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  • Writer's pictureAurimas Navys

GRAIN – A WEAPON OF HYBRID WARFARE IN THE HANDS OF MOSCOW (08/04/2023)

Political strategic level

Yesterday, the Russian occupation forces were on the rampage in the annexed territories of Ukraine. So–called war criminals, led by soldiers, used drones and salvo fire systems to bomb Ukrainian defenders' positions and civilian targets. The casualties included ordinary people, including women and children, damage to buildings and power cuts.

Against the backdrop of these terrorist attacks, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikoff, when asked about the likelihood of a ceasefire and a possible peace, said that his country would only negotiate a peace with Russia once the entire occupied territory had been freed. Mr Reznikov also identified Ukraine's top defence priorities. These include anti–aircraft systems, followed by artillery ammunition, infantry vehicles, tanks and electronic warfare equipment, including drones and anti–drone technology.

Meanwhile, terrorist leaders in Russia have again threatened to terminate the agreement that allows the export of Ukrainian grain to world markets. The agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July freed cargoes stuck in blockaded and mined Ukrainian ports, reduced rising food prices and the threat of famine in some African and Asian countries, and averted the imminent migrant crisis in Europe.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that Russia agreed last month to extend the agreement for 60 days – instead of the 120 days set by the previous extension – to send a warning signal to the West.

"We made a small escalation step and offered to extend the agreement for only 60 days, assuming that if there is no change in the removal of obstacles to the export of Russian fertilisers and grain, we will consider whether the agreement is necessary," threatened the so–called diplomat of the terrorist state.

Food, energy sources, refugees, radical and extremist groups, strikes, family marches, information disseminated on social networks and even in some official media, nuclear blackmail, state officials bought or blackmailed, especially in defence and security structures, are all weapons of hybrid warfare in Moscow's hands.

The protests organised yesterday by Romanian and Bulgarian farmers, ostensibly to express their anger at the surplus of agricultural products from Ukraine, are precisely one of these weapons. Encouraged by the Kremlin and reinforced by fifth columnists, the farmers complain that Ukrainian agricultural products are flooding local markets and driving down prices.

Around 100 farmers have gathered in the Romanian capital Bucharest, while in neighbouring Bulgaria grain farmers have blocked some border crossings with agricultural machinery.

Liliana Piron, Executive Director of the Romanian League of Agricultural Producers' Associations, said during the protest in Bucharest that Romanian farmers "have reached a point where they feel they can no longer bear the costs" due to "unfair competition" from Ukraine. "With less than three months to go before the new harvest, there is a real risk that we will not be able to sell the produce we have prepared this season at prices above the cost of production," she said. "We will witness a chain of bankruptcies among Romanian farmers."

"If today's protest is not heard in Brussels, we will consider larger actions involving other countries that share the same opinion," said Ilija Prodanov, head of the Bulgarian Association of Cereal Growers. He added that 3.5 million tonnes of Bulgarian wheat and 1 million tonnes of Bulgarian sunflowers are currently stored in local warehouses.

But the winds of reality are drying the tears brought from the Kremlin and splashed on farmers' faces. Only last month, a decision was taken in Brussels to help Romanian, Bulgarian and Polish grain and cereal producers with a total compensation package of €56.3 million – €16.7 million for Bulgaria, almost €30 million for Poland and €10 million for Romania.

This money is not enough, the "impoverished" land grabbers whine. We know how hard they live, not only in Lithuania, but also in other EU countries, with hardly any taxes. Do you want social justice? Why not start with the 'poor' who own a thousand or more hectares of land?

Swedish prosecutors have stated that the state is most likely to blame for the explosions in the Nord Stream pipeline, which are considered sabotage. Sweden, which is investigating, wants to find out whether the blasts were staged on its territory. "We hope to be able to confirm who committed this crime", but "it should be noted that this is likely to be difficult given the circumstances", said prosecutor Ljungqvist.

"We do not rule out the possibility that non–state actors may have done it," Ljungqvist told the Swedish news agency TT. "But then we are dealing with a very small number of companies or groups. Given all the circumstances, our main (investigative) path is that the state is behind it."

The prosecutor's office has not given any preliminary indication of when the Swedish investigation will be concluded, or which state it believes orchestrated the terrorist attack.

