US Special Forces in Ukraine? Out of my Face Please!

So after months of claiming a Russian invasion of Ukraine (laughable when you consider what a real Russian invasion of Ukraine would look like), without so much as a satellite picture of those thousands of Ruskies and their mass of equipment that are allegedly there, at last here is indisputable evidence that some foreign forces are operating in the country. Except that they happen to be … ahem … Western forces.

Where is this guy from? Sounds American to me — certainly not Eastern European for sure. Who is he? Not sure, but from the look of him and the equipment he is carrying, he certainly doesn’t look like an ordinary Joe. Special forces perhaps? What is he doing in Mariupol? Again, not sure, but isn’t it interesting that this film was taken shortly after the shelling of that city, which was immediately blamed on the “rebels” by Western governments, the Western media, and the OSCE (who incidentally apparently managed to ascertain the direction the missiles were fired from within 2 hours of the attack)?

As yet no mention of this in any of the mainstream truth-tellers yet. They’re probably too busy preparing their reports on the 61st Russian invasion since last May.

Merchants of Propaganda: BBC or RT?

I wrote yesterday how the new CEO of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, Andrew Lack, had likened the apparent threat posed by RT to the threat being posed by ISIS and Boko Haram. In that piece, I mentioned that the real threat is not that RT is a Soviet-style propaganda machine, but that it effectively challenges the Western media, which has itself by and large become a huge propaganda machine.

Propaganda is sometimes difficult to detect. We might assume that it consists of telling outright lies, but this is rarely the case. Sometimes it is more a case of what details are left out. Sometimes it is a case of where a news organisation places a particular focus in their article. Sometimes it is just a case of where the inflections in the reporting voice are.

Here is an interesting comparison. The BBC ran an article on the shelling of Mariupol, which took place on 24th January. So too did RT. You can read the full reports here and here. Both organisations were covering the same event, but compare how both pieces begin. First the BBC:

“At least 20 people have been killed and dozens injured in rocket attacks by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine’s government-held port of Mariupol, police there say. Grad rockets hit a market in a residential eastern area, the police chief said. The main eastern Ukraine rebel leader said an offensive against Mariupol had begun, RIA news agency reported. Since April, more than 5,000 people have died in fighting in the east. The rebels have seized a large swathe of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. More than a million people have been displaced. The rebel leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, said on Friday that he did not want truce talks with the government. A ceasefire agreed in Minsk in September but never fully took hold. Many hoped that the lower level of hostilities it introduced would last, but the BBC’s David Stern says that the fighting is beginning to approach what was seen last summer.”

And now RT:

“The death toll in the Mariupol shelling in eastern Ukraine has reached at least 30 people, local authorities say. Kiev and the militia are trading blame. The rebels insist they don’t have weapons close enough to attack the city. ‘Twenty-three people died at the scene, including one child. Another 93 people have been injured, including eight children,’ a statement from local authorities said. Another seven people died in hospitals, it added. But Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov later said that 102 people have sustained injuries. Two children – a 15-year old girl and a boy ‘about five years old’ are among the dead, the statement reads. ‘Our militias have no weapon systems near Mariupol that would be able to shell that region. Our positions are simply too far away,’ a spokesman for the Donetsk militia headquarters told RIA Novosti. ‘According to our intelligence, the artillery fired from the Stariy Krim neighborhood [less than 10 kilometers from central Mariupol]. Ukrainian troops are stationed there. We believe it was a provocation committed by the Ukrainian troops,’ the spokesman added.”

Notice the difference? Both organisations report on the shelling and the effects of it, but the BBC begins its report by stating that the attack was carried out “by pro-Russian rebels” (although it hides behind the fact that local police have said this, there is no doubt about the impression this opening line gives readers). By contrast, RT’s opening statement apportions no blame — for the simple reason that blame has not yet been established — but reports on the fact that both sides are pointing the finger of blame at the other.

Although the BBC article does mention later on that the “rebels” deny responsibility, this is done way down the piece, and long after their guilt has already been inscribed in the minds of many readers. In addition, they failed to report on the details of the “rebel” claim, that the shells were fired from the Stariy Krim neighbourhood. Whether this is correct or not is not the point. The point is that as things stand, the truth of who carried out the attack has not been established, and so this claim of the location of the attack by the “rebels” is massively newsworthy and ought to be mentioned in any proper reporting.

