Welcome to Awful Avalanche, I hope you will read and enjoy my posts!
Welcome to Awful Avalanche, I hope you will read and enjoy my posts!
Continuing with this interview of Russian Parliamentarian Franz Klintsevich. In the next section of the interview, Klintsevich argues his thesis that the Americans deliberately created chaos in the way they hastily withdrew from Afghanistan; and that the target of this geopolitical chaos is Russia. One may agree, or disagree, or partially agree, with that thesis; but Klintsevich argues it persuasively. My personal theory: Both things can be true. Maybe the Americans intended to stay in Afghanistan forever, using it as their hub in Central Asia. But were forced out willy-nilly by the persistence of the Taliban resistance. So, they left, but not without “making lemonade” from this lemon that was handed to them. The Lemonade of geopolitical chaos and long-term instability. As a sort of Plan B. How’s that for a theory? Anyhow, back to our interlocutors.
The Great Game
Reporter: In other words, the whole purpose of this is to weaken Russia?
Klintsevich: Of course. When I first said it, a couple of weeks ago, people were just arguing on the basis of formal logic. Exactly the way it usually happens with the kind of propaganda conducted by the Americans, having experienced this very poignantly in the Ukraine and Gruzia and even in Armenia; when at the every day level, people say, “You know, at that very highest level of authority, people just don’t lie. Which means, it’s the truth. They can’t be lying.” But yes, they can. Just see how the “Zombie Box” (TV) put a spell on the Ukrainians. Their lives are getting worse and worse. But they don’t care. For the absolute majority of them, Russia is the enemy. We are guilty for the fact that they are such idiots.
Reporter: If their goal is to harm Russia, then it would seem that the next in line, the next nations in line to be drawn into this conflict, that would be Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgizia?
Klintsevich: Yes, and also Kazakhstan. And do you see what Turkey is up to nowadays? Turkey has already declared [its intentions] to collect all of these nations with Turkey at their head, has started to work on the formation of these processes, and so on.
One needs to understand that the Turkish special forces are playing the main role here, under cover of [pretending to be] politicians and government officials. And they [the Turkish special forces], are practically under the full control of the special forces of the United States of America.
Erdogan utters his outrageous words, the same as Biden, and the special forces do their thing.
The special forces [of the U.S.] sacrificed those 13 Marines who died at the Kabul airport. They [the special forces] knew that there would be an explosion, they knew that American soldiers would be harmed. Well, what can you do? Some people are just unlucky.
Reporter: Do you believe that Turkey will become the power center in this region?
Klintsevich: There are many players. Turkey will be there, and also Qatar, and also Pakistan. China, of course, will be there, playing its own independent game.
This is why I keep saying: Many people are afraid that Russia will send its troops in there. We will not be sending any soldiers there, but we will be controlling the situation in full. Right now our military people and diplomats are handling the situation in an absolutely correct manner. No matter what people say, there is no government in Afghanistan other than the one that is there now [i.e., the Taliban]. Which is why we need to have a dialogue with it. Only in the course of dialogue can we seek out some kind of opportunities, some kind of compromise, can we find the possibility of averting this and that.
Speaking in all honesty, I can say that, in this situation, I am very hopeful that this situation will influence our partners in the СНГ [Commonwealth of Independent States] and ОДКБ [Collective Treaty Security Organization] because this is the only thing that can save them. They are in a very tough situation: They are sitting on top of a powder keg, given all the contradictions within the various social layers and elites in these republics; and given the difficult social-economic circumstances.
Reporter: But if we proceed from the postulate that both the Talibs and Ahmad Massoud are playing a game constructed by the U.S., then how can we not accept the possibility of a direct attack if the U.S. should, say, order them to attack Tajikistan?
Klintsevich: They won’t attack directly. They will use ISIS as their battering ram, that’s why it was created. But the attack will be very quickly localized because, all the same there are well-trained professional armed forces in the Central Asian republics, the 201st Division is there, for example.
And Russia also, without any ambiguity — the President, the Minister of Defense, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, — in a rather sternly-worded format, while still maintaining all the diplomatic etiquette — has issued a firm warning to all players. And they all understand and know what this warning means. And in spite of all their internal differences, a portion of the Taliban leadership came here [?] to issue reassurances.
At the same time we know that for the Western intelligence services, it is normal for them to say one thing and do another; for that reason we are closely monitoring the situation, and we have the opportunity to influence it quite seriously.
In front of everyone’s eyes is the Syrian experience, and, believe me, this was only possible having taken into account all the mistakes of the Soviet period in Afghanistan; and lessons learned how to handle such complicated tasks.
Reporter: It seems that we have declared that we are able to destroy with pinpoint accuracy any representative of the Taliban leadership?
Klintsevich: We are able to localize a growing threat, and, yes, we have that capability. This is the platform from which the highest governing individuals of the country have spoken, giving that signal.
[yalensis: Interpreting this, Franz is hinting that the subtle and diplomatically-phrased “signals” given out by Putin, Shoigu and Lavrov to the Taliban leadership included a subtle threat that Russia can drone any particular individual from the air! Warning received and understood, according to Franz.]
Reporter: It also seems that we, via the Taliban, are conducting negotiations with the American special forces? Or are we turning them [the Taliban] into our double agents?
Klintsevich: We are not conducting negotiations with the American special forces. We are just letting the Taliban know about our capabilities; at the same time we are arming them with debating points which they can voice during their discussions with their curators; saying that “We won’t go there, because Russia is there, and it could end badly.”
[yalensis: Interpreting again. Franz is saying that the Russians are warning their Taliban contacts and prepping them what they should say to their American handlers; should the latter order them to attack Tajikistan.]
Reporter: Do you really think that the Taliban are going to argue against their own curators?
Klintsevich: Of course. But they will conduct the dialogue very cautiously, they are going to take into account all these growing threats.
Reporter: And it’s not possible [for them] to simply meet with Biden and discuss all these issues?
Klintsevich: That will happen later. There will be meetings, and they will inevitably raise these questions. But nothing will be made public. Nobody will ever know what they discussed, or didn’t discuss, people will just have to guess. But reality cannot be cancelled, such meetings will happen.
Reporter: Was Zelensky’s visit to Washington connected with any of this?
[to be continued]
Continuing with this interview of Russian Parliamentarian politician Franz Klintsevich, by reporter Denis Tel’manov. In the next segment of the interview, the theme turns to social issues involved in the Taliban military victory over the American occupiers. Despite their status as representatives of a decaying imperialist power of late-stage capitalism, the Americans, just by the nature of things, introduced to the Afghan people a certain modernism. Also bringing with them, along with night-vision binoculars and facial-recognition software, a rough secularism that goes against the grain of Taliban religious fundamentalism and medieval social morays. Just as, in their time, the Soviets also modernized, but, as socialists, in a much more principled manner, liberating women to be workers in the workplace, also promoting literacy and education, and other positive values.
The American occupiers did some similar things but more subconsciously; nonetheless, as a result, professional women and female college students in, say, Kabul, felt more comfortable for sure, under American occupation than they do or will under Taliban rule. Americans were there to loot the country but didn’t mind if the people under their rule, say, listened to music or watched movies; so, again, the reintroduction of the Taliban will feel like a ghastly curtailing of personal liberties, to so many layers of the population, especially in urban areas; and especially for women and youth. Many Afghans were horrified at the realization that the Taliban were back, with their whips and stonings; and young women back into the burkas.
Reporter: The Talibs have already declared a ban on listening to music and conducting sporting events. [Ahmad] Massoud has a different opinion [and doesn’t believe in that]. Will he still be able to co-exist in the same country with the Taliban?
