CAN WE, THE WEST, GO BEYOND THE THINKING BOX? (2023 03 04)
Political strategic level
US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz talked for more than an hour behind closed doors in the Oval Office on Friday. Not even their chief advisers were present. At the end of the meeting, Mr Biden and Mr Scholz crossed the hall to the Roosevelt Room, where American and German officials were in contact. According to a senior administration official, who asked not to be named, describing the discussions behind closed doors, Mr Biden joked that the two leaders had worked things out themselves.
God forbid that should be the case. For our part, we should be pleased that, at last, there is more and more work being done, not on headlines and political grandstanding, treading on the bones of the Ukrainians, but on trying to agree on joint action. It is particularly pleasing to hear that, when journalists bombarded the spokespeople with a barrage of questions about what agreements had been reached and what plans had been drawn up, the White House remained mute.
The official report of the meeting dryly states that the two leaders 'discussed the war and exchanged views on other global issues'.
Unlike official state visits, such as that of French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington last year, there was no pomp and ceremony. Scholz's trip did not include the usual press conference where the two leaders answer questions from journalists representing both countries.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal said that after Ukraine was granted candidate status, the European Union made seven recommendations, almost all of which have now been implemented. Ukraine plans to meet all the EU's conditions within two years to become a member of the bloc. After that, the ball will be in the bloc's court and it will only have to take a political decision on the matter. Mr Shmyhal added that next week the government will accept candidates for the post of head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which is also an important step in the implementation of the recommendations.
According to the Prime Minister, he is confident that the EU will provide Ukraine with an assessment of the implementation of the recommendations as early as this autumn, which is likely to be positive.
"This allows me to confidently say that in two years we will be able to meet all the necessary conditions <...> What is important is that this is a very ambitious and complex plan, but we will move in this direction," said the Ukrainian PM.
All those recommendations and the plans for their implementation, like the red lines, are drawn in our own heads. Can we in the West, in the face of the real, not imaginary, threat to global security posed by Russia and China, make decisions that go beyond the box for the sake of our children and the future of humanity? Can we accept Ukraine into the EU, into NATO today? This would solve many of our own problems and, above all, put an end to the senseless slaughter started by the brainless barbarians in the Kremlin.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Lviv. He was accompanied by other top European legal officials. All of them called for the prosecution of Russia for war crimes. "We are doing our utmost to ensure that the International Criminal Court successfully punishes Russian war criminals", said Mr Zelensky in a video message after the meeting, as usual in the evening.
"The main issue of all these meetings and the Lviv conference is accountability", he added. "The responsibility of Russia and its leadership is personal, for the aggression and terror against our country and people."
V. Zelensky said that more than 70 000 Russian war crimes have been registered so far. "Unfortunately, however, we do not know about all the crimes at the moment", he added. "A large part of our territory is still under occupation and at the moment we cannot reliably predict how many Russian crimes we will find after the expulsion of the occupiers."
Why should the ICC not already be putting the Kremlin's war criminals on trial in absentia and launching an international search for them?
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby is confident that China has not yet supplied Russia with weapons for its war with Ukraine, but the issue is still under discussion. Mr Kirby noted that China and Russia have a relationship. "As you can see from the public comments, this relationship continues and will continue. I cannot say why the Chinese think it is in their interests. At least we are convinced otherwise", he said.
Asked about possible Chinese arms shipments to Russia, Kirby replied that "China has not taken the issue off the table, but neither has it done anything. So I wouldn't want to speculate on the possible consequences".
The behemoths of the Chinese Communist Party have received numerous public and private warnings about what awaits them if they think of supplying arms to Russia.
But the same Chinese Communist Party behemoths see the Western countries' years of impotence trampling along their own red lines. Can China patronize the West by sending unmanned parts or similar equipment via Belarus to Russia? We believe that it is more likely than not. And here, the response from all civilised countries to Beijing must be swift and firm, both at diplomatic and economic level.
