By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2801

Cover up as British army fuels war drive in Ukraine

British troops have been deployed to train Ukrainian military personnel since the war began, but the state doesn’t want you to know that
Issue 2801
A member of the Ukrainian armed forces is shown how to operate an NLAW anti-tank launcher

A member of the Ukrainian armed forces is shown how to operate an NLAW anti-tank launcher.

In a report published by the Times newspaper last Friday, Ukrainian troops admitted they received­ ­training from British troops. But in an effort to stop this information from getting out, the Security Media Advisory (DSMA) Committee sent a notice to Socialist Worker and other media outlets asking them not to print the story.

Such “D notices” use the claim of “damage to national security” to urge editors to squash stories. They have no legal standing, but almost all editors accept them. Socialist Worker is not doing so. We’re often told that other ­countries, such as Russia, restrict reporting of wars. They do, but so does Britain.

Brigadier Geoffrey Dodds, Secretary of the DSMA, said, “Should any editor currently be considering ­publishing or broadcasting information on these operations, may I ask you to seek my advice beforehand?” What did they want to hide? The D Notice said it didn’t want any details published of “Special Forces and other Ministry of Defence units engaged in security, intelligence and counter-terrorism operations, including their methods, ­techniques and activities.  Such disclosure could reveal details of operations or operating methods and techniques before, during and after their execution which would bestow an advantage on an adversary.”

In reality the notice isn’t about protecting “British lives” it’s about controlling what the press writes about the war. The Times report said, “Former British soldiers, marines and special forces commandos are also in Ukraine working as training contractors and volunteers, but the Ukrainian officers were adamant that their training this month was carried out by serving British soldiers. Officers from two (Ukrainian) battalions stationed in and around the capital said they had undergone military training, one last week and the other the week before.” 

The report goes on to reveal that “Captain Yuriy Myronenko, whose battalion is stationed in Obolon on the northern outskirts of Kyiv, said that military trainers had come to instruct new and returning military recruits to use NLAWs, British-supplied anti-tank missiles that were delivered in February as the invasion was beginning.”

Myronenko added that ­training on how to use NLAWs from British military personnel was essential and that before, soldiers had to refer to YouTube videos for an explanation. The report also revealed, “One Ukrainian special forces commander, who goes by the military nickname ‘Skiff’, said the 112th battalion, to which his unit was attached, had undergone training last week. The account was confirmed by his senior commander.”

The Ministry of Defence has refused to confirm that Ukrainian troops are being trained by British military personnel, stating that it could not comment on special operations. The accounts confirm the ­long-held expectation that Britain has sent “trainers” to Ukraine from the beginning of the war.

Is US plotting to use Russian debt default to collapse its economy?

Western governments could be planning to seize Russia’s gold and foreign currency reserves in a bid to collapse the country’s economy. Like most major countries, Russia holds huge sums in central banks across the world. These are used to settle state debts, finance trade and regulate the value of its currency the rouble.

But in a move designed to bankrupt the Russian state, the US is insisting that all of Russia’s debts are settled in dollars, rather than roubles. It knows that US economic sanctions mean that is impossible. Russia is now halfway into a 30-day “grace period” in which it must settle its due debts.

The US Treasury earlier this month blocked Russia from paying £499 million due on two bonds using funds held at US banks. Russia instead tried to pay in roubles. But credit rating agencies said this would constitute a default—meaning the country would then struggle to borrow money and import and export goods. Without access to a credit system, the value of the rouble would likely collapse, leading to an economic crisis that will hit ordinary people hardest.

The Russian rich stash most of their wealth in secret bank accounts abroad and in foreign currencies. They will emerge largely unscathed. But the poor, who are paid in roubles, will find their money becomes worthless. Tatiana Orlova, an economist at Oxford Economics, told the Business Insider that will likely now be a scramble for Russian state assets held abroad.

The news site predicted that Ukraine will demand a huge share of Russia’s reserves in compensation for the war, and that the US might eventually end up seizing the money. Western governments have already frozen the bulk of the roughly £460 billion stockpile. The shadow economic war conducted by the West is part of a wider strategy to bring “regime change” to Russia.

Yuri Prasad

China is next in Joe Biden’s  list of target countries

The US regards China as its most significant competitor. If it humbles Russia in Ukraine it will feel more confident to confront China. And it is already strengthening its presence in Asia.

New deployments mean the US Navy now has five submarines based in Guam, a US “island territory” in the Western Pacific. That’s up from two boats in November 2021.

Guam is thousands of miles from the coast of China. But the US military views the base as a vital asset in its strategy to counter Chinese influence in the region. From the base, the US can deploy warships to patrol the waters of the East and South China Seas.

The Pentagon says it has committed about £8.5 billion for construction on Guam over the next five years. One of the main projects is to develop a missile defence system. US military officials say this is necessary to defend the island from the Chinese military’s “evolving capabilities”.

The move to increase the submarine force in Guam comes as China is beefing up its submarine fleet.  China currently owns four ballistic missile submarines, along with a force of 50 diesel-electric attack submarines.

Putin battering Mariupol 

Russian forces continued to batter the Ukrainian city of Mariupol this week, adding to the horror of the seven-week siege that has reduced much of the city to ruins. Mariupol had a population of nearly 450,000 before the war. At the start of this week a few thousand Ukrainian troops remained at the Azovstal steel mill, refusing to surrender.

“All those who will continue resistance will be destroyed,” Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov, the Russian defence ministry’s spokesperson, said.

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky said the destruction of “our guys will put an end to all negotiations with Russia”. If taken by Russia, Mariupol would create a land corridor from Crimea to the eastern Ukrainian areas controlled by Russia around Donetsk and Lugansk. The United Nations refugee agency said 4,869,019 Ukrainian citizens had left the country since Russia invaded in February.

War could last for years

Secretary of state Antony Blinken told Nato allies that the US believes the war in Ukraine will go on for months or even years. 

National Security adviser Jake Sullivan has warned of a confrontation that could go on “for months or even longer.” Recently General Mark Milley, chair of the joint chiefs of staff said, “I do think this is a very protracted conflict, and I think it’s measured in years. I don’t know about a decade, but at least years for sure,” he told the House Armed Services Committee.

On Wednesday of last week US president Joe Biden authorised a new £615 million weapons package for Ukraine. This brings the total military aid pledged since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February to about £2 billion.

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