Klintsevich: The Talibs cannot cancel the cosmos, they can’t remove the satellite dishes, they can’t cancel civilization. The Afghans will continue, all the same, to communicate with the rest of the world. Yes, they will carry out the demands of Islam, people of faith will continue to abide by their national traditions. But it is already impossible for orthodox things to continue on. Also take into account that Afghan society is not uniform. Already in 1986, the first time I travelled to Kabul, in respectable neighborhoods one could see women who looked like Europeans, wearing short skirts, with their hair let down; women of astonishing beauty.
And somebody told me that the wives and children of many highly-placed functionaries of the government, would fly to Paris once a week on a special flight — to have their hair done, have a meal in a nice restaurant, go shopping. They were striving for civilization.
Ordinary people lived differently, of course. For example, men practically couldn’t get married up to the age of 40, because it cost so much to pay the kalym [dowry] for a wife, and it took that long to save up the money. Due to this, homosexualism was a common thing, especially among the military.
The women aged very quickly, they were given away as young as 14-16, and by the age of 30 already looked like old women. Such was the difference between the elite and ordinary people.
In the 20 years that the Americans have spent in Afghanistan, they put a lot of ideas into the heads of young people, especially in the arena of so-called Europeans values. But today [under the Taliban], many of these ideas will be [once again] unacceptable and impossible, especially homosexuality.
And this is why we see this rampaging crowd of people who are desperate to leave; in truth these are the people who understand that their public personas and their cultivation of those [European] values — are practically a death sentence for them. This is why they are grabbing onto the wheels of departing airplanes. This is a huge misfortune. But nobody wants to speak openly about these matters. And also those people who simply worked for the Americans, whether as a carpenter or doorman, or a translator, or worked in the police — it doesn’t matter, it’s all the same, notwithstanding the declarations that nobody will prevent them from leaving the country, all the same in the next two or three months, they will [all] be silently liquidated. Americans, pretending that the rest of the world are gullible morons, handed over to the Taliban lists of these people, allegedly with the request to let them out of the country. But they are not planning to bring them out. And it was never a possibility. These were all elements of a deeply well-thought-out special operation.
[yalensis: This is a place where one might debate with Klintsevich. Perchance he doth overestimate American cleverness. Did the pindos really plan this bardak with such cunning, in order to deliberately doom the Afghans who worked for them? Or were they just incompetent, disorganized idiots? Did they truly hand over their facial-recognition archives to the Talibs with conscious intent to screw all their water-carrying Gunga Dins? Or did somebody mess up and accidentally leave those files behind in their haste and cowardice? It was my impression that Trump had struck a deal with the Taliban, Americans would leave by a certain date, with the understanding that these people on the lists would be evacuated as well; but then the Taliban won quicker than they were supposed to, and everything got out of hand… Chaos Theory in action, just like the Titanic. One could debate this forever; but, as a rule of thumb, never underestimate the sheer incompetence of the American army.]
Klintsevich: Therefore it upsets me when I have to listen to the opinings of certain our experts as they exult in this American defeat — as in, look what idiots the Americans are, look what they did, etc. Because I don’t foresee a single criminal case in the future: All those senior [American] officials who committed this failure, should have been arrested. But the President of the United States gave them the highest praise for the way they handled this troop pull-out. Can you even imagine?
But who is going to try to convince me that there is any other explanation than the one I have proposed. Speaking as a person who, on more than one occasion, felt [on my own hide the blowback] of such types of informational and military-intel operations, with all the ensuing reorientation, the attempt to confuse people, the creation of certain psychologically unstable processes in the collective. Americans have proved to the whole world: You either do what we tell you, or things will go bad for you.
[yalensis: Franz is speaking somewhat Aesopian-like here, but is clearly talking about stuff he personally experienced and participated in, during Soviet times. Maybe even about the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and that aftermath. But methinks he is still confusing Soviet processes with American processes; and mistaking American incompetence for some kind of super-criminal cunning. People tend to project themselves onto others: Soviets were smart and cunning people, and far from arrogant; but they lost a war and reacted in a certain way; so he projects that mentality onto arrogant but basically dumb Americans? I dunno…]
Reporter [returning to the Massoud theme which Klintsevich has wandered from]: But will Massoud be able to unite all of these people who, in one way or another, are not able to function in a Taliban regime?
Klintsevich: I suppose he could. But who is going to permit him?
Reporter: Well, isn’t he a self-sufficient figure?
Klintsevich: There will be other figures. The Field Commanders of ISIS and Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. They all maintain tight connections [to American Intelligence]. Each one of these commanders naively believes that he is the fairest of them all, that he alone maintains connections with American Special Forces, that he alone receives money from them, has their support, and fulfills their directives. They don’t understand that they are in the same boat, and that each one of them is fulfilling a certain task [of American Intelligence].
We [Soviets] also conducted certain operations in African nations, in which it happened [sometimes] that during a fight between Opposition forces vs the government, friends would [accidentally] encounter one another in the middle of a battle, each being an advisor to a different side; and they both had studied together in a [Soviet] military school and academy. And sometimes it even happened that, encountering one another in this fashion, they would find an opportunity to separate the warring sides, preserving lives. Such [crazy] things happened, unfortunately. But here, in this case, moral qualities don’t count. Here we are talking about a well-thought out strategy of manageable chaos. And this is how it is going to be. The final beneficiaries of these problems will be Russia and China, in part; as well as other countries, in order to create a certain background to the painting. They are going to try to get at us through Central Asia.
Reporter: In other words, all of this is happening, in order to weaken Russia?
[to be continued]
Continuing to work through this interview with Russian Parliamentarian Franz Klintsevich, the reporter is Denis Tel’manov. Where we left off, Tel’manov was curious to know what Franz thinks is Ahmad Massoud’s end game. Why does he continue to resist against the Taliban? Is he fighting for a more secular way of life for his people? For the return of the previous government?
Klintsevich: His goal is not to restore the previous government, nor fight for some kind of American ideals. His resistance is simply an object of trade. This is the East. He is trying to force the Talibs to negotiate with him. For himself, he wants to procure a position in the new government; for his people he wants to win preferential treatment, so that they can continue to live in the manner to which they are accustomed.
And I believe that they will come to some kind of arrangement, although conflicts might [still] arise periodically. But there won’t be a war, there will be a truce. The Talibs will be forced to take into account the interests of various [ethnic] groupings who dwell in Afghanistan. And therefore they will form a new government of the nation consisting of representatives of the most varied social layers, and not just “Taliban” people, of that I am absolutely sure. Of course this could take a while to happen, not right away, not in a month, maybe two months.
Reporter: Whose interests does Ahmad Massoud represent? Who stands behind him? Pakistan? The USA? Maybe some of our allies?
Klintsevich: The latter could be true. I don’t believe that the Americans stand behind either Ahmad or the Taliban. Because it was under the leadership of Washington that they killed his [Ahmad’s] father, treating him as a man with whom they couldn’t do business. He did not agree to any American intervention nor to any American rule over his country, he spoke only of an independent Afghan government.
The authority of Ahmad Shah was so high, that even the Taliban had to deal with him, had to take into account his role in the war which he waged against Soviet troops.
Today, thanks to the experience of Ahmad Shah, his son Ahmad [Junior] has [many] contacts, both in Europe and Pakistan, as well as China and India. He is not an empty vessel, in that respect. But these contacts are meant not for political, but rather economic, ties and relationships. For this reason as well, the Taliban cannot simply put him down, they are going to have to deal with him.
Although, [I have to say that], many foreign intelligence services are conducting their work there, and they have a certain amount of influence. But they won’t be able to radically influence the direction the country is going, with the Taliban now stepping in, not without a lot of wheeling and dealing.
Therefore, he [Massoud] is still somewhat independent. He is one of just a few players who, in my opinion, are truly independent, and he wishes, in these conditions, to bargain, on behalf of himself and his region, to obtain the maximum possible benefits.
Reporter: What kind of benefits?
