By Aaron Kesel
Anti-Kremlin 41-year-old former Russian soldier-turned-journalist Arkady Babchenko who was supposedly murdered by Russia appeared alive and well at a press conference in Kiev on Wednesday as Ukraine admitted it had faked his death to “expose an alleged Russian plot to kill him,” The Guardian reported.
Less than 24 hours prior, Ukraine said Babchenko had died from three gunshots to the back in the stairwell of his apartment building in a contract-style killing in a case that provoked an outpouring of grief and a diplomatic spat.
“Thanks to this operation we were able to foil a cynical plot and document how the Russian security service was planning for this crime,” security service head (SBU) Vasyl Grytsak said at the press conference.
According to Tuesday’s reports in local Ukraine media, Babchenko was shot three times in the back in his apartment building in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev last Tuesday after going out to buy bread. His wife then found him in a pool of blood after she came out of the bathroom following the “murder.” He was further pronounced dead in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
A staged photo of Babachenko taken by his wife was posted online.
Вот всё, что вы можете повторить, ублюдки pic.twitter.com/St8E9sFG4D
— Уголок циника (@cynicarea) May 29, 2018
Then, on Wednesday, Babchenko was suddenly resurrected from his grave and showed up to a press conference, reporting that the SBU had intelligence about a real actual assassination scheme and he helped them to derail the plot by faking his own death. According to NBC the assassin who received the order to kill Babchenko, along with the person who organized the hit, have reportedly been detained.
WATCH: Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, reported to have been killed, appears at a news conference, as Ukrainian Security Service says the agency faked his death to catch those who were trying to kill him – @MSNBC pic.twitter.com/WnhAkVSls2
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 30, 2018
The chief of Ukraine’s security service, Gritsak, defended the need for the public deception, telling reporters it had helped the agency identify and catch the person who promised a Ukrainian war veteran $30,000 to assassinate Babchenko.
Babchenko fled to Ukraine in February 2017 after he had stated he received death threats and that he could be arrested following his career as a presenter for Ukraine’s ATR TV. He has been one of Russia’s most prominent war correspondents and has spoken out about Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine in recent years.
Following Babchenko’s fraudulent “death,” Ukrainian officials falsely confirmed the journalist had been shot in the back and said it was “believed he had been targeted due to his work as an anti-Putin journalist.”
Ukrainian lawmaker Anton Gerashchneko even went into details, telling the BBC that the killer waited for Babchenko near his Kiev apartment and then shot him from behind.
“When Arkady opened the door of his flat, the killer cowardly shot him in the back, firing several shots,” wrote Gerashchneko on Facebook (however it is unclear if he knew about the “staged death.” He added that investigators were looking into “Russian spy agencies” as “Putin’s regime takes aim at people whom it’s impossible to break or intimidate.”
There was even a sketch of “the suspect” that had supposedly killed Babchenko put out in mainstream media. Truly bizarre how much work was put into this to just admit it was a “sting” to make a spectacle for the public.
Фоторобот, распространенный украинской полицией в связи с убийством Аркадия Бабченко pic.twitter.com/VL7DcDdVa9
— Эхо Москвы (@EchoMskRu) May 29, 2018
A neighbor even detailed to local media that the assassin had probably used a silencer since they didn’t hear any gun shots.
The reaction to Babchenko’s assassination by the media was to condemn Russia without any evidence. The Guardian described the murder at the time “as the most recent murder of a high-profile dissident in Kiev, a city that has become a refuge for some of Moscow’s most vehement critics, as well as the scene of targeted assassinations that have remained unsolved for years,” Zerohedge reported.
I am not buying that story the least bit; more than likely this was a compromised intelligence-run operation to blame Russia for the death of yet another journalist and inflame the situation.
I am not the only one not drinking Ukraine’s propaganda Kool-Aid, former British Ambassador and activist Craig Murray is also not buying the “master plan.”
I would have thought it was impossible to come up with a “frame Putin” story more implausible than the Skripals.
But Christ, have they managed it with Babchenko fake death!
MSM showing absolutely no shame, now pushing ridiculous “masterplan” line.
— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) May 30, 2018
Gritsak further stated Russian security services were behind the plot and agents had apprehended the man responsible for the hit. Gritsak showed a video of them taking a short, overweight man into custody on May 30th according to media reports. He added that killing Babchenko was part of a larger alleged plot by Russian security services. The Ukrainian man also was supposed to procure large quantities of weapons and explosives, including 300 AK-47 rifles and “hundreds of kilos of explosives,” to perpetrate acts of terror in Ukraine.
So here you see the geopolitical games at play going from blaming Russia for the murder of a journalist to accusing Russia of wanting to stage terror attacks in Ukraine.
Russia denied any involvement in any murder plot, while Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova later said Moscow was glad to hear Babchenko was alive but criticized Ukraine for staging a potential “provocation.”
This comes months after the alleged attempted killing of Sergei Skripal and his daughter,in which the UK blamed Russia in response.
Konstantin Kosachev, head of the international affairs committee of the upper house of the Russian parliament, compared Ukraine’s allegations to Britain’s claims that Moscow was behind the nerve gas poisonings of Skripal and his daughter, The Fresno Bee reported.
“The logic is the same — to defame Russia,” Kosachev told the state news agency Tass.
Reporters Without Borders director Christophe Deloire tweeted his “deepest indignation at the discovery of the manipulation of the Ukrainian secret services. It is always deeply dangerous for states to play with the facts.”
RSF expresses its deepest indignation after discovering the manipulation of the Ukrainian secret services, this new step of a war of information. It is always very dangerous for a government to play with the facts, especially using journalists for their fake stories. https://t.co/XwwbepYsjc
— Christophe Deloire (@chrisdeloire) May 30, 2018
This is the same Ukraine that previously paid mercenaries to carry out the shootings during Maidan in 2013, right?
The Eastern European country has been reliant on support from Washington since pro-Western government forces overthrew the Ukrainian leadership in 2013, as warned by Ukraine Deputy Oleg Tsarov prior. Paid CIA snipers hired by Maidan leaders subsequently shot at protesters and police, according to Polish former presidential candidate Janusz Korwin-Mikke and Urmas Paet.
A leaked phone call further confirmed the assumption that the U.S. planned a coup in Ukraine.
The audio uploaded online showed Victoria Nuland, the then top U.S. diplomat in Europe, and Geoff Pyatt, the U.S. envoy to Kiev, discussing the merits of Ukraine’s various opposition figures and if things were in place. In the recording, Nuland can also be heard saying “f**k the EU,” if they aren’t ready for their alleged plot and to go ahead without them.
Estonian Foreign Minister and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Urmas Paet, collaborated and confirmed that snipers had shot at both police and protesters in a conversation with EU foreign Security Policy Catherine Ashton when an additional tape was leaked by Officers of Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) loyal to the ousted President Viktor Yanukovich. Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders.
In fact, Nuland even admitted the subversive actions the U.S. was taking in Ukraine for the past few decades during a public speech where she stated the “U.S. has spent five billion dollars ($5,000,000,000) to subvert Ukraine,” assuring her listeners that there are prominent businessmen and government officials who support the U.S. project to tear Ukraine away from its historic relationship with Russia and into the U.S. sphere of interest (via “Europe”).
The current U.S. administration’s policy on Ukraine is dangerous with Trump sending Lethal Defensive Weapons to Ukraine last Christmas, Activist Post reported.
One of those weapons, the Javelin missile system, was tested last week for the first time since receiving the weapons from the United States, Reuters reported.
U.S Secretary of Defense James Mattis has previously stated the U.S.’s position that Russia has not abided by the Minsk ceasefire agreement meant to end separatist violence in eastern Ukraine.
“Despite Russia’s denials, we know they are seeking to redraw international borders by force, undermining the sovereign and free nations of Europe,” Mattis told reporters.
Trump has previously accused Russia of taking Crimea by force in a series of tweets and his White House stated that the U.S. president expected the annexed Black Sea peninsula to be returned to Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
Russia responded at the time, stating it would not hand back Crimea to Ukraine or discuss the matter with foreign partners.
“We don’t give back our own territory. Crimea is territory belonging to the Russian Federation,” Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Trump’s statements contradict comments he made in an interview with ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos in 2016 when he was a candidate Trump said: “The people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”
This also follows reports a few days ago that Russia was responsible for downing flight MH17 a civilian airliner that flew over Ukraine four years ago.
