Transnistria, Baron Munchhausen, Salisbury, Russian & Saudi Ineptitude, Paveway BombsTuesday, 16 October 2018
◄ Baron Munchausen at Benderry
Back in July I made a brief (ie 24 hour) visit to Tranistria – that curious sliver of a nation sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine and recognized by nobody in the world except for Vladimir Putin and his friends. In my Transnistria blog I mentioned Lenin and Gagarin, but totally forgot to highlight the ‘country’s’ most famous name – Baron Munchausen. The hero of the 1785 account Baron Munchausen’s Narrative of his Marvellous Travels & Campaigns in Russia,.would later be the starring role in Terry Gilliam’s disastrous (ie it lost a lot of money) movie The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
Baron Munchausen is famous for telling elaborately tall tales and the Transnistrian story recounts how he rode a cannonball over the walls of the Bendery fortress on his way to defeating the Ottoman Turks. I certainly didn’t miss the Baron or his cannonball, even if I omitted them from my blog.
▲ my photograph of Baron Munchausen and his cannonball.
◄ The cloister of Salisbury Cathedral
One person who is highly unlikely to have missed Baron Munchausen when he was visiting Transnistria is Russian military doctor Alexander Mishkin who used the alias Alexander Petrov to travel to Salisbury in England to poison people with the nerve agent Novichok. According to the investigative website Bellingcat Dr Mishkin was enthusiastic about Transnistria and since he appears also to have been such a keen tourist Baron Munchausen would clearly have been part of his Transnistrian itinerary.
When he visited Salisbury it was the beauty of Salisbury Cathedral with the largest cloister in the UK and at 123metres the tallest church spire, which attracted him. Along with his friend/accomplice and fellow tourist Colonel Anatoly Chepiga, aka Ruslan Boshirov. Stopping off to poison people was clearly just a minor distraction. Of course he might have picked up his cloister and spire information from Lonely Planet’s Britain guide, I wrote up Salisbury for the very first edition, although the facts and figures are also readily available online, in Wikiipedia for example.
It’s the sheer ineptitude of countries like Russia or, more recently, Saudi Arabia, which boggles the mind. Somebody thinks we’re going to believe this stuff? Oh somebody – journalist Jamal Khashoggi – visits the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and never emerges while 15 Saudi agents fly into Istanbul visit the embassy and then quickly fly out again? Well war crimes and Saudi Arabia go together, why not common or garden murder as well? As I write this the Saudis are trying to dream up a story that keeps Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s – aka MbS – hands clean. That way Donald Trump can ensure his US$110 billion arms sale to the Saudis isn’t endangered.
Just think what the Saudis can buy with US$110 billion? Laser-guided GBU-12 Paveway II bombs are just US$21,896 according to Wikipedia so you could buy 45,000 of them with just one billion dollars. It only took one Paveway to wipe out a Yemeni schoolbus and kill 40 schoolkids in Saada in Yemen in August this year. Sort out this little confusion over a dead journalist and the POTUS can pave the way for the Saudis to wipe out every school bus in all of Yemen. Although it appears Paveways are equally useful for killing civilians at weddings, funerals or in hospitals according to Human Rights Watch.