— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) December 22, 2016
Why We Believe Bellingcat THIS Time, Despite Their History of OSINT Fraud and Laundering 'Beadcrumbs' Left on the Internet by the CIA-Backed Security Service of Ukraine (SBU)
— Eliot Higgins (@EIiotHiggins) April 13, 2016
To be fair, some (post)Western journalists such as RFE/RL contributor Christopher Miller have acknowledged that the U.S.-propped up government of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko refuses to admit the scale of Ukraine's irretrievable losses in dead and seriously wounded, especially in recent battles. In the aftermath of Kiev's military debacles at Ilovaisk, Donetsk Airport and Debaltsevo, journalists would freely discuss on Twitter Poroshenko's detachment from reality in describing hundreds of KIA as a few dozen deaths. Yet for all the hype surrounding open source and data driven journalism, there never seemed to be any substantive follow up on this subject. You can say like RFE/RL contributor Christopher Miller that Poroshenko's corrupt, but if you work at the 'Prague Palace' or with Ukrainian and Eastern European nationalist colleagues, you can't say straight up Porky's lying about thousands of combat deaths above the admitted figures -- at least not without job repercussions. Aside from one limited hangout story from Vice News, it seems post-Western media have adopted an attitude of don't ask, and Kiev's Defense Ministry hasn't told regarding how many of Ukraine's 'missing in action' are actually dead since 2015.
— Malinka (@Malinka1102) December 21, 2016
The Russia Analyst finds it ironic then, that a new report by an amateur working for the Atlantic Council in the guise of British hack Eliot Higgins, as well as the pending inauguration of an American president promising detente with Moscow that Higgins hates, could help refocus post-Western journalists' attention on the true scale of Ukraine's losses. We understand some may misunderstand our intent in agreeing with Eliot Higgins -- the legacy media's go to boy for open source ponzi scamming, in that he's always overstating what OSINT alone can actually prove without actually going to the battlefields of Syria and Ukraine -- on this occasion. But during this holiday season, it's only right to admit when someone whose falsehoods and arrogance we despise is actually correct, like a broken clock being right twice a day.
Despite Eliot Higgins' constantly shifting goal posts during the aftermath of the East Ghouta false flag sarin gas attack, documented by MIT arms control expert Ted Postol with the aid of Rogue Money guest Mimi al-Laham aka Syria Girl; despite his team at Bellingcat's baby faced Syrian globo-jihadi and anti-Russian fanaticism from undergraduate 'contributors' such as @JettGoldsmith, combined with their obvious incompetence in the subjects they claim to 'crowd source' such as physics, photo forensics, rocketry, former Soviet air defense systems/fighter jets and military science -- in this instance, Bellingcat is right. But for the wrong reasons:
— Malinka (@Malinka1102) December 21, 2016
A Few Words on Bellingcat and the Cult of Exagerrated OSINT as a Cheap Substitute for the CIA Ever Releasing Anything of Substance on MH17, East Ghouta Etc.
Not only does Bellingcat ask that the media and laymen alike accept on faith that Google Earth imagery from a conflict zone would never be manipulated by the CIA or National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), they also assume low quality Google Earth imagery is sufficient for crater analysis to roughly calculate the trajectories of Russian rocket and artillery fire across the pre-war RF-Ukrainian border. It isn't. If it were, why would the Pentagon allow it be declassified without their express written approval?
After all DARPA not only invented the Internet, but the CIA through its In-Q-Tel arm also famously funded Google, and it is the Mountain View, California based giant which has turned the EU founding Bilderberg group meetings into 'Google-berg' while Eliot Higgins proudly boasts of receiving their grants. A little OSINT capability, in the wrong hands and used to debunk Washington's narratives, could be a dangerous thing. Especially if Russian 'open source sleuths' start using Yandex satellite maps to reveal that Google Earth imagery has been, in certain instances and on key days in sensitive spots such as eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 tampered with or faked (for example, making the skies partly cloudy when overcast or clear, which bears directly on the credibility of eyewitnesses purporting to have seen Ukrainian fighter jets or a BUK rocket trail in the sky that day).
If we take Bellingcat at their word that Russian artillery and rocket fire can be deduced from Google Earth imagery, than they'd also have to admit their counterpart 'OSINT sleuths' of the Russian or Iranian sort could identify traces of not so covert Israeli or Turkish artillery strikes against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) along the Golan Heights or the northern Latakia hills. Rather than the (G)NGO Atlantic Council funding such efforts, perhaps the Kremlin-connected Russian Institute for International Studies (RISS) could fund a Belling-koshka and turn the tables on Eliot Higgin's sponsors?
