The Crocus City Hall Attack – An Operational Failure

Yves here. John Helmer continues to follow the Crocus City Hall story closely, here focusing on the presumed aims of the perpetrators and whether they can claim any success. Helmer argues that (aside from the death toll), the massacre did not achieve key aims, one of which was to foment discord on ethnic lines. Other commentators claim that the slaughter has strengthened Russia resolve to win in Ukraine decisively.

As far as the ultimate perpetrators, as in the organizers of the mass killing, the Russians are going full Liam Neeson.

However, unlike action movie viewers, we may never find out who some (most?) of the targets are even if the Russians are fully successful.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

Grief, anger, recriminations, media moneymaking, and political ambition make a highly  inflammable combination whose smoke and heat —  on both sides of the war against Russia —  distort what caused the Crocus City Hall attack – and what will happen next.

Methodical analysis of cause of death and of culpability in conspiracy to kill doesn’t persuade as quickly and profitably as incendiary propaganda.

This, said the Orthodox Church’s Patriarch Kirill on Wednesday, is aimed “to use internal problems with the migration situation, to aggravate interethnic relations in our country, including with the help of a radical Islamist factor. In particular, we are talking about the enemy’s intention to clash two traditional religions and divide people according to religious principle. Of course, we cannot allow anything like this in Russia.”

The Church warning, during the celebration of Ramadan until April 9 and ahead of Orthodox Easter on May 3, follows President Vladimir Putin’s remarks to security officials on Monday, and the subsequent clarifications by security chiefs Alexander Bortnikov of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Nikolai Patrushev of the Security Council. Click for details and context.

If there is an operational military objective for the March 23 attack on the part of the mercenaries, their command and controllers, and the US and other intelligence services engaged, triggering inter-communal violence in Russia is it. “Sow panic in our society while demonstrating to their own people that not all hope is lost for the Kiev regime,” Putin said on Monday.    “All they need to do is follow the orders of their Western patrons, fight until the last Ukrainian, obey Washington’s commands, endorse the new mobilization law, and form something resembling a new version of the Hitler Youth. To comply with all of this, they will seek new weapons and additional funds, much of which will likely be embezzled and, as is customary in Ukraine today, put into their own pockets.”

From this warfighting point of view of the Ukrainians and the Biden Administration, however, the Crocus Hall operation has turned out to be a triple failure.

The effectiveness of the Russian security forces in pursuing the getaway car; monitoring in real time the social media and telephone communications of the gunmen in the vehicle, and then capturing them alive minutes after they had proved their destination was the Ukraine is a major  operational success – and a deterrent for follow-up enemy operations in planning.

The failure of the Ukrainians to provide the gang with either safe haven or execution to hide the command and control is also a deterrent for the planned sequels. It’s also a negative for the case the Zelensky regime has been making to the US Congress and NATO allies for more money, weapons, and men to take their war deep into Russian territory.

Finally, there has been no intercommunal violence in Moscow, religiously motivated protests, or  pogroms of Tajiks. The Russians have proved they are not the Germans towards Jews, the English towards Irish, the Israelis towards Palestinians, or American Trump voters towards  Mexicans.

Yet to be acknowledged, though, there has been an operational failure for the Kremlin and the Moscow city and Moscow region governments, but it is neither military nor ideological. This is that the casualty toll is at least twice the number it might have been if not for the maladministration  of the Crocus building construction permits and the failure to enforce fire security and evacuation codes. “The building went up much too fast and we still have no video evidence of fire suppression, let alone a functioning alarm system,” comments a US engineer. “I’ve looked at the walls and ceilings. There were no pull stations, sprinkler heads, smoke or heat detectors visible. When people were being led out, there were no strobe lights, bells, klaxons, or any other emergency signage.”

The majority of Russians are well aware that shoddy engineering and corrupt administration can cause mass loss of life;  for example from methane explosions in the coalmines of the Kemerovo region,  and in the slow poisoning of air and water in the steelmaking cities of the Urals.  But in the most recent public opinion polling across the country, optimism for the future has never been higher.

This public sentiment isn’t going to be damaged or distracted by the propaganda following the Crocus City Hall attack. The priority in public opinion remains to take the war to the enemy before he exploits another chance; and for that,  Russian confidence in the military has not been higher since 1945.

In the 30-minute interview on Gorilla Radio, recorded on March 28, Moscow time, Chris Cook leads the discussion. Click to listen.

