SCOTT RITTER: Biden’s 3am Moment in Ukraine

In June, Biden was confronted with the ultimate “3 a.m. phone call” moment. He could have made a call which would have helped reduce the threat of a nuclear crisis or worse.

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

During the 2008 Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton ran an ad which sought to diminish her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama, in the eyes of the voters.

Building upon Obama’s lack of experience in national security affairs, and what the potential cost would be should Obama falter at a critical moment, Clinton’s ad sought to make the question personal, setting a scene that could be any home in suburban America at night.

“It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep, but there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Somethings happening in the world.” The listener was then challenged to decide who was best to answer the call, concluding that the best choice would be someone already “tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world.”

It’s 3 a.m., the narrator asks, “Who do you want answering the phone?”

The voters chose Obama over Clinton.

But this did not stop the Clinton camp from reviving the “3 a.m., it’s a dangerous world” theme in an ad that ran eight years later, when Hillary faced off against Donald Trump for the presidency.

“The world is a dangerous place,” a narrator says, as the viewers are treated to an image of the White House at 3 a.m. “At any hour, our president could be called on to act calmly, decisively, intelligently.”

An actor playing Donald Trump sits nearby, engrossed in his twitter feed.

“Will someone get the damn phone?” the Trump character shouts out. “How annoying. Who is calling me at 3 a.m. anyway? Total loser.”

Clinton lost that race too.

Whatever one thinks of Trump, the idea that he was unable or unwilling to make the “3 a.m. call” is contradicted by the facts — especially when it comes to Russia.

In December 2017, Trump provided U.S. intelligence to Russia that helped Russian security forces prevent a terrorist bomb attack on an Orthodox Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. Russian President Vladimir Putin called Trump to personally thank him for the information, which allowed Russia to foil an attack which, according to U.S. officials, “could have killed large numbers of people.”

Trump’s decision to provide intelligence to Russia followed an earlier terrorist attack in Saint Petersburg in April 2017 which killed 11 people and wounded 45 others. Trump spoke with Putin after that attack, expressing his deepest condolences while offering the “full support” of the U.S. .

The December 2017 “3 a.m.” moment showed Trump followed through.

Two years later, in December 2019, Trump again greenlighted the provision of U.S. intelligence to Russia which enabled Russian authorities to stop another planned terrorist attack on Saint Petersburg timed to disrupt New Years celebrations. Putin again called Trump to thank him for the information, which reportedly saved many lives.

All of this seemed to be forgotten when, in September 2020, on the eve of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, 489 former national security officials signed an “Open Letter to the American People”, lambasting Trump as someone who was “not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office,” declaring that “he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small.”

In contrast, these officials touted Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic challenger, as “the leader our nation needs”, emphasizing what they described as his “sound judgment, thorough understanding, and fundamental values.”

According to these former national security officials, Biden was better prepared than Donald Trump to meet the “3 a.m. phone call” challenge. Recent events in Russia, however, seem to suggest otherwise.

Trump meets with Lavrov in the Oval Office, May 10, 2017. (TASS/Wiklipedia)

Did Prigozhin Act Alone?

As the dust settles on last week’s failed armed insurrection carried out by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner private military company, one of the key questions that has emerged revolves around the issue of whether Prigozhin was acting on his own volition, or as part of a broader scheme supported by outside agencies, including the intelligence services of nations hostile to Russia.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has noted that Russian security services “are already looking into it.”

The one issue that Russia doesn’t need to investigate is the question of whether the U.S. intelligence community had advance notice of Prigozhn’s abortive coup.

According to U.S. media reports, U.S. intelligence officials briefed Biden, senior Biden administration national security officials, and the so-called “Gang of Eight” (the top congressional leaders in both the House and the Senate involved in national security issues) days in advance of Prigozhin’s precipitous actions.

U.S. intelligence provided U.S. policy makers with an “extremely detailed and accurate picture of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plans leading up to his short-lived rebellion, including where and how Wagner was planning to advance”, according to CNN.

The expectation of the U.S. intelligence community was that Prigozhin’s march on Moscow would be met with resistance from the Russian government which would result in very “bloody” fighting.

Based upon these assessments, Biden ordered his national security team to develop responses to various scenarios that could play out from the Prigozhin coup. What these scenarios involved remain closely held.

But a tweet by Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, provides some insight into the thinking of those who followed the events surrounding Prigozhin’s rebellion.

“Either Prigozhin will be destroyed within 24 hours by a missile strike ordered by Putin,” Gerashenko tweeted, “or he will take over the Kremlin and declare himself as Russian military dictator. What comes next will be civil war and Russia’s disintegration.”

Gerashchenko then expressed concern about “what will happen to the thousands of nuclear warheads, on missiles and planes, if Prigozhin controls them.”

The potential loss of control of Russian nuclear weapons was a scenario broached by anti-Russian twitter accounts, including one that speculated that Prigozhin’s Wagner fighters had advanced in the direction of the village of Borisoglebsk “with the purpose to enter the territory of the military camp ‘Voronezh-45’, where the military unit 14254 (12th Main Directorate of the Russian Defense Ministry (GUMO)) is located.”

This unit is responsible for the security of tactical nuclear weapons.

(According to more knowledgeable sources, the Voronezh-45 facility, which supported a nearby Russian air force base used for training, was likely empty of nuclear weapons.

In any event, given the fact that Russian nuclear weapons are disassembled while in storage, and that the various components and codes needed to make any weapons stored at the facility usable would have been unavailable to the Wagner fighters, mitigates against the idea of Wagner becoming a nuclear power simply by occupying the facility.)

Regardless of the reality surrounding any purported Wagner move on Voronezh-45, senior U.S. officials were concerned about Russia’s nuclear arsenal in relation to Prigozhin’s actions.

‘We Had Nothing to Do With It’

Joe Biden. (White House, Adam Schultz)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the press a day after the Prigozhin mutiny:

“We always prepare for every contingency in terms of what happens in Russia. It’s an internal matter for the Russians to figure out. Of course, when we’re dealing with a major power, and especially a major power that has nuclear weapons, that’s something that’s of concern, something we’re very focused on. We haven’t seen any change in Russia’s nuclear posture. There hasn’t been any change in ours, but it’s something we’re going to watch very, very carefully.”

