Death by a thousand cuts: where is the west’s Ukraine strategy?

The pounding, daily western narratives on ‘Ukrainian wins’ and ‘Russian losses’ underpins the lack of an actual, cohesive Grand Strategy against Moscow.

May 16 2022

Wars are not won with tactics and narratives – they require a Grand Strategy. Russia has a master plan behind its Ukraine military operations, but does the west have one? Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

While we are all familiar with Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, military strategist and philosopher who penned the incomparable Art of War, less known is the Strategikon, the Byzantium equivalent on warfare.

Sixth century Byzantium really needed a manual, threatened as it was from the east, successively by Sassanid Persia, Arabs and Turks, and from the north, by waves of steppe invaders, Huns, Avars, Bulgars, semi-nomadic Turkic Pechenegs and Magyars.

Byzantium could not prevail just by following the classic pattern of Roman Empire raw power – they simply didn’t have the means for it.

So military force needed to be subordinate to diplomacy, a less costly means of avoiding or resolving conflict. And here we can make a fascinating connection with today’s Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin and his diplomacy chief Sergei Lavrov.

But when military means became necessary for Byzantium – as in Russia’s Operation Z – it was preferable to use weaponry to contain or punish adversaries, instead of attacking with full force.

Strategic primacy, for Byzantium, more than diplomatic or military, was a psychological affair. The word Strategia itself is derived from the Greek strategos – which does not mean “General” in military terms, as the west believes, but historically corresponds to a managerial politico-military function.

It all starts with si vis pacem para bellum: “If you want peace prepare for war.” Confrontation must develop simultaneously on multiple levels: grand strategy, military strategy, operative, tactical.

But brilliant tactics, excellent operative intel and even massive victories in a larger war theater cannot compensate for a lethal mistake in terms of grand strategy. Just look at the Nazis in WWII.

Those who built up an empire such as the Romans, or maintained one for centuries like the Byzantines, never succeeded without following this logic.

Those clueless Pentagon and CIA ‘experts’

On Operation Z, the Russians revel in total strategic ambiguity, which has the collective west completely discombobulated. The Pentagon does not have the necessary intellectual firepower to out-smart the Russian General Staff. Only a few outliers understand that this is not a war – since the Ukraine Armed Forces have been irretrievably routed – but actually what Russian military and naval expert Andrei Martyanov calls a “combined arms police operation,” a work-in-progress on demilitarization and denazification.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is even more abysmal in terms of getting everything wrong, as recently demonstrated by its chief Avril Haines during her questioning on Capitol Hill. History shows that the CIA strategically blew it all the way from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. Ukraine is no different.

Ukraine was never about a military win. What is being accomplished is the slow, painful destruction of the European Union (EU) economy, coupled with extraordinary weapons profits for the western military-industrial complex and creeping security rule by those nations’ political elites.

The latter, in turn, have been totally baffled by Russia’s C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) capabilities, coupled with the stunning inefficiency of their own constellation of Javelins, NLAWs, Stingers and Turkish Bayraktar drones.

This ignorance reaches way beyond tactics and the operational and strategic realm. As Martyanov delightfully points out, they “wouldn’t know what hit them on the modern battlefield with near-peer, forget about peer.”

The caliber of ‘strategic’ advice from the NATO realm was self-evident in the Serpent Island fiasco – a direct order issued by British ‘consultants’ to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, thought the whole thing was suicidal. He was proven right.

All the Russians had to do was launch a few choice anti-ship and surface Onyx missiles from bastions stationed in Crimea on airports south of Odessa. In no time, Serpent Island was back under Russian control – even as high-ranking British and American marine officers ‘disappeared’ during the Ukrainian landing on the island. They were the ‘strategic’ NATO actors on the spot, doling out the lousy advice.

Extra evidence that the Ukraine debacle is predominantly about money laundering – not competent military strategy – is Capitol Hill approving a hefty extra $40 billion in ‘aid’ to Kiev. It’s just another western military-industrial complex bonanza, duly noted by Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev.

Russian forces, meanwhile, have brought diplomacy to the battlefield, handing over 10 tons of humanitarian assistance to the people of liberated Kherson – with the deputy head of the military-civil administration of the region, Kirill Stremousov, announcing that Kherson wants to become part of the Russian Federation.

In parallel, Georgy Muradov, deputy prime minister of the government of Crimea, has “no doubts that the liberated territories of the south of the former Ukraine will become another region of Russia. This, as we assess from our communication with the inhabitants of the region, is the will of the people themselves, most of whom lived for eight years under conditions of repression and bullying by the Ukronazis.”

Denis Pushilin, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, is adamant that the DPR is on the verge of liberating “its territories within constitutional borders,” and then a referendum on joining Russia will take place. When it comes to the Luhansk People’s Republic, the integration process may even come earlier: the only area left to be liberated is the urban region of Lysychansk-Severodonetsk.

The ‘Stalingrad of Donbass’

As much as there’s an energetic debate among the best Russian analysts about the pace of Operation Z, Russian military planning proceeds methodically, as if taking all the time it needs to solidify facts on the ground.

Arguably the best example is the fate of Azov neo-Nazis at Azovstal in Mariupol – the best-equipped unit of the Ukrainians, hands down. In the end, they were totally outmatched by a numerically inferior Russian/Chechen Spetsnaz contingent, and in record time for such a big city.

Another example is the advance on Izyum, in the Kharkov region – a key bridgehead in the frontline. The Russian Ministry of Defense follows the pattern of grinding the enemy while slowly advancing; if they face serious resistance, they stop and smash the Ukrainian defensive lines with non-stop missile and artillery strikes.

Popasnaya in Luhansk, dubbed by many Russian analysts as “Mariupol on steroids”, or “the Stalingrad of Donbass,” is now under total control of the Luhansk People’s Republic, after they managed to breach a de facto fortress with linked underground trenches between most civilian houses. Popasnaya is extremely important strategically, as its capture breaks the first, most powerful line of defense of the Ukrainians in Donbass.

That will probably lead to the next stage, with an offensive on Bakhmut along the H-32 highway. The frontline will be aligned, north to south. Bakhmut will be the key to taking control of the M-03 highway, the main route to Slavyansk from the south.

This is just an illustration of the Russian General Staff applying its trademark, methodical, painstaking strategy, where the main imperative could be defined as a personnel-preserving forward drive. With the added benefit of committing just a fraction of overall Russian firepower.

Russian strategy on the battlefield stands in stark contrast with the EU’s obstinacy in being reduced to the status of an American dog’s lunch, with Brussels leading entire national economies to varying degrees of certified collapse and chaos.

Once again it was up to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – a diplomatic master – to encapsulate it.

Question: “What do you think of Josep Borrell’s (Lavrov’s EU counterpart) initiative to give Ukraine frozen Russian assets as ‘reparations?’ Can we say that the masks have come off and the west is moving on to open robbery?”

Lavrov: “You could say it is theft, which they are not trying to hide … This is becoming a habit for the west … We may soon see the post of the EU chief diplomat abolished because the EU has virtually no foreign policy of its own and acts entirely in solidarity with the approaches imposed by the United States.”

The EU cannot even come up with a strategy to defend its own economic battlefield – just watching as its energy supply is de facto, incrementally turned off by the US. Here we are at the realm where the US tactically excels: economic/financial blackmail. We can’t call these ‘strategic’ moves because they almost always backfire against US hegemonic interests.

Compare it with Russia reaching its biggest surplus in history, with the rise and rise of commodity prices and the upcoming role of the stronger and stronger ruble as a resource-based currency also backed by gold.

Moscow is spending way less than the NATO contingent in the Ukrainian theater. NATO has already wasted $50 billion – and counting – while the Russians spent $4 billion, give or take, and already conquered Mariupol, Berdyansk, Kherson and Melitopol, created a land corridor to Crimea (and secured its water supply), controls the Sea of Azov and its major port city, and liberated strategically vital Volnovakha and Popasnaya in Donbass, as well as Izyum near Kharkov.

That doesn’t even include Russia hurling the entire, collective west into a level of recession not seen since the 1970s.

The Russian strategic victory, as it stands, is military, economic, and may even coalesce geopolitically. Centuries after the Byzantine Strategikon was penned, the Global South would be very much interested in getting acquainted with the 21st century Russian version of the Art of War.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Gonzalo Lira: Why Did Lloyd Austin Call Sergei Shoigu?

May 14, 2022

Nothing to Celebrate?

May 11, 2022

Source

by James Tweedie

On May 8, when Victory in Europe (VE) Day is celebrated in the West, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN that Russia had “nothing to celebrate” on its own Victory Day on May 9.

Her reasoning, faithfully transcribed on the US mission’s website, was that “They have not succeeded in defeating the Ukrainians.”

Given that Victory Day and VE Day both specifically commemorate the allied defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, Thomas-Greenfield’s comments were like saying the US, Britain and France had nothing to celebrate this year because they got chased out of Afghanistan by the Taliban last August.

The ambassador is either an apologist for Nazism or merely too ignorant to do her job. She should at least read some objective reports about the conflict in the Ukraine.

In fact Russians had two immediate military victories to celebrate that Monday. Russian and Lugansk People’s Republic troops captured the town of Popasna, a lynchpin in the Ukrainian army’s defensive line that it had held for eight years.

Meanwhile Kiev, apparently desperate for a victory of its own to rain on the parade through Moscow’s Red Square, launched an airborne and marine assault on the now-famous Zmeinyy (Snake) Island off the coast of Odessa oblast.

Some sources say the Russians withdrew their small force holding the island as bait for a trap, but either way it went horribly wrong for the Ukrainians. They lost four jet fighters and strike aircraft, up to 10 helicopters, a corvette and three infantry landing craft. More than 60 of their personnel were killed, of which 27 were abandoned on the island.

The Ukraine is like a bull elephant that has been shot right in the heart in mid-charge. The beast keeps on bellowing and rampaging around, not yet realising that it’s already dead.

It becomes clearer by the day that the Ukrainian army attempting to occupy the remains of the Donbass republics, newly recognised by Russia just as the West ‘recognised’ its creations of Kosovo and South Sudan, is dead on its feet.

Its navy, air force, artillery, tanks and transportation are almost destroyed. Its casualties are replaced with boys and old men press-ganged off the streets of Kiev and Lvov, some without proper boots. Its senior officers are fled or dead.

Meanwhile the collective West, dominated as always by the Washington, pours in its hodgepodge of arms that belong in a museum, not on the battlefield. The latest arrivals are the 90 much-vaunted 155mm howitzers donated by the Pentagon — and made in UK, because the US military-industrial complex seemingly can’t produce a simple towed cannon any more.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin insisted on April 28 that the artillery pieces would prove “decisive” in the war with Russia. The former Raytheon executive can’t stop speaking in his arms industry sales patter. 90 guns is about what the Ukrainian army is losing every week. What use are they anyway against Russia’s hypersonic missiles, with a range of hundreds of miles and an accuracy radius of seven metres?

Pouring random assortments of arms into a country and expecting it to win against a well-organised and equipped opponent is just as incoherent a strategy as the war of attrition the US waged in Vietnam, or sending a whole army into a frontal assault on a mountain pass defended by a thousand.

Who is going to operate all this stuff if most of the experienced weapon and vehicle crews have become casualties or prisoners? How is it even supposed to get to the front when Russia has air superiority over the country and stand-off weapons that can reach right out to the border with Poland and kill hundreds of foreign mercenaries?

“Ukraine clearly believes it can win and so does everyone here,” Austin told his NATO counterparts at the Rammstein airbase a few days earlier, in a touching display of mass delusion on a US-occupied piece of Germany. “Ukraine needs our help to win today and they will still need our help when the war is over.”

In a pre-recorded virtual address to the Ukrainian parliament on May 3, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made similar exhortations. “The so-called irresistible force of Putin’s war machine has broken on the immoveable object of Ukrainian patriotism,” Johnson declared triumphantly. “Ukraine will win, Ukraine will be free.”

Kiev is claiming it can rebuild its exhausted, demoralised, bled-white army in the west of the country — or better yet, in NATO-member Poland — and march east in a great wave of self-righteous retribution to reclaim the Donbass and Crimea.

This is accompanied by bizarre fascistic artwork of crusader knights, flying the 30-year-old Ukrainian flag, slaughtering Russian army orcs — literal fantasy role-playing game orcs with the letter ‘Z’ marked on their foreheads. And Western leaders are actually taking this stuff seriously.

Austin believes that fighting this war the last drop of Ukrainian blood will weaken the Russian military enough that it won’t be able to fight another war for years to come. Not so long ago this retired four-star general publicly referred to present-day Russia as the Soviet Union, whether by accident or on purpose we do not now.

Perhaps Austin should read a little history and discover that the USSR lost 27 million human lives in the war against Nazi Germany and its many European fascist allies, all now current or prospective NATO members.

Six million Soviets soldiers and partisans fell on the battlefield. Three million more were murdered by the Nazis as as prisoners of war, along with 18 million civilians.

Yet the Soviet Union emerged from that cataclysmic war stronger than ever, as the superpower that counter-balanced the US in the post-war order.

Like Germany in 1945, the Ukraine is marching fanatically towards its terrible Götterdämmerung, leaving a trail of footprints in its own blood. And NATO is standing behind, cheering it on and prolonging the death-agony.

The Third Patriotic War

May 07, 2022

Source

A St George’s Day Contribution by Batiushka

Introduction: War

I am not a technical-military man, but I have very strong military connections and a keen interest in military history, both Russian and Western, and also in geopolitics, having lectured on it. I lived in Soviet Russia in the 1970s, experienced its weaknesses, its strengths and also its hollowness, understanding that it would eventually fall, for even then nobody believed in Communism any more. All continued by inertia. Collapse was inevitable. I also know contemporary Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltics and Moldova very well. In fact, I was in Kiev only last October, being shown the SBU/CIA Secret Police building in the centre and being told to hush my voice as we walked past. No-one wanted to visit the torture-chambers in the basement.

The special operation to free the Russian Donbass from Fascist oppression which began on 24 February 2022 meant a war between the Russian Federation and the Kiev regime, which under Western pressure would refuse to back down. This would inevitably mean a war between Russia and NATO, even if the actual battleground would still be limited to the Ukraine. I firmly believe that the Russian government knew all this and foresaw the consequences, that the West would intervene with all the economic, political, military and technological might of the US/NATO military complex. This knowledge was why the Donbass had had to wait for liberation for eight long and grim years. Russia had had to get ready for the inevitable very carefully.

The Preparation

Let us recall how Soviet Russia fell through treason, ending up dissolving itself on 25 December 1991. In October 1993, 4,000 US Marines (I know one of them) were flown to a base outside Moscow. This was just in case the popular rising against ‘democracy’ and the drunkard Western puppet and traitor Yeltsin went Russia’s way and against the neocons and their privatisers’ ‘shock therapy’. The repression of the October bid for freedom left 5,000 Russian dead. The US support had been there, though it did not have to be used, as there were enough Russian traitors to do the dirty deed themselves.

Russian weakness and internal treachery was why the Russian government betrayed Serbia in the 1990s and Libya in 2011 – it was far too weak to stand up to the West. After the Crimea democratically returned to Russia after 60 years (1954-2014) with the internationally-observed referendum in 2014, the West still applied illegal sanctions to Russia. Then Moscow knew that any action to free the Ukraine from the Western junta in Kiev would have to be prepared very carefully, for the sanctions would only be multiplied. What preparations had to be made?

Firstly, there was the diplomatic and trade front. Allies had to be brought onside, in Eurasia with China, Iran, India, Turkey (Russia rescuing Erdogan from the US assassination attempt at the last moment in July 2016), Hungary, then, from Venezuela to Brazil, Latin America and then, from Egypt to South Africa, Africa. As regards the Western world, especially the EU, there was a chance to present the Russian point of view through RT, as at that time Western censorship was not yet total.

Secondly, there was the modernisation of the Russian Armed Forces to be undertaken, with new, non-nuclear weapons, hypersonic missiles, drones, electronic technology, some of which would be tested out in Syria.

Thirdly, there was the policy of import substitution to be implemented in order to make Russia independent in case of further illegal Western sanctions.

Why Did It Start on 24 February 2022?

There were four triggers which sparked off the special operation on 24 February.

Firstly, the Zelensky regime wanted the Ukraine to become a NATO member. The weak post-Communist Russian Federation had already made that mistake many times, allowing Eastern Europe, notably the Baltics, Poland and Romania, to join that aggressive protection racket. In that way the post-War buffer states of Eastern Europe, providing a demilitarised zone for Russia, ended. After all, if you have been invaded from the West very regularly for 800 years, leaving 27 million of your citizens dead in the most recent invasion, would you not also want a demilitarised buffer zone to protect you? Post-War offensive NATO was the only reason why the defensive Warsaw Pact had to be set up.

Secondly, with missiles on American bases in Poland and Romania and NATO troops smugly parading at the Estonian border with Russia, the Ukraine then threatened to obtain nuclear arms. Did Zelensky, reading his American script as a true actor, really expect Russia not to react to this?

Thirdly, the US, not without the help of its local pronconsul, the cocaine-addled Hunter Biden, had set up some thirty biolabs in the Ukraine. Their target? To find genetically-concocted viruses to infect Russians. Would Russia not defend itself?

Fourthly, though possibly this may not have been discovered by Russia until a day or two after the special operation began, though possibly they knew perfectly well beforehand, the NATO-manipulated, instructed and armed Kiev Army had a plan to invade the Russian Donbass and genocide its people. Had they succeeded, it is doubtful they would have stopped at the Russian border. Truss, the supremely stupid British Foreign Secretary, let slip that NATO already had Russian Rostov and Voronezh in its sights.

After eight years of attempts to negotiate, which Russia used to buy time to prepare for the War in case of Western idiocy, it was only because there was no alternative that it sent in some troops in an initially limited military operation.

A Fight for Survival

This is now a war of attrition. Russia has to destroy all Western/NATO arms and troops that get into the Ukraine from Poland or elsewhere as soon as possible, quicker than they can be sent. And this must go on until the West caves in, because so much Western war material will have been destroyed at huge financial loss to itself.

Russia is also relying on the self-imposed economic problems that the West faces. The West, and not just the EU, is already suffering economically. There could easily be popular uprisings as a result of inflation and the incredible cost of energy. This will hit very hard next autumn and winter. And the embargos on Russian grain and fertilisers have not hit yet. Wait till food costs go up by 100% in Western countries, instead of just going up by 10% as now: then you will have rioting in the streets and looting of supermarkets. As for the Ukrainian currency, it is worthless, propped up by the IMF run by the US, which in 2014 stole the $15 billion of Ukrainian gold reserves in expectation. Otherwise, the Ukraine would long ago have defaulted.

The stakes are huge for all. China stands behind Russia because Russia is like a shield for it. If Russia falls, then China is next and it knows that, which is why it supports Russia. The White Peril will next head towards China, making the British-imposed mass suicide of the so-called ‘Opium Wars’ look like a picnic. There will be no taking back of Taiwan in the near future, instead there will be Harvard economists and merchant bankers taking power and grasping billions in Beijing, as in Russia after 1991. And then, amid civil wars, millions and millions of Chinese will take the path of suicide, exactly as happened in 1990s Russia. Make no mistake, this is a battle for survival of the world’s seven billion against the one billion.

This is why today Russia remains firm, with 80% of the population behind President Putin, unlike in the Western world where it is rare to find a leader who has more than 30% of support. Why? It is simple: President Putin loves his country, he is a patriot: Western leaders are not patriots, they are venal mercenaries, no more so than the US puppet governments in Eastern Europe. The only Russians against President Putin are the traitors, recruited by the CIA, and there are still quite a few in Moscow and elsewhere, but we will not here name names.

True, many of the fifth column of traitors in Moscow have already left or are leaving, Tel Aviv being a popular destination for them. For Russia this is not some localised conflict on its borders, as it still appears to most Western people, lulled into delusions by their Goebbels propaganda ministries (‘media’). For Russia this is just as much a fight for survival as World War Two. This is the Third Great Patriotic War. Let me explain.

For those who do not know, the 1812 invasion of Russia by Napoleon and his multinational barbarian hordes is known as the First Patriotic War. The 1941 invasion by Hitler and his multinational barbarian hordes is known as the Second Patriotic War. It is our view that just as the 1941-1945 defensive War was called the Second Patriotic War, the 2022- ? defensive War will be known as the Third Patriotic War. Warsaw and Bucharest, Berlin and Paris, pay attention.

When Did It All Begin?

When did it all begin? Actually, it was not on 24 February 2022. Some, grudgingly, will admit that it was the US-run regime change of 2014 with its $5 billion price-tag for the hapless US taxpayer. Grudgingly, some might admit that it goes back even further to November 1989, the Fall of the Wall. Some might suggest two generations before that, in September 1939, when Stalin took the poison-chalice of the western Ukraine, Galicia, from Poland and had to fight a CIA-supplied war there against Fascist partisans until 1958.

Some might suggest exactly 100 years ago in 1922, when the brain-syphilitic Lenin transferred from Russia the southern and eastern half of the present Ukraine to the Ukraine, as he wanted the pro-Communist industrial proletariat of the south and east to counterbalance the real Ukrainian agricultural north and west. But we could also go back to 1914, the invasion of the Russian Empire by Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey. This is exactly 100 years before the 2014 US-orchestrated colour-revolution in Kiev, with its Lithuanian snipers on the roof of the American Embassy in Kiev murdering Ukrainian policemen and then the US blaming ‘repression’ on the democratically-elected pro-Russian government.

Conclusion: A Fight to the End

Russia must win this War against NATO. However, the last thing Russia wants is a nuclear war, however much some fools in the West talk that up. And however tempting as targets the 1,000 or so US bases around the world may be, Russia certainly does not want the war to spread outside the current Ukrainian territory. If Russia does not win, the Russian Federation will be humiliated and dismantled and become just another group of colonies for Western asset-strippers and slavers. Then the British dream for its 1917 coup d’etat, turned into a nightmare because the stupid dream permitted Bolshevism to come to power, will become real.

After that, China will fall next and then the rest of the still free, if for the moment impoverished and exploited, world will fall just like dominos into neo-colonial Western hands. And that will be the end of the world under a US Global Dictatorship, euphemistically known as ‘the Unipolar World’. We are not ready for that. We prefer to fight. As President Putin has said, a world without Russia is not one we wish to live in. As we have said before, this is our ONLY chance to work towards a Union of Sovereign (NOT Soviet) Social (NOT Socialist) Republics and an Alliance of countries which favour Prosperity and Justice, not Poverty and Injustice.

