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Emrys

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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,975

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UK ignored warnings over contractor behind Ukraine visa 'chaos'

TLSContact had ‘sole focus’ of making money while ‘human aspect’ was ‘not at all valued’, Home Office watchdog was told last year

Priti Patel ignored warnings that the Home Office contractor which told desperate Ukrainian refugees to wait weeks for visa appointments had the “sole focus” of making a profit and a history of squeezing cash out of applicants, openDemocracy can reveal.

It was claimed yesterday in Parliament that TLSContact’s visa centre in Rzeszow, Poland, had turned away applicants who had queued in freezing temperatures for hours, saying it had no slots available until the end of April. Reports on social media claimed the firm had been pressuring Ukrainians to pay for extra services beyond its basic free appointments.

The Labour MP Clive Efford slammed the situation as “complete chaos”.

Now it has emerged that the home secretary was told by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration in November 2021 that TLSContact was so hell-bent on making profit that its use posed a risk of “reputational damage” to the UK. The firm has been handed government contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds since 2014.

A lot more here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/ukraine-visa-chaos-contractor-tlscontact-priti-patel/

Professor of Strategic Studies sums up how screwed Russia's assault seems to be

An analysis by Phillips P. OBrien, Professor of Strategic Studies, University St Andrews, Scotland, author of How the War was Won and Second Most Powerful Man in the World. Editor in Chief, War in History:

A tweet thread on why we are almost certainly overestimating the amount of strength the Russian Army has on hand, and the amount they can actually get to Ukraine when their first force losses get so high that it starts becoming combat ineffective. Yes, its logistics. @BoringWar

The Russian Army, like the Soviet Army before it, has manifested significant logistics problems for decades, and if anything the preliminary evidence is that the problem might be worse than expected. You can start with this report.

Soviet Logistics in the Afghanistan War
https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/ADA233559

Basically Soviet logistics as shown in Afghanistan were too rigid, top heavy and wedded to doctrine. What it means is that when things went wrong, there was signficant problem adjusting. The way Soviet logistics was so road centric (and weak for that) is telling



Since the end of the Cold War, the Russians have undertaken nothing at all close to their deployment to attack Ukraine, which would be a challenge to any force. But is probably doubly for them as their logistical development also seems not to have progressed much.

Indeed the Russian Army now seems to have fallen prey to one of the great temptations of many militaries created by dictators--lots of flashy weapons but little consideration about how to deliver them (few trucks).



Indeed looking at this @WarOnTheRocks estimate, they Russians will struggle at 90 miles from working railheads. And they still suffer from the inflexibility mentioned by earlier reports at Afghanistan.

Feeding the Bear: A Closer Look at Russian Army Logistics and the Fait Accompli - War on the Rocks
https://warontherocks.com/2021/11/feeding-the-bear-a-closer-look-at-russian-army-logistics/

Here is another article highlighting the significant truck problem faced by the Russians (and their reliance on civilians to keep going--which will be a real handicap in any protracted war in Ukraine).

The Russian Army Depends On Civilians to Keep It Supplied. This Could Be A Problem In Ukraine.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2022/01/14/the-russian-army-depends-on-civilians-to-keep-it-supplied-this-could-be-a-problem-in-ukraine/?sh=3696717f72e3

If anything, early indications in Ukraine are that the Soviet Logistics problems are worse than expected. There are the basic problems of tire maintenance that has doomed some of the most expensive equipment Russia possesses. See @TrentTelenko for a few great threads

There is indications that basic rations have not been kept up to scratch, with soldiers given food seven years out of date, and at the same time running out of food already and having to loot from Ukrainian civilian supplies.

Putin's troops given food 7 years out of date as low morale and military flaws hinder invasion
https://inews.co.uk/news/ukraine-russian-troops-low-morale-military-weakness-hinder-putin-invasion-1494160

Clearly there is Ukrainian understanding of these weaknesses, which has led to their very effective and constant efforts to attack Russian convoys--and guess what they are doing. Destroying large numbers of precious Russian trucks.
https://twitter.com/UAWeapons/status/1500187833688104969
And if Ukrainian claims are anywhere near the truth, they are destroying some of the most important--fuel trucks. As of today, the Ukrainians have claimed to destroy 60 Russian fuel carriers--which would be a significant blow. aa.com.tr/en/russia-ukra….