Biden, a day after Blinken spoke, gave his own public statement, declaring that he had been in constant contact with U.S. allies to coordinate their response regarding the Prigozhin insurrection. Biden’s priority, it seemed, was to make sure no one pointed any fingers at the U.S.

 “{W]e had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse,” Biden said, “to blame this on the West, to blame this on NATO. We made clear that we were not involved, that we had nothing to do with it. This was part of a struggle within the Russian system.”

The man Biden tapped to send the signal to Russia and its leader was C.I.A. Director William Burns, who called Sergei Naryshkin, the director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, to make clear that the U.S. was not involved in the Prigozhin affair.

But Burns’ claims ring false. The U.S. intelligence community, by its own admission, had extremely detailed intelligence about what Prigozhin planned to do, including the scope and scale of the involvement of the Wagner mercenaries he commanded, where they intended to go, what they intended to do, and when they intended to do it.

The U.S. intelligence community expected the results of this action to be “bloody.”

According to Blinken, the U.S. was concerned about Russia’s nuclear weapons.

And apparently there was a Russian nuclear weapons storage facility in the line of march of the Wagner fighters heading to Moscow.

Moreover, the Russians had to be wondering why Burns was informing them of this after the fact.

In 2017 and 2019, Trump had U.S. intelligence pass on to Russia information about possible terrorist attacks, which ended up saving scores, if not hundreds, of Russian lives.

In June of 2023, Biden had intelligence about a pending violent insurrection which could have put Russia’s nuclear weapons, and the world, at risk. Biden opted not to share this information with Russia.

America’s silence speaks volumes.

As Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian President who currently serves as the deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia (Putin is chairman) noted,

“The development of events shows that the actions of those who organized the military rebellion [of Prigozhin and Wagner] fully fit into the scheme of a staged coup d’état. The world will be brought to the brink of destruction, if the nuclear weapons are in the hands of bandits, the crisis will not be limited to one country.”

In June, Biden was confronted with the ultimate “3 a.m. phone call” moment. He could have made a phone call which could have helped reduce the threat of a nuclear crisis or worse, a nuclear war.

He didn’t make the call.

While Russia and the world dodged a bullet regarding the Prigozhin revolt, the fact that a U.S. president remained mute at a time when his voice should have been seeking to forestall a potential global calamity should be of great concern not only to every American citizen, but every person in the world.

Biden failed his “3 a.m. phone call” test.

Fortunately, the world survived. But what happens next time?

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

91 comments for “SCOTT RITTER: Biden’s 3am Moment in Ukraine

  1. Robert Emmett
    July 5, 2023 at 13:15

    Maybe you ought to get Ritter & others of comparable gravitas (Mark Sleboda?) on CN Live to talk about whisperings of a false flag attack being planned on the Zaporozhye nuclear plant as a pretext to get U.S./NATO directly involved in the so-called proxy war (which looks more like a half-proxy to me since Russian troops already are on the ground).

    Now that Kiev has rocket systems from U.S. & UK that can penetrate deep into a structure and blow it up from within, as I’ve read happened with the Kakhovka Hydro plant, doesn’t that increase the possibility of such a gambit? Would direct involvement by NATO troops as a result be somehow legally defensible?

    Pressure reportedly is building ahead of the NATO summit next week. Something is desperately needed to shift the narrative. (See Finian Cunningham’s article at Strategic Culture)

    Ritter’s take on the Pregozhi thing & the spring/summer Ukr “offensive” heard at Useful Idiots will keep your attention.

  2. July 5, 2023 at 10:54

    Thank god for consortiumnews!
    Today on counterpunch you can read their continuous mantra that the “current Russian government” has “started and continues the hostilities.” No context, no history. The U.S. has no role. The author Boris Kagarlitsky offers us a sanctimonious and slanted hit piece the likes of which has become the mainstay of counterpunch. In fact it’s a promoted front page article today. Yet somehow counterpunch claims to be a pillar of the left?
    Such faux-left sponges are so successful at syphoning off the energies of the population who would otherwise gravitate towards a legitimate left. If counterpunch is not directly influenced by The State at this point, to feed this propaganda to the left, it might as well be. In my opinion nobody has done more damage to the left than Jeffrey St. Claire. If he were a direct CIA asset I honestly would not be surprised at this point. Either way, he’s a very effective and shameless propagandist.

  3. Sash
    July 4, 2023 at 23:13

    R.I.P. to the thousands of Ukrainians needlessly killed by this war, a solution in search of a problem. And the millions driven into internal and external exile by cruise missiles, bombs, torture and illegal deportation.

    • DebsWas Right
      July 5, 2023 at 13:23

      When you feel for only the people on one side of a war, you are not for peace.

    • gcw919
      July 5, 2023 at 18:11

      After 5000 years of ‘civilization,’ we’ve seemingly learned nothing about how to live together on this planet. Evolution apparently made a bad choice with humans, and we appear helpless to change. Instead, we get generation after generation of bloodthirsty lunatics, concerned only with their own pathetic self-aggrandizement.

  4. Em
    July 4, 2023 at 16:09

    ‘Short but sour’

    The consequences of Orwell’s thesis, on 1984, about the deceit of entrenched power, are beginning to strike a more harmonious chord within the more critically conscious minds of a larger body politic.

    Some, within the body’s polity, are at last, coming to its senses, that we are all now infected by the deadliest global pandemics threatening our lives, than heretofore; WWW III

    Scott Ritter is one of only a handful of first-hand experienced, militarily intelligent analysts, worth her/his weight promoting, and actively attempting to perpetuate life instead of war; over the catastrophic possibility of total human extinction.
    And not enough of us Americans, as yet, are INDEPENDENT of mind to forcefully speak out, as does Scott Ritter.

    Our own self-deception and double-dealing are now our worst enemies.

    • Bushrod Lake
      July 5, 2023 at 10:17

      The President doesn’t run the show in Ukraine, the “national defense” intelligent services are the responsible agents. I’m surprised Biden was included at an early date.