Russian Orthodox St George’s Day 2022

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the Xinhua News Agency (China), April 30, 2022

May 01, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1811525/

Question: What do you think is at the root of the Ukrainian crisis? What can the international community do to solve this problem?

Sergey Lavrov:  When we talk about the Ukrainian crisis, first of all we need to look at the destructive policy of the Western states conducted over many years and led by the United States, which set a course to knock together a unipolar world order after the end of the Cold War. NATO’s reckless expansion to the East was a key component of those actions, despite the political obligations to the Soviet leadership on the non-expansion of the Alliance. As you know, those promises were just empty words. All these years, NATO infrastructure has been moving closer and closer to the Russian borders.

The West was never concerned about the fact that their actions grossly violated their international obligations not to strengthen their own security at the expense of the security of others. In particular, Washington and Brussels arrogantly rejected the initiatives put forward by Russia in December 2021 to ensure our country’s security guarantees in the west: to stop the expansion of NATO, not to deploy armaments that pose a threat to Russia in Ukraine and to return the Alliance’s military infrastructure to the 1997 configuration, when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed.

It is well-known that the United States and NATO member states have always viewed Ukraine as a tool to contain Russia. Over the years, they have actively fuelled anti-Russia sentiments there, forcing Kiev to make an artificial and false choice: to be either with the West or with Moscow.

It was the collective West that first provoked and then supported the anti-constitutional coup d’etat in Kiev in February 2014. Nationalists came to power in Ukraine and immediately unleashed a bloody massacre in Donbass, and set the course on the destruction of everything Russian in the rest of the country. Let me remind you that it was precisely because of this threat that the people of Crimea voted in a referendum for the reunification with Russia in 2014.

Over these past years, the United States and its allies have done nothing to stop the intra-Ukrainian conflict. Instead of encouraging Kiev to settle it politically based on the Minsk Complex of Measures, they sent weapons, trained and armed the Ukrainian army and nationalist battalions, and generally carried out the military-political development of Ukraine’s territory. They encouraged the aggressive anti-Russia course pursued by the Kiev authorities. In fact, they pushed the Ukrainian nationalists to undermine the negotiating process and resolve the Donbass issue by force.

We were deeply concerned about the undeclared biological programmes implemented in Ukraine with Pentagon’s support in close proximity to the Russian borders. And, of course, we could not disregard the Kiev leadership’s undisguised intentions to acquire a military nuclear potential, which would create an unacceptable threat to Russia’s national security.

In these conditions, we had no other choice but to recognise the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and launch the special military operation. Its aim is to protect people from genocide by the neo-Nazis, as well as to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine. I would like to stress that Russia is acting to fulfil its obligations under bilateral agreements on cooperation and mutual assistance with the DPR and LPR, at the official request of Donetsk and Lugansk under Article 51 of the UN Charter on the right to self-defence.

The special military operation launched on February 24 is progressing strictly in accordance with the plan. All its goals will be achieved in spite of our opponents’ counteractions. At the moment we are witnessing a classic case of double standards and hypocrisy of the Western establishment. By publicly supporting the Kiev regime, NATO member states are doing everything in their power to prevent the completion of the operation by reaching political agreements. Various weapons are flowing endlessly into Ukraine through Poland and other NATO countries. All of this is being done under the pretext of “fighting the invasion”, but in fact the United States and the European Union intend to fight Russia “to the last Ukrainian.” They do not care at all about the fate of Ukraine as an independent subject of international relations.

The West is ready to jeopardise the energy and food security of entire regions of the globe to satisfy its own geopolitical ambitions.

What ither explanation is there for the unrestrained flywheel of anti-Russian sanctions launched by the West with the start of the operation and which they aren’t thinking of stopping?

If the United States and NATO are truly interested in settling the Ukrainian crisis, then, first, they must come to their senses and stop supplying weapons and ammunition to Kiev. The Ukrainian people do not need Stingers and Javelins; what they need is a solution to urgent humanitarian issues.

Russia has been doing this since 2014. During this time, tens of thousands of tonnes of humanitarian cargo have been delivered to Donbass, and about 15,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid have already arrived in the part of Ukraine liberated from the Kiev regime, the DPR and the LPR, since the launch of the special military operation.

Second, it is essential that the Kiev regime stops cynical provocations, including in the information space. Ukrainian armed formations are barbarically shelling cities using civilians as living shields. We saw examples of this in Donetsk and Kramatorsk. Captured Russian servicemen are being abused with animal cruelty, and these atrocities are being posted online. At the same time, they use their Western patrons and global media controlled by the West to accuse the Russian army of war crimes. As they say, laying the blame at somebody else’s door.

It is high time for the West to stop unconditionally whitewashing and covering up for Kiev. Otherwise,

Washington, Brussels and other Western capitals should consider their responsibility for complicity in the bloody crimes perpetrated by the Ukrainian nationalists.

Question: What measures has Russia taken to protect the lives and property of civilians? What efforts has it made to establish humanitarian corridors?

Sergey Lavrov: As I mentioned earlier, the special military operation is proceeding according to plan. Under this plan, the Russian military personnel are doing everything in their power to avoid victims among civilians. Blows are carried out with high-precision weapons, first of all at military infrastructure facilities and places where armoured vehicles are concentrated. Unlike the Ukrainian army and nationalist armed groups that use people as living shields, the Russian army provides the locals with all kinds of assistance and support.

Humanitarian corridors open daily from Kharkov and Mariupol to evacuate people from dangerous districts, but the Kiev regime demands that the “national battalions” in control of those areas do not release the civilians. Nevertheless, many are able to leave with the assistance of Russian, DPR and LPR servicemen. During the special military operation, the hotline of the Interdepartmental Coordination Headquarters of the Russian Federation for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine has received requests for assistance in evacuating 2.8 million people to Russia, including 16,000 foreign citizens and employees of UN and OSCE international missions. In total, 1.02 million people have been evacuated from Ukraine, the DPR and LPR, of which over 120,000 are citizens of third countries, including over 300 Chinese nationals. There are over 9,500 temporary accommodation facilities operating in Russian regions. They have space for rest and hot meals, and everything that may be necessary. Newly arrived refugees are provided with qualified medical and psychological assistance.

Russia is taking measures to ensure civilian navigation in the Black and Azov seas. A humanitarian corridor opens daily, a safe lane for ships. However, Ukraine continues to block foreign ships, creating a threat of shelling in its internal waters and territorial sea. Moreover, Ukrainian naval units have mined the shore, the ports and territorial waters. These explosive devices disconnect from their anchor lines and drift into the open sea, so they pose a serious danger to both the fleets and the port infrastructure of the Black Sea countries.

Question: Since the special military operation was launched in Ukraine, Western counties have adopted a large number of unprecedented sanctions against Moscow. How do you think these sanctions will affect Russia? What are the main countermeasures taken by Russia? Some say that a new Cold War has begun. How would you comment on that?

Sergey Lavrov: It is true that the special military operation was used by the collective West as a pretext to unleash numerous restrictions against Russia, as well as its legal entities and individuals. The United States, Great Britain, Canada and EU countries do not conceal that their goal is to strangle our economy by undermining its competitiveness and blocking Russia’s progressive development. At the same time, the Western ruling circles are not embarrassed by the fact that anti-Russian sanctions are already beginning to harm ordinary people in their own countries. I mean the declining economic trends in the United States and many European countries, including growing inflation and unemployment.

It is clear that there can be no excuse for this anti-Russian line and it has no future. As President Vladimir Putin said, Russia has withstood this unprecedented pressure. Now the situation is stabilising, though, of course, not all risks are behind us.

In any case, they will not succeed in weakening us. I am confident that we will restructure the economy and protect ourselves from our opponents’ possible illegitimate and hostile actions in the future. We will continue to give a fitting and adequate response to the imposed restrictions, guided by the goal of maintaining the stability of the Russian economy and its financial system, as well as the interests of domestic businesses and the entire nation. 

We will focus our efforts on de-dollarisation, de-offshorisation, import substitution, and promotion of technological independence.

We will continue to adapt to external challenges and step up development programmes for promising and competitive industries.

During the period of turbulence, our retaliatory special economic measures needed to ensure the normal functioning of the Russian economy will be continued and expanded. As a responsible player on the international market, Russia intends to continue scrupulously fulfilling its obligations under international contracts on export deliveries of agricultural products, fertilisers, energy carriers and other critical products. We are deeply concerned about a possible food crisis provoked by the anti-Russian sanctions, and we are well aware how important the deliveries of essential goods, such as food, are for the socioeconomic development of Asian, African, Latin American, and Middle Eastern countries.

I will be brief as regards the second part of your question. Today we are not talking about a new “cold war,” but, as I said earlier, about the persistent desire to impose a US-centric model of the world order coming from Washington and its satellites, who imagine themselves to be “arbiters of humankind’s fate.” It has reached the point where the

Western minority is trying to replace the UN-centric architecture and international law formed after World War II with their own “rule-based order.” These rules are written by Washington and its allies and then imposed on the international community as binding.

We must realise that the United States has been carrying out this destructive policy for several decades now. It is enough to recall NATO’s aggression against Yugoslavia, attacks on Iraq and Libya, attempts to destroy Syria, as well as the colour revolutions that Western capitals staged in a number of countries, including Ukraine. All of this came at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and resulted in chaos in various regions of the planet.

The West tries to crudely suppress those who carry out an independent course in their domestic and foreign policy. Not just Russia. We can see how bloc thinking is being imposed in the Asian-Pacific Region. We can recall the Indo-Pacific strategy promoted by the United States, which has a pronounced anti-China tendency. The US seeks to dictate the standards according to which Latin America should live, in the spirit of the outdated Monroe Doctrine. This explains many years of the illegal trade embargo on Cuba, sanctions against Venezuela, as well as attempts to undermine stability in Nicaragua and other countries. The pressure on Belarus continues in the same context. This list can go on.

It is clear that the collective West’s efforts to oppose the natural course of history and solve its problems at the expense of others are doomed. Today the world has several decision-making centres; it is multipolar.

We can see how quickly Asian, African, and Latin American countries are developing. Everyone is getting a real freedom of choice, including where it comes to choosing their development models and participation in integration projects. Our special military operation in Ukraine also contributes to the process of freeing the world from the West’s neocolonial oppression heavily mixed with racism and a complex of exceptionalism.

The faster the West accepts the new geopolitical situation, the better it will be for the West itself and for the entire international community.

As President Xi Jinping said at the Boao Forum for Asia, “We need to uphold the principle of indivisible security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and oppose the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security.”

Question: Russian-Ukrainian talks have attracted close attention of the international community. What are the main obstacles to the talks today? How do you regard the prospects of a peace treaty between the two parties? What kind of bilateral relations does Russia intend to have with Ukraine in the future?

Sergey Lavrov: At present the Russian and Ukrainian delegations are holding discussions on the possible draft almost daily, via videoconference. This document should contain such elements of the post-conflict situation as permanent neutrality, the non-nuclear, non-bloc and demilitarised status of Ukraine, as well as guarantees of its security. The agenda of the talks also includes denazification, recognition of the new geopolitical reality, the lifting of sanctions and the status of the Russian language, among other things. Settling the situation in Ukraine will make a significant contribution to the de-escalation of the military and political tensions in Europe and the world in general. The establishment of an institution of guarantor states is envisaged as a possible option. First of all, they will be the permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Russia and China. We share information on the progress in the talks with Chinese diplomats. We are grateful to Beijing and other BRICS partners for their balanced position on the Ukrainian issue.

We are in favour of continuing the talks, although the process is difficult.

You are right to ask about the obstacles. For example, they include the militant rhetoric and incendiary actions of Kiev’s Western patrons. They are actually encouraging Kiev to “fight to the last Ukrainian,” pumping the country with weapons and sending mercenaries there. Let me note that the Ukrainian security services staged a crude bloody provocation in Bucha with the help of the West, to complicate the negotiation process among other things.

I am confident that agreements can only be reached when Kiev starts to be guided by the interests of the Ukrainian people, and not the advisors from far away.

Speaking about Russian-Ukrainian relations, Russia is interested in a peaceful, free, neutral, prosperous and friendly Ukraine. Despite the current administration’s anti-Russian course, we remember the many centuries of all-embracing cultural, spiritual, economic and family ties between Russians and Ukrainians. We will definitely restore these ties.

What is the Collective West?

April 30, 2022

Source

By Batiushka

Introduction

Western State propaganda mouthpieces like the BBC or CNN, their journalists abundantly supplied and rewarded by their spy services, love to talk about ‘the international community’. They substituted this new phrase for the old one of ‘the free world’ in the 1990s. Of course, both phrases are nonsense. What did/do they actually mean?

The Free World

The 1740 Imperialist anthem ‘Rule, Britannia’ has the words ‘Britons never will be slaves’. What it means is that the ruling class of the British Empire, which was founded on genocide, piracy and slave-trading (for instance, the slaver ancestors of former PM David Cameron), ‘never will be slaves’. As for the enslaved plebs of the rest of the world, including those of the nations of Great Britain and Ireland, they will be feudalised, robbed of their land by the Enclosures (= enforced collectivisation, only not run by the State, but by oligarchs) and sent to be exploited in the sadistic factories of Industrial Revolutionary Capitalists, or else forced to emigrate to populate the future Anglosphere. In the same way, this phrase ‘the Free World’ also meant the ruling class of the First World, that is, those who threatened the Second World (the Communist bloc) with nuclear extinction, all the while exploiting the Third World, assassinating anyone who opposed them (Patrice Lumumba, Dag Hammarskjold, John Kennedy etc etc).

The International Community

The International Community is an equally hypocritical phrase which designates the Zionist Anglosphere + Colonies. In other words, it means the Anglo-Zionist elite of the USA, Israel, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand + the EU, Japan and, arguably, South Korea. The latter non-English-speaking countries are simply US vassals, colonies or client-states, occupied by US troops and bases. This ‘International Community’ is dominated by a military wing called NATO (based almost next door to the EU headquarters in Brussels) and an economic wing called the G7, which is heavily influenced by Wall Street and the City of London. However, this ‘Community’ works together with vassal institutions, like the ‘World Bank’, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) or, to a considerable extent, the UN (United Nations), and think tanks and societies like the Trilateral and Bilderberg. It rewards its servants with awards like Nobel Prizes, generously funded by the CIA. However, whatever the acronym, it is all the same greedy clique.

The Collective West

This phrase is now used in Russia to designate all the enemies of the Russian Federation. These enemies are identical to ‘the international community’, i.e, that small but wealthy minority of the world, representing about 15% of the global population. There is nothing new in the reality of this collective enmity of hatred for and jealousy of Russia. For example, in the 13th century the invading hordes of Germanic terrorists, called the ‘Teutonic Knights’, were also a bunch of bandits from ‘the Collective West’. However, to illustrate our point more clearly still, let us look at the five much more recent invasions of the Russian Lands by the Collective West. These invasions have taken place in the last 210 years (exactly once every 42 years on average). They were and are the events of:

1812. The Russian Empire was invaded by the French Empire, the Austrian Empire, the Kingdoms of Italy, Naples, Saxony, Bavaria, Westphalia, Wuerttemburg, Prussia, Spain and Denmark, the Swiss Confederation, the Grand Duchies of Hesse, Berg and Baden and the Duchy of Warsaw. The result? Although the Collective Western forces reached Moscow, they had to retreat with hundreds of thousands of deaths and in 1814 Russian troops liberated Paris from the tyranny of Napoleon.

1853. The Russian Empire was invaded by France, Great Britain, Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire, supported by the Austrian Empire. This war, miscalled ‘The Crimean War’, included the invasion of the Russia through the Crimea, an attempted British invasion of Siberia from the Sea of Japan and the shelling by the British Navy of a Russian monastery from the White Sea. It lasted until 1856. The ending came when the British blew up the Russian dock installations of Sebastopol (Sevastopol), built ten years before by British engineers. For this ‘achievement’, 500,000 human-beings had died as a result of French and British Imperialism, mainly of disease. Another consequence – in 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the then friendly USA, and not to the enemy British Canada.

1914. The Russian Empire was invaded by Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and the German puppet kinglet of Bulgaria. After immense struggles, the enemy advanced only as far as Poland and Lithuania, never even entering Russian territory. The Russian Imperial Army, suffering fewer losses than the French and Germans on the Western Front even though facing twice as many enemy troops, was headed for total victory in summer 1917. However, in early 1917 the Russian Empire was overthrown by a British-orchestrated coup d’etat and implemented by a fifth column of treacherous Russian aristocrats (i.e. oligarchs, in modern language), generals, politicians, journalists and lawyers. We know what happened next.

1941. The Soviet Union was invaded by the troops of Fascist Germany, Romania, Finland, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, but these were supported by detachments of Nazi troops from a great many Western countries, including France, Belgium and Norway. The result? Despite the slaughter of 27 million Soviet citizens by the genocidal Nazis who treated the Soviet peoples as wild animals to be massacred, in 1945 Soviet troops liberated Berlin, discovering the gruesome charred remains of the suicide Hitler.

2022. Ancient Russian Lands (recently become known as Eastern and Central Ukraine), occupied, attacked and threatened by Nazi forces, trained and equipped by NATO (the North American Terrorist Organisation), consisting of 30 states led by the USA, are being liberated. They are being freed by Russian forces fighting in what is not a Russian war against the Ukraine but a NATO proxy war against the Ukraine.

The Collective West? Nothing new in this concept.

Conclusion: A Word of Warning

27 million dead? Unless you are brain dead, please do not send Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, to intervene in the Russian special operation of liberation in the Ukraine. Her grandfather was a Nazi who as a volunteer became a staff sergeant in the Wehrmacht, led a unit on the Soviet front which hunted down resistance groups, participated in the capture of Ukraine’s capital Kiev and took part in the barbaric September 1941 Babi Yar massacre, in which more than 33,000 Jews were shot in cold blood.

And please do not send Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Vice-President, to intervene in the Russian special operation of liberation in the Ukraine. Her grandfather was a Ukrainian Nazi, Mykhailo Khomiak, after the war sought by the Polish authorities for his war crimes.

Our words of warning go out to all other Nazis and Fascists who seem to think that V.V. Putin is one of them. He is not. He is an anti-Fascist, whose grandfather, incidentally, was French. Like Tsar Nicholas II a century before him, V.V. Putin is for social justice against the Anglo-Zionist aristocrats/ oligarchs who run the Western world and have attempted to run the Russian world, from which the last oligarchs are currently being expelled.

President Putin and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: Meeting

April 27, 2022

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/68287

April 26, 2022

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Mr Secretary-General,

I am very happy to see you.

As one of the founders of the United Nations and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has always supported this universal organisation. We believe the UN is not simply universal but it is unique in a way – the international community does not have another organisation like it. We are doing all we can to support the principles on which it rests, and we intend to continue doing this in the future.

We find the expression of some of our colleagues about a world based on rules somewhat strange. We believe the main rule is the UN Charter and other documents adopted by this organisation rather than some papers written by their authors as they see fit or aimed at ensuring their own interests.

We are also surprised to hear statements by our colleagues that imply that some in the world have exceptional status or can claim exclusive rights because the Charter of the United Nations reads that all participants in international communication are equal regardless of their strength, size or geographical location. I think this is similar to what the Bible reads about all people being equal. I am sure we will find the same idea in both the Quran and the Torah. All people are equal before God. So, the idea that someone can claim a kind of exceptional status is very strange to us.

We are living in a complicated world, and, therefore, we proceed from reality and are willing to work with everyone.

No doubt, at one time the United Nations was established to resolve acute crises and went through different periods in its development. Quite recently, just several years ago, we heard it had become obsolete, and there was no need for it anymore. This happened whenever it prevented someone from reaching their goals in the international arena.

We have always said that there is no other universal organisation like the United Nations, and it is necessary to cherish the institutions that were created after WWII for the express purpose of settling disputes.

I know about your concern over Russia’s military operation in Donbass, in Ukraine. I think this will be the focus of our conversation today. I would just like to note in this context that the entire problem emerged after a coup d’état staged in Ukraine in 2014. This is an obvious fact. You can call it whatever name you like and have whatever bias in favour of those who did it, but this was really an anti-constitutional coup.

This was followed by the situation with the expression of their will by the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol. They acted in practically the same way as the people living in Kosovo – they made a decision on independence and then turned to us with a request to join the Russian Federation. The only difference between the two cases was that in Kosovo this decision on sovereignty was adopted by Parliament whereas Crimea and Sevastopol made it at a nationwide referendum.

A similar problem emerged in south-eastern Ukraine, where the residents of several territories, at least, two Ukrainian regions, did not accept the coup d’état and its results. But they were subjected to very strong pressure, in part, with the use of combat aviation and heavy military equipment. This is how the crisis in Donbass, in south-eastern Ukraine, emerged.

As you know, after another failed attempt by the Kiev authorities to resolve this problem by force, we arrived at the signing of agreements in the city of Minsk. This is what they were called – the Minsk Agreements. It was an attempt to settle the situation in Donbass peacefully.

To our regret, during the past eight years the people that lived there found themselves under a siege. The Kiev authorities announced in public that they were organising a siege of these territories. They were not embarrassed to call it a siege although initially they had renounced this idea and continued military pressure.

Under the circumstances, after the authorities in Kiev actually went on record as saying – I would like to emphasise that the top state officials announced this in public – that they did not intend to fulfil the Minsk Agreements, we were compelled to recognise these regions as independent and sovereign states to prevent the genocide of the people living there. I would like to reiterate: this was a forced measure to stop the suffering of the people living in those territories.

Unfortunately, our colleagues in the West preferred to ignore all this. After we recognised the independence of these states, they asked us to render them military aid because they were subjected to military actions, an armed aggression. In accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, Chapter VII, we were forced to do this by launching a special military operation.

I would like to inform you that although the military operation is underway, we are still hoping to reach an agreement on the diplomatic track. We are conducting talks. We have not abandoned them.

Moreover, at the talks in Istanbul, and I know that you have just been there since I spoke with President Erdogan today, we managed to make an impressive breakthrough. Our Ukrainian colleagues did not link the requirements for Ukraine’s international security with such a notion as Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders, leaving aside Crimea, Sevastopol and the newly Russia-recognised Donbass republics, albeit with certain reservations.