The fact that the BBC decides not to share such information, and the fact that their article begins by clearly apportioning blame means that anyone reading their article — especially those who aren’t aware that the Kiev government has a long track record of making baseless accusations — will be in no doubt that the Kiev government version is the truthful one, whilst the “rebel” one must axiomatically be a lie.

Time may or may not tell who carried out this particular atrocity. Yet for reports that came out within hours of a highly disputed attack, there is no doubt that of the two reports — RT’s and BBC’s — the BBC’s is far more slanted and basically propaganda. And in case Andrew Lack and the BBC weren’t aware, it is exactly this sort of thing that has led to millions turning away from mainstream outlets, such as the BBC, to alternative media, such as RT, to get their news.

RT Must Be Doing Something Right

The new chief executive of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Andrew Lack, has distinguished himself with this comment in a New York Times piece, just a few days into the job:

We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram,” he said. “But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges

The BBG is an independent federal agency of the US government with a $700 million budget and a responsibility to supervise all US government-supported, civilian international media. According to their website their mission is to “inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy” and to “deliver accurate news and information to significant and strategic audiences overseas… and to serve as a trustworthy source of news and as an example of a free, professional press in countries that lack independent media.”

They also apparently have a commitment to a free press, as this excerpt from their website states:

“The right to free and open access to news and information is universal, but threats to a free press persist. Journalists in the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) network face risks every day as they report on regions in conflict or transition. This timeline tracks the courageous journalists reporting for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio and TV Marti, Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra and Radio Sawa), and Radio Free Asia, and the threats that they face on a regular basis. The BBG strongly condemns these actions, which violate international standards by suppressing independent media and targeting journalists who doing their jobs.”

So they advocate the right to a free and open access to news and information, yet at the same time their new CEO sees RT as a problem to be mentioned in the same breath as ISIS and Boko Haram? Perhaps it is worth reminding readers that the Islamic State and Boko Haram are terrorist organisations that have between them slaughtered thousands (it might also be worth reminding readers that ISIS is essentially a creation of US foreign policy, as the US government has consistently supported and funded “moderate” rebels in Syria, many of whom then showed that they perhaps weren’t all that moderate after all).

RT, on the other hand, is a news organisation which — all together now — is “funded by the Kremlin”. In fact, the very fact that RT is funded by the Russian government is used as a reason why it cannot be trusted because it must be blatant propaganda, right?

Not exactly. Some of its coverage is indeed slanted, yet the idea that it is uniquely guilty of this, in contrast to the Western media which is free, fair and factual, is really rather funny. Much of the Western media has largely become a mouthpiece for government, rather than holding government to account, and has spent the past decade or so consistently deceiving the public and often withholding crucial facts from their readers/viewers. That RT is pushing a point of view is true, but the idea that the Western media doesn’t do this, but is just trying to give us the facts is laughable.

Many instances could be cited, but one will suffice. Over the past year, the Western media has reported on multiple occasions that Russia has invaded Ukraine. Where do they get their sources for this claim? From the Kiev government of course, which spins the yarn every time their troops are getting a pasting from those who rebelled against last year’s coup d’etat. Only the other day at Davos, President Poroshenko yet again made the claim. Normally Kiev claims that there are 1,000 or so troops, but this time Mr Poroshenko outdid himself by claiming that there are 9,000. What evidence did he present for this? None whatsoever. Any satellite photos? None. Evidence from the OSCE of Russian troops crossing the border? None. Did anyone ask him to show them some evidence? It would appear not. Did anyone mention that Kiev has made this claim multiple times over the past year, but has never backed it up with evidence? No, but lo and behold the Western media, duly compliant as always, went and reported it unquestioningly, as they have throughout the conflict.

And this sort of thing is precisely why millions of people have turned from the likes of CNN, ABC, and the BBC to media such as RT, and other state-funded media from non-Western countries. People do so in the knowledge that the Western media is now — to turn John Kerry’s diatribe against RT on its head — the propaganda bullhorn.