The interview begins at Minute 30. Don’t miss listening to the song, “This is genocide” from Min 28:40. Click: https://gradio.substack.com/

For the introduction to this broadcast, access to the 20-year Gorilla Radio archive, and Chris Cook’s blog, click here.

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69 comments

  1. JW

    Delyagin originally made the report of inadequate fire resistant materials and emergency equipment on site. This has been picked up by the ‘US expert’ from a few thousand miles away. However this view was contradicted by the Emergencies Minister , Kurenkov and the local fire brigade expert , as reported towards the end of Helmer’s article of 26/3. The fire expert explained because of the fuel used it was a Category 5 (extreme fire hazard) fire, and fire resistant materials and sprinkler system can be useless in such cases.
    That isn’t to say that some ‘chinese’ materials could have been sub-standard, but it might not have made much difference whatever their standard.
    The planners of this massacre unfortunately knew what they were doing to cause maximum deaths in as short a time as possible.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This makes no sense. It’s been widely reported that the perps used gasoline. That’s not a very exotic flammable liquid.

      The nomenclature does not mesh with Russia fire safety regs either, see:

      https://wwg.eu.com/news-blog/what-is-km-within-russian-fire-safety-certification-system/

      They use a grid and not simple categories.

      Finally, gasoline can burn in ideal conditions at very high temperatures. However, the terrorists are reported to have brought in some jugs and used the gas to start the fire. So that comparatively small amount of gas in a space as large as a theater would have presumably exhausted itself relatively quickly,, with the fire temperature then determined by the the temperatures at which the various components in the theater (curtains, wood, etc) burned.

      Reply
  2. lyman alpha blob

    Did Helmer catch the TDS too?

    Finally, there has been no intercommunal violence in Moscow, religiously motivated protests, or pogroms of Tajiks. The Russians have proved they are not the Germans towards Jews, the English towards Irish, the Israelis towards Palestinians, or American Trump voters towards Mexicans.

    I would just point out that unlike the first three examples he gives, Trump voters have not perpetrated wholesale slaughter against Mexicans.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s a good catch. Also off-key in other ways:

      1. The “border crisis” is as far as I can tell not mainly about Mexicans emigrating to the US (my impression is a fair number of the Mexicans are seasonal workers) but Hispanics transiting Mexico from Central American countries that we wrecked

      2. RFK, Jr. has also made an issue of the border crisis, but no where near as loudly as Trump, but has added based on a three-day field trip, that various gangs and traffickers are bringing in people from Africa and IIRC the Middle East. Bloomberg posted a piece on Chinese immigrants transiting the Central American route, again paying traffickers.

      Reply
      1. Socal Rhino

        I’ll add that OC California has been dealing recently with organized criminal gangs of undocumented immigrants from Chile, not Mexico.

        I’m always reminded of the play “The Spelling Bee”, when a contestant asks for a definition of “Mexican”, the answer is someone from Puerto Rico, Guatamala, Venezuela etc.

        Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Helmer lives in Russia. What does he know about the US border?

      But this is an interesting piece. “Operational failure” seems to be the very definition of the Biden administration even as Joe keeps insisting he’s a crafty guy as well as the conqueror of Corn Pop. Here’s suggesting his real motive in running is to prove his critics wrong by winning a second term and then quit– giving us Kamala as a final out the door operational failure to be foisted on both the public and his party. Also, more speculatively, he needs to beat Trump to keep his family members out of jail.

      The late Pat Lang called it the Biden crime family, a kind of mafia operation, and I for one believe it. His secretive ruthlessness–think Nord Stream–is right out of the movies.

      Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    I fear that with this attack, a line has been crossed that cannot be reversed. By now it is obvious that that terrorist group was just a bunch of patsies with a thin veneer of ISIS-K to have the element of deniability by the true organizers. Behind them were the Ukrainians but more specifically the Ukrainian spooks & special forces. But more to the point, behind them were the CIA Special Activities Division. After listening to a short video today, I understood that the US has been so heavily involved with the Ukrainian spooks & special forces for the past decade that you cannot actually separate them. Saw this pattern too in Iraq and Afghanistan. The point that I am making is that the CIA has just helped organize a massacre of Russian civilians on Russian territory. Perhaps the original timing was meant for the Russian election to cause political chaos but circumstances threw it off until another target presented itslef. That message from the US Embassy in Moscow would tend to confirm an earlier timing. But can you imagine if the Russians had helped organize a massacre of a hundred and forty civilians at a music concert in California and fled to Mexico to their supposed masters – Mexican drug lords? So I see that the gloves are finally coming off and it is only a matter of time until the SMO transitions into a full scale war. The Russians must see now that they have to go for a complete victory lest the west keeps on sending sabotage and assassination teams into Russia itself. And as far as I can see, that is precisely the western game plan.