But, unfortunately, after reaching these agreements and after we had, in my opinion, clearly demonstrated our intentions to create the conditions for continuing the talks, we faced a provocation in the town of Bucha, which the Russian Army had nothing to do with. We know who was responsible, who prepared this provocation, using what means, and we know who the people involved were.

After this, the position of our negotiators from Ukraine on a further settlement underwent a drastic change. They simply renounced their previous intentions to leave aside issues of security guarantees for the territories of Crimea, Sevastopol and the Donbass republics. They simply renounced this. In the relevant draft agreement presented to us, they simply stated in two articles that these issues must be resolved at a meeting of the heads of state.

It is clear to us that if we take these issues to the heads of state level without even resolving them in a preliminary draft agreement, they will never be resolved. In this case, we simply cannot sign a document on security guarantees without settling the territorial issues of Crimea, Sevastopol and the Donbass republics.

Nevertheless, the talks are going on. They are now being conducted online. I am still hoping that this will lead us to some positive result.

This is all I wanted to say in the beginning. I am sure we will have many questions linked with this situation. Maybe there will be other questions as well. We will talk.

I am very happy to see you. Welcome to Moscow.

(In his remarks, the UN Secretary General expressed concern over the situation in Ukraine, while emphasising the need for a multilateral world order based on the UN Charter and international law. Antonio Guterres also presented the two proposals he had put forward the same day during his meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. These proposals concern humanitarian matters, including humanitarian corridors, in particular, for Mariupol residents, as well as setting up a humanitarian contact group in which the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Russia, and Ukraine would work together to discuss the situation in order to make these corridors truly safe and effective.)

Vladimir Putin: Mr Secretary General,

Regarding the invasion, I am well-versed in the documents of the International Court on the situation in Kosovo. In fact, I have read them myself. I remember very well the decision by the International Court, which states that when fulfilling its right to self-determination a territory within any state does not have to seek permission from the country’s central government in order to proclaim its sovereignty. This was the ruling on Kosovo, and this is what the International Court decided, and everyone supported it. I personally read all the comments issued by the judicial, administrative and political bodies in the United States and Europe – everyone supported this decision.

If so, the Donbass republics, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, can enjoy the same right without seeking permission from Ukraine’s central government and declare their sovereignty, since the precedent has been created.

Is this so? Do you agree with this?

(Antonio Guterres noted that the United Nations did not recognise Kosovo).

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course, but the court did. Let me finish what I was saying.

If there is a precedent, the Donbass republics can do the same. This is what they did, while we, in turn, had the right to recognise them as independent states.

Many countries around the world did this, including our Western opponents, with Kosovo. Many states recognised Kosovo. It is a fact that many Western countries recognised Kosovo as an independent state. We did the same with the Donbass republics. After that, they asked us to provide them with military assistance to deal with the state that launched military operations against them. We had the right to do so in full compliance with Chapter VII, Article 51 of the UN Charter.

Just a second, we will talk about this in a minute. But first I would like to address the second part of your question, Mariupol. The situation is difficult and possibly even tragic there. But in fact, it is very simple.

I had a conversation with President Erdogan today. He spoke about the ongoing fighting there. No, there is no fighting there; it is over. There is no fighting in Mariupol; it has stopped.

Part of the Ukrainian armed forces that were deployed in other industrial districts have surrendered. Nearly 1,300 of them have surrendered, but the actual figure is larger. Some of them were injured or wounded; they are being kept in absolutely normal conditions. The wounded have received medical assistance from our doctors, skilled and comprehensive assistance.

The Azovstal plant has been fully isolated. I have issued instructions, an order to stop the assault. There is no direct fighting there now. Yes, the Ukrainian authorities say that there are civilians at the plant. In this case, the Ukrainian military must release them, or otherwise they will be doing what terrorists in many countries have done, what ISIS did in Syria when they used civilians as human shields. The simplest thing they can do is release these people; it is as simple as that.

You say that Russia’s humanitarian corridors are ineffective. Mr Secretary-General, you have been misled: these corridors are effective. Over 100,000 people, 130,000–140,000, if I remember correctly, have left Mariupol with our assistance, and they are free to go where they want, to Russia or Ukraine. They can go anywhere they want; we are not detaining them, but we are providing assistance and support to them.

The civilians in Azovstal, if there are any, can do this as well. They can come out, just like that. This is an example of a civilised attitude to people, an obvious example. And anyone can see this; you only need to talk with the people who have left the city. The simplest thing for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.

We maintain contact with them, with those who are hiding underground at the Azovstal plant. They have an example they can follow: their comrades-in-arms have surrendered, over a thousand of them, 1,300. Nothing bad has happened to them. Moreover, Mr Secretary-General, if you wish, if representatives of the Red Cross and the UN want to inspect their detainment conditions and see for themselves where and how medical assistance is being provided to them, we are ready to organise this. It is the simplest solution to a seemingly complex issue.

Let us discuss this.

The Moskva Riddle

April 25, 2022

by Pepe Escobar

Neither NATO nor Russia is telling us what really happened with the Moskva, the legendary admiral ship of the Black Sea fleet.

NATO because in theory, they know. Moscow, for its part, made it clear they are not saying anything until they can be sure what happened.

Moskva Sinking | Know Your Meme

One thing is certain. If the Russian Ministry of Defense finds out that NATO did it, they will let loose all the dogs from Hell on NATO, as in “asymmetrical, lethal and fast”.

On Moskva’s location: it was positioned near one of 3 drilling rigs, used for monitoring a whole sector of the Black Sea with hydrophones and NEVA-BS radar, the most westward one, BK-2 Odessa, approximately 66 km northeast from Snake Island. The whole thing was integrated in the regional monitoring systems. As in everything, literally, was monitored: ships, low flying targets, smaller echoes, even the bobbing head of an unsuspecting swimmer.

So there was a quite slim chance that anything – not to mention subsonic Neptune missiles and Bayraktar drones – could have slipped through this aerial net.

So what could have possibly happened?

It could have been some kind of underwater drone, released either from some sneaky sub, or by a SBS team, coming from the western coast, with a stopover at Snake Island. Then that drone somehow managed to drill itself through the Moskva’s hull from below – and exploded its payload inside.

What follows comes from a top source in Brussels: serious, trustworthy, proven record spanning nearly two decades. Yet he may be just spreading disinformation. Or bragging. Or that may be rock solid intel.

Before we start, we should point out it’s hard to believe the Neptune/Bayraktar fairytale angle. After all, as we’ve seen, the Russian fleet had established a multidimensional surveillance/defense layer in the direction of Odessa.

The Moskva was near Odessa, closer to Romania. A year ago, the source maintains, a new phased array locator was installed on it: the illumination range is 500 km. According to the standard Ukrainian narrative, first the Moskva was hit by a drone, and the locators and antennas were smashed. The Moskva was half blind.

Then – according to the Ukrainian narrative – they launched two Neptune cruise missiles from the shore. Guidance was carried out by NATO’s Orion, which was hanging over Romania. The missiles zoomed in on the ship with the homing heads turned off, so that the radiation beam would not be detected.

So we have guidance by NATO’s Orion, transmitting the exact coordinates, leading to two hits, and subsequent detonation of ammunition (that’s the part acknowledged by the Russian Ministry of Defense).

A strategic hit

The Moskva was on combat duty 100-120 km away from Odessa – controlling the airspace within a radius of 250-300 km. So in fact it was ensuring the overlap of the southern half of Moldova, the space from Izmail to Odessa and part of Romania (including the port of Constanta).

Its positioning could not be more strategic. Moskva was interfering with NATO’s covert transfer of military aircraft (helicopters and fighter jets) from Romania to Ukraine. It was being watched 24/7. NATO air reconnaissance was totally on it.

As the Moskva “killer”, NATO may have not chosen the Neptune, as spread by Ukrainian propaganda; the source points to the fifth-generation NSM PKR (Naval Strike Missile, with a range of 185 km, developed by Norway and the Americans.)

He describes the NSM as “able to reach the target along a programmed route thanks to the GPS-adjusted INS, independently find the target by flying up to it at an altitude of 3-5 meters. When reaching the target, the NSM maneuvers and deploys electronic interference. A highly sensitive thermal imager is used as a homing system, which independently determines the most vulnerable places of the target ship.”

As a direct consequence of hitting the Moskva, NATO managed to reopen an air corridor for the transfer of aircraft to the airfields of Chernivtsi, Transcarpathian and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.

In parallel, after the destruction of the Moskva, the Black Sea Fleet, according to the source, “no longer seems to have a ship equipped with a long-range anti-aircraft missile system”. Of course a three-band radar Sky-M system remains in play in Crimea, capable of tracking all air targets at a range of up to 600 km. One wonders whether this is enough for all Russian purposes.

So what do we really have here? Fantasy or reality? There was only one way to know.

I ran the info past the inestimable Andrei Martyanov, who knew the Moskva “as Slava in 1981 when she was afloat in the Northern Bay of Sevastopol and my class which was at first summer practice on board of old cruiser Dzerzhinsky was given an extensive introduction to her. So, she was an old lady and it is too bad that she had to finish her long life this way and at this time.”

Martyanov, once again, was the consummate professional, stressing no one, at this stage, really knows what happened. But he made some crucial points: “Per NSM (if we accept this version), even with its Low Observability and GPS guidance under normal (that is sea up to state 5-6) and normal radio-permeability, even the Moskva’s old frigate radar would have seen those missiles in distances of tens of kilometers, somewhere between 15-20 for sure. NSM, as any NATO anti-shipping missile, are subsonic, with their velocity roughly 300 meters per second. That leaves, even in a 15 kilometer range, 45 seconds to detect track and develop a firing solution for whatever ‘on duty’ AD complex. More than enough reaction time.”

Martyanov also stresses, “it is impossible to hide the external impact of the anti-shipping missile – one will immediately know what hit the ship. Moreover, to hit and sink such a target as the Moskva one has to launch a salvo and not only two missiles, likely 3-4 at least. In this case, Russia would know who attacked Moskva. Does NATO know? I am positive this event has NATO written all over it, if it is not an internal sabotage which absolutely cannot be excluded at this stage. I am sure if Nebo was operational it would have seen the salvo.”

Which brings us to the inevitable clincher: “If NATO was involved, I am sure we will see some retaliation, after all, as I am on record all the time, US bases in Middle East and elsewhere are nothing more than fat prestigious targets.”

So get ready: something lethally “asymmetrical” may be about to pop up.

Sitrep: Operation Z

April 22, 2022

Source

By Nightvision

The biggest development is the announcement by Russia/Putin of Mariupol’s “official liberation.” I’ve written before about how Russia often ‘jumps the gun’ on announcements, but it’s true that the city proper is liberated with the exception of the industrial complex of Azovstal. With that said, there are still upwards of 2000 or more highly trained, fanatical Azov militants and marine remnants of the 36th Brigade holed up in the factory, and they have extreme amounts of incentive not to surrender any time soon.

Bizarrely, western media continues to refer to Mariupol as ‘besieged’ and even Zelensky now claims Mariupol will be taken back soon and that a force is being ‘prepared’ to liberate the city from Russians. It’s hard to discern if this is complete delusion or pure propaganda – maybe a mix of both.

Putin also announced the cancellation of plans to ‘storm’ the complex in order to reduce risks to Russian servicemen, instead opting to besiege it and starve the Zelensky regime militants out.

DPR flag was hung at the highest point of Mariupol in honor of the liberation: https://www.bitchute.com/video/m28IHMBBOm7F/

On the topic of sieging the Azovstal, some additional information: Firstly, according to well-connected Aleksandr Sladkov, the sieged Azovstal remnants have around two weeks’ worth of food/supplies still left and that they had much more but it was destroyed in Russian strikes. So my original guess was roughly accurate that they could theoretically hold out another week or two, maybe more.

But with that said, the remaining allied forces will not simply stand idly by and ‘wait them out’. The tactic will be to continue air and artillery strikes on the factory complex in order to keep the psychological pressure on the Azovites high to accelerate their eventual surrender. So regular combat will continue around the complex, but the troops simply will not attempt to do the job of ‘tunnel rats’ and storm the ‘catacombs’ as Putin put it. As you know some enemy forces still maintain positions on the surface, in buildings etc., and those will continue to be engaged and eliminated while the ones deep below wait and fester.

“The blockade ring around the [Azovstal] plant is now saturated with technical reconnaissance equipment, drones are constantly in the air.” We talked with the former chief of staff of the Alfa anti-terror group, Sergey Polyakov, about how to clean up Azovstal from nationalists: If someone leans out of the ground through the exits from bunkers or storm sewers, and even with a mortar, artillery fire opens on him. Whether it be during the day or at night.” According to Polyakov, aviation will continue preventive point bombing: Following the fire strikes, our assault groups will move forward. Today they took the Azovstal plant management. And so it will continue: the positions of the enemy will be gnawed out meter by meter. Time is now working for us.”

Meanwhile, the Somali Battalion has already been fully recalled for redeployment back to the Donbass, headed mostly to the Avdiivka frontline.

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/qS4PmtrkayTH/?feature=oembed#?secret=MZknmvMk0S

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/XqKf154lqMRZ/?feature=oembed#?secret=B1PsmJSS59

Chechens also celebrate the liberation:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/2j3ZJjSdcFmP/?feature=oembed#?secret=5vtGXPc090

Russian tankers are happy as well: https://www.bitchute.com/video/3f78yPPGv9Rh/

A lot of reconstruction and cleaning up is already happening around Mariupol, administrative services returning and the like. First school classes in some sections as well. Other towns around the region and elsewhere are already de facto integrating into the Russian Federation more and more. For instance passes being issued in Berdiansk for official vehicles are now being registered with a seal that says Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Berdiansk, Russia.

And in liberated LPR cities like Svatove and Starobelsk, LPR license plates for cars are already being issued to replace Ukrainian ones.

A Ukrainian politician has stated the following: “Ludmila Denisova, Ukrainian Parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights, says that the Russians are planning to hold an independence referendum in Kherson during May 1-May 10 to create another DNR and LNR like statelet in southern Ukraine. Ballots are reportedly being printed.”

Also:

“Crimean Tatars support the inclusion of Kherson and Zaporozhye regions in the Crimean Federal District. The Crimean Tatars proposed to recreate the Crimean Federal District with the inclusion of the south of Ukraine. This statement was made by the head of the regional national-cultural autonomy of the Crimean Tatars Eyvaz Umerov.”

“Residents of the Kherson and Azov parts of the Zaporozhye regions of Ukraine, who once belonged to the Tauride province together with Crimea, speak of their desire to return to Russia, because they no longer want to be under the yoke of Ukrainian nationalists

“At least 2/3 of the residents of southern Ukraine, in particular, Kherson oblast, parts of Nikolayev oblast and Zaporozhye, would vote in favor of joining Russia, if an appropriate referendum were to be held”, says Crimean senator of the Russian Federation Council Sergei Tsekov

Today Ukraine threatened that if ‘Russia holds a referendum for the Kherson People’s Republic, then Ukraine will withdraw from all negotiations with Russia.’ Likely Russia isn’t worried.

And now there’s word that Kharkov too may eventually be allowed to hold a referendum, giving us a clue as to Russia’s ultimate vision for Kharkov Oblast.

“Following the stabilization of the situation in the liberated territories of the Kharkov region, a referendum or a poll of citizens can be held on the political future of the region, head of the interim political administration of the liberated Kharkov region, told RIA Novosti.”

Rustam Minnekaev, deputy commander of the Central Military District of Russia has stated that the goal of Phase 2 is to capture Donbass and create land corridor to Crimea. Then Peskov reaffirmed the goal to integrate most of the southern areas of Ukraine into the ‘Russian space’.

‘Minnekayev also said that controlling southern Ukraine would open “another way to Transnistria,” where he claimed “there are also instances of oppressing the Russian-speaking population.”’

It’s looking more and more likely that some version of the map above is the minimum of what will come about as a result of the SMO. I say minimum because there is no indication whatsoever that Phase 2 is the “final phase”, simply that these are roughly the objectives of Phase 2. There may very well be further phases to capture the rest of Ukraine, although even if/when captured, Russia will most likely not incorporate those territories but rather conduct regime change and thorough de-militarization/de-nazification on the remaining rump-state of Ukraine to make sure it cannot be a threat ever again.

In other news, a group of Communist Party deputies led by Gennady Zyuganov proposed a bill to the State Duma to change the national flag of Russia. They propose to replace the white-blue-red stripes with the Soviet red banner with a hammer and sickle. Doubtful that this will work but they are clearly trying to ride the new wave of patriotism.

Also, Russia will increase the production of Kalibr missiles.

“This conclusion is made by the analyst “InformNapalm” Anton Pavlushko on the basis of data discoveries.
He cites information that the UEC-Saturn plant in the Russian city of Rybinsk, Yaroslavl Region, is recruiting up to 500 new employees due to “increase in production volumes.” It is at this plant that engines for Caliber missiles are produced.
And then our Western friends got excited, because according to their version, Russia has long since run out of missiles, and there is nothing to produce new ones from.”

With that said there appears to be sabotage strikes aimed at stopping these efforts as yesterday an important military research facility in Russia suddenly burned down with 7 dead and 20-30 injured. It happened in the same day that a large chemical plant also caught fire under suspicious circumstances.

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/large-deadly-fire-breaks-out-russian-defense-research-facility

But not to be left out, the U.S. suffered its own humiliation. A B-1B lancer, one of the U.S.’s most advanced supersonic bombers worth $300 million, burned down during routine maintenance. The whole fleet was grounded last year to investigate problems with the fuel system – I guess they never managed to fix them. The whole fleet seems in trouble.

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/NvI0HRhsLeoH/?feature=oembed#?secret=KuRnsT1Avt

Another interesting development, in the Donbass a member of the OSCE was arrested for espionage.

OSCE employee detained https://twitter.com/Cyberspec1/status/1517456096956276736

More and more reports recently have come to light showing how deviously the OSCE has been operating. One report said that OSCE officials even provided artillery fire correction for the AFU forces by leaving cameras on their cars in the vicinity which transmitted feeds to the AFU. The organization has truly been exposed as a clandestine operation for the West akin to the White Helmets.

On the war front, Russia has begun bombing rail infrastructure, this time striking bridges and railways in Zaporizhzhia and Dnieperpetrovsk to hamper AFU resupplies.

“BREAKING: A Russia strike in the north of Mykolaiv Oblast has killed up to 80 Ukrainian soldiers and destroyed 23 Armoured vehicles, including a command post.”

It also took control of a massive secret underground arsenal in the Kharkov region, which is said to be the largest in all of Ukraine. https://twitter.com/MarQs__/status/1517549948048494594

This underground bunker has a storied history, reportedly built in WW1 to supply the Russian army and was used strategically in WW2 as well. There appears to be thousands of tons of built up armaments, including western artillery ammo, etc that is now seized by the RF.

On the frontlines, the most significant advances occurred in the north where it’s now being reported by the Ukrainian side that Russia has in fact taken Lozove which is a key city on the way to Lyman which itself is the final key strategic city to encircling Slavyansk, as Lyman controls important transportation corridors in the region.

 Last time we reported Kreminna and Torske area falling to RF forces (red circles on the right). But now there is reported fighting either in or on the outskirts of Lyman. Several buildings in Lyman were recorded on fire and sounds of loud gunfire exchanges as well, so Lyman appears to be in the crosshairs next.

However on the Izyum front to the west, RF forces still have not been able to break through to Dovhen’ke (blue circle) as that forested area continues to be a problem with hidden Ukrainian units making breakthrough difficult.

 On the southern front, no major advances but the key strategic town of Velyka Novosilka continues to be encircled with settlements on its western flank falling to RF forces.

Meanwhile Nasa Fire Map continues to show the fires moving progressively westward in Popasna, which is a good sign and confirmation that allied forces are in fact pushing out the AFU from the city. I say ‘allied forces’ specifically here because Popasna is said to have a combination of LPR troops, Chechens redirected from Mariupol, and Russian Wagner PMC forces operating concurrently.

France, by the way is now intending to send these artillery systems to Ukraine https://twitter.com/Global_Mil_Info/status/1517553156430962688

A few important words on tactics. We’ve spoke before about how the conflict in Ukraine is becoming Syrianized in the tactics of the AFU who, having most of their heavy weapons/armor destroyed, are mostly now relying on small bandit groups/DRG’s riding around on tacticals (small pickup trucks with larger caliber machine guns in the back) in the manner of ISIS. Like this:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/BxrAPDHcPjD1/?feature=oembed#?secret=QtM7Le4hRv

But the hunter is fast becoming the hunted because Russia’s own saboteur groups are now increasingly ambushing these small, roving bandit teams:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/hjcaeR0TzE4P/?feature=oembed#?secret=BtCKgBeHMd

Keep in mind, the AFU does have some armor and heavy weapons left, but most of them are tied to the strategically important cities they are defending, and they do not have the fuel or logistical capabilities to utilize their armor in any sort of maneuvering force action or real military operations/advances. They are hidden mostly in and around cities like Kharkov, Nikolayev, etc. Any armor that roams outward is very quickly destroyed by RF forces. And even still, in the urban agglomerations there is not a lot of it relatively speaking.

Another important point that must be made. In the early parts of the SMO, a big deal was made by Kiev around this mythical partisan mobilization that was set to take place. Glorious campaigns of patriotic partisan fighters were heralded in various posters and clips, Molotov cocktail campaigns were paraded on western news channels and we were told that every Ukrainian citizen would rise up against the Russian invader. Each day there was a new announcement, such as Zelensky’s bid to pay citizens tens of thousands $$$ of dollars (funded by the West / CIA of course) for anyone who can kill/capture a Russian soldier or demonstrably destroy a Russian tank or armored vehicle. Similarly, upwards of $1 million dollars was offered to Russian servicemen who would defect and turn over their tank or plane to the AFU.

Not only did any of this ever take place, in fact we saw last time that it was the AFU itself who began selling their tanks to the Russians for Rubles. But the main point to be made is that the giant, widespread partisan uprising was in fact a complete and utter failure. Not only is the vast majority of the Ukrainian citizenry utterly apathetic/ambivalent towards their own armed forces, but there are more and more signs of internal uprisings and new anti-Kiev regime partisan ‘underground cells’ being formed in cities like Nikolayev and Kharkov. One in Kharkov even released a video, their faces masked, promising an uprising against the AFU forces holding them hostage, once Russian forces begin fully taking the city.