Western governments and media would like us to believe that we are still living in the days of the Soviet Union and that RT is pumping out propaganda on a par with the type of stuff that was being pumped out back then. But the real story is that over the last couple of decades, if anything the roles have been reversing somewhat, and whilst I am certainly not saying that RT is to be trusted on everything — it isn’t — much of the Western media cannot now be trusted at all.

Clearly RT has the likes of the BBG — which is a state-funded overseer of the US media — and the BBC — which is a state-funded organisation, extremely riled. They want us to believe that they are riled because they are bastions of the truth, and are being thwarted by the evil RT and its blatant Soviet-style propaganda. But in the age of the internet, where you really can check stories from all sides more carefully than was once possible, this transparent propaganda just won’t wash. The real reason the likes of the BBG, the BBC, CNN and the Guardian are so riled and upset by RT and other organisations is that they realise that the days when they could spin unchallenged propaganda stories and have no one question them are at an end.

Moving Goalposts, Overlooking Transgressions and Making Morality Meaningless

Another excerpt from my forthcoming book:

“Then we have reached the crux of the whole argument: your idea of morality works like a set of scales. Over here on the right,” I said, gesturing with my hand, “are your good works. And over here on the left are your bad works. And you would presumably suggest to me that the right hand is heavier than the left. Right?”

“I think so,” he said.

I put it to Alex that this is the basic position that everybody naturally has when thinking about themselves in the context of morality. There are, however, three major problems with thinking along these lines:

  1. Even on our own terms, this thinking is flawed because we are judging ourselves and, frankly, anyone can score well when judged by their own standards of morality. If we transgress our standard, we only have to move the goalpost, change the standard and we are still a ‘good person’.
  2. Anyone judging himself is bound to overlook many, if not all, of his transgressions against his own standards. All the hateful thoughts, the proud thoughts, the lustful thoughts we have had will be overlooked. All the unkind words, deceit and the lies we have spoken will be ignored. And all the many horrible things we have done will be swept under the carpet.
  3. But as if these problems weren’t bad enough, the third is even more fundamental to the question of morality. For this definition of morality—that our good actions outweigh our bad actions—is utterly relative and therefore renders the notion of morality meaningless. The Christian definition of morality, on the other hand, is infinitely higher. It is an absolute. It sets an absolute standard, and it allows for no breaches of this absolute standard. This is why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48). His idea of morality wasn’t relativistic and individualistic; rather, he preached that true morality is a flawless, eternal absolute, and so all who would describe themselves as truly moral beings must themselves measure up to this flawless, eternal absolute.

“Flawless, eternal absolute?” Alex laughed, shaking his head from side to side. “You know, that’s exactly the problem I have with you Christians. You think yourselves to be so much better than everyone else.”

“If that’s really what you think, then I have to say that your understanding of Christianity is way, way off the mark. Why on earth do you think we put our trust in a Saviour to take away our sins? Because we are perfect?”

A Third Contender for Most Absurd Statement of 2015

It obviously couldn’t be too long before Barack O’Bomber joined our two existing contenders, Pierre Muscovici and “Yats“, in the competition for the Most Absurd Statement of 2015. His entry came in last night (probably not his last) with a golden nugget in the midst of his State of the Union address:

“We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters. That’s how America leads — not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.”

What may make this hard to beat is that Mr O’Bomber managed to pack no less than 7 absurdities into one short statement. Here they are:

1. The idea that the US government is upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully small ones is absurd coming from a man that has bombed 7 countries across the globe, and which routinely bullies others into doing what it tells them (eg. Bulgaria and South Stream, sanctions against Hungarian public servants, not to mention the US-backed overthrow of Gaddafi and the attempted overthrow of Assad).

2. The idea that the US has supported Ukrainian democracy is absurd, since it was a US-backed coup that toppled the democratically elected leader of that country.

3. The idea that the US imposed sanctions “along” with their “allies”, is absurd since it makes it sounds like everyone was on the same page, whereas in fact the US Vice President, in one of his honest gaffes, made it quite clear that threats and embarrassment were used.

