Think tanks in the United States are a go–to resource for media outlets seeking expert opinions on pressing public policy issues. But think tanks often have entrenched stances; a growing body of research has shown that their funders can influence their analysis and commentary. This influence can include censorship — both self-censorship and more direct censoring of work unfavorable to a funder — and outright pay–for–research agreements with funders. The result is an environment where the interests of the most generous funders can dominate think tank policy debates.
One such debate concerns the appropriate level of U.S. military involvement in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Since Vladimir Putin’s illegal and disastrous decision to launch a full–scale invasion of Ukraine, the United States has approved approximately $48.7 billion in military spending.1 Despite the very real risk that escalations could lead to direct U.S. military involvement in the war, few think tanks have critically scrutinized this record setting amount of U.S. military assistance.
Within the context of public debate about U.S. military involvement in the Ukraine war, this brief investigates Department of Defense (DoD) and DoD contractor funding of think tanks, those organizations advocacy efforts for policies that would benefit those funders, and the media’s predominant reliance on think tanks funded by the defense sector. The analysis finds that the vast majority of media mentions of think tanks in articles about U.S. arms and the Ukraine war are from think tanks whose funders profit from U.S. military spending, arms sales and, in many cases, directly from U.S. involvement in the Ukraine war. These think tanks also regularly offer support for public policy solutions that would financially benefit their funders without disclosing these apparent conflicts of interest. While this brief did not seek to establish a direct causality between think–tank policy recommendations and their arms industry funding in the case of the Ukraine war, we find a clear correlation between the two. We also found that media outlets disproportionately rely on commentary from defense sector funded think tanks.
A congressional Squad star seems to have no idea how or why the Ukraine proxy war started. But he he says he’s voting for military aid to Kiev anyway.
On Monday, the New York Democratic congressman and star member of the progressive Squad Jamal Bowman told The Grayzone that he continues to support the U.S. providing aid for the Ukraine war because Russian President Vladimir Putin is “a madman.” Just moments before, however, Bowman admitted that he did not know what Crimea or the Donbas region were.
Readers of The Grayzone are likely familiar with the history of these regions as flash-points of the Ukrainian conflict. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 in response to the US-backed ousting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his replacement with a nationalist government. For the next 8 years, meanwhile, the eastern Donbas region became mired in a civil war, as its ethnically Russian majority resisted the government in Kiev.
When told in a followup discussion that events within the history of these regions were pivotal to understanding the Ukrainian conflict and the stated motives behind Russia’s invasion, Bowman expressed doubt. “That’s what you’re saying. I gotta dig in to see,” he said.
A day after Ukraine’s much-heralded counter-offensive appears to have failed, almost before it had even begun, a major dam in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson is suddenly bombed, prompting mass evacuations as floods spread across the region.
As we detailed earlier, both sides accuse each other of the attack that puts tens of thousands of homes at risk and might even threaten the safety of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
However, as Raul Ilargi Meijer writes, twice last year (here and here), Ukrainian officials discussed Kiev’s plans to blow up the dam.
Andrew Korybko lays out the real narrative here:
The partial destruction of the Kakhovka Dam on early Tuesday morning saw Kiev and Moscow exchange accusations about who’s to blame, but a report from the Washington Post (WaPo) in late December extends credence to the Kremlin’s version of events.
Titled “Inside the Ukrainian counteroffensive that shocked Putin and reshaped the war”, its journalists quoted former commander of November’s Kherson Counteroffensive Major General Andrey Kovalchuk who shockingly admitted to planning this war crime:
“Kovalchuk considered flooding the river. The Ukrainians, he said, even conducted a test strike with a HIMARS launcher on one of the floodgates at the Nova Kakhovka dam, making three holes in the metal to see if the Dnieper’s water could be raised enough to stymie Russian crossings but not flood nearby villages. The test was a success, Kovalchuk said, but the step remained a last resort. He held off.”
The debt ceiling agreement reached between the White House and House Republicans places no constraints on spending on the war in Ukraine, a White House official told Bloomberg.
The $113 billion that has been authorized to spend on the war in Ukraine so far was passed as supplemental emergency funds, which is exempt from the spending caps that are part of the debt ceiling deal.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, funding “designated as an emergency requirement or for overseas contingency operations would not be constrained, and certain other funding would not be subject to the caps.” The deal suspends the nation’s debt limit through January 1, 2025.
Hawks in Congress are looking to use emergency spending to increase the $886 billion military budget that was agreed to as part of the deal. The emergency funds could go beyond Ukraine and might be used to send weapons to Taiwan or for other spending that hawks favor as part of their strategy against China.
Several members of the Democrat Party in Congress are urging the White House to provide Kiev with significantly more military support. One representative wants the Joe Biden administration to place “non-combatant observers” on the ground in Ukraine.
Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) called for long-term investment in modernizing Ukraine’s military. He believes the upgraded weapons will turn the country into a “porcupine that can’t be swallowed.”
One suggestion Crow made was sending non-combatant observers to the battlefield to learn “through direct observation and communication with Ukrainian forces.” Crow did not specify if the personnel would come from the CIA, Pentagon or another agency. However, deploying any Americans on the battlefield risks them being killed by Russian soldiers.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CN), are backing a plan that would send ATACM missiles to Ukraine. The rockets have a range of nearly 200 miles.