Other footage like this continues to emerge:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/ZO7TJCDlIptL/?feature=oembed#?secret=bBz7uGpfWE

Showing angry civilians booting out their failing AFU goons from their cities.

The truth is, the longer the conflict goes on, the more the Ukrainian citizenry turns against their own forces and government, not only because of mounting evidence of the AFU’s crimes against their own citizens/civilians but simply because they tire of the war and were never passionate about the utterly corrupt Zelensky regime and its criminal military forces anyway.

After the initial one or two Molotov videos against RF troops in the first week of the war, we never again saw any citizens attacking Russian troops and in fact see the opposite each day. Now whenever we see new Russian missile strikes filmed by Ukrainian citizens, it’s very often accompanied by a complete ambivalence or even quiet jubilation from the people filming.

It has to be recognized that the grand promised awakening of the Ukrainian state, and the large scale partisan uprising was a complete failure – just hollow psyop attempts from the Zelensky regime.

Now as allied forces grind down the AFU, each day the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense posts new claims of Russian losses which are never backed up with visual evidence. Here and there a photo of an empty tank is posted but never any bodies. Meanwhile, our side continues to show incontrovertible proof of massive, horrific losses on the AFU side in the new pushes. Here’s a few new videos. You can tell they’re recent because the AFU are wearing the new green armbands after they started switching from blue in many regions.

Very graphic (18+) https://www.bitchute.com/video/kVufOX6Z2vMd/ (includes a liquidated British mercenary)

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/8YgIXovb906J/?feature=oembed#?secret=qj8Jx2kk5G

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/DNJMcMfBF2j1/?feature=oembed#?secret=whA6iiyRsC

We see repeated reports of entire units of the AFU being wiped out, and our side actually has the hard proof in the form of clear photos and videos. It’s clear that the AFU is losing thousands of troops a week. In fact yesterday’s report was over 400 killed just that day alone. There was 300+ killed a few days ago as well in the many strikes that occurred.

And these are just the dead, there are dozens of new prisoners every day. In the last day alone I can’t count the amount of new prisoner videos that are flooding telegram, mostly from the Popasna and Donbass fights. I’d estimate at least 100+ prisoners in the past two days based on the avalanche of new photos/videos.

On that note, one final thing. It’s become sadly obvious that the sheer propaganda from their own commanders is what’s keeping the rest of the AFU from laying down their arms. Here’s a report from a day ago:

“Since the beginning of the military operation and the appearance of Ukrainian prisoners, many of them tell how the Ukrainian command intimidated them with inhuman torture in Russian captivity. They were convinced that Russian officers would torture them, cut them with belts, burn them alive, etc. Having been taken prisoner, they were surprised at the humane attitude towards their miserable skins. However, there are cases when Ukrainian soldiers, believing in the stories of their commanders, try to commit suicide in order not to be captured by Russian “sadists”.”

And such a true story emerged yesterday when two new prisoners were captured, one of them said how their own commander shot himself in the head when the Russian forces approached. However this commander missed and the bullet went through his jaw – he survived and was treated in captivity. There’s a photo of him floating around, I’ll post if I can find it again.

“The photo shows a Ukrainian officer who was captured with his fighters in the area of ​​n. Staromayorskoe village (DPR). But he believed in the tales of his command about torture and decided to leave for another world quickly. He tried to shoot himself, putting the muzzle of his machine gun to his chin, but he chose the wrong trajectory – and the bullet went through the jaw. Now he has to be treated. But this suicide will now be able to make sure that the military-political leadership of Ukraine are liars and traitors.”

The irony is that the Ukrainians are terrified to surrender to the Russians because their command lies to them of the ‘barbarity’ of the Russians with claims they are brutally torturing and killing all captives, hiding the truth from them that it’s in fact their own side that’s doing that to Russian POWs. And the same tactic is used on civilians in besieged cities like Kharkov to keep them from rising up or evacuating. They shoot all civilians who try to leave then say it’s the Russians who are shooting all cars on the road.

I’ll leave with a few final videos. There’s been people constantly asking whether Russian forces have night time capabilities, nightvision, FLIR, etc, etc. Here’s some new videos showing Russian special forces taking out Ukrainian positions at night:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/w40Y6yFqr11a/?feature=oembed#?secret=a6ni9F8msL

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/eOszGJvHXkey/?feature=oembed#?secret=50y6Ngqrmk

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/8v7mLho20qpe/?feature=oembed#?secret=NDxNUYB5uY

And lastly, I was made aware that last month India tested a Sukhoi launched Brahmos missile on one of their decommissioned Navy ships. Check the photos of the damage here:

It looks nothing like the minor fire damage we see on the Moskva from the portholes and torpedo tubes as I’ve outlined last time: https://i.postimg.cc/QCbBCyRm/FQl-Q5e-KXIAg-Or-AZ-2.jpg Yet it matches every other real missile hit like the USS Stark and other ships. Moskva is the odd-ball out that looks nothing like the others.

Sure the Brahmos is a larger missile, but Ukrainians claim multiple Neptunes hit the Moskva. Just more food for thought and further evidence that the Neptune strikes are unlikely as the cause of the Moskva’s sinking.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with India Today television channel, Moscow, April 19, 2022

April 20, 2022

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1810023/

Question: The big question that most are asking is the reason for this operation, the reason for President Putin to take the country to war at a time when we have seen negotiations and talks taking place. What was the reason? We know that America said that Russia was going to carry out operations. New Delhi certainly was not aware of it. Many countries said that it is not something that is going to happen, but it did happen.

Sergey Lavrov: The real reason is the complacency of most countries of the world after the end of World War II, when our Western colleagues, led by the United States, declared themselves winners and in violation of the promises to the Soviet and Russian leadership started moving NATO eastward. They kept saying: “Don’t worry, this is a defensive alliance, it is not a threat to Russian security.” It was a defensive alliance when there were NATO and the Warsaw Treaty, and there was the Berlin Wall, as you remember, both physical and geopolitical. It was very clear what was the “line of defence” for this “defensive alliance.”

When the opponent disappeared, both the Warsaw Treaty disappeared and the Soviet Union disappeared, they decided that they will move the “line of defence eastward.” They did this five times without explaining against whom they are going to defend themselves, but in the process building up their advanced assault capacities and choosing the former Soviet republics, especially Ukraine, as the springboard against the Russian interests.

As early as 2003, for example, when they had a presidential election in Ukraine, the West was publicly and blatantly demanding Ukrainians: you must choose, are you with Russia or with Europe? Then, of course, they started pulling Ukraine into the European Union Association Agreement. The agreement provided for zero tariffs for Ukrainian goods in Europe, and European goods in Ukraine. We had a free trade area agreement with Ukraine in the context of the Commonwealth of Independent States. So, we told our Ukrainian neighbours: guys, we have zero tariffs with you, but we have protection with the European Union, because we negotiated WTO entry for 18 years. For some time, we did manage to protect some sectors of the Russian economy – agriculture, insurance, banking, and some others – with considerable tariffs. We told them: if you have zero [tariffs] with Europe and zero [tariffs] with us, we are not protected against European goods, which was part of the deal when we entered the WTO.

Then in 2013, when the Ukrainian President understood the problem, he asked the European Union to postpone the signature of the Association Agreement. We suggested that the three of us – Russia, Ukraine, and the EU – could sit together and discuss how to proceed. The European Union in a very arrogant way said that this is none of your business, we do not put our nose in your trade with China or other countries, so this is going to happen. Then the President of Ukraine decided to postpone this ceremony. The next morning, the demonstrators were on Maidan in Kiev.

In February 2014, the European Union helped negotiate a deal between the President and the opposition. Next morning, the signatures of the European Union representatives – France, Germany and Poland – were absolutely ignored by the opposition, who staged a coup and declared that they are creating a “government of the winners,” that they will cancel the special status of the Russian language. They threatened to throw ethnic Russians out of Crimea, they sent armed groups to storm the Crimean parliament. That is how the war started. The Crimeans said: “We don’t want to have anything [to do] with you, leave us alone.” As a I said, there was a threat from armed groups. The eastern areas of Ukraine said: “Guys, we do not support your coup, leave us alone.” They never attacked the rest of Ukraine. The putschists attacked them, having called them terrorists. They called them terrorists for eight long years.

We managed to stop this bloodshed in February 2015 – the so-called Minsk Agreements were signed, providing Eastern Ukraine with some special status, language, the right to have some local police, special economic relations with the adjacent Russian regions. It was basically the same as [the agreement] the European Union negotiated for the north of Kosovo where Serbs live. In both cases, the European Union failed totally to deliver on what was guaranteed by the signatures of its members. For eight long years, the respective governments of Ukraine and Presidents of Ukraine were saying, blatantly and publicly, that they were not going to implement the Minsk agreements, that they will move to Plan B. They continued to shell the territories of these [self-] proclaimed republics during all these years. We warned the Europeans, the Americans, and Ukraine that they are ignoring something which was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. To no avail.

People do not want to go back into this history because they prefer to take events on their immediate merit, but these particular events are rooted in the desire of the United States and what we call the collective West, to rule, to dominate the world and just show everybody that there would be no multipolarity. It would be only unipolarity.

And that they can declare Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yugoslavia, located tens of thousands of miles from the United States, threats to their security, and can do whatever they please there, levelling cities, like they did with Mosul in Iraq, and Raqqa in Syria. Russia has been warning all its colleagues that just on our borders you have been creating a springboard against us: you have been pumping arms into Ukraine, you have been totally ignoring the legislation of Ukraine, which prohibited, completely prohibited the Russian language, you have been encouraging neo-Nazi ideologies and practices. The neo-Nazi battalions were very much active against the territories which proclaimed themselves independent and who were promised special status. It’s inside Ukraine.

It was all linked with Ukraine becoming NATO’s springboard, and NATO expansion. They were saying that Ukraine will be in NATO. Nobody can stop Ukraine if it so wishes. Then President Zelensky said that he might think about coming back to possess nuclear weapons. In November last year, my President suggested to the United States and to NATO to sit down, to cool off, and to discuss how we can agree on security guarantees without NATO’s further eastward expansion. They refused. In the process, the Ukrainian army radically intensified the shelling of those republics in violation of all the ceasefire agreements. We didn’t have any other choice but to recognise them, to sign mutual assistance treaties with them, and, in response to their request, to send our troops as part of special operation to protect their lives.

Question: You provided the basics: the history, as well as the present context. But you also said, President Putin himself said, that this is not targeting civilians or the citizens, people of Ukraine. It is to do with the administration. We know that in international foreign policy parlance it is used quite often: not in my backyard. America says it all the time, and many other countries say it. But should an entire people, and entire population be punished for an administration wanting to carry out independent foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think it’s about any independence. Since 2013, and maybe even earlier, hundreds and hundreds of US, UK, and other Western security and military experts have been openly sitting in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence and the Ukrainian security apparatus. They basically were running the place.

As for the civilians, immediately when this special operation started in response to the request from Donetsk and Lugansk in full compliance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, when it was announced by President Putin, he said that the sole purpose of this operation is to demilitarise and denazify Ukrainians – these two problems of the country are intimately linked. We have been targeting only military infrastructure. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian army and the so-called nationalist battalions, which are using Nazi insignia, swastikas, which was borrowed from Indian history, but twisted the wrong way, and insignia of Waffen-SS battalions, these people were using and continue to use civilians as human shields. They were placing heavy weapons in the middle of towns and cities, next to schools, next to kindergartens, to hospitals. The internet is full of the testimonies of the people who were living in these places, and who were asking these people not to do this.

Unfortunately, nobody in the West actually pays attention to the facts, which we have been providing. Instead, they are staging some fake situations, like a couple of weeks ago with the place called Bucha. The Russian troops left on March 30, I think, and for three days the city was back in the hands of the Ukrainian administration. The mayor of Bucha Anatoly Fedoruk was publicly saying that the city is back to normal life. Only on the fourth day, they started showing images of dozens of corpses lying in the street, which was only a few days before shown as being back to normal. Then a few days later in the city of Kramatorsk, which was fully in the Ukrainian hands, they summoned people to the railway station, and attacked them with a Tochka-U missile. It was proven beyond any doubt that the missile was fired by the Ukrainian army. That’s why the next morning it was out of the news in the West because everybody understood the obvious nature of this provocation. Now, The New York Times says that they have the proof that cluster bombs were used by the Ukrainian army.

Speaking of civilians and the rules of international humanitarian law, I can once again assure you that our army operates against the military infrastructure and not against civilians.

Question: Mr Lavrov, you said that Russian forces have only targeted military facilities. Even if there were military facilities or tanks that have been placed in civilian areas, Russian forces did not show restraint in taking them down. Hence, there are civilians who have been killed. There has been bloodshed, whether it is the outskirts of Kiev, primarily Mariupol, Volnovakha – absolutely raised to the ground. Some responsibility has to be taken by the Russians also on the bloodshed?

Sergey Lavrov: It is always terrible when military activities bring damage to the civilians and to the civilian sector, to civilian infrastructure. As I said, when people have been killing ethnic Russians, citizens of Ukraine, in the east for eight years, no TV representatives, be it Asian, be it African, be it Latin American, be it European, be it the United States, paid any attention to this. The Russian journalists have been working on the contact line, on the side of the republics, round the clock, showing the atrocities committed by the Ukrainian neo-Nazis and Ukrainian armed forces. And during all those years not a single foreign journalist cared to come to the other part of this line of contact to see what was going on there.

The statistics available from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe indicate that the damage afflicted on the civilians and the civilian infrastructure on the side of the republics, the [self-] proclaimed republics, was five times more and bigger than the same figure for the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government.

This is not to say that we can just ignore the victims and the damage to the civilian infrastructure, but once again I want to emphasise a very important thing. This outcry started only when the Russians decided to protect Russians who are citizens of Ukraine and who were absolutely discriminated. There was no outcry when the city of Raqqa, for example, in Syria was levelled with dozens and hundreds of corpses lying there unattended for weeks and weeks. The American military never had any scruples about achieving their military goals, be it in Syria, be it in Iraq, be it in Afghanistan, for that matter.

This is a tragedy, when people die. But we cannot tolerate the situation when our Western colleagues say that they can do anything they want. They can encourage the government in Kiev to be as Russophobic as it takes. They would not tell them to stop prohibiting the Russian language in education, in media, stop banning all Russian speaking channels, including Ukrainian channels, they would not tell them not to prosecute the opposition, who favours dialogue with Russia, and to stop violating the commitments to give special status to the territories where the Russian speaking population dominates.

Question: You made a very important point because India Today has travelled to Donetsk and we have been putting out these reports. It is very important because it is important to understand the plight of Russian descent and Russian speaking people in Ukraine. There is no taking away from that. We will talk about Donbass. But coming to the allegations against Russia of genocide, of war crimes, and on the fact that chemical weapons have been used by Russian forces, what do you have to say to the visuals? You said that there were no bodies. There were bodies in the basements that have been found much later that would have been found anyway much later. Will there be no investigation that will be carried out? Why just say that it did not happen?

Sergey Lavrov: We are investigating the atrocities of the neo-Nazi battalions of Ukraine and of Ukrainian armed forces. There is a special commission created by the Russian chamber – there is a public organisation which is very experienced. They have been discovering the fakes staged by the so-called White Helmets in Syria, in many other cases. We will not cease our efforts to establish the truth.

We are used to the fact that the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western countries have a very interesting habit: they just throw in news when they believe this news will work ideologically for their benefit, and then, when it comes to the facts, and when more facts are discovered, putting a big question mark on their assertions, they just lose interest.

2007, London. Poisoning of Mr Litvinenko. Huge outcry. The investigation begins, and after a few weeks a public inquiry is announced, which in the UK  means that it is secret. Until now, we cannot get the facts about what had happened to Mr Litvinenko.

2014, Malaysian Airlines Boeing. Shot down over Ukraine. We presented a huge amount of facts. We requested that we be part of the investigation – no way. Ukrainians who did not close their skies during the conflict were invited to this investigation group, Russia was not. Malaysia, as the owner of the plane, was invited only five months later after the Australians, the Dutch. They and the Malaysians agreed among themselves that anything coming out of this room must be subject to consensus, meaning that Ukraine, which did not close the skies, had a veto power on this investigation. We could not get the truth on this one as well.

2019, Salisbury poisoning. The people disappeared. The only proof which was made public is “highly likely,” as Theresa May said. The Brits insisted on the expulsion of Russian diplomats by most of the European countries. When I asked my friends, did they provide proof beyond the public statements about “highly likely” it was Russia, they said “no, but they promised to.” I checked one year later, whether this was done, it was not done. And so on, and so forth.

2020. Our opposition blogger Mr Navalny was poisoned. We asked the Germans. We immediately responded to the German request to let him go to the Berlin hospital. Twenty-four hours after the request he was flown to Berlin. We don’t have any confirmation who was flying with him, where did they get the bottle which is the key element in this investigation. When we asked the Germans to show us the formula which they discovered in his blood, they said this is a military secret.

It is us who until now insist on the truth about Litvinenko, about the Skripals, about Malaysian Boeing, and about Navalny. The stories that they stage in Ukraine these days are of the same nature.

Question: Going back to the investigations, you are saying that that Azov battalion is absolutely shameful, yes, they should be investigated. They are neo-Nazis, and they should not have been incorporated or integrated into any military regime in any country. But if you introspect and look at your own people as well, is there any instance of denying and rejecting claims? Will there be investigations against your own people if they have done wrong? Will they be held accountable?

Sergey Lavrov: We have a law that prohibits the military to do anything which is not allowed under international humanitarian law. Any violations are registered and investigated.

On Azov, it is interesting that you mentioned it. Azov was listed in the United States in 2014 or 2015 as a group that cannot be supported, that cannot legitimately operate, and it was prohibited by Congress to provide any assistance to this battalion. Everybody forgot about this or rather they certainly remember what this group is about, and they decided to put their money on this group.

In Japan, as you know, they passed a special decree by the government that Azov is no longer a neo-Nazi group, and the Japanese government apologises for listing Azov as such. And of course when President Zelensky in his camouflage was asked about Azov by some journalists, who felt that something was wrong with these neo-Nazi trends, Zelensky said quietly: Azov, they are what they are, we have many groups like this. They are part of our army.

You, I mean the media, started asking questions about Azov only when the military operation was launched. For eight long years, nobody lifted a finger, nobody bothered about what was being groomed in Ukraine, as a continuation, or rather a resurrection, of what was boiling in Europe in 1930s.

Question: President Zelensky said that Russia plans to use tactical nuclear weapons.

Sergey Lavrov: He says many things. Depends on what he drinks and what he smokes. He says many things.

Question: Do you think it was a strategic miscalculation by President Zelensky to take on Russia when there was no certain assurance from NATO and the European Union that they would actually back Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: President Zelensky came to power with the promise of peace. He said that he will reach peace on the basis of the Minsk Agreements. A few months later, he said he cannot implement the Minsk Agreements because the Minsk Agreements are “unimplementable.”

Question: It was the Russian forces, the DPR.

Sergey Lavrov: No, he never said that it was because of the military situation on the ground. He said that it is unthinkable for Ukraine to give special status to any part of his territory. But it was very “thinkable,” if I may say so, when Ukraine was created, to put together the territories which now (those in the west) never celebrate Victory Day, May 9, and the eastern territories, which would never celebrate the heroes honoured in the west: those who collaborated with Hitler. With this difficult composition of territories, to say that Ukraine can only be a unitary state, and that it would not give special status to these people even if the Security Council demands so, I believe that this was not very far-sighted.

Had he cooperated as he promised to his electorate when he was elected, had he cooperated in implementing the Minsk Agreements, the crisis would have been over long ago.

Question: Did the West betray Zelensky?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I think the West played Zelensky against Russia and did everything to strengthen the desire to ignore the Minsk Agreements.

The “West” is a broad notion. It’s the United States and the Brits. The rest of the West, including the European Union, is just an obedient servant.

Question: Tactical nuclear weapons. Will Russia ever use them?

Sergey Lavrov: Ask Mr Zelensky. We never mentioned this. He mentioned this. So, his intelligence must have provided him some news. I cannot comment something which a not very adequate person pronounces.

Question: As a P5 member, as a nuclear power, will nuclear be an option at all, on the table at all?

Sergey Lavrov: When the Soviet Union and the United States in 1987, Gorbachev and Reagan, decided that they have special responsibility for peace on this planet, they signed the solemn declaration that there could be no winners in a nuclear war, and therefore a nuclear war must never be launched.

After the Trump administration came to office, we have been telling them, because tensions were aggravated: “Why don’t we try to send a positive political message to the entire universe and to reiterate what Gorbachev and Reagan pronounced?” During all the four years of the administration, they refused to do so.

But we were really encouraged when President Biden was inaugurated. Five days after his inauguration, we repeated this offer, he first agreed to extend the [New] START treaty without any preconditions. In June 2021, when they met with President Putin in Geneva, they issued this declaration. This declaration was issued on our initiative. After the Americans and the Russians said that there must be no nuclear war, that they won’t think about it, we started to promote the same commitment in the context of the P5. Not the United States, not UK, not France – Russia. Eventually, earlier this year, in January this year, the P5, at the level of presidents and heads of government, issued the statement which we initiated and which we were pushing through for all these years.

Question: So nuclear is off the table?

Sergey Lavrov: This statement, both the Russian-American statement, and the P5 summit statement, were issued on the strong insistence of the Russian Federation.

Question: Coming back to the Donbass region, DPR, LPR. The independence of these republics is non-negotiable for Russia when you talk to Ukraine. What happens if the negotiations succeed between Ukraine and Russia and should there be a settlement, will Russia withdraw from other areas: Sumy, Kharkov, Zaporozhye, Kherson, Nikolayev?

Sergey Lavrov: I thought you are a journalist, but you can be a spy. I am not discussing the military operation, for obvious reasons it is never the case.

On the territorial situation, we recognise DPR and LPR within the administrative boundaries of the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The Minsk agreements were signed when these two territories were split roughly half and half. Now the militias of these republics are fighting to get their territory back.

When they had a referendum in 2014, it was held on the entire territories of the former regions. But then the coup leaders started the war, which they called an anti-terrorist operation, and they took a considerable chunk of both regions. So, yes, we recognise LPR and DPR within their declared territories as a result of the referendum.