4. The idea of Russian aggression is absurd, since there is no evidence whatsoever that Mr Putin or his country had any designs on Ukraine or on Crimea before the US undertook the most blatant coup in history in order to destabilise Russia’s neighbour. Mr Putin’s and Russia’s actions have, by contrast, been a response to that aggression.

5. The notion that Russia is isolated is absurd, since Russia has been signing massive deals with countries such as China, Turkey, the BRICS countries, Iran, and India to name but a few. Either Mr O’Bomber doesn’t get out much these days (or if he does he’s too busy playing golf to know what is going on in the world), or he is one seriously deluded bunny.

6. The idea that Russia’s economy is in tatters is absurd, since it fails to take into account that although their economy will undoubtedly enter recession this year, due to the effect of the sanctions and plunging oil price, it is far from being in tatters. Unlike most Western countries, Russia has a small debt to GDP ratio, it runs a budget surplus, it has massive currency reserves, and it has been stockpiling gold rather than getting rid of it for the last few years. Sure they will go through tough times, but if I were Mr O’Bomber, running a country which has now racked up almost $19 billion of government debt, I’d tend to keep quiet about the prospects for other nations’ economies.

7. The idea that America leads  not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve is absurd, since the US government has persistently adopted bullying tactics against other nations, especially since the end of the cold war, resulting in perpetual coups, invasions and bombings around the world. This is not leadership or steady resolve, but rather the very definition of arrogant bullying.

So much for our third contender. Keep ‘em coming!

Does Eric Holder Really Believe His Own Criteria for Marriage?

So the Supreme Court in America has announced that it going to rule on whether the right to same-sex marriage should apply to all states of America. The Attorney General, Eric Holder, said that the Justice Department will file a “friend of the court” brief, urging the Supreme Court to endorse marriage equality. He went on to say the following:

“It is time for our nation to take another critical step forward to ensure the fundamental equality of all Americans — no matter who they are, where they come from, or whom they love.”

Really? That’s pretty unequivocal. But does Mr Holder really believe his own criteria? Let’s put it to the test, bearing in mind that what constitutes marriage, according to the Holder criteria, is that it should be available for “all Americans, no matter who they are, where they come from, or whom they love.”

“Hi Mr Holder, my name is Andrew Harris, I’m 29 year old and I’m from New York. This is my sister, Belinda. We’re deeply in love and we hope one day to get married. Will you help us to overturn the current law in our state which prevents us from tying the knot?”

“Hello Mr Holder, Charlie Swanson from Virginia. I’m here today with my brother Donald whom I love and very much want to marry. We would love you to endorse our plans and help us achieve the fundamental equality that has been extended for other gay couples.”

“Edward Falls from Denver, Mr Holder. I’m here today with my wife Frances and my mistress Georgina. My wife, Frances, knows that I love her, but she also accepts that I love Georgina too. Would you endorse my attempts to change the state law of Colorado, giving me the fundamental equality currently denied me to take Georgina as my second wife?”

“My name is Harriet Williams. I’m 12 years old and I’m here today with my boyfriend, Ian who is 26. We’re deeply in love and want to get married, but my state won’t allow it. I feel my fundamental rights are being crushed and I would like to ask you, Mr Holder, given your views on marriage and fundamental equality, if you would help me get the law changed so I can marry the man I love.”

“Hi Eric. Mr name is James Kelsey and I come from Orlando. I’m 23 and came out as bisexual when I was 18. I have a boyfriend, Kevin and a girlfriend, Lou. I was in a relationship with Lou when I met Kevin. Lou and Kevin are not in a relationship, but both love me deeply. I would like to cement my love for them by marrying both. Would you help me?”

I realise that there was probably a lot of hate speech in all that, and how dare I suggest some kind of equivalence between a gay or lesbian couple that love each other very much, and the brother and sister, the brother and brother, the wannabe bigamist, the underage girl and the paedophile? Well actually it was Mr Holder who really made that suggestion, not me. All I have done is to flesh out the logic of his position a little. He did say all Americans didn’t he? He did say no matter who they were didn’t he? He did say no matter where they come from didn’t he? And he did say no matter who they love, didn’t he?