    Reply
    1. Es s Ce Tera

      I agree, this was another red line crossed AND I think the Americans announcing foreknowledge was their way of hinting to Putin they were behind it.

      Also highlighting, bolding and underlining to the Russians that they were crossing that red line and to expect more of the same.

      With Ukraine the Americans were poking the bear in the eye, now they’re kicking it.

      Reply
      1. Kouros

        It is not that right now the bear is sitting still… While being poked and kicked, it gives hard blows and bites and gouges the other party…

        Reply
      2. Feral Finster

        Of course. Russian dithering and indecision have led to this.

        This “just the tip” style of war only gets more people killed.

        Reply
    2. Not Bob

      I think you’re right that the Ukrainians aren’t the ultimate shot callers, but I don’t see the hand of the CIA here. Quite apart from the assumption that the CIA is behind every event in the world (they’re clearly not, but they have enough fingers in enough pies that it’s hard to criticise the assumptions), this just has the feeling of the Brits. Can’t quite put my finger on why…maybe the drama, maybe the Pyrrhic nature of the media win, maybe how quickly the State department scrambled to disavow themselves of the whole thing. Maybe the pure cynicism of the whole adventure. I dunno. It just “Smells Like [British foreign policy] Spirit”.

      To actually introduce some comparisons to my slander, I’m thinking about the Zaphorosia provocations, BoJo’s adventures in Istanbul, or the Skripal affair. Hell, the “releases” about Tiananmen, leaked to HK news sites and contradicting contemporaneous accounts gathered by Wikileaks. Credulity always stretched to breaking point, stakes always Manichean. When the CIA clearly actually has a hand in things (again, which is probably less than many would imagine), they’re normally smart enough that reasonable doubt is assured. The Brits seem to assume that their say-so should be taken at face value. Perfidious Albion indeed.

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        The UK has been the US poodle dog for quite some time now and while they may have been involved, I doubt they did anything without the US knowledge and OK.

        Unelected, non-government civilian Barack Obama stopped by 10 Downing Street on March 18 for a surprise visit. The attack in Russia happened 5 days later.

        I, for one, would really like to know why a non-elected USian was chatting up a head of state, and what he and Sunak were talking about. Perhaps it was bilateral trade policy, or maybe the weather, but this does definitely seem odd. Here I was thinking Joe Biden was the POTUS….

        Reply
        1. juno mas

          Biden is the POTUS, but you can’t send him to talk about ‘secrets’ to Sunak, or anyone else. Shit, the guy doesn’t know Egypt from Mexico!

          Reply
      2. James Simmons

        Victoria Nuland and the Ukranian Minister of Interior are likely suspects. Nuland leaves at the end of the month and the Interior Minister abruptly resigned a few days ago. Nuland made a quick trip to Kiev for a meeting earlier this month and then held a rushed evening press conference saying, among other things, that “surprises” were coming.

        Reply
        1. vao

          There has been quite a lot of speculation about what Nuland meant with those “surprises”. Thus far, the following explanations have been put forward:

          1) the wave of attacks by drones and missiles, and by incursions of ground troops in the region of Belgorod;

          2) the planning of a strike against the Kerch bridge and other targets with German Taurus cruise missiles;

          3) the attack against the Crocus centre.

          My guess is that, in the near future, every assault against Russia that is out of the ordinary (aka “asymetric warfare”) will be ascribed to that surprise package.

          Reply
      3. Feral Finster

        I’m sure that MI6 also were involved. Still, the UK does not so much as dare change the brand of toilet paper in the khazi at Number Ten without first getting American permission.

        Reply
      4. Cat Burglar

        Mark Ames’s report in Radio War Nerd Newsletter #140 pulls together evidence that IS-K’s start as Taliban opponents was fostered by Afghan intelligence and the CIA. It appears to him that IS-K is a terrorist NGO working for funders — in the past, Qatar, and now the post-Imram Khan government of Pakistan.

        Reply
    3. EMC

      Per Alistair Crooke on Judge Napolitano a few days ago, the attack was initially planned for March 8, when there was a far more significant performer scheduled for Crocus City Hall. But he travels with an abundance of personal security and so the attack was cancelled. March 8, as Crooke has been the only one to point out, is International Women’s Day, a significant holiday in Russia. It was also before Ramadan. The US and British Embassies evidently gave Russian authorities the same warnings they gave to their citizens, but nothing actionable from and intelligence point of view, though there isn’t a lot of clarity around this point.