Question: Which in fact includes Mariupol and Volnovakha, as part of Donetsk.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

Question: My question is, if there is a settlement between the two sides, and they recognise, which President Zelensky said he would not, he said that they are going to fight for Donbass to the very end, so where are the red lines?

Sergey Lavrov: I cannot intelligently discuss what President Zelensky says because he always changes his mind diametrically.

He was the initiator of the negotiations, which we accepted. At some point we were disappointed because they were changing their mind every time, coming late, leaving early, but then in Istanbul, about one month ago, it was on March 29, they brought a paper, saying that we are not going to be a member of any military alliance, that they will be neutral. In return, they asked for security guarantees, preferably P5, maybe some others, and it was written and initialled by the head of the heads of delegations. The security guarantees they were asking for would not cover Crimea and the territories in the east of Ukraine.

It was not our language, it was their language. Now President Zelensky says “no way.” They started backtracking even earlier. But this is a paper with the signature of the head of the Ukrainian delegation. So, before we can intelligently discuss what he says one day or another, we need to have clarity about the credibility of this person and about his team.

Question: Was there any understanding in Istanbul on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kiev, as well?

Sergey Lavrov: We changed the configuration of our presence. This was announced immediately after Istanbul that since we believed that they brought something which could serve as a basis [of an agreement], we made a goodwill gesture, and we changed the configuration in the Kiev and Chernigov areas.

This was not appreciated at all. Instead, this Bucha thing was immediately staged and played, like Skripals were played in Salisbury, like the Malaysian Boeing, like Navalny, played, but immediately put aside when the hard facts were presented which they cannot challenge.

Question: There are mayors who have been appointed now by Russia in Berdyansk and Melitopol, and they are saying that they will hold a referendum, that they are not going to go back. Is that the plan?

Sergey Lavrov: That’s the outmost democracy, right? A referendum – people saying what they want.

Question: Which means that you are securing your land boundary in Sumy and Kharkov, but also the waters, if you look at Zaporozhye, Nikolayev.

Sergey Lavrov: People have been suffering in all these places for eight long years, when neo-Nazis were prohibiting them to speak their own language, prohibiting them to commemorate the heroes of World War II, of the Great Patriotic War, prohibiting to have parades and to have any events to commemorate the fallen, the parents, the grandparents of these people.

Now when they have thrown away these neo-Nazis, and say that now we will decide who will be running the place – this is our mayor, this is our legislature, I believe that this is a manifestation of democracy after so many years of oppression.

Question: It seems that Ukraine has lost more land than it would have gained by negotiating on Donbass.

Sergey Lavrov: It’s the decision of those who have been running Ukraine, of those who have been sabotaging the Minsk agreements, in spite of the UN Security Council decision. We are not up for regime change in Ukraine. We have said this repeatedly. We want the Ukrainians themselves to decide how they want to live further in a way, which would not repeat the Minsk agreements, when they did decide that they did not want to do anything with the coup leaders, who immediately said that they are against anything Russian: culture, language, everything what these people cherish. Then they were promised something by the European Union and cheated.

We want the people to be free. To decide how they want to live in Ukraine.

Question: Russia is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. How long can you sustain?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think we are thinking in the context of sustaining. Sustaining means, you know, you sustain, you take some hardships, and hope that, sooner or later, this would be over.

Russia has been under sanctions all along – Jackson–Vanik, then it was repealed, but Magnitsky Act was introduced, then we were punished for the free vote of the Crimeans, we were punished for supporting those who were in favour of keeping the Minsk agreements, but the Ukrainian government did not want them to get what they promised, and so on and so forth.

So, now we have come to a very straightforward conclusion. We cannot rely on our Western colleagues in any part of our life, which has strategic significance, be it food security, which we managed to ensure ourselves after 2014, be it, of course, defence, and be it some strategic sectors where high-tech is developing and indicating the future of the mankind. We did not have time to achieve self-sufficiency in all these areas, but in most cases, we resolved this issue. Of course, we are open to cooperation with all other countries who do not use illegal, illegitimate unilateral measures in violation of the UN Charter.

India is among those. We cooperate bilaterally. I visited a couple of months ago, and we cooperate in many international organisations.

Question: Speaking of India, India is under immense pressure to sever ties, to cut down imports of energy, of fuel, but India has stood its ground. In terms of reliability, is there a concern that India should have with regards to the kind of defence cooperation both countries have? Could there be delays in deliveries of critical weapons systems that India is buying from Russia, such as the S-400s? What is the conversation you have been having with New Delhi on this ground?

Sergey Lavrov: India is our very old friend. We called our relationship a long time ago a strategic partnership. Then, about 20 years ago, the Indian friends said: why don’t we call it a “privileged strategic partnership?” Sometime later, they said that this was not enough. Let’s call it “especially privileged strategic partnership.” This is a unique description of the bilateral relations between India and Russia.

With India, long before all this became such a hot potato, we supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s concept “Make in India” and we started substituting simple trade with local production, shifting production of the goods needed by India on your territory. It was for quite a number of years already that we have been promoting the use of our national currencies in settlements between the governments of the two countries.

We promoted national information systems, transmission systems, like SWIFT. You have your own, we have our won. They are being used more and more. Payment cards: we have MIR, you have RuPay. They are mutually supportive. It is not, you know, a huge percentage, of the overall volume of trade, but it is steadily growing. On defence, we can provide anything India wants. Technology transfers in the context of defence cooperation are absolutely unprecedented for any of India’s outside partners.

Question: We have got away with a waiver from the United States for the S-400s, but future collaborations, could they become difficult?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, when the Americans say that they are in favour of democracy all over the world, they mean only a very specific thing – that it is up to them to decide who is democracy, and who deserves to have some good attitude on behalf of Washington. When they convened this summit of democracies, you only need to look through the list of invitees, to understand that it is not about real democracies, it is about something else. The Americans now run all over the world, their ambassadors have priority number one to go to the foreign ministry, to the government of the country where they serve and say: “You must stop talking to Russia, you must join sanctions against Russia.”

Well, long before this crisis, I have been talking to the Americans, to the Europeans, I told them: when you say democracy, democracy, and at the conferences you always want this language on rule of law and democracy, I asked them about adding that apart from the national level, we want democracy and the rule of law internationally. They don’t like it. When they push everybody in this anti-Russian camp, when they go to India, when they go to China, to Turkey, to Egypt, countries with their own thousands years of history of civilization, of culture, and when they are not even ashamed to publicly tell you what to do, I believe something is wrong not only with manners, which always has been the case, but something is wrong with the mentality.

When Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, says publicly: “We, the United States, has not yet decided whether to introduce sanctions against India for the S-400s,” they have not decided what is good for you. His under-secretary Wendy Sherman later said: “We must help India understand what is important for its security.” How about that?

Question: I suppose your counterpart gave them a befitting reply on how to conduct one’s foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: Absolutely. I respect Subrahmanyam Jaishankar very much. He is a seasoned diplomat, and he is a real patriot of his country. He said that we will be taking the decisions on the basis of what India believes it needs for its development, for its security. It’s respectful. Not too many countries can say something like this.

Question: You mentioned China. For us, the China factor is very important. Russia has a unique relationship when it comes to ties with China and ties with India. You mentioned the United States of America, so again, I am going to go back to the US. Recently, in one of the visits, deputy national security advisor said that should India continue ties with Russia, there will be consequences. If, he said, there is another incident at the LAC, then the US will not come to India’s rescue. The statement is flawed, because there are two points. One is that he said “should there be another incident,” not recognising that the Chinese are still on Indian soil. Secondly, he said that they will not come to India’s rescue, but they did not come in the first place. But where does Russia stand?

Sergey Lavrov: We stand in favour of resolving any conflicts on the basis of arrangements negotiated directly between the parties, like, just like it was in Ukraine, when the two parties, the rebels, as they are called, the separatists, as they are called, for us they are self-proclaimed republics, on the one side, and the government, which came to power as a result of the coup, on the other side had a deal, negotiated and endorsed by the Security Council. It is another matter that the government, with the instigation of the West, failed to deliver, but the method is the one which we believe should be applied everywhere.

After those incidents on the border, we welcomed the resumption of the discussions between the military of India and China, the discussions between the politicians, at the level of the foreign ministers, and we hope that this would be resolved. We cannot use those threats, which are absolutely normal for the Americans, who say “or else, there would be consequences.” It is their favourite statement.

What we would like to do, as Russia, we would like to promote the formats where India, Russia, and China participate together. It started in 1996-1997, when Russia’s Foreign Minister at that time, Yevgeny Primakov, suggested the RIC format – the troika formed by Russia, India, and China. It happened, and we continue to convene in this format. I think, last November there was probably the 20th ministerial meeting. Not only foreign ministers, but also ministers of economy, ministers of trade, political scientists meet, which may not be very much publicised, but it is a very useful format.

We were very much in favour, even we were the leading force in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to promote this, of the full membership of India, together with Pakistan, in this organisation. This is another premise for China and India to be together in the company of their neighbours, and to build more confidence.

Question: Finally, before I let you go, sir, Europe is looking to halt gas from Russia. Come summer, policies might get harsher. But you are looking for the dedollarisation of the global energy market by dealing in roubles. How do you propose to do that, should they start halting?

Sergey Lavrov: There will be no change for the Europeans and other countries who buy our gas. The reason for this decision was very simple and obvious. When they froze the Russian assets in dollars, euro, yens, and the pound sterling for the amount of more than 300 billion euros or dollars, those were mostly the money kept in Western banks after we received payments from them, from the Western countries, for our gas deliveries.

In other words, they paid us, and they stole the money from us because those were the currencies which are linked to the Western banking system. So what we told them to do: they would not be paying directly to Gazprom’s accounts abroad, but they would be paying to a bank called Gazprombank. It is an independent entity. They would be paying the same amount which they have to pay under the existing contracts, but they will pay these amounts to a special account which they have to open with this bank. There would be a parallel account in roubles. So they pay euros, and then inside this bank these euros are transferred to the rouble account, and from this account Gazprom receives roubles.

Question: So you are not running losses at all on the money Russia is to receive from Europe? There is no money that has been stopped?

Sergey Lavrov: Exactly. As of now, they would not be able to keep the money in their banks, the money that they not even owe us, but which they paid to us already. I believe this is something which does not contradict contracts. They would still be paying in euros or dollars or whatever was the currency of the contract, but we will have insurance that this robbery would not happen again.

Question: Finally, sir, before I let you go, I have to go back to that question on eastern Ukraine. Intensification of war efforts now in eastern Ukraine – is the trigger the flagship warship Moskva that sunk. What really happened there? Is that one of the triggers now why we see more intensification against Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: No, this operation in the east of Ukraine is aimed, as was announced from the very beginning, to fully liberate the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. This operation will continue. Another stage of this operation is beginning. I am sure that this will be a very important moment of this entire special operation.

Question: What happened to the warship?

Sergey Lavrov: It is for the Ministry of Defence. They explained what happened and I cannot add anything to this.

Question: On that note, many thanks for joining us here on India Today. It was indeed a pleasure, sir.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you very much.

Question: That was the Foreign Minister of Russia speaking exclusively to India Today.


Notes on information availability from the Russian Federation:

The best video is on Telegram:  https://t.me/MFARussia/12362
This is the first complete address from the Russian MFA that they posted on Telegram since the attack on the availability of Russian information started.  It is also a complete interview in English and without translators.

The Indian interviewer is smart and respectful.  Mr. Lavrov is patient and clear.

It is still a hit-and-miss exercise to get complete information from Russian professional sources.   You can see these interviews live on Ruptly but there is no playback.  The videos and transcripts are on the Russian Foreign Ministry site, but frequently there is no playback.  In copying this transcript just a while ago, the Russian MFA site went down again.

It is important to see or read these completely in order to find nuance and context. It seems to be a fashionable journalistic method to report on one or two snippets only. In that, the Russian media sources are not helping us to help them. Here is an example.  Mr. Lavrov’s takeaway quote on being asked about Zelenski, is:  “He says many things, depending on what he drinks or what he smokes.”   RT decided to shorten that, and said:  “He says many things, depending on what he drinks.”   Incorrectly reporting even direct quotes does not serve the Russian cause.

Amarynth

Sitrep: Operation Z

April 16, 2022

Source

By Nightvision

Let’s start off with some significant Mariupol updates. The Primorski / port area was further captured, some say dividing it in half, and guys on the ground are now saying the entire section may fall by tomorrow or at latest by the end of this weekend.

That would leave only the Azovstal factory because the other big news was that the Illych factory has completely fallen to our forces as well, and this was the only other pocket of UAF left. There is a lot of footage from the Illych capture.

Drone footage of DPR/RF forces storming it and capturing the last few UAF Marines 

(alt link: https://www.bitchute.com/video/aY4HS5Bpawm5/)

A lot of UAF equipment recovered there, hidden in the factory, including many American hummers https://www.bitchute.com/video/G1HMTwSk6OH5/

Full interview of one of the POWs with subtitles: https://www.bitchute.com/video/m4P2ylBqhv3W/

Another British merc captured as well: https://www.bitchute.com/video/Erio4G6vzPJS/

He is this guy, Shaun Pinner https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10569039/Ex-British-soldier-Shaun-Pinner-says-chaos-line-Ukraine-Russian-conflict.html

This merc also served with Cossackgundi in the YPG for years in Syria, and it’s been said he’s even served in Bosnia in the 90’s and is likely part of British Intel forces.

And for those that haven’t seen the previous British merc, Cossackgundi, here are a few outtakes from his interrogations: https://www.bitchute.com/video/z6hfHjgWGhaX/

And a Russian news report states the following: https://iz.ru/1321114/2022-04-15/v-sf-zaiavili-o-nalichii-soldat-stran-nato-sredi-plennykh-na-ukraine

“Among those captured in Ukraine there are military personnel from the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO). This was announced on Friday, April 15, by Andrei Klimov, deputy head of the commission of the United Russia party for international cooperation…

“We already have prisoners among the military personnel of NATO countries, we will show all this when we conduct trials, and the whole world will see what really happened,” he said during a briefing with the media. The senator also said that there are mercenaries in Ukraine from Asia, Africa, Great Britain, the USA and other states. He recalled that mercenaries are not military personnel and they are not subject to international law.”

So it seems according to this they do intend to put them on trial.

This is how the map is looking now. That small sliver of Primorski section in the SW by the port, and then just the massive Azovstal factory complex.

And as many of you know, the factory was reportedly already bombed by Russian long range heavy bombers, Tu-22m’s in what is reportedly the first usage of the bombers in the conflict so far. Footage:

https://ok.ru/video/3397653039744

There’s still no word on the general strategy, as we’ve all seen rumors Russia would flood the factory, or etc. We don’t know if this bombing run is a one-off, and only to bomb certain sections/positions, or a general strategy they will employ to level the entire complex (doubtful). Personally I don’t see the point of bombing now, unless with bunker busters, as we know Azov troops are secured deep in the basement, but there may have been some strategic positions to hit for now, to soften them up before the next phase of the Azovstal assault. For instance, Azov forces likely mined the entire area, and perhaps this is an attempt to first demine and clear all booby traps via large bombing run to prepare the area for ground assault.

In the time of writing this, the Russian MOD apparently reported that the full urban area of Mariupol has been captured, and the map would now look like this:

However, I leave the previous up because once in a while the Russian MOD has been known to jump the gun and I personally haven’t seen the on-the-ground indication yet that Primorski has fully been cleared, although there were several indications it was very close, so maybe it is true. If that’s the case, then there is literally nothing left apart from the Azovstal factory complex.

Either way, we get closer and closer to the end where Mariupol comes home. And on that note there’s some interesting updates. Firstly, apparently anchors at the Crimea24 news station in Crimea are already referring to Kherson as the ‘Kherson People’s Republic’, ‘that is, an entirely separate and seceded political entity from the Ukrainian Central Government.’

And not far away, the Energodar city sign changed from a Ukrainian to Russian flag:

As for news about Phase 2, here are some assorted updates:

There continue to be reports from both sides that a largescale Russian Phase 2 offensive is days away. One source in Donbass even said this: “The head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration believes that the Russian troops do not start the offensive because of bad weather.”

Meanwhile a regional administrator in Barvinkove and separately, the head of Donetsk regional military administrations, urged evacuations as ‘Russia is set to launch a large-scale military operation in a few days.’

My view has been that it won’t come until Mariupol is done, but with that said, they may begin it anyway because some reports indicate forces have already been disengaged from Mariupol and sent both north and towards Kherson because so few UAF remain in Mariupol, they don’t need a large force anymore. Wargonzo / Pegov reports that the famous Somali battalion of DPR will be re-deployed to Avdiivka outside of Donetsk where a large offensive is planned to break through the densest of enemy lines, and some of them have already been redeployed there.

In short, various ‘chirps’ from both sides continue to indicate Russia is almost ready with the preparations for Phase 2, we just have to wait and see if they’re waiting for the ‘symbolic’ fall of Mariupol to begin, or whether they’ll begin without it. We know the Pentagon said last week that the offensive would start “within a week”.

As some others have posted this already, unconfirmed but it matches the general gist I’m hearing everywhere else:

“The Pentagon instructed the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to withdraw all the remaining artillery to the cities on the eastern front – Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, where they can fire behind civilians. Restraining the offensive of the Russian troops is prescribed by small mobile groups armed with mortars and anti-tank systems, moving across the steppe in civilian vehicles. There is nothing surprising in the fact that the Americans impose terrorist tactics on their pets, in which their people are taken hostage. But the fact that Ukrainian resources write about this quite openly, and treat such methods with understanding, and as the only correct one, cannot but amaze.”

There is video evidence of this now that’s emerged where UAF is mostly operating in the style of ISIS ‘technicals’ where they mount a machine gun on a pickup truck and drive around the countryside in search of fast ambush opportunities on RF rearguards, supply lines etc., but unlike ISIS they’re armed with tons of ATGMs and Manpads.

One Russian T-72B3 came home to base last night near Izyum having been reportedly struck as many as 2 or 3 times by Javelins and Nlaws, but its Kontakt-5 reactive armor had no problem shrugging them all off. Photos show Kontakt-5 damage around the turret indicating possible “top attack” (such as NLAW and Javelin) as opposed to normal RPG style weapons hitting lower broadside on the hull. Just further proof that Western weapons are performing abysmally. In fact the ONLY consistently confirmed proof I have seen, out of thousands of videos, of tank kills on Russian armor all comes from the Ukrainian Stugna-P ATGM, which is a Ukrainian/Belarussian produced weapon.

One frontline reporter several days ago said, upon breaching a UAF position they found a bunch of spent Russian/Soviet legacy RPGs laying on the ground, while next to them was several western (NLAW/Javelin) units that were completely unused. You can figure out what this implies.

But of course the U.S. continues to offload its stock of junk on Ukraine: https://www.bitchute.com/video/cW8vv4om4cJJ/

Czech sends MLRS https://twitter.com/Cyberspec1/status/1514471276437401601

While British SAS go straight to Kiev to train the Nazis directly https://www.rt.com/russia/553973-uk-commandos-train-ukrainians/

U.S. also expands its intel sharing with Ukraine, and has stated it will help Ukraine in preparing strikes onto Crimea. U.S. says it won’t overtly help Ukraine with strikes on RF territory, but it doesn’t recognize Crimea as RF territory so it considers it legal to give the UAF signal/satellite intel to strike Crimea.

https://www.rt.com/news/553853-us-intelligence-attack-crimea/

Meanwhile the Pentagram says, “The Pentagon now says Russia is in the midst of a major jamming operation attempt of Ukraine’s access to GPS signals, which if successful would have a huge impact on Ukraine’s ability to navigate the battlefield and operate advanced aerial systems such as drones.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/military/russia-ratcheting-efforts-jam-us-provided-gps-signals-ukraine-pentagon

The article mentions Switchblade drones, and how they use GPS which is disrupted by Russian jamming. On that front, we have new reports that as of yesterday, two Switchblade drones were already used against Russian tanks in the Kharkov / Izyum area, neither of which did any damage.

“Two American Switchblade UAVs (“Flipknife”) attacked the positions of Russian tankers, but did not cause any damage. Apparently, the operators are just beginning to master the new technique.” (reported by the reliable frontline correspondent Sasha Kots)

It is confirmation the drones are now in theater. But there’s 2 varieties, the 300 and 600 series. We don’t know yet which they have. The 300 is fairly useless against vehicles.

You can see an inside look into these unparalleled Russian jamming systems which have no equal in the world: https://www.bitchute.com/video/dFe6qSXQF3IX/

If you read my last report with this video: https://youtu.be/_CMby_WPjk4?t=1584

You’ll know it spoke a lot about Russian ability to shutdown all communications on the front via these various EW stations like the famous Krasukha. In the bitchute videos above, the soldiers talk about how these systems shutdown all cellular communications, fry Bayraktar drones, etc., and this is exactly corroborated in the Dr. Karber presentation at West Point above, where he says all cellular and military radios go blank in a wide swath of territory.

Here’s some more info on the particular complex: https://military-wiki.com/the-power-of-russias-murmansk-bn-electronic-warfare-complex/

Also yesterday the S-400 was used for possibly the 2nd time of the conflict. The first was in the opening days, a S-400 system in Belarus destroyed a Ukrainian Mig-29 over Kiev (very long distance) which was piloted by one of Ukraine’s most legendary pilots.

The new usage was said to be against one of the helicopters that attacked the Russian Klimovo village in the Bryansk region. The helicopter apparently was shot over the village of Gorodnya in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine, about 35 km from the Russian-Ukrainian border.

One analyst writes:

“1. This means that air defense has been strengthened in the border areas. S-400 divisions “do not go alone.” At least a regiment, at least two divisions and a command post. 2 combat vehicles for each

2. The helicopter was shot down at low altitude at a distance of about 35 km from the border, read at least 50-60 km from the division. This means that the target for the division was below the radio horizon, which, on flat terrain and an antenna post deployed not on a 40V6M tower, but on a conveyor, would be about 40 km. This is possible only in the interaction of the S-400 air defense system with the A-50 AWACS aircraft or with the Su-30 fighter and the use of the 9M96E2 missile with an active homing head, which is capable of independently capturing an over-the-horizon target according to the data of the air defense system itself or the specified aircraft.”

Video of the shot down helicopter https://twitter.com/Cyberspec1/status/1515294027608104965

In that same region were huge losses for the UAF yesterday. Reported several squads to be completely destroyed while there were many prisoners. You can see photos of the prisoners on most of the popular telegram channels.

