Ukraine is under a massive Russian assault. Kiev is under siege. Russian President Vladimir Putin's main objective is to keep Ukraine permanently out of NATO, the western nations' military alliance. Putin says the West has broken its promise to not expand NATO after the end of the Cold War. Ukraine is complaining that the West has left Ukraine at the mercy of Russia's powerful military after it agreed to give up its nuclear weapons under firm security assurances contained in the Budapest Memorandum.
Ukraine Gave Up Nukes:
When Ukraine became independent in the early 1990s, it was the third-largest nuclear power in the world with thousands of nuclear arms. In the years that followed, Ukraine made the decision to denuclearize completely based on security guarantee from the U.S., the U.K. and Russia, known as the Budapest Memorandum. Ukrainian analyst Mariana Budjeryn explained in an interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly as follows:
"It is clear that Ukrainians knew they weren't getting the exactly - sort of these legally binding, really robust security guarantees they sought. But they were told at the time that the United States and Western powers - so certainly, at least, the United States and Great Britain, they take their political commitments really seriously. This is a document signed at the highest level by the heads of state".
In a meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, the US Secretary of State James Baker gave “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted by the National Security Archive
at George Washington University.
The US and Western European nations have added 14 former East Bloc nations and former Soviet Republics as NATO members in spite of repeated protests by the Russians. Putin's anger boiled over when the US supported a coup in 2014 that removed pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych from power in Ukraine. In a leaked taped conversation, US assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland can be heard discussing with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, the plans to replace Mr. Yanukovych.
Russia and Ukraine are both nursing grievances against the West. Russians feel aggrieved because the West has continued the NATO expansion to include several countries on its border where NATO has based US forces. Russians see these forces as a serious threat to its national security. Ukrainians resent the fact that they were persuaded by the West to give up thousands of nuclear weapons in the 1990s which could have prevented the Russian invasion of their country. The bottom line is that the Ukrainians are now facing the might of the powerful Russian military alone. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech that Ukraine has been “left alone” to defend against the Russian invasion. “Today, I asked the twenty-seven leaders of Europe whether Ukraine will be in NATO. I asked directly. Everyone is afraid. They do not answer", he added.
Lesson For Pakistan:
Commenting on Ukraine, Russian analyst Alexey Kupriyanov
told Indian journalist Nirupama Subramanian: "For us, Ukraine is the same as Pakistan for India
". What he failed to mention is that Pakistan has developed and retains its nuclear arsenal
while Ukraine gave up its nukes in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. Many Ukrainians now regret this decision. Ukrainians know that no country with nuclear weapons has ever been physically invaded by a foreign military. They now understand the proven effectiveness of nuclear deterrence. They realize that all the talk about "rules-based order" is just empty rhetoric. The reality is the Law of the Jungle where the strong prey on the weak. The US military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that Washington is just as guilty of violating the "rules-based order" as Moscow.
However, the Ukrainians had all the knowledge, the skills and the capability to build their own nuclear weapons.
Some of the top Soviet nuclear scientists and engineers were Ukrainians.
Please read this:
"Ukraine played a significant role in the Soviet nuclear program development. Before the Second World War, many of the best Soviet nuclear physicists worked in Ukraine. However, during this period the capacity of Ukrainian nuclear research capabilities was underestimated by the Soviet government—Soviet leaders did not recognize the significance of proposals by Kharkov physicists regarding the producing of nuclear weapons. The rejection of Victor Maslov’s suggestions was a historic mistake for the Soviet Union. Had the Soviets began their weapons program in earnest prior to the Second World War, one could speculate that the Soviet Union might have been able to create nuclear weapons almost simultaneously with the United States. After WWII, Ukraine continued to play a significant role in the Soviet civilian nuclear industry. While the Ukrainian institute of Physics in Kharkiv did not actively participate in the production of Soviet nuclear weapons, many Ukrainian physicists were part of the efforts underway in Russia"
KARACHI, Pakistan -- The families of hundreds of Pakistani students stuck in Ukraine following the Russian invasion are urging their government to help bring them home.
At a media briefing late Friday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the Pakistani embassy had been temporarily moved from Kyiv to Ternopil on the border with Poland, to facilitate evacuations.
Media reports say some 1500 Pakistanis, including 500 students, have been stuck in Ukraine since the Russian invasion on Thursday.
Syed Waqar Abbas, a software engineering student in Kharkiv National University, is among the students in Ukraine waiting for consular help. His family in the southern port city of Karachi said Saturday that they remain worried about his safety.
“My son is in Kharkiv which is being bombarded. He lives close to the border and that area is very dangerous," said Shabana Bano Abbas, his mother. She told the Associated Press that her son had no resources to help him get out.
“He has just informed us that a station close to his area has been bombarded, how will my son get out of that place?" she said, demanding the government to help stranded children return.
His sister Rubab blamed the Pakistani authorities of being unresponsive. “He has been trying to contact the Pakistan Embassy for two days but the embassy has not been giving any response to him.”
The Pakistani embassy in Ukraine said in a tweet that it was helping stranded Pakistanis to evacuate, advising them to reach Ternopil so they can be transported to Poland. Pakistan's national airline PIA said it was ready to airlift citizens home from Poland.
Best advice to solve the Russia-Ukraine Conflict was given by John J. Mearsheimer in 2015 which nobody listened.
"The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked."
Every useful or pleasing claim about the war, no matter how unverified or subsequently debunked, rapidly spreads, while dissenters are vilified as traitors or Kremlin agents.
Less than a week into this war, that can no longer be said. One of the media's most beloved members of Congress, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), on Friday explicitly and emphatically urged that the U.S. military be deployed to Ukraine to establish a “no-fly zone” — i.e., American soldiers would order Russia not to enter Ukrainian airspace and would directly attack any Russian jets or other military units which disobeyed. That would, by definition and design, immediately ensure that the two countries with by far the planet's largest nuclear stockpiles would be fighting one another, all over Ukraine.
Kinzinger's fantasy that Russia would instantly obey U.S. orders due to rational calculations is directly at odds with all the prevailing narratives about Putin having now become an irrational madman who has taken leave of his senses — not just metaphorically but medically — and is prepared to risk everything for conquest and legacy. This was not the first time such a deranged proposal has been raised; days before Kinzinger unveiled his plan, a reporter asked Pentagon spokesman John Kirby why Biden has thus far refused this confrontational posture. The Brookings Institution's Ben Wittes on Sunday demanded: “Regime change: Russia.” The President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, celebrated that “now the conversation has shifted to include the possibility of desired regime change in Russia.”
Having the U.S. risk global nuclear annihilation over Ukraine is an indescribably insane view, as one realizes upon a few seconds of sober reflection. We had a reminder of that Sunday morning when “Putin ordered his nuclear forces on high alert Sunday, reminding the world he has the power to use weapons of mass destruction, after complaining about the West’s response to his invasion of Ukraine” — but it is completely unsurprising that it is already being suggested.
If sustained, such prices would plunge European economies into recession, as consumers struggled to pay bills and manufacturers were forced to shutter their factories.
Germany has already halted certification of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia as the Ukraine invasion loomed. It also said it'll take steps to wean itself off Russian gas over time. But pressure is building on Germany to accede to harsher sanctions.
There would still be potential workarounds, if Russia is cut off from Swift. BCA Research said it expects Germany to find an alternate way of transmitting payment instructions to keep energy flowing.
Russia might use China's much smaller CIPS messaging system for conducting regional commerce, driving the countries closer together. Still, it's not clear how effective any of these alternatives will be, so risk will rise of price increases or supply disruptions for a number of key commodities.
Russia's Other Riches
Russia's economy is "basically a big gas station," but otherwise of little global importance, Jason Furman, top economic advisor to President Obama, said recently.
For S&P 500 companies, Russia only amounts to 0.1% of total sales, according to a Bank of America report.
Yet Russia controls big enough slices of key commodity markets beyond oil and gas to roil global supply chains that are still trying to recover from Covid disruptions.
Russia accounted for 6% of global aluminum and 5% of nickel supply in 2021, according to the Cru Group's commodity market research.
On Thursday, aluminum prices rose more than 3% to hit an all-time high $3,450 per ton, while nickel reached a decade-plus high around $25,000 per ton.
Inventories of base metals are already extremely low, JPMorgan said in a note to clients. That leaves "very little additional cushion for further supply disruptions — either from Russia directly or via higher-for-longer gas and power prices," the firm's analysts added.
Russia also controls 35% of palladium and 10% of platinum supply. Those precious metals are used in catalytic converters to reduce auto emissions.
The U.S. neon supply, key in the advanced lithography chipmaking process, comes almost entirely from Russia and Ukraine, says the Techcet research and consulting firm.
With nearly 25% of the global wheat supply between Russia and Ukraine, the invasion also could exacerbate food inflation.
For the U.S. and its allies to target these crucial commodities with sanctions would be shooting themselves in the foot.
Ukraine Invasion Timing
The West will sanction less-essential Russian exports, like diamonds. Still, Russia's major income streams will remain intact, as Putin surely counted on. The surge in oil prices and global inflation pressures mean Putin has invaded Ukraine at the most opportune time.
"Putin was ready for this crisis," said Lori Esposito Murray, president of The Conference Board's public policy arm, in a podcast this week. "He's been planning this for a while."
Murray highlighted the $630 billion in currency reserves that Russia has built up to buttress its economic foundations for war.
That's not to say Russians won't pay a steep price from the Ukraine invasion and sanctions. Biden noted Thursday that the ruble had fallen to an all-time low, while Russian borrowing rates soared. Amid currency depreciation, a recession in Russia looks like a given.
The West is rolling out increasingly tough sanctions on Russia but it is going out of its way to preserve the country’s biggest source of revenue: energy exports.
In the latest example, the European Union said late Saturday that it had agreed with the U.S., the U.K. and Canada to eject some of Russia’s banks from the global financial system’s payments infrastructure, Swift. The move, if applied to all banks, would be powerful, essentially blocking money transfers in and out of the country. By cutting only some, Western countries are allowing payments, including for energy, to continue through non-sanctioned banks.
Russia is one of the world’s top oil and natural-gas producers, and energy exports represent half of the country’s foreign sales. The country, now embroiled in a bitter war in Ukraine, provides around 40% of Europe’s natural gas. The commodity heats the continent, fuels many of its power plants and is a critical input for a range of industrial processes. Russia’s crude production is a major factor in the global oil marketplace.
As the U.S. and its Western allies wage economic war against the Kremlin to coerce it into abandoning its invasion of Ukraine, policymakers have tailored their pressure campaign to protect their energy supply, prevent a surge in oil prices and minimize the damage on their own economies.
“You can’t get away from the fact that Europe still has a dependency on Russia,” said Justine Walker, head of sanctions and risk at the Associate of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, even as observers argue the exemptions for energy sales dilute the sanctions’ impact.
The U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia’s largest banks— Sberbank and VTB—but provided broad exemptions on payments for purchases of crude oil, natural gas, fuel and other petroleum products. The EU, meanwhile, chose not to sanction them for now. Already-sanctioned banks will be kicked off Swift, but others will be allowed to stay.
A senior Biden administration official said Saturday that officials were carefully selecting which Russian banks to eject from the Swift network to minimize disruption of energy markets.
“We know where most of the energy flows occur, through which banks they occur,” the official said. “And if we take that approach, we can simply choose the institutions where most of the energy flows do not occur.”
The exemptions enable European nations and others to continue buying Russian gas and oil. That tempers prices, including for oil, which have jumped by roughly 40% over the last three months over concerns of disruption to oil markets from a conflict in Ukraine. Higher oil prices boost the amount of money Russia makes for every barrel sold, and spurs inflation across the world.
“The way that...President Biden has approached sanctions is we want to take every step to maximize the impact and the consequences on President Putin, while minimizing the impact on the American people and the global community,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday on ABC News. “And so energy sanctions are certainly on the table. We have not taken those off. But we also want to do that and make sure we’re minimizing the impact on the global marketplace, and do it in a united way.”
U.S. officials say the exemptions were critical for winning political support for a coordinated and complementary pressure campaign from a broad range of economies including the U.S. and U.K., and the 27 member states of the EU.
The central government is planning to strengthen the rupee-rouble trade arrangement with Russia after the European Union, the US, and other Western partners decided to cut off several Russian banks from the global Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) payment system.
On Saturday, European countries and the US decided to block many Russian banks' from accessing SWIFT, following Russia's assault on Ukraine. The move was intended to force a military pull-back, isolate and dessicate President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions of financing the ...
https://youtu.be/CBWuDajHdCo via @YouTube
Q: Now Russia and China are cultivating a friendly relationship premised on the U.S. as their common enemy. Do you think Russia and China will be compatible in their stances toward Asia?