Klintsevich: He wants to be part of the government of the country, he wants to be a decision-maker, to create preferential conditions for his region and his people, this is a very diverse people, ethnically speaking.
He needs to retain the right to conduct independently those trade and economic relations that he has established, and so that nobody can dictate their will to him.
Reporter: Will the Taliban go along with that?
Klintsevich: They will have no choice. Obviously they don’t want to, which is why they are still making threats. But eventually they will see that they are up against a brick wall, and they will have no choice except to negotiate a deal.
Reporter: But in the Provisional Government which they announced this week, there are no representatives of Massoud.
Klintsevich: In which case, there will be a fight. They [the Taliban] are convinced that, given all the resources which the Americans left them, including helicopters, drones, the personal gear, etc., that they will be able to block the Panjshir [Valley], that they will be able to control that region. But you can’t block, the Panjshir. They have too many forces and means at their disposal, this will prevent a full blockade.
Reporter: Could they attack it from the air?
Klintsevich: They could. But the main thing they could do in that case would be to bomb populated areas. And there is a mass of caves, hiding places, various tunnels which are impervious to aviation. They started to build these caves and tunnels back in Soviet times. They are fortified, camouflaged, well equipped.
Reporter: In other words, the resistance could go on for years.
Klintsevich: Yes, that’s the problem. But I am sure that the Americans will recommend to the Talibs that they find a compromise. Although one has to take into account what has been happening recently, including terrorist attacks, the liquidation of terrorists, soldiers shooting up automobiles filled with peaceful civilians under the guise they were assisting terrorists; one might say that a process is taking place which creates the external conditions for the destablization of the situation and the introduction into the country of the so-called “manageable chaos”.
Reporter: In other words, it suits the Americans to have some grouping in Afghanistan which will threaten the Taliban and destabilize the situation in the country?
Klintsevich: Of course. The Americans will create this tension, attempt to build relations with all the various players, various agents will work with the various field commanders. For example, it will be necessary for them to create a wave of refugees, people who are dissatisfied with the Taliban, and who will flood into other countries, and amongst whom can be planted a large number of professional terrorists, who will attempt to settle in those countries.
[to be continued]
I saw this very intriguing interview with Russian Parliamentarian Franz Klintsevich, the interlocutor is reporter Denis Tel’manov. For those not familiar, Franz Adamovich Klintsevich, despite his Polish-sounding name, is a prominent Russian politician, originally hailing from the Belorussian SSR. In the Duma, he represents the Smolensk region and is, ideologically, a Russian patriot. When it comes to Afghanistan, or military issues in general, Klintzevich has a lot of street creds, having served as a reserve Colonel in the Soviet armed forces (1975-97). For two of those years (1986-88) he served in the 345th Parachute Regiment of the 40th Army, in Afghanistan. He studied Dari, one of the ethnic languages of Afghanistan.
I like the fact that reporter Tel’manov does not begin his interview with the words: “Thank you for your service!” That is a thoroughly nauseating American custom, which makes me throw up every time without fail, whenever I hear it; which I am glad that Russia has not adopted [yet].
Before translating/summaring the content of this interview, I would like to give hasty readers a few important bullet points, call it an executive summary of Klintsevich’s main thoughts:
Having laid out those major points, let us delve into the meat of this interview.
Massoud And His Game
Ahmad Massoud heads the National Resistance Front, founded by his father, Ahmad Shah Massoud. These are Persian-speaking (Dari) people, who control the Panjshir Valley. Although the Taliban last week claimed to have captured this area, Klintsevich disagrees. At most the Taliban, like the Soviet army before it, may have captured a couple of populated areas, but not the whole Valley itself. Massoud will continue his Resistance; his end game is a more “Swiss” model for Afghanistan, with decentralization and power distributed to the Regions. Recall that the Taliban represent maybe the majority of the Pushtun ethnos, but there are lots of other ethnic groups and tribes to contend with.
Klintsevich talks about Massoud Jr like he’s a good guy, but the latter’s wiki page mentions that he receives moral support from French “intellectual” Bernard-Henri Lévy who is one of the top imperialist pukes in the world. In either case, Klintsevich is adamant that the Taliban will never take the Panjshir Valley:
“They will never take the Panjshir, they don’t have the means. Even despite the fact that they are better equipped than the Soviet forces were in the 1980’s. We had a very limited contingent, and the Taliban currently command a huge number of men. But here you have to take into account that the Talibs are primarily Pushtuns, and the Panjshir is occupied mostly by Tajiks. In addition to that, Ahmad Shah Massoud, father of of the current Resistance movement, built a very sound system which Soviet troops and their Afghan allies were not able to breach, no matter how hard we tried. In the end, we were able to control only two populated centers, Anaba, where our Second Battalion of the 345th Parachute Regiment stood; and also Rokha, where the 108th Division was deployed.
“We controlled all the mountains around these two points, and we had a large number of checkpoints. And in spite of all that, the “Spirits” [Gazeta editor: a jargon word used by Soviet soldiers to denote Mujahadin] would calmly come and go in the night, travelling through the crevices with their caravans, and shooting up our checkposts on a regular basis.”
Reporter: How did they do that? Where did they get the money and the weapons?
Klintsevich: Ahmad Shah supported himself primarily via sales of Azurite and Emeralds, which he mined in the Panjshir Valley, in a rather primitive technique: They would just blow up the rocks, sometimes destroying the valuable minerals in the process. But Ahmad built a supply chain and logistics from this.
As a result they had money, from which they could buy weapons, food, material goods. They controlled entire regions. And this system still exists to this day, it has been passed on to Ahmad’s son.
And the son completely controls the situation in this region. He openly proclaims his independence. He is calling upon everyone to join him who who is patriotically sympathetic to the former [American-supported] government and who now fears for his life. This would include, for example, former military who fought against the Taliban. They understand the danger in which they have fallen, after the Taliban seized power. Thanks to Massoud, they could continue their former way of life in the Panjshir and also preserve their families. This is a very strong position from which to continue the struggle.
And don’t believe the Taliban when they say they have blocked the Panjshir, that’s not true. Given such a complicated relief map of the area, it is not possible to control the whole thing. If they try to go in there, they will find a very strong resistance.
Reporter: What are they fighting for? The secular way of life? Or the return of the previous government?
[to be continued]
Continuing with my translation of the Uborevich trial transcript, recently de-classified by the Russian government. Please pay special attention to the segment (I will highlight it) where Uborevich talks about his participation in the real conspiracy: This was a typical Office Politics type conspiracy, where certain employees band together and go to the boss’s boss to complain about the boss. Believing that there is strength in numbers and in the righteousness of one’s complaints. I even participated in one of those conspiracies myself, several years back. They always end the same way, so I don’t recommend this gambit to anyone who wants to keep their job.
Where we left off, Uborevich was confessing to a series of “wrecking activities” undertaken by him. Some of the “wrecking” that he confessed to, were just normal military assignments, some precautionary measures, all heightened by the imminence of the approaching war with Germany; but repainted as “sinister” by the Prosecution. Other “wrecking” activities consisted of encouraging lax standards and bureaucratic ineptitude. In other words, one is assigned to build a benzine station to refuel tanks. Construction is delayed, there is no benzine… obviously wreckers are at work! In this segment of his testimony, my impression is that Uborevich is trying to be a little bit clever, slipping in his typical critiques of army ineptitude and bureaucratic khalatnost, under the guise of confessing his own guilt. Since that was the only kind of testimony that Presiding Ulrikh would allow.
Uborevich: For example, as a result of such wrecking activities, if war were to break out, then on the very first day, the fortified machine-gun hides would have been 50% lacking gunners.