      Reply
  4. Es s Ce Tera

    “The Russians have proved they are not the Germans towards Jews, the English towards Irish, the Israelis towards Palestinians, or American Trump voters towards Mexicans.”

    This is actually quite an amazing and admirable feat. I put this down to Putin being that rare instance of a true Christian. I think it’s a whole topic in itself as to how we end up with Russia practicing what the West only preaches. And I strongly suspect this in itself touches a nerve in the West, explains one of the undercurrents of hate toward Russia.

    Reply
    1. ilsm

      The quote by Patriarch Kirill is telling.

      Would a US cardinal or such be heard in such an event in USA?

      BTW Putin was baptized in secret and likely lived a quiet Christian life while serving the USSR.

      Could Biden be as close to a US cardinal as Putin to Kirill?

      Is the empire tilting with a Christian country and that is the issue?

      Reply
      1. Kouros

        In the eastern socialist block was a discrete, family affair, evidently not published in the local newspapers. That didn’t make it secret. Nobody was sneaking about, hiding, in the darkness of night. Same with the weddings…

        Ceausescu burried his mother with 7 priests…

        Reply
      2. Paris

        Incredibly enough there’s still a separation of church and state in the West, which is a very good and healthy thing. That doesn’t exist in Russia, the Orthodox church is submitted to the State.

        Reply
      3. ISL

        The answer to your question, was given by Aaron Bushell:

        “Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’ The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.”

        And we know what the western religious leaders are doing.

        Reply
        1. caucus99percenter

          The Catholic archbishop of Hamburg, Germany, says AfD politicians are no longer welcome as guests at church gatherings or participants in church activities.

          https://jungefreiheit.de/politik/deutschland/2024/hamburger-erzbischof-keine-einladung-fuer-afd-politiker-mehr/

          At least they aren’t excommunicating people just for mere membership in the AfD — yet.

          In a similar vein, the Lutheran church in Germany suspended a pastor for planning to run for local office on an “open-list” AfD ticket. Note that he is not an AfD party member. “Open-list” here means that independents with no party affiliation who nevertheless agree with most points of the election platform — such as, presumably, this pastor — were welcome to join the ticket.

          https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/politik/deutschland/pfarrer-afd-kandidatur-beauftragung-entzogen-100.html

          So in Germany the “schismogenesis” tsunami seems to have arrived and is now hitting the churches. Will this narrowing of the spectrum of allowed political opinion end up motivating even more Germans to resign from institutionalized, tax-supported Catholicism and Lutheranism?

          Reply
    2. Benny Profane

      Putin needs workers, too, especially since he’s building quite the army for probably years to come. Russia has similar demographic issues that Ukraine and much of Eastern Europe has.

      Reply
      1. jrkrideau

        Russia has similar demographic issues that Ukraine and much of Eastern Europe has.

        Not really anywhere near as serious. Most of Eastern Europe is showing a loss of population. See Latvia for example.

        Russia, I believe, actually has a fairly large immigrant population, mainly from the ‘Stans. IIRC, Helmer was pointing this out just before the start of the SMO.

        Have a look at Ukrainian domographics versus Russian Demographics.

        Note the Ukrainian figures are before the SMO and the wholesale flight from Ukraine. My rough count gives Kiev-controlled Ukraine, maybe, a population of 17–20 million with a lot of working–age males fled or dead.

        If you look at that graph of Ukraine, you realize why Chuck Schumer’s call to conscript 18–20 year old Ukrainian males is ridiculous. There are none.

        Reply
    3. Polar Socialist

      I believe it’s more about Russian leadership being well aware that the only hope Ukraine and The West have in the current conflict is to cause enough internal strife in Russia for “regime change” to occur. That was the very purpose of the sanctions that were slapped on Russia a few days before first Russian tanks had crossed the border.

      That’s what all the western articles about minorities being over-represented in the mobilized was about, that’s what Zelensky’s plead for Russian Muslims not to fight Ukraine was all about, that’s what the cancellation of Russian culture is all about, that’s what the EU’s “Nuremberg laws for Russians” are all about.

      And the only way to defend against such an attack is to strive for national unity by squelching any and all raising friction while at least seemingly addressing some of the actual sore points that always exist in a multi-ethnic society. Or, more relevant to this case, visa-free travel to Russia from the Central Asia.

      Reply
    4. Jay E.