A: The U.S. has foolishly driven the Russians into the arms of the Chinese. I think Russia is the natural ally of the U.S. against China.
In 1969, the Soviet Union and China almost fought a war in Siberia. The Soviet Union and China -- and now we're talking about Russia and China -- have a history of bad relations, in large part because they share a border and each occupies big chunks of real estate in Asia. Russia should be an ally of the U.S. against China, and the U.S. needs all the allies it can get to contain China.
But what we have done by expanding NATO eastward is we have precipitated a huge crisis with Russia that prevents us from fully pivoting to Asia. We can't fully pivot to Asia because we're so concerned about events in Eastern Europe. That's the first consequence. The second is that we have driven the Russians into the arms of the Chinese. This makes no sense at all.
Q: The current tensions along the Ukraine border raise the question of whether the U.S. is capable of dealing with European and Asian issues simultaneously.
A: Let me chose my words carefully. The U.S. has the capability to deal with a conflict in Europe and a conflict in Asia at the same time.
However, it does not have the capability to perform well in both campaigns at the same time. By getting involved in a conflict in Eastern Europe, we, the U.S., are detracting from our ability to contain China and to fight a war against China, should one break out.
Q: Looking at Asia, some countries like North Korea continue to engage in nuclear arms brinkmanship. Will the world become a much more unstable, multipolar world? What is the way forward?
A: North Korean nuclear weapons are a significant problem, for Japan, for South Korea, and even for the U.S. As long as the U.S. maintains close alliances with Japan and South Korea, North Korea will not use its nuclear weapons. The American nuclear umbrella protects both Japan and South Korea from a strike with nuclear weapons from the North.
China is content to allow North Korea to keep its nuclear weapons. China has concluded that North Korean nuclear weapons are a force for stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia more generally.
However, the Chinese worry about Kim Jong Un engaging in nuclear brinkmanship, and the Chinese have told him in no uncertain terms that that is unacceptable. As a result he has curbed his behavior.
If Kim Jong Un goes back down that road, the Chinese will tell him, 'no more' because they don't want a nuclear crisis.
Q: The Biden administration hosted a summit of democracies last year. Do you think this approach is effective in curbing the rise of authoritarian countries?
A: No. This is a geopolitical competition, and we should think of it as a geopolitical competition and not an ideological competition.
The fact that Japan and the U.S. are democracies is very nice, but the truth is that they should be allied against China because China is a threat to both countries, regardless of ideology.
If you take the ideological argument too far, then you get to a point where you say Russia cannot be in the balancing coalition against China, because Russia is not a liberal democracy. I believe that would be foolish. What you ought to do is form an alliance with any powerful country you can find that will help you contain China. China is a formidable adversary.
They allow 30 Indians only after 500 Ukrainians get in. To get to this border you need to walk 4 to 5 kilometers from the first checkpoint to the second one. Ukrainians are given taxis and buses to travel, all other nationalities have to walk. They were very racist to Indians and other nationalities,'" the 22-year-old from Mumbai told CNN.
She added that she witnessed violence from the guards to the students waiting at the Ukrainian side of the Shehyni-Medyka border.
Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 are no longer allowed to leave the country, but that decree does not extend to men who are foreign nationals.
Ijantkar says she saw Indian men were left in queues for long hours along with other non-Ukrainian nationalities.
"They were very cruel. The second checkpoint was the worst. When they opened the gate for you to cross to the Ukrainian border, you stay between the Ukraine and Poland, the Ukrainian army don't allow Indian men and boys to cross when you get there. They only allowed the Indian girls to get in. We had to literally cry and beg at their feet. After the Indian girls got in, the boys were beaten up. There was no reason for them to beat us with this cruelty," Ijantkar said.
"I saw an Egyptian man standing at the front with his hands on the rails, and because of that one guard pushed him with so much force and the man hit the fence, which is covered in spikes, and he lost consciousness," she said.
"We took him outside to give him CPR. They just didn't care and they were beating the students, they didn't give two hoots about us, only the Ukrainians," she added.
CNN contacted the Ukrainian army in light of the allegations of violence, but did not immediately hear back.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, foreign students attempting to leave the country say they are experiencing racist treatment by Ukrainian security forces and border officials.
One African medical student told CNN that she and other foreigners were ordered off the public transit bus at a checkpoint between Ukraine and Poland border.
They were told to stand aside as the bus drove off with only Ukrainian nationals on board, she says.
Rachel Onyegbule, a Nigerian first-year medical student in Lviv was left stranded at the border town of Shehyni, some 400 miles from Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.
She told CNN: "More than 10 buses came and we were watching everyone leave. We thought after they took all the Ukrainians they would take us, but they told us we had to walk, that there were no more buses and told us to walk."
"My body was numb from the cold and we haven't slept in about 4 days now. Ukrainians have been prioritized over Africans -- men and women -- at every point. There's no need for us to ask why. We know why. I just want to get home," Onyegbule told CNN in a telephone call Sunday as she waited in line at the border to cross into Poland.
Onyegbule says she eventually got her exit document stamped on Monday morning around 4.30 a.m. local time.
By H.A. Hellyer
February 28, 2022 at 12:42 p.m. EST
H.A. Hellyer, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar, is a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and Cambridge University.
“This double standard is so evident in how we as Westerners engage in intl relations…we dehumanize non-White populations, diminishing their importance, and that leads to one thing: the degrading of their right to live in dignity.”
“This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades,” Charlie D’Agata, a CBS correspondent in Kyiv, told his colleagues back in the studio. “You know, this is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully, too — city where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen.”
Putin’s criminal invasion of Ukraine has generated an inspiring wave of solidarity around the world, but for many — especially non-White observers — it has been impossible to tune out the racist biases in Western media and politics.
D’Agata’s comments generated a swift backlash — and he was quick to apologize — but he was hardly the only one. A commentator on a French news program said, “We’re not talking about Syrians fleeing bombs of the Syrian regime backed by Putin; we’re talking about Europeans leaving in cars that look like ours to save their lives.” On the BBC, a former deputy prosecutor general of Ukraine declared, “It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blond hair ... being killed every day.” Even an Al Jazeera anchor said, “These are not obviously refugees trying to get away from areas in the Middle East,” while an ITV News reporter said, “Now the unthinkable has happened to them, and this is not a developing, Third World nation; this is Europe.”
British pundit Daniel Hannan joined the chorus in the Telegraph. “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations. It can happen to anyone,” he wrote.
The implication for anyone reading or watching — particularly anyone with ties to a nation that has also seen foreign intervention, conflict, sanctions and mass migration — is clear: It’s much worse when White Europeans suffer than when it’s Arabs or other non-White people. Yemenis, Iraqis, Nigerians, Libyans, Afghans, Palestinians, Syrians, Hondurans — well, they are used to it.
The insults went beyond media coverage. A French politician said Ukrainian refugees represent “high-quality immigration.” The Bulgarian prime minister said Ukrainian refugees are “intelligent, they are educated. ... This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists.”
It’s as if, in our anger and horror at the scenes of Russia’s aggression, we are incapable of recognizing a simple fact: We’ve seen this before.
A Vanity Fair special correspondent denied precisely that in a tweet: “This is arguably the first war we’ve seen (actually seen in real-time) take place in the age of social media, and all of these heart-wrenching images make Russia look utterly terrible.”
The tweet was erased — like the experiences of many who have documented the horrors of war in recent decades on social media and beyond.
Putin’s military also intervened ferociously in Syria, backing a murderous regime. That war unleashed a level of mass death, suffering, destruction and displacement not yet seen in Ukraine — but the West’s response was far less empathetic. The same can be said of the U.S. invasions and military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq; the catastrophic Saudi-led war in Yemen; the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians.
Meeting Putin’s key demand to guarantee no future expansion of NATO will offer an off-ramp for Russia and hopefully defuse the conflict. Piling on #sanctions or no-fly zones will only inflame the situation further, risking a much bigger conflict
On a snowy tarmac at Amari Air Base in northern Estonia on Sunday morning, pallets of rifles, ammunition and other weapons were being loaded onto one of the largest cargo planes in the world, an Antonov AN-124, belonging to the Ukrainian air force. It is an artifact of the Cold War, built and purchased when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union.
Now it is being turned back against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, part of a vast airlift that American and European officials describe as a desperate race against time, to get tons of arms into the hands of Ukrainian forces while their supply routes are still open. Scenes like this, reminiscent of the Berlin airlift — the famed race by the Western allies to keep West Berlin supplied with essentials in 1948 and 1949 as the Soviet Union sought to choke it off — are playing out across Europe.
In less than a week, the United States and NATO have pushed more than 17,000 antitank weapons, including Javelin missiles, over the borders of Poland and Romania, unloading them from giant military cargo planes so they can make the trip by land to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and other major cities. So far, Russian forces have been so preoccupied in other parts of the country that they have not targeted the arms supply lines, but few think that can last.
But those are only the most visible contributions. Hidden away on bases around Eastern Europe, forces from United States Cyber Command known as “cybermission teams” are in place to interfere with Russia’s digital attacks and communications — but measuring their success rate is difficult, officials say.
In Washington and Germany, intelligence officials race to merge satellite photographs with electronic intercepts of Russian military units, strip them of hints of how they were gathered, and beam them to Ukrainian military units within an hour or two. As he tries to stay out of the hands of Russian forces in Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine travels with encrypted communications equipment, provided by the Americans, that can put him into a secure call with President Biden. Mr. Zelensky used it Saturday night for a 35-minute call with his American counterpart on what more the U.S. can do in its effort to keep Ukraine alive without entering into direct combat on the ground, in the air or in cyberspace with Russian forces.
Mr. Zelensky welcomed the help so far, but repeated the criticism that he has made in public — that the aid was wildly insufficient to the task ahead. He asked for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a shutdown of all Russian energy exports and a fresh supply of fighter jets.
It is a delicate balance. On Saturday, while Mr. Biden was in Wilmington, Del., his National Security Council staff spent much of the day trying to find a way for Poland to transfer to Ukraine a fleet of well-used, Soviet-made MIG-29 fighter jets that Ukrainian pilots know how to fly. But the deal is contingent on giving Poland, in return, far more capable, American-made F-16s, an operation made more complicated by the fact that many of those fighters are promised to Taiwan — where the United States has greater strategic interests.
Polish leaders have said there is no deal, and are clearly concerned about how they would provide the fighters to Ukraine and whether doing so would make them a new target of the Russians. The United States says it is open to the idea of the plane swap.
Who is Victoria Nuland? Most Americans have never heard of her, because the U.S. corporate media's foreign policy coverage is a wasteland. Most Americans have no idea that President-elect Biden's pick for deputy secretary of state for political affairs is stuck in the quicksand of 1950s U.S.-Russia Cold War politics and dreams of continued NATO expansion, an arms race on steroids and further encirclement of Russia.
Nor do they know that from 2003 to 2005, during the hostile U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Nuland was a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Bush administration.
You can bet, however, that the people of Ukraine have heard of neocon Nuland. Many have even heard the leaked four-minute audio of her saying "Fuck the EU" during a February 2014 phone call with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.
During the infamous call on which Nuland and Pyatt appeared to be plotting to replace or undermine elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, Nuland expressed her not-so-diplomatic disgust with the European Union for favoring former heavyweight boxer and austerity champ Vitali Klitschko to take over as prime minister, instead of the U.S. first choice, Artseniy Yatsenyuk, who indeed took power after Yanukovych was ousted about three weeks later.
The "Fuck the EU" call went viral, as an embarrassed State Department, never denying the call's authenticity, blamed the Russians for tapping the phone, much as the NSA has tapped the phones of European allies.
Despite outrage from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, no one fired Nuland, but her potty mouth upstaged the more serious story: the U.S. plot to overthrow Ukraine's elected government — and America's responsibility for a civil war that has killed at least 13,000 people and left Ukraine the poorestcountry in Europe.
In the process, Nuland, her husband Robert Kagan — co-founder of The Project for a New American Century — and their neocon cronies succeeded in sending U.S.-Russian relations into a dangerous downward spiral from which they have yet to recover.
Nuland accomplished this from a relatively junior position as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. How much more trouble could she stir up as the No. 3 official at Biden's State Department? We'll find out soon enough, if the Senate confirms her nomination.
Joe Biden should have learned from Barack Obama's mistakes that appointments like this matter. In his first term, Obama allowed his hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and military and CIA leaders held over from the Bush administration to ensure that endless war trumped his message of hope and change.
Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, ended up presiding over indefinite detentions without charges or trials at Guantánamo Bay, an escalation of drone strikes that killed innocent civilians, a deepening of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, a self-reinforcing cycle of terrorism and counterterrorism, and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria.
With Clinton out and new personnel in top spots in his second term, Obama began to take charge of his own foreign policy. He started working directly with Russia's President Vladimir Putin to resolve crises in Syria and other hotspots. Putin helped avert an escalation of the war in Syria in September 2013 by negotiating the removal and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles, and helped Obama negotiate an interim agreement with Iran that led to the JCPOA nuclear deal.
But the neocons were apoplectic that they failed to convince Obama to order a massive bombing campaign and escalate his covert proxy war in Syria and at the receding prospect of a war with Iran. Fearing their control of U.S. foreign policy was slipping, the neocons launched a campaign to brand Obama as "weak" on foreign policy and remind him of their power.
With editorial help from Nuland, Kagan penned a 2014 New Republic article entitled "Superpowers Don't Get to Retire," proclaiming that "there is no democratic superpower waiting in the wings to save the world if this democratic superpower falters." Kagan called for an even more aggressive foreign policy to exorcise American fears of a multipolar world it can no longer dominate.
Obama invited Kagan to a private lunch at the White House, and the neocons' muscle-flexing pressured him to scale back his diplomacy with Russia, even as he quietly pushed ahead on Iran.
The neocons' coup de grace against Obama's better angels came with Nuland's 2014 coup in debt-ridden Ukraine, a strategic candidate for NATO membership right on Russia's border.
When Ukrainian President Yanukovych spurned a U.S.-backed trade agreement with the European Union in favor of a $15 billion bailout from Russia, the State Department threw a tantrum.
Hell hath no fury like a superpower scorned.
The EU trade agreement was to open Ukraine's economy to European imports, but without a reciprocal opening of EU markets to Ukraine, it was a lopsided deal Yanukovich could not accept. The deal was approved by the post-coup government, and has only added to Ukraine's economic woes.
The muscle for Nuland's $5 billion coup was Oleh Tyahnybok's neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and the shadowy new Right Sector militia. During her leaked phone call, Nuland referred to Tyahnybok as one of the "big three"opposition leaders on the outside who could help the U.S.-backed Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on the inside. This is the same Tyanhnybok who once delivered a speech applauding Ukrainians for fighting Jews and "other scum" during World War II.
After protests in Kyiv's Maidan Square turned into battles with police in February 2014, Yanukovych and the Western-backed opposition signed an agreement brokered by France, Germany and Poland to form a national unity government and hold new elections by the end of the year.
But that was not good enough for the neo-Nazis and extreme right-wing forces the U.S. had helped to unleash. A violent mob led by the Right Sector militia marched on and invaded the parliament building, a scene no longer difficult for Americans to imagine. Yanukovych and his members of parliament fled for their lives.
Facing the loss of its most vital strategic naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea, Russia accepted the overwhelming result (a 97% majority, with an 83% turnout) of a referendum in which Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, of which it had been a part from 1783 to 1954.
The majority Russian-speaking provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine unilaterally declared independence from Ukraine, triggering a bloody civil war between U.S.-backed and Russian-backed forces that still rages in 2021.
U.S.-Russian relations have never recovered, even as the two nations' nuclear arsenals still pose the greatest single threat to our existence. Whatever Americans believe about the civil war in Ukraine and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we must not allow the neocons and the military-industrial complex they serve to deter Biden from conducting vital diplomacy with Russia to steer us off a suicidal path toward nuclear war.
Nuland and the neocons, however, remain committed to an ever-more debilitating and dangerous Cold War with Russia and China to justify a militarist foreign policy and record Pentagon budgets. In a July 2020 Foreign Affairs article entitled "Pinning Down Putin," Nuland absurdly claimed that Russia presents a greater threat to "the liberal world" than the Soviet Union posed during the old Cold War.
Nuland's narrative rests on an utterly mythical and ahistorical narrative of Russian aggression and U.S. good intentions. She pretends that Russia's military budget, which is one-tenth of America's, is evidence of "Russian confrontation and militarization" and calls on the U.S. and its allies to counter Russia by "maintaining robust defense budgets, continuing to modernize U.S. and allied nuclear weapons systems, and deploying new conventional missiles and missile defenses to protect against Russia's new weapons systems."
Nuland also wants to confront Russia with an aggressive NATO. Since her days as U.S. ambassador to NATO during President George W. Bush's second term, she has been a supporter of NATO's expansion all the way up to Russia's border. She calls for"permanent bases along NATO's eastern border." We have pored over a map of Europe, but we can't find a country called NATO with any borders at all. Nuland sees Russia's commitment to defending itself after successive 20th-century Western invasions as an intolerable obstacle to NATO's expansionist ambitions.
Nuland's militaristic worldview represents exactly the folly the U.S. has been pursuing since the 1990s under the influence of the neocons and "liberal interventionists," which has resulted in a systematic underinvestment in the American people while escalating tensions with Russia, China, Iran and other countries.
As Obama learned too late, the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time can, with a shove in the wrong direction, unleash years of intractable violence, chaos and international discord. Victoria Nuland would be a ticking time-bomb in Biden's State Department, waiting to sabotage his better angels much as she undermined Obama's second-term diplomacy.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK for Peace, is the author of "Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran" and "Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection."
Mohammad Zahoor owns real estate and steel businesses in conflict-ridden nation
A Pakistani billionaire, who before the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a major figure in the Ukrainian media and steel industries, has called on the international community to support Kyiv, as Russian forces step up attacks on cities and nuclear facilities.
Born in the Pakistani megapolis Karachi in 1955, Mohammad Zahoor was 19 when he traveled to Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union, to study metallurgy on a Pakistan steel mills scholarship. After completing his master’s degree, he returned to his home country to work in the steel sector.
Years later, as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell apart, and Ukraine became an independent state in 1991, Zahoor went back to participate in the country’s transition into a capitalist economy. He invested in the steel sector and established ISTIL Group, a conglomerate operating in real estate, manufacturing, and coal enrichment.
He also became involved in Ukraine’s media and entertainment scene, and in 2009 bought Kyiv Post, the oldest English-language newspaper in Ukraine, which he owned for nearly a decade, gaining the title of “Pakistani press prince of Kyiv.”
Fluent in the region’s languages and familiar with its politics, the billionaire told Arab News in an exclusive interview why he was calling on the world to support Ukrainians in the war that began on Feb. 24, and which has forced an estimated 2 million people to flee the country in under two weeks.
“This is time, actually, for us not to keep quiet. We have to take sides,” Zahoor said.
“I am openly taking the side of Ukraine because after seeing (reports from) Western, Ukrainian and Russian media, I can see and decide who is telling the truth. This is the time actually for everyone to speak up for Ukraine otherwise every big country is going to swallow its next-door neighbor.”
Married to Kamaliya, the Ukrainian pop star and former Mrs. World beauty pageant titleholder, Zahoor has left Kyiv with their two daughters. His wife had joined them a few days after their departure because she initially wanted to stay in her country, but the situation had become increasingly dangerous.
“It’s more than 10 days that civilians (have been) bombarded; the nuclear plant has been targeted. I think we are in the worst crisis in the world since the Second World War,” Zahoor said.
He said the shelling of nuclear facilities by Russian forces posed a considerable danger to the world.
The Russians have reportedly captured Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after attacking it overnight Friday, which started at least one fire, raising widespread concerns that a meltdown happened and that the consequences would likely be much worse than Chernobyl.
“We are in the middle of Europe, in fact. If something happens to those nuclear power plants, and Ukraine has got 15 of those ... The nuclear power plant which was shelled is six times more powerful than the Chernobyl plant. The Russian equipment, I must say, they are not very precise. So, they’re sending 10 rockets in order to get one to the destination.”
As international sanctions followed Russia’s invasion, aiming to cut Moscow off from the world’s financial arteries, Zahoor said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called for the world’s intervention before the violence broke out.
“I think Europe has done much (less) than they should have done. Not only EU, but America and UK as well. They have supported all the way, first by words, then by sending those stinger or javelin missiles and that’s it,” he added.
Now, as sanctions are underway, the damage has reportedly already been done to the whole region.
Zahoor said the war may have consequences for Russia similar to the fallout from the Soviet-Afghan war from 1979 to 1989, which drastically weakened the Russian military and economy. That defeat in Afghanistan was one of the major reasons for the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
“Ukraine is going to be the next Afghanistan for Russia,” he said. “I don’t know how many years they are going to be in Ukraine, but once they are out, they will be broken into pieces.”
By Fareed Zakaria
One of the defining features of the new era is that it is post-American. By that I mean that the Pax Americana of the past three decades is over. You can see signs of this everywhere. Consider the fact that the leaders of the UAE and Saudi Arabia — two countries that have depended on Washington for their security for decades — refused to even take phone calls from the U.S. president, according to the Wall Street Journal. Consider as well that Israel (initially) and India have refused to describe Putin’s actions as an invasion, and that all four countries have made it clear they will continue to do business with Russia.
At first glance, it might seem that this is a new global order that is stacked against America. But that’s not necessarily so. The United States remains the world’s leading power, still stronger than all the rest by far. It also benefits from some of the features of this new age. The United States is the world’s leading producer of hydrocarbons. High energy prices, while terrible for countries such as China and Germany, actually stimulate growth in large parts of the United States. Geopolitically, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has put Washington’s chief competitor, China, in an awkward position, forcing Beijing to defend Russia’s actions and putting it at odds with the European Union, with which it has tried hard to have close ties.
The greatest strategic opportunity lies with Europe, which could use this challenge to stop being the passive international actor it has been for decades. We now see signs that the Europeans are ready to end the era of free security by raising defense spending and securing NATO’s eastern border. Germany’s remarkable turnaround is a start. If Europe becomes a strategic player on the world stage, that could be the biggest geopolitical shift to emerge from this war. A United States joined by a focused and unified Europe would be a super-alliance in support of liberal values.
But for the West to become newly united and powerful, there is one essential condition: It must succeed in Ukraine. That is why the urgent necessity of the moment is to do what it takes — bearing costs and risks — to ensure that Putin does not prevail.
Q: What do you make of the offer by Poland to provide MiG fighters to the United States that we would then deliver to Ukraine?
A: It was really not smart of the Poles to float this publicly. It was an unforced error on their part. The more visible this discussion is, the less helpful it is.
Q: So how will Ukraine get the fighters it needs?
A: There are countries that have MiGs that are not members of NATO. This is a classic case where the U.S. government gets its checkbook out and quietly goes to one of those countries. The fighters just show up in Ukraine. The Russians wouldn’t even necessarily know where they came from—remember, right now, they don’t even control the airspace over Ukraine. They would obviously know what happened, but the United States and NATO would have deniability. It’s called “foreign material acquisition.” We did this all the time during the Cold War.
Q: How vital is it to get those MIGs to Ukraine?
A: I don’t see it as being decisive. Maybe I’m wrong. The Ukrainians seem to want them badly. I’m sure they want to use them to hit Russian tanks and deny Russia control of the airspace. But they are doing an amazing job of that with the weapons we already gave them. We’ve supplied them with something like 17,000 anti-tank missiles and I don’t know how many [antiaircraft] Stingers. We should be giving them thousands more.
We are witnessing a new form of warfare. To put a tank on a battlefield costs maybe $30 million. A Javelin anti-tank missile costs $175,000. Similarly with fighter jets and antiaircraft missiles. You can defend territory at a tiny fraction of what it costs the aggressor to take it. The drones the Ukrainians bought from the Turks are doing incredible damage. But just the cheap commercial drones you buy at Walmart can give you total tactical awareness of the battlefield. So Ukrainians can see everything the Russians are doing. They don’t even need satellites. But you can buy satellite imagery on the commercial market, too, and that gives you strategic awareness.
I. Predicting the Future of the Russo-Ukrainian War
1. Vladimir Putin may be unable to achieve his expected goals, which puts Russia in a tight spot. The purpose of Putin’s attack was to completely solve the Ukrainian problem and divert attention from Russia’s domestic crisis by defeating Ukraine with a blitzkrieg, replacing its leadership, and cultivating a pro-Russian government. However, the blitzkrieg failed, and Russia is unable to support a protracted war and its associated high costs. Launching a nuclear war would put Russia on the opposite side of the whole world and is therefore unwinnable. The situations both at home and abroad are also increasingly unfavorable. Even if the Russian army were to occupy Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and set up a puppet government at a high cost, this would not mean final victory. At this point, Putin’s best option is to end the war decently through peace talks, which requires Ukraine to make substantial concessions. However, what is not attainable on the battlefield is also difficult to obtain at the negotiating table. In any case, this military action constitutes an irreversible mistake.