Ukraine claims over 10,000 Russian soldiers killed since war
https://www.aa.com.tr/en/russia-ukraine-crisis/ukraine-claims-over-10-000-russian-soldiers-killed-since-war/2524783#:~:text=Ukraine%20claimed%20on%20Saturday%20that,its%20neighbor%20on%20Feb.%2024

One of the reasons the famous 40-mile convoy is such a disaster is that much of it is valuable trucks--which are probably out of fuel, with dead batteries, stuck in the mud and not salvageable. You can scan the convoy here.
https://twitter.com/ForcesNews/status/1500114659738857479
Why does this all matter--it reveals that almost certainly that Russian combat strength started significantly below the stated levels, and is dropping fast as damaged but not destroyed equipment still in Russian hands cant be repaired and resupplied.

And all of this will get worse as Russia's weak link of trucks further wastes away. It is impossible to calculate how far below stated levels of strength Russian forces are because of these logistic difficulties. A very conservative guess would be around 25%

Iam getting that figure from my own calculations in How the War was Won on WWII logistics for the Luftwaffe. Regularly one quarter of Luftwaffe aircraft were out of commission because of basic logistical problems. As the war went on, it was much higher than 25%.

btw, logistic difficulties might also help explain the incredibly deficient performance of the Russian Air Force. Both seeming to have insufficient supplies of directed munitions (thus having to use large numbers of dumb bombs), which means they have to fly low and be shot down.

Also might explain how relatively few Russian planes overall they can maintain in operations. Much fewer in number than expected before the invasion started.
https://twitter.com/Justin_Br0nk/status/1499800575365500930
So, we give a very false idea of the realities of war when we talk about number of troops, AFVs, planes that the Russians deployed for the invasion. They started with fewer in combat conditions than we know, and it looks like Russian truck support is suffering hugely.

Logistics, as it always does, will play a significant role in determining this war, right now the signs are not good for Russia, but people are mostly ignoring it and talking, as always, about tanks and planes....

Retweeted this but probably should have put this here. This should terrify the Russians if it means what it could mean. They are already running out of trucks.
https://twitter.com/JimmySecUK/status/1500177643504910337
Ukrainian path to victory is clear. Go for every Russian truck they can see, particularly fuel trucks. Russian Army will freeze in its tracks.

Btw. Replacing military grade trucks with civilian ones is catastrophic on many levels. You have to stick to better roads, they are less robust and you can’t stock spare parts for all the different models

We might be about to witness a logistic collapse

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1500213943012319252.html


Original Twitter thread here: https://twitter.com/PhillipsPOBrien/status/1500213943012319252
To add to OBrien's closing points, a cold snap is forecast for Ukraine in the next week. This will be bad news for the population deprived of power, but even worse for the Russians' continued assault, given how bogged down their vehicles already are outside the dryer south and the fact it looks like their reinforcements may largely be ordinary civilian vehicles of various types.

I LIKE this idea!

https://twitter.com/ManMadeMoon/status/1499838020320575490

Duncan Jones
@ManMadeMoon

I think the US and EU may need to consider placing sanctions directly on those British government officials working to protect Russian oligarchs from UK sanctions.


Somebody help me here.

If various countries have been seizing Russian oligarchs' multi-million-pound yachts seemingly willy-nilly, then presumably arguing the legal tosses later, how the hell are there "legal problems" that have to be carefully negotiated before the UK government can seize oligarchs' London Moscow Road etc. mansions and other assets?

https://twitter.com/RhonddaBryant/status/1500168628326518790

Chris Bryant
@RhonddaBryant
This is what the UK should be doing.