Meanwhile in the risible and deteriorating U.S. Navy, humiliation continues to mount:

https://www.rt.com/news/553992-navy-commander-fired-f35/

Here’s a good current map of the overall situation: https://twitter.com/War_Mapper/status/1515118706682122244

And here’s how British Intel reportedly views the coming Phase 2 operation:

By the way, one last note. Some have asked about the news that ‘General Aleksandr Dvornikov’ was appointed as supreme commander of the entire operation, particularly since I previously posted a snippet that had his name in it. The truth is, there is no actual proof or confirmation whatsoever from the Russian side that he has been ‘appointed’ or ‘promoted’ in any way. Even if you search his name in cyrillic on Russian official news sites like Tass there is nothing whatsoever on it, and no such announcement from the MOD. So keep in mind all such information is only as per the “Pentagon’s” alleged secret intel, albeit on sites like wikipedia it is already listed as 100% official and confirmed that he is in fact the supreme commander.

With that said, it may very well be true. And if it is, that’s a good thing, because Dvornikov by all qualifications appears to be a very strong commander who was responsible for much of the success of Russia’s Syrian campaign. Keep in mind he is officially the commander of the entire Russian Southern Military District, with its famed 58th Army, etc., and he continues to be listed as the commander of this district. The Southern is arguably Russia’s most experienced command post due to its involvement in some of the hottest Russian frontlines of the past years, such as the 2008 Georgian war which was primarily prosecuted by the 58th Army of the Southern, stationed in Vladikavkaz. To the 2014 Crimean crisis as well, which was primarily handled by this district. Not to mention it appears the Southern District has possibly the highest contract servicemen percentage of any of the districts, which wikipedia lists at 98% as of 2016.

Though the ‘Western’ district is the ‘prestige’ one, as it guards Russia’s most vital western European flank, and was previously headed by Gerasimov himself, and is probably outfitted with the highest percentage of technologically advanced units (such as the 4th Guards Tank army which is mostly comprised of modernized T-80U’s as opposed to the T-72’s of many other districts), the Southern is the one that has seen the most action in recent years, and has acted as the ‘shock troops’ for various Russian crises.

So the fact that Dvornikov, who was given the highest honors, “Hero of the Russian Federation” medal for his work in Syria, was then promoted to the head of the Southern District after his Syrian service, means the utter trust Russian leadership has in him. So if it is true he is internally now running the entire SMO, then that can only be viewed as a positive. But let it simply be stated that this is completely unconfirmed, and may never be confirmed officially by the Russian side.

And some final assorted things:

DPR troops humanely feed their POWs (quite a contrast to how Russian POWs are treated): https://www.bitchute.com/video/GyMLSCgz3rhn/

Russian White Swans of death spotted in the skies of Russia not far from Ukr border, but reportedly this is practice for the upcoming parade (or is it?)

An interesting look at the logistical side, Russian mobile kitchens and laundromats – how daily troop life functions: https://www.bitchute.com/video/lbyWPdJXtXy2/

Chechens put finishing touches on Mariupol districts: https://www.bitchute.com/video/zH6ZymTy6EZ7/

Russia ships mass Bm-21 Grad reinforcements: https://www.bitchute.com/video/fbCOVZvcygVl/

More reinforcements head through Kharkov: https://www.bitchute.com/video/kcnOFC8OeDvQ/

Zelensky brags behind the scenes how Macron is his “bestie” who texts him privately (is this legal?) https://www.bitchute.com/video/4OCZ4XRXfAHs/

Crew of the sunken Moskva cruiser re-enlists to continue service in Navy. So much for fake rumors they were all killed, etc: https://www.bitchute.com/channel/nnwlaOOuDM1W/

Another UAF base in Nikolayev destroyed. https://www.bitchute.com/video/LqyoUGfEwKLC/

There’ve been many huge strikes in Kiev, Kharkov, Nikolayev, etc, that have flattened a lot of bases and factories in the past 2 days since the sinking of the Moskva. In fact in the past day alone, over 300 UAF soldiers were reportedly killed in these strikes all over Ukraine.

Today Zelensky revealed for the first time that UAF losses are alleged to be only 2500-3000 total. But this is a clear lie as the Donbass alone has 3000 POWs. The Russian MOD countered with new realistic losses of the UAF today, which are in excess of 23,000+ troops. https://www.rt.com/russia/553998-russia-ukraine-casualties/

Graphic (18+) Russian Spetsnaz force once again ambushed a UAF squad near Izyum: https://www.bitchute.com/video/qoqS4oNnHmtD/

Also slightly (18+), Chechens in Mariupol show the clearing of one of the last districts: https://www.bitchute.com/video/yoEdnDP6jUUT/

Sitrep: A few of Mr Lavrov’s comments

April 11, 2022

While we wait for a video and transcript to be available, I’ve gathered these quotes from Mr Lavrov’s interview with Rossiya 24 –

Amarynth


“Our special military operation is designed to put an end to the reckless expansion and reckless course towards complete domination by the United States and, under them, the remainder of Western countries on the world stage.

This domination is built on gross violations of international law and under some rules, which they are now hyping so much and which they make up on a case-by-case basis,”

“Kosovo can be recognized as independent without a referendum. Crimea cannot, despite holding a referendum observed by [many international monitors],”

“In Iraq, 10,000 kilometers away from the US, they imagined some threat to their national security. They bombed it, found no threat. And didn’t even say they were sorry,” “But when right at our border they grow neo-Nazi ultra-radicals, create dozens of biolabs … working on bioweapons, as documents prove, we are told we are not allowed to react to those threats,” he added.

The EU’s role has shifted during the Ukraine security crisis.  Previously it didn’t act as a military organization “fighting collectively against an invented threat.” Lavrov said the change was the result of pressure put on the bloc’s members by Washington, which has pushed it closer to NATO.

“This is an utterly serious change, even in the policy that the EU and the West under US leadership – there is no doubt about it – began to pursue after the start of our special military operation. A policy that reflects anger, in some ways even frenzy, and which, of course, is determined not only by [the situation in] Ukraine, but by Ukraine being transformed into a foothold for the final suppression of Russia”,

Regarding Josep Borrell

When a diplomatic chief … says a certain conflict can only be resolved through military action… Well, it must be something personal. He either misspoke or spoke without thinking, making a statement that nobody asked him to make. But it’s an outrageous remark,”

“Western propaganda shifted gear into depicting Russia as pure evil and [Ukraine] as pure good. The current Ukrainian regime is presumably a beacon of democracy, justice, freedom that is drawn to everything European, to the values that Europe claims it always adhered to,” the minister said.

بوتين يفاجئ الغرب بعقل استراتيجيّ خطير

الإثنين 4 نيسان 2022

 ناصر قنديل

رغم كل الأوراق التي تبدو ظاهرياً بيد الغرب عموماً وأميركا خصوصاً في المواجهة مع روسيا، ورغم إدمان الكثير من المحللين، الملتحقين بالسياسات الغربية والأميركية وكذلك المناوئين لها، على ترويج معادلة أن الغرب وعلى رأسه أميركا، لديهما خطط جاهزة هي التي تحكم مسارات الأحداث، وصولاً للقول إن روسيا وقعت في فخ نصبه الغرب لها، وإن الحسابات التي وضعها الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين لحربه جاءت مخالفة للواقع، فإن التدقيق البعيد عن التأثر بالبروباغندا المهيمنة على القراءات والتحليلات الإعلامية، وهي غربية وأميركية بالتأكيد، سيوصل أي باحث جدي ومهني إلى استخلاص مفاده، أن الورقة الوحيدة التي باتت بيد الغرب وأميركا هي السيطرة على منصات الحرب الإعلامية، ومحاولة فرض رواية للأحداث تخدم استنتاجات تخدم الحسابات الغربية والأميركية.

تمّ بناء خطة الغرب للمواجهة على فرضية سيناريوات للحرب العسكرية، تفترض أنها الميدان الرئيس للصراع، ووضعت الخطط لتزويد الجيش الأوكراني بالمال والسلاح والمرتزقة من جهة، وتحصين الجبهة الشرقية لحلف الناتو، خصوصاً في بولندا، من جهة موازية، بصفتها الوجهة الرئيسية للمواجهة مع روسيا في ظل تعذر الدخول المباشر في الحرب، وسعي الأميركيين لتفادي الوقوع فيها، وفجأة يعلن الرئيس الروسي تموضعاً لقواته يتضمن الانسحاب من جوار العاصمة الأوكرانية كييف التي قالت الرواية الأميركية إنها هدف العملية العسكرية الروسية، وتفقد كل الخطط العسكرية الغربية قيمتها بحصر المواجهة العسكرية في دونباس، في ظل هيمنة روسية على البحر والجو، وفرضها لحصار محكم على تدفق الوقود. ولا تستقيم رواية ربط هذا التموضع بهزيمة روسية بينما المفاوضات تدور حول تكريس الحياد الأوكراني بوثيقة خطيّة ستشكل أساس ما سيلي من مفاوضات، كما لا يستقيم جمعها مع الرواية الموازية بأن التموضع خدعة مشكوك بها تمهيداً لهجوم جديد، فيما يبدو الرئيس الروسي دقيقاً بالقول إن المرحلة الأولى من الحرب انتهت بالنسبة اليه بتحقيق ثلاثة أهداف، تدمير القدرة العسكرية الثقيلة للجيش الأوكراني، استرداد السيطرة لحساب سكان إقليم دونباس على مناطقهم، الحصول على تعهد أوكراني بقبول الحياد إطاراً لمستقبل أوكرانيا، بحيث سيتم الفصل من الآن وصاعداً، بين مسارين، مسار أوكراني روسي عنوانه الحياد والقرم، ومسار أوكراني أوكراني يحتمل البقاء عسكرياً بانتظار نضوج ظروفه للتفاوض السياسي، وربما تحت سقف المشاركين سابقاً في إطار مينسك، ولا يبدو بعيداً عن نظرية بوتين فرضية التوصل الى اتفاق بين روسيا وأوكرانيا تنسحب بموجبه القوات الروسية ويستمر التفاوض حول القرم لخمس عشرة سنة، كما تقول الوثيقة الأوكرانية، وهي تحت السيطرة الروسية، بينما الحرب مستمرّة في دونباس، والمشاريع التفاوضية على الطاولة.

أطلق الغرب وعلى رأسه أميركا مساراً موازياً للمسار العسكري، هو مسار العقوبات. وكان الرهان على نتائج مدوية ستصيب القدرات الروسية، بل تماسك الطبقة السياسية والمجتمع الروسيين، وصولاً لتفكيك التحالفات الروسية الدولية، وإذا بالنتائج تأتي مخيبة للآمال الغربية والأميركية، فلم يتحقق شيء من هذه التوقعات، بل تحولت العقوبات الى مسار معاكس مع شن الرئيس بوتين لهجوم اقتصادي مالي عبر ربط بيع الغاز لأوروبا بالروبل الروسي. وهو الحدث الذي صار عنوان المواجهة الذي يتقدم على حساب المسار العسكري تدريجياً، ولا يخفى أن هذا المسار ليس مجرد رد فعل على نتائج الحرب في أوكرانيا، فهو إعادة رسم لمعادلات الأسواق العالمية في ملف الطاقة من جهة، وملف السيطرة المالية والنقدية الغربية والأميركية على نظام التبادل والتسعير. وتلك ملفات تحدد هوية النظام العالمي الجديد الذي لم يعد مجرد خطاب سياسي روسي، بل صار هدفاً رسمياً معلناً لحلف يضم روسيا والصين وإيران والهند وشركاء آخرين في العالم، ولا يبدو أنه سيتوقف بمجرد انتهاء الحرب في أوكرانيا.

بمثل ما كان مثيراً للسخرية الحديث عن فشل روسي بالتقدم نحو كييف، صار واضحاً ان الدخول الى العاصمة الأوكرانية لم يكن هدفاً روسياً. وبقدر ما كان مثيراً للضحك الحديث عن انهيار الاقتصاد الروسي يبدو مثيراً للانتباه حجم الارتباك الغربي والأوروبي من معادلة الغاز والروبل. وفي الحالتين تبدو الخلاصة واحدة، وعنوانها العبقرية الاستراتيجية للرئيس بوتين التي فاجأت الغرب ولا تزال، أمام هزال قادته وخططهم، والأخطر أنها تجعل وسائل الإعلام التي كانت منصة الغرب الباقية لتسجيل الأرباح، الى منصات يتقن الرئيس بوتين توظيفها لحسابه، عبر مفاجآته المتلاحقة.

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Day 35 of the Russian SMO in the Ukraine – a “naysayers special”!

March 31, 2022

How many of you remember the endless stream of warnings that “Putin works for Schwab” or “Putin is in bed with Netanyahu”, he will “sell out the Donbass” and he is “bluffing” about sanctions.

Then came the ultimatum.  They dismissed it.

Then came the Special Military Operation (SMO).  They dismissed it.

Then came the news that Russia would sell gas to hostile states only in Rubles.  They dismissed it.

See, for them, there are only two options:

  1. Putin is a Davos/Bilderberger/CFR/WEF/etc. agent
  2. Putin is bluffing

So let me ask you all: with a eight year track of being wrong, every time, why would you listen to these clowns?

I mean, seriously, not only are they wrong, but they are using all the talking points of US PSYOPs.  Some do that in the name of freedom, democracy, and their love for the pure and Nazi-free Ukraine they support so much, others do that in the name of Holy Russia and their desire to overthrow Putin to replace him with… … somebody better.

Having spent YEARS debunking their nonsense, I now wonder, with Putin saying this:

Will they finally admit that they were wrong?

NOPE!

Why not?  Because for them ANY victory, even just a perceived victory, for Russia is not a victory for Russia, but a victory for that “evil Putin” which they hate with all their hearts.  Besides, they much rather have bona fide Nazis prevail than Russia.  For the Empire of Lies, Nazis are SOBs, but they are “our SOBs”.  Nothing new here.

Russia beat the initial economic sanctions in exactly the time frame predicted by Putin.  But the naysayers chose to either deny or dismiss this.

Now the Ruble is back on its pre Feb 24th position, but they won’t consider that as relevant.

Then there are those who still believe that the Nazis are winning.  On all fronts.  Well, here is today map and you decide for yourself who is winning and who is losing:

Especially for the alternatively gifted, here is a breakdown of what is going on according to Scott Ritter:

1/ Big Arrow War—a primer. For all those scratching their heads in confusion, or dusting off their dress uniforms for the Ukrainian victory parade in Kiev, over the news about Russia’s “strategic shift”, you might want to re-familiarize yourself with basic military concepts.

2/ Maneuver warfare is a good place to start. Understand Russia started its “special military operation” with a severe manpower deficit—200,000 attackers to some 600,000 defenders (or more). Classic attritional conflict was never an option. Russian victory required maneuver.

3/ Maneuver war is more psychological than physical and focuses more on the operational than on the tactical level. Maneuver is relational movement—how you deploy and move your forces in relation to your opponent. Russian maneuver in the first phase of its operation support this.

4/ The Russians needed to shape the battlefield to their advantage. In order to do this, they needed to control how Ukraine employed it’s numerically superior forces, while distributing their own smaller combat power to best accomplish this objective.

5/ Strategically, to facilitate the ability to maneuver between the southern, central, and northern fronts, Russia needed to secure a land bridge between Crimea and Russia. The seizure of the coastal city of Mariupol was critical to this effort. Russia has accomplished this task.

6/ While this complex operation unfolded, Russia needed to keep Ukraine from maneuvering its numerically superior forces in a manner that disrupted the Mariupol operation. This entailed the use of several strategic supporting operations—feints, fixing operations, and deep attack.

7/ The concept of a feint is simple—a military force either is seen as preparing to attack a given location, or actually conducts an attack, for the purpose of deceiving an opponent into committing resources in response to the perceived or actual actions.

8/ The use of the feint played a major role in Desert Storm, where Marine Amphibious forces threatened the Kuwaiti coast, forcing Iraq to defend against an attack that never came, and where the 1st Cavalry Division actually attacked Wadi Al Batin to pin down the Republican Guard.

9/ The Russians made extensive use of the feint in Ukraine, with Amphibious forces off Odessa freezing Ukrainian forces there, and a major feint attack toward Kiev compelling Ukraine to reinforce their forces there. Ukraine was never able to reinforce their forces in the east.

10/ Fixing operations were also critical. Ukraine had assembled some 60,000-100,000 troops in the east, opposite Donbas. Russia carried out a broad fixing attack designed to keep these forces fully engaged and unable to maneuver in respect to other Russian operations.

11/ During Desert Storm, two Marine Divisions were ordered to carry out similar fixing attacks against Iraqi forces deployed along the Kuwaiti-Saudi border, tying down significant numbers of men and material that could not be used to counter the main US attack out west.

12/ The Russian fixing attack pinned the main Ukrainian concentration of forces in the east, and drove them away from Mariupol, which was invested and reduced. Supporting operations out of Crimea against Kherson expanded the Russian land bridge. This phase is now complete.

13/ Russia also engaged in a campaign of strategic deep attack designed to disrupt and destroy Ukrainian logistics, command & control, and air power and long-range fire support. Ukraine is running out of fuel and ammo, cannot coordinate maneuver, and has no meaningful Air Force.

14/ Russia is redeploying some of its premier units from where they had been engaged in feint operations in northern Kiev to where they can support the next phase of the operation, namely the liberation of the Donbas and the destruction of the main Ukrainian force in the east.

15/ This is classic maneuver warfare. Russia will now hold Ukraine in the north and south while its main forces, reinforced by the northern units, Marines, and forces freed up by the capture of Mariupol, seek to envelope and destroy 60,000 Ukrainian forces in the east.

16/ This is Big Arrow War at its finest, something Americans used to know but forgot in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan and Iraq. It also explains how 200,000 Russians have been able to defeat 600,000 Ukrainians. Thus ends the primer on maneuver warfare, Russian style.

Now none of that is very advanced or exotic.  And if a US Marine (!) can understand that, so can anybody else with a basic educated and common sense.  Unless, of course, you have an ideological agenda which prevents you from accepting reality.

I might drop by later again, this is definitely a day full of events.

Andrei

PS: and, yes, the Russians will still continue to negotiate and talk with everybody.  Get used to it!

Negotiations: a primer for Zone A residents

March 30, 2022

Okay, I am going to ask you to make a real effort and, for a while at least, drop your certitudes and what you believe is a good or a bad way to prosecute a war.  Instead, I am going to appeal to your common sense.

Long before the Russian Special Military Operation (SMO) in the Ukraine started, but following the Russian ultimatum, I indicated many times that what Russia would be doing is the following: ask for negotiations and if the other side rejects them, Russia would turn up the “pain dial”, slowly, step by step.  If the other side agreed to negotiations, but then used them to stall and negotiate in bad faith, same response: Russia would turn up the pain dial.  A little.  Step by step.

And do WHAT exactly next???

What is the point of turning on the pain dial and remaining silent?

The purpose of the pain dial is to convince your enemy to agree to substantive talks.  Conversely, that means that turning the pain dial WITHOUT offering talks simply makes no sense.

Yeah, yeah, I know, in Zone A NOT to negotiate with the enemy is a sign of manhood, virility, courage, prowess and being “Presidential”.  Which did not stop the Ubermacho Trump from… … negotiating with “Rocket Man” and then end up being totally screwed over by him.  So, I get it, when you are used to stupid politicians, you do not want negotiations, or you end up with SNAFUs like Biden telling the 82nd in Poland about “we you will be there” (that is in the Ukraine!).

But please understand that Russian politicians are not as stupid as yours.

And a country with smart and well-educated diplomats does not need to fear talks, quite the contrary.

Lavrov vs Bliken – you get what I mean?

Next, another Zone A hangup: the goal of a war.

In Zone A, wars are to be fought towards maximal destruction of lives and infrastructure.  That is what the US promises its enemies “we will bomb you to the stone age” and that is what Uncle Shmuel did to Iraq.  Only to eventually lose that war too (ditto for all the other wars the US has ever fought since WWII).

In Zone B people understand that the goal of a war is to achieve a political outcome.

As Ho Chi Minh tried to explain to his ignorant counterparts “you can kill ten of our men for every one we kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and we will win“.

“Just” mass murder achieves very little and the little it does achieve is never long lasting.  And nobody looks very “Presidential” after getting his ass handed to him!

For the Kremlin, this is a no brainer: you always talk to anybody worth talking two, especially if these talks increases your chances to:

  • Lose less soldiers
  • Lose less equipment
  • Kill less people (on both sides)
  • Preserve the civilian infrastructure
  • Get a sense of how your enemy is doing and feeling
  • Prove to your own and foreign public opinion that you are using violence only as a last resort
  • Only slowly increasing the pain on your pain dial, thereby making each increase more sensitive
  • Save immense sums of money
  • Have somebody on the other side to sign a declaration of surrender
  • Allow the country which you defeated to recover faster and better

What did the US ignoramuses do in Iraq?

  1. First they did bomb it viciously and genocidally (Madeleine Aldumb admitted that openly!)
  2. Then they invaded with the “kill! kill! kill!” mindset.
  3. Then they declared victory.
  4. Then they got stuck and defeated.
  5. Then they shamefully had to run with their tails tucked.

General Shamanov vs General Petraeus – you get what I mean?

Now I do NOT want Russia to follow this no doubt “brilliant” US plan.

Turning the Ukraine into Iraq is NOT what Russia wants or needs.

So, and especially for those alternatively gifted or really mentally stuck in Zone A:

Russia is doing the absolutely correct thing by negotiating and talking with pretty much everybody and anybody.  The problem is not the fact of talks, it is the dismal way the Russians (superb negotiators but sub-pathetic PR people) presented the information, which they did only partially, rather ambiguously and with all the wrong faces doing the talking.

The benefit of this PR disaster was a wave of rage and patriotism which is now even way higher than it was at the initiation of combat operations.  There is a kind of an informal referendum going on in Russia where people vote with their feet to go to the local recruitment center and volunteer for combat in the Ukraine!

Now the center of gravity of this operation is clearly going to go to the big cauldron containing two more cauldrons in the Donbass.