  5. Brad Smith
    July 4, 2023 at 15:04

    I’m far from convinced that the US had intelligence, especially not any intelligence that Russia didn’t. In fact I find it incredibly unlikely that this could possibly be true. Russia would find it ridiculously easy to plant people inside of Wagner and they for sure had every reason to do so, especially after Prig started running his mouth. If the US knew about this in advance (which I doubt) then Russia for sure had advanced knowledge because it would be a thousand times easier for them to get it.

    Why would the US lie about advanced knowledge? Because it’s free and it makes US intelligence look omnipotent and Russian intelligence incompetent by comparison. There was nothing to lose and lot’s to gain by making this claim. But where is the proof that the US knew about it? In fact doesn’t their lack of action point to the likelihood that they didn’t know?

    Scott makes a good point, IF this is how it went down, then Biden failed. I just don’t buy it that the US knew more about what Wagner was up to than Russia. Either the US is lying about advanced knowledge or Russia is, but I just can’t make the leap required to believe that US intelligence is so far above that of Russia, not when it would have so easy and so necessary for Russia.

    • Mark J Oetting
      July 5, 2023 at 07:24

      The more likely scenario is the US intelligence information came from Ukraine sources which we all know isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. US intelligence information has degraded tremendously since the fall of the Soviet Union as Scott Ritter and others have aptly pointed out. I am sure you are correct in regards to what Russian intelligence sources knew about Pergozin and Wagner .

  6. Altruist
    July 4, 2023 at 13:59

    Considering that we have a proxy war between the USA and Russia which is more than a cold war, although not yet a hot war, it’s naive to expect Biden to call Putin at 3 AM to warn him about an impending coup.

    Interestingly, calling Putin to ensure their solidarity after Prigozhin’s insurrection were those whom Putin had warned or helped in connection with attempted coups against themselves – namely Erdogan and Lukashenko. Returning the favor.

    Going off on a tangent, I’m wondering why the Wagner Group was named after the famous composer.

    Which of Wagner’s operas is relevant here?

    Rienzi, whose hero is the impetuous tribune of the Roman people, Cola di Rienzo, took over Rome for a while and tried to unify Italy 500 years before Garibaldi?

    Or Götterdämmerung – the Twilight of the Gods?

    Or, more darkly, because of the infamous fan of Wagner – he who shall not be named at the risk of violating Godwin’s Law? This would fit with the Wagner Group’s violence.

    The most relevant Wagner opera for the modern world as a whole, and the USA in particular, is Parsifal – where the existing leadership has become old, feeble, impotent and unable and where the society is then redeemed and rejuvenated through a pure, moral and compassionate new leader. Here and now, instead of a Parsifal in armor, one could envision – say – Tulsi Gabbard in her National Guard uniform. Durch Mitleid wissend, der reiner Tor, harre sein, den ich erkor…

    • DebsWas Right
      July 4, 2023 at 20:30

      Was it named after the composer? According to Wikipedia, “Wagner” was a co-founder Dmitriy Valeryevich Utkin callsign during the Chechen wars. Perhaps he was short and people thought his mercenaries reminded them of the Nibelung.

      • Altruist
        July 5, 2023 at 15:11

        Interesting observation, thanks. I hadn’t known the origins of the name of the Wagner Group. Just read the Wikipedia entry. Uktin was the only senior Wagner officer who followed Prigozhin in his insurrection attempt.

        I had assumed the group was named after the composer, considering that the mercenaries are referred to as “the musicians” or “Wagnerites”. Which inspired my riff on the Wagner operas.

        In any event, it looks like Prigozhin – a cook who got a few notches ahead of his pay grade – has had his wings clipped and is now in exile under the watchful eye of Lukashenko.

        Mr. Lukashenko is someone not to be underestimated – he’s very ambitious – when the Union State between Russia and Belarus was founded around 20 years ago it was planned to be an actual unified state, not just a loose association, and Mr. Lukashenko was angling to become its president. Which meant that Belarus would be controlling Russia, not the opposite. This could happen in the future.

  7. L. C. Ng
    July 4, 2023 at 12:18

    Regarding the mutiny, Hillary, as president, would’ve told Putin, “I heard – I was told; you die!” Then cackles.

  8. torture this
    July 4, 2023 at 11:59

    Biden’s circle of jerks always underestimates risk. And, they wouldn’t even think about the risk if they had been part of the plan because they always think they can control the next guy. “Hey Vlad! Just a heads up. Uh, we’re gonna use Wagner to coup you! Say hi to the wife & kids. Gotta go, bye.”

  9. Johnny Deane
    July 4, 2023 at 11:45

    There was a third one as well … ‘never fight a land war in Asia’.

  10. Johnny Deane
    July 4, 2023 at 11:40

    1) Does anyone really believe that Joe Biden is ‘the decider’?
    2) Does anyone really believe that the CIA knew so little about this that a ‘3 am phone call’ to wake up the sleeping old man would be necessary? The only way this could be possible if this later CIA caper was turning out like “The Bay of Pigs” and the President was needed to make the decision to send in the bombers.
    3) But that still goes back to the first question … do you really believe that anyone in power in Washington gives a dang about what Joe Biden thinks? The people who make the decisions are at the level of SOS Blinken and The Six Trillion Dollar Man, General Austin. Well, they may call some oligarchs if they need guidance. But they would definitely let the old man sleep. Biden can play with his jelly beans tomorrow while he’s practicing reading his teleprompter without falling over.

    Remember the words that any American worker has heard on the job ….”What do you think this is, a democracy?”

  11. Rob
    July 4, 2023 at 11:35

    Scott’s point about US intelligence agencies likely having advance knowledge of Prighozin’s insurrection is well taken. At the same time, I feel quite confident that Russia’s own intelligence services were in possession of the same knowledge and had pre-positioned forces to deal with the situation. They were proactive, not reactive.

    But why would Biden not warn Putin about the planned insurrection? I think there are at least two explanations. Firstly, for the US to provide such detailed information would strongly suggest that western governments were involved in crafting the plan. Secondly, Biden and his team of neocon fanatics are so obsessed with defeating Russia militarily and deposing Putin that all other considerations, such as preventing nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands, disappear in their fevered minds. One might even worry that America’s nuclear weapons are in the wrong hands.