Lithuania is demanding up to €120 million in compensation from Belarus, accusing the Lukashenko regime of organising the immigration of thousands of people, mainly from Africa and the Middle East. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had forwarded a diplomatic note to Belarus demanding compensation.

Lithuania has prevented a total of 20 000 migrants from Belarus from entering the country since mid–2021.

Operational level

Yesterday, at a mosque on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met Ukrainian Muslim soldiers to celebrate the Iftar, a dinner marking the end of the Ramadan fast, and to underline that Kyiv will not give up the Crimea, the historic homeland of the Crimean Tatars, an ethnic minority of the Crimean Tatars, who are a Muslim ethnic group. He noted that Russia's campaign against Ukraine began with the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and promised: "I am sure that where the path of evil has begun, victory awaits us. Victory against this evil. There is no alternative to the liberation of Crimea".

However, Andriy Sybiha, deputy chief of staff of President Zelensky's office, told the Financial Times on Wednesday that Kyiv would be ready to discuss the future of Crimea with Moscow if the Ukrainian offensive reached the peninsula.

This was contradicted the next day by his adviser M. Podoliak. "The basis for real negotiations with (Russia) is the full withdrawal of Russian armed groups beyond Ukraine's internationally recognised borders of 1991. Including Crimea", he said.

The lack of communication between Ukrainian officials in public shows that there is no strong consensus on Crimea internally. Statements are just words. Unsupported by action on the ground, they are empty air.

The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denis Shymkhal, plans to visit Canada. In an interview with the Canadian Globe and Mail, Mr Shmyhal said that during his visit he intends to seek ammunition and armoured vehicles for a counter–attack against the invading Russian forces.

In an interview, Mr Shmyhal said that he was not worried about the lack of new military aid to Ukraine in Canada's federal budget and hoped that the country would provide more support in addition to other forms of aid.

"What we need now is heavy armoured vehicles. And we need more artillery shells: ammunition for howitzers and ammunition for tanks," Shmyhal said. "This is crucial for organising our counter–offensive."

We have no doubt that there will be armoured vehicles, tanks, howitzers and ammunition. The armed Wallahs from Russia will be treated to a feast in Ukraine. An uninvited guest is not a guest for us or for Ukrainians. The rich feasting table for the marauders will be laden with death.

Tactical level

Seven people have been wounded in 24 hours in the partially occupied Kherson region of southern Ukraine, the region's governor, Oleksandr Prokudin, said on Friday. Russia has launched 46 attacks in the area, including seven against the regional capital, Kherson, with heavy artillery and missiles from fighter jets. Energy installations and residential buildings were damaged. A drone attack on the village of Zmiyevka injured six people.

A 10–year–old girl, a 3–year–old boy and a 30–year–old woman were wounded when Russian terrorists shelled the village of Stanislav, Andriy Yermak, Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine, said.

A 36–year–old resident of Beryslav, another town in Kherson region, was killed by Russian invaders.

In Ukraine's eastern Dnipro region, across the Dnieper river from the occupied and closed Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Russian artillery shells hit Nikopol and Marhanets, damaging power lines.

Four towns and villages were left without electricity after the Novhorod–Siversky district of the Chernigov region was shelled by Maskolya war criminals. Mortar fire damaged residential buildings in the town of Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region, close to the border with Russia. In the border village of Borysivka, a 39–year–old man was killed by Russian fascists.

The Ukrainian Air Force launched 9 air strikes against concentration points of occupying personnel and military equipment. Ukrainian defenders destroyed a Russian Su–25 fighter jet near Maryinka. The enemy also lost 7 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including 3 Orlan, 3 Lancet and 1 Merlin.

Ukrainian missile forces and artillery hit a Driski command post, 2 live fire sites and destroyed an ammunition depot.

Lithuania

As the weather warms up and the sun makes the eyes and skin of Vilnius citizens happy, the city is working hard.

No, not by fixing the craters on the roads that opened up after the winter.

It's cutting down dogwood and other trees near the streets. Instead of thinking about how to save the tree, they are thinking about how to harm political opponents.

It's maddeningly primitive – for some reason, many voters imagine that Mayor–elect Benkunskas works with Druzhba here.

We hasten to inform you that both the Mayor and the new Council will not be authorised to act until 26 April.

Photo: A Ukrainian soldier during an exercise in the Donetsk region [Genya Savilov/AFP]

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