Neil Abrams Profile picture
Apr 11 78 tweets 52 min read
Folks, @TheGrayzone’s back with another flagrantly dishonest article claiming that Russian atrocities—this time in Mariupol and Bucha—were false-flags by Ukraine. Their latest journalistic farce further exposes them as purveyors of unvarnished propaganda. Let’s dig in.
@THEGRAYZONE The author of the piece is @KitKlarenberg, a former contributor to Sputnik News, a Kremlin-propaganda outlet. You may remember Sputnik from such classics as “Obama & Hillary created ISIS!,” “Covid is an Anglo-Saxon plot!” and “Democrats probably killed Seth Rich!”
The piece has two parts, each devoted to sowing doubt about Russian culpability for widely-reported war crimes. The first is Russia’s alleged bombing of a Mariupol maternity hospital. The second is its alleged massacre of civilians in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv.
Since both war crimes have come to light, @TheGrayzone, in typical fashion, has tried to paint them as possible false-flags by Ukraine’s Azov battalion, a contingent made up substantially if not mostly by neo-Nazis and which comprises 0.4% to 1.4% of the country’s total forces.
@THEGRAYZONE After the March 9th destruction of the maternity hospital in Mariupol, Associated Press (AP) reporters in the city went to document the aftermath. One of the witnesses they interviewed was a pregnant woman.
@THEGRAYZONE Though her story’s been reported widely, I’ll refer to her by her last initial, “V.” She’s been through enough already so there’s no need to further spread her name around. Her identity is redacted in all screenshots below but obviously remains visible in any links provided.
@THEGRAYZONE V. was photographed emerging from the hospital with cuts and bruises on her face. According to the AP, she initially told the reporter that she didn’t know what had caused the explosions.…
@THEGRAYZONE Once the story and photos garnered worldwide attention, Russia reacted by saying, totally convincingly, “We didn’t do it; it was staged. And if we did do it, it’s because the hospital was being used by Azov as a base of operations.”…
@THEGRAYZONE Weeks later, on 4/1, after reportedly telling the AP she didn’t know what had caused the explosions, a video interview surfaced in which V. tells a very different story.
@THEGRAYZONE In the new 4/1 interview, V. claims neither she nor the other patients heard the sound of airplanes overhead and were told by an (unnamed) source that the explosions had instead been caused by shells. See pt. 2 at 0:50.
@THEGRAYZONE The implication is that the explosions were not the result of Russian airstrikes but were rather the work of Ukrainian forces, thus making it appear Russia had bombed the hospital when it really hadn’t.
@THEGRAYZONE Also in the 4/1 interview, V. claims the AP journalist who questioned her after the event was lying when he reported that V. claimed not to know the cause of the explosions. Below is a screenshot of the statement attributed to V. by the AP.…
@THEGRAYZONE The truth, she insists in the new video, is that she told the AP there had *not* been an airstrike. She also claims the AP suppressed the video of her interview to cover up their lie, an assertion @KitKlarenberg evidently accepted without making any effort to verify it.
In fact, had @KitKlarenberg done the least bit of due diligence, he would have found the actual video of V. saying *precisely* what the AP attributed to her: “We don’t know how it happened.” See the 0:35 mark.
@KitKlarenberg Still, @KitKlarenberg tries to hedge against the possibility he’s wrong by suggesting that, in the event the AP did quote her correctly, maybe she was talking about some other explosion that happened nearby.
@KitKlarenberg Sure buddy. When she initially denied knowing what caused the explosions, thus contradicting her new claim that it definitely wasn’t a Russian airstrike, she was totally talking about a different explosion somewhere else instead of the one that HAPPENED TO HER.

@KitKlarenberg But all this prompts the question of *why* V. said one thing back in March and something else in her 4/1 interview. Well, it makes sense when you consider the 4/1 interview almost certainly took place in the Russian-controlled Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine.
@KitKlarenberg Several outlets, including The Times, Sky News, and Athens News, a Russian-language Greek website with a distinct pro-Kremlin bent, reported that V. was in the DPR when she gave the interview.
Incidentally, the interview with V. was carried out by an obscure Russian blogger named Denis Seleznev. Seleznev has some…interesting views on Ukraine.
(Turns out I can't link directly to Seleznev's piece because Twitter considers it harmful.)