  12. Susan Leslie
    July 4, 2023 at 10:58

    Mr. Asleep At the Wheel, Biden, has also opened the door to a foolhardy ‘geoengineering’ plan – the idea would block sunlight from the earth’s surface to fight global warming (Climate Change!). Scientists have warned the practice could have devastating effects! I guess these assholes in DC really don’t give a shit about us or any other living creature. We all need sunlight you f-ing morons!!!

  13. Robert Emmett
    July 4, 2023 at 10:22

    Aside from political folderol & whatever else, Bido & Co are feckin’ feckless, as in totally without feck.

  14. Richard Coleman
    July 4, 2023 at 09:02

    We dodged a bullet in ’16.

    Trump became President, but LOST the election. By almost 3,000,000 votes. (An election is where people vote, the votes are counted and whoever gets the most votes wins. Hillary won.) Let’s be clear about this: the American people elected Hillary Clinton president.

    Hillary was promising as President to declare a No-Fly Zone over Syria. It would have applied to only to Russia and the Syrian Air Force. (That’s right, she would have denied Syria – a sovereign country with which we were NOT at war – the use of it’s own airspace!)

    Do I need to detail step-by-step the events resulting from this?? Well, if she had done this, most of us probably wouldn’t be here now.

    A bullet indeed. A BIIIIIIIIIG bullet !!!

    • Curmudgeon
      July 5, 2023 at 10:45

      Obviously, you do not understand the wisdom of those who wrote the U.S. Constitution. The Electoral College is designed to eliminate mob rule, and along with the Senators being appointed by the states, assure that federal government was a limited government of governments. Urban areas always vote differently than rural areas, irrespective of the country. Urban areas are less in touch with reality. The cities voted for Clinton, the counties did not.

  15. Mark Thomason
    July 4, 2023 at 02:41

    “We made clear that we were not involved, that we had nothing to do with it.”

    That is a fail.

    The Russians don’t believe him.

    The only people who do believe him also believe a sailboat with a couple of divers on board blew up the Nordstream Pipeline.

    • July 4, 2023 at 08:06

      Whenever the US insists over and over that it was not involved, you know that means they helped plan it.

  16. shmutzoid
    July 3, 2023 at 21:48

    Hmm. I wonder how it’ll all play out when, whether it’s some weeks or months from now, some courageous whistleblower leaks info proving the US not only knew in advance of Prigozhin’s hissy-fit-coup-plans ,but, also gave him some logistical support. ……….. The National Security State, in concert with mainstream corporate media will probably push the story line——-> “Biden’s bold decision to short-circuit Putin’s “UNPROVOKED” war in Ukraine by helping Prigozhin blah-blah-blah…”

    There will be no holding Biden or any US imperial managers to account for lying to the world about NO US involvement.

    With Russia de-commissioning for-contract-private -armies in Russia, Prigozhin stood to lose hundreds of million of dollars …There’s your motive for that two-bit gangster.

  17. William H Warrick III MD
    July 3, 2023 at 18:51

    Many years ago some British General said: “There are Three Ruses of War; First Rule: Never March on Moscow; Second Rule: Never March on Moscow; Third Rule: Never March on Moscow.” Those Rules held up. The Russians knew the March would fail before it started.

    • Mad Albert
      July 4, 2023 at 07:45

      General Montgomery. He was right.

  18. July 3, 2023 at 18:50

    One flaw in this whole scenario and it this part …

    ” According to U.S. media reports, U.S. intelligence officials briefed Biden, senior Biden administration national security officials, and the so-called “Gang of Eight” (the top congressional leaders in both the House and the Senate involved in national security issues) days in advance of Prigozhin’s precipitous actions. ”

    “According to US media reports ” Is a bit of a stretch when they have lied throughout the whole war. So why suddenly believe this is true ? Why all of sudden believe The mainstream media is telling The truth this time ?

    The ” According to US media reports ” here sounds very similar to the ” According ” to US media that General Surovikin was locked up.

    The ” According to US media reports ” here could be a deliberate psych – op to remove Yevgeny Prigozhin from the chess board. In the same way saying Surovikin was locked up to create some doubt and uncertainty in the Russian ranks.

    Since the ” According to US media reports ” is the keystone of this article then in my view, that is the flaw in this case. The ” According ” could very easily be a psych – op. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the truth and this was all about money and the Wagner contract.

    If Yevgeny Prigozhin is so dangerous why put him in a Belarus that now has nukes. Where it would be much easier to stage a coup ?

  19. IJ Scambling
    July 3, 2023 at 18:28

    More details on Prigohzen’s working with Ukraine and western intelligence can be found with Scott on Useful Idiots from last Friday (see minutes approx. 14 through 36).

    Ruthless greed-hound essentially, explains it. Scott very convincing here:


  20. Maricata
    July 3, 2023 at 17:45

    The US has admitted that its war in Ukraine is lost.

    Blinken stated that there would be no Taiwan invasion and though they are liars, they know that capitalism means investments in China.

    BofA has 4.9 trillion invested in China and JP Morgan has more than 5 trillion invested.

    The issue is capitalism.

    Did US lose war with Russia


  21. CaseyG
    July 3, 2023 at 17:23

    Joe Biden is no competent to be President—and he should stop trying to have a war with Russia.

    That peculiar man , Zelenskyy, is getting desperate—a very bad sign. And too— Blinken really has to go—he even kept saying Guaido won in Venezuela. Oh. I almost forgot—- Victoria Nuland. and her ” F*** the EU. ”

    You officials all have a long way to go to get to that ,” More Perfect Union.”

    • Gordon Hastie
      July 4, 2023 at 02:38

      The banality of evil.

  22. John Manning
    July 3, 2023 at 16:06

    Another “what just happened in Russia”.
    Let me paint a different picture. Russia is waiting for US/NATO forces to arrive in Ukraine. It’s not if but when.
    Russia is preparing for this knowing the most likely routes to be used and most likely source of soldiers will be Poland and Lithuania.
    So the strategy is :
    1. Use any pretext available to place nuclear weapons in Belarus (situated between Poland and Lithuania).
    2. Work out a way to place an armed special forces division in Belarus without it looking like an escalation or threat to Europe. 5000 – 6000 soldiers will do the job.
    3. False flag the move by using US/NATO propaganda about the breakup of Russia to disguise what is happening.