      And now the hagiography of Putin and Kirill to go with the deification of Trump in the US. How sweet. It’s a good thing when we mix religion and politics in Russia – with a “true Christian” like Putin (But bad in the US – unless it is good in the US if it’s with the “right” politician).

      Unfortunately the ability to look at world events without it turning into professional wrestling and team sports pep rallies, let alone BS “religious” causes, is disappearing at a mind-numbing rate. It’s either team Putin/Russia or team Ukraine/Zelenski with the teams Trump or Biden sitting in another division rooting for who helps their playoff chances more – with those playoff chances ranging from pure delusional ideology to calculated steps to win everything at the expense of everyone else. Oh no – nobody claims they are on a “team” or “side” but boy does everything skew one way.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        How dare you smear Es s Ce Tera.

        You are completely out of line in straw manning him, both in what he said above and having the gall to depict him as a knee-jerk Trump supporter when he expressed no such view above or in previous posts. Then you double down and denigrate him as tribal based on your false presentation of his views. Straw manning and attacks on readers are violations of our written site Policies.

        I trust you will find your happiness on the Internet elsewhere.

        Reply
        1. Keith Newman

          Re Jay E:
          Good for you Yves.
          One of the things that makes NC so appealing is the banning of destructive commenters.
          I have almost entirely stopped going to sites that allow various flavours of moron to comment.

          Reply
    5. digi_owl

      Best i can tell, USA still have this settler-colonialist mentality deep down. Thus anyone not “WASP” or adjacent is considered a lesser people to exploit, while pitting subgroups against each other to avoid them ever gaming up on the “elite”.

      Russia is older, much older. Much of its land predates the notion of a nation-state. Thus internal autonomy is perhaps much more a given, as long as they do not get too uppity against Moscow (see Chechnya for example).

      Reply
    6. Feral Finster

      When I became Orthodox in a little town in Ukraine, the Bishop asked me whether I was a nationalist. I told him I was not, and certainly not a Ukrainian nationalist. Same with a racist. He asked whether I was an antisemite. I told him I was not. My godfather added that, if anything, I was a philosemite, although no Zionist, either. The Bishop replied that this was good.

      Reply
    7. Albe Vado

      Putin is as much a mass murdering monster as any other world leader. The man genuinely has a lot of blood on his hands. We can debate how much of that is justified, and how much he could have killed more than he has in the name of geostrategic interests, but a killer he remains. Great men are usually bad men.

      An actual Christian worthy of the label would resign themselves to rendering unto Caesar and striving to turn the other cheek whatever comes, confident that the scales would all be balanced in the afterlife.

      Reply
      1. Jams O'Donnell

        There is absolutely no point in attributing ‘blood on the hands’ to any one political leader, for special mention – to single any one individual out without making crucial distinctions is invidious propagandising. Putin is in the same category only as other politicians who have acted in defence of their country from foreign intervention, however that may fit in with religious strictures. In a different category altogether are those who waged aggressive wars of profit or political folly and arrogance, such as Biden, Bush, Hitler, Obama, Blair, Netanyahu, etc. etc.

        Remember that Putin asked the west to agree a security treaty that would have provided European peace. The US refused even to discuss it, as dod the EU (not that anyone cared what they thought). Putin was also willing to make peace with the Ukraine until this was spiked by Johnston.

        Reply
      2. Arkady Bogdanov

        Wow, lots of interesting people finding their way here today.
        As someone who views all structured leadership, and states, as inherently authoritarian and oppressive, I have to say that Putin is probably the most benign state figurehead on the global stage. There is a reason that Russia in general, and Putin in particular, are seen as a liberatory force in much of the world. I do not see any evidence that Putin is a murderer, in fact, he is the most reluctant leader of a military that I have seen in my lifetime- to his and Russia’s detriment, I would add. Putin and Russia have conducted a war like no other I have ever seen (or read about)- they were pushed into a corner and defended themselves with a concern and care for limiting destruction to civilian life and infrastructure in a way that I would have considered impossible, were I not to have witnessed it.
        Anyone declaring Putin to be a mass murderer or anything comparable can go piss up a rope, as far as I am concerned.
        Putin and Russia are doing us all a great favor in bringing about an end to what is arguably the most evil empire humanity has ever witnessed. Putin will be remembered for a thousand years- long after every American leader has been forgotten.

        Reply
        1. Albe Vado

          But Putin is a mass murderer. The death toll from Ukraine (not even getting into other interventions Putin has been at the helm of) stands, last I checked, at at least 10,000 civilian dead, as many as half a million Urkainian soldiers and maybe a tenth as many Russian troops. The civilian numbers are indeed shockingly low for a modern war of this size and length; clearly extreme steps have been taken to minimize them.