[yalensis: the next section of confessions consists of “paying the piper”, in other words these were the mandatory “school figures” that could not be avoided or wished away. That was the deal that was made in Hell’s Dungeon, the price of saving one’s children. There were names that had to be named, inferences that had to be inferred; all according to the script composed by the main show-runner, Yezhov]:
Uborevich: To the question of the railways: I knew that Appoga was in charge of this. As the troop commander I could see very clearly that Appoga was engaged in wrecking activities, and I took part in that too. My assistance consisted in significantly delaying the discussion of a series of essential and important issues. I enlisted people, slowly worked them over, preparing them for their defeatist role during wartime. In my confessions I named specific people, and the goals for which they were recruited. In 1935 I learned from Tukhachevsky about the “palace coup”, but didn’t inquire into the details.
When I was in Paris, along with Tukhachevsky, I received from him the assignment of speaking with General Schweisguth, the representative of the French General Staff; and to feel him out in regard to our business. In the words of Tukhachevsky, Schweisguth is an important political figure in the French General Staff, and in fact conducts all of their external and internal politics. This conversation with Tukhachevsky happened inside an automobile.
For me, it was fairly clear what we were talking about. For starters, for me to speak to this General openly about the fact that we had a conspiracy going on in our country, did not feel quite comfortable to me. I approached him cautiously but in the end I drew the conversation in the direction, how would he feel about Tukhachevsky seizing power. Schweisguth responded in a very positive vein. and in the fall of 1934 [yalensis: Either Uborevich mis-spoke, or the transcriber mis-typed, he meant 1936] while visiting our maneuvers, he said that the [French] General Staff would welcome that [scenario] unconditionally. During that same trip to Paris he [Tukh] said that he had been feeling out Cooper [yalensis: who he?] in the same manner; the latter stating that he would welcome the strengthening of Russia.
Operating in this manner, as a two-faced liar and traitor, while fulfilling the assignments set by Tukhachevsky, most of my activities consisted of preparing defeatist operations in preparation for the war.
And Now We Get To The Essence Of The Actual Conspiracy
Uborevich: About the members of the center, I would say a bit about Gamarnik. There is no doubt in my mind that he was a member of the Center. Tukhachevsky used to praise him quite a lot. Gamarnik showed his true colors when we went to the government to pose the question about Voroshilov, to attack Voroshilov, but in reality we had coordinated everything with Gamarnik, who told us that he would come out forcefully against Voroshilov. The meetings of members of the Center consisted of only 2 or 3 men maximum, and were very secretive.
[yalensis: In other words, busting through all the B.S., here is what really happened: Tukh, Uborevich, Gamarnik, and some other members of their Reformers clique, decided to do something about Voroshilov and his gaping incompetence in leading the army. They plotted an intervention, went as a group on pilgrimage to Stalin, laid out their thoughts to the Great Leader, and hoped it was enough to get Voroshilov fired and Tukh take his place as Narkom. But everything backfired on them, because Stalin took Voroshilov’s side. Given the importance of these employees, this matter should have just ended with slaps on the wrist, but then Stalin, who has gotten used to just killing everybody, must have decided to take it to the next level. So he picks up the phone: “Comrade Yezhov? I have a new assignment for you….” Sincerely folks, that’s what really happened, I would bet every penny I have on that.]
Uborevich: I never received diversionary assignments from Tukhachevsky, but I do recall such assignments, this I can declare here with the utmost authority.
Ulrikh [has to remind Uborevich to say his lines properly]: In whose name was all of this done by you, for the sake of which nation, for which classes did you conduct this anti-Soviet struggle?
Uborevich: In the name of RESTORING CAPITALISM. [Courtroom erupts in gasps of oohs and aahs – no, I just made that up.]
Ulrikh: You belonged to the inner circle of the conspiracy. In your statements you wrote: “I participated…” [Transcript of Uborevich’s statement is read out to the courtroom.]
Uborevich: That’s true. I received that assignment in the spring of 1935.
Comrade Dybenko [butting in from the Presidium]: You stated that you joined the Center around the year 1934, and the fortified region started to be built in 1935. How were these two things tied together? Did you give wrecking instructions relating to the construction of the fortified region?
Uborevich: I never gave such instructions.
[yalensis: Uborevich probably thinking to himself: I’m willing to debase myself for the sake of my family, but this idiot Dybenko just pushes me too far…]
Dybenko: You attempted to put Yakir in charge of the HQ, beginning in 1925 as a united front?
Uborevich: That’s not true, because in 1931 I was transferred out of the central apparatus by Gamarnik, and Tukhachevsky took my place there, and I had no wrecking connections with him whatsoever.
Dybenko: Your wrecking work started from the moment you were appointed as head of the re-arming [project]?
Uborevich: On the contrary, I was the one who exposed the wrecking activities of the senior officer cadres.
Dybenko: Yeah, in order to mask your own wrecking work?
Comrade Belov [another idiot jackal jumping in to take a bite of the prey]: Tell us about the wrecking activities you conducted in the Belorussian Military Okrug.
Uborevich: I did not conduct any wrecking activities.
Dybenko: What kind of direct espionage work did you conduct with the German General Staff?
Uborevich: None whatsoever. [yalensis: Our boy is starting to get feisty! But at this moment somebody must have given him some kind of signal… like that scene in The Godfather Part I… ‘Cause he suddenly switches off.]
Dybenko: Do you consider overall that your work was espionage-related and wrecking in nature?
Uborevich: Since 1935 I have been a wrecker, a traitor, and an enemy.
Court recesses for one hour. [yalensis: Lunch time – yay!]
We are not quite done with Comrade Hieronymus Uborevich. In recent posts we skimmed through some very interesting and touching memoirs, penned by his friends, comrades, and family, all part of the Commander’s process of Rehabilitation.
But now it is time to return to that ugly document of the actual Trial Transcript, to see how the man was forced to disgrace and humiliate himself in front of the Yezhovites. Here is the link again, these full trial transcripts only recently (in the last couple of years) de-classified and made public by the Russian government. Uborevich’s testimony starts on page 72, which is actually page 74, so you should go by the page numbers in the PDF file, it is page 74/172. Tukhachevsky has just finished his long-winded ramblings, as he tried desperately to salvage a shred of dignity from this catastrophe.
Uborevich, on the other hand, is more laconic, as we have come to expect from his personality, from reading the accounts of others. Personally, I think he just knew that the gig was up, the frame-up was complete, his loved ones had been threatened, all that remained for him to do in life was make these false confessions in the faint hope of saving as much of his family as he could. Unlike Tukhachevsky, whose mind had been clouded by the madness of total defeat, Uborevich kept his sanity and sense of cold logic. At least, that’s my impression. But along the way, which makes this interesting to read and decode, he did try to toss in a few zingers whenever he could. One has the impression of a hostage held at gunpoint, trying to blink in Morse code to the TV cameras.
Once again, Ulrikh is the Presiding Judge and NKVD Prosecutor in charge:
Ulrikh: Defendant Uborevich, the statements that you gave at the preliminary hearing, do you confirm them?
Uborevich: I do.
Ulrikh: What is the time frame of your enlistment into the anti-Soviet military organization?
Uborevich: It was Tukhachevsky who led me into the anti-Soviet military organization. He initially started feeling me out towards the end of 1934, but factually, I remember this well, gave me some assignments, and I endeavored to fulfill them, in March of 1935. There were certain circumstances that preceded this. If I may, I will tell you about them.
Ulrikh: Please do.