You simply can’t trust testimony from refugees, particularly ones as vulnerable as V., extracted on territory controlled by Russian forces, especially given Russia’s penchant for brutally controlling any and all political communication.
While she’s likely in the DPR (which would make sense given that her family reportedly resides there), nobody has conclusively confirmed it. Even so, the very fact that her location is uncertain requires treating her testimony with serious skepticism.
Of course, none of these complicating factors stopped @KitKlarenberg and @TheGrayzone from blindly accepting V.’s 4/1 testimony as fact. If you’re looking for serious journalism, folks, this ain’t it.
@KitKlarenberg @THEGRAYZONE As if to prove the point, @KitKlarenberg keeps grasping at straws in an increasingly feeble attempt to call into question the alarming revelations emerging from Mariupol, painting certain facts as suspicious which actually aren’t suspicious considering THIS IS A WAR ZONE.
@KitKlarenberg @THEGRAYZONE For instance, none of the stuff below is particularly surprising in a setting marked by chaos and disorder, an exhausted civilian population, overwhelmed authorities, and almost non-existent internet access.
@KitKlarenberg @THEGRAYZONE Nor is any of this ⬇️ surprising. I mean, can *you* think of legitimate reasons not to bury a bunch of corpses in the downtown area of a large city, much less one that continues to endure near-constant airstrikes? I sure can.
@KitKlarenberg @THEGRAYZONE Next, @KitKlarenberg tries to question AP journalist Evgeny Maloletka’s objectivity on the grounds that he supported the 2013-14 Euromaidan movement which ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russian President, Viktor Yanukovych, and precipitated Russia’s armed attack on the country that year.
@KitKlarenberg @THEGRAYZONE Apparently, @KitKlarenberg’s gripe is that Maloletka supported Ukraine’s million-strong, mostly moderate, democratic protest movement over the autocratic regime which tried but failed to violently suppress it. Oh, the bias! Bring me my fainting couch!
BTW, don’t @ me with some B.S. about how the Euromaidan was a “coup” by Viktoria Nuland acting in cahoots with Ukrainian Nazis. Nobody—not even Nuland, @aaronjmate’s omnipotent mother of dragons—can *make* one million Ukrainians swarm the streets and overthrow a president.
@aaronjmate Anyway, @KitKlarenberg further tries to bring Maloletka’s journalistic objectivity into doubt by noting he’s operating in Mariupol under the protection of the Azov battalion.
This is standard fare for @TheGrayzone. These guys will spare no effort to scrutinize the objectivity of any reporting which implicates Russia. But when it comes to testimony like V.’s which seemingly exonerates Russia, their credulousness knows no bounds.
@THEGRAYZONE Amazingly, in the very next paragraph @KitKlarenberg compounds the charade by approvingly citing @MaxBlumenthal’s atrocious screed on the bombing of the Mariupol theater, which uses as its *key source* a notorious purveyor of Kremlin-propaganda.
@THEGRAYZONE @KitKlarenberg @MaxBlumenthal Should you treat with skepticism any AP reporting done under Azov’s protection? By all means, yes. But don’t turn around and apply no scrutiny at all to the account of a vulnerable refugee under *Kremlin* protection, to say nothing of a Kremlin-propaganda organ.
@THEGRAYZONE @KitKlarenberg @MaxBlumenthal In any event, here’s a CNN investigation based on image analysis, satellite footage, and testimony from explosives experts which strongly suggests the hospital was destroyed in a Russian airstrike.…
@THEGRAYZONE @KitKlarenberg @MaxBlumenthal In addition to finding no evidentiary support, @TheGrayzone’s claim that Azov blew up the maternity hospital also fails the logic test. Here’s why:
@THEGRAYZONE @KitKlarenberg @MaxBlumenthal Russia’s been bombing Mariupol relentlessly and indiscriminately for weeks on end, leveling huge swathes of the city. But we’re supposed to believe that it *spared* this one maternity hospital only for Azov to then blow it up in order to blame the whole thing on Russia?
@THEGRAYZONE @KitKlarenberg @MaxBlumenthal I mean it’s not exactly hard to find evidence of Mariupol’s wanton destruction at the hands of Russian forces.