Italy seizes yachts and villas from Russian oligarchs, say state sources

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2022/mar/05/italy-seizes-yachts-and-villas-from-russian-oligarchs-say-state-sources-ukraine-invasion-sanctions

Trent Telenko on that stalled Russian convoy's many problems again

I don't have time right now to do a tidier copy and paste of the Threadreader version, but here's the basic text:

Lady's and Gentlemen, boys & girls, it is time saddle up for another installment of the "Mud and Truck Maintenance in Ukraine" feed.

And this one will be a doozy, because we are talking about Russian truck refueling in the 64km column north of Kyiv. 🧵

1/ Image
I am going to expand on this earlier tweet on the satellite photo montage.

The Rasputitsa, bad tire maintenance, vehicle overcrowding, and lack of fuel have isolated most of this Russian Army column from its rear.

2/
No matter what kind of fuel conservation techniques they engaged in. The 1st 17km or so of that 64 km Russian Army column is out of fuel.

They planned a 3-day operation which is in its 8th day.

And given the temperatures and radio use, those vehicles have dead batteries.
3/
This is why that Russian 41st CAA general was killed.

He showed up at the head of the column to unscrew the logistical mess, screaming at people and waving his arms in the air in visual range of a Ukrainian Army Sniper.
4/
As for why the Ukrainians haven't rolled up those Russian troops in a 'motti' yet. They were busy.

The Russian Hostomel airbase occupation force had to be annihilated to keep fuel from being airlifted in by helicopter.
5/
The head of this 64km column ain't going anywhere. With or without fuel. The Russians can get neither fuel trucks nor wreckers there.

And this "drop dead effect" is proceeding along the column from south to north. The ONLY way that column will move at all is backwards first
6/
This is assuming it moves at all before the Ukrainians destroy it.

The front and middle of the column showed up with food, fuel & ammo for 3-days, & we are 8-days into the war.

The column is packed so tight that you can only refuel about 100-200 meters of column at a time
7/
via a--holes & elbow by jerry cans. Then carefully back out those refueled trucks in order to get to the next 100 meters with the refueling truck and jerry cans.

It would take a week a month from now, when the ground dries, to unf--k this mess.
8/
The Russian Army will not be able to move trucks off road before then.

9/
Nor in a lot of cases will the Russian Army tanks in that column be able to move off road.


10/
The Russians have formed the world's longest POW camp. And the Ukrainians don't have to feed it.

There simply hasn't been anything like this in warfare since the Anglo-American Anzio beachhead in 1944.

11/ Image
The Russian troops in the 40-50 km of the traffic jam closest to Kyiv will run out of food before the jam can be cleared to them.

They'll have to abandon their vehicles and walk north just to get food.

12/
The reason the Russian column got to be so long was due to Russian Army officers “fulfilling the plan”.

They might be shot by the chain of command for disobeying orders to advance into the traffic jam, but won’t be if they obey orders to fulfill the plan.

13/
I'm not saying Ukraine will win or even that Ukraine can prevent Kyiv from being encircled.

I am saying the Russian Army troops in the first 50 kilometers of that 64 km column will have nothing to do with it.

14/End
PS.

The Ukrainians really do want to motti that column.

Click through for the full version: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1499894935209795594.html


The Twitter thread is here: https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1499894935209795594

How poor maintenance may be crippling Russian Army convoy advances in Ukraine

Ex-Defense Contract Management Agency quality auditor Trent Telenko explains what may be contributing to the Russian Army's failure to advance along some fronts:

Trent Telenko
@TrentTelenko

This is a thread that will explain the implied poor Russian Army truck maintenance practices based on this photo of a Pantsir-S1 wheeled gun-missile system's right rear pair of tires below & the operational implications during the Ukrainian mud season.



For the sin of being the new guy, I was the DCMA quality auditor in charge of the US Army's FMTV "vehicle exercise program" at the contractor manufacturing them from the Mid-1990's to the mid-2000's Then we got more new guys.

Short form: Military trucks need to be...



...turned over and moved once a month for preventative maintenance reasons.

In particular you want to exercise the central tire air inflation system (CTIS) to see if lines have leaks or had insect/vermin nests blocking the system.

CTIS Controller & CTIS diagram👇👇



One of the biggest reasons for the repositioning, per TACOM logistic Representatives, was that direct sunlight ages truck tires.