Uborevich: Towards the end of 1933 Tukhachevsky and Yakir got close to me, and we started to conduct an unprincipled struggle against the unified leadership of the army, against VOROSHILOV. [yalensis interruption: There was probably a grain of truth in this. Tukhachevsky had hoped to be appointed Narkom of the Army, and Uborevich, Yakir and the others would have rooted for him to get the job. They were all probably disappointed when Voroshilov, whom they all despised, got the job instead. I can imagine that they may have sat around bitching about this among themselves, typical Office Politics. Please excuse the interruption.] This conspiracy corrupted me and placed me on the very edge of of the next step, which was to fulfill the assignments of the Center. At the start of 1934 I was not [yet] in the anti-Soviet position and, unaware that Tukhachevsky was conducting that kind of work, I particularly came out against his wrecking plan of organizing brigades in the army instead of rifle divisions. [yalensis: apparently that was one of the key points of contention between Tukhachevsky and Voroshilov.] I remember well, that in March of 1935, he [Tukh] in essence placed before me his plan of political and military activities, his first variant. It was at that same time that he first started proving to me the inevitability of our defeat in a war against Japan, Germany and Poland, and also the inevitability of the ensuing internal difficulties. He started to tell me, how he is the head of an organization, and that he has ties with the Rightists and with the Trotskyites. But later he didn’t return to that theme. I understood then that he was conducting a policy of his own personal, Thermidorian risk, and this was why he was posing these questions, and I started to carry out these ideas and the practical issues connected with defeatism.
[yalensis: I think this is the moment Uborevich starts to try the Tukhachevsky “swan-song” approach of laying out some of his military theory, partly to justify himself, and partly to lay down a final warning and legacy to the army:]
The first task that he placed before me was the question of the wrecking invading armies. This was not in 1936, after the war games, I remember clearly that it was in March, or maybe April, of 1935. Initially, not really understanding what was going on, I was trying to demonstrate that the cavalry, engaging with artillery, without rear support, with only a small number of tanks, dispersed to the enforced regions, would be defeated on the second day.
There were two [possible] strategic variants for the Germans to adopt. The first variant consisted of the fact that the Red Army could be defeated by…
Ulrikh: Defendant Uborevich, you do not read us lectures and you are not making a report. You, as the member of a conspiratorial organization, must narrate to us about your counter-revolutionary activities.
Uborevich: I, as a member of a conspiratorial organization, accepted these assignments from Tukhachevsky, I received the assignment of very carefully selecting people for wrecking activities, and of conducting very specific types of wrecking activities. All of these types of wrecking I will, if the Court permits, lay out to you.
Ulrikh: Just tell us concretely what was done, by whose orders, yours or other members of the Center, and in whose name were these activities carried out?
Uborevich: Issue #1 – concerned the placement of artillery caches in the area closest to the front lines. He [Tukh] said that this would be a target very easily accessible to enemy aviation, and the destruction of these caches would deprive the units of these supplies, thus I gave the command to the Construction Directorate of the Okrug, and later to Martynov and Abramov, to build caches in the swath closest to the front, so that these supplies would be accessible to enemy aviation. [yalensis: Again a grain of truth twisted into something completedly different. Recall in the “Memoirs” how Uborevich and Gikalo foresaw the need for partisans operating behind enemy lines, once the enemy had breached the front; and therefore undertook plans to bury caches in advance, for the future use of those partisans.]
Issue #2 – the construction of fuel bases open and accessible to [enemy] aviation. This particular assignment came from Moscow (I don’t know through which intermediary] and was delivered to our Okrug, and was clearly wrecking in nature, but I didn’t object to it. [yalensis: Methinks Uborevich is trying to be cunning here. I am guessing this dumb assignment actually came from Voroshilov.]
Issue #3 – This was along the lines of construction activities. In general there were quite a lot of individual wrecking initiatives in the sphere of construction, for example delays in the construction of hangars and other objectgs in Shaikovka; the fact that an automobile repair base was not built, and so on, all of this wrecking activity led to the weakening of the army. [yalensis: Again, Uborevich is being coy here, we learned in the “Memoirs” how he had written articles for the army newspaper railing against the bureaucratic ineptitude on the construction side, lack of preparedness, etc. Covertly, the criticism was directed at Voroshilov’s ineptitude, so I see this as Uborevich getting in an extra dig at Voroshilov while he had the opportunity.]
Wrecking activities also took place in the fortified regions….
[to be continued]
Игорь рече: «О, Донче! Не мало ти величія, лелѣявшу князя на влънах, стлавшу ему зелѣну траву на своихъ сребреныхъ брезѣхъ, одѣвавшу его теплыми мъглами подъ сѣнію зелену древу, стрежаше его гоголемъ на водѣ, чайцами на струяхъ, чрьнядьми на ветрѣхъ».
[Igor spake: “Oh, Donets! You are of broad expanse, you rocked the Prince on your waves, you spread out for him your silver banks carpeted with green grasses, you clothed him with your warm mists under the shelter of the green tree, you sent to watched over him the goldeneye duck on the water, the seagulls swimming in the currents, the crested black drakes sailing in the winds.]«Слово о полку Игореве» (The Tale of Igor’s Regiment)
Ярославна рано плачеть Путивлю городу на заборолѣ, аркучи: «О, Днепре Словутицю! Ты пробилъ еси каменныя горы сквозѣ землю Половецкую. (…) Възлелѣй, господине, мою ладу къ мнѣ, а быхъ не слала къ нему слезъ на море рано».
[Yaroslavna early in the morning weeps on the ramparts of Putivl, saying: “O Famed Dnepr River, you have cut through the stone mountains of the Polovetskian territories. Let your waves lull my beloved back to me, so that I don’t have to wash my tears to him and out to the sea this early in the morning.”]«Слово о полку Игореве» (The Tale of Igor’s Regiment)
We have some truly breaking news from the Donbass! As Caesar might have said, in his time, “All Donbass Separatists are divided into two groups: the Luhansk Peoples Republic (LPR), and the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR).” Caesar, as a good Roman, would know exactly how to use this Separation of Separatists to his own advantage, and how to pit the two groups against one another. Pro-Seps, over the years, have asked the logical question, “Why two?”, it’s not like there are remotely any significant differences between the two groups of people: Same language (Russian), same ethnos (Russian), same mindset (Russian).
But now, according to analyst Dmitry Bavyrin, we may finally start to see some unity emerge between these two entities, historically divided for purely administrative reasons. Also, sad to say, it benefited certain elements within these Separatist entities, to preserve their own fiefdoms, instead of uniting together into a common Donbass Peoples Republic. As the medieval bard scoded the Princes of his own era:
Ярославе и вси внуце Всеславли! Уже понизите стязи свои, вонзите свои мечи вережени, уже бо выскочисте изъ дѣдней славѣ.Вы бо своими крамолами начясте наводити поганыя на землю Рускую…
[Yaroslav and all of you descendants of Vseslav! Lower your banners, sheathe your dented swords, for you have already degenerated from the glory of your ancestors. You with your feuds have drawn the pagan hordes onto the Russian land…]
Now Is The Time For All Good Men To Come To The Aid Of Their Country
Well said, Bard! But things might be changing for the better. According to Bavyrin: The heads of the DPR and LPR issued a joint declaration which is of true historical importance for both Donbass Republics. In the near future they are planning to liquidate the “feudal fragmentation” and create a single economic space according to Russian templates. This is an extraordinarily important step. We only have to ask, why did they wait so long?
The average Russian person living in Russia, the Ukraine, or even the Donbass itself, has never understood why there had to be two Rebel Republics, and not just one. Usually, such extreme conditions of economic blockade (and daily bombardments, one might add) lead to unity; but not in this case. In fact, between the two un-recognized Republics there even exists a tariff on the exchange of goods.
Some of this disunity arose from the fact that both Republics arose spontaneously as the products of indigenous Peoples Militias, who constructed their own governments and wrote their own laws. Some can be attributed to the emergence of power cliques, and the ensuing struggle between them, under the philosophy “I’d rather be the top guy in a small village, than the second guy in a big city.” Some can be attributed to business interests and the struggle to control certain economic enterprises. The business elites of Luhansk, for example, feared being swallowed up by the larger and wealthier Donetsk.
