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"2023 WILL BE OUR YEAR OF VICTORY!" (2023 02 24)

Political strategic level
In his regular address to the Ukrainian people last night, Volodymyr Zelensky reviewed the past year of war and vowed to strive for victory in 2023. On Friday, marking the first anniversary of Russia's large-scale invasion, he called it "the longest day of our lives". The President recalled the horror and suffering caused by terrorist Russia, which launched the biggest and most deadly war in Europe since the Second World War.
"We know that 2023 will be our year of victory!" - Zelensky insisted, despite the gloomy circumstances.
But the West, today as yesterday, has no firm idea what that victory might be. While promising all the help they can get, as much as it is needed, they are very reserved about it. Apart from the usual strong supporters - the US, Poland, the Baltic States and the UK - it seems that the rest of the Western powers would feel very happy if the "Ukraine problem" were somehow resolved without much effort on their part. And even those of their representatives who understand and reiterate that Russia cannot be allowed to win, bearing in mind that it would be a pretext for China, Iran, Shakorei and other more or less terrorist states to kidnap and rape their neighbours, do not believe in their hearts that Russia or China are a major threat to them. In fact, they do not think that Russia or China is any kind of threat at all.
The geopolitical myopia of the countries of Western Europe has turned not against them, but against Ukraine, and as long as Berlin, Paris or Lisbon are not directly threatened, the destruction of the Bakhmut somewhere in 'Russia' is, unfortunately, a 'Russian' affair.
Well, the real terrorists in Russia are sending increasingly serious signals on Moldova. The Russian Ministry of War Crimes has stated that Ukraine is planning to invade the 'separatist' Moldovan region of Transnistria in a false flag operation. Ukraine's alleged plan allegedly poses a 'direct threat' to Russian troops in the Russian-speaking region.
All these fantasies have been firmly rejected by Moldova itself, with its Foreign Minister saying that his country is prepared for 'the whole spectrum of threats' from Russia. Earlier, Moldovan President Maia Sandu, who wants her country to join the European Union, accused Moscow of plotting a coup to overthrow the Moldovan leadership. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also said last week that it is "obvious" that Ukraine will not be Russia's last stop after the invasion of Ukraine and that the Kremlin is thinking of ways to "suffocate" Moldova.
We would have thought that a few well-trained Russian saboteurs could cause a great deal of havoc in Chisinau, but would not, in the end, pose a serious threat to either Ukraine or Moldova itself. Therefore, without ruling out the possibility of provocation and subversion, we think that the most likely diversionary activity could be part of a broader plan, rather than a single event. The Kremlin is not in a position to launch such a plan now.
Capacity in Germany, Europe's largest economic powerhouse, contracted by 0.4% last quarter. Despite the sluggish economy, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated the words he has heard hundreds of times that Germany will support Ukraine "as strongly and as long as necessary". "What impresses us all is the determination and courage of the Ukrainians in defending their freedom," Scholz said in a video message on the anniversary.
Germany's support to Ukraine, in terms of financial and humanitarian aid and arms, has so far amounted to more than €14 billion. Compared to Germany's GDP, this is only a quarter of what Poland or the Baltic countries have given to Ukraine.
The German Government will do everything possible "to prevent the war between Russia and NATO from escalating", the Chancellor also said, once again trying to reconcile two incompatible things - to light a smouldering bonfire by throwing water on it.
As for the ceasefire, China called for a ceasefire and a gradual de-escalation of the confrontation between Ukraine and Russia in order to pave the way for peace talks. This proposal is part of a 12-point plan that China believes could lead to a cessation of hostilities.
The Chinese plan, published by the Foreign Ministry on Friday morning, also calls for an end to Western sanctions against Russia, the creation of humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians, and action to secure grain exports, as supply disruptions have pushed up global food prices in the past year.
The proposal essentially reiterates China's position, including that the "sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries should be effectively guaranteed". "The plan also calls for an end to the 'Cold War mentality', which is Beijing's standard term for what it sees as the United States' domination of the world and its interference in the affairs of other countries.
Jorge Toledo, the EU Ambassador to China, said that China had published a position paper, not a peace offer, but that the EU would examine it.
Ukraine called the "position paper" a "good sign" and said it hoped that China would step up its support for Ukraine. "We hope that they will also call on Russia to stop the war and withdraw its troops," said Zhanna Leshchinskaya, Ukraine's foreign affairs spokesperson.
We see the 'plan' proposed by China as a complete nonsense, which is also potentially dangerous, because discussing nonsense distracts attention from the necessary decisions that need to be taken here and now. Instead of the 'plan' that China is proposing, we have another plan that would actually work and which has only one single point: dictator Xi calls Führer Pu and orders him to withdraw all the Drisks from Ukraine immediately.
Britain, on the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, has announced yet more sanctions against Russia, including export bans on all goods used on the battlefield. Internationally coordinated sanctions and trade measures will apply to aircraft parts, radio equipment and electronic components. They will also target more Russian oligarchs, including the heads of the Rosatom nuclear power plant and others in defence groups and Russian banks.