Nobody really knows how many Ukrainian soldiers are left alive there, what their condition and morale are, and how much of their deep defenses still stand.  But here is what we do know:

  • This is the biggest Ukrainian force in the entire theater of operations
  • There are AT LEAST several TENS OF THOUSAND soldiers still left
  • These were the best trained and equipped forces of the Ukrainian military
  • The way the Nazis organized them is, roughly, that in each Ukrainian “brigade” there is at least one bona fide Nazi “battalion” tasked with making darn sure that nobody negotiates with the Russians or, if they do, that those who do quickly get dispatched.

In these conditions a direct assault by Russian forces is always an option, they have proven in Mariupol and Avdeevka that they can do that when needed.  I remind you that during WWII the Soviet Union liberated 1’200 (one thousand two hundred!) towns and cities from Nazi occupiers.  The Russian military knows more about urban warfare than any other army on the planet, especially modern urban warfare.

But it would be INFINITELY better to convince these Ukrainian forces (which are doomed, and they understand that!) to surrender and, for that goal, offer them some kind of “out” which would include some tangible concessions/rewards for those units who will accept the inevitable and surrender.

The same goes for the “big” top level negotiations in Belarus or Turkey.  Here is what Lavrov declared today about these talks.  The Ukrainian side agreed to:

  • No nukes for the Ukraine
  • No NATO for the Ukraine
  • No alliances of any kind and a neutral Ukraine
  • Give up any claims on Crimea and the Donbass

Now if you do not see these as major concessions, you have issues I cannot help you with.

I will just say that many Ukie propagandists instantly dismissed it all as “false” just as they have, apparently, “resurrected/transported” the two Ukrainian soldiers who tortured Russian POWs to a location in Kiev.  The truth is that these are painful and major concessions.  Hence the desperate Ukie (and, really, US!) needs to present ANY negotiations as “5min to total surrender” by the Russians – the reality is too awful for the leaders of the Empire of Lies to even contemplate, let alone admit.

Add to this the “disarmament” of the Ukraine by the Russian armed forces and you will see that things are going pretty fantastically well, especially for such a short and RELATIVELY small and limited operation.  At least that is true for the military aspect.  Info operations, alas, not so much 😦

Finally, and as always, I remind you that this is not, repeat, NOT, about the Ukraine.

Disarming and denazifying the Ukraine is only a means towards a much more important goal: the future collective security architecture of a post-NATO Europe which, in turn, is just the cornerstone of all of international security.

So, the goal is NOT to denazify the Ukraine, that is a means towards the goal, the real goal is to denazify the planet.

Oh I know, very few, if any, in Zone A will see that as anything but totally over the top hyperbole.  Why?

It’s a mental block: most folks in Zone A think of themselves and their country as somehow “indispensable”, but they are wrong.  Far from being indispensable, they need to be permanently re-educated (over several generations!) and eventually integrated into Zone B as a “normal”, morally and mentally sane, country.

This, by the way, also implies NEGOTIATIONS with the US, NATO and all of Zone A!

And if Zone A does not want to negotiate anything?  Correctomundo!  You turn up the pain dial, and ask again.  Then repeat until Zone A accepts talks.

It’s that simple, really.

My very last comment will be this: right now, the purely military aspects of the SMO are taking second place to the economic cataclysm which Zone A brought upon itself (and much of the world).  The Eurolemmings especially are only slowly beginning to discover the immene joy and privilege of being a member of the European Reichsgau of Empire of Lies truly is!

What can I say?  They SO richly deserve this….

And if all of the above is just Putinist propaganda, by all means, send a letter to the Russian General Staff, ask for a meeting, and explain to all these boneheads how warfare “your way” is so much superior to warfare “their way”.  Begin by listening all the heroic victories which your country has ever won.

Or apply to the CIA.  They actually might hire you! 😆

Andrei

Sitrep: Operation Z

March 31, 2022

Source

By Nightvision

Let’s start with the largest and most impactful news today:

-Another emergency helicopter evacuation in Mariupol has been shotdown, ironically as claimed by DPR – with a requisitioned American Stinger missile. Remember I said those missiles are junk against Russian craft outfitted with advanced DIRCM (Vitebsk L-370 and Rychag AVM) but Ukr craft are not so fortunate.

There is various rumor out there and it’s too early for much of it to be confirmed but here’s some tidbits I can report:

-There was 3 helicopters previously shotdown in the past days, apparently whoever they were trying to evacuate is of extreme importance as they’re desperately sacrificing many choppers and crews for this.

-Today there are reports there were not one but 2 shot down, and 2 actually got away. Some say there were 4 total choppers that came for the evac at night flying extremely low to evade radars coming in over Berdyansk and then onto the Azov Sea. Maybe those Stingers in DPR hands weren’t so effective.

-Now this is very speculative rumor but Gleb Bazov reports the following claims:

“Sources indicate that, at #Azovstal, a group totaling 20—of #US (#American) & #UK (#British) military advisors of #Azov defenders, as well as several UK #SBU (#Ukraine|ian secrete police) advisors—is holed up, together with Azov fighters. They were too late to evacuate.

Sources indicate that, at #Azovstal, a group totaling 20—of #US (#American) & #UK (#British) military advisors of #Azov defenders, as well as several UK #SBU (#Ukraine|ian secrete police) advisors—is holed up, together with Azov fighters. They were too late to evacuate.”

-Take this with a large grain of salt BUT, if true then it would clearly explain the extremely disproportionate and desperate efforts to evacuate these surrounded VIP targets in Azovstal factory. Why else would Ukr command risk the downing of so many helis and crews which were lost in their attempt to exfiltrate these high value personnel?

There were at least 13 dead that we know of so far and at least 2 survivors. One of them is already being interviewed and giving up information, in fact he appears to be the source of the info about the other escaped choppers and how many there were total, etc. Here’s one of the survivors being interviewed: 

https://www.bitchute.com/video/htJxqyUZynZR/

Another of the survivors is said to be a high value Ukrainian GUR Military Intel officer pictured here: 

https://i.postimg.cc/mDt65GqJ/5343993649547033149.jpg

Here is a video of the aftermath, warning – many gruesome scenes are shown at the crash site.

I’m sure in the coming hours there will be a lot of important information extracted from them. But ultimately, these desperate last ditch operations are an obvious sign that Azov in Mariupol has collapsed and the rats are fleeing the sinking ship.

-In other news, South Ossetia has now joined DPR / LPR in announcing they will hold a referendum to join the Russian Federation proper. Ossetians immediately took to the streets in celebration:

1. The referendum will be held separately from the presidential elections, which are scheduled for April 10.
2. Consultations are already underway on legal and practical issues of organizing a referendum on joining Russia.
3. The State Duma declares that the dates for the referendum are May-June. Legislation allows South Ossetia to become part of Russia, if it expresses such a desire.
4. After the reunification of South Ossetia with Russia, South Ossetia wants to unite with North Ossetia so that all Ossetians can live in one subject of the Russian Federation.

It appears Russia is really consolidating its territories. We’ve already announced that LPR / DPR will be holding referendums once the hostilities are ended, in order to join the RF. Now earlier today Ukrainian Intelligence released a statement that Russia is “planning to hold an independence referendum in Kherson”. This could be propaganda from their side, but if not then it can be an inkling into Russia’s plans, and a confirmation of theories that Russia may intend to take not just LPR / DPR but the large swath of land stretching towards Odessa as well. Kherson is one of the regions where Russia is already setting up administrative infrastructure including Russian broadcasting, Ruble payments, etc.

This brings me to another important topic: Operation Z has clearly ruptured the world order and has precipitated tectonic shifts which are happening both as direct and indirect result of Russia’s actions. The unipolar globalist world order is now finally and truly crumbling and in its place, ushering in what China/Russia has now called the ‘Fair World Order’.

1. Syria’s Assad recently visited and was welcomed in the UAE, which was his first visit to an Arab country since the onset of the Syrian war in 2011. The rapprochement ended with the Crown Prince of UAE calling for all foreign powers illegally occupying Syria to leave and many bilateral trade/economic deals were discussed.

2. Saudi Arabia has just cried uncle and finally “sued for peace” to end the Yemen war after the Houthis bombed the Aramco terminal in Jeddah and humiliated the KSA on the eve of their large F1 race spectacle. https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/03/23/Full-text-of-Saudi-Arabia-s-new-peace-initiative-to-end-Yemen-war

3. India and China, the world’s 1st and 3rd most powerful economies by GDP PPP (a particularly relevant metric in light of what we’re talking about) are exploring increasingly major avenues of settlement mechanisms in native currencies. https://www.rt.com/business/552993-russia-india-swift-alternative-trade/

A tectonic reorganization of the world order is happening before our very eyes, and experts increasingly signal the coming death of not only the dollar, but the western financial system.

Now onto some developments on the ground. There aren’t a lot to speak of due to the fact that Russia is currently conducting its major reorganization and repositioning of troops in preparation for the beginning of Phase 2, as we all now know. Phase 2 will likely begin with the capture of Mariupol which now appears more eminent than ever, given today’s news of desperate, last ditch helicopter escape attempts.

In general, around Kiev and Kherson, Russia has dug in defensively. In Izyum and the north Mariupol/Donbass line, Russia continues to fight. The largest gains in the past 24 hours have been Russia seizing towns such as Zolota Nyva just east of Velyka Novosilka, which is an important Ukrainian command center in that region. It will likely be the first and biggest target to liberate once Phase 2 begins. For now it seems RF forces will continue surrounding it.

-A few comments on the operation in general. Many people continue to question the efficacy of Russia’s planning and general strategy. Here are a few reminders. From the horse’s mouth itself:

The advisor to Zelensky, Arestovych today has released a statement saying that, “Russia has practically destroyed our entire defense industry, and are now finishing it off.”

https://www.rt.com/russia/553061-ukraine-defense-industry-russia/

Here’s General Macgregor’s statement from earlier:

“Retired US Army Colonel McGregor:
✔️ I think in a few weeks people will know that the losses of the Ukrainian forces are very high, much more than anyone admits. I think there will be a different view on Russian operations.”

Here is one Russian analyst from Telegram whose view I mostly agree with. His description of the Operation Z so far:

“Let go of panic.
1. There is virtually no offensive near Kiev, Chernigov and Sumy. They hoped that they would take it with a light cavalry attack, as in 2014. But it didn’t work out.
2. The grouping needs to be rotated and increased. These are additional reserves.
3. The 2014 plan didn’t work. At the first stage, those territories that managed to occupy were lucky. Now just fight by all the rules. And this means combined arms combat and leveled with the ground, otherwise nothing. Attacking in all directions is unrealistic.
4. The first step is to finish off the grouping in the Donbass. Under it, it is realistic to collect another 15-20 thousand reserves and things will go more fun. Then Zaporozhye, Nikolaev and Odessa. It will not be possible to increase the grouping in all directions.
5. You can’t get through to Nikolaev from the south. There is the Southern Bug River Delta, there is no room for maneuver. You need to approach from Zaporozhye and Kryvyi Rih. Otherwise, the distances there are such that the enemy keeps under fire control a narrow supply line from Kherson itself.
6. Near Nikolaev and Odessa, a powerful enemy grouping is sitting, the second largest after the Donbass. Plus, units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the territorial defense from Kherson departed there. As a result, the light units of the landing force brush aside the second largest grouping there. And they successfully brush aside, no one can poke their nose at Kherson.
7. The grouping near Nikolaev is aggressive, it is impossible to leave it in the rear. There are no resources to simultaneously finish off the grouping in the Donbass and in Nikolaev, and even go to Kyiv. Therefore, we focus on the south direction.

This is not a drain, this is a revision of doctrine. Nobody is going anywhere.”

-So, the important takeaways. What he says is, Russia HOPED that they could accomplish another takeover like the 2014 Crimea scenario ‘without firing a shot’ by doing what he calls a ‘light cavalry attack’ on the major capital cities like Kiev and Kharkov. This is in reference to the Russian light VDV & Spetnaz assault which moved swiftly on those cities in the opening, with mostly BMD and Tigr vehicles and without much heavy support.

In short, this was a calculated gambit by Russia, but it in no way invalidates the greater overall plan, which still would have required those multiple fronts to be established for the reasons we’re now all familiar with (which I spoke about in the last update) of maneuver warfare and pinning strategies.

Think about it, if you have a chance to possibly end the entire war in a day or two in a fast lightning attack to symbolically capture key cities and possibly the country’s leadership, wouldn’t you take it? But as Andrei Martynov explained once, how military planning works is you never bank on just one strategy. There are many “envelopes” as he described in his video, and you take the first plan, if it doesn’t work, you open up the next envelope for the 2nd contingency, etc. So, of course naturally Russia would take the chance to see if it can quickly bring an end without much bloodshed, why wouldn’t it? But don’t think in a million years, Russia would ever have completely banked on such a low probability success, and in fact had full ‘main’ and much more reliable battle plans to fall back on if the gambit didn’t work out.

Now here are the reasons for why Russia would have had to open all those multiple fronts anyway, and why attacking in many directions at once was not just some foolhardy plan that “didn’t work”. In fact it succeeded in most of its important operational objectives as I will outline below.

Russia absolutely had to secure some of the key targets of potential false flags by the Kiev regime. This meant securing places like the Chernobyl plant, Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, possibly the Kharkov nuclear institute, various important dams and infrastructural objects which, if detonated, could create mass civilian casualty false flags that would be blamed on the Russians, and of course the infamous Biolabs.

-Chernobyl was a must, because its name alone brings a haunted specter to most of Europe and the world, and Ukraine script writers would have loved (and attempted to) use it for a big false flag scenario. So this absolutely required Russian forces to enter from the northern axis to secure this.

-Zaporizhzhia. What most don’t know is this plant is not  only the #1 largest Nuclear plant in all of Europe, but in top 10 in the world, with only some Asian plants ahead of it.

So clearly such a high value target had to be secured as it had the potential for an unprecedented false flag (and we almost came to that if you recall) and various nuclear blackmail attempts from the Kiev regime. So this provides full validation for Russia’s axis from the south towards Zaporizhzhia.

In the same region as you know, Russia had to unblock the dam stifling all water to Crimea. And of course then there are the biolabs, which Russia had to capture in a timely manner not only to prevent them being used to stage false flags, but to prevent the U.S. intel exfiltration of important and incriminating documents which Russia luckily got in time from some of them. Seeing as how there are many biolabs in multiple directions, this alone justified Russian advances towards certain disparate fronts in the opening in order to capture these very significant targets.

So in short, there are extremely clear reasons for why Russia didn’t follow a simple-minded strategy some people seemed to think would have been ‘more conducive to winning the conflict quickly’ such as the idea of sending all troops only to the Donbass and clearing the cauldron first, while leaving the rest of the country to finish later. This idea is very shortsighted for the above reasons as there was a whole array of critical objectives Russia had to achieve simultaneously.

People not well versed in military matters tend to think in a very binary fashion, where something is either black or white. That’s not how things work. Operational objectives are conceived in a fashion where one action can achieve as many collateral objectives as possible for the sake of efficiency; in short: killing multiple birds with one stone. So as I’ve outlined, as an example, when Russia had to establish an offensive from the north to secure Chernobyl, and then to also pin down forces in Kiev nearby so that they could not relieve the groupings in the East, the other multifaceted objective would have also called to ‘attempt’ to seize Kiev with a quick lightning strike just to see if it was possible to end the war early with as little bloodshed as possible. Unfortunately, Ukrainians and 5th/6th columnist seemed to have misread this chancy gambit as some sort of major ‘Russian failure’ as if Russia’s sole and only objective was to take Kiev and now it has failed. No, as I have outlined above, it was a minor tertiary sub-objective as part of a much broader and more important operational battle plan which was fully successfully achieved.

Lastly, I wanted to repeat some of my calculations I’ve made in thread comments.

The other part of the collective west’s failure in correctly estimating Russia’s successes thus far has stemmed from what appears to be an incorrect calculation of Russia’s force disposition in Ukraine. You see, early on in the operation, the Pentagon made some statements about Russia utilizing 150-200k troops and “100% of all its allocated troops” and everyone, including most of us in the resistance sphere, just ran with those numbers and assumed them as base standards. But in reality, those numbers are highly questionable and there is no proof whatsoever that Russia has committed that many forces, nor has Russian MOD ever officially declared any amounts.

However, what we can glean is the following:

Russia is listed as having ~280k official troops in its ground army. However this is counting both kontraktniki and conscripts. The ratio I could find in RF armed forces is about 62% to 38% so that would leave about 173k of those as contract regulars which can be used in Ukraine (remember, Putin has prohibited conscript use)

There are an additional 45k VDV and ~15k Spetnaz and also Naval Infantry (Marines) of about 12k. The conscript percentages are much lower in them, so let’s just say there’s roughly 50k+ total usable troops from this group. Then there’s National Guard (Rosgvardia) which appears to have a massive 350k+.

My thought has been that Russia has so far not used anywhere near the ‘claimed’ 150-200k. It could be as little as 80-100k or less. But let’s just say even if they have used 150-180k, then according to my estimates, Russia could still have at the least (173k + 50k = 223k subtracted from the current estimates of troops in theater) 50-70k troops available still to inject, and much more if my own hunch is correct that Russia is using no where near the amounts the Pentagon claims (of course it conveniently fits Pentagon’s narrative to pretend Russia has exhausted all of its forces, etc). And this is not counting the National Guard simply because I’m not certain of the parameters of its use, though clearly we’ve seen many Rosgvardia troops in Ukraine. But this could add another huge amount.

So in short, I believe once Mariupol is fully captured, we could see the additional injection of tens of thousands of troops at the minimum, to finish off the Donbass cauldron. And recent reports from the frontline, written by a soldier in Izyum state that the “feeling in the air” is that a major Donbass battle / operation will begin soon, and it will go much faster than before. If Russia does inject these huge reserves and goes all out for Donbass, then we could see the cauldron collapse very quickly.

As for Mariupol, clearly it’s close to the end. Satellite photos today indicate rapid advances towards the absolute southern ends near the water.

And by the way, Putin’s approval rating in Russia continues to skyrocket. I reported a while back that prior to the operation it was in the 60% range (still much higher than any western leader like Biden (sub 40%), Macron and Johnson (both in the 20-30%). As the operation started, Putin’s rating went to 70, then to 80. Now the newest Levada center polls show a massive 83%, the highest approval rating of any world leader.

And as for the Ruble, it has regained 100% of all its losses: https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/ruble-regains-100-its-loss-after-russia-invaded-ukraine-why

And in fact on many index it is now LOWER than before the conflict. Some index had it at 83 to 1 dollar on February 22, and it is now showing as 79-81 on many indexes to the great chagrin of the west.

In fact in the biggest face slapping irony, the Ruble is now being hailed in financial circles as the greatest performing currency in the world for the month of March.

Lastly, the RF forces continue taking lots of Ukr prisoners all over:

While the Chechens and RF / DPR forces continue pounding the Azov Nazis all over:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/f4lzCW7z15Ie/?feature=oembed#?secret=fZZFPrQzZ0

Kiev, meanwhile, can only mine roads and kill civilians as usual:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/mE3VCWXRGiTK/?feature=oembed#?secret=6dwMe5govg

Sitrep: That ‘bumbling’ presidential aide Medinsky ….

March 30, 2022

source

Posted by Amarynth

… kept the real goodies for this day, a day after the talks.

The news is breaking now.  Medinsky says in a presser with Rossiya-24 broadcaster, that for the first time, Kiev is ready to fulfill the key demands from Russia.

These stories are still in development both on RT and on Sputnik.  I quote from RT:

“Yesterday, for the first time, the Ukrainian party announced, not only orally but also in written form, that it’s ready to fulfill a number of the most important conditions for building normal, and, hopefully, good-neighbourly relations with Russia in the future.

Let me remind you that after the 2014 coup d’état in Ukraine Russia has been making these demands to the Kiev regime, to its patrons, especially the United States, for years. Russia proposed negotiations, proposed to conclude various kinds of agreements that were supposed to guarantee Ukraine’s security and provide Russia’s national interests in this area.

All these demands had been ignored for years. And the North Atlantic Alliance has also been creating an anti-Russian foothold from Ukraine, more precisely, from Ukrainian territory, for years.

Ukraine’s entry into NATO, the creation of NATO military bases on its territory seemed to be a settled issue. It was a matter of time.

I’ll note, and this has already been proven, that there were also efforts on creating biological weapons. Moreover, the issue of Ukraine’s acquisition of nuclear weapons was also made public knowledge.

All these years, the Kiev regime has carried out an open genocide against the residents of Donbass. There’s a lot of evidence for this. There’s irrefutable evidence that Kiev was planning to launch an offensive against Donbass in the near future. In that case Russia would have had to stand up for tens and tens of thousands of our Russian citizens living there anyway.

Under these circumstances, Russia was forced to launch a pre-emptive special military operation.

Yesterday, for the first time in all these years, the Kiev authorities declared that they are ready to negotiate with Russia and conveyed the provisions of a possible future agreement, which states the following:

• the refusal to join NATO, fixation of Ukraine’s bloc-free status;

• the renunciation of nuclear weapons;

• an obligation to conduct troop exercises only with the consent of the guarantor states, which must include Russia.

That is, Ukraine stated that it’s ready to fulfill these demands that Russia has been insisting on all these years.

If all these obligations are fulfilled, the threat of creating a NATO bridgehead on Ukrainian territory will be eliminated.

That’s why it’s so important to agree upon this treaty at the highest level.

However, the negotiations and our work continue.

I’d like to stress that Russia’s position regarding Crimea and Donbass remains the same.”

https://www.rt.com/russia/552987-top-russian-negotiator-ukraine-peace-deal/


A reminder of Lavrov’s talks with the Serbian Media

💬 FM Sergey Lavrov: What matters the most right now is to stop indulging the Ukrainians who want to use talks and solutions as a smokescreen. They have succeeded in this posture when they derailed the Minsk Agreements immediately after signing them in February 2015. In the end, they said that they refused to fulfil them. We know how good they are at pretending to be involved.

This time, they will not get away with it. We need to make sure that the talks yield results, and once they do, the Presidents will formalise them.

(Excerpt from the Minister’s interview (https://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/1806841/?lang=en) with the Serbian media, Moscow, March 28, 2022)


There is of course another piece of news widely reported, and I quote from Pepe Escobar (in true Escobar style) Telegram channel:

DOMINUS VOBISCUM

The Vatican Bank used 10 million euros to BUY RUBLES from the Russian Central Bank so they could pay for their gas.

They followed the instructions by the Russian Federation government to the letter.

If this multinational organization In Nome del Padre, Figlio & Spirito Santo can do it, why not some bloody Germans?