    Risk analysis : Maybe the leaders of US/NATO will not be stupid enough to start believing their own propaganda.

    Planning conclusions : The strategy is risk free.

    The result. Russia now has a nuclear armed Belarus with about 6000 – 8000 Wagner PMC soldiers stationed ready for counter-attacks against Polish and Lithuanian forces. And all the west can talk about is has this weakened Putin.

    • Valerie
      July 3, 2023 at 19:55

      Brilliant John. I don’t know of course the ultimate result of this Wagner fiasco. But from the outset of this whole episode going back to the video of Prigozhin screaming blue murder for ammunition, the whole thing looks contrived.

      “Risk analysis” – Debatable. How really stupid are they? Mmm. They talk really stupidly.

      “Planning conclusions” – no strategy is risk free. (There is always the possibility of mishaps and deviations.)

      “And all the west can talk about is has this weakened Putin.”

      That was predicable, and they can eat humble pie now.

    • Joseph Tracy
      July 4, 2023 at 09:07

      I set forth a very similar interpretation of events in my comments on Patrick Lawrence’s look at the Prigozhin incident. I continue to think it makes a lot of sense as an explanation of why there was not only no bloodshed, but no obvious military actions to stop the supposed rebellion despite Wagner’s military vehicles traveling toward Moscow and the public claims made by Prigozhin. Not unlikely that Prigozhin informed Putin of offer from US to support him in exchange for withdrawal from Donbass and the whole thing is staged to set him and troops up in Belarus and start offensive in Syria, or alternately that Prigozhin knew how to leak phony plans ahead of time. My guess is that nothing will come of these supposed Kremlin investigations into how the US knew and Prigozhin will continue with a new military contract or command.

    • Robert Sinuhe
      July 4, 2023 at 15:38

      An interesting and plausible conclusion John. I had been thinking along those lines as well. In addition, movement by Russia seems to interdict or complicate NATO entering through the Romanian corridor. Let’s hope the officials at NATO realize this chess board technique and admit checkmate. Let’s see what happens in Vilnius on the 11th.

  23. July 3, 2023 at 15:45

    Hypothetical and false equivocations taken out of their context make poor examples for your argument, especially when comparing President Biden’s foreign policy experience and expertise with someone who only has real estate, tax fraud, and reality TV experience. Trump holds all his educational records under legal lock and key out of fear of embarrassment, and it’s doubtful he knows anything about foreign policy except how to personally benefit from compromising it. He didn’t even read his intel briefings. He didn’t know North Korea bordered South Korea, China, and Russia when he threatened “fire and fury” on TV. It’s easy to determine he isn’t a mental wizard. Your example refers to a person who is always on the take and was repaying a foreign country for their interference in our presidential election on his behalf. During that meeting, he disclosed information that undermined our National Security and risked the lives of Americans.

    Trump was involved in a late-night call about foreign policy. The net result was not consulting with any of his advisors while carving up the Middle East to make more room for Turkey (benefit to Trump unknown) and more room and influence for Russia (benefit to Trump), with a clear signal to use whatever chemicals in their arsenal on Syrian civilians, and then put the Libyian vast oil reserves under Russian military lock and key. Russia would control the entire country and its Oil if not for France and Turkey. As it is, they have built military bases in both countries that point towards NATO from the south (for the first time).

    This unchecked expansion of Russia has proven to be a building block in Russia’s decision to invade all of Ukraine, which started in 2014, but, thanks to Trump’s help, became a now-or-never opportunity for Putin after his bridge into Ukraine was built, and Trump was voted out of office. I think Trump would have arranged for Russia to annex Ukraine had he been elected for a second term.

    Trump was no fan of NATO or the EU. Without even knowing what Brexit was, he supported it. After Turkey purchased Russian military equipment, Trump rewarded Turkey with a buffer zone and betrayed our Kurdish Allies, who helped us minimize the ISIS threat. Trump ignored the Kurdish contribution, and claimed they weren’t decent people, sent them packing from their homes, and if they didn’t run fast enough many were killed by Turkish forces, or left to seek protection from Russia. Trump then claimed the Kurds were very happy with how everything worked out.

    Of course, Trump’s biggest FP accomplishment was resolving the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia while making American Oil complicit in this conspiracy to benefit OPEC+1 and American Oil, at the expense of 340 million Americans facing a near-depression and a pandemic, as well as our Allies. Remember, NATO countries depended on Russian Oil, so why not improve Russia’s leverage over NATO, especially when it’s in your National Interest? With Saudi Arabia and Russia controlling the oil supply and, therefore, the oil price, American Oil (which never was going out of business as Trump claimed) was incredibly pleased and only too thankful to contribute to Trump’s re-election:

    Steve Chapman explained the short-sighted implications of Trump’s self-serving FP immediately:


    So with OPEC+1 in control of the oil price and Putin swimming in cash, his dream of Ukraine was about to become a reality as he could use Oil as a stick and a carrot against much of the world, especially China, which Trump had already pushed to a large degree into some alliance with Russia. Yes, Trump was especially friendly to Russia, and as a result, the mess Trump left is far from being resolved, but unfortunately for Russia, President Biden is probably the only one capable of putting everything back together again.

    • July 4, 2023 at 20:24

      Wow! Talk about an overdose of TDS! You’ve taken all the talking points of your ponderous monologue straight from the CNN/MSNBC/ DNC cabal.

    • J Anthony
      July 5, 2023 at 09:45

      Are you kidding with that “Russian interference in the 2016 election” bulls***? What’s the matter with you that you still can’t acknowledge that we’re responsible for the problems of our own electoral system!? Even if Putin/Russia had made attempts to influence the outcome, so what? What goes around comes around. Sensible people are realizing that neither Trump nor Biden are qualified to lead anything, and that he 2 corporatist parties are finished.