          But ultimately however you slice this, the 2022 invasion was a war of choice for Russia. You can say it was a justified one (and I’m heavily inclined to agree, actually), but the option was always there to just let Kiev force Donbass ethnic Russians to flee and to let NATO roll up to the border. I’m not saying that choice should have been made, but I’m saying that to stop it meant authorizing mass murder on a scale no serial killer could ever dream of.

          Maybe this simply goes with the territory of being the leader of a great power (I won’t say it’s an inevitable part of being a leader period, since I find it hard to believe the leaders of inconsequential countries like Ireland or Lichtenstein generally have large bodycounts to their names).

          Actual practiced Christianity isn’t a mere cultural affectation. It’s not ‘some cultures wear certain clothes, eat certain foods, have certain religious rituals’. If someone takes their religion seriously, its precepts dictate their lives. They don’t subordinate religious teachings to myriad other interests. And I know that defining it as such means I’m basically saying there are few real Christians in the world. Just because Putin makes a show of going to church and letting guys with horrible beards wave a cross around in front of him doesn’t mean he actually conducts his actions based on principles Jesus would have approved of. Christianity is ultimately quite simple when you boil it down. That doesn’t make it easy. In many ways it isn’t even practical.

          And the US is the most ‘evil empire’ in history. Really? That doesn’t strike you as at least slightly hyperbolic? The competition for such a title is very stiff, even in just the last hundred years. If one of the big travesities of the last decade or so is the US patronage of Ukrainian neonazis who idolize and larp as Banderite thugs, do I have to point out that, just perhaps, the original OG Nazis were in fact worse and more destructive?

          Reply
          1. Arkady Bogdanov

            I’m sorry. If you want to shop that around, you go right ahead, but I am not buying what you are selling. If you spend 10 years whispering into a kid’s ear, from the time he is 12 years old, telling him I am out to get him, and that I am evil. That every wrong in the world is because of me, and you spend considerable efforts distorting the media he sees in support of that, and he then begins threaten me and my family, then shows up on my doorstep, heavily armed, and I put him down- I am not the murderer. You are. That is what happened here. The US gave those Banderite thugs the resources to do it to an entire generation. In 2014 kids that were 12-14 were 20-22 years old in 2022- prime military age. The thugs drastically increased their numbers in less than 10 years, and they began pogroms against ethnic Russians that people inside Russia basically forced Putin to intervene to stop. These events do not lie at the feet of Putin.
            I will point out that there are battle/morale patches in Ukraine affixed to soldiers that say
            “Yesterday, Ukraine.
            Today, Rus.
            Tomorrow, Europe”
            These deaths are not on Putin’s hands. Self defense is not murder, and neither is defense of family, friends, and neighbors. There are people with blood on their hands involved in this conflict, but those hands are not Putin’s. Your argument is just another example of the “both sides” nonsense I have seen people exhibit in the last decade or so. The Russians are engaged in dirty, gruesome, and life-threatening, and destructive work, but it is still necessary work for all that.

            Reply
      3. Feral Finster

        Even if post-1991 Russia really were guilty of every single bad thing of which it is accused (it isn’t, but bear with me), that would be but a pimple on the @ss of the War On Iraq alone.

        That said, thank you for setting us benighted souls straight as to who is and isn’t a true Christian.

        Reply
      4. JohnA

        Care to elaborate what kind of blood Putin has on his hands? And don’t cite western media sources, Navalny, Nemtsov, Litvenenko, Maginsky, the Skripals and others are all shrouded in considerable doubt as to the official western versions of their demise. Parroting western voices wont cut it.

        Reply
        1. Feral Finster

          I heard an American apologist insist that there was no free press in Russia, because Anna Politkovskaya.

          Not only did he have to go back nearly 20 years and resurrect a journalist whose death has no evidentiary connection with Putin, it’s like he never heard of Julian Assange right now.

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        2. Albe Vado

          I believe the current numbers for the invasion of Ukraine are 10,000+ dead civilians and maybe as many as half a million soldiers.

          We can argue about whether the Russian intervention was justified (and I’m actually very inclined to believe they were forced into it. Certainly the Russian leadership seems to honestly believe they had no choice, and they can put forward a very coherent argument as to why), but Putin ordered an invasion. The blood that followed is directly on his hands.

          To wage war is not in line with Christlike principles. It also may at times be justified, which is one of many reasons I am not a Christian, though I was raised one. Christian ethics works to a large extent at the interpersonal level, but it scales poorly.