The repositioning of Trucks in close parking prevents a lot of this sun rotting and cycling the CTIS keeps the tire sidewalls supple.



When you leave military truck tires in one place for months on end. The side walls get rotted/brittle such that using low tire pressure setting for any appreciable distance will cause the tires to fail catastrophically via rips.

See early video:
https://twitter.com/kemal_115/status/1498328319732981767
Now look at the same Pantsir-S1 tire sidewalls after the Ukrainians tried to tow or drive it out of the mud.

The right rear tire fell apart because the rips in it were too big for the CTIS to keep aired up.

No one exercised that vehicle for 1 year
https://twitter.com/oryxspioenkop/status/1498745704566730765
There is a huge operational level implication in this. If the Russian Army was too corrupt to exercise a Pantsir-S1. They were too corrupt to exercise the trucks & wheeled AFV's now in Ukraine.

The Russians simply cannot risk them off road during the Rasputitsa/Mud season



And there is photographic evidence of this.

There are 60(+) Russian army trucks crowded & parked on this raised road bed to avoid the fate of the mud-bogged Pantsir-S1.



Given the demonstrated levels of corruption in truck maintenance. There is no way in h--l that there are enough tires in the Russian army logistical system.

So their wheeled AFV/truck park is as road bound as Russian Army columns were in the 1st Russo-Finnish War.



What that means is that as long as and where ever the Spring Rasputitsa is happening. The Russian Army attack front is three wheeled AFV's wide.

When the Ukrainians can block the road with ATGM destroyed vehicles. They can move down either side of the road like Fins in 1939



...destroying Russian truck columns.

The Crimea is a desert and the South Ukrainian coastal areas are dryer. So we are not seeing this there.

But elsewhere the Russians have a huge problem for the next 4-to-6 weeks.



https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1499164245250002944.html


The original Twitter thread is here: https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1499164245250002944

Examining Russia's failing propaganda war

Historian, editor, translator and author Ian Garner posted this thread on Twitter.

Dr. Ian Garner
@irgarner

Big Thread: After a few more days of war, I've been carefully monitoring Russian social media reaction and production and I'm more convinced than before that Putin's regime has totally overestimated its ability to win a propaganda war.

Russians are being bombarded with very effective Russian-language anti-war propaganda. We're seeing a lot about Zelensky etc. but Russians are widely viewing some HUGE celebrities with big, big follower counts coming out against the war.

You might have read about Yury Dud, the popular Russian blogger, speaking out against the war. 5 million followers, and look at what he's sharing at the top of his Instagram page: strong stuff.



Here's a voice from Ukraine. Travel YouTuber Anton Ptushkin, a Russian speaker with *5.5 million* subscribers, posted this heartfelt appeal for peace & frank discussion of fears about his family on his IG. Here's a version from YouTube for ease of viewing.



Russians are seeing these narratives, hearing their peers and idols talk to them like normal people and in Russian. They're being shared widely, and the Russian government basically can't stop them.

On the other side, the Russian government is pushing an increasingly impersonal narrative. All we're seeing is images of Putin and his generals in vast meeting rooms, adorned with Rococo panelling, in unidentified places.

The people, where they are addressed, are spoken to as an abstract ("The government is starting a special operation..." ) rather than as individuals (Ukraine's "We implore you, fellow Russians, to stop attacking our women and children" ).

State TV political shows, which have good viewing figures, aren't talking about or to people or individuals, who will be the key to winning the propaganda war, either.

Instead, we're still treated to the kinds of bizarre anti-NATO/US Imperialism rants that move public opinion slowly against the enemy. But I don't see them having much effect, in the long run, vs. the much more slick Russian language Ukrainian material.

RU's narrative looks more like WW1 - a detached imperial tsar directing his troops in an abstract war against imperial opposition - than the "all-national" effort of WW2 when, even under Stalin, the population was united in its desire to fight the Nazis. Remember this point.

Turning to Russian social media, a much more threatening narrative for Putin's government might be playing out. I've spent some time reading around Russian language social media to look for what people are saying about the war.

