A HUNGRY AND IMPOVERISHED RUSSIAN BEAR IN AUSTRIA'S ARMS (13 02 2023)
Political strategic level
Moscow plans to send delegates to the 23-24 February meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Austria, including 15 Russian lawmakers who are subject to EU sanctions. They include Deputy Duma Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy and another MP, Leonid Slutsky. Austria has been heavily criticised for issuing visas to allow sanctioned Russian legislators to attend the OSCE meeting in Vienna.
Russia is one of the 57 North American, European and Asian countries that are members of the Vienna-based organisation. It goes without saying that security and cooperation in Europe can in no way be associated with a terrorist country that is itself the destroyer of the world's security architecture.
81 OSCE delegates from 20 countries, including France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Poland and Ukraine, called on the Austrian Government to ban sanctioned Russians from attending the meeting. However, Austria maintains that it is legally obliged to issue visas to all representatives of OSCE countries wishing to attend meetings there.
There is a legal cover, of course. But you can look and see that, before the Russian invasion, 80% of Austria's natural gas came from Russia, and after a year of war it is still more than 20%. Raiffeisenbank International, Austria's second-largest bank, derived more than half of its profits from Russia in 2022 and continues to operate in Russia. Austria is a haven for Russian intelligence services and Vienna is their base of operations in Western Europe.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and sign cooperation documents during a three-day trip to China starting on Tuesday. His agenda also includes meetings with Iranian and Chinese business leaders and Iranian expatriates in China, the statement added.
The two leaders of the two regime-ruled countries met last September in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, when Xi underlined China's support for Iran. China is one of Iran's main oil buyers and an important source of investment in the Middle Eastern country. In 2021, Iran and China signed a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement, which covers key economic activities ranging from oil and mining to industry, transport and agriculture.
The closer the ties between terrorist or terrorist-supporting dictatorships, the sadder and less secure our world becomes. While some Western democracies strive to make the world a better place for all to live in, others, the countries of violence and aggression, are preparing to take it over and destroy it.
Mr Prigozhin, the owner of the Russian Wagner Group, a Kremlin-controlled 'private' military company actively involved in the war in Ukraine, and an apartment thief and recidivist, predicts that the war could drag on for years. It could take Russia between 18 months and two years to fully secure control of the eastern Ukrainian industrial heartland of the Donbas. According to the criminal, the war could last for three years if Moscow decides to occupy wider territories east of the Dnieper river.
Painful, angry, resentful? It is worth listening to what this Kremlin rat is saying. Stretching the rubber by continuing with the chosen strategy of 'supporting Ukraine as much as necessary' but avoiding active action could cost the West years of dancing with the ragged, hungry and dangerous Russian bear. A bear that is destroying and killing Ukraine.
NATO is expected to ask its members to increase their stockpiles of ammunition, because even before Russia launched large-scale military action on 24 February last year, many NATO countries had failed to meet the alliance's stockpiling targets. Countries thought that wars involving large-scale artillery battles were a thing of the past.
However, the reality is that up to 10 000 artillery shells are being fired every day by the defenders of Ukraine in defence of Europe against the Russian hordes. This pace has completely depleted Western stocks and exposed gaps in the efficiency, speed and manpower of supply chains.
"Those NATO (ammunition) targets that we set, and each ally has a specific target, were largely not met (before the war in Ukraine)," an unnamed NATO official told Reuters.
Germany alone, for example, fell €20 billion short of NATO's target before the invasion. The NATO official said the most critical shortages were of battle-critical ammunition, from 155mm shells for howitzers to HIMARS missiles and ammunition for air defence systems such as the IRIS-T, Patriot and Cheetah, which are heavily deployed by the Ukrainian military.
Decisions on the stockpiling targets are expected in mid-July, when NATO leaders meet for a summit in Lithuania.
The United States has reiterated its instructions to its citizens to leave Russia immediately due to the war in Ukraine and the risk of arbitrary arrest or prosecution by Russian law enforcement authorities.
"US citizens living or travelling in Russia should leave immediately," the US Embassy in Moscow stated. "Exercise extreme caution due to the risk of unlawful detention."
Meanwhile, Russian hordes continued shelling Ukrainian cities over the weekend, with Ukrainian officials saying Moscow is struggling to launch a long-awaited large-scale offensive in the east of the country.
"They are having big problems with a major offensive," Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, told Ukrainian television on Saturday evening. "They have launched an offensive, they just don't say they have, and our army is repelling it very powerfully. The offensive they planned is already slowly taking place. But (it is) not the offensive they expected", said Danilov.
Pro-Kremlin Russian military bloggers also question Moscow's ability to launch a broad offensive in Ukraine. Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War say the same in their report.
Russia needs money to continue the war and is grasping at various opportunities. Apart from oil and other raw materials, Russia's source of income is arms sales. Paradoxically, the 'peace' country of India is one such opportunity. In the last five years, Russia has sold around USD 13 billion worth of arms to India, and New Delhi has placed orders with Moscow for arms and military equipment worth more than USD 10 billion.
India is the world's largest buyer of Russian arms, accounting for around 20% of Moscow's current orders, and New Delhi has not explicitly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the "conflict".
Russia has increased its group of ships in the Black Sea to 12, including two Kalibr missile carriers with a total of eight missiles. Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for Ukraine's Joint Force South, said the group also includes large landing craft. "There is also the threat of using the coastal missile systems that the enemy has deployed in the northern part of the Crimean peninsula", she said.
At least three powerful explosions took place in Mariupol, Mangush and Nikolskaya. The Russian occupiers are known to have set up barracks and/or headquarters and ammunition depots in these locations. After the explosions, the sounds of detonation could be heard for some time.
The enemy is suffering heavy losses but continues to attack in the direction of Kupyansk, Liman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlivka.
The occupiers launched 4 rocket attacks and 85 salvoes of artillery fire during the day.
The threat of Russian air and missile strikes on the whole territory of Ukraine remains high.
The enemy has deployed around 200 Russian Natsgvardija troops in the temporarily occupied areas of Kherson oblast to reinforce counter-diversion measures. They have been accommodated in the area of the Chaika recreation centre in the village of Lazurne, and the movement of local residents in the village is restricted for the security of the occupiers.
Due to the low supply of winter uniforms, the number of frostbite cases has increased significantly since January this year. Thus, in the medical facilities of Horlivka in Donetsk oblast, up to 30 % of all injured people have such a diagnosis.
Over the past day, the Ukrainian Defence Forces' aviation has struck 8 times on the territories where the occupying forces are concentrated, as well as 3 times on the positions of anti-aircraft missile systems. Rocket and artillery units struck 10 times at areas of concentration of live forces, once at air defence positions and 3 times at enemy ammunition depots.
Photo. Ukrainian and European security defenders.
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