"Military intelligence has shown that Russia is already experiencing component shortages as a result of the sanctions, which could affect their ability to produce equipment for export, such as armoured personnel carriers, attack helicopters and air defence systems," the UK Foreign Office said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed a resolution proposed by Kyiv on a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine under the UN Charter. 141 UN member states voted in favour of the resolution, with 32 abstentions. Seven countries - Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua and Mali - voted against.
The text of the resolution urges Russia to withdraw immediately and unconditionally all its troops from Ukrainian territory.
As Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba noted, the UNGA meeting took place under conditions of violent tension. Russia tried to disrupt the vote on the draft resolution supporting peace in Ukraine. Meanwhile, China, from the rostrum of the UNGA, argued in favour of stopping the supply of Western arms to Ukraine, as this was hampering the peace process.
However, much to Russia's disappointment, China did not vote against. China never plays with anyone. It has always been, and is, on its own. That is the essence of evil.
Operational level
No change.
So far, the predicted missile attacks and a major offensive from Russia are not in sight. Our predictions that Russia will continue to try to make small steps forward but will not launch a large-scale attack are correct. Nevertheless, the risk of missile and drone attacks remains.
The Ukrainian side needs to be provided with long-range missiles for artillery systems and fighter jets as soon as possible. While such assistance is still under consideration, other aid packages are on their way to Ukraine.
Today, the White House is expected to announce a new batch of $2 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including HIMARS missiles, 155 mm artillery shells, several types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), anti-aircraft and mine clearance equipment, and funding for training and technical maintenance. It should be recalled that just four days ago, on 20 February, US President Joe Biden announced a new aid package for Ukraine to fight the Russian invaders during his visit to Kyiv. That USD 500 million package included, among other things, ammunition for HIMARS and howitzers, Javelins, anti-tank systems and air surveillance systems. Mr Biden also announced commitments on armaments - more than 700 tanks, thousands of armoured personnel carriers, a thousand artillery systems, more than 2 million artillery shells, etc.
The Western partners are particularly focused on anti-aircraft equipment to counter massive Russian missile strikes. The production of artillery shells, which are badly needed by the Ukrainian armed forces, is also being increased.
However, terrorist supporters are not slowing down. The media have been discussing what equipment China could provide to Russia. Although there is no confirmation as yet, it is believed that China may transfer technology to Russia so that it can produce kamikaze drones itself. The drone manufacturer Bingo has reportedly already agreed to produce and test 100 ZT-180 prototypes and hand them over to Russia by April 2023. In addition, Bingo plans to supply Russia with the components and technology to enable it to produce around 100 UAVs per month on its own.
The ZT-180 can carry a 35-50 kg warhead and the design of the aircraft may be similar to the Iranian Shahed-136.
Tactical level
Apartment thief and Putin's lip-wipe, Prigozhin yesterday boasted that his Wagner marauders had managed to take full control of the Ukrainian village of Berchivka on the outskirts of Bakhmut. Berchivka is about 3 km north-west of the ruins of Bakhmut.
However, soldiers on the ground say that full control of the village is a long way off and clashes are still taking place.
Ukrainian defenders repelled yesterday's attack by the Drisks from Kremin in the direction of Jampolivka. With intensive support from the Ukrainian air force, the Ruthenian fascists were also caught at the settlement of Dibrova, which they had surrounded, and retreated towards Kremina. We do not know what happened at Kuzmyne (a little south of Kremina), but either because of the stupidity of the invaders or because of panic, while retreating from the Ukrainian aerial and artillery strikes, they seem to have clashed with another group of Marauders who were carrying the yeast from Dibrova. Ukrainian forces precipitated the encounter with Kobzon by many of the Drisks from both groups.
The main efforts of the occupier concentrated on offensive operations on the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Shakhtarsk axes.
Over the past day, the Ukrainian defenders have repelled about 100 enemy attacks. At the same time, Russian attackers launched 10 missile and 31 air strikes and more than 40 MLRS attacks. These criminal actions have caused civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects in the Kharkiv and Kherson areas.
Russia is continuing its clandestine mobilisation to replenish its extensive losses. In the Caucasus regions, forced mobilisation of men of draft age is being actively pursued, regardless of their health and willingness to fight. A large proportion of those mobilised are citizens who have served or are serving prison sentences. Prisoners are released on condition that they voluntarily take part in hostilities on Ukrainian territory.
In some areas of the temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk region, mobile phone operators have cut off internet access to prevent the transmission of data on the actions of the Russian occupation forces. Internet access is likely to be cut off in all temporarily occupied areas of Luhansk oblast.
Over the past day, the Ukrainian Air Force has launched 17 air strikes against the concentration points of the airstrikes and 4 air strikes against the positions of anti-aircraft missile systems.
The Ukrainian rocket and artillery forces attacked 3 Russian "troop" concentrations, an ammunition depot, a fuel and lubricant depot and another important military facility.
Photo shows the ruins of Bakhmut. Source: apnews.com
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