VKontakte, aka "Russian Facebook," is highly controlled by the government. Even on some of the state-supported paramilitary movement pages, the war is conspicuously absent.



There is no attempt to mobilize the people for a large, drawn-out war, or to "soften up" opinion to prepare for the idea that Russians are going to die.

On ordinary people's VK feeds, I'm seeing three things:

(1) Total indifference/absence of mentions of the war is conspicuous almost everywhere you look. Whether people are afraid to post about the war publicly (to some extent possible) or not, we don't know.

(2) Mild criticism of the war, sharing of broken heart emojis, etc. This isn't too widespread, so I don't want to over egg it, but it's important. Anti-war sentiment is there, and you're seeing some of it on the streets.

These sympathetic posts, though, are met with a barrage of aggressive, macho chest thumping ("We'll smash those Western dogs", "LOL bring it on" stuff). Some responses - especially on Instagram - are obviously from bots.

But what's interesting is that I don't see narratives around WW2 being picked up at all. There's a lot of polarized rage, similar to what we see in the West's comments, but no real sense that many of even the most war-hungry Russians are buying into Putin's WW2 cosplay dreams.

If that sentiment isn't there, I don't think - and this is a guess - that people will be ready to make the huge sacrifices that WW2 necessitated. If the Ukraine war is justified by "anti-Nazism," then people aren't picking up the historical connection.

(3) This is probably the most important point. I'm seeing plenty of sharing about bank runs, ATM dashes, inflating prices, and availability of consumer goods. People in the Far East, where food prices are already sky high, aren't quite panicking, but they're not exactly happy.

This is leading to open comparisons to the 1990s: Putin built his brand on stability after the lawlessness and poverty of the 90s, so this is devastating news. This talk was supposed to be long gone (follow @allysonedwards1 for more on the Russian 1990s and militarization).

People aren't ready for their favourite celebrities who speak out against the war - and there are a good number of famous Russians who have done so - to just disappear.

People are not ready for their iPhones to disappear to inflation and sanctions (joke seen in the wild today: "Don't drop your iPhone, because it's going to be your last" ). People are not ready for hyper-inflation.

And the government is doing essentially *nothing* to get Russians ready for this. They overplayed a weak hand, the West called their bluff, and now they're in the shit. (Notice this seems to parallel the overconfidence in the military effort - not a coincidence, I'll wager you.)

So what do we have? A stagnant propaganda machine that knows how to create chaos and tear things - esp. the West - down. But it's the propaganda machine of an empire. It's not agile, and it doesn't know how to respond to current events & the strong Ukrainian and Western efforts.

Here's why I think the WW1 comparison is the most important, then: few who would have expected that WW1 would lead to the Russian Revolution 3 years later.

The Russian Empire walked into war without bothering to really prepare its people, who were indifferent to the justification for war, both from the off and increasingly over time. There were divisions, and the Bolsheviks & others manipulated them superbly to seize power.

After a few days of war we can't say that Putin is doomed, but I wonder: without signs that the gvt is taking winning the media war seriously, will tiny cracks around the 1990s, around sacrifice, and around loss turn into gaping fissures in the state's narratives of identity?

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1498334397904441344.html


The original Twitter version of the thread is here: https://twitter.com/irgarner/status/1498334397904441344

Blocking Russian access to SWIFT may not be the most effective measure:

This thread from mid-January hasn't dated badly:

JohannesBorgen

As the Russia/ NATO/US/OSCE talks didn’t make real progress, it’s important to look again at this possibility. Can they cut Russia from SWIFT & would this be Armageddon for Russia?
Bill Browder
@Billbrowder
BREAKING: Draft Russian sanctions bill coming out of the senate includes cutting Russia off of the SWIFT banking system if they invade Ukraine. The US used this against Iran and it set them back to the economic dark ages.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-democrats-with-white-house-backing-unveil-russia-sanctions-bill/2022/01/12/06a4f41e-735e-11ec-8ec6-9d61f7afbe17_story.html


Good & difficult question.
Let’s start with basics: what’s SWIFT? It’s simply a messaging system. A chat app if you want! But it only sends special messages designed for cross-border financial transactions for banks globally, for the 11k banks that are part of the network.
Is it possible to cut Russia from it? The US tried in 2014, and the answer they got from SWIFT was “we will not make unilateral decisions to disconnect institutions from its network as a result of political pressure”. In your face.