For example, if OSINT can determine from 'soldier selfies' that active duty Russian servicemen aka the so-called 'vacationers' participated in the Donbass fighting, then it can (with a little help from the CyberBerkut) also expose the identities of at least some NATO country advisers and mercenaries aka 'volunteers' Bellingcat's Atlantic Council bosses insist were never anywhere near the Ukrainians' front lines (starting with 'out of my face please' guy from Mariupol in January 2015)?
Eventually, despite the worshipful, ignorance-based deference that seems to prevail among English-speaking media towards Bellingcat, the CIA's habit of outsourcing its messaging through them rather than releasing credible intel straight from Langley is going to bite the U.S. intelligence community in the butt, when real intel released by Russia or even mid-rate powers like Iran contradicts and exposes the lies of 'rock solid' OSINT.
In particular, we strongly suspect the hardliners around Putin are daring the CIA soft coup plotters against Trump to launch attributed cyber attacks ahead of the January 20th inaugural in the U.S., so the Kremlin can finally stop blackmailing Poroshenko and Obama with what Moscow has on MH17 and simply release it: Russian military radar data of Ukrainian SU-25s in the air and identifiable intel of Kiev's BUKs very much in range of the MH17 flight path on July 17, 2014 and all!
— Eliot Higgins (@EIiotHiggins) April 24, 2016
Why Does Bellingcat Claim as a Scoop What Col. Cassad/Slavanygrad Published 2 Years Ago?
So, the reason we agree with Bellingcat in this instance isn't because their methodology is solid, it isn't. Sean Case, the primary author of Bellingcat's latest report, is an apparently u or underemployed British hydrologist, who may know something about land surveys by satellite but knows basically nothing about modern massed fires from tube or rocket artillery (not unlike Mr. Bellingcrap himself knew nothing about these subjects prior to the August 2013 East Ghouta sarin gas attack). Nevertheless, such obvious incompetence in the area of expertise required for their analyses never stopped Bellingcat before -- or lamestream media outlets under pressure from their editors and governments to publicize 'proof' of Russian/Assad government dastardliness to cite Eliot Higgins 'work'.
Nonetheless, we have come to the common sense conclusion that the 'Highway of Death' scale of destroyed Ukrainian military equipment and blasted conscripts evident in photos published at Colonel Cassad and other sites as early as August 2014 was beyond the capabilities of Donbass locals. Yes, even Donbass natives or Russian volunteers with some prior Ukrainian or Russian army experience as artillerymen could not have laid down these devastating massed barrages with such deadly accuracy (at least not without many days to several weeks of refresher training on live firing ranges).
Ironically, while Bellingcat claims its latest report 'confirming Russia's denied involvement!' is a big scoop, pro-Russian sources such as the Crimea-based blogger Cassad, the Canadian run Slavyangrad translation site, or The Saker blog published accounts of Ukrainian troops being slaughtered by massed Russian Army fires over two years ago. When it became obvious from the hundreds if not thousands of Ukrainian Army soldiers staggering shell-shocked into Russian territory to receive medical treatment and/or attempt to surrender that the UAF had suffered a catastrophic defeat beyond the capabilities of the Donbass 'militia' alone to create.
Here's just a sampling from Toronto-based attorney Gleb Bazov's site, published back in AUGUST 2014, about the so-called 'Southern Cauldron' south of Saur Mogila where thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers died, leaving behind scores of intact tanks and GRAD rocket launchers alongside dozens of scorched pieces:
The AP, Reuters, and BBC All Knew in Late 2014 That Thousands of Ukrainian Soldiers Were Dead Above the Number Kiev's Defense Ministry Would Admit -- So Why Won't Bellingcat Launch an Open Source Investigation Using Evidence Provided Here -- Better Yet GO TO Ukraine and Investigate THAT?
As we type this we can envision swarms of Ukrainian trollls and Atlantic Council allied shills attacking this article and its author. We can picture them furiously tweeting that there's no evidence the Ukrainians have been hiding such a death toll, and it would be impossible to keep figures 3 to 5 times above the admitted figure quiet in any case. To this argument we respond with several points, but the first is: unlike Bellingcat, which often insists old school journalism of the type Eliot Higgins' critic and Consortium News reporter Robert Parry practices is obsolete, we have sources. Some of those media sources both in Moscow and the U.S. have informed us that the Moscow and Kiev bureau chiefs of one leading global wire service knew damn well as early as late 2014, that the Ukrainians suffered thousands of combat deaths above the number admitted, but the news execs refused to seriously pursue the story.
Take this tweet, for example, from journalist Daniel Sandford which Russia Insider reported in October 2014, and which there's no evidence whatsoever the BBC bothered to follow up on:
Both pro-Ukrainians AND pro-Russians are now citing this video to support their views of the conflict https://t.co/rmlRMH4HeZ
— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) August 20, 2014
If there was any investigation done by a leading global wire service, one source tells us, it was of a half-hearted or half-assed sort. Whether out of fear of expat reporters or local stringers being intimidated by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), or as a favor to the Ukrainian government if not the U.S. State Department and Embassy in Kiev, the [media org's name redacted to protect the source/s] 'investigation' went nowhere.
There was no evidence in late 2014 or early 2015, according to one source, that (post)Western reporters or Ukrainian stringers were sent to the hometowns of units, like the Ukrainian Army's 30th brigade, that acknowledged in open source local media reports picked up by the BBC's Sandford and Slavyangrad's [English subtitled] video suffering catastrophic losses from the very Russian cross border artillery and rocket fire that Bellingcat is alleging today. One source turned to RogueMoney in anguish only after appeals to potentially sympathetic sites like The Nation to investigate Kiev's cover up went nowhere, the source explained, for lack of investigatory resources and reporters on the ground in Ukraine.
Lost Armor and Past Conflict Extrapolation of UAF KIA -- 13,500 to 17,500 Dead
It seems if you work for George Soros and the Atlantic Council, you're free to talk about the dastardliness of the Russian Army firing on Ukrainian Army units and Putin denying it (even though there's evidence the Ukrainians shelled Russian territory as well, killing at least one civilian in an RF border town). What you're not supposed to do however if you're Eliot Higgins, is ever draw any inference that if the think tanks like the Potomac Foundation are correct when they say that the Russians wiped out entire Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) mechanized battalions, that Kiev's casualty figures are therefore ridiculously low.
Like Bellingcat's recent refusal to geo-locate and analyze the heavy civilian death toll from Saudi Air Force bombing in Yemen, the common thread from Ukraine to the Mideast is not upsetting the major foreign and military industrial complex donors to the Atlantic Council that make Bellingcat's work possible. And yet...other 'open source sleuths', who do not have the pro-NATO and anti-Russian slant of Bellingcat, have done quality estimates based on defensible assumptions regarding Ukrainian Army losses in men and tanks being roughly comparable to the Russians' in the first Chechen War. That conflict pitted another demoralized post-Soviet army feeding off the USSR's equipment and tactical legacy against irregulars armed with similar RPGs and small arms as the Novorossiya Armed Forces (NAF) -- though the Chechens did not receive massed fire support from a great power, and had far fewer tanks, artillery and GRAD rocket launchers of their own than the Donbass forces. In other words, extrapolating from the Chechen war figures and ratio of armor lost to KIA should if anything, tilt higher for the UAF's losses from 2014-15 vs. the Russian Army's from 1994-95:
#Ukraine is unable to compensate their losses by own production. Also, "armor cannibalism" is wide spread, where 3 broken armor =1 repaired.
— Sergey Bobkov (@sbobkov) December 21, 2016
But again, we hear the objections from the Bellingcat (Bellingcrap) and Kiev troll army, how and why would the Ukrainians engage in such a cover up of their combat dead and wounded? And why would Kiev's masters in Washington D.C., the Pentagon and Langley also maintain their silence about Ukrainian losses, with only the occasional cryptic reference here and there to direct Russian fires effects from highly ranked individuals like Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges? Or from the pro-NATO and Kiev think tank the Potomac Foundation, based in the Washington D.C. area? Are they all in the tank for exagerrating the effectiveness of 'Putin's army' or deriding the Ukrainians combat efficiency too?
Read the above quote from the Potomac Foundation again. What they're saying is that Russian Army thermobaric rockets of the Smerch or more advanced 'Tornado' model incinerated two Ukrainian battalions in minutes. Even an under strength Soviet-motor rifle battalion is at least 330 men. Do the math, and the Potomac Foundation is tacitly acknowledging 600 UAF were killed or wounded within minutes of a single massed Russian salvo in July/August 2014. But the legacy media won't challenge Ukrainian Petro Poroshenko's bullshit figure of a mere 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers and volunteer battalion members killed in the entire 2 1/2 year war!
#Ukrainian D-30 arty crews, the minute they started crunching targeting numbers on their app, their positions lit up like Christmas tree.