  24. Mike
    July 3, 2023 at 15:40

    I’m a huge fan of Scott Ritter and believe that his views are required reading. But even if everything he says about Biden is true here (I have no reason to doubt it), to paint Trump as on-the-ball is patently absurd. This guy tried to launch a coup of his own in the US on January 6, 2020. Imagine being a sailor on a ship, or a soldier deployed to another country, when you find out that Trump subverted the will of the American people. Is he a legitimate Commander in Chief, a fake one, exactly who is in charge? How do you decide who to follow? To use a traitor like Trump as a comparison to a simply incompetent Biden really doesn’t add up. Trump was never the adult in the room.

      July 3, 2023 at 15:59

      Hence the phrase in the piece, “Whatever one thinks of Trump … “

    • robert e williamson jr
      July 3, 2023 at 17:24

      Mike: Some of us knew the dimos had lost it when they rigged those process to choose a candidate. Others of us have known for years the two parties are more alike that different, in that the parties have sold themselves to the Super-wealthy elitists. I have been referring to them at the SWETS.

      All this and amazingly, still the masses are in denial of what is happening to all of us, what is more amazing is that it is happening before everyone’s eyes with the aid of billions of dollars in revenue the lame stream media moguls are making on the media personalities who prostitute themselves so willingly for a large payoff.

      People far too self-absorbed to care whether they are reporting truthful facts or simply being used as blowhard mouth pieces spewing garbage propaganda.

      Then last Friday night Biden pulled a most foul and cruel little trick by signing off of shit canning the JFK record release agreement that has most recently allowed fruitful revelations about the JFK murder.

      That smell in the air is created by lying liars and the R@T F*&%er* they work for.

      Four more years of the same ole shit from either party and we Americans will be “goosestepping”. Time is running out.

      Thanks CN and Scott Ritter

    • Tim N
      July 3, 2023 at 20:43

      How is Trump a traitor? Evidence please.

      • robert e williamson jr
        July 4, 2023 at 13:30

        I dunno Tim N. From the aspect of U.S. law, he is should not be accused of treason. Sedition is different and we will learn the evidence in his upcoming court battles, hopefully.

        Now from the standpoint of how he relates to his followers I’m sure many think of him a as dirty traitor, but maybe not. given their ilk. Although I’m not sure what else to call a man who abandons his base of support the way he has.

        Now, about the simply incompetent Biden statement by Mike. I agree Biden is incompetent, but he is simply another in along line of presidents since JFK who have folded for the Deep Stater’s who actually run the country. In fact several of those presidents, from both parties, engaged in furthering that Deep State take-over and in my personal opinion Slick Willy was one of the most brazen, along with 41 and 43. And that is not to mention maybe the most incompetent of all 40 – Ronnie ray gun.

        But I digress.

        Get this straight Tim the president don’t do shit without it first going through the nation intelligence apparatus. They make and enforce foreign policy.

        Incompetence aside I’ll posit this thought. Agreeing that the guy is worse incompetent, would you not agree he is not alone in running this country into the ground fighting a war of choice, that is our allegiance to a non NATO country. Seems to me he has received tremendous backing from the MICCi-MAT.

        Case in point William Burns recently made a secret trip to Ukraine to meet with Zelensky.

        Those who killed JFK and those who covered it up have stolen our country with the apparent consent of a long ago compromised Congress.

        Continued bickering over party politics has played directly into the Deep State take over.

        Individuals making excuses and defending this Orange Blob, super rich ass*ol% are not helping to deal with the apparatus that got him elected in the first place.

        But it is supposed to be a free country, right? Well good luck with that because us freedom loving folks are running out of time very quickly.

        Thanks CN

    • Sam
      July 3, 2023 at 23:41

      Oh good grief. An insurrection without anyone being armed nor with the support of the military is just nonsense. There wasn’t a plan to take over the government or any of the other nonsense in your head. It was a riot that got out of control because no one in power let extra security be at the capital that day. All involved in security had known for weeks that people had planned on going there, but did nothing so that the government could roll out its domestic terrorism laws.

      Besides Trump told people to be peaceful and to respect the boys in blue. There were agitators in the crowd that helped ramp up the violence.

    • DebsWas Right
      July 4, 2023 at 13:14

      I’m not sure Ritter is really painting Trump as “on-the-ball.” It my be my own rose-colored glasses, but I read it as an argument that it’s less about the person who’s the “decider”, and more who’s in the decision chain. Trump is incapable of nuanced thought, but I don’t doubt others around him were. I suspect he was “guided” to the decision re the intelligence that was shared. An easy appeal to his ego like, “Putin will owe you one.” (I am NOT a “Russia stole the election for Trump” believer, but the thought of Putin in debt to him is an argument that would jiggle Trump’s nuts) So, following good advice, and doing horrendous stupid acts are not incongruous if the good advice feeds one’s needs. I agree, this is not Ritter’s best.

    • Robert Sinuhe
      July 4, 2023 at 15:43

      Noted. What we need is a president whose brain is working full time.

  25. Drew Hunkins
    July 3, 2023 at 15:33

    The great Alexander Cockburn would often say that the real test for a potential American president is proving to the world that they’re capable of pushing the nuclear button killing millions.

    Our bloodthirsty and warmongering media and elite political class demand this obedience of any potential president.

    • Valerie
      July 3, 2023 at 16:17

      I believe they have already proven that Drew. Twice, in fact.

      • Drew Hunkins
        July 3, 2023 at 23:32

        Yep. Exactly. Two of the biggest crimes against humanity in world history.

    • Patrick Powers
      July 3, 2023 at 19:22

      It wasn’t just Cockburn. That was a common subject of political discussion until Clinton. He was the first president in fifty years who wasn’t a veteran. Indeed until then every nominee after Stevenson was a veteran. Al Gore did service because he thought it was a requirement for office.

      • Lois Gagnon
        July 5, 2023 at 09:15

        Why do people think Reagan was a veteran? As far as I know, he made films for the military as an actor. That’s not the definition of a veteran. What am I missing?

  26. John Puma
    July 3, 2023 at 15:31

    The danger presented by President Dirty Harry (more accurately the neo-cons who control him) is much more of a direct nuclear disaster than Wagnerites being in the same building as dissembled nuclear arms lacking their activation codes even IF reassembled correctly.

  27. Rudy Haugeneder
    July 3, 2023 at 15:03

    Was there any warning about 9-11 and, if so, by whom and why was it not acted upon.

