When NBC reporter Keir Simmons, a citizen of the United Kingdom, accepted his assignment to travel to Crimea for the purpose of covering the impact of the Ukrainian conflict on the local population, I would imagine that the last thing on his mind was that fulfilling his journalistic duties would garner him a spot on the Ukrainian intelligence service’s (SBU) Myrotvorets “hit list.”
Yes, you got that right—for the crime of journalism, Keir Simmons has been sentenced to die by the notorious SBU. Keir’s crime? “He has attacked Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the SBU declared.
This is no idle threat—one only need to familiarize themselves with the cases of Russian journalist Daria Dugina and Italian journalist Andrea Rocchelli, both of whom were placed on the Myrotvorets list, and both of whom were subsequently assassinated by the SBU and their photographs on the list emblazoned with the word “liquidated” in blood red.
Jackson Hinkle, the American host of the popular YouTube podcast “The Dive,” has likewise been added to the Myrotvorets “kill list” for the “crime” of publishing “anti-Ukrainian propaganda,” spreading “Kremlin propaganda for profit,” and “justification and informational support of the open attack of fascist Russia on Ukraine.”
In America, we call what Jackson Hinkle and Keir Simmons do journalism. In Ukraine, it is apparently a capital crime.
Scott Ritter will discuss this article and answer audience questions on Episode 51 of Ask the Inspector.
The silence from both NBC News and the US government is deafening.
I have been on the Myrotvorets “kill list” since early summer 2022. I welcome Keir and Jackson to the club of persons marked for death by the government of a nation the United States and United Kingdom are actively supporting in its ongoing war against Russia.
They say in war, truth is the first casualty. Closely behind, it seems, are the truth tellers, marked to die by a Ukrainian government and, implicitly, their UK and US supporters, who find the pursuit of truth to be the most dangerous threat to their cause.
If you are an American reading this, I hope the implications are clear—for exercising your constitutionally-guaranteed right of free speech, your government will kill you. There is no other way to put this—the Ukrainian government exists solely on the back of the financial assistance provided by the US and, to a lesser extent, the UK and EU. The SBU is entirely funded by US taxpayer dollars, and its work closely coordinated with the US and UK intelligence services. The Myrotvorets “hit list” is funded and facilitated by the US and UK governments.
News flash, Kier, Jackson, and all other US and UK citizens on the Myrotvorets “hit list”—your respective governments want you dead, and are willing to contract out their desires with the Ukrainian SBU.
The Myrotvorets “kill list” is the pointy end of an information warfare spear being wielded by the Ukrainian government, in concert with the US, UK, and other NATO member states, seeking to shape the public narrative about the conflict in Ukraine.
The “shaft” of this spear, however, comes in the form of the Center for Countering Disinformation, or CCD, a US-funded information warfare office that works as part of the Office of the Presidency in Ukraine. I have been a target of the CCD since its inception, placed on its initial “blacklist” published in July 2022, where I and the other listed individuals were lambasted as “information terrorists” who were guilty of “war crimes” because of our publicly stated positions regarding the war in Ukraine.
I’ve been a frequent “guest” on the CCD’s “propogandist of the week” posts published on their Twitter and Telegram channels, and my analysis is often the target of their ire. On February 23, 2023, I was given the ultimate “honor” by the CCD, listed first on their roster of western voices highlighted in a report entitled “How Western Speakers Promoted Main Narratives Concerned with Russian Propaganda.”
Curiously, the CCD expressly pointed out, “It should noted that the listed persons are not Russian propogandists, but promote narratives consistent with Russian propaganda.” Whether or not this continues to constitute “information terrorism” and, as such, a “war crime” in the eyes f the CCD, is not known.
I am number one on the list of persons compiled by the CCD of “Wester speakers who most actively promoted these narratives.”
I find this designation to be the highest honor the Ukrainian government could bestow upon me, and I want to express my thanks to President Zelensky and the acting director of the CCD, Andrei Shapovalov, for recognizing my work. I promise I will continue to strive to pursue the fact-based truth in a manner which brings me to your attention.
According to the February 23, 2023 CCD report, myself and the other honorees were guilty of promoting six “themes” deemed by the CCD to represent “narratives created by Russian propaganda” to either “justify Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine,” “discredit the Armed Forces and the Ukrainian government,” and/or “discredit the Ukrainian people” and “turn the international population against Ukraine.”
I was accused by the CCD of promoting five of these themes. However, I plead guilty to all six. The irony of these allegations, however, is that all I’m guilty of is reporting the words of the Ukrainian government, its representatives, and its international supporters. If the CCD was genuinely interested in getting to the bottom of the source of all anti-Ukrainian “propaganda,” it would do well to start at home.
Here are the six “themes” of interest to the Ukrainian government, and my reasons for helping promote them.