@THEGRAYZONE @KitKlarenberg @MaxBlumenthal Here’s a Guardian reporter describing what it was like in Mariupol around the time the hospital was struck. In short, Russian airstrikes were *constant.* But, yeah, sure, that one maternity hospital was blown up by Azov, not Russia.…
And there’s absolutely nothing coincidental ⬇️about the fact that refugees were moved from the hospital to the theater just before the latter was bombed. If those were the only two places in the city that got blown up, then sure. But THE WHOLE CITY WAS GETTING PUMMELED.
In the article’s final section, @KitKlarenberg tries to sow doubt about another alleged Russian atrocity, this time in Bucha, just outside of Kyiv, where images of mass graves and bodies strewn across the streets have gained worldwide attention following Russia’s hasty retreat.
@KitKlarenberg It’s not just @KitKlarenberg who’s calling into question Russia’s culpability for Bucha. Other reporters from @TheGrazyone such as @aaronjmate along with unaffiliated Twitter Tankies like @mtracey have joined forces in this pathetic parade of gaslighting.
@KitKlarenberg @thegrazyone @aaronjmate @mtracey As usual, @TheGrayzone applies absurdly different standards of scrutiny depending on whether a given piece of evidence suggests Russian or Ukrainian culpability for Bucha. See the next tweet for their typical lax approach to judging evidence which implicates Ukraine. ⬇️
@KitKlarenberg @thegrazyone @aaronjmate @mtracey @THEGRAYZONE Here, @KitKlarenberg points to a suspicious gap between the announcement of Bucha’s liberation on 3/31 and the first revelations of atrocities by local authorities, which supposedly didn’t happen until 4/2 and 4/3. @aaronjmate highlighted the same discrepancies.
@KitKlarenberg @thegrazyone @aaronjmate @mtracey @THEGRAYZONE The implication here is that this long delay gave Ukraine’s Azov battalion time to massacre a bunch of civilians and pin the blame on Russian forces. Lo and behold, another Azov false flag!
@KitKlarenberg @thegrazyone @aaronjmate @mtracey @THEGRAYZONE Except their timeline is not remotely accurate. It took all of five minutes to find evidence of dead civilians which surfaced on 4/1, within a day of Bucha’s liberation, thus eliminating @TheGrayzone’s whole premise for suspecting a false flag op by Azov.
Likewise, here’s a Human Rights Watch report from March 31st documenting evidence of the killings of civilians BEFORE Ukrainian forces entered Bucha.…
That’s what I mean when I say @TheGrayzone employs ridiculously weak standards when it comes to determining possible Ukrainian culpability. I mean it is not hard to find evidence falsifying their claims. But, still, they can’t be bothered to look.
@THEGRAYZONE But when other outlets advance their own evidence-free claims which purport to implicate *Russia* in the Bucha killings, @aaronjmate suddenly rediscovers the importance of evidentiary standards:
@THEGRAYZONE @aaronjmate After @TheGrazyone article came out, an NYT investigation showed satellite images from mid-March of the very same corpses seen on the streets of Bucha in a later video posted 4/1, proving they were killed long before Ukraine liberated the town.…
In response to the NYT revelations, @aaronjmate, who just a day before had causally retweeted some Twitter rando’s easily falsifiable timeline implying Ukrainian guilt, again reminded us to use stringent evidentiary standards when judging allegations of Russian guilt.
@aaronjmate In fact, @aaronjmate now abandoned his trademark anything-goes approach to implicating Ukraine, insisting that nothing short of an intensive forensic investigation could possibly prove Russia committed these heinous acts. See how this works?
@aaronjmate In the past week, an abundance of evidence has surfaced showing Russian responsibility for Bucha, including witness testimony, accounts from Ukrainian investigators, photographic and video evidence, satellite imagery, etc.…
@aaronjmate Here's more evidence of deliberate Russian killings of civilians in Bucha:
@aaronjmate Here's witness evidence of deliberate Russian killings of civilians in Bucha:
@aaronjmate Here’s more witness evidence of deliberate Russian killings of civilians in Bucha:
@aaronjmate Here’s yet more witness evidence of deliberate Russian killings of civilians in Bucha:
@aaronjmate Here’s drone imagery which likely shows the deliberate killing of a civilian in Bucha by Russian forces:
@aaronjmate Evidence of Russian forces intentionally murdering civilians in Bucha IS NOT HARD TO FIND. So now that it’s clear, will @TheGrazyone admit it? That’s what *real* journalists would do. But these guys aren’t journalists; they’re propagandists. So of course they won’t.