Sitrep: Russia-Ukraine Negotiations – further details revealed

March 29, 2022

ISTANBUL: Russia-Ukraine talks outcome

Russia has agreed to meet Kiev half-way, agreeing a Putin-Zelensky meeting could be held if a finalized peace treaty pre-approved by foreign ministers from both nations is presented simultaneously, Vladimir Medinsky said.

The official described the Istanbul meeting as “constructive” and said his delegation had received a clearly outlined position on what it sought to achieve.

Russia’s MoD also announced it was drastically reducing its military op in parts of Ukraine, including near the capital, Kiev. The ministry cited “the talks moving into the practical dimension,” as the reason for the change.

Russia’s top negotiator Vladimir Medinsky has disclosed the key points of Istanbul talks:

▪️Ukraine is ready to become a neutral state, unable to own nuclear weapons, with internationally guaranteed independence

▪️Guarantees will not be extended to Donbass region and Russia owned Crimean Peninsula – which would make Kiev formally abandon idea to annex them militarily

▪️Ukraine would be unable to have any military presence – including NATO and Russian forces

▪️Russia does not oppose Ukraine potentially joining the European Union

▪️Kiev is requesting for final treaty to be formalised by Russian and Ukrainian heads of states

Follow the presser here:  https://t.me/rtnews/22903

Rostislav Ishchenko on “will Poland invade the western Ukraine?”

March 23, 2022

Note: another very interesting translation from our new team of Russian translators (thank you!)

Question: do you believe that Poland will send forces into the Ukraine?

No, I don’t think the US is giving conflicting instructions to Kiev. The fact is that when we are negotiating with Ukraine, we are, in fact, indirectly negotiating with the United States. Because, it is clear that we are fighting not with Zelensky, but with the United States, now, on the territory of Ukraine. The United States is at war with us to the last Ukrainian, but the United States is at war nonetheless. Therefore, when we offer surrender to Zelensky, we offer it to Zelensky, and in response, through the mouth of Zelensky, the United States offers us to surrender. They say: “Well, you withdraw troops from Ukraine, clear the Crimea and Donbass, return them to Ukraine, and then we’ll talk.” So, it is clear that Zelensky himself cannot put forward such demands, they are simply absurd.

Therefore, in this case, since two global forces are fighting each other, the demands are practically global. These are political demands to each other for unconditional surrender. It is clear that such requirements can only be met if one of the parties has won on the battlefield. Completely won. Not in Melitopol, Mariupol, there, or even in Kharkov, but completely won on the battlefield. That’s when something can grow out of this, out of these requirements. Therefore, now it does not matter whether you conduct these negotiations or you can not conduct them – this is already a field of Russian diplomacy.

The fact is that a long time ago, a decade, or even two decades ago, the United States entered into a systemic crisis. That is, the system built – political, military, economic, financial – has ceased to correspond to the realities of the modern world. At first, it was not entirely noticeable … many people generally denied that the United States could ever enter into a crisis, and so on .. But gradually these crisis phenomena grew, and Obama was already going to the polls with a statement that the United States was in crisis and reforms must be carried out. Then Trump went to the polls with the same thing. Then Biden came and practically announced that he would implement Trump’s program because the United States needed to carry out reforms in a crisis.

The fact is that the United States is not in a position to reform the economy now. In order to reform the economy it is necessary, as they advised us and everyone else in the early nineties, to go through shock therapy. That is, without shock, it is impossible to rebuild. This means that a huge number of Americans will sharply lose their standard of living for some period of time, and if, for example, in the 2000s, it was about the fact that changes can be made there, say, in 2, 3, 5 years, then now we are not talking about this, now we are talking about the fact that this will continue for decades, that you can go into a New Great Depression and it is not known when you will be able to get out of it. Naturally, the United States is afraid of this and does not want to, because a sharp drop in living standards leads to social instability and actually calls into question the existence of the American state, at least in the form in which we know it. That is, it can be preserved in some other form, but with other people at the head, with other families as a leading and guiding force, there with other parties, and so on. Naturally, the ruling circles of the United States do not want this at all. In order to maintain the status quo, the United States must maintain hegemony in any way, which means that even if this world is half destroyed, the United States must be the hegemon. I mean, it will be bad in the United States, but everyone else in the world should be even worse.

Therefore, the United States choses the way of confrontations. They cannot make an agreement, because they cannot yield.So if you have to yield, you are no longer the hegemon. If you are not a hegemon, you cannot divert other people’s resources to maintain the welfare of your citizens. If you can’t do this, then you start to crumble. So they follow the path of confrontation on the following principle: “Hey, guys, of course we understand that we are already not a hegemon. However, if you dare not to recognize us as such, we will start a war and it will be worse for you. So let’s think about it.”

Therefore, by the way, in recent years, several times Putin has told the Americans that we are ready to fight. We are even ready for a nuclear war, if anything. So that they do not build illusions about the fact that blackmail can be turned on. Yes, what conditions did Hillary Clinton offer when she went to the polls? Turn on the nuclear blackmail of Russia so that she concedes. So that they don’t have illusions that they don’t go too far along this path, because when you go the path of confrontation, each next step cuts off your path back. Sooner or later you come to a situation where war becomes inevitable, even a nuclear one. That is not something desirable, but necessary, because you have no other options left.

Well, you see, they are trying to lead the remnants of the West, the so-called free world there. Because it’s not always the West, there is Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, it’s still East. They are trying to keep their allies, their vassals under their control, to lead all this, to create such a closed system that will be in hostile relations with the rest of the world, while retaining the opportunity to spoil everyone. And again, try to keep the most of it, as they consider, – a high-tech world. And, relying on these capabilities, to re-conquer the planet. But I think that they are very much mistaken in this regard, because the manufacturing has long been located outside of both the United States and Europe. Now you can produce anything you want without their consent to the right to a patent. If we are talking about a global confrontation. In most areas of life and activity, we have sufficient technology and sufficient technological literacy. We just couldn’t launch many things on the market because the market was too narrow for us, – the western companies were already working on it. Take for example smartphones: the Russian market simply wasn’t big enough to outperform Apple. They’re just like a global company, like other companies, they were just in the perfect position from the start. And no company can enter other markets without winning its own, in principle.

That’s why now the United States are seriously mistaken when they think that they will just leave technology under them, which means that they will make everyone else bow down. It was before, being a hegemon, that they could arrange price scissors according to which these high-tech goods sold for more than raw materials, food, and so on. Now, we see a frenzied rise in prices for raw materials and foodstuffs that completely devalue the European industrial and technological power or the American one. Because if China can buy raw materials in Russia two or three times cheaper than Europe, or even four or five times cheaper, then it immediately becomes more competitive accordingly. While the enterprises of the same European brands in China will continue to operate exactly as they will keep working with us. The factories that we have built will not go anywhere, they will work even if European companies leave us. The factories will still work with our companies, will change brands, and still produce. Overall, by and large, it’s the same.

That is, if we succeed, we will sell a little less, but it will cost much more. If we fail, we will sell more and it will cost a little less, but still big money.

Therefore, until now, while the West is in confrontation with us, the price tags for energy carriers will not fall. In both cases, the situation is beneficial for us.

If Biden lobbies for the rejection of Russian energy, then the European economy will die, and the world will become one less competitor not only for the United States, but for us too. Because, in this case, we will be able to deliver our goods to the vacant place in Europe sooner or later.

So let him go. The most dangerous thing there is not that he is going to talk about a ban on the import of Russian oil to Europe. He is going to Poland to talk about the possibility of introducing peacekeeping forces from the west to the territory of Ukraine.

Moreover, the United States formed its position quite cunningly. They said no, it would not be NATO forces, but it could be the forces of some NATO countries. That is, it seems that the United States has nothing to do with this, it’s just that individual countries decided themselves, but these are NATO countries, and if it comes into confrontation with Russia, it’s clear that the question will immediately arise, what will be the reaction of NATO? How will NATO support its allies? Will it support it? And if not, then does NATO need such a thing? And if so, in what way? Money, goods, weapons? Or some armed forces will be sent to help them… And then who else will enter into a confrontation with Russia and how far this confrontation can lead.

Let me remind you that Macron called for preparations for a pan-European war. And he did not rely on French desires but on concrete actions of the United States. When he assessed the very situation. And his assessment, in general, is close to the truth. That is, it is clear that the All-European War may not happen, because at least we do not want this, and we are fighting hard against it, and the Europeans themselves are not particularly fond of it. But, nevertheless, there are forces in Europe, like the Poles, who are making these proposals, and outside of Europe, it is the United States, which would like to start a major war in Europe with the participation of Russia. And they are fighting for their interests, and who will win there, time will tell.

I do not think that Poles really want a part of the territory of Ukraine, because it is to get somewhere between 10-15 million Bandera for 35 million Poles. This is a lot. This is not the 2 million that Poland digested after the Great Patriotic War.

This can destabilize Poland very much, because such a minority makes up a third of the entire population, which is absolutely hostile to this population. Bandera massacred the Poles, and the Poles hate Bandera. And when these two cultures collide on the same territory in a non-abstract way, such as, everyone lives in their own country and both hate Russia; – and when they collide on the same territory it turns out that they also hate each other, – for Poland it will not be like a gift.

It is important for the Poles to maintain a Ukrainian buffer between themselves and Russia. Therefore, theoretically, by entering western Ukraine, they can try to preserve Ukrainian statehood at least in three, four, at least five regions, and this Ukrainian statehood will be due to the demarcation line, not making peace with Russia, but concluding a truce on the principle of the Minsk agreements. They will, because of the line of demarcation, all the time claim the entire territory of Ukraine, the Crimea, the Donbass and even the Kuban and Voronezh.

And Russia will always have this problem, a splinter sticking out in the boot, which will not allow much concentration against Poland.

Therefore, the Poles are making serious enough efforts to preserve Ukrainian statehood, in one form or another. Another thing is that they are also afraid, because you don’t understand that if they go out alone on their own initiative without any support, they will simply be kicked in the neck and thrown back, and this will end the liberation campaign.

But they understand that they cannot rely on the verbal, political support of the United States. That the United States will put pressure on their European allies to provide more help, and so on. And if all this works out, if the Poles know that they are not alone, but at least two or three of them, and that, for example, Germany, France, everyone else was forced to somehow help, for example, to send military equipment, transfer aviation , then they may well afford to venture into western Ukraine.

Ukraine somehow feels insecure in such a position, but the fact is that Russian forces are also unable to stretch indefinitely. You see, we are even dealing with Ukraine step by step. That is, not everything at once, although the configuration of the Ukrainian borders made it possible, given sufficient military resources, to complete the problem, to close the issue in three weeks, and after that to deal only with cleansing.

But our military resources are not unlimited. In order to create an appropriate army, it is necessary to mobilize. which no one wants to do, because we still have a special operation not a war. If Polish resources are connected to these Ukrainian resources, which are now opposing Russia, then the problem of promotion will be even stronger. If other NATO countries are looming behind Poland, then the question arises whether we can grind all these armies that are potentially opposing us with the help of available forces, or we need to either mobilize or resort to nuclear weapons. Especially since any NATO country entering into a conflict is a country of a bloc that has nuclear weapons. In accordance with the Russian military doctrine, we can strike such a bloc with a nuclear strike even first.

As you understand, the issue is very difficult to resolve, and both of these decisions will be extremely disadvantageous, including for Russia. It doesn’t matter who wins later, but this also means big losses, and not only human, but economic, and so on and so forth.

Therefore, naturally, we are trying to avoid this option, and are trying to close the issue with Ukraine without the participation of our Western friends and partners. We try not to let them interfere in this matter. In this regard, of course, we use the position of the United States, because they do not want to give guarantees to anyone, and we demonstrate that we will fight. Consequently, if the United States does not give you guarantees of military support, you understand that yes, they will fight with you longer, not 3 months, but 6 months, not 6 months, but a year. But all the same, they will grind you down, and then the question arises, why do we Poles need such pleasure? Well, we’ll fight for a year, we’ll distribute orders, and then what? Then collect Poland brick by brick?

Therefore, now the pro-American European lobby is in a state of unstable equilibrium; it wants to intervene in this conflict, but is afraid. The Americans do not yet give sufficient guarantees.

Biden is now going to Poland to talk about exactly this, and we’ll see what he tells them.

Well, I think not now, not now, but in general, given what trends have prevailed in the Baltics. Sooner or later the denazification operation will have to be carried out, because, as the history of Ukraine shows, living next to the Nazi state, even if it is small, means everything equally uncomfortable.

Just because we are two different systems, we are on different sides of good and evil, and we will always be in confrontation with each other, and confrontation with the state that is on our borders will always be used by our enemies, regardless of who is this enemy at the moment.

Therefore, naturally, if the Balts do not take it reasonably, then sooner or later they, just like Ukraine, will ask for the denazification operation. Ukraine asked for a long time, in fact, persuaded for 30 years.

Therefore, Ukraine began to prepare for a war with Russia from the first day of its Independence. It was, by the way, her idea-fix. Well, it was getting ready, getting ready, now 30 years have passed – she got ready. Finally, she asked for the war. By and large, the Balts behave in the same way. They now think that they are covered by NATO and the EU, but as the practice of recent years has shown, this is a very unreliable umbrella.

It is unlikely that anyone will be especially tense and risk a major war for the Baltic states. Moreover, there is always a casus bellum. It’s just that now, of course, Russia is too busy to go to the Baltic states. If only they won’t interfere with Russia on their own along with the Poles. They once tried to attack Belarus. They can repeat. If they themselves do not get involved in this matter, then the problem, the Baltics, is a problem of the distant future. During this time, they can change their minds, correct themselves, establish normal contacts, and choose other politicians.

But if the Baltic statehood develops in the same direction in which it has been developing for the last thirty years, then sooner or later the denazification operation is inevitable.

Testing the waters: Could Turkey’s Russian relations sink over Ukraine?

Neither friend nor foe, Turkey and Russia have backed opposing sides in several regional conflicts, yet managed to avoid direct confrontation. Now the Ukraine crisis poses a serious challenge.

March 22 2022

Caught between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, Turkey is forced to walk a thin line to avoid confrontation with either side.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Yeghia Tashjian

The war in Ukraine has become the latest test for Turkey’s regional ambitions in confronting those of Russia, in what has clearly become a “cooperative rivalry.” This is where both sides, despite their opposite views on various regional conflicts ranging from Libya to Syria to the South Caucasus, have worked to manage these conflicts without directly challenging one another.

The current crisis has raised Turkey’s concerns of being in the firing line of Russia’s hegemonic ambitions. It is important to note that Turkey and Russia are not allies, but bitter ‘frenemies.’ Despite having robust commercial, energy, diplomatic and military ties, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned back in 2016 that NATO has to act and increase its presence in the Black Sea.

Over the past two decades, Russia has consolidated its presence in the Black Sea region by directly controlling Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, and annexing Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. The Black Sea Fleet is responsible for bringing supplies to Russian forces in Syria, mostly based in the port of Tartus and Khmeimim airbase, as well as for patrolling the eastern Mediterranean. Russia’s 2015 Maritime Doctrine clearly prioritizes the Black Sea as a pillar of its power projection.

Turkey’s waning power in the Black Sea

Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea tipped the balance of military power in the Black Sea in favor of Moscow. Not only has Russia significantly increased its Exclusive Economic Zone and its Black Sea coastline, it has also cancelled existing agreements with Ukraine, which limited the latter’s Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol.

Additionally, Russia has stationed new military ships and submarines and installed a dense network of advanced weapons systems across the Crimean peninsula. From Ankara’s perspective, Turkey feels surrounded by Russian military presence from the north (Crimea), east (Armenia), and south (Syria).

In response, Erdogan initiated the construction of the Istanbul Canal to put additional pressure on Russia using the 1936 Montreux Convention whereby Turkey can close the Black Sea Straits to all warships in times of war.

Indeed, following NATO’s intensified pressure, Ankara has started exercising its right under Article 19 of the Convention, and has warned all coastal and non-coastal states that it will not allow warships through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. The convention also limits the period of stay for warships belonging to non-Black Sea states in the Black Sea.

However, this action also exposed Turkey’s limitations by raising the questions: How will Turkey react if Russian naval warships seek passage through the Straits? Will Turkey prevent them? The answer is clear.

As a Black Sea state, Russia has the privileged right to transit the Turkish Straits to return its warships to their bases. The treaty states that during armed conflict, belligerent warships “shall not” pass through the Straits unless the ships belong to a state that borders the Black Sea and are returning to their home ports.

Once Turkey determined that Russia was “at war,” it had no choice under the treaty but to stop Russian warships from passing through the Straits. The only exception for passage is for Russian warships from other areas returning to their bases in the Black Sea.

For example, a Russian fleet registered in the Black Sea but currently located in the Mediterranean Sea is allowed to pass through the Turkish Straits and return to its base. The condition also applies to Russian fleets currently in the Black Sea that belong to a base in the Mediterranean or Baltic Sea. Russia is free to take them out of the Black Sea. This option provides Russia with enough space to maneuver its naval power and downplay Article 19 of the Montreux Convention.

Turkey is aware that blocking access of Russian warships through its Straits will be viewed in Moscow as a “declaration of war.” This is the last thing Erdogan wants, knowing full well that the economic and political consequences will be harsher than those Turkey tasted after it downed the Russian jet over Syria in 2015.

Turkey’s balancing act between Russia and Ukraine

While Turkey will not directly provoke Russia, it has increased its military cooperation with Ukraine. This includes the supply of Bayraktar TB2 drones to the Kiev government. The Russians, for their part, have shown their preparedness for Turkish drones. Despite the fact that the Bayraktar TB2 drones are still operating and useful to the Ukrainian side, the Russian Ministry of Defense almost daily announces that its forces are downing many drones, including TB2.

This military relationship has also involved Ukraine supplying Turkey with military engines intended to boost Turkey’s growing arms industry; in particular, the Bayraktar’s successor drone and T292 heavy attack helicopters that are currently under production.

For Russia, this poses a threat, as in the future it may shift the military balance of power towards Turkey and Ukraine in the Black Sea. It is for this reason that Russian forces destroyed most of the Ukrainian heavy military infrastructure (including its naval and air force) and arms industry.

As such, Erdogan will aim to continue cooperation with Russia in the region; but he is equally likely to step up engagement with NATO to improve his global standing and reduce international criticism of his domestic conduct. Erdogan knows that standing against Russia and directly confronting Moscow is very risky as – excluding the ongoing war in Ukraine – he would start a war on three fronts in the region: in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

In order to extract itself from the ongoing difficulty of placating both sides, in recent days Turkey has engaged in proactive diplomacy and mediation between Kiev and Moscow. Ankara announced that the two adversaries have made progress on their negotiations to halt the war and are “close to an agreement.” However, Ukraine’s president responded by saying that any consequential agreement with Russia would be put to a referendum. This signaled that there is no agreement in sight and Ankara’s mediating efforts are fruitless.

Turkey will not gamble with Ukraine against Russia

Dr Maxim Suchkov, a Moscow-based expert in the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) expresses concern that Turkey may view the crisis as an opportunity to re-establish itself in the Black Sea and strengthen its relations with the west. Ankara enjoys good ties with both Moscow and Kiev and seeks to balance itself, supplying arms to Ukraine, on the one hand, but also refraining from sanctioning Russia.

Suchkov argues that Turkey may indeed be useful to the Russian endgame here, but “Moscow should also be careful since President Erdogan is known for his penchant to fish in muddy waters.” Hence, even if the outcome of the conflict does not favor Erdogan’s interests, Turkey may try to wrest something out of this crisis.

For this reason, President Erdogan cannot antagonize Russia and risk full-scale war as, domestically, the implications of this battle will be heavy on the Turkish government. Already, on 22 February, six Turkish opposition parties, not including the Kurdish HDP, called on a unified platform for the revival of the parliamentary system in the country with the aim of establishing an alliance to topple Erdogan in the coming parliamentary and presidential elections in June 2023.

According to recent public surveys, the opposition coalition is polling ahead, and indeed may oust Erdogan, given the financial chaos Turkey is experiencing. The current crisis will worsen the economic and political situation of Turkey.

One sector that is especially vulnerable is tourism, as between four to seven million Russian tourists and around two million Ukrainian tourists visit Turkey each year. Moreover, western sanctions on Russia will make money transactions difficult between both countries.

Crucially, Turkey imports almost 50 percent of its gas from Russia, and with the increase in global gas prices, Turks find themselves in a difficult quandary. For these reasons, Ankara is unlikely to undertake any risky gambles and will continue to strike a balanced posture in the crisis.

Turkey still has an important role to play

Turkey has general elections scheduled for June 2023, hence any change in the leadership in Turkey would affect the current track of Russian-Turkish relations. In a post-Erdogan Turkey, Ankara is likely to move closer to the western camp due to the pro-western (pro-US) leanings of the Turkish military, entrepreneurs, technocrats, diplomats, and civil servants – regardless of their liberal or nationalistic personal views.

This could form a long-term challenge for Russia-Turkey relations, given the successful “cooperative rivalry” both sides managed to arrange in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh. It is worth mentioning that on 2 March, Meral Akşener, leader of the Turkish opposition İYİ Party, raised the alarm on whether there were any guarantees that Turkey’s eastern provinces would be safe from a similar kind of Russian aggression. She also called Russia a “security threat” for Turkey. This is another indication that the Turkish opposition is not on the same wavelength as Erdogan’s multi-vector foreign policy.

Moscow has never viewed Ankara as an equal partner, but as a junior partner that could help configure a regional order which benefits Russian interests and decreases western influence. However, if Russia becomes stuck in a Ukrainian quagmire, it may need Ankara to arrange a temporary settlement.

Will the Syrian and Nagorno-Karabakh scenario be repeated – in which both sides sidelined western influence and Russia accepted a Turkish role in the region? If Ukraine is divided into two zones, would Russia accept a Turkish ‘peacekeeping force’ in the western part of Ukraine? Would the Americans give Turkey the green light to enter such a game? What would Ankara gain in return? Is such a military adventure within Turkey’s capabilities?

According to Dr Mitat Çelikpala, Professor of International Relations and the Dean of Faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences at Kadir Has University, such a scenario is beyond Turkey’s financial and military capacities – and Turkey cannot act unilaterally. Hence, for now, Turkey must continue its role of mediation between both sides to avoid any spillover effect near its borders.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

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