2. The conflict may escalate further, and the West’s eventual involvement in the war cannot be ruled out. While the escalation of the war would be costly, there is a high probability that Putin will not give up easily given his character and power. The Russo-Ukrainian war may escalate beyond the scope and region of Ukraine, and may even include the possibility of a nuclear strike. Once this happens, the U.S. and Europe cannot stay aloof from the conflict, thus triggering a world war or even a nuclear war. The result would be a catastrophe for humanity and a showdown between the United States and Russia. This final confrontation, given that Russia’s military power is no match for NATO’s, would be even worse for Putin.
3. Even if Russia manages to seize Ukraine in a desperate gamble, it is still a political hot potato. Russia would thereafter carry a heavy burden and become overwhelmed. Under such circumstances, no matter whether Volodymyr Zelensky is alive or not, Ukraine will most likely set up a government-in-exile to confront Russia in the long term. Russia will be subject both to Western sanctions and rebellion within the territory of Ukraine. The battle lines will be drawn very long. The domestic economy will be unsustainable and will eventually be dragged down. This period will not exceed a few years.
4. The political situation in Russia may change or be disintegrated at the hands of the West. After Putin’s blitzkrieg failed, the hope of Russia’s victory is slim and Western sanctions have reached an unprecedented degree. As people’s livelihoods are severely affected and as anti-war and anti-Putin forces gather, the possibility of a political mutiny in Russia cannot be ruled out. With Russia’s economy on the verge of collapse, it would be difficult for Putin to prop up the perilous situation even without the loss of the Russo-Ukrainian war. If Putin were to be ousted from power due to civil strife, coup d’état, or another reason, Russia would be even less likely to confront the West. It would surely succumb to the West, or even be further dismembered, and Russia’s status as a great power would come to an end.
III. China’s Strategic Choice
1. China cannot be tied to Putin and needs to be cut off as soon as possible. In the sense that an escalation of conflict between Russia and the West helps divert U.S. attention from China, China should rejoice with and even support Putin, but only if Russia does not fall. Being in the same boat with Putin will impact China should he lose power. Unless Putin can secure victory with China’s backing, a prospect which looks bleak at the moment, China does not have the clout to back Russia. The law of international politics says that there are “no eternal allies nor perpetual enemies,” but “our interests are eternal and perpetual.” Under current international circumstances, China can only proceed by safeguarding its own best interests, choosing the lesser of two evils, and unloading the burden of Russia as soon as possible. At present, it is estimated that there is still a window period of one or two weeks before China loses its wiggle room. China must act decisively.
2. China should avoid playing both sides in the same boat, give up being neutral, and choose the mainstream position in the world. At present, China has tried not to offend either side and walked a middle ground in its international statements and choices, including abstaining from the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly votes. However, this position does not meet Russia’s needs, and it has infuriated Ukraine and its supporters as well as sympathizers, putting China on the wrong side of much of the world. In some cases, apparent neutrality is a sensible choice, but it does not apply to this war, where China has nothing to gain. Given that China has always advocated respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, it can avoid further isolation only by standing with the majority of the countries in the world. This position is also conducive to the settlement of the Taiwan issue.
3. China should achieve the greatest possible strategic breakthrough and not be further isolated by the West. Cutting off from Putin and giving up neutrality will help build China’s international image and ease its relations with the U.S. and the West. Though difficult and requiring great wisdom, it is the best option for the future. The view that a geopolitical tussle in Europe triggered by the war in Ukraine will significantly delay the U.S. strategic shift from Europe to the Indo-Pacific region cannot be treated with excessive optimism. There are already voices in the U.S. that Europe is important, but China is more so, and the primary goal of the U.S. is to contain China from becoming the dominant power in the Indo-Pacific region. Under such circumstances, China’s top priority is to make appropriate strategic adjustments accordingly, to change the hostile American attitudes towards China, and to save itself from isolation. The bottom line is to prevent the U.S. and the West from imposing joint sanctions on China.
4. China should prevent the outbreak of world wars and nuclear wars and make irreplaceable contributions to world peace.
The political scientist believes the reckless expansion of NATO provoked Russia
Mr Putin surely knows that the costs of conquering and occupying large amounts of territory in eastern Europe would be prohibitive for Russia. As he once put it, “Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain.” His beliefs about the tight bonds between Russia and Ukraine notwithstanding, trying to take back all of Ukraine would be like trying to swallow a porcupine. Furthermore, Russian policymakers—including Mr Putin—have said hardly anything about conquering new territory to recreate the Soviet Union or build a greater Russia. Rather, since the 2008 Bucharest summit Russian leaders have repeatedly said that they view Ukraine joining nato as an existential threat that must be prevented. As Mr Lavrov noted in January, “the key to everything is the guarantee that nato will not expand eastward.”
Tellingly, Western leaders rarely described Russia as a military threat to Europe before 2014. As America’s former ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul notes, Mr Putin’s seizure of Crimea was not planned for long; it was an impulsive move in response to the coup that overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian leader. In fact, until then, nato expansion was aimed at turning all of Europe into a giant zone of peace, not containing a dangerous Russia. Once the crisis started, however, American and European policymakers could not admit they had provoked it by trying to integrate Ukraine into the West. They declared the real source of the problem was Russia’s revanchism and its desire to dominate if not conquer Ukraine.
My story about the conflict’s causes should not be controversial, given that many prominent American foreign-policy experts have warned against nato expansion since the late 1990s. America’s secretary of defence at the time of the Bucharest summit, Robert Gates, recognised that “trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into nato was truly overreaching”. Indeed, at that summit, both the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, were opposed to moving forward on nato membership for Ukraine because they feared it would infuriate Russia.
The upshot of my interpretation is that we are in an extremely dangerous situation, and Western policy is exacerbating these risks. For Russia’s leaders, what happens in Ukraine has little to do with their imperial ambitions being thwarted; it is about dealing with what they regard as a direct threat to Russia’s future. Mr Putin may have misjudged Russia’s military capabilities, the effectiveness of the Ukrainian resistance and the scope and speed of the Western response, but one should never underestimate how ruthless great powers can be when they believe they are in dire straits. America and its allies, however, are doubling down, hoping to inflict a humiliating defeat on Mr Putin and to maybe even trigger his removal. They are increasing aid to Ukraine while using economic sanctions to inflict massive punishment on Russia, a step that Putin now sees as “akin to a declaration of war”.
America and its allies may be able to prevent a Russian victory in Ukraine, but the country will be gravely damaged, if not dismembered. Moreover, there is a serious threat of escalation beyond Ukraine, not to mention the danger of nuclear war. If the West not only thwarts Moscow on Ukraine’s battlefields, but also does serious, lasting damage to Russia’s economy, it is in effect pushing a great power to the brink. Mr Putin might then turn to nuclear weapons.
At this point it is impossible to know the terms on which this conflict will be settled. But, if we do not understand its deep cause, we will be unable to end it before Ukraine is wrecked and nato ends up in a war with Russia.
Its fighters resemble the other para-military units—and there are dozens of them—that have helped defend Ukraine against the Russian military over the past six years. But Azov is much more than a militia. It has its own political party; two publishing houses; summer camps for children; and a vigilante force known as the National Militia, which patrols the streets of Ukrainian cities alongside the police. Unlike its ideological peers in the U.S. and Europe, it also has a military wing with at least two training bases and a vast arsenal of weapons, from drones and armored vehicles to artillery pieces.
Outside Ukraine, Azov occupies a central role in a network of extremist groups stretching from California across Europe to New Zealand, according to law enforcement officials on three continents. And it acts as a magnet for young men eager for combat experience. Ali Soufan, a security consultant and former FBI agent who has studied Azov, estimates that more than 17,000 foreign fighters have come to Ukraine over the past six years from 50 countries.
The vast majority have no apparent links to far-right ideology. But as Soufan looked into the recruitment methods of Ukraine’s more radical militias, he found an alarming pattern. It reminded him of Afghanistan in the 1990s, after Soviet forces withdrew and the U.S. failed to fill the security vacuum. “Pretty soon the extremists took over. The Taliban was in charge. And we did not wake up until 9/11,” Soufan tells TIME. “This is the parallel now with Ukraine.”
At a hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security in September 2019, Soufan urged lawmakers to take the threat more seriously. The following month, 40 members of Congress signed a letter calling—unsuccessfully—for the U.S. State Department to designate Azov a foreign terrorist organization. “Azov has been recruiting, radicalizing, and training American citizens for years,” the letter said. Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, later confirmed in testimony to the U.S. Senate that American white supremacists are “actually traveling overseas to train.”
The hearings on Capitol Hill glossed over a crucial question: How did Azov, an obscure militia started in 2014 with only a few dozen members, become so influential in the global web of far-right extremism? TIME, in more than a dozen interviews with Azov’s leaders and recruits, found that the key to its international growth has been its pervasive use of social media, especially Facebook, which has struggled to keep the group off its platform. “Facebook is the main channel,” says Furholm, the recruiter.
In a statement to TIME, Facebook defended its recent attempts to deal with the proliferation of right-wing extremists, saying it has banned more than 250 white-supremacist groups, including Azov. “As they evolve their efforts to return to the platform, we update our enforcement methods with technology and human expertise to keep them off,” the statement said.
FRAMING the Russia-China alliance over Ukraine as a debate between democracies and autocracies, visiting US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told The Indian Express Wednesday that US was ready to help India move away from dependence on Russia for defence supplies. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:
On the Russia-Ukraine crisis, how do you read India’s statements?
We had very broad and deep conversations (Nuland met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and her counterpart Harsh Vardhan Shringla) about what’s in this war. Unfortunately, Indian students got trapped, and they were able to get out, but unfortunately one Indian lost his life which was very tragic.
The Chinese Vice Foreign minister drew a parallel between NATO’s eastward expansion in Europe and the Quad in the Indo-Pacific.
Obviously, China is trying to seek an advantage for itself in this conflict, as it always does. But again, what threatens China most: open and free societies who offer their people a different way of life than the Communist party of China offers for Chinese people.
So NATO is a defensive alliance, of voluntary alignment of countries who asked to join together to defend themselves. In the Indo-Pacific strategy, we are talking about the great democracies of the region, working together to protect themselves and to advance prosperity, and free and open commerce and navigation and all of these things. All of the things that the autocrats want to change, want to threaten. So I’m not surprised that the Chinese are trying to draw parallels here. Because, in both cases, we’re talking about trying to keep the world free for democratic governance.
Who is a bigger threat — Russia or China?
The worry now is that they intensify their efforts together. They learn from each other, whether it is how to coerce a neighbour economically, or militarily. Whether it’s about how to go in the UN system and undercut the rules of the road that the US, India and other democracies have built to favour freedom. Whether it is that they let each other off the hook by financing each other’s militaries.
All of these things are worrying. But I also think that this is an energizing moment for the democracies, because now we see very clearly what we are up against.
Ukraine could declare neutrality and offer security guarantees to Russia to secure peace "without delay," President Volodymyr Zelensky said ahead of another planned round of talks — though he said only a face-to-face meeting with Russia's leader could end the war.
While hinting at possible concessions in an interview with independent Russian media outlets, Zelensky stressed that Ukraine's priority is ensuring its sovereignty and its "territorial integrity" — preventing Russia from carving up the country, something Ukraine and the West say could now be Moscow's goal.
But, Zelensky added: "Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state — we are ready to go for it."
The Ukrainian leader has suggested as much before, but rarely so forcefully, and the latest remarks come as the two sides said talks would resume Tuesday.
Russia has long demanded that Ukraine drop any hope of joining the western NATO alliance, which Moscow sees as a threat. Zelensky said that the question of neutrality, which would keep Ukraine out of NATO or other military alliances, should be put to Ukrainian voters in a referendum after Russian troops withdraw.
Zelensky has also long stressed that Ukraine needs security guarantees of its own as part of any deal.
"We must come to an agreement with the president of the Russian Federation, and in order to reach an agreement, he needs to get out of there on his own feet … and come to meet me," he also said in an interview that Russia barred its media from publishing.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that the two presidents could meet, but only after the key elements of a potential deal are negotiated.
"The meeting is necessary once we have clarity regarding solutions on all key issues," Lavrov said in an interview with Serbian media. He accused Ukraine of only wanting to "imitate talks," but said Russia needed concrete results.