This “feudal fragmentation” has impacted negatively on the living standards and average wage of the average Donbass resident. This in a region where the working class used to live quite comfortably. But then had to suffer the deprivations of wartime. They have been enduring stoically for patriotic reasons, but their patience is not boundless.
Both DPR and LPR are in urgent need of vast structural reforms, a unified legal system, standardization and the elimination of unnecessary duplication. Not to mention the ever-needed fight against corruption.
But every time people started talking Unification, somebody else always found an excuse why it wasn’t possible just now: Well, there are the Minsk Accords, for example. Which were signed by two Republics, and not just one. So, we have to stay as two, right?
And then, all of a sudden, the “cracking of the ice”, as Ostap Bender might have said. Thus, DPR kahuna Denis Pushilin and LPR honcho Leonid Pasechnik suddenly announced the creation of a “unified economic and tariff market”. It doesn’t sound like much, but this is actually huge.
All that remains is to figure out: How, and why, did this breakthrough occur? There are two versions, both akin to conspiracy theories: The first theory involves international potentates such as Putin, Joe Biden, and Vladimir Zelensky. Some people believe that at the recent Putin-Biden summit in Geneva, the former made it clear to the latter that he must force Kiev to observe the Minsk agreements, otherwise Moscow will take a different path in reorganizing the Donbass. Next, Biden met with Zelensky, and the latter bragged later (well, to be more precise, Zel’s advisor Alexei Arestovich) that Kiev has been taken “off the hook” of the Minsk Accords. America, by the way, has never been a “Guarantor” of Minsk, they could probably care less. The point being, that if Minsk is “off the table”, then Moscow is free to choose a different path for these Republics. To paraphrase Victoria Nuland, “Screw Minsk!”
People always knew that Russia only ever had to give the word — Putin could just snap his fingers — and the Donbass would return to the bosom of Mother Russia. Many of us have hoped for quite a long time, that Russia would finally come to recognize the Donbass as an independent Republic, a consummation devoutely to be wished for. But Step #1 would be the merging of the two into one, all the better to absorb you, my pretties!
Such lovely ideas are shot down by Theory #2, a more mundane and less exciting variant: According to this scenario, Moscow and international players didn’t have anything to do with this development; no, the two Separatist entities themselves just came to the conclusion that they needed to get their act together. With pressure mounting from below rather than above. Evidence in favor of this more “boring” theory is that these economic agreements were just announced and will be implemented fairly soon; the corollary being that the agreements had to have been worked out [how’s that for past conditional pluperfect case!] for quite a long time (such things don’t get prepared and signed overnight), long before the Geneva summit was even a twinkle in somebody’s eye!
Either way, the good news is that Pushilin/Pasechnik expect the economic reforms to raise the living standard and increase the average wage in the region by a factor of 2.3, raising wages to an average of 35,000 rubles, and also increasing pensions. It doesn’t sound like much, but at least it’s a start.
Bavyrin: The creation of a single economic space in the Donbass is just the first step in the proposed reforms. Next comes the unification of the legal code and technical requirements, all to be made compatible with Russian norms. Donbass enterprises will participate in Russian government bids. This is expected to perk up the economy from the stagnation it currently wallows in. The end game is economic integration into Russia, the sole move that can save the Donbass from complete desolation and reabsorption into the Ukraine — which is the strategy followed by ill-wishers in Kiev!
Today I have this piece from RIA, by reporter Valery Mikhailov. The headline reads:
It’s Really Happend: The West Has Started To Flood Ukraine With Cash
It seems like Zelensky’s trip to the U.S., so mocked by the Russian media and blogosphere, did have a pay-out after all! We’re talking $2.7 BILLION American smackeroos! After working his way through so many chocolate bars, did Zelensky finally pull the Golden Ticket from that very last one? With President Biden playing the role of Willy Wonka? Which is a really creepy thought, but let’s go with it. Biden is Wonka, Zelensky is Charlie, does that make Kamala Harris Veruca Salt?
To be sure, Zelensky, with cap in hand, had requested $277 billion from the American taxpayers. If I remember my school math, $2.7 billion is only a fraction of that amount (100th?), but still not too shabby. A pity, though, because the full $277 billion would have been much better. Zelensky demanded precisely that amount for his super-ambitious project, the “complete transformation” of the Ukraine from a rather impoverished Eastern European backwater into a world superpower. With every Ukrainian citizen living like a Sultan, the nation pumping out 22nd Century products and services, even landing spaceships on the Moon and building colonies on Mars. Alas, with only one hundredth of that desirable amount, Ukrainian astronauts will have to settle for landing in some rock quarry, but maybe at least on the other side of the planet.
Recall that Zelensky visited the U.S. on September 1, just a few days ago, and presented his ambitious sci-fi fantasy plan to the Colonial Authorities. His team had drawn up a list of dozens of remarkable infrastructure projects, including the moon thing. American Congresspersons responded by handing Zel a carefully-thought-out gift, namely a book, written in the Sacred Ukrainian Language, called “Brain Damage And How To Treat It”.
The Russian internet exploded with mockery and Schadenfreude. But wait! Zel got the last laugh because now we know that he got some money after all. In addition to this wonderful hardcover book, which he can sell to a book store for additional cash. Or perhaps re-gift during his Office team’s Secret-Santa this upcoming Christmas.
Okay, it’s not the kind of cash he was asking for. But it’s still money, and not to be sneezed at, right?
The Art Of The Deal (Not)
So here is what we know: The $2.7 billion will be allocated by the International Money Fund (IMF). A routine tranche that was actually in the works anyhow, as an automatic grant. Even Russia gets some routine money from the IMF, even though Russia is designated an enemy of the Western World. Some things just don’t make sense, but you still just have to go with it.
In other word, Zelensky received a small lemon from Mr. Wonka, but, with typical Charlie-style positive attitude, set about to make a jug of delicious lemonade. His press service announced triumphantly: “After last week’s telephone conversation between President Zelensky and the Director/Disburser of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva [a Bulgarian national], the Ukraine will receive from the IMF more than $2.7 billion American dollars, free and clear [бесплатно] and without any additional conditions.” Free money yay!
Reporter Mikhailov clarifies that, for sure the money is free [they don’t have to pay interest on it?], but only while it remains within the (Ukrainian) Gold and Hard Currency Reserve Fund. The moment anyone withdraws from it to, say, finance the budget, then the clock starts ticking at .05% interest. [See! My mom always told me there was no such thing as free money. Unless you’re an Afghan warlord.] Mikhailov goes on to opine, sarcastically, that the probability of this cash remaining untouched in the Reserve, is roughly 0%. Money can’t just sit there in the Ukraine, without somebody’s paws grabbing it. Oh, and by the way, it’s September now, and payments to the foreign debt are coming due. Plus, the government already wasted on fake “corruptionist” construction projects all the international Covid Relief money they got last year.
Mikhailov: In conclusion, one might say that the information promoted by the Ukrainian propaganda machine about the expected Golden Rain shower of Western financing, which is just around the corner, is not so much an exaggeration as a pure fake. Kiev continues to grant concession after concession to the West, fulfilling all of Western demands at the expense of (Ukrainian) sovereignty over its own legal system; continues to pass control (to the West) over all its major assets; but in return receives only promises of future cash.
Today finishing our review of Samsonov’s memoirs, as we head towards the finish line of this tragic race. Where we left off: We are watching the exciting 1936 war games in the Belorussian Military Okrug. Uborevich has just accomplished his classic trolling of the English delegation, by reminding them of their nefarious participation in the Russian Civil War. And their shameful defeat therein, as they backed the wrong side. All the while feeding them delicious Soviet ice cream. (The creamiest in the world!)