          My point is that I bristle at the claim that Putin is somehow a lone ‘moral Christian’ leader. He’s a warmonger, though in his own mind his wars are preventing greater calamity (and he very well may be right). But he isn’t a Christian no matter how often he makes a show of going to church (also directly part of his rebuilding the Russian church because he thinks it’s integral to Russian civilization and his desire to repudiate every noble legacy of the Soviets).

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      5. Hickory

        Jesus was a revolutionary, that’s why the Romans killed him with crucifiction, same as other revolutionaries. Christians who act submissively instead of seeking to end authoritarian rule are not following Jesus’ footsteps.

        Submissiveness is definitely not christ-like.

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        1. Albe Vado

          They’re following his words (or at least his words as puppeteered by people like Paul; what Jesus the Jewish theocratic rebel actually thought and said will forever remain somewhat uncertain).

          Reply
      6. vao

        An actual Christian worthy of the label would resign themselves to rendering unto Caesar and striving to turn the other cheek whatever comes, confident that the scales would all be balanced in the afterlife.

        Christianity died with the French revolution. From then on, paying crushing taxes to degenerate monarchs, being told to eat brioche when there is no bread, being thrown into the Bastille or deported to Louisiana, or being reduced to slavery were no longer acceptable. People would not wait for the afterlife — but quite ready to expedite their detested “caesars” to it, courtesy of the “national razor”.

        Reply
  5. Cristobal

    What amazes me about this episode is that those who planned it apparently believed that the hidden hands behind it would stay hidden. This in spite of the fact that Russia has reasonably good relations with Afghanistan and Tajikistan, knowledge of US involvement with the likes of ISISK going back years, ample time to investigate the four sacrificial lambs (sarc), their car, apartment, travels, money trail, and probably mobile phones. Russia will learn exactly who did it. Those behind the attack don´t realize that they no longer have complete narrative control. The Mighty Wurlitzer ain´t what it used to be. Narrative control goes much deeper than the front pages of the NY Times and similar outlets. Thanks to ¨alternative¨ sources of news, NC included, the scales are falling from the eyes of many. This event will in fact be a ¨game changer¨, but not just for what Russia does but for the already gravely damaged trust that the US enjoys among its servants.

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  6. TomDority

    Building problems – how about us supplied materials for Grenfell towers, or Surfside in Fl or Katrina Floods, or multiple building collapses and on it goes

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  7. Duke of Prunes

    Maybe I’ve watched too many spy movies, but I’m starting to believe that Tori Nuland hasn’t retired, but rather has found a position where she is more free to do her “god’s work”. Her being officially retired means less oversight, less chance for her deeds to be pinned on the “adults” in DC.

    I guess we’ll see how good the Russian spooks are if Vicky passes quietly in the night in the near future. Tragic hot tubs, small aircraft and nail gun accidents being more favored by the west.

    Reply
    1. Cat Burglar

      I keep wondering if she stood aside to wait for the election to pass, and then she’ll accept a job with Trump.

      Reply
      1. digi_owl

        Given how fervently she attacked Trump last time, i have my doubts.

        Trump’s years was the only years in decades that she didn’t hold some kind of white house or diplomatic position…

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  8. john r fiore

    Well, we still dont know, in fact, who paid them, who planned it and who first thought of the attack….what we do know is the attackers were true, cold blooded killers who must have killed before given the shear disgusting cruelty in the videos…hopefully we will have all this information soon.

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    1. Skip Intro

      Apparently a cryptocurrency trail from Ukraine to the terrorists has been reported by the investigators. Good old blockchain, nothing like a permanent public record of your deals to help clear things up.

      Reply
      1. digi_owl

        The source of “anonymity” comes from anyone being able to run a “wallet” without presenting any sort of national ID beforehand. Think something akin to a numbered account in a Swiss bank.

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    1. David in Friday Harbor

      Thanks for the link. Very good analysis by Crooke of how Western elites hijack the “rescue” of the oppressed and downtrodden in order to confer upon themselves legitimacy.

      I suspect that the calling-off of the International Women’s Day ”surprise” on March 8 precipitated the Nuland resignation on March 5, but the cell may have spun out of their control. Using Islamic-State terrorism in an ill-conceived attempt to divide the multi-cultural Russian Federation is to utterly abandon even an illusion of occupying the moral high ground — as if the genocide in Gaza wasn’t enough.

      The blowback from Crocus and Gaza may prove fatal to the West and NATO.

