In July, President Donald Trump was criticized by the mainstream media for allegedly inviting Czech President Milos Zeman to the White House. It was another piece of “evidence” showing that Trump was Putin’s agent. Zeman and Russian media made the most of it, even involving Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana, in the narrative. However, when it was revealed that the whole story was a sham created by Zeman with Putin’s blessing, and that Trump actually had warned Zeman to stay away from him, the media went silent. Why? Because it hurts the narrative to admit that Trump rejected Putin’s stooge.
Zeman was a “suicide bomber” that was intended to cause havoc in Washington, D.C., but he was stopped and Trump avoided a crisis while Zeman imploded in his native Czech Republic. Zeman recently compounded his troubles by admitting, in a moment of public candor, to his support for illicit arms trading.
A firestorm has broken out in the Czech Republic over the revelation that a Czech arms trader and political supporter of Zeman violated international aviation agreements by shipping military weapons on civilian flights. Adding to the intrigue, the flights, which originated all over Europe and took circuitous routes around Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East, were conducted under Azerbaijani diplomatic cover.
In a stunning development in the world of illicit arms trading, a Bulgarian newspaper has released a detailed accounting of the very rare flight maneuvers, complete with shipping manifests, flight plans, tail numbers, and names of the companies involved. The article reported that some of the arms shipped in this manner ended up in the hands of Syrian extremist groups, including Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State. In an equally stunning move, one of the companies named has spoken on the record admitting to the transactions.
Czechoslovak Group (CSG) told the media that the CSG shipments were made to Israel “with possible consultation by American colleagues.” That’s a baffling statement. What does that mean, “possible consultation by American colleagues”? Is he implying that CSG was shipping arms under Azerbaijani diplomatic cover on behalf of the U.S. government? Is he trying to set up a so-called false flag? Cold Warriors know that false flag operations — which try to pin the responsibility for a covert activity on a rival nation — are a favorite Russian method.
CSG, owned by Jaroslav Strnad, a Czech arms trader well known in Prague as President Zeman’s friend and sponsor, is a company undergoing multiple investigations by law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and investigative journalists. The group has expanded rapidly over the past year through co-investments with its strategic Russian partner into aviation, heavy industry, and railcar manufacturing, and is expanding its activities in Russia. Strnad’s partner is widely reported to have a business association with senior Russian intelligence officers.
President Zeman has a reputation as Vladimir Putin’s mouthpiece and Trojan horse in Europe. He promoted arms deals in Azerbaijan in 2015 and his team has a history of involvement in the black market for arms, particularly in using false shipping destinations to evade international restrictions on arms shipments to a war zone. While some pro-Israel groups consider Zeman to be an ally of Israel because of his public support for Israel, they may not approve of all of his activities. His one consistent political position is to support Russian policy, and Russian policy itself is inconsistent regarding Israel. And Zeman’s history of support for questionable arms deals opens the door for doubt about his judgment and priorities, and suggests that he is more concerned about helping political supporters make money than about sound international policy. Whether or not he personally approved specific shipments to terrorists, he clearly attacked the international system designed to prevent illicit shipments.
It looks like in this arms re-export scheme, once again we find Zeman and his people working on Russian operations and trying to entangle the U.S. in it, just like his phony visit to the White House. We see a deal promoted by Zeman (a Russian agent), executed by Strnad (a Russia-partnered businessman), on flights with diplomatic cover from Azerbaijan (a former Soviet Republic in the Russian sphere of influence). This is a deal that has Russia written all over it, but the company executing the deal dares to point its finger at the U.S.
The mainstream media continues to achieve Putin’s objectives by misdirecting the attention of nearly everyone in Washington, by obsessively focusing on trying to find dirt on President Trump, while Putin is directing shadowy arms shipments from the heart of Europe to the most hardened enemies of the West. It’s time to stop chasing shadows, and start countering real threats.