Samsonov: With Hitler’s rise to power, the inevitability of a German attack became more and more obvious with every passing day. In 1936 we possessed info from counterintel, that Germany will start this big war no later than autumn of 1939. Uborevich’s response, knowing that the units under his command will take the first brunt of the fascist intrusion, tried to use the remaining time to bolster the defenses of the Western Line. Uborevich had no illusions, he urged the Party and army to look reality directly in the eye. He doubled down on his work, knowing that he was the primary person responsible for defending Belorussia. All the burden was on his shoulders. “We have very little time left,” he told a convening of the Belorussian HQ. So little time, so many more parachutists to train.
Recall that Samsonov himself worked in Army Counterintel, there was a ton of pressure on them as well. Uborevich assigned them to follow very closely on German war preparations. They also needed to speed up the training of Polish and German translators. Recall that the thinking of the time (which turned out to be incorrect) was that Poland and Germany would attack together, as allies.
Samsonov describes Uborevich, during this period of his life, as a workaholic who, nevertheless, did not forget about physical exercise and staying in shape. His main sports consisted of tennis, ice skating and skiing. In those days they didn’t have indoor skating rinks, so people could only skate during the winter. In the winter season, no matter how late at night he left HQ, even if it was 10 or 11 PM, Uborevich would grab his skates and go down to the rink. [Pond?] Or he would grab his skis and ski for a couple of hours. [Cross-country?] Uborevich was worried about some of the officers being out of shape (and they needed to be in shape during actual battle), so he recommended volleyball or football games. He himself organized a volleyball team and acted as its captain. Other members of the team included future Repressed and/or Purged people such as Aronshtam and Meretskov. They played 9 games against other army teams, of which they won four.
Also to get ready for the future war, Uborevich organized emergency preparedness plans to form partisan units behind enemy lines; and to bury supplies in strategic places. A lot of this activity came back to bite him during his trial, when he was accused of diversionary activities in favor of Nazi Germany. Recall that, at their trial, Uborevich, Tukhachevsky and the others were accused of practically drawing fiery arrows pointing the way for German bombers all the way from Minsk to Moscow. In reality, they were making laudatory efforts to plan ahead, as opposed to the lazy khalatnost of certain other officers, who just sat back and hoped that everything would be okay.
At that time, the General-Secretary of the Belorussian Communist Party was a man named Nikolai Fedorovich Gikalo. An ethnic Ukrainian (born 1897, in Odessa), Gikalo graduated from the Tbilisi Military Academy in 1915, fought in the Russian army in WWI; then the Civil War; rose in the Communist Party and occupied many important posts. During the time Samsonov mentions, Gikalo was running the Party in Belorussia (1932-1937). He was also a member of the NKVD and even belonged to an elite “troika” which conducted Stalin’s purges within the Party. These purges mainly related to getting rid of people who were not super-excited about the Collectivization or workers who didn’t want to snitch on other workers who were not super-excited about working double shifts to industrialize the nation.
A result of Gikalo’s purges was that Party membership in Belorussia dropped by half. With the other half being shot. On the positive side, industrialization and collectivization of agriculture within the Republic proceeded at full speed, under Gikalo’s leadership. And then suddenly, despite these astonishing successes …. oops! Gikalo was arrested on 11 October, 1937 and shot a few months later, on 25 April 1938. Now, there’s gratitude for you!
According to Samsonov, Gikalo worked closely with Uborevich in the selection of cadres for the future partisan war and intelligence gathering behind enemy lines. Their thought was that the most fanatical Communists and Komsomol members would be the perfect candidates for this sort of task. They correctly foresaw that the enemy might actually take territory (it wouldn’t all be just glorious victories), and that Communists should be prepared to operate stealthily behind enemy lines. These tough and hard-thinking men turned out to be completely correct in all of these prognostications. It was also helpful that the local Belorussian Communist cadres included quite a few people who spoke German and Lithuanian fluently, just due to the fact that they grew up in this area. They would make perfect spies behind enemy lines.
The Master Orders
Samsonov: If I am not mistaken, it was in December of 1936, returning from a visit to Moscow, that Ieronim Petrovich came to visit me and Appen in our flat. He was gloomy. Colonel Appen was curious what had happened, what kind of unpleasantness had brought down the Commander’s mood?
Uborevich removed his pince-nez, wiped it with a handkerchief, and replied: “The Master (Хозяин – khozyain) ordered me to take over as head of Aviation. [yalensis: by “Master”, I think he means Voroshilov, but I’m not sure. Samsonov is being coy here.] They are creating a new position as Deputy Narkom for Aviation. What makes them think I know anything about aviation? That’s not my cup of tea, and god knows I have enough to do in this Okrug…” He then went on to list all the tasks that must be done to prepare for the war on the Western Front.
“And you didn’t tell him all that?” Appen wondered.
“I did! But he wouldn’t listen.”
“Maybe somebody will put in a word for you,” Appen hoped. [They all hoped that Uborevich would get to stay with them in Belorussia, because he was so popular there.]
“I’m going to try to call Grisha [Ordzhonikidze], maybe he can convince Stalin…”
That ploy worked. A couple of days later, Uborevich was back, with good news: “Everything is okay. Grigory fixed everything, he convinced Stalin not to touch me. Whether you like it or not, I’m staying here, so you’re stuck with me!” [yalensis: For some reason, Uborevich refers to Sergo as Grigory or Grisha, maybe because Sergo’s real name was Grigol?]
Samsonov: Uborevich and Ordzhonikidze were true friends. Their friendship was born in battle, when Uborevich commanded the 14th army against Denikin, and Ordzhonikidze was a member of the Rev-voen-soviet of that army. Since those days they retained friendly ties, communicating with letters and congratulatory telegrams on holidays.
Sometimes, remembering past years, Ieronim Petrovich, with great love in his heart, would speak about Sergo as of a crystal-pure human being, who taught him courage and Bolshevik tenacity. When news arrived of Ordzhonikidze’s death, Ieronim Petrovich simply lost himself, for quite a long time. “What a great and pure person has left us!” he expressed bitterly. “My heart is overflowing with blood. A true and sincere friend, there was so much in him that was good and bright!”
On 27 May 1937 in the House of the Red Army in Smolensk, the routine Okrug Party Conference was opened. To its presidium, unanimously, was elected Ieronim Petrovich Uborevich, Party member since 1917 and Candidate Member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party USSR.
For two days he presided at the conference, and on the third day he was gone.
“He was summoned to Moscow,” was the explanation for his absence.
On June 12 an evil fate cruelly and ineptly destroyed the life of this sparkling Communist who loved his people. And thus he was not able to complete his plan of preparing all the troops of the Okrug for the inexorably approaching devastating war.
The result is known to everyone.
[yalensis: Yup. Samsonov actually goes there. In 1956, when this book was published, it was okay to say out loud that Stalin’s purges of thousands of army officers and soldiers, including the best among them, and on the very eve of war, just may have caused greater war losses, especially at the beginning of conflict, than were strictly necessary, if all the emergency plans had been in place. That’s all speculation, of course, and nobody can prove it one way or another, since there is no What-If machine that can run through different historical scenarios. It is interesting to note, however, that what could be said out loud in 1956 is almost like taboo again in modern times, under the anti-Communist government of Putin and Lavrov. It’s like the topic is still too painful for many people to endure, and so Stalin always gets a pass…. Because in the end he brought home the laurels. My personal view: While it’s true that Stalin redeemed himself by winning the war, Redemption is not quite the same thing as Vindication!]
Continuing our review of Samsonov’s recollections. The war games of 1936 were the fatal battleground, which foretold future battlegrounds, upon which many Soviet heroes fell. These games constituted the pinnacle of power and success for General Tukhachevsky and his closest colleagues. After that pinnacle, soon there came the fall. Ironically, it was the very success and brilliance of these games which doomed their creators. The Mediocracy fought back against the Meritocracy.
