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PATRUSHEV AND PUTIN HAD A LITTLE VODKA LAST NIGHT (16 03 2023)

Political strategic level

Signs of US anxiety and concern over its Russian drone strike over the Black Sea have faded. The Kremlin appeared to be getting longer, and Patrushev and Putin were last night stuffing vodka and washing it down with champagne.

With Washington instead of taking active steps to start a battle of words with Russia, Kremlin mouthpiece Dmitry Peskov declared that bilateral relations were "at their lowest point, in a very sorry state", but "at the same time Russia has never refused constructive dialogue and is not refusing it now".

Shortly afterwards, the Russian and US defence ministers had a phone call. After a brief conversation, the Russian Ministry of Defence issued a statement that Russia would try to find the remains of the drone. White House spokesman John Kirby insisted that the drone might never be found.

Russia, which is well versed in the criminal tactic of denial, has now once again denied attacking the drone and reiterated that it fell as a result of a "sudden manoeuvre". The head of Russia's foreign intelligence service, S. Naryshkin, said that the United States was "very active" in carrying out space, visual and radio reconnaissance in the region. "We know and understand in detail the United States' intelligence objectives, using technological means, and we are trying to identify the objects that are of most interest to them," he said in a video posted online.

The Russian ambassador to the United States reiterated that the US drone "deliberately and provocatively moved towards Russian territory with its transponders turned off". He stressed that "the unacceptable activity of the US military near our borders is a matter of concern" and accused the Americans of providing intelligence to Kiev. "They gather intelligence which is then used by the Kiev regime to strike our armed forces and territory", he said, implicitly confirming that Russia's actions in the drone strike were deliberate.

The result of all this bullshit was not only quite unexpected, but also truly regrettable. Ned Price, spokesman for the US State Department, suddenly declared that the crash of a US military surveillance drone into the Black Sea was probably an unintentional Russian act. "I think the best assessment right now is that it was probably an unintentional incident. It was probably the result of profound incompetence on the part of one of these Russian pilots," he said in an interview with MSNBC television.

We understand the reluctance to deepen the conflict for fear of nuclear consequences. We also understand that the terrorist tactics of blackmail and intimidation that Zhirinovsky told the Kremlin to follow are working well.

And we understand that war criminals and recidivists in Moscow have been given the green light, the incentive to go further. Their response, unfortunately, we are in no doubt whatsoever, will soon be seen.

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev met his Romanian counterpart in Sofia on Wednesday and the two neighbours and NATO allies signed a cooperation agreement aimed at strengthening bilateral ties in the wake of Russia's war in Ukraine.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis called Wednesday's meeting "an important moment for bilateral relations" and said the incident with the drone in the Black Sea was "serious and regrettable".

That is for sure.

At the same time, two friends who are awaiting the Hague Tribunal, the war criminals Führer Putin and the Syrian dictator Assad, met in Moscow. Mr Putin congratulated Mr Assad and stressed the "decisive contribution" of the Russian army in stabilising the country. Russia has been committing war crimes in Syria since September 2015 and still maintains a foothold in the war-torn country, deploying warplanes and so-called troops and naval ships in the Mediterranean.

As for the EU's foreign policy chief and chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, he has not been able to visit Israel and will not be able to do so. Israel's far-right government has announced that he is not welcome to visit after his critical comments on Israel's policy in the occupied West Bank.

Mr Borrell angered Israel by publishing an article last week which, according to Israeli officials, equated the victims of Palestinian attacks with militants killed in Israeli army operations.

"To be honest is to recognise that extremism is growing on both sides", the EU politician noted, drawing the ire of the Jewish state.



Turkish President Erdogan hints that his country may soon ratify Finland's application to join NATO. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is due to meet Mr Erdogan in Istanbul on Friday. Asked by journalists whether the Turkish Parliament could then ratify Finland's membership, Erdogan said: "God willing, if that is the best. Whatever the process, the process will work. We will do our part. We will keep our promise. We will meet the President on Friday and we will keep our promise", he said.

Russia and Belarus will compete in the Women's World Boxing Championships under their flags and national symbols. Athletes from both aggressor countries carried their national flags at the opening ceremony of the event in India on Wednesday. Athletes from Russia and its neighbour Belarus have been banned from many international competitions following the large-scale invasion of Ukraine by the terrorist states. In some sports in which they still compete, they do so without their national flags or anthems.

However, the International Boxing Association, headed by Russian businessman Umar Kremlev, lifted the sanctions on the two countries last year and allows their athletes to compete as normal.

Yes, yes, the world is getting back on track. Business as usual. With terrorists from Russia. Why not?

The UK Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Ukraine can go to court to avoid a €3 billion fine. Ukraine can seek to avoid repaying the USD 3 billion in loans it allegedly took out in 2013 under pressure from Russia to prevent it from trying to join the European Union.

The court rejected an application by a British company acting on behalf of Russia to order Ukraine to repay the loans without a trial. Ukraine says it borrowed the money because it was threatened with military force and subjected to massive illegal economic and political pressure for almost a decade before Russia invaded the country.