@aaronjmate @thegrazyone Even though we now have far more than witness evidence alone, one might reasonably ask why I lend more credibility to witnesses speaking from Ukrainian territory than I do to people like V. who are giving testimony from Russian-held territory.
@aaronjmate @thegrazyone The answer is that Ukraine imposes far fewer restrictions on the flow of information than Russia does. Here’s how Reporters Without Borders (RSF), whose World Press Freedom Index ranks 180 countries, assesses the state of media freedom in Ukraine vs. Russia.
@aaronjmate @thegrazyone So out of 180 countries, Ukraine ranks 97th—not great, but still much better than Russia, which ranks 150th. While Ukraine has its problems, the degree to which it tries to control political communication is simply not comparable to Russia.
@aaronjmate @thegrazyone Here’s more on RSF’s reasoning behind each country’s ranking.


@aaronjmate @thegrazyone Now, V. was interviewed not in Russia proper but in the Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine’s far east, which Russia has effectively controlled through its proxies since 2014. Here’s what RSF has to say about press freedom there, or lack thereof:
@aaronjmate @thegrazyone But, again, the testimony of witnesses is hardly the only evidence we now have of Russian atrocities in Bucha. As the links above show, witness accounts are supported by plentiful photographic evidence along with drone and satellite imagery,
@aaronjmate @thegrazyone Contrast this to @TheGrayzone’s “evidence” that Ukraine blew up the maternity hospital, which is almost laughably thin by comparison.
@aaronjmate @thegrazyone @THEGRAYZONE FWIW, at the end of the essay @KitKlarenberg once again jettisons meaningful evidentiary standards when he tries to claim Russia has destroyed Ukraine’s fighting capability. His “source” here is the same rando behind the false Bucha timeline cited above by @aaronjmate.
@aaronjmate @thegrazyone @THEGRAYZONE @KitKlarenberg You see, when the goal is to portray Ukraine as so utterly desperate for Western military intervention that it has no choice but to conjure up all these false-flag ops, there is naturally no need for such trivialities as “evidence” and “credible sources.”
Anyway, the foregoing analysis should eliminate any doubt regarding @TheGrayzone’s integrity. There are no innocuous explanations for such travesties of reporting. There is, in fact, only one: @TheGrayzone guys are not real journalists; they’re propagandists.
@THEGRAYZONE Real journalists don’t travel to Syria and Russia to attend regime-sponsored conferences personally hosted by dictators and then engage in blatant gaslighting on said dictators’ behalf.……
@THEGRAYZONE Real media outlets are transparent and forthcoming about their sources of funding.
@THEGRAYZONE Real journalists take seriously credible allegations of war crimes and report them regardless of which side is implicated.
@THEGRAYZONE Real journalists apply reasonably similar standards to verify a given claim regardless of whether or not it supports a particular narrative.
@THEGRAYZONE But then there’s @TheGrayzone, whose sole agenda, evidently, is to sow doubt about Russian responsibility for war crimes while grasping at anything, however tenuous, which might implicate Ukraine. I’ll leave to others the question of *why* they do it, because f**k if I know.
@THEGRAYZONE I mean what’s @TheGrayzone’s endgame here? At some point the sheer magnitude of Russian war crimes will render untenable their little game of atrocity-denial whack-a-mole. Until then, those of us in a position to do so have a responsibility to keep exposing their lies.

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Mar 22
OK, so @MaxBlumenthal of @TheGrayzoneNews recently published an article claiming that Russia’s bombing of a Mariupol theater was actually a false-flag operation carried out by Ukraine’s Azov Battalion. Reader, this is one dishonest article, and I’m about to show you why. Thread:
@MaxBlumenthal @TheGrayzoneNews The bombing occurred a week ago. Locals, in an attempt to dissuade Russia from attacking it, had written “children” on the ground outside in letters so big they could be seen from space satellites. But was it really a false-flag operation by Ukrainian forces? Let’s dig in.
@MaxBlumenthal @TheGrayzoneNews Before we get into it, though, here’s a link to Blumenthal’s piece for your reference:…
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