In an overnight video address to his nation, Zelensky said Ukraine sought peace "without delay" in talks due to get underway in Istanbul.
That location was agreed after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, the Turkish leader's office said. Negotiators are expected to arrive Monday.
Earlier talks, both by video and in person, have failed to make progress on ending a more than month-old war that has killed thousands and driven more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes — including almost 4 million from their country.
The war has led Western countries to impose punishing sanctions on Russia, squeezing its economy. Putin said recently that Russia would demand "unfriendly" countries pay for its natural gas exports only in rubles — a move economists said appeared designed to try to support the Russian currency, which has collapsed.
Germany's energy minister said Monday that the Group of Seven major economies rejected that demand. Robert Habeck told reporters that "all G-7 ministers agreed completely that this (would be) a one-sided and clear breach of the existing contracts."
With Russia's offensive stalled in many areas, its troops have resorted to pummeling Ukrainian towns and cities with rockets and artillery in a grinding war. Fierce fighting has raged on the outskirts of Kyiv, but Russian troops remain miles from the city center, their aim of quickly encircling the capital faltering
In Stoyanka village near Kyiv, Ukrainian soldier Serhiy Udod said Russian troops had taken up defensive positions and suffered heavy losses.
S Gurumurthy, Chairman, VIF
Having pushed Ukraine into war, the US does not know how to save it. Having started it, Russia does not know where to end it. Having been pushed into the war, Ukraine does not know how to come out of it. It accuses its adversary Russia saying it is an invader and charges that its friends are betrayers. The UN Security Council keeps on meeting without any result. The global TV network for which the war is a reality show, a boon, keeps demonising Russia and valourising Ukraine. What the desperate Ukraine needs is a ceasefire. It is running from pillar to post — from India to Turkey to France, to Israel, to Japan — pleading with them to talk to Putin for a ceasefire. Everyone is talking to everyone else.
But Biden is not talking to Putin and Putin is not talking to Zelenskyy. This is the sad state of the efforts to stop the war. Poor Zelenskyy. What he is now saying to end the war — that we will not apply to join NATO, we will remain neutral — had he said that before, the war would not have started. Russia has staked everything – its goodwill, its economy and its last atom bomb – like a jihadi, making the West shudder to think of taking it head on. But the war is bound to end. When is the only question. When it does end, Russia would have got all that it wanted and Ukraine would have given all that it had denied. And the West would have realised and the world would have known how needless the war was. But, what kind of world will the pointless war leave behind?
A world of distrust
The worst outcome of the Ukraine war is that it has shown that anything and everything can be politicised and weaponised — from financial transaction systems like SWIFT, to banks, private companies like Google to civilian airspace. SWIFT is a high security neutral financial network created by an NGO and used by 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries. By jamming this critical network, the Ukraine war has destroyed the most basic of mutual trust among nations. Take India. The share of Google in Indian email accounts is 62 per cent. Were India to fall foul of the West, the entire country can be brought to a halt by Google. Each nation or group of nations will now look for alternatives.
Another message is that even Switzerland, which remained neutral in the two world wars, can’t remain neutral in a West vs others scenario. A telling message of the Ukraine war is that no country can trust even the global commons. It leaves behind a world of distrust. It will increasingly force each nation to be on its own — atmanirbhar being the Indian idiom for it, the very antithesis of globalisation. An alternative to SWIFT is already underway with some 63 central banks collaborating on a new payments system.
US leadership dented
The Ukraine war seems to have dented the US global leadership in more than one sense. First, it has delivered the most telling message that the US can’t protect its own protégé. Next, that it had to solicit a virtual meeting between Biden and Xi Jinping (XJP) to get China to the US side or to end the war itself, exposed its weakness. Donald Trump would perhaps have handled Russia and Ukraine differently, not allowed China to be the proverbial monkey between two tigers, the US and Russia.
S Gurumurthy, Chairman, VIF
Anyway the two-hour talk Biden had with XJP did not go well for him. XJP reportedly snubbed Biden saying “those who tied the bell to the tiger must untie it,” clearly blaming NATO for the war. XJP used the talk to advance China’s claim to be equal to the US, saying they should jointly shoulder “international responsibilities” for world peace and tranquility. According to a Chinese report, XJP seems to have said that one hand cannot clap, suggesting that NATO should have a dialogue with Putin and address his security concerns, implying NATO expansion as the issue. XJP, of course, has also spoken in support of the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states. He seems to have insisted on bringing the China-US ties under turmoil over a host of issues, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, on “right track” — something completely beyond the agenda of Biden on that day.
The US media had reported that Biden threatened XJP. On the contrary, he seems to have got snubbed. Biden’s effort to wean China away from Russia has failed at the minimum. If this is what the US got from China, The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia and the UAE declined calls from Biden to ease oil prices unless the US supported them in Yemen and elsewhere. Arab allies of the US have refused to toe its line. Israel did criticise the Russian attack but its stand was so nuanced as not to take the side of the West. Turkey’s position is identical to Israel’s.
Al-Jazeera even sees a strong alliance between Russia and UAE. Another collateral setback to the US is Syrian president Assad’s visit (after 11 years) to UAE about which the US could only lament that it was “disappointed and troubled”. Syria and Russia are close. On top of it all, Saudi Arabia, whose oil has been priced in US dollars for five decades, is considering pricing it in Yuan for sales to China. One more important development. The Chinese foreign minister was invited for the first time to the meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. These are not ordinary developments. The Ukraine war has undoubtedly eroded US influence over even its allies.
China’s Taiwan angle
China seems to have gained far more than it has invested in Ukraine. By subtly encouraging the US vs Russia scenario in Ukraine, China had ensured that the focus of the Biden regime was more on Russia and Ukraine and less on containing China. Being surreptitiously privy to and supporting Russia on Ukraine action, Beijing has gained an IOU from Russia if in future it has to move on Taiwan. XJP’s firm and equal dealing with Biden has dented the US capacity to confront China on Taiwan. If Biden had secretly conceded more to XJP on Taiwan as some reports say, China would have hit a jackpot.
Despite that, if the US had drawn a blank with XJP, it would have been a disaster for Biden. China’s Ukraine strategy seems intended to advance its efforts to grab Taiwan – its greatest ambition and top most priority of XJP. The Ukraine war has exposed the limitations of the US and the West to step in to save its non-formal ally. The Taiwan Relations Act only ensures defence supplies by the US to Taiwan and nothing further. In comparison to Ukraine, which the US recognises as an independent nation, Taiwan’s status is much inferior. If China makes a decisive move against Taiwan, the US could do very little given its show in Ukraine — to say nothing of the Afghanistan debacle.
India’s growing stature
Despite being part of Quad and with deep strategic partnership with the US, India’s neutrality, with an implicit pro-Russian tilt, was a calculated geopolitical risk India took at the very start of the Ukraine war. Subsequent developments not only won understanding but also acclaim for it.
S Gurumurthy, Chairman, VIF
A displeased America had to concede India was an exception among its allies. Surprisingly, amid the raging Ukraine war New Delhi became the centre of hyper diplomatic activity. Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, a Quad constituent, had a virtual meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, promised investments and said that the Quad nations understood India on Ukraine. Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, another Quad member, paid his first official visit abroad to India. And keeping aside the differences between the two on Ukraine, he signed six strategic agreements and committed to investing $42 billion in the next five years. The Greek foreign minister was in Delhi on March 22 and 23 and the Oman foreign affairs minister was in Delhi for two full days, March 23 and 24.
China and India have had border clashes for the last two years. Surprisingly, its foreign minister Wang Yi is visiting Delhi on March 25 — a significant development. India’s independent position on Ukraine is itself a message to China that India would withstand US pressure. If it can lead to some trust and understanding between China and India on the borders, that can pave the way for an informal Russia-China-India axis for future. Naftali Bennett, the Prime Minister of Israel, a US ally, is making a four-day long visit to India in April first week at the invitation of “his friend” Indian Prime Minister Modi. India is boldly going ahead with the purchase of Russian oil amid US sanctions on Russia.
Though India has not voted for Russia, it has taken a firm position on the discovery of a bio-weapon facility in Ukraine funded by America. And America, despite loosely calling India shaky on the Ukraine war, has not applied the CAATSA law to stop the sale of Russia’s missile system to India. Undoubtedly, the Ukraine war diplomacy has shown India’s rising stature. The greatest tribute to India’s policies came from the most unlikely of quarters, Pakistan. Praising India’s foreign policy as free and independent, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “India is allied with America and is part of the Quad alliance and yet it is neutral on Ukraine, imports oil from Russia despite US sanctions, because its policy is oriented to the betterment of its own people.”
Shift away from the dollar?
The war’s collateral impact may be on the US dollar and the global financial order itself. With the dollar-based globalisation already under stress, the role of the greenback in the global financial system may decline. The dollar power enabled dominance of the financial economy over the real economy, particularly the commodity economy. The US sanctions which are bound to affect the Russian oil sale, may also affect the US dollar.
The strength of the US dollar depended, said two Harvard economists in 2006, not on the laws of economics but on the laws of physics, which said a dark matter sustains the universe. The dark matter which sustains the dollar value, they said, is the insurance that the US system and geopolitical power provides to the dollar. That insurance is what is under stress since 2008. With the rise of Asia and China, the US dollar cannot be said to continue to have the same insurance value. The share of USD in the global forex reserves has touched a 25-year low of about 59 percent.
If important nations shift to their own fiat currency based trade like the Rupee-Ruble arrangement between India and Russia and if an alternative to SWIFT can be found, the move away from dollar can accelerate. For instance, if India and China begin paying for their trade in their fiat currencies rated to the US dollar and at the year-end pay the net in terms of the dollar, the overall demand for the dollar will contract rapidly. It is the demand for the dollar that sustains its value. These kinds of developments post the Ukraine war can have a far reaching impact.
Theres's a cliche that backroom negotiations at big summits sometimes feel as if they're taking place in a "hall of mirrors."
In the case of the 2008 Nato summit in Bucharest, where Ukraine was first offered the now red-hot issue of joining the Western alliance, it was also literally true.
The Nato summit was held in Nikolai Ceaușescu's People's Palace (now the Palace of the Parliament). It's a fairytale-turned-nightmare monument to the ego and self-promotion of the late Romanian dictator.
Ceaușescu ended up being executed by his own people on Christmas Day 1989, indeed machine-gunned along with his wife by his own army, after a failed escape attempt to flee his own country by helicopter his condemnation at the hands of an ad hoc court.
The grisly outcome for Ceaușescu was born of the resentment at his totalitarian rule that one guest at that summit, Vladimir Putin, may now care to reflect upon.
From the outside, Ceaușescu's Palace is a gigantic monstrosity in the wedding-cake style, with tiered layers, sitting atop the major promontory in the capital city.
On the inside, it was like being trapped inside a madman's brain.
There's a never-ending David Lynch meets MC Escher labyrinth-vortex of state banqueting rooms and ballrooms all leading on and on from one another, seemingly endlessly, and into infinity, and with no practical purpose whatsoever.
It made Stanley Kubrick's Overlook Hotel in The Shining seem like a cosy bed-and-breakfast.
I was covering the summit for Agence France-Press as part of a team of around 12 reporters and photographers. My own personal news beat or patch was Macedonia — definitely the lowest rung of the ladder. One of the main thrusts of the summit was Afghanistan, with guest appearances from Hamid Karzhai and Putin himself.
I remember having my arm up to ask a question at the joint closing Putin-Karzai press conference until both arms hurt in their sockets. I never got called — which was a shame, as my question would have been: "President Putin, do you have any advice for Nato on how to invade and occupy Afghanistan?"
The short ones are the best ones. Embarrass Karzai, make Putin laugh — but also put him on the spot.
Professional historians and diplomats please correct me because, first, this is 14 years ago; second, I wasn't covering this angle; and, third, even the official communique from the summit only listed it as item 23: but I can't help recall how US president George W. Bush was pressing his fellow Nato delegates to give Ukraine and Georgia Nato membership.
The European end of the Nato equation (then led by Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy) pushed back, until the final communique offered them the aspiration of joining a compromise half-way house called the "Membership Action Plan".
It was halfway down the summit declaration of 50 points, and it read — in full — as follows:
"Nato welcomes Ukraine's and Georgia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in Nato. We agreed today that these countries will become members of Nato. Both nations have made valuable contributions to Alliance operations. We welcome the democratic reforms in Ukraine and Georgia and look forward to free and fair parliamentary elections in Georgia in May. MAP [eds: membership action plan] is the next step for Ukraine and Georgia on their direct way to membership. Today we make clear that we support these countries' applications for MAP. Therefore we will now begin a period of intensive engagement with both at a high political level to address the questions still outstanding pertaining to their MAP applications. We have asked Foreign Ministers to make a first assessment of progress at their December 2008 meeting. Foreign Ministers have the authority to decide on the MAP applications of Ukraine and Georgia."