Theme One: NATO’s Expansion to the East provoked Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
The rhetoric that the expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe provoked a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has become very popular in the Western media space. Western representatives use this narrative as an argument to justify Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Speakers often point out that Russia has long warned that the expansion of NATO to its borders is a red line. They argue that the expansion of the alliance posed a direct threat to Russia, so Putin had no choice but to defend himself.
I have frequently quoted the words of William Burns, the former US Ambassador to Russia (and current CIA Director) in his February 2008 memorandum, “Nyet means Nyet: Russia’s NATO enlargement Red Lines”:
Ukraine and Georgia's NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia's influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.
When Burns’ memorandum is considered alongside the 2019 RAND report, “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia,” inclusive of its argument that “Providing lethal aid to Ukraine would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability,” the notion of the US and NATO posing a direct threat to Russia does not seem that far-fetched at all.
I plead guilty.
Theme Two: Nazism in Ukraine
The narrative about “Nazism in Ukraine” is another Russian propaganda campaign aimed at demonizing Ukraine and its people in the eyes of the world. The narrative is often found in the statements of so-called Western experts who have a pro-Russian position. Very often, when talking about “Nazism in Ukraine”, speakers emphasize the “Azov” regiment, calling it a “radical neo-Nazi group.”
Another disinformation narrative used by speakers in the West is the widespread support of Ukrainians for the “Nazi collaborator” Stepan Bandera is proof of Nazism in Ukraine.
Here, I will let the US Congress speak for me. Since 2015 every omnibus spending bill signed into law contains an amendment stipulating that “none of the funds made available by this act may be used to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.” According to Representative Ro Khanna, a sponsor of the amendment in question, “White supremacy and neo-Nazism are unacceptable and have no place in our world. I am very pleased that the recently passed omnibus prevents the U.S. from providing arms and training assistance to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion fighting in Ukraine.”
As for Bandera, I will let the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky address this touchy subject: “He [Bandera] is one of the people who defended Ukraine’s freedom,” Zelensky said in a 2019 interview with Ukrainska Pravda. “He is a hero for a certain percentage of Ukrainians, and it’s normal, and it’s cool.”
Again, I plead guilty.
Theme Three: The Armed Forces Terrorize Civilians
In the statements of Western speakers, you can often hear that the armed forces of Ukraine fire on the civilian population and civilian objects in the temporarily occupied territories and on the territory of Ukraine itself. The most popular claim is that Ukraine has been shelling and terrorizing the population of Donbas for more than eight years.
Western experts also sometimes claim that the crimes against the civilian population of Bucha were committed by the Ukrainian army, and sometimes even call these events staged by the Ukrainian authorities.
Enter Petro Poroshenko, the former President of Ukraine, who in a November 14, 2014, speech infamously declared, “Our children will go to schools and kindergartens, and theirs [the ethnic Russians of the Donbas] will hole up in the basements - this is how we win the war!"
Ukrainian artillery attacks on the Donbas killed thousands of civilians between 2014 and 2021—including some 150 children.
As for Bucha, my position is well known—Ukraine did it. “Special forces began clearing the liberated, by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, city of Bucha of the Kiev region from saboteurs and accomplices of Russian troops,” the Ukrainians themselves admitted in an internet post dated April 2, 2022.
Once again, I plead guilty.
Theme Four: The war in Ukraine is a NATO proxy war against Russia
Some Western experts call the events in Ukraine a NATO proxy war against Russia. Speakers claim that the West is using Ukraine for its own purposes, in particular for confrontation with Russia. Therefore, one gets the impression that Russia is fighting a collective action, and Ukraine is playing the role of puppet in this war.
This narrative is sometimes supported by the argument that in 2014, after the Pdnosti Revolution, the US allegedly sponsored a coup in Ukraine and helped install a new government in Kiev.
Allow me to introduce as Exhibit 1 the statement by The Ukrainian Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, made to BBC in an interview on January 13, 2023: “Ukraine as a country, and the armed forces of Ukraine, became [a] member of NATO. De facto, not de jure (by law). Because we have weaponry, and the understanding of how to use it.”
Could there be a better definition of “NATO proxy?” I think not.
As for the role of the US in helping instigate a coup in 2014 for the purpose of installing a pro-US government, I rely on none other than Victoria Nuland herself, who in a phone conversation with US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, openly backs Arseniy Yatseniuk, a Ukrainian opposition leader, as the man who should replace President Viktor Yanukovych. “I think Yats is the guy.” That is a direct quote.
Guilty as charged.
Theme Five: Military aid is an escalation of war
The thesis about the escalation of the war by the West is being followed in the western media space. In general, the reports say that the additional military armament for Ukraine provokes Russia to escalate the conflict. Russia realizes that the military support of Ukraine’s Western partners helps it continue to resist Russian aggression. This becomes a stumbling block for the Kremlin. Therefore, the rhetoric about the escalation of the war on the part of the West became part of a hostile propaganda campaign aimed at stopping the supply of weapons to Ukraine.
