Ukraine will lose the war within a few months. Yet, the former peace-lover Jens Stoltenberg continues to lie, apparently in consultation with the equally peace-loving government of Jonas Gahr Støre. Why, one wonders? Is it just because the warmongers in Washington D.C. behind the greatly diminished Biden have a vulnerable body part in a vise, or is the explanation worse?
Ludovic’s blue Moskvitch four-seater was built without shock absorbers. Every time one of the front wheels disappeared into a mud-filled crater, it slammed like a bazooka. A shower of sparks flew out from the cigarette’s cardboard tube, and the smell of Mahorka tobacco mixed with exhaust from the rust holes in the floor.
“If you can handle a whole Belomorkanal cigarette without passing out with Ludo behind the wheel, you don’t need to demonstrate your personal courage in any other ways,” grinned the minder, whom I only knew as Bruno.
It was six kilometers from the airport to the center of Vilnius. But a Soviet tank column was heading eastward, and crushed vodka bottles lay like the remains of an abstract sculpture on the roadside.
“Communism kaput,” hissed Ludo, who floored the gas pedal through the glass rain.
“Even the Stolichnaya supply is going up in smoke.”
I squeezed the cardboard tube and took a lungful of the Belomorkanal. It felt like a sword-swallower was testing the pancreas with a saber of red-hot steel. But a test of manhood is a test of manhood, regardless of the class struggle’s level of development.
“Then it’s about time the commissars and bigwigs get chased out,” I whispered hoarsely through the flood of tears.
“The ground must be cleared for a true dictatorship of the proletariat.“
Bruno pounded his fists into the worn seat and twisted in a fit of laughter. Ludo made a violent movement with the steering wheel to avoid scraping a fender against the median barrier and gave me a wild look in the mirror.
“Stay away from adults’ smoking stuff! If you plan to survive the next few days, you have to learn to keep your mouth shut.”
In an alley by the city wall
Ludo parked the rust bucket on the cobblestones in an alley by the city wall. A worn tweed jacket hung over slender shoulders. When he pulled one of the jacket flaps aside, I immediately understood why. In the lining, ten extra pockets had been sewn in, filled to the brim with bundles of bills, gold watches, and newly minted medals. He pulled out a bundle and snapped off the rubber band.
“Dollars, pounds, German marks, Swiss francs, lira, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian kroner – yes, even zloty and rubles, if you like the pigsty.”
The red-veined eyes behind the glasses shone like overripe cherries. Each breath carried a stench of raw liquor that could stun a rutting wild boar at fifty grunt’s distance. Ludo waved with the bills.
“How much do you need? 100 dollars? Two hundred…? I guarantee the most advantageous rate in the Eastern Bloc. You are a man in your prime! For a hundred, you get two blondes with longer legs than Vera Karalli. For three hundred, the whole ballet comes with.”
I half-listened to the black-market dealer’s ever wilder suggestions, and followed Bruno through the “Gate of Dawn” and up a stone staircase worn by a thousand soles.
“Ahh, you don’t like women? But I have other things. How about a real Gagarin watch, Order of the Red Banner, or Astrakhan caviar? A crate of Kalashnikov rifles can be delivered to your hotel room tomorrow; a T-72 tank the day after.”
The Holy Madonna of Vilnius
I was no longer listening. Ludo stopped shaking his head and made sure all zippers were closed. Bruno and he had in three steps transformed – from worshippers of Wall Street’s and Vanity Fair’s perverted image of the West’s sybaritic prostration before Mammon – to timeless seekers of Grace, the simple and unique message of Christianity to sinners, indifferents, and saints: “Come unto me, and you will find rest.”
The year was 1991. The evil and atheistic empire of Communism had fallen, and I had humbly taken my place in line before the altar of one of Christianity and Western civilization’s most subtle icons: The Holy Madonna of the Gate of Dawn, also known as The Holy Madonna of Vilnius.
The spiritual power radiated from her face, slightly tilted to the right; eyes like deep wells of tenderness, sorrow, and compassion; slender hands crossed in front of her waist in perfect balance and tranquility. The cloak of shining metals and gemstones and the halo around the figure were the work of goldsmiths, but the gaze belonged to the divinity – as it had been seen by millions of pilgrims since the 17th century, when Vilnius was still the seat of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland.
I took a deep breath as we descended the stairs and continued into the Old Town.
“Can you get me a picture of the Madonna?” I asked Ludo. He dug deep into one of his pockets and pulled out a postcard.
“Two dollars,” he said. “It’s cheap.”
“You’ll get one dollar, and consider yourself lucky.”
“Penny-pincher and tightwad,” he muttered almost inaudibly.
“I thought you were fond of capitalism, comrade Ludovic.”
“Money has no ideology. Money has purchasing power.”
“Then you still have a lot to learn.“
Foundation of Central Europe
As we walked down the street, I noticed that more and more houses along the doorframes had inscriptions in a script that was not Cyrillic.
“What do the words mean?” I asked innocently.
“I don’t know. I can’t read Hebrew.”
“This was the Jewish ghetto?”
“Vilnius was called the Jerusalem of the North.”
“But the Jews are gone. The houses are occupied by Lithuanians.“
Neither Ludo nor Bruno wanted to continue the conversation.
“What were we to do? The Soviet Russians murdered the elite. The Germans took care of the rest, 72,000 Jews who had lived in the city center for hundreds of years. They were all shot in the Ponary forest, just outside the city.”
“With the help of Lithuanian death squads.”