That’s because SWIFT is not American, of course. Actually, it’s a “cooperative society” based in Belgium under Belgian law! Seriously! So the owners are the members of the networks, with shares reallocated on a regular basis based on flows.

So, SWIFT must follow EU laws, not US ones – which doesn’t mean it can’t disconnect a country, like it dd with Iran in 2018. This was driven by US sanctions, with no obligation coming from the EU, but, again, they were not forced to do it.
What about Russia? The 291 Russian members represent 1.5% of SWIFT flows (you gotta sell that oil!), ranked 13th globally on all SWIFT messages and 6th on payment messages!
That Is a LOT of messages that could be disrupted, on both ends, and a lot of money (prob ≈800bn$/y).

Would cutting SWIFT access stop all those payments? No, but it would make significantly more difficult. There are other ways to send payments messages… including very old type stuff! (no, not carrier pigeons) but it would be difficult to convince western banks to use them.

Russia is aware of the risk and has alternative routes: SFPS (a system it designed with mostly Russian & CIS banks) and domestic payment systems that were launched after Visa & Mastercard cut them off in 2014. But Western banks would need to join.

What this suggests is that, ultimately, what matters is banning Western (US+EU+Swiss+UK) banks from dealing with Russia - cutting from SWIFT is just making those deals harder + if done only by the US, we could get the same ridiculous attempts of the EU to bypass the sanctions
Remember this?

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/joint-statement-on-the-new-mechanism-to-facilitate-trade-with-iran

So ridiculous that it has almost never been used despite being announced with great fanfare! (the first deal was to send medical equipment to fight Covid.)

What’s the bottom line here: either you have coordinated US/EU sanctions which ban banks from trading with Russia, or you get into complicated stuff that makes transactions messy and difficult, but not impossible. And can you ban all transactions with US/EU banks?

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1483039324358729730.html

Sanctions: Tories commit to donating Russian dirty money to humanitarian efforts in Ukraine

Well, a guy can dream, huh?

https://twitter.com/talkRADIO/status/1496049573952987139
talkRADIO
@talkRADIO
BREAKING: Boris Johnson has said the “first barrage of UK economic sanctions against Russia” will be revealed today as he warned Vladimir Putin is bent on a “full scale invasion of Ukraine”.

[Twitter video]


https://twitter.com/RussellEngland/status/1496072452895559684
Russell England 😷💉💙🇪🇺🧳
@RussellEngland
@talkRADIO"The Tory party are almost entirely funded by Russian oligarchs, most of whom are sanctioned" - Ian Hislop, 8th October

[Twitter video]


2018:
“Serious questions” over Tory “Russian linked donations” – Trickett

Jon Trickett MP, Shadow Cabinet Office minister, following Boris Johnson’s appearance on the Andrew Marr Show, said:

“The Tories have serious questions to answer about where their party gets its money. Boris Johnson has confirmed for the first time he played the tennis match paid as a £160,000 donation to the Conservative Party by the wife of a former minister in Putin’s government. He admitted that some Russian oligarchs in the UK “may have obtained their money by corruption”.

“We know the Tories have taken more than £3 million in Russian linked donations since 2010, including £800,000 under Theresa May’s leadership, but we don’t know the nature of all those funds. The Tories also drew positive comments from the Russian Embassy during last year’s general election.

“The Conservative Party can’t remain silent any longer, the public have a right to know what checks if any they made to establish the source of all the wealth amassed by their donors. To put to rest public concerns about the nature of Russian money given to the Tories, we need this information put into the public domain.”

https://labour.org.uk/press/serious-questions-tory-russian-linked-donations-trickett/


2018:
Boris Johnson admits he did play £160,000 tennis match with ex-Russian minister's wife

Boris Johnson has admitted he did take part in a tennis match with the wife of a former Russian minister after she donated £160,000 to the Conservative party.

Lyubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir served as a finance minister under President Putin until 2004, made the donation in 2014 to play a game with Mr Johnson and David Cameron.

At the time Mr Cameron insisted Ms Chernukhin "certainly" was not a "Putin crony" and had been resident in the UK for many years.

Labour have attacked the Conservatives for taking donations from wealthy Russians, with Jeremy Corbyn pointing out that the Tories have accepted £800,000 from "oligarchs and their associates".

This morning the Foreign Secretary was asked if the tennis match had actually taken place, replying: "It did".

https://www.politicshome.com/news/article/boris-johnson-admits-he-did-play-160000-tennis-match-with-exrussian-ministers-wife


2020:
Conservative Party ministers bankrolled by donors linked to Russia

Tories accept thousands from ex-arms supplier

The Conservative Party’s finances came under renewed scrutiny last night as it emerged that two of its MPs on the intelligence watchdog committee and 14 ministers had accepted donations linked to Russia.

Electoral Commission records show that six members of the cabinet and eight junior ministers received tens of thousands of pounds from individuals or businesses with links to Russia. The donations were made either to them or their constituency parties.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/conservative-party-ministers-bankrolled-by-donors-linked-to-russia-2hm5jhwpx


2020:
What Changed To Make Evgeny Lebedev No Longer a Security Risk?

Is Evgeny “Lord” Lebedev – newly ennobled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson – a potential security risk? Lebedev’s father, Alexander, was the senior KGB spy in London in 1988 and, to this day, is a pro-Kremlin oligarch with interests in Russia. He is a noted supporter of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and his illegal annexation of Crimea.

The question is a fair one given that no one can simply ‘retire’ from the KGB and that father and son – like President Donald Trump – never openly criticise Putin. Socially, the Lebedevs – who own the Independent and Evening Standard newspapers – work as a unit. Evgeny threw Johnson’s victory party after last December’s General Election, which also happened to be his father’s 60th birthday party.

So is Evgeny a potential security risk? “Yes,” says a former MI6 officer. “Yes,” says an emeritus professor of Russian. “Yes,” said the Special Branch this spring.

But in June that advice, filtered through the Cabinet Office, changed to “no” and the black spot against the wannabe Lord Lebedev vanished.

https://bylinetimes.com/2020/08/20/sweeney-investigates-what-changed-to-make-evgeny-lebedev-no-longer-a-security-risk/


2020:
Why would Russia want to interfere in British politics?

Russia’s foreign policy seems based on nihilism, said Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee. But Vladimir Putin is much shrewder than that.

Evgeny Lebedev’s elevation to the House of Lords barely a week after the publication of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s deliberations on Russia underlined just how cavalier Boris Johnson is about possible Russian interference in our political system. Even if Lebedev, as he has always insisted, has no relationship with Russia’s intelligence services, his father is a former KGB operative and it was his ability to leverage his contacts which helped build the family fortunes.

The optics, at the very least, are appalling and certainly beyond parody. The day after the Conservatives’ landslide victory in December, the prime minister and his partner, Carrie Symonds, attended a caviar-and-vodka-fuelled party hosted by Lebedev senior at the family’s multi-million-pound stuccoed mansion overlooking Regent’s Park. This was not the first Lebedev party to which Johnson had been invited. A couple of years ago I was returning from a visit to my brother, who lives in central Italy, when I spotted a very dishevelled-looking Boris Johnson on the same plane. I later read in the papers that he had been returning from one of Evgeny’s notoriously bacchanalian parties at the converted castle which the British-Russian owns near Perugia.