Unlike General Voroshilov, who spoke no languages other than Russian, elite officers such as Tukhachevsky and Uborevich were fluent in European languages; hence they were often picked as liasons to foreign military attaches. Pre-Hitler, they schmoozed with German officers and even trained at German institutions. Post-Hitler they were assigned to impress the “Democratic Allies” such as France and England. All of these foreign contacts were used against them later, at their trials and turned into something sinister, even though said contacts were completely legit and authorized at the time.
Behind it all, broodingly jealous, stood the shadow of Voroshilov. Who either imagined, or pretended, that these loyal Communist officers were busy plotting against himself, as well as Stalin and the entire Soviet state. One recalls, from other memoirists, how the arrogant Tukhachevsky dared to disrespect Voroshilov in front of other officers; called him an old fool to his face. But it was Voroshilov, like a character from a Chekhov play, who had the last laugh. When, with the assistance of state security organs, he destroyed, not only his rivals, but their entire families as well, and also their reputations.
Uborevich Criticizes The Army
As inevitable war loomed, Tukhachevsky, Uborevich, and the other “Reformers” became alarmed at what they saw as glaring weaknesses in the Red Army. In May 1936 Uborevich wrote an open letter to the Division and Regimental Commanders; this letter was published in the 5 May edition of the newspaper Red Army Pravda. Uborevich wrote:
Riding around and inspecting the various units; and conversing with the command and leadership component (including academics), I discovered that the command and leadership component is not working hard enough to raise the level of their military theoretical education…. is not devoting enough time to the study of the history of the wars and armies (their tactics, technology and weaponry) of our probable opponents….
Uborevich went on to recommend a deeper study of history and tactics, with an emphasis on military literature. He noted the illiteracy of certain commanders, who were incapable of writing books or even monographs on specialty topics.
Samsonov: “We were very proud that the commander of our Okrug was not only a brilliant practician, but also a notable military theoretician.” Uborevich was asked to sit on the planning committee and contribute an article to the new Field Charter which was being worked out in 1936. Samsonov and the other officers were inspired when they read such direct straight-talking language as this strategic concept of total war penned by Uborevich: “The military actions of the Red Army are directed to the annihilation [of the foe]. The achievement of a real victory, and the complete destruction of of the enemy, is the major goal in any war imposed upon the Soviet Union.”
In other words, no more Mr. Nice Guy. They believed at the time that they would be attacked by a German-Polish alliance, and that the appropriate response would be to annihilate the enemy armies, up to full and total defeat. Uborevich also focused on his familiar technocratic themes of appropriate use of the latest technology, tanks, airplanes, artillery, and how to employ these tools in coordinated offensive and defensive operations. Later, in the course of the war, such principles were resurrected and employed by the greatest of the Soviet commanders, such as Marshal Zhukov. But so much precious time was wasted in the years between the purges and the Nazi invasion, and a lot of this initiative was delayed. Criticizing the unpreparedness of the Red Army is still a very sore point to many; to this day, almost a taboo topic in Russian history. Understandable, given the unbelievable extent of the losses, and the fact that almost every Russian family lost loved ones in the ensuing war. Even academic historians have to tread very gently when it comes to discussing these matters.
Let The Games Begin
Commander Uborevich treated the 1936 War Games not just as his annual “final exam” for his army, but as a very special test. The maneuvers started in September and encompassed the entire Belorussian Military Okrug. Everybody was waiting expectantly for the arrival of the Peoples Commissar from Moscow, namely General Voroshilov. [We shall see in a later post, reviewing a film by a historian, how Voroshilov’s appointment ticked off Tukhachevsky, who thought he was the one who should have gotten this promotion to Narkom.] Along with Voroshilov and his retinue, representatives of the Central Committee of the Party also flowed in, and also military officials from other Okrugs, not to mention many other important guests.
Foreign guests arrived as well: From England, Field-Marshal Archibald Wavell and Colonel Martens. From France, Generals Victor-Henri Schweisguth, and Joseph Wiemen [yalensis: not sure about spelling of last name, maybe Viemen?] Czechoslovakia was represented by General Vojtěch Boris Luža, Colonel Golubek, and Major-Colonel Ptak. Everybody, without exception, wore a moustache. The reason for inviting the foreign emissaries from the “Democratic” West, was to hopefully impress them with Soviet military power and entice them into a defensive alliance against Hitler. As we all know, those plans fell apart, but that debacle lies in the future.
The technical purpose of this particular war game was to simulate a counter-offensive and defeat of the opponent. Starring role was played by Soviet aviation, with some cool air tricks and dogfights in the sky. The maneuvers continued non-stop for three and a half days, and were rated as hugely successful. Even the fussy Voroshilov expressed his satisfaction [although we know from one of the other memoirists that he had bitched to Uborevich about the latter’s “pedanticism” and a slight delay in one of of the strafing runs].
Uborevich himself was quite pleased with the result and praised everybody. The foreign visitors were impressed as well. General Wavell, who spoke Russian, came up to Uborevich and said in Russian: “On behalf of the British delegation, I heartily thank you for your kind welcome, and for the hospitality displayed to us. This is the first time the English military delegation has visited your war games in the Soviet Union. We are very glad that fortune has granted us this possibility to examine and evaluate your brilliant Red Army. We are very impressed with your huge accomplishments, both spiritual and technical in nature. We are especially delighted with the military fervor and tenacity of your soldiers and commanders.”
The following day Wavell piled on even more praise: “If I had not seen this with my own eyes, I never would have believed it was possible to pull off such an operation.” In a private conversation, he asked Uborevich: “How do you succeed in getting Red Army men to jump out of airplanes with such enthusiasm? We can’t do things like that, they won’t allocate the funds.”
“What kind of money are you talking about?” Uborevich was curious to know.
“You know. The money to pay for insurance. Without an insurance underwriter for a policy of at least 1,000 pounds, not one of our soldiers will agree to jump out of a plane with a parachute. Can you even conceive how much money that would cost?”
“Oh, that’s what you mean! Well, things are different with us. Our soldier does not require any special insurance policy. For starters, he knows for whom he is jumping. Secondly, he believes in the reliability of his parachute. And thirdly, he knows that the Soviet government — is his government, and that, in the event of an accident, it will not leave him nor his family bereft.”
“It is amazing what an army you have built,” Wavell concurred, “and amazing to think how much the Russian soldier has changed.”
“For sure, our Red Army man is nothing like the Russian soldier as you remember him. Just like our country is nothing like Tsarist Russia. You, no doubt, have noticed on our planes, tanks and cannons, the label Made in Russia?”
Wavell’s [bushy] eyebrows shot up. “No, I never noticed that.”
Uborevich chuckled. “I was joking. We don’t put those labels on. But all the same, it is true that everything you see here, is our own, Soviet product. Made by the hands of Soviet workers, in Soviet factories…”
“What colossal progress!” Wavell interrupted him. “And all of this in just 19 years!”
“Your math is not correct, Sir, in reality only 15 years, and not even that. In 1919, when I was commanding the Northern Front Division, I possessed in my arsenal cannons bearing the label of the English firm Vickers.”
“True. In the last war England was helping our ally, Russia. The goal was to put the Germans on their knees. That was our duty. But I see that our weaponry also helped you out in your Civil War.”
“You are not quite right about that either,” Uborevich continued to troll Wavell. “The label on the cannons truly was from Vickers, but the manner in which we obtained these guns was somewhat different: The Division which I commanded in the North captured them from English units, led by your famous General Ironside.”
Wavell’s eyes flashed in anger, and he immediately took to gulping down the ice cream that had been offered to him.
[yalensis: And thus did Uborevich, via his arrogance and inability to stop joking around, lose an important potential client, not to mention strategic ally; not to mention the possibility of closing on a lucrative parachutist insurance policy. On the other hand, the Soviet ice cream was really tasty!]
[to be continued]