War is war, but Russia's debts must be repaid. As well as paying for gas, oil, grain and, from April 1, for the leadership of the UN Security Council. A fools' day joke, no other way. It is only Russia that is fooling the whole world here. Or rather, the world is being fooled.

Germany's defence minister has decided to replace the country's army chief with the current head of internal operations, the government said on Wednesday. Lieutenant General Carsten Breuer, who was previously appointed at the end of 2021 to lead a group of experts to advise officials on how to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, will replace General Eberhard Zorn, who has been in charge of the army since April 2018.

The Ministry of Defence did not specify the reason for this change, which comes as Germany seeks to modernise its army, the Bundeswehr, and improve its equipment. Some sources claim that this move by the new German Defence Minister, Boris Pistorius, is "entirely political".

Operational level

Yesterday, a meeting of the Contact Group on Defence Issues in Ukraine, the so-called "Ramstein-10", took place in Ramstein. At the meeting, which took place in a virtual format, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin reported that the number of countries committed to strengthening Ukraine's air defence system has increased. He also said that nine countries are to transfer more than 150 Leopard tanks to Ukraine, which will help Ukraine to form at least nine new armoured brigades. At the same time, he noted that the Allies are looking for an innovative solution to the problem of supplying ammunition to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Reacting to the agreements reached at the meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russian aggression is approaching the point where it can no longer be tolerated by the Kremlin. "Today was a fruitful international day for our country, for our defence. It was another Ramstein meeting, the tenth one. Ammunition for our troops, artillery, tanks, the protection of Ukraine's skies - all this was discussed. There is a solution", he said in a video message yesterday.

V. Zelensky also thanked his partners, in particular the US, which coordinates the Ramstein meetings, for their readiness to help Ukraine.

Canada announced that it would transfer 155 mm artillery ammunition and missiles for air defence systems to Ukraine. According to a statement by the Canadian Ministry of Defence, Minister Anita Anand announced at the Ramstein-10 virtual meeting that Canada will donate 8 000 pieces of 155 mm artillery ammunition and 12 air defence missiles from the Canadian Armed Forces stockpile in support of the air defence systems already in the possession of Ukraine's armed forces.

Meanwhile, Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles announced that her country would provide Ukraine with four more Leopard 2 tanks, in addition to the six previously promised. The first tanks are expected to be delivered "in the near future".

Meanwhile, the Swedish government has decided to bypass Spain and give Ukraine 10 German-made Leopard 2 tanks in the very near future. Stockholm is thus encouraging Kiev to start preparing for a counter-attack.

This is, of course, all very well. Tanks, artillery ammunition, air defence missiles. For the sake of clarity, we should say that, for example, 8 000 155 mm artillery shells will last the Ukrainian defenders for one and a half to two days, 12 air defence missiles will last for half an hour (in the event of a massive Russian air strike, Ukraine uses between 250 and 300 missiles of various types for its defence), and 14 tanks are the equivalent of one infantry brigade, or, to put it another way, a single tank company. But above all, it is important to understand that it is not the tanks or the artillery that are defending themselves, but the soldiers who are in control of those weapons. Without the man, without the soldier, the best armaments are just a piece of metal.

Tactical level

Over the past day, armed Wallahs from Russia have launched 75 attacks on the eastern front.

In the face of resistance from the Ukrainian defence forces, the Russian Federation continues to use terror tactics against the Ukrainian civilian population, and has not stopped striking and shelling populated areas.

Over the past day, the enemy has launched 3 rocket and 9 air strikes and 79 salvoes of fire. The civil infrastructure of the city of Kharkiv has been particularly affected.

The likelihood of further enemy missile strikes across Ukraine remains high.

The Ukrainian Air Force has hit 16 times the concentration areas of the occupying forces' personnel and military equipment. The defenders shot down an enemy Su-25 aircraft and 13 unmanned aerial vehicles of various types. Rocket and artillery units struck a command post, 3 areas of concentration of enemy personnel and military equipment, as well as a radar station, an electronic warfare station and an anti-aircraft missile complex in firing position 2 times.

The Russian Marauders, recovering from several highly successful Ukrainian counter-attacks at Bakhmut, yesterday moved from Dubrovo-Vasilyivka in the direction of Hyrhorivka, supported by aviation and artillery. The aim of this offensive is probably to bypass Bohdanivka and Kalynivka, where the defenders are very well entrenched, and to cut off the supporting and reserve forces by blocking the Chasiv Yar in the north and east, in order to be able to attempt to close the ring around Bakhmut with renewed vigour in the near future. This Russian course of action is confirmed by the hurricane artillery fire, which did not cease for a moment, on the lost section of road H-32. This road is crucial for the support from Chasiv Yar.

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Pictured here is a Ukrainian soldier near Bakhmut armed with a Soviet Igla anti-aircraft gun. Source: apnews.com

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