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  9. Altandmain

    The US is losing its hegemony quickly and is resorting to desperate tactics.

    This is likely to lead to major changes in Russian building safety. There have been other tragedies that have resulted in major changes to safety. Perhaps the most famous is the sinking of the Titanic. Grenfell might be a recent example of a high profile Western failure.

    However, as Helmer notes, this whole effort has backfired. The Russians are outraged and are going to rally behind Putin. It will not result in the divide that the US is hoping for. Whomever carried out this attack did not study history. Historically, attacks like this have united the victim nation, not divided it.

    What it does show, is how low the US ruling class is willing to go to try and hold onto power. I suspect that as Russia and China continue to rise, even after the end of this SMO or war in Ukraine, there will be other attempts. We could see more future attempts at color revolutions in China as well (the most recent being the Hong Kong protests with Western backing).

    Although the outcome in Ukraine is not in doubt, the big danger now is that escalation by the West could result in a nuclear exchange someday.

    Reply
    1. digi_owl

      What was that line from Churchill again? That he didn’t fight so fervently to preserve the empire, just to give it up?

      Reply
  10. Lefty Godot

    I’m not sure there is a unitary blob planning these crimes. I think like every other huge bureaucracy, there are factions that may not want the same objectives or be willing to use the same tactics in a given situation. So saying “the UK wouldn’t do this without American approval” doesn’t make sense to me because there are potentially many actors on both sides who operate with some autonomy (until they embarrass someone higher up and have to be reined in).

    In this case, it wouldn’t surprise me if elements of MI6 and the CIA were involved in setting this up with Ukraine officials, probably with Nuland and associates encouraging it. And the goal was pure PR, like most of what these criminals have been trying out previously. Kill Russians and go “Nyah-nyah, you can’t stop us” in Russian leadership’s faces. Because “we” win wars in the media! These people are not intelligent. They don’t have real strategies, just tactics that often amount to no more than terrorizing others or getting their own people killed in large numbers. Nuland’s “retirement” was a tell that an internal FU had occurred.

    The warning issued right before the election was probably someone in an opposing faction within the inteligence agencies getting the ear of the higher-ups and convincing them this whole scheme was a bad look for “us” if “we” were to be associated with it (which would naturally occur). Probably too late to stop an operation that was already going forward, but a clumsy attempt to dissociate the US from it.

    None of this affects the Russian ongoing efforts to push the front toward the next regional objectives, up and down the line from Chasiv Yar to Ocheretyne to Selydove to Ugledar to Orikhiv. One of those will probably succeed over the next week or two, and the others will follow soon enough. And missile and drone strikes behind the front lines will continue. Russia is trying to grind out a military victory, the West is trying to score PR points.

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    1. vao

      I agree with you that the vision of an all-powerful CIA that handles British MI6 and Ukrainian SBU like marionettes is inappropriate.

      Every actor involved has its own goals and agency, and this is why things often go out of control.

      There are plenty of examples of people who were CIA hitmen and then went on to carry out their own programme of mayhem: Osama bin Laden and Luis Posada Carriles are perhaps the most famous ones.

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      1. digi_owl

        Also, wasn’t someone musing recently that CIA had been slacking and that the Ukraine show was more State Department?

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  11. Louis Fyne

    an interesting tidbit, on March 9th (2 days after the US State Dept. warning about a soft-target attack) the Russian singer “Shaman” played at the Crocus Hall.

    (not familiar w/Russian pop culture) but Shaman is much more of an A-lister and publicly patriotic.

    Interesting conjecture that the an attack was planned on the 9th, (ahead of the elections and with a big entertainer) but the perps got cold feet…whether not ready or there was increased security on the 9th.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaman_(singer)

    Reply
  12. Steve Andrews

    Of course they were going to Ukraine. Where else? That doesn’t mean that Ukraine organized the attack.

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    1. The Rev Kev

      They could have headed to Estonia like the murderess of Daria Dugina did. Or they could have headed for one of the smaller republics where they stood a chance of getting lost. Maybe even their own Tajikistan. But nope, they headed direct for the Ukraine where they confessed that a window was to be made to let them in. And that would have meant days or even weeks of preparation on the part of the Ukrainians.

      Reply
    2. britzklieg

      It doesn’t matter “who” did it… Russia has been under attack from the “West” for 40 years and now that it has asserted itself defensively and against endless provocation in Ukraine, Ukraine is as responsible as any other player involved in the attempt to eradicate every and any thing Russian, indeed, they are ALL to blame…. ffs!

      Reply

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