rocket in “pursuit mode,” where the rocket flies to where the plane is, not to where the plane will be, and it is rather uncertain whether the rocket would have caught up with the jet before running out of fuel.

On the other hand, the Ukrainians gave themselves the opportunity by having Dnepropetrovsk ATC redirect the flight over the conflict zone, where they deployed their “Buk” systems.

I have trouble imagining a scenario in which Russian air defense forces would have been presented with an opportunity to shoot down MH-17.


Although some criminals commit just one crime (and sometimes even get away with it), typically a life of crime follows a pattern. What is the pattern behind shooting down MH-17? It is to kill civilians for political gain. What has the Ukrainian government been doing, for quite some time now, in shelling apartment buildings, schools and hospitals in the east of the country? Killing civilians, of course. And why have they been doing it? For a political reason: to attempt to draw the Russian military into the conflict, in order to then appeal to NATO for help. This is part of a larger plan on the part of the US to use Ukraine as a wedge between Russia and the EU, to deprive the EU of Russian natural gas supplies and make it even more dependent on the US.


My effort here is to present you with a better framework for analyzing these events than you might find elsewhere, but I hope that you uncover your own “facts” (to the extent that facts can be said to exist on the internet) and draw your own conclusions.

But I would like to point out a few things.

First, I often encounter a certain attitude among Americans. They may absolutely hate the evil clowns in Washington who are ruining their lives, but when looking at the world, they suddenly decide that every other government is equally bad, that theirs is not so bad after all, and since the Ukrainians are suddenly our friends (or so says John Kerry) then they are not so bad either. Don’t make such assumptions. Look for evidence. To me it indicates that your government is run by evil clowns; other governments—not so much.

Second, citizens of the European Union shouldn’t think that it is only the dark-skinned people in faraway places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and so on that get killed in the various wars instigated by the US. Continue outsourcing your foreign policy to the evil clowns of Washington (and the spineless jellies in Brussels) and you too will get killed.

Lastly, we already know who the criminals are in this case: they are the western politicians and journalists. Airliners fall out of the sky with some regularity. This is tragic, but not unexpected, and is not necessarily the result of a crime. The real crime is in exploiting this tragedy in order to smear and insult an entire people. Don’t worry, the people in question are too wise to respond to such ridiculous provocations. But the reputations of western journalists who have been covering this tragic event have already gone up in smoke. All of western media is now about as good as Pravda was back in the Soviet days—good for wiping your ass with, that is. It’s a sad day for anyone who cares about the truth but can only understand English.

club orlov

57 Comments on "Orlov: Fact-Free Zone"

  1. J-Gav on Tue, 22nd Jul 2014 3:34 pm 

    JuanP – I agree but the choice probably wouldn’t be as simple as USA OR Russia. NATO has its claws sunk into too many EU areas to be pryed loose with wishful thinking. The economic ties are also massive, with interlocking investments all over the show.

    This will not be quickly or easily undone, nor should it be. Haste could be catastrophic.

    I don’t see it but the best immediate turn of events in my view would be for the EU to grow the cojones to say to the US : “We don’t want your fuckin’ wars!” for example, like Jacques Chirac did concerning the Iraq invasion. Time will tell eh?

  2. Northwest Resident on Tue, 22nd Jul 2014 4:19 pm 

    Just one thing to keep in mind when witnessing the events in Russia, Ukraine and Europe. The political leaders and the elites who more or less control those political leaders all know the score — they know economic collapse is inevitable, that Europe needs Russian oil/NG, and that if we project far enough into the future, America won’t be able to offer much help if any in terms of military power or oil/economic assistance. In other words, European elites and leaders must realize that their future is bound together with other nations and peoples living on the same continent, and that they’re going to have to hurry up and get things straightened out before TSHTF. When I look at what is happening in Ukraine, I strongly suspect that it is all playing out against the background of approaching collapse. Who knows — America blaming Putin and Russia for the downing of that Malaysian passenger jet may be a ploy to invoke European responses that are dismissive of America and generally pro-Russian. That’s the attitude that is going to be needed in the long term, and now is as good a time as any to start working on changing those attitudes. Again, just pure speculation, for what it is worth.

  3. JuanP on Tue, 22nd Jul 2014 4:37 pm 

    NWR, The idea that this has been planned and executed as a preparation for what’s coming in full knowledge and understanding of the context of coming conflicts for resources is something I’ve considered.

  4. Northwest Resident on Tue, 22nd Jul 2014 4:49 pm 

    JuanP — It is difficult to not suspect that it is all part of plan to prepare for the end of the oil age, with all the turmoil and chaos that is sure to come with it. Well, difficult for those that spend a lot of time thinking about world events and what is behind them — and to be honest, there aren’t a lot of us in that category.

    I just glanced through an article over on Zerohedge where now Turkey, one of our long time staunch allies, is giving Obama the cold shoulder and talking about moving away from dollar transactions — joining the BRICS. Oh, the horror! But it makes sense. In the world we are headed into, there isn’t going to be enough oil to maintain large standing armies, there isn’t going to enough oil to support thousands of flights back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean. There is a time coming where America, Canada, Central and South America are going to be in the same boat, where China and a lot of the Asian countries are going to be in their own separate boat, and where Europe and Russia are going to be in yet another boat — and we’ll be seeing less and less of each other as time passes. Lack of oil guarantees that. They must be preparing for that eventuality and they are fools if they aren’t.

  5. JuanP on Tue, 22nd Jul 2014 5:09 pm 

    NWR, Yes, the Atlantic and the Pacific separate the american continent from the rest of the world geographically, and the time comes when the american continent will distance itself from the rest of the world as transoceanic transportation slows down to an eventual trickle.
    I have been considering in my mind for decades the advantages and disadvantages of the two parts on that split. The Americas have a lower population density, more soil, water, mineral and energy resources than the rest of the world. There is no comparison on a per capita basis. The Americas will be better off,in general, with the exception of a handful of Caribbean and Central American countries like Haiti, Honduras, Salvador, and Guatemala.

  6. Makati1 on Wed, 23rd Jul 2014 3:19 am 

    JuanP, I think you are on the right track. But, I think the Southern American countries are NOT going to be a part of the US hegemony. The US has enslaved and plundered them for centuries and they have not forgotten that. Also, the Us has nothing they want or need.

    I see them as independent and perhaps still tied to the Eurasian continent by trade. Ships will NOT stop plying the oceans totally. But the trade will be in things of value, not flowers and plastic junk. South America has needed resources that they can trade for a long time to come.

    The end of oil will not mean the end of transoceanic trade, just less of it. Ships crossed the oceans long before the hydrocarbon age and will in the future, if there are any of us alive to do so. But, you need something to trade of value. After the age of hydrocarbons, North America will have nothing to trade.

  7. Davy on Wed, 23rd Jul 2014 5:57 am 

    Mak, Europe and Asia are much farther than the US for postmodern ocean travel. What are you thinking??? OOh I know anything anti American that’s what you are thinking. You are right the world does not need cheap consumer items like what is produced in Asia. South and North America have close ties by population integration and proximity. The US is in decline and will be less meddlesome with this decline. In the age of descent regionalism will replace globalism initially eventually to a very local affair. We will see this with North America, Latin America, and South America.

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