    • Bart Hansen
      July 3, 2023 at 18:09

      See the wikipedia entry for ‘Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US’

      • Valerie
        July 3, 2023 at 20:30

        I’m curious to know who had ever heard of Bin Laden before 9/11. (Forget the insipid wikipedia crap.)

    • Valerie
      July 3, 2023 at 18:11

      A very pertinent question Rudy. Another aspect which baffles me is, no-one (satellites/intelligence etc.) saw the line of tanks from Iraq going towards Kuwait, resulting in the first Gulf war. Strange that was missed, even though at the time satellite imagery was very capable of detection of earthly goings-on.

      • Patrick Powers
        July 3, 2023 at 19:24

        Oh they saw the tanks. It was dismissed as a military exercise.

        • Valerie
          July 3, 2023 at 22:08

          I never knew that Patrick. How convenient for them to arrive at that conclusion. I suppose they must have noticed those “military exercises” on a weekly basis, so thought no more about it, or deemed it prudent to alert the Kuwaitis of this huge column of tanks making a beeline for their capital. How strange. What sort of people would do that?

        • Eddy Schmid
          July 4, 2023 at 04:32

          How do you work that out, when Saddam asked the U.S. Govt, if it was O.K. to enter Kuwait and teach them a lesson, for slant drilling into Iraqi oil fields. The U.S. o.k.’d it. At that stage, he still believed he was good friends with his masters. The rest is history.

      • Rafael
        July 4, 2023 at 01:44

        The likely explanation is that the US didn’t miss anything. It became clear at the time that they had wanted Iraq to invade. It provided a perfect excuse for them to begin their massive military intervention in the region. There’s plenty of evidence that they (in particular their envoy, April Glaspie) conned Saddam into acting as he did.

        • Valerie
          July 4, 2023 at 09:51

          That’s what i surmised too, Rafael. It still came as a shock though. A wonderful book on that whole era is written by Robert Fisk entitled “The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East”.

  28. Steve
    July 3, 2023 at 14:53

    War by any means necessary, they thought they had a Trojan Horse inside the gates. But the Motherland knows how sneaky the USA /UK can be.

  29. Tony
    July 3, 2023 at 14:40

    A lot of information here which is new to me.

    Trump did the right thing here whereas Biden did not.

    Worth bearing in mind also that Putin provided one of many warnings to the Bush administration about 9/11 all of which were ignored.

    • HelenB
      July 3, 2023 at 16:46

      1. Yes, Hillary lost to Obama. But Obama put her in the Secretary of State position from 2009-2013. She got a fair shot at the calls. Did plenty, plenty of dirty work. Remember? That’s why we call her Killary.

      2. Where is Rostov-on-Don? From all the reports on Prigozhin’s escapade, I just presumed it was north of Ukraine. Not at all!! It is east, just outside Ukraine, as I just now finally looked at a map. It is not at all near Moscow and not at all on the way there from Ukraine. If Prigozhin had really intended to go to Moscow, the only reason I can figure that he went to Rostov-on-Don is just to get his men over the line into Russia.
      Check the map.

  30. Otto
    July 3, 2023 at 14:30

    How come US intelligence knows what is happening in Russia (eg. the St Petersburg attacks) but Russia doesn’t! No comment from Scott on this.

    • Tim N
      July 3, 2023 at 20:46

      The Russians very likely knew this whole thing was coming.

  31. July 3, 2023 at 14:12

    Great Article!!!

    As long as the CIA runs America, the US can never be trusted.

  32. David Otness
    July 3, 2023 at 14:11

    Biden’s advisors… I have absolutely no faith in their objectivity, intelligence or statesmanship, and perhaps most telling, that they have any sense of fealty to the United States Constitution or Bill of Rights. I rather more think of them as single-minded, vigilante-type outlaws in the thrall of their lifetime’s worth of ambitious dreams—their ability to wreak no limit of damages on their singular bugaboo—the Russians. And damn the consequences both here at home or elsewhere in the world. Their world of monsters cannot deign to imagine that they themselves are the monsters in chief. But that’s what they truly are.
    God help us all.

    • Tim N
      July 3, 2023 at 20:48

      Like Biden, his “advisors” are mediocrities and often plain stupid. They think they’re the smartest people in the room, however, despite the fact that they’re proven wrong routinely.

    • Valerie
      July 3, 2023 at 22:49

      Can they really be that perverted? I only ask David, as i cannot fathom such depravity. Or maybe i can, but just don’t want to acknowledge it. It’s a very sad state of affairs we find ourselves in.

      • DebsWas Right
        July 4, 2023 at 13:37

        In our world you don’t get to those positions without being perverted, regardless of race, creed or gender. Kissinger? Cheney? And let’s not forgot Madeleine Albright who said: We think the price [death of a half a million Iraqi children] is worth it.

        And people hold her in high regard. A woman who broke the glass ceiling by climbing up a ladder made of bodies. Yet Mother Jones and Sophie Scholl are forgotten.

    • Share
      July 5, 2023 at 09:38

      The recent imploded submersible is a good metaphor for what’s coming. Like the Titan designer and owner of the OceanGate owner Stockton Rush, no amount of evidence is going to sway from their delusional beliefs (delusions of grandeur). Toying with Russia – Not safe and will never be safe, and it’s terrible that they can persuade others it is safe and good to do.

  33. Jeff Andrews
    July 3, 2023 at 13:53

    Interesting article but it makes no difference, the deep state in America considers it will win the nuclear conflict against Russia since they’re not so confident about a conventional one, they have to.
    And they’re the ones who really call the shots in America anyway, if they have to put up with Trump for 4 more years they will rather than the embarrassment of having Biden, Harris or any of the other current democrat loons as ‘President’.

  34. incontinent reader
    July 3, 2023 at 13:52

    William Burns and then Biden himself have published lame denials that they were involved with Prigozhin- though if Ukrainian intelligence was when Prigozhin was feeding them with ‘order of battle’ troop formation info (regardless of whether it was ‘chicken feed’, because the US & NATO already knew), then almost certainly MI-6 was involved, and if MI-6 was, then the White House and CIA would have been, even though they are now ‘implausibly’ claiming deniability.

