Welcome to 21st Century Kremlin Watching with a Ukrainian Twist

by | Jun 15, 2023


Unless you are over the age of 45 you likely do not have living memory of the Kremlin “Watching” that accompanied major Soviet holidays. The term “Kremlin Watching” refers to the practice of examining photos like the one above to assess political status in the Soviet Government by identifying the men who occupied the most prominent positions on the viewing stand above Lenin’s tomb. In this photo from 1965 you can see (from left to right) Anastas Mikoyan, Marshal of the Soviet Union Rodion Malinovsky, Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin commemorating the 20th anniversary of victory over the Nazis. CIA analysts were keen to look at these line ups in trying to assess who was up and who was on their way out in wielding political power. Brezhnev and Kosygin held the reins of power. Those were the good old days.

The CIA warned Ukraine not to destroy Nord Stream months before an attack on the gas pipelines, after receiving a tip from Dutch military intelligence, according to media reports.

The Netherlands’ military intelligence agency, MIVD, received information about an “imminent attack” on Nord Stream from an unnamed source in Ukraine in June, three months before a series of underwater explosions hit the pipes last September, a joint investigation by Dutch and German news outlets published Tuesday shows.

According to the plan received by MIVD, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valery Zaluzhny, was in charge of the operation against Nord Stream, which involved a small team of divers traveling on a sailing boat and was supposed to take place mid-June 2022.

Politico is not the only one spreading this fable; other more prominent outlets, including the Washington Post, New York Times and Reuters, also piled on Zaluzhny. The media is eager to carry the CIA’s water and shift blame for the attack from the US, which according to Sy Hersh’s excellent reporting, hatched and carried out the sabotage.

So why is Zaluzhny being made the scapegoat? I can think of several reasons. For starters Zaluzhny is perceived as the guy to blame for the unfolding disastrous Ukrainian counter offensive. The BBC did a slick job this week of sticking the shiv into Zaluzhny’s back by crediting him as the mastermind of the Ukrainian offensive:

Ukraine’s long-awaited attempt to take back the territories in the east and south of the country, occupied by Russia for the past 18 months, is now in full swing.

A key figure in planning and executing this operation is Gen Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s 49-year-old commander-in-chief. Little known until recently, his popularity now rivals that of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zaluzhny already was under a cloud with rumors circulating over the past month that he suffered serious wounds from a Russian artillery barrage and is no longer capable of exercising command. If someone has to be punished ordering the destruction of Nordstream it is best to saddle the General who is no longer relevant militarily and is physically unable defend himself with the onus for this act of economic terrorism. Zaluzhny, fair or not, has the misfortune of being in the wrong place and the wrong time.

Sort of reminds me of the movie, Throw Momma from the Train. Instead of Danny DeVito’s character plotting to terminate his horror of a mother, played by Anne Ramsey, we have Vladimir Zelensky — with the backing of Washington, D.C. — putting the crosshairs on Zaluzhny.

If Zaluzhny is still intact, both mentally and physically, then I am pretty confident he can read the tea leaves and realizes he has a big, fat target painted on his back and will try to figure out a strategy to reassert his authority or salvage his reputation. In any event, the last thing an army in the midst of offensive operations needs is the distraction of its leader being savaged by Western media as the guy responsible for destroying Nordstream. Zaluzhny is strangely silent in the face of this outrageous allegation. Why is that?

Reprinted with permission from Sonar21.com.


  • Larry C. Johnson

    Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group).

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