Western speakers also use the thesis that Ukraine’s allies are tired of the war and are depleting their stockpile of weapons, supplying them to Ukraine. The goal of such a campaign is to stop military aid for the defense of Ukraine and undermine faith in the West’s ability to stand up to “mighty” Russia. To reinforce this narrative, the speakers use the argument that the Western supply of weapons will not help Ukraine win the war with Russia, since the Russian side has an advantage in military armament.
On March 11, 2022, President Joe Biden declared, “The idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews—just understand, don’t kid yourself, no matter what y’all say, that’s called World War III.”
Oh, yes—don’t forget this February 23, 2023 gem from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions and depleting allied stockpiles. The current rate of Ukraine’s ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production. This puts our defense industries under strain.”
Guilty on both counts.
Theme Six: Anti-Russian Sanctions hurt the West more than Russia
The thesis that anti-Russian sanctions imposed in response to full-scale Russian invasion are primarily damaging in the process is part of a propaganda campaign. This narrative is spreading both in Russia and in Western countries. Foreign speakers draw attention to the rise in energy prices and the approach of the global economic crisis, blaming the introduction of anti-Russian sanctions.
First of all, they claim that sanctions worsen the living conditions of Europeans, and therefore the governments of EU countries should remove the sanctions if they care about their people.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto states the case quite succinctly: “The sanctions which have been in place on behalf of the European Union seem to hurt us much more than the Russians. But whenever you raise this question and try to try to put the whole [of it in] context on a rational basis, you are immediately being judged and attacked.”
The Hungarian Foreign Minister was simply stating the obvious, something that The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins—no Russophile he—stated back in May 2022 in an opinion piece entitled “The EU should forget about sanctions—they’re doing more harm than good.”
“Six million households in Britain face the possibility of morning and evening blackouts this winter to maintain sanctions against Russia,” Jenkins wrote, “as do consumers across Europe.”
While the CCD did not charge me with violating this particular “theme”, I’m going to plead guilty none the less, if for no other reason than I have been critical of western sanctions targeting Russia since before they were put into effect. As I wrote in an article published in Energy Intelligence in December 2021, sanctions “would undoubtedly create economic difficulty for Russia.”
But they would be fatal for Europe, which depends on Russia for 31% of its crude oil imports and 40% of its natural gas imports, or more than 15% of all EU energy needs. And losing access to Russian energy would have a much bigger impact that a simple 15% drop in energy supply. Such an energy supply disruption would have a cascading effect on not only costs, but on economic output, given Europe’s slim economic operating margins. In short, Europe would not only freeze, but also starve.
Back in 1998, following my resignation from the United Nations Special Commission, President Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, called a “a threat to the national security of the United States” simply because I was telling the truth about US policy in Iraq. In April 2003, the US Ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, chastised his fellow NATO Ambassadors for allowing me to speak at NATO, calling me a “known enemy of the State” because I dared questioned the narrative being pushed by the US regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
My “crime” at the time was telling the truth, and I view it as the highest expression of patriotism to have been called out by both the Clinton and Bush administrations for daring to challenge the official narrative with fact-based analysis.
Today, I face a similar attack from the administration of President Joe Biden, which has provided the financial and political support to the Ukrainian government that makes the Myrotvorets “kill list” and the CCD “blacklist” possible. If telling the truth about Ukraine makes me an enemy of the state, then I stand guilty as charged on all counts.
And I have a news flash for those whose goal it is to silence me through fear and intimidation—I’m still standing. And as long as I am able to, I will speak truth to power.
“Enemy of the State.”
You’re damn right I am.
Pretty much the entire population of Crimea and Donbass are on the kill list.
Now, for bonus points, pretend that the Russian government or its cutouts were to maintain a similar kill list. What would the Western response be? How would the MSM react?
I intend to write to my two Senators the fact you are on the kill list of an organization funded by my tax payer dollars and will reference your account here. An abomination. Utterly so. A manifestation of the level of my country's corruption today. And its abject fear of the truth, its tellers, its absence of conviction in the power of truth to empower justness and democracy, and its fear of losing control, ie power. Such rigidity, bleak weakness, insecurity and shallowness in the leadership core. At a time when penetrating insight into the deep thread of evolving changes demands creativity to discern the nature of acceptance of these changes in interrelationships, what psychologically must be relinquished and what to be included if greater Life is to be served. A country long enchained to capitalist values and corporate dominance, its cut throat competitive stance favoring consolidation into monopolies, its stark sociopathic disregard for life and democracy in its service to untrammeled power and the big dollar (witness Norfolk Southern railroad track record re communities and employees), can anyone be sanguine about the capacity the leadership has for collaboration, much less the humility, creativity, maturity, strength and compassion for shifting into a stance that makes the most of today's currents of change? That can revision what the heart and soul of this country serves? Thank you for your courage and integrity.