On Friday, the United States announced a new $400 million military aid package for Ukraine, which consists mainly of ammunition, but for the first time will also include prefabricated bridges for transporting tanks and armoured vehicles.
These bridges could be used by Ukrainian troops who are training in "combined arms manoeuvres" warfare, i.e. coordinated artillery shelling combined with tank and armoured vehicle attack movements to liberate the Drisky occupied areas.
On Friday, Russian artillery struck the last roads out of Bakhmut to complete the encirclement of the besieged Ukrainian city and bring Moscow closer to its first major victory in six months after the bloodiest battle of the war. The town, reduced to rubble by more than seven months of Russian offensive, is almost completely surrounded and there is only one half-way retreat for Ukrainian troops.
On Friday, the Swiss government announced that Germany wants to buy decommissioned Leopard 2 battle tanks from Switzerland to replace the tanks that Berlin and its Western allies are sending to Ukraine. The German defence and economy ministers wrote to Swiss defence minister Viola Amherd on 23 February, assuring her that if the tanks are bought, they will not be sent to Ukraine, but will be used by Germany or its NATO and European partners to fill their own stockpile gaps caused by the tanks given to Kyiv and to improve the availability of spare parts.
A shrewd move. The fact is that Germany has so far failed to persuade the Swiss to provide supplies from its stockpile of ammunition for the self-propelled Gepard anti-aircraft guns that Berlin handed over to Ukraine. But this is yet another attempt to try to persuade Switzerland to abandon neutrality.
Russia has demanded an official explanation from its ally Serbia over reports that the Balkan country has delivered thousands of missiles to Ukraine. Serbia yesterday promptly denied having exported arms to Ukraine. Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told Moscow in a clarification that Serbia had not exported arms to any of the "conflict" parties since the start of the war in Ukraine.
"I can say this because my ministry authorises (arms) exports," Dacic said. "Serbia is not supplying military equipment to any country that we consider in any way problematic."
Serbia's view, or Moscow's, let me ask you?
At the tactical level
The threat of Russian missile attacks remains high throughout Ukraine.
The enemy is attacking without respite in the directions of Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Shakhtarsk. In the past day, Ukrainians have repelled more than 150 attacks by armed Walkatha and Marodieir.
In Simferopol, in temporarily occupied Crimea, the Russian occupation authorities are setting up so-called "volunteer units" for fear of the rise of pro-Ukrainian movements and the actions of patriotic groups. It is well known that the war in Ukraine has led to a certain shortage of law enforcement officers, and therefore, in addition to patrolling the city, one of the tasks of these units should be the detection of troublemakers and saboteurs.
During the past day, the Ukrainian Air Force has struck 14 times at Russian troop and equipment sites and 2 times at firing positions of Russian anti-aircraft missile systems. Ukrainian defenders shot down an enemy Su-34 aircraft and 8 reconnaissance and attack drones of various types.
Ukrainian rocket and artillery forces attacked a command post, 3 enemy concentration points, an ammunition depot, 2 fuel and lubricant depots and an electronic warfare system.
The Ukrainians blew up two bridges over the river near the ruins of the town of Bakhmut. This means that the defenders are beginning an orderly retreat from the mass grave hell on earth.
On Friday, the Lukashenko court in Minsk sentenced Belarusian human rights defender and one of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winners, Ales Belyatsky, to 10 years in prison, the latest step in a years-long crackdown on dissent. The harsh sentence for him and three of his colleagues was imposed in response to mass protests over the 2020 elections, which gave anti-president Alexander Lukashenko a new term in office.
We wonder how some of our citizens, who betrayed Mr Alesi to the Minsk regime's crackdown twelve years ago, are sleeping?
The photo shows a cat rescued from the ruins of an apartment block in Zaporizhzhya, which was more fortunate than the civilians killed and maimed at the hands of Russian terrorists. Source: apnews.com
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