— Sergey Bobkov (@sbobkov) December 22, 2016
If the above linked story pushed by the Atlantic Council linked-'experts' at Crowdstrike (and denied by Ukrainian military men) were true, then the Ukrainian Army is criminally incompetent in using hackable iPads and other personal devices for artillery targeting...
'Artillery is a god of the battlefield': the NAF's (Acknowledged by U.S. Commanders) Russian-Aided Superiority in Massed Fires and Counterbattery Over the UAF
More sophisticated Bellingcat fanboys may object here that the Potomac Institute, funded by the American military industrial complex, has a financial incentive to hype Russian combat capabilities, just like the previously downsized U.S. Army in Europe needs the Russian threat to justify an expanded budget and influx of more equipment. Nonetheless, we don't have to take the Potomac Foundation's word for it, as there are pro-Russian sources like Cassad (translated by The Saker's team) that describe how being an artilleryman is probably the deadliest job in the Ukrainian army, due to the superiority of the NAF's (Russian 'vacationer' and GRU SIGINT/ELINT operative) aided counter-battery fire around Donetsk:
At least when it comes to defending the capital city of the Donetsk People's Republic, which is far more competently run than its sister republic in Lugansk, the Russian 'vacationers' appear to have been directly involved. And no Bellingcat report attributing crater analysis to Sean Case, whose LinkedIn profile lists an agro-environmental science researcher specializing in hydrology based in Denmark, was needed to demonstrate this -- only by taking an honest look at Ukrainian losses.
The Reasons Behind the Great Ukrainian Casualties Cover-Up:
Geo-Political, Psychological and Propping Up Ukrainian Military Morale
The reasons for the great Ukrainian casualties cover up are multifacted, but can be summarized in the following order of importance:
1) Protecting the increasingly unpopular Petro Poroshenko's vulnerable political hide from both Right Sector/Azov Battalion linked ultranationalists and anti-war Opposition bloc parliamentarians. If there's one thing the various factions in the Verkhovna Rada can agree on, it's that they loathe Petro Poroshenko. Parliamentarians already accuse Poroshenko and his crony generals of staggering military incompetence, war profiteering, smuggling/trading with the 'separatist' enemy if not downright treason and collusion with Putin.
While Ukrainian nationalists are notorious for shouting 'zrada' (treason) when incompetence or years of corruption in Kiev's military suffice as explanations for the UAF's humiliating defeats of 2014-15, the fact that Poroshenko still maintains major business assets in Russia lends their theories of Poroshenko surrendering to Putin some plausibility.
However, the real reason Poroshenko adopted deals as lopsidedly in favor of the Russian-backed Donbass republics as Minsk 1 and Minsk 2 remains: in early September 2014 and again in February 2015 significant portions of the Ukrainian military in the Donbass were on the brink of collapse and/or mutiny. If Poroshenko hadn't signed Minsk 1, the lines around Mariupol would've likely collapsed and the light infantry of the SS rune flag waving, foreigner recruiting Azov Battalion would've been slaughtered in heavy fighting for the Donbass' only port city. After Debaltsevo, the threat was less of a general collapse in UAF lines and more of a widescale mutiny or military putsch, with some ultranationalists vowing to execute Poroshenko in a basement.
2) Lying about the scale of Ukraine's casualties is necessary to prop up Ukrainian military morale for the now remote (since Trump's election) possibility of a serious U.S./EU taxpayer funded program of rearmament, that would in a few years time fulfill Ukrainian nationalists and Cold Warriors dream of replicating the success of Croatia's 1995 'Operation Storm' -- an ethnic cleansing offensive against the Krajina Serbs in the breakaway Donbass republics.