The Russia report makes clear two things – the Tories get a lot of money from Russian oligarchs and the Intelligence and Security Committee believes there should be an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

On that second point, the prime minister predictably responded with words to the effect of ‘It’s all old hat and in any case the people have spoken etc. etc.’ With his eighty-seat majority and his propensity to lie, this has become a stock response to any uncomfortable news. So although the report contained information which should have triggered alarms designed to protect the integrity of our democracy, they failed to go off. So far, so Brexit-era politics.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/why-would-russia-want-interfere-british-politics/


2022:
Startling Facts About London: The Oligarch’s Paradise

Sam Bright explores the ways in which London has become a haven for a class of super rich who wish to keep their money and their secrets hidden

With Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border, and with Britain largely unable to influence the course of history through diplomacy, attention has rightfully turned to the home front, and how exactly we have aided Vladimir Putin’s regime through domestic policy in recent years.

The Government is keen to show that it is taking action – and has now scrapped the ‘tier 1’ investor visa scheme that has acted as a butler for money laundering over the last decade – welcoming rich individuals, often from corrupt states, with minimal due diligence checks.

Indeed, Britain’s marriage with illicit finance is now long-standing and entrenched – especially in the capital, London, described in the 2020 report by Parliament’s Security and Intelligence Committee as “Londongrad” – a place in which “PR firms, charities, political interests, academia and cultural institutions were all willing beneficiaries of Russian money”.

Wealthy Russians have profited from this oligarch’s paradise, and Russia is currently in the spotlight given its provocations in Ukraine, but this system is certainly not exclusively enjoyed by Russians. The UK, and London, is a dumping ground for dodgy money amassed across the globe, often hidden in the luxury property market.

https://bylinetimes.com/2022/02/18/startling-facts-about-london-the-oligarchs-paradise/


2022:
Exclusive: Labour demands Tory Party pay back donations from Russians and end corruption at home

Labour orders PM Boris Johnson to break the Conservative Party links with Russia and stop dirty cash filtering through UK as Putin threatens invasion of Ukraine

Labour is demanding Boris Johnson bans Russia from using Britain as a laundromat for dirty money - and to return Tory donations from Russians.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are to be told: “We can’t stand up to Russia’s aggression abroad while ignoring Russian-linked corruption at home.”

Labour estimates the Tories have taken more than £5million of Russian linked money over the last 10 years.

And as more British troops are sent to square up against Vladimir Putin’s forces on Ukraine’s borders, shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy and shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves say that cash must be returned.

They say in their letter: “It is shameful that Britain is repeatedly described as the money-laundering capital of the world.

“It is in our national and economic interests to address the challenges of hostile influence and interference which the Government’s inaction and behaviour have regrettably permitted.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/labour-demands-tory-party-pay-26150141


I could go on and on. The corruption goes on and on. A few token sanctions on less than a handful of oligarchs is an insult to anyone's intelligence.

James Robertson's 'The news where you are'



Robertson's monologue is from a Scottish perspective, but it applies to political regionalism and the media wherever you are.

On another YouTube version (with less clear audio but louder audience response), this exchange happened in the comments:

Tim Rowe
Excellent. Although, mind, I live in London, and we get "the news where you are" too, which suggests that the "where you are" and "where we are" isn't a matter of geography.

James Robertson
Absolutely right, Tim.There is geography and political geography. However, if you watch the BBC News online, the default 'news where you are' is - guess where? - London

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuJs43aR6SQ6PWnnG46czkw

'We don't know what we're doing': Inside Boris Johnson's fractured Tory party

“It would be better to just put the other guys in and let them f*** it up and come back with more of an idea of what we want to do,’ one minister suggests

The dark cloud sitting over Boris Johnson’s leadership lifted a little this week, but his party is splintering as factions compete over where it goes next.

Attention may have switched to Ukraine, and speculation over the number of backbencher letters of no confidence has subsided, with MPs back in their constituencies for the parliamentary break.

But the brief respite from the Downing Street soap opera has allowed a longer-term problem for the Conservatives to come into focus – the party is wracked by division and doesn’t know where it is heading.

MPs are split along a growing number of overlapping lines: big state v small state, “Red Wall” v “Blue Wall”, One Nation v libertarian right, pro or anti net zero, and Johnson loyalists v those who think it’s time for the PM to go in the wake of the “partygate” scandal.

https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/inside-boris-johnsons-fractured-tory-party-we-dont-know-what-were-doing-1469351
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