New York (AFP) – US arms manufacturers are not cashing in directly from the thousands of missiles, drones and other weapons being sent to Ukraine, but they do stand to profit big-time over the long run by supplying countries eager to boost their defenses against Russia.
Like other Western countries, the United States has turned to its own stocks to furnish Ukraine with shoulder-fired Stinger and Javelin missiles, for instance. These weapons from Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon Technologies were paid for some time ago.
So these companies' first quarter results, due to be released in coming weeks, should not be especially fatter because of the rush to arm Ukraine as it fights off the Russian invasion.
But those US military weapons stockpiles being tapped for Kyiv will need to be replenished.
The Pentagon plans to use $3.5 billion earmarked for this purpose in a spending bill approved in mid-March, a Defense Department spokesman told AFP.
The Javelin anti-tank missile is made by a joint venture between Lockheed and Raytheon. The latter's Stinger anti-aircraft missile had ceased to be produced until the Pentagon ordered $340 million of them last summer.
"We are exploring options to more quickly replenish US inventories and backfill depleted stocks of allies and partners," the spokesman said.
"It will take time to revive the industrial base -- at the prime and at sub-tier suppliers -- to enable production to resume," he added.
The profits that the companies make from these missiles, known for being simple to use, will not exactly be staggering, defense industry experts told AFP.
"If 1,000 Stingers and 1,000 Javelins get shipped to Eastern Europe each month for the next year, which is not unlikely given the current pace, in our view, we think it would equate to $1 billion to $2 billion in revenue for both program manufacturers, which is material," said Colin Scarola of CFRA, an investment research firm.
Raytheon's and Lockheed's revenue figures last year dwarf that amount, however: $64 billion and $67 billion, respectively.
"Raytheon probably made more money off selling a Patriot missile system to Saudi Arabia than they will from making Stinger missiles," said Jordan Cohen, an arms sales specialist at the Cato Institute.
"They're only going to put so much effort into producing those weapons that are not that valuable," Cohen told AFP.
Lockheed, Raytheon and another arms manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, did not respond to AFP requests for comment.
General Dynamics said it has not raised its financial outlook since January, while Boeing just said it is up to governments to decide how to spend money earmarked for defense.
Ukraine suggested that Neptune missiles sank the Moskva. Russia said only that the ship suffered significant damage from a fire.
By Andrew Jeong and Reis Thebault
Conflicting assertions about what happened to a key Russian warship were swirling early Thursday, with some Ukrainians claiming that a missile attack sank the ship and the Kremlin saying only that it suffered significant damage from a fire. But whatever happened to the Russian navy missile cruiser Moskva — the flagship of its Black Sea Fleet — the episode serves as a significant morale boost for beleaguered Ukrainian forces and a major blow to Russia, military experts said. Late Wednesday, Odessa state regional administrator Maxim Marchenko said a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship cruise missile had struck the Moskva, causing serious damage. Hours later, the Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged that a key ship in its Black Sea fleet had sustained significant damage but did not address the Ukrainian claims.
Moskva rests at the bottom of the Black Sea and its loss could animate India’s maritime debate involving large naval ships. But the warning sign that must hang over it, is that its relevance to the Indian context can be different.
The loss of a key surface naval asset to cruise missiles provides fodder to buttress some arguments in an ongoing global debate within maritime powers. The debate is an offshoot of a larger debate on the survivability of large platforms like aircraft carriers due to their vulnerability to precision-guided munitions like cruise missiles. It is a debate that is particularly relevant to India and one that continues to animate the Indian Navy’s insistence on the continued relevance of the aircraft carrier.
Technological advancements in surveillance capabilities that are networked with missiles based on air, land, and sea platforms have certainly increased the vulnerability of surface naval assets. Accuracy is significantly improved by using a combination of Global Positioning Signals (GPS), laser guidance and inertial navigation systems. Simultaneously, the development of countermeasures also reduces the vulnerability factor. It is a cat-and-mouse game in technology development that mostly tends to favour the attacker over the defender. The obvious route for the attacker is to overwhelm the defender’s ability by firing a large number of missiles simultaneously on the same target. Also, the pace of development and cost of missiles that can penetrate the defender’s missile shield is quicker and cheaper than developing and fielding missile defences.
"I don't see ANY beneficiary of this crazy war! Innocent people and soldiers are dying," Tinkov in an Instagram post shared Tuesday,
He said that Russian generals are realizing they have a "shitty army."
"And how will the army be good, if everything else in the country is shit and mired in [nepotism] and servility?" he said.
Tinkov also said those who support Putin's invasion of Ukraine by sharing the "Z" symbol that was emblazoned on invading Russian tanks are "morons."
"90% of Russians are AGAINST this war!" Tinkov said.
He then called on the "collective West" to "please give Mr.Putin a clear exit to save his face and stop this massacre."
Tinkov was personally sanctioned by the UK on March 24, causing his assets to be immediately frozen.
He is the founder of Tinkoff Bank, which is one of a few Russian banks that allows money to flow in and out of Russia from Western tech companies since the start of the war, Insider previously reported.
A few months ago, I heard a very astute political analyst say that when it comes to the ‘Western’ media, the financial press is typically more accurate. The Guardians, Fox News, and MSNBCs are always sycophantically in line with the geopolitical consensus, no matter how propagandistic or inaccurate.
We’ve been seeing a lot of that ridiculously out-of-touch coverage on Ukraine and NATO — if you see the Ghost of Kyiv anywhere, let me know ’cause I want to interview that cat.
But seemingly out of nowhere, CNN did have a decent and surprisingly revealing piece back in mid-April regarding weapons sent to Ukraine. The synopsis: we don’t know what happens to them. In their words, it’s a ‘black hole.’ They also admitted the information we’re getting isn’t always accurate and will always be curated to improve the case for more military aid.
The ‘newspaper of record’ NY Times has been embarrassingly bad, but they’re admittedly starting to shift their rhetoric.
But because investors need accurate assessments, outlets like the Financial Times can’t be quite as propagandistic and have to cover things a bit closer to reality — although the Economist is a pathetic cheerleader of all things ‘West is Best.’
Forbes — bless their hearts — recently went full mask-off.
The title of this piece says it all, ‘Expanded NATO Will Shoot Billions To US Defense Contractors.’
That’s it, that’s the game, and that’s why the US is so militaristic — of course, naked neocolonialism and resource extraction play a role. But never-ending conflict is big business in itself, and so America has never met a war it didn’t like. It especially hasn’t met a proxy war it didn’t like.
Selling billions in weapons while no caskets of US service members are being flown home draped in flags is their favorite kind of business.
For that reason, Forbes says now is a great time to invest in the American corporate war machine.
The financial press like the Financial Times can’t be quite as propagandistic and has to cover things a bit closer to reality because investors need accurate assessments…
Is NATO an overall good? It’s debatable, and I’m open to hearing arguments, but I lean towards no. I understand why countries like the Czech Republic wanted to join a military alliance after centuries of oppression, especially the 1968 incursion by Soviet troops. And it makes sense for smaller nations like Lithuania to want some backup from the mafia don that is the US military.
But NATO was created to counter the Soviet Union. That union no longer exists and yet NATO is larger than ever. In the early nineties, there was talk of cooling tensions and cutting military budgets. The Red Menace had collapsed, couldn’t we all calm down? Of course not.
As Forbes rightly admits, expanding NATO shoots billions to US military contractors. Easing tensions, resolving conflicts, and reducing military budgets would have meant billions in unrealized profits. And so, NATO marched east.
Of course, if any sovereign nation wants to join, they have the right to do so, but ask the Libyans, Afghans, or Serbs if it is purely a ‘defensive’ alliance. Like America, NATO goes against the UN Security Council whenever it wants to bomb non-compliant states into oblivion and there are never any consequences.
It’s not purely defensive. That’s a fact. It is mostly about weapons sales. And as the AUKUS Submarine episode showed, America is NOT a reliable partner. Europeans always surprise me with how much they trust Uncle Sam and how little they know about his criminal record.
The US will throw any ally under the bus to make a buck at the drop of a hat. Would NATO really exert itself to back up member state Montenegro if it didn’t align with America’s self-interest? Hell no.
The piece by Forbes contributor John Markman that inspired this started by talking about Finland and Sweden joining NATO, and how it’ll be a big win for Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. He laments how Europe has benefitted from a “peace dividend” and their governments “spent lavishly on social safety nets while forgetting the world is a dangerous place”— you know, all those big waste items like tax-payer-funded higher education, functioning healthcare systems, and civilized maternity leave.
Forbes seems to think European nations forgot about America’s appetite for global domination and conflict. Then, as Markman wrote, “images of the destruction of Ukraine changed everything.”
If allowed to join NATO, Finland and Sweden would have to spend at least 2% of their GDP on their militaries and those increases in weapons systems will need to be NATO compatible, which “directly benefits the big U.S. contractors.”
Forbes is pumped and remarked how Finland was already suckered into buying sixty-four F-35s — the worst fighter ever made and one the US military is reluctant to use — for $110 million a pop. They say that’s a nice boost to the failed fighter’s designers and manufacturers Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and BAE Systems.
‘The market for their goods is expanding and they will face no competition for the forseeable future…In addition to the cost of the units, corresponding ground support, spare parts and maintenance, there is lock-in factor. Europe is now committed to America-made gear for decades to come. — J.M.
Read that again, “Europe is now committed to America-made gear for decades to come.”That’s the game. Finland might as well light a few billion on fire. Or immediately take the F-35s apart and sell them for parts.
In the short term, the revenue increase is going to be minimal. Defense contractors recognize sales when systems are delivered, and that can take several years. In the interim, the sector will benefit from supplementary bills passed to aid the war effort in Ukraine. President Biden signed last week a $40 billion Ukrainian war package. The United States is sending existing equipment to the war-torn country. Those systems will later be replenished at an additional cost to U.S. taxpayers. — J.M.
Is anybody else shocked Forbes is saying this all so openly?
NATO is further expanding, meaning these educated and socialized-medicine abusing Europeans will be spending more on weapons, they’re even buying billions in useless fighters from America, and, while we wait for those profits, Washington is dumping tens of billions into a black hole of a proxy war and sending all spare weapons systems which will need to be replenished at the expense of the taxpayer! Invest dudes! Let’s make bank and then get some of the devil’s dandruff and throw a coked-fueled rager!
American defense contractors are reliable technology partners. The companies are also backed-up by the largess of the U.S defense budget, a record $810 billion in 2021. There is no appetite politically to decrease military spending. And that sentiment is spreading globally, thanks to the carnage in Ukraine. — J.M.
It’s a win-win, boys! The defense budget is basically seventy cents of every dollar the federal government spends and there’s ‘no appetite politcally’ to reduce it. The Pentagon asks for a number and the freaking Congress usually increases it by 15% themselves.
And now, “that sentiment is spreading globally, thanks to the carnage in Ukraine.”
The piece then talks about the stock price of each corporate contractor and how they’re ‘inexpensive’ given the outlook of new markets in Europe.
It’s all so freaking cynical.
In addition to the cost of the units, corresponding ground support, spare parts and maintenance, there is lock-in factor. Europe is now committed to America-made gear for decades to come.
Everybody these days is familiar with Eisenhower’s warnings regarding the military-industrial complex, and I often wonder what he’d say if he saw the state of America and the federal budget. The top marginal tax rate was freaking 91% when he was in office and the military budget was actually reduced for a few years in the 1950s. These days, the highest marginal tax rate on the richest of the rich is 37%, most billionaires and corporations pay next to nothing, and military spending will very soon surpass $1,000,000,000,000 a year.
Ike would shit himself, give a speech on the barbarity of the nation, and then get called a pansy-ass socialist and never be invited back onto mainstream television — seriously.
How the hell did Forbes write this piece? And how does America justify this level of military spending with almost third-world-level poverty and social problems domestically?