    As for Hillary Clinton and the 3AM call, recall that she got one at 4pm re: Benghazi and hid in the weeds as Susan Rice, Victoria Nuland and Jake Sullivan shilled for her with disinformation. Larry Johnson had some great posts about that incident. I hope he uploads them again. People need to be reminded about these scumbags again and again.

    • incontinent reader
      July 4, 2023 at 13:03

      Zelensky has now even admitted that Ukraine keeps no secrets from the CIA. See a July 3rd article in RT with the same or similar title.
      A great example of Zelensky shooting himself in the foot while trying to prove his allegiance to his puppet master and major weapons supplier.

      (I haven’t included the web citation, since Consortium News in the past has been skittish about allowing web address citations to online publications).

  35. Jeff Harrison
    July 3, 2023 at 13:51

    Indeed. A total failure. But, somehow, not unexpected.

  36. July 3, 2023 at 13:11

    I wish Mr. Ritter had not prefaced this with the Trump and Clinton examples. In doing so, he has given the corporate media and Democratic Party establishment and the national security state operatives a plausible way to discredit him as a partisan.

    Both examples not only undermine his argument, but they were unnecessary to his larger and far more important argument: that the US and CIA not only knew in advance (and Biden failed to notify Russia), but likely were directly involved. The Biden denial rang about as true as the US denials on Nordstream.

    And if you go back and review Blinken’s initial response to press questions immediately after the “mutiny”, you will note that Blinken used the word “internal” twice in a very short statement. US media picked up on that and wrote that the US does not interfere in Russian “internal affairs”. Biden repeated the same phrases the next day. Obviously, yhe term “internal” is being used EXACTLY like the term “unprovoked” in US propaganda circles.

    • Riva Enteen
      July 3, 2023 at 15:41

      Ritter doesn’t sound partisan to me. I can agree with Trump as well as disagree with him. As a socialist, I will never vote Republican, but Trump ended the TPP, tried diplomacy with N. Korea and Russia, and said “I didn’t realize how much they all love war.” How refreshing!

      • Tim N
        July 3, 2023 at 20:54

        I hope as a Socialist you would never vote Democrat either.

      • DebsWas Right
        July 4, 2023 at 14:01

        I’m not sure you a right on TPP. [12 Pacific Rim nation pact] (Obama’s enthusiastic support was another of his major betrayals of which most people are unaware)

        That said, I was shocked when Trump said he reversed it, and I too pointed to that as 1 positive thing Trump did. A short time later, I was watching NHK World, (Japanese English Language news) and there was celebratory coverage of of a US/Japan trade pact. As the story continued, it detailed that the pact had the same policies as the TPP, and rather than sign on to TPP as a group, Trump’s administration was going to sign INDIVIDUAL agreements with the TPP nations. Basically joining and approving TPP policies without having to say we are part of the TPP. If I hadn’t been watching Japanese news I’d have never known. Not a single US news had similar coverage of the agreement with Japan — or any of the other nations.

    • JonnyJames
      July 3, 2023 at 16:20

      Good point. And the Trump regime continued to support the UkroNazis, assassinated Iranian Gen. Suleimani (a crime and act of war), gave more support to far-right Israeli govt and supports the Genocide of Palestine, Sanctioned (act of war) many countries including China, escalated war rhetoric and bald-faced lies against China, imposed illegal blockades against Venezuela, supported the theft of oil from Syria, Venezuela etc., etc. In general, the Trump regime was just as racist, imperialist and criminal as the Biden regime. It’s just a different flavor of rhetoric and BS

      • DebsWas Right
        July 4, 2023 at 14:04

        From 1904.

        “The Republican and Democratic parties, or, to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class in the class struggle. They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not to principles.” ~ Eugene V. Debs

      • J Anthony
        July 5, 2023 at 10:07

        Thank you. Trump-apologists are constantly stating that “At least he didn’t start anymore wars” and I have to explain that it wasn’t for lack of trying. That anyone still views him as some for-the-people anti-establishment hero is a travesty. Like you say, two sides of the same rotten coin.

    • Maricata
      July 3, 2023 at 17:42

      Will try again.

      I agree with you.

      This is not about Trump, Biden or Clinton it is about financial capitalism, late stage collapse.

      Taking the economics out of politics leaves the room vacant.

    • Tim N
      July 3, 2023 at 20:51

      My God, those fools have been declaring Ritter a partisan forever. They’re going to do it no matter what. So what? I don’t think Ritter gives a damn what they think. Why would you? Since when does one modulate their views according to what the objects of the criticism think?

      • July 4, 2023 at 12:46

        Don’t try to put words in my mouth.

        I didn’t suggest Ritter moderate his views – in fact, I urged him to strengthen them and go further and explore whether the US CIA was actively involved, not just monitoring and failing to communicate the “mutiny”.

        Since you asked, I’ll try and respond: I give a damn what those people think for what should be obvious intellectual, political, and rhetorical reasons: 1) always know the arguments of your enemies because that is important in making your own arguments; 2) they have power, run the country, and control the narrative; 3) in rhetoric, the goal is to persuade. That means you need to know your audience (not compromise your view to them). Don’t deploy needless arguments that divert from your main argument and provide your opponents ammo to undermine your own argument with your own words.

  37. Andrew Thomas
    July 3, 2023 at 12:49

    I really try to follow anything that is actually important, but somehow I missed the two calls Trump made to Putin about imminent terror attacks in St. Petersburg. All the crap about Trump and Putin being ‘bros’ aside, if Putin had a preference for Trump in 2020 over a known CIA tool, it would be pretty understandable. Trump winning a ‘common decency’ contest. Wow.

    • eckbach
      July 4, 2023 at 10:34

      You will never hear about anything useful, noble or positive that Trump did or does from the Establishment media.

  38. July 3, 2023 at 11:55

    Very good article. Scott’s writing about the Prigozhin mutiny has been most insightful. Thank you.

    • Rob Roy
      July 3, 2023 at 15:25

      I agree. I always feel a sense of anticipation that real information is coming when I see Scott Ritter’s name, and have never been disappointed.

    • Tim N
      July 3, 2023 at 20:53

      Check out Mark Sleboda’s commentary on this whole matter. Outstanding stuff. I’m sure Scott knows who he is.

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