Well that would include Andrew and Belinda, wouldn’t it? That would include Charlie and Donald, wouldn’t it? That would include Edward, Frances and Georgina, wouldn’t it? That would include Harriet and Ian, wouldn’t it? As for James, Kevin and Lou, I’ll come back to them in a moment.

The issue here is what you base your view of marriage on. If you use Jesus’ words — “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” — then it is obvious why none of the above configurations, along with ordinary same-sex unions, can never be called marriage.

But if you really want to base your view of marriage on what Mr Holder calls “fundamental equality,” and if you claim that this should extend to “all Americans, regardless of who they are, where they come from and who they love,” then either you are going to have to accept all of the above configurations, or you are going to have to be prepared to be labelled — and I use the technical term here — a raving hypocrite.

I said I would come back to James, Kevin and Lou. They too fall within Mr Holder’s criteria, but they are a bit different. Why? Well I’m guessing that even so much as mentioning all the other configurations is likely to go down as hate speech in the eyes of every LGBTer and their supporters out there, but when we come to James, Kevin and Lou it all gets a little bit tricky. You see, James is bisexual and bisexuality is one of the key planks of the whole LGBT movement. Which means that if you are going to argue for marriage to be offered to the “L’s”, the “Gs” and the “Ts”, why won’t you offer it to the “Bs”? You’re not Bi-ophobic now, are you?

Of course the reply may well be along the lines that by bringing in same-sex marriage, the “Bs” are able to marry who they want, which means that James is free to marry both Kevin or Lou. But the problem is James doesn’t want to marry Kevin or Lou. He wants to marry Kevin and Lou.

Do you hear that Mr Holder? James is an American, he is from Orlando, he is in love with both Kevin and Lou, and he wants to marry them both. He comes into all the criteria you have set out regarding marriage, as do all the other configurations mentioned above. So do you think we should respect the principle of “fundamental equality” and grant James his request. Or would this be a critical step too far for you?

Perfectly Harmless?

Another excerpt from my forthcoming book, A Christian & an Unbeliever Discuss: Life, the Universe & Everything

“Okay, so let’s say that morality is a universal,” Alex replied, “and let’s say that all men have some understanding of it but are able to ignore it. I don’t have a problem with this. Perhaps I’m not able to fully explain how this happened, but maybe one day humans will have a better understanding of these things. Nevertheless, however we got our morality, I still maintain that you can be a moral person without believing in God. I know loads of people who don’t believe in God who are perfectly moral.”

“Perfectly moral?” I said with a smile on my face. “That’s a pretty big claim. On what absolute basis are you judging these people, and—I assume—yourself to be perfectly moral?”

“Look, I don’t believe in God, but I’ve never done any harm to anyone,” he replied a little angrily. “If that doesn’t constitute morality then I don’t know what does.”

“Harm?” I said with a note of surprise. “So is that the absolute value you are using to judge whether you and others are moral?”

“Yes,” he said, “it is.”

“Well, quite apart from the fact that this is irrelevant to the issue of morality, is it even strictly true? You mentioned a while ago about arguing with your wife—at least I assume that this was something drawn from your own personal experience. So is it really true to say that you have never done any harm to anyone?”

“Yes,” he affirmed. “We may have our ups and downs, but we forgive each other and we’re still together. So where’s the harm?”

“Whether there is or isn’t any is debatable,” I replied. “But nevertheless, it is a point which is pretty irrelevant in any discussion of morality. I suppose that a suicide bomber whose explosives fail to detonate could legitimately claim that he hasn’t done anyone any harm. Whereas the judge who sentences the attempted suicide bomber to prison and therefore to a loss of liberty could not legitimately claim that he hasn’t done anyone any harm. But would you say that the attempted suicide bomber is the more moral of the two?”

“No,” he said.

“Exactly,” I replied, “and that’s because the issue of harm is largely irrelevant to the issue of morality. Apart from anything, harm can be an entirely relative concept, if extricated from an overarching moral law. What one person considers harm—say daubing graffiti on a subway wall—might constitute ‘harmless fun’ to another.”