This Chris Hedges quote says it all:
The United States, as the near unanimous vote to provide nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine illustrates, is trapped in the death spiral of unchecked militarism. No high speed trains. No universal health care. No viable Covid relief program. No respite from 8.3 percent inflation. No infrastructure programs to repair decaying roads and bridges, which require $41.8 billion to fix the 43,586 structurally deficient bridges, on average 68 years old. No forgiveness of $1.7 trillion in student debt. No addressing income inequality. No program to feed the 17 millionchildren who go to bed each night hungry. No rational gun control or curbing of the epidemic of nihilistic violence and mass shootings. No help for the 100,000 Americans who die each year of drug overdoses. No minimum wage of $15 an hour to counter 44 years of wage stagnation. No respite from gas prices that are projected to hit $6 a gallon.
It’s a death spiral. Everyone can see it. And as I said, the financial press is usually more accurate when portraying it; they just do it in their own way. It’s still propagandistic, but just a little closer to reality.
Investors are moving money around and need real information so the Financial Times does its best to call balls and strikes while the other outlets are Kim-Jong-un-level home refs and say ‘we good guys are on the right side of history and winning’ no matter how detached that might be from the Newtonian reality.
It’s wise not to expect much from any of them, but they do offer a window into the mainstream ‘Western’ consensus.
And sometimes, like Forbes, they remove the mask entirely, accidentally reveal the truth, and cheerlead the orgy of profits brought on by mass death.
We sat in the front row. My kids were on either side of me. As crazy as it seems, I was prepared to climb up on the stage and tackle anyone who came near him. I wasn’t in the same condition that I’d been in as the MVP of my high school football team, but I’d been farming for the past quarter century. I felt I was strong enough. When Dad came out onstage, the auditorium fell silent. The possibility of confrontation—the awkwardness and the silent threat—was in the air like electricity before a thunderstorm. The moderator showed selected clips from The Fog of War. The clips focused on my father’s “Eleven Lessons,” first enumerated in his memoir, In Retrospect, and later used by Errol Morris as a through line for the film. The lessons are: Empathize with your enemy. Rationality alone will not save us. There’s something beyond one’s self. Maximize efficiency. Proportionality should be a guideline in war. Get the data. Belief and seeing are both often wrong. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil. Never say never. You can’t change human nature. During the conversation that followed, Mark Danner pushed my father on these lessons, attempting to draw out a comparison with Iraq. At one point, Danner asked specifically whether the lessons from the Vietnam War should be applied to America’s impending adventure in 2003. My father steadfastly refused to comment. He gave various reasons—among them that it could pose a risk to American soldiers in the field. He also said that ex-cabinet members shouldn’t comment on the jobs current cabinet members are doing. He would repeat these nonanswers to the Iraq question in numerous other interviews. For those of us who despised Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and felt the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, it was frustrating that Robert McNamara wouldn’t comment directly. It brought back painful memories of his silence after 1968. There had been such hope and such disappointment. “We human beings killed a hundred and sixty million other human beings in the twentieth century,” he said. He was almost shouting, jabbing his finger at Mark Danner. “Is that what we want in this century?” In classic fashion, Dad answered his own question. “I don’t think so!” At one point, Danner asked Dad how he dealt with reporters during difficult press conferences as secretary of defense. Dad said, “Don’t answer the question they asked. Answer the question you wish they’d asked.” Does this mean tell a lie? Growing up in his house, with his rules, I considered him to be an honest person. I’m sure I can remember him saying “Don’t tell lies” when I was a little kid. I’m sure that I passed on to my own children the same lesson. How could someone as intelligent as Dad fail to see the contradiction? Maybe his hypocrisy has to do with Lesson Number Three. That’s the one that matters most to me. I think it’s the one he most failed to live up to.
I once asked Errol what it was like to spend so much time with my father. He responded that he felt my father was thoughtful and self-doubting: a decent and magnificent man, a person he deeply respected and learned a lot from. He liked him. However, he also told me that he felt conflicted about the decisions my father made as secretary of defense. He said that he considered Dad a war criminal. I wondered, How could you feel even the most remote affection for a war criminal? In maybe the same conversation, I expressed to Errol my dismay over the run-up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I told him that I considered men like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Paul Wolfowitz to be evil. I felt hatred for these men—the last of whom had a career very similar to my father’s, because it also included a tenure at the World Bank.
McNamara, Craig. Because Our Fathers Lied (pp. 197-198). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.
In an interview with the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, conducted last month and published on Tuesday, the pontiff condemned the “ferocity and cruelty of the Russian troops” while warning against what he said was a fairytale perception of the conflict as good versus evil.
“We need to move away from the usual Little Red Riding Hood pattern, in that Little Red Riding Hood was good and the wolf was the bad one,” he said. “Something global is emerging and the elements are very much entwined.”
Francis added that a couple of months before the war he met a head of state, who he did not identify but described as “a wise man who speaks little, a very wise man indeed … He told me that he was very worried about how Nato was moving. I asked him why, and he replied: ‘They are barking at the gates of Russia. They don’t understand that the Russians are imperial and can’t have any foreign power getting close to them.’”
He added: “We do not see the whole drama unfolding behind this war, which was, perhaps, somehow either provoked or not prevented.”
Legendary Singaporean diplomat and scholar Kishore Mahbubani on the main reason for the Ukraine war: "the absence of the culture of pragmatism in European cultures. ALL they had to do was reach a compromise with Russia."
To him this culture of pragmatism is why Asia is at peace.
It is increasingly difficult to predict what the future holds for Ukraine. One scenario sees the country becoming divided along roughly ethnic lines, with an ethnic Ukrainian western state and a more Russia-oriented eastern state comprising today’s southern and eastern Ukraine. So what would the economies of these potential new states look like?
The most obvious question is where the borders between the two new states state would be drawn. For simplicity, the subsequent analysis is based on the assumption that a future “East Ukraine” would comprise those regions (oblasts) where recently deposed leader Viktor Yanukovych received over half of the vote during the 2010 Presidential election. “West Ukraine” would include the other 17 of the total 27 oblasts.
This is, of course, an extremely crude assumption – it is certainly not a forecast – but it does allow us to imagine how Ukraine’s current economic geography might shape the future of the two hypothetical states.
Town and country
In the event of a split, Ukraine’s 45m inhabitants would be split fairly evenly between the two halves. West Ukraine would be relatively rural, with only 14.4m of its 24m inhabitants (57%) classed as urban dwellers. By contrast, East Ukraine would be a less populous but more urbanised state, with 79% living in urban areas.
West would be poorer than East. The current unweighted average monthly income of western Ukrainian regions is US$291, compared to US$320 in the east. These averages conceal significant regional variation, with Kiev and its surrounding region the only areas in the West with average incomes greater than the current Ukrainian average.
In East Ukraine, the average income is almost uniformly higher than in the West. Only Kherson, a sparsely populated region just north of Crimea, is poorer than the West Ukrainian average. The unemployment rate is also higher in West Ukraine (8.5%) than in the East (6.8%).
Farms and factories
The economic structures of the two states could hardly be any more different. In West Ukraine, the economy is dominated by agrarian production and the huge service sector centred on the capital city of Kiev. Ukraine is currently the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil, and a major exporter of other agricultural products, such as wheat, grain and sugar. Much of this production takes place in the West.
Many of the country’s largest services – phone operator Kyivstar, say, or aerospace design companies – and energy companies such as Naftogaz Ukrainy or EnergoRynok are concentrated in Kiev. Western Ukraine accounted for just over 42% of total exports in 2013, with over half these exports registered to companies in Kiev alone.
However, given their links with industrial production in Eastern Ukraine, it is unlikely that these companies would continue to generate current levels of revenue in the event of any future split. What would happen, for example, to Kiev-based design bureaus working for Kharkiv-based aerospace firms?
Ukraine’s industry centres on the East. Nearly all steel production and most arms manufacturing takes place in the region, and the country is currently one of the world’s leading exporters in both sectors. Other higher value-added sectors, including the auto and aerospace industries, are also predominantly located in the East, although the competitiveness of enterprises in this region is patchy.
But cars don’t build themselves, and all these energy-intensive factories use up a lot of power. It is likely that East Ukraine would continue to import large quantities of natural gas from Russia. West Ukraine’s energy demands would be much lower.
Two other issues might define the respective economic futures of a divided nation: the future of Ukraine’s large stock of public debt; and the potential transformative impact of shale gas.
The first key issue is how the large stock of existing Ukrainian public debt would be divided up. Ukraine currently has a public debt-to-GDP ratio of around 40%. That’s a lower share than many advanced economies, like the US and the UK, but the fact that Ukraine has been unable to balance its budget for a number of years has caused its debt burden to grow rapidly.
Assuming that this stock of debt would be split evenly between the two states, it is clear that the debt-to-GDP ratio would increase even more in the poorer, more agrarian West, especially if it were unable to balance government expenditure and income. It is likely that West Ukraine would require significant external support to manage any future debt obligations. While the East would also inherit a relatively high debt burden, it would, by virtue of its greater export and productive potential, be better equipped to manage this debt.
The second area of uncertainty relates to Ukraine’s two large deposits of shale gas - one in the western Lublin basin, and the other in the eastern Dnieper-Donetsk basin.
Large scale shale gas extraction has the potential to boost the fortunes of both states although at this stage the prospects for both deposits are uncertain. However, Royal Dutch Shell’s decision last year to invest in a US$10 billion project in the eastern Yuzivska field indicates that the prospects in East Ukraine currently look brighter.
Western Ukraine’s economic powerhouse, the city of Kiev, would likely experience significant disruption in the event of a division. West Ukraine would require enormous levels of external assistance, both to manage its large public debt burden, and to generate the type of economic restructuring that would be required to increase income levels across the country. Without restructuring, West Ukraine would be one of the poorest countries in Europe. The financial assistance and open market for exports provided by the EU would be crucial to the economic future of the country.
East Ukraine, on the other hand, has the potential for a brighter future. It would inherit the richer, more urbanised and on the whole more productive sections of the Ukrainian economy. It is also further along in developing its shale gas resources. Consequently, East Ukraine would be more viable as an independent state and would possess the capabilities to compete in some areas of the global economy. In an alternative scenario, East Ukraine would also represent a significant and relatively modern addition to an enlarged Russian economy.
Dr Richard Connolly is Lecturer in Political Economy at the University Birmingham's Centre for Russian and East European Studies. This article was originally published on The Conversation.
#Ukraine: The massive needs of the Ukrainian Army when it comes to artillery are being met from some unorthodox sources- Ukrainian artillerymen were spotted using 122mm HE artillery projectiles made by Pakistani Ordnance Factories (POF)
The US military launched at least 251 foreign interventions from 1991 to 2022.
This is according to a report from the US government's own Congressional Research Service.
I went through the data and created a map showing just how vast the meddling is: https://multipolarista.com/2022/09/13/us-251-military-interventions-1991/ https://twitter.com/BenjaminNorton/status/1569800676678696960?s=20&t=YnIgUPmGWNRNOFxTpqKvCQ
Russia and Ukraine are seeking to replenish their stocks by any means, including deals shrouded in secrecy.
This is an unexpected consequence of the so-called high-intensity war that Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in since February 24, when Vladimir Putin launched his "special military operation." Both sides are engaged in attrition warfare, which Europe has not seen since World War II, and are now short on some equipment. According to the Western military and intelligence services, they are no longer hesitating to call upon countries such as North Korea, Iran and Pakistan to replenish their armories.
According to information declassified by Washington and revealed on Tuesday, September 6 by the New York Times, Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea to supply its troops in Ukraine. While no evidence or details were given regarding the materials supplied, Pyongyang is capable of manufacturing 152mm shells, one of the calibers used by Russian forces, as well as projectiles for TOS-1 multiple rocket launchers, which have been reported on the Ukrainian front.
In mid-July, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also said that Washington had information that Tehran "is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred [drones] on an expedited timeline." "Russian transport aircraft loaded the [drones] at an airfield in Iran and subsequently flew from Iran to Russia over several days in August," confirmed Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder on August 30.
According to military experts, the devices sent by Tehran could be ground attack drones, in particular the Shahed-129, a machine that can fly for up to 24 hours at a time and is considered to be a competitor to the American Predator. They could also include the Mohajer-6, a smaller drone capable of carrying up to four munitions. According to the US Department of Defense, these drones have probably not yet been sent to the front lines and could have "numerous failures," which the Russians would try to resolve. In fact, no images have yet surfaced showing these devices in action over Ukrainian soil.
We discuss Western hegemony and U.S. policy in Russia, Ukraine and China with Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, whose new article is headlined “The West’s False Narrative About Russia and China.” Sachs says the bipartisan U.S. approach to foreign policy is “unaccountably dangerous and wrongheaded,” and warns the U.S. is creating “a recipe for yet another war” in East Asia.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the story that people in the West and around the world should understand about what’s happening right now with these conflicts, with Russia, with Russia and Ukraine, and with China?