The White House has rejected several requests from Kiev to send long-range munitions to Ukraine. The Department of Defense went as far as modifying the HIMAR launchers it donated to Kiev to prevent the system from being able to fire the ATACM missiles. Recently, the Biden administration suggested it may be budging on the issue as Washington backed London sending long-range air-launched missiles to Kiev.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, called for the White House to authorize sending cluster bombs to Ukraine. Groups of Republican Representatives have sent letters to Biden demanding he fulfills Kiev’s request to send the controversial weapons.
Both Russia and Ukraine are reported to have used cluster bombs in Ukraine. Typically intended for use against personnel and light vehicles, cluster bombs carry smaller explosive submunitions which are released in flight and scattered across a target area. However, the bomblets often fail to detonate and remain on the ground as ‘duds,’ causing countless civilian deaths in former warzones, sometimes even decades into the future.
A harness-wearing Beluga whale discovered in Norway’s far northern region of Finnmark in 2019 has reappeared off Sweden’s coast. It’s believed the Russian military trained the whale.
Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist with the OneWhale organization, a group that tracks the beluga whale named “Hvaldimir,” said he was recently spotted in Hunnebostrand, off Sweden’s southwestern coast.
“We don’t know why he has sped up so fast right now,” especially since he is moving “very quickly away from his natural environment,” Strand told AFP News.
As Ukraine edges closer to the bizarrely promised and promoted “Spring Offensive“, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has issued a terrifying proposition to any nation that joins Russia and Belarus. Like an Oprah Christmas Special: Nukes for everyone.
According to NBC News, Lukashenko told Russian state TV:
“It’s very simple. You have to join the union between Belarus and Russia, and that’s it: There will be nuclear weapons for everyone.”
“I think it’s possible,” Lukashenko added, saying that he was expressing his own view. “We need to strategically understand that we have a unique chance to unite.”
Lukashenko, who is one of Putin’s staunchest supporters, made the comment in response to earlier remarks by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the president of Kazakhstan, during a summit in Moscow on Wednesday.
In late March, Lukashenko addressed Belarusian lawmakers and government officials that Russian nukes deployed to Belarus would protect them from the West, who he claimed are “preparing to invade Belarus, to destroy our country.”
American YouTuber and columnist Gonzalo Lira was arrested in Ukraine at the start of May because he “publicly justified” the Russian invasion, according to a press release by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). The statement says that Lira “has the citizenship of one of the countries of Latin America” but omits that he is also California-born U.S. citizen.
Lira is a resident of Kharkiv, Ukraine and was an outspoken critic of the nation’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. Lira has written financial columns, published in Business Insider and even here at ZeroHedge. His Twitter account is still up, and a brief look reveals that — whether you agree with him or not on all stances — his opinions are largely in line with much of the American right. The SBU claimed to have confiscated “mobile phones and a computer with evidence of illegal activity” from Lira’s apartment but no such evidence was made public.
Lira has been charged under sections 2 and 3 of Article 436-2 of Ukraine’s criminal code, which was augmented at the start of the invasion to criminalize the “distribution of materials” that justify Russia’s actions in Ukraine going back to 2014. The law specifically outlaws portraying any military dispute “financed by [the] Russian Federation” in Ukraine as an “internal civil conflict,” a law The New York Times and Wired Magazine are in violation of.
The Ukrainian government has frequently claimed that the violent conflicts in the Donbas region — which killed over 10,000 people between 2014 and 2020 — were financed and armed by the Russians. However, a former NATO official in charge of investigating arms shipments into the Donbas from 2014 to 2018 found that “there were no deliveries of weapons and military equipment from Russia” and instead that most arms were smuggled by defecting Ukrainian soldiers. This official could have been imprisoned under Article 436-2 as well.
Lira faces up to 13 years in prison if he is convicted of both charges.
Of course, American journalists are not as indignant over Lira’s arrest as they are over that of Evan Gershkovich, the WSJ reporter being detained in Russia. Federal Reserve minion Nick Timairos did not change his Twitter profile to signal “solidarity” with Lira.
It wasn’t that long ago that Mitt Romney was threatening former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for suggesting the US was funding biolabs in Ukraine.
Back in March 2022, RINO Senator Mitt Romney accused former Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of spreading ‘treasonous lies’ for simply talking about the US-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
“There are 25+ US-funded biolabs in Ukraine which if breached would release and spread deadly pathogens to US/world.” Gabbard said at the time.
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“We must take action now to prevent disaster. US/Russia/Ukraine/NATO/UN/EU must implement a ceasefire now around these labs until they’re secured and pathogens destroyed,” she added.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s recent comments during his Friday meeting with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in the war-torn country caused outrage and fury in Moscow, with the head of RT Margarita Simonyan calling for his assassination.
In a video clip of the meeting, Graham’s comments were spliced in a way that made it seem that the Senator stated that the fact that Russians “are dying” in the invasion is “the best money we’ve ever spent.” In fact, Graham said that the U.S. aid to Ukraine—and not specifically the deaths of the Russians—was a valuable investment in global security for the United States.
“Senator [Lindsey] Graham has something to compare with. One of their [US] investments led to World War II and the Holocaust,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed in a statement on Telegram. State TV host Vladimir Solovyov followed Zakharova’s lead on his program, Sunday Evening With Vladimir Solovyov, as he angrily exclaimed: “Your dirty American money also fully supported the Nazi regime in Germany! You are a Nazi beast and you’re following in the footsteps of your predecessors. I’ll repeat it once again: you will croak, but the Russian people will live forever!”
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