The facts -- that modern Russia is vastly more militarily potent than Milosevic's Serbia and direct Russian military intervention would likely crush any such offensive before it could effectively encircle Donetsk and Lugansk have not dissuaded everyone from fantasizing about easy victories won by Ukrainian proxy for the US/NATO never having to shed their own blood in the Donbass. Witness U.S. Army Afghanistan veteran A.H. Bonenberger's 2015 fantasy piece, "Ukraine Can Defeat the Separatists", or John R. Schindler's "How Ukraine Cain Win". In the latter essay written in 2015, the ex-NSA analyst famous for being forced out of the U.S. Naval War College over intimate selfies basically joins with the ultra-nationalist battalions in accusing Poroshenko of cowardice, treason, or both:
The problem of course, being that Schindler like the flag wavers in the Ukrainian Diaspora who make up much of his Twitter fan base, doesn't realize how increasingly unpopular the Donbass war is among ordinary Ukrainians or how rampant draft evasion has been. Military age Ukrainian males by the hundreds of thousands are working in Poland, Romania, and even the 'enemy' state of Russia to avoid winding up on the frontlines. Even some Ukrainian nationalists have adopted an attitude of 'let Donetsk and Lugansk rot under those drunken thieves the Russians put in charge of them', not noticing how rampant drunkenness is among the 'ATO heroes' of their Galicia (western Ukrainian) centric version of the country. In other words, even many previous true believers in the 'Banderite' version of Ukrainian nationalism are wondering if the war is still worth fighting, or at least if Poroshenko is cleverly disposing of participants in a third Maidan by sending them forward into the meatgrinder:
— Sergey Bobkov (@sbobkov) December 20, 2016
The recent battle for Svitlodarsk, in which Right Sector ultras if not neo-Nazis took heavy casualties alongside members of Ukraine's 54th Mechanized Brigade, is the latest example of this 'send the ultras who hate Poroshenko forward' practice by Kiev's Defense Ministry. Suspicions remain high over two years after the defeat of Right Sector and Donbass Battalion volunteers at Ilovaisk that the regular army abandoned the 'volunteers' to be surrounded. In reality, the more aggressive Right Sector and Donbass battalion fighters simply underestimated the enemy and their own resources, pressing ahead into a trap.
3) Ukrainians own bravado and tendency to believe their own BS about casualties, ignoring their heretofore woeful combat effectiveness in anything other than defensive operations
This is the last point we'll make in this expose, and one we believe needs the least elaboration. The fact of the matter is the Ukrainians can look at the defeat of the massively supplied and dug in jihadists in Aleppo, who had occupied a city surrounded by tens of thousands of civilians for over four years, to see glimpses of what actually fighting the Russian armed forces directly instead of Russia's Novorossiya foreign legion would be like. Of course in Syria political and logistical constraints mean that the Russian military is still only using a fraction of the combat power it can bring to bear on its own borders with Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military often claims that the Russians and not its own armed forces are the ones hiding thousands of combat deaths. If that were the case though, it would be easy to tell, because the Ukrainian Army would already be sitting victorious in Donetsk and Lugansk, if not back in a 'liberated' Sevastapol.
What neither Bellingcat, nor the Potomac Foundation in an official capacity or its fellows in an unofficial one speaking for themselves, have bothered to do is try and ESTIMATE how many Ukrainian KIA those cross border Russian tube and rocket fire volleys claimed. To do so might not only demonstrate that Washington's ally in Kiev's Defense Ministry is engaged in a systematic cover-up of Ukraine's true combat losses in the so-called 'ATO', but also the complicity of the State Dept., DoD and AP, Reuters, BBC and RFE/RL in refusing to investigate this subject for over two years -- despite internal grumbling from our sources about this conspiracy of omission.
As the true number of Kiev's KIA isn't the 3,000 President Poroshenko recently admitted, but likely between 12 and 17,000 total UAF dead, we say to Eliot and his Bellingcat crew that it's about bloody time to face the truth. Post-Maidan Ukraine has lost the Donbass war and is unwilling to accept the costs in terms of dead or wounded to 'win' back territory held by former Ukrainian passport holders backed by Russia that despise the regime in Kiev. With the election of Trump and the Trumpening of Europe, it's very bloody unlikely anyone (the Poles included) is going to bleed and die alongside the Ukrainian Army in sufficient numbers to put Ukraine's blue and gold flag atop Donetsk and Lugansk again.
Our unsolicited advice to Eliot Higgins, Aric Toler and his other cohorts at Bellingcat, as well as the media organizations eagerly promoting Bellingcat's 'work' without any research into Higgins' history of lies and OSINT fails? Stop sitting on the story of Ukraine's many thousands of dead soldiers and volunteer battalion members, which any well educated or militarily informed person can deduce from open source data, including pro-NATO sources like the Potomac Foundation. For that matter, maybe it's time to dig into the handful of NATO servicemen or recently discharged 'vacationers', primarily from Poland, who never came back alive from the 'ATO' zone either, who've been labeled as 'training accidents' since April 2014? These calculated lies of omission will not stand, because the truth is going to come out sooner or later.
A regime in Kiev, promoting the worst [Banderite/UPA] criminals in Ukrainian history rather than Ukraine's true [Red Army] heroes, temporarily propped up by US/EU/IMF fiat and lies, can kill and maim the people of Donbass. But it will never conquer them.