JEFFREY SACHS: The main point, Amy, is that we are not using diplomacy; we are using weaponry. This sale now announced to Taiwan that you’ve been discussing this morning is just another case in point. This does not make Taiwan safer. This does not make the world safer. It certainly doesn’t make the United States safer.
This goes back a long way. I think it’s useful to start 30 years ago. The Soviet Union ended, and some American leaders got it into their head that there was now what they called the unipolar world, that the U.S. was the sole superpower, and we could run the show. The results have been disastrous. We have had now three decades of militarization of American foreign policy. A new database that Tufts is maintaining has just shown that there have been more than 100 military interventions by the United States since 1991. It’s really unbelievable.
And I have seen, in my own experience over the last 30 years working extensively in Russia, in Central Europe, in China and in other parts of the world, how the U.S. approach is a military-first, and often a military-only, approach. We arm who we want. We call for NATO enlargement, no matter what other countries say may be harmful to their security interests. We brush aside anyone else’s security interests. And when they complain, we ship more armaments to our allies in that region. We go to war when we want, where we want, whether it was Afghanistan or Iraq or the covert war against Assad in Syria, which is even today not properly understood by the American people, or the war in Libya. And we say, “We’re peace-loving. What’s wrong with Russia and China? They are so warlike. They’re out to undermine the world.” And we end up in terrible confrontations.
The war in Ukraine — just to finish the introductory view — could have been avoided and should have been avoided through diplomacy. What President Putin of Russia was saying for years was “Do not expand NATO into the Black Sea, not to Ukraine, much less to Georgia,” which if people look on the map, straight across to the eastern edge of the Black Sea. Russia said, “This will surround us. This will jeopardize our security. Let us have diplomacy.” The United States rejected all diplomacy. I tried to contact the White House at the end of 2021 — in fact, I did contact the White House and said there will be war unless the U.S. enters diplomatic talks with President Putin over this question of NATO enlargement. I was told the U.S. will never do that. That is off the table. And it was off the table. Now we have a war that’s extraordinarily dangerous.
And we are taking exactly the same tactics in East Asia that led to the war in Ukraine. We’re organizing alliances, building up weaponry, trash-talking China, having Speaker Pelosi fly to Taiwan, when the Chinese government said, “Please, lower the temperature, lower the tensions.” We say, “No, we do what we want,” and now send more arms. This is a recipe for yet another war. And to my mind, it’s terrifying.
🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker
#Ukraine: A new type of Pakistani artillery ammunition was spotted with the Ukrainian army - this time M4A2 propellant charges, likely delivered along with M107 155mm projectiles.
It is believed that a Western backer of Ukraine purchased quantities of Pakistani ammo in 2022.
Pakistan Is Supplying Weapons To Ukraine With The Help Of British Air Force, New Reports Suggest
October 7, 2022
In its war against Russia, Ukraine has predominantly received large amounts of ammunition and combat systems from the US and its NATO allies. However, Pakistan, surprisingly, has also become a supplier of ammunition to Kyiv.
Russia and Ukraine are using massive amounts of artillery ammunition in the conflict, underscoring the continuous demand for such weapons. As a result, both countries are looking for ways to replenish their ammo supplies.
The significance of artillery rounds was underscored in June by Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy chief of the military intelligence of Ukraine, who said, “This is an artillery war that we are losing, [as] Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10-15 Russian artillery pieces and we have almost used up all of our ammunition.”
Only a few months into the conflict, Ukraine had depleted its supplies of Soviet-era artillery and was largely reliant on the ammunition provided by its allies. This was made clear by Skibitsky’s earlier statement that Ukraine is now almost entirely dependent on western armaments to keep Russia at bay.
He also stated that Kyiv is utilizing 5,000 to 6,000 artillery rounds a day. Even though the United States and its allies in Europe were already shipping shells to Ukraine, they also noticed that their own supplies were running out at a worrying rate.
Since August 6, 2022, multiple flight-tracking websites have revealed that the UK’s Royal Air Force has been flying frequent sorties of C-17 Globemaster heavy lift aircraft from Romania to the Nur Khan airbase in Chaklala, Rawalpindi.
This incident occurred a few days after Britain declared it would provide Ukraine with more than 50,000 artillery shells resembling those used by the Soviet Union.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the chief of the Pakistani Army, also recently traveled to the UK as part of his official foreign visit, although the nation’s economic crisis is getting worse.
The C-17 Pakistan-Romania airlift mission accomplished a total of 12 sorties over 15 days. According to the experts, this implies that the United Kingdom was delivering military supplies to the Ukrainians.
According to reports, the aircraft was transporting 122mm HOW HE-D30 artillery munitions made by Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF). In August, a video that went viral on social media showed the unpacking of POF 122-mm ammunition.
They can be recognized based on several factors, such as the company’s regular usage of British-style steel boxes and the LIU-4 type fuzes that are unique to POF’s Soviet-style 122mm artillery.
The Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Makiivka has suffered a major attack that resulted in multiple casualties, according to reports.
The Moscow-installed administration of Ukraine's Donetsk region said that at least 25 rockets were fired by Ukrainian forces at the region overnight on New Year's Eve, according to a Reuters report.
Russia's state news agency TASS, said the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has confirmed that 63 servicemen died as a result of the attack.
However, Ukrainian media estimates have put Russia's losses in the hundreds.
Ukrainska Pravda, a Ukrainian online newspaper, said the strike killed 400 soldiers with an additional 300 wounded.
The report cited Department of Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (StratCom) for the figure.
Newsweek has not been able to independently confirm the number of Russian casualties.
Ukrainian-American journalist Viktor Kovalenko shared a screenshot from a video that has gone viral that allegedly shows the aftermath of the attack on Makivvka.
Kovalenko wrote: "Ukraine Armed Forces claim that in the new year's night, 400 newly arrived Rus. mobilized men from Saratov were killed and 300 wounded as a result of a HIMARS strike on Makiivka trade school #19 in the Donbas region of Ukraine where they headquartered and watched Putin's NY greeting."
The viral video, which was posted on Telegram by user Horevica, began circulating on Twitter on January 1. It has since been viewed more than 210,000 times.
Posted by Twitter user Tendar, the caption read: "The Russian base in Makiivka is but dust.
"HIMARS have delivered absolute carnage. An expected response for the Russian Shahed terror attacks on New Years Eve and the newest reminder that no matter where Russians position themselves, they are not safe."
Former Russian military commander Igor Girkin took to Telegram to say that more than 200 Russians had been killed in the strike and many more may be buried in rubble.
Dmitri of the War Translated project, an independent project concerned with translating various materials about the war, tweeted Girkin's Telegram posts.
He captioned the images: "Girkin on Makiivka incident—hundreds of victims, many still under the rubble. The building where they were housed also contained an ammunition cache and vehicle storage, which is why the strike was so deadly.
In recent days, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has been keen to highlight an increase in Russian casualties.
On Sunday, the department said that the previous day's toll of Russian soldiers killed was 760, which is significantly more than the typical daily average of less than 600.
On Saturday the Defense Ministry said that 710 Russians had been killed, bringing the two-day total for Russian dead to 1470.
Since the start of the war, Russia has lost an estimated 106,720 soldiers, according to Ukraine.
Since February 2022, when Russia launched its invasion, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has been releasing figures regarding Russian losses.
These have regularly been higher than the official figures the Kremlin has provided.
"No one wants the conflict in Ukraine to escalate as much as Ms. Nuland," Musk wrote on his personal Twitter.
MR. IGNATIUS: Fascinating. I want to ask you a personal question. You have been in the news or at least the Twittersphere in the last 24 hours. Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, tweeted yesterday in response to some discussions about you, and I'm quoting here, "Nobody is pushing this war more than Nuland." And I'd like to ask your reaction.
MS. NULAND: Well, I would start with a basic fact here, which I'm confident is well known, which is if this war is to end, it could end tomorrow if Vladimir Putin chose to end it and to withdraw his troops. So this is not about us. This is about choices that Vladimir Putin has made to try to bite off pieces of his neighbor, and if we allow this as the United States, if we don't support the victim in this aggression, then this aggression will be replicated all over the planet in the years to come. And, you know, particularly folks with young children ought to be thinking about the future that they want to live in.
Slovakia on Thursday joined Poland in urging their allies to provide fighter jets to Kyiv as a wave of deadly "retaliation" strikes rocked Ukraine.
"I think it's time to make a decision," Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said on Facebook. "People in Ukraine are dying, we can really help them. ... This is inhumane and irresponsible."
A day earlier, Polish President Andrzej Duda told CNN that Poland was ready to provide Ukraine with the MiG-29 fighters as part of a package involving other Western allies.
"The training of Ukrainian pilots is important and much needed,” Duda said, adding that long-range artillery also is needed "to push the enemy back and avoid direct clashes. Because the Russians are trying to crush Ukraine, crush it with the weight of their armed forces, their size and their equipment."
The Biden administration, and NATO, thus far have declined Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's requests for aircraft.
LAWMAKER DECLINES INVITE TO KYIV:House Speaker Kevin McCarthy declines President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's invite to visit Ukraine
►The Biden administration unveiled it's 2024 budget proposal, which calls for almost $7 billion in additional spending for Ukraine and other allies to combat "Russian aggression." The U.S. has spent more than $75 billion on Ukraine since the war began a year ago.
►An air raid warning sounded Thursday on Moscow radio stations and TV channels but was a false alarm, a result of server hacking, state-run Tass reported.
►52% of Ukrainians don't want any Russian taught in schools, up from 8% in a 2019 survey, according to a new poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. Despite the war, 42% of the population still favors some Russian being taught – although only 6% want it taught more than other foreign languages.
►A group of 42 retired Canadian Olympians are urging their country’s Olympic leaders to take a stand against Russians participating in next year’s Paris Games.
The U.S. Defense Department confirmed that some of the material was genuine but claimed it had been selectively edited.
One document labeled “TOP SECRET” allegedly originated from the CIA. It contains an assessment that Viktor Orban’s Hungary, a NATO and EU member—albeit one still close to Russia—now considers the U.S. to be one of its most significant geopolitical adversaries. Another assessment details the Russian Wagner mercenary group’s attempt to build contacts with the Haitian government. The spelling of the mercenary corps is “Vagner,” a common Russian phonetic spelling of the organization but one that is rarely used in material designated for public consumption. However, Yahoo News found previous examples of this transliteration being used in internal Defense Department maps, such those contained in an assessment of Wagner Group operations in Libya from July 24, 2020.
Another document details the proposed opening of a Russian-made weapons repair facility in the United Arab Emirates in coordination with Moscow. The UAE, an American ally in the Middle East, operates a significant amount of weaponry from Russia, most notably the Pantsir air defense system and the BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle. It is unclear from this assessment whether refurbished military hardware would be for Russian use in Ukraine, a situation that would certainly tax Washington’s relationship with Abu Dhabi.
An alleged "CIA Intel Update" dated March 1 states that the leaders of Israel's Mossad intelligence service were egging on national protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial judicial reforms.
One printout posted on Discord contains significant technical detail about the numbers and potential failures of a specific weapon system provided by the United States to Ukraine. The document is marked “SECRET/NOFORN,” — with “NOFORN” meaning “Not Releasable to Foreign Nationals.” That is an explicit classification used to indicate intelligence information that “may not be released in any form to foreign governments, foreign nationals, foreign organizations, or non-U.S. citizens,” according to the Defense Department.
Another text suggests that the United Kingdom is planning to deploy one of the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers to the South Pacific to counter Chinese influence in the region. It also assesses the priorities of the U.K. opposition Labour Party and how Beijing would react to an incoming Labour government scrapping the South Pacific plan in order to focus resources closer to home. This is also designated for American eyes only.
Other material contained in the tranche is less sensitive, such as an assessment of efficiency of the government response to the outbreak of the Marburg virus in Equatorial Guinea or the progress of the Nigerian election.
The timing of the leaks, coming at a moment when the Ukrainian military is preparing to launch a much-anticipated offensive, and also the method of their dissemination raise many questions about how these documents were obtained and also about their veracity.
The Ukraine documents that were circulated by pro-Russian sources contained crudely photoshopped modifications to casualty figures to suggest that Ukrainian forces had suffered significantly more casualties, and Russian forces significantly fewer casualties, than had actually been assessed by American intelligence. Whoever doctored them put the estimated killed-in-action figure for Ukraine, 16,000-17,500 — in the Russian field, which originally gave 35,500–43,500 killed in action. It also transposed the digits for the Ukrainian assessment, changing 16,000-17,500 to "61,000-71,500."