The five-nation Joint Investigation Team alleged the missile that brought down the plane as it passed over Ukraine had originated with an active duty Russian military unit, the 53rd Antiaircraft Brigade. The missile was brought into eastern Ukraine in July 2014, when Ukrainian forces were inflicting losses on Russia-backed rebels, according to the investigators.
“Based on these findings, the only conclusion we can reasonably now draw is that Russia was directly involved in the downing of MH17,” the Australian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Washington also issued a statement through the U.S. State Department which noted support for the investigation and calling Russia into account over the accident.
We strongly support the decisions by the Netherlands and Australia to call Russia to account for its role in the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Flight #17 (MH-17) over eastern Ukraine and the horrific deaths of 298 civilians. It is time for Russia to acknowledge its role in the shooting down of MH-17 and to cease its callous disinformation campaign.
As the findings of the Joint Investigative Team made clear, the BUK missile launcher used to bring down the passenger aircraft is owned by the Russian Federation and was assigned to the Russian 53rd anti-aircraft brigade near Kursk. It was brought into sovereign Ukrainian territory from Russia, was fired from territory controlled by Russia and Russia-led forces in eastern Ukraine, and was then returned to Russian territory. We urge Russia to adhere to UNSCR 2166 and respond to Australia’s and the Netherlands’ legitimate requests.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine since 2014 has led to more than 10,300 conflict-related deaths, including those lost in the MH-17 tragedy. It is more than time for Russia to end this violence.
Russia venomously denied the allegations stating the following:
“Not a single anti-aircraft missile of the Russian armed forces has ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border,” Russia’s Defence Ministry said in a statement
There is also the problem of troop build-up around the region, so much so that Poland has offered to pay a massive $2 billion to the U.S. to develop a permanent military base as protection against Russian aggression, Express.co.uk reported.
But Russia isn’t the only one aggravating the situation. In January of last year, scores of tanks and other U.S. military vehicles, as well as 3,500 troops, were sent to Germany and Poland to take part in a military operation.
Then in mid-March last year, U.S. and Polish forces conducted another drill in Poland, and Russia responded by conducting unexpected exercises, according to Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Spokesperson for NATO Andriy Lysenko.
Following in April, the United States lead a battalion of NATO troops in northeastern Poland.
Finally, in May last year the drills expanded into Romania across the Black Sea from Crimea. June saw NATO allies run another drill named Anakonda-16, which included a nighttime helicopter assault practice and the dropping of U.S. paratroopers to build a temporary bridge. That drill saw the participation of an estimated 30,000 troops.
These drills were then followed in September by Russia’s own annual exercise a large-scale drill dubbed Zapad (West) where NATO estimated 100,000 people in Belarus, Kaliningrad, and Russia took place. However, the real numbers were 5,500 Russian and 7,200 Belarusian troops, about 70 aircraft, 250 tanks and 200 artillery systems and 10 navy ships and they posed no threat,” according to Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister, Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin.
It’s clear to anyone who isn’t blind that the world’s elites are moving once again from the Middle East (Syria and Iran) back to Ukraine, trying once again to inflame the situation with Russia and start WW3. That’s the final goal. But what’s so important about Ukraine? The struggle around the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction remains a big reason why Ukraine is such a strong geopolitical target.
U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, stressed that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is not economically viable and does not create new opportunities for the European Union. Volker further expressed that the project put Ukraine in an even more vulnerable position.
To recap – Moscow is blamed for troop build-up in Ukraine in March a few months ago where Russia was said to have troops ready to launch a rapid invasion of Ukraine from the north and east, according to a March 8th report by the Institute for the Study of War, a U.S.-based defense think tank (which has since deleted the report) [archived]. Then Russia was blamed for the poisoning of a former Soviet spy and his daughter. Now Russia is being blamed for the downing of MH17 and more recently potential terrorism campaigns in the Ukraine and a plot to assassinate a journalist. All without providing publicly viewable evidence that shows Russia helped plot terrorism. Those war drums just keep on beating louder and louder.
Top image credit: CBS/Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko