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POPE FRANCIS CALLS FOR AN END TO ALL WARS (09/04/2023)

Political strategic level


Political life in Europe was quiet on the Saturday before Easter. Presidents and heads of institutions, government leaders and losers, did not wander around the media, climb on their shoes and show the world pictures with fake smiles. Loud statements for headlines were postponed until next week.

Pope Francis, at Saturday evening's vigil Mass in St Peter's Basilica, invited the world's Catholics to celebrate Easter by condemning the "icy winds of war" and other injustices. Earlier, Francis, 86, skipped Friday night's outdoor event because of unusually cold temperatures in Rome. Doctors told him to be careful because the head of the Catholic Church was hospitalised last week for bronchitis.

During the Mass, Francis spoke of the bitterness, horror and frustration felt by many today. "We can feel helpless and frustrated in the face of the power of evil, the conflicts that disrupt relationships, the attitudes of calculation and indifference that seem to prevail in society, the cancer of corruption, the spread of injustice, the icy winds of war", he said.

Francis delivered his homily in a strong and confident voice, saying that even when people feel that the wellspring of hope has dried up, it is important not to freeze in a sense of defeat, but to strive for an "inner resurrection" with God's help.

Following the Pontiff's call for an end to all wars, China has begun three days of military exercises around Taiwan. Beijing is demonstrating its displeasure at Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's meeting in California with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own and does not rule out the use of force to achieve its goals, will carry out "combat readiness patrols" until 10 April, the communist leadership of the People's Liberation Army said in a brief statement on Saturday.

The exercise, dubbed "Joint Sharp Sword", involves various Chinese forces in the Taiwan Strait to the north and south of the island, as well as in the sea and airspace to the east of it.

"This is a serious warning to Taiwan's independence separatist forces and to the conspiracies and provocations of external forces, and a necessary action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," the Chinese Communist Party of China (CCP)'s Beguhemians said.

Taiwan's Ministry of Defence said it was monitoring the situation and would respond appropriately to protect the island's security. But Taiwan is less prepared for war than Ukraine and will not survive without direct US intervention, says Republican Michael McCaul, head of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. The US will engage in combat operations against China if Beijing tries to seize Taiwan by force, he said.

The CIA has warned that its analysts predict that Beijing intends to invade Taiwan in 2027.

Tensions are also rising between the two countries. In recent months, disagreements between Iran and Azerbaijan have become an almost weekly occurrence. The latest diplomatic incident took place when Azerbaijan expelled four Iranian diplomats for "provocative actions" which it did not name, while the Iranian Foreign Ministry promised to take "diplomatic countermeasures". In addition, Azerbaijan arrested six of its own citizens who were accused of having links with Iranian secret services and of plotting a coup in the Caspian Sea country. This was the latest in a series of arrests in recent months and Baku links all the suspects to Tehran.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, a close ally of Iran's historical rival Turkey, blamed Tehran for the terrorist attack at the end of January. During the attack, a man stormed the Azerbaijani embassy in the capital, killing its head of security and injuring others.

Azerbaijan also criticises Iran for allegedly supporting Armenia in the decades-long conflict over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

On the other hand, Iran, which is home to millions of Turkic-speaking ethnic Azeris, has long accused Azerbaijan of fomenting separatist sentiment on its north-western border.

Amid the smoke and sparks of war, NATO is planning to hold the largest air exercises in its history. The multinational exercise, which will focus on operational and tactical level field training, will take place in Germany, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia from 12-23 June, according to the US National Guard. Some 23 different types of 220 aircraft will take part in the exercise. "Air Defender '23 will be the largest Air Force deployment exercise since NATO was established in 1949.

"Air Defender '23 brings together the US and Germany strategically. "The exercise will not only test our interoperability in working together, but also our ability to rapidly deploy and deploy coalition air power," commented US Air Force Lieutenant General Michael A. Loh.

Operational level

Ivan Tymoshko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian army, says that the offensive of the Russian occupiers has stalled and that the Drisky forces are not making any progress in any direction.

He said that the pace of shelling in Bakhmut and several other parts of the front line has significantly decreased, and in some areas the front line has stopped altogether. At the same time, the offensive at Avdiivka, which the enemy has chosen as a new "target" instead of Bakhmut, "sank". In addition, the Russian army is unsuccessfully trying to take control of Maryinka, although the town has been practically destroyed.

The occupiers are trying to make some headway, but their lack of combat power and manpower is compensated by artillery fire.

Analysts at the Centre for War Studies report that the Russian military command has decided to stop the daily issue of ammunition in those areas of the front where active offensive operations have almost ceased.

Meanwhile, the motivation of the Ukrainian defenders to liberate their country is growing, as is the preparation for a powerful offensive in the near future.

In his customary address, Ukrainian President V. Zelensky referred to the Lithuanian Parliament's decision to seek Ukraine's invitation to join NATO at the Alliance summit in Vilnius and said that this would continue in the coming weeks and months.

"Only together with Ukraine will the Alliance be able to guarantee a real protection of Europe against any encroachment on people's lives, on existing borders, on the rule-based international order. And without Ukraine, it is hard to imagine longevity", said the Ukrainian Head of State in his evening address.

Tactical level

As the Russians have depleted their missile stockpiles, the number of missiles fired is decreasing. In the past day, the enemy fired 4 missiles, but 40 air strikes and 58 salvoes of fire, destroying civilian infrastructure.

In Zaporizhzhya, Ukrainians report civilian casualties after mortars struck a residential building.

Terrorists from the Mascoliya carried out more than 50 attacks in the vicinities of Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka.

The Russian occupiers continue to reinforce the counter-intelligence and police regime in the temporarily occupied territory of Kherson region. Raids are being carried out in the Gornostayev district to check the personal phones of local residents for photos and video footage, as well as for "forbidden" content. During such checks, the occupiers record the personal data of the local population and selectively search their homes.

In the Kremina-Siversky area, Ukrainian forces have launched three counter-attacks. From Verkhnekamenka, the Drisks attacked in the direction of Serebryanka, to the north-west at Kremina, but were shot in the ear. From Kremina, the Chmobiks, who had rushed from the south-west towards Dobrovka, ambushed the Ukrainians and retreated back after being shot in the ribs from the side. At the same time, an Orkish unit moving towards Serebryanka, south of Kremina, got lost among the orders of the General Balvons, was hit directly in the forehead by artillery fire and was almost destroyed. The scattered remnants retreated in the direction of Kreminos.

Lithuania

After yesterday's egg dyeing, Lithuanians celebrate Easter today.

The egg is a symbol of life, fertility and fruitfulness. Eating an egg painted with different patterns is believed to increase its powers and make people healthier and more energetic.

The most common symbol of the Easter egg is the sun.

Although Easter is a religious Christian holiday, it is still quite pagan in the Lithuanian mind.

Pictured here is an antiwar graffiti from the centre of St Petersburg, Russia. "Forgive them, for they know not what they do" - the words of Christ on the cross.

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