Gun. Foot. Shoot. Bang. Ouch!

If you have a neighbour, and he supplies you with goods which you cannot do without, and which you cannot produce yourself, it would be good to try and remain on good terms with him, right? It wouldn’t be very clever to poke him and prod him, make up false stories about his intentions, and equate him with some of the worst people in history, would it? That would be very foolish and it’s possible that after suffering enough indignities at your hand, one day he might just come and tell you where to go with regards to getting the goods you need.

This is what the EU has been doing constantly for the past year or so with the neighbour who sells it gas. And now its neighbour who sells it gas has been provoked just once too often. Having been told that Ukraine was none of its business when Russia suggested trilateral talks at the end of 2013, having stood by whilst the US and EU orchestrated an illegal coup in that country, having seen the EU supporting the diabolical Kiev government as it attempts to wipe Russian speakers in the East of the country off the face of the planet, having been accused on the basis of no credible evidence of downing MH17, and having been accused of invading Ukraine more times than I would care to mention, the Russian government has clearly decided that the EU can go and take a running jump.

And so it is that the EU, which relies on Russian gas to survive, has prodded, provoked and insulted the Russians once too often, rather than trying what might pass for meaningful dialogue. The Russian patience with this folly, which has been quite remarkable to anyone following events closely, has finally worn thin, and they have announced to the EU that if EU countries really want to have its gas, they will have to build their own pipelines and get it from Turkey rather than via Ukraine (see here and here for details).

Of course the story will be presented in an entirely upside down way in the West. Those evil Russians are trying to freeze us all before they rebuild the Soviet Union, or something like that. Please don’t believe a word of it. This is the fault of the EU, front to back, top to bottom, through and through.

The moral of the story: Don’t upset your neighbour if you can help it. Treat his concerns and interests as important. Try not to launch wave after wave of stupid and childish propaganda aimed at demonizing him. If you do that, you might just find that eventually he tells you where to go.

Marie Harf’s Amazing Powers of Omniscience and Amnesia

Marie Harf

US State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf

12 people are killed in an attack on a bus in Volnovakha, in the Donetsk Region. There is not enough information to know who did it. The OSCE says it cannot even identify what type of weapon or weapons were used, let alone who was responsible and calls for an investigation. But why bother with an investigation when the folks who told you what happened to MH17 within minutes of its crashing (though they’ve still yet to share the satellite photos they’ve got, let alone come up with other even vaguely credible evidence) can solve the case:

“Today’s vicious and repeated attacks on the Donetsk Airport and the shelling of a bus that killed 10 people and wounded 13 are just the latest egregious violations of the commitments made by the Russia-backed separatists” — State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.

Before we get carried away by Miss Harf’s powers of omniscience, it is worth pointing out that she and her overlords have never once uttered a word of condemnation about the constant shelling of civilian populations by Ukrainian armed forces last year, which have led to the deaths of thousands of mainly civilians. Neither have she or her overlords so much as uttered a peep about the Odessa massacre last May, in which people were deliberately burned alive. And her powers of omniscience appear to turn into powers of amnesia when it comes to who was really behind the original coup in Kiev last year (clue: she works for it).

But apparently she and her overlords already know who attacked the bus, even before the investigators get there, and even though it is entirely possible that it could have been committed by one of those lovely Nazi brigades, such as the Azov battalion. Or does Miss Harf and her masters think they are much too nice for that sort of thing?


Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko: President, Chocolatier and Seer

As for Mr Poroshenko, he too appears to know who did it, even though he hasn’t seen the results of the investigation either — for obvious reasons. And so moved is the ethnic cleanser of the Donbass and Luhansk that he has announced a day of mourning for January 15th, and is attempting to get various international bodies to recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics as terrorist organisations. Ironic, since their only real relationship to terror is trying to defend themselves against the terror unleashed upon them by Mr Poroshenko and his overlords in Washington and Berlin.

If in doubt about who is terrorising whom, ask yourself this: how many bombs have gone off in Kiev over the past year and how many have been dropped on Donetsk and Luhansk? Maybe Marie could set her powers of omniscience to answering that one.