“It’s not my job to judge.”
“I have read that almost none of Lithuania’s 200,000 Jews were left by the end of 1941. Virtually all had been exterminated, and their homes taken over by the local population.“
Ludo stopped and wriggled off his backpack. He silently loosened the tie that sealed the opening and pulled out a bottle of red Georgian champagne.
“This was Stalin’s favorite, according to folklore,” he said as he passed around the bottle and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Sweet, strong, and cheap. Just the way you like it. You see, Alf, what you Westerners don’t understand is that Vilnius, Kaunas, Lvov, Warsaw, Kiev, and all other cities and towns are built on corpses and mass graves – from the time of the Mongol hordes to Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin. Wherever you dig, you find skeletons and skulls.”
NATO’s ventriloquist’s dummy
I came to think of Ludo and Bruno (names have been changed for privacy reasons) when I saw Europe and the USA’s leading political pygmies with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as the wound-up frontman – rigid in the face like a ventriloquist’s dummy with pallor – during the summit in Vilnius advocating for a continued bloodbath in the neighboring Ukraine, completely pointless and without purpose.
“We stand steadfast behind the promise to increase the political and practical support for Ukraine in the country’s defense of its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” said the former peace apostle of the Labor Party and leader of the country that administers the most prestigious award of diplomacy and neighborly love, the Nobel Peace Prize.
“The support will last until the very end.”
Who were the steadfast we that Stoltenberg referred to?
Was it Europe’s population, which was already buckling under the burden of massive taxes and price hikes? They had never been asked if they supported a years-long bloodbath in Central Europe that cost hundreds of billions and transformed the steppes by the Dnjepr into a new mass grave. And they had not at all been consulted about a headless military adventure whipped up by NATO’s apparently dimwitted leaders and a small circle of hateful warmongers in Washington and London.
They again misused the mass media – which willingly let themselves be misused – to claim that it was about Ukraine’s sovereignty when it in reality was about something completely different: to bring Russia to its knees and permanently turn the country into a pariah state.
At least the “we” could not include Stoltenberg himself. He wasn’t going to put on one of Zelensky’s tailored uniform jackets and, if necessary, support Ukraine from here to eternity. He was set to retire a few months into the future and take his tax-free fortune of millions back to Norway. A jump straight from NATO’s bloodthirsty General Staff to a top position in Norway’s swelling and now compromised peace industry might push the limits of decency and be morally impossible.
On the other hand, Germany, one of our leading allies in the campaign in Ukraine, under a different sky, had created lucrative ideological positions for those more suited to talking than fighting. They were known as gold pheasants because they were lavished with mostly undeserved medals, but they could do something else. They could talk. That could be an option for Stoltenberg, who was personally completely compromised by the lies about the war in Ukraine. He could become the gold pheasant of the Norwegian army with a uniform from the same tailor that Zelensky uses in Paris – with the production of pride flags and woke manifests as a special responsibility.
This will undoubtedly bring Putin’s troops to their knees if they – God forbid – should show up in the border areas in Varanger and head west.
Half a million dead
Irony aside: Stoltenberg’s and Støre’s instructors in Washington D.C., who are probably the arch-stupid foreign minister Antony Blinken and warmongers Jake Sullivan and Victoria Nuland, have done nothing but irreparable harm to NATO, Europe, and Norway.
The war, which is about to inflict an irreparable defeat on Zelensky and his clique with perhaps 300,000 to 500,000 dead before it’s all over, and a subsequent splitting up of the country into pieces under the control of Poland and others, including the multinational food giants. Ukraine will probably cease to exist, while Zelensky and the rest of his corrupt corps of generals and politicians in their castles in Italy and France will try to save all they have stolen from international courts.
Everyone who follows knows that NATO’s leaders have turned a blind eye to the massive corruption in Kiev, and that Ukraine has been used by Blinken and Sullivan’s backroom dealers to weaken Russia with China as the next target – if they survive the 2024 elections.
They have failed – on a grand scale.
The only ones who seem to believe otherwise are the Secretary General, who in return may have a golden future as a gold pheasant in Norway’s new woke army.
KGB’s reserve warehouse
The day before I left Vilnius, Bruno came up to me – whispering and serious.
“I have learned a lot from you about critical thinking and critical method,” he said. “And about how important it is to apply it to all matters. Even though it is easier in the west than in the east.”
We sat in the semi-darkness of the journalist bar between wonderful clouds of Mahorka and Marlboro, coffee with sweet, condensed milk, brutal vodka, and music reminiscent of eastern tango.
“Do you know that Viking Milk was invented by a Norwegian?” I asked.
“Bah,” said Bruno. “Who invented the rocket engine, the submarine snorkel, and the homing torpedoes?”
He picked with a knobby finger against a full lapel.
“There is more you do not know. The KGB fled from Vilnius yesterday. They forgot to take the key to the reserve warehouse.”
When the jet plane took off from Vilnius to Copenhagen after many hours of waiting and countless bottles of Stalin’s champagne, I had an unopened carton in my luggage.
“300 dollars,” Bruno said. “KGB’s standard phone. Guaranteed scrambling in all languages.”
I have since mounted it on the phone line and miraculously discovered that it worked. Even when I got to my current residence and dialed the number of a journalist friend in Moscow.
“Welcome to the PST,” a voice answered. “Open-Source intelligence department. Kristoffer speaking.”
That was what I knew. The old KGB could scramble a lot, but idiocy was beyond even their reach.