Ukraine is preparing for a short war and a victory because the Kremlin will never succeed in taking the country. This is what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with the Italian media. "The Russians have not yet realised that we are stronger now than we were a year ago and they will never succeed in taking over Ukraine as they hoped", the President said.
"We are preparing for a short war and our victory. The sooner it comes, the fewer casualties we will have. The conflict was frozen in 2014 and it did not help. The Minsk agreements gave Putin time to prepare for an offensive and we will not fall into the same trap again. Ukrainian soldiers are more motivated because they are defending their families, their homes", said Mr Zelensky.
There is no doubt that the Ukrainian army is now the strongest in Europe and is proving it every day on the battlefield. But we need to be realistic. Without the support of Western countries, without weapons and ammunition, without the huge monthly financial injections from the EU and the US to keep Ukraine's economy alive, without the constant diplomatic efforts of Lithuania and the other countries of the Baltic Sea region, the terrorists from Russia would already be screaming at our windows and scratching around our doors. It is therefore fair to say that Ukraine, with the support of its allies, is preparing for victory. And then it is necessary to clarify so that we all have the same idea of what that victory is. Languages are languages, but the picture on the map is obvious and undeniable. Not to mention the cemetery of Ukrainian soldiers.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told The Associated Press news agency on Sunday that the war cannot end with a peace agreement that would divide Ukraine and not hold Moscow accountable. She insisted that, once the war in Ukraine is over, Russia should be tried for war crimes and for its decision to invade a neighbouring country if it is to have any chance of establishing normal relations with the West.
"I don't think there can be any normal relations with a peripheral state that hasn't really abandoned its imperialist goals," she said on the sidelines of a major security conference in Munich. "If we do not learn from this lesson and prosecute crimes of aggression, war crimes will simply continue."
Kallas noted that the Nuremberg trials prosecuted Nazi crimes after the Second World War, while no post-Cold War tribunal was established to prosecute Soviet crimes, including the mass deportations of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians during the five-decade Soviet occupation.
We stand and bow our grey heads in applause. This is coming from a man who is not afraid of the bandit and the terrorist, who sees that the only way forward is the deconstruction and trial of Russia and the Bolshevik-Communist element. But this requires an unquestionable victory, a victory that will shatter the Russian hordes.
Without the direct intervention of the NATO countries, it may not happen. That is why we welcome the initiative of the Chairman of the Lithuanian NSCG, L. Kasčiūnas, (which is not endorsed by the MoD), to send reservists to Ukraine to act as trainers in order to help Ukraine in its struggle for European security. This would be a first small step on a long road.
However, some NATO countries do not see the need not only to send troops to defend themselves against Russia's global state terrorism, but also to increase their defence spending.
Saskia Esken, co-leader of Germany's ruling Social Democrats (SPD), is sceptical about NATO's target of 2% of GDP for each member state's defence spending. She says she has always wondered whether such a calculation is "fair". Esken expressed scepticism about efforts by Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, also of the SPD, to increase defence spending in next year's budget.
"Ten billion euros (more) is a lot of money", she was quoted as saying.
Germany's defence budget for 2023 is around €50 billion, well below €75 billion, or 2% of GDP.
Meanwhile, China, after almost a year of bloody battles and Russia's large-scale aggression in Ukraine, seems to be trying to find ways to supply arms to the Russofascists. According to US intelligence, China is considering supplying arms and ammunition to Russia, which would be a "serious problem", said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Mr Blinken said the United States has long been concerned that China might supply arms to Russia. He pointed to Chinese leader Xi Jinping's promise to Russian President Vladimir Putin of an "unlimited partnership" when they met just weeks before Putin sent his hordes into Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Since then, ties between the two countries have only grown stronger.
"We have been watching this very, very closely. And for the most part, China is engaged in providing rhetorical, political, diplomatic support to Russia, but we have information that concerns us that they are considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine", Blinken said in an interview shown on Sunday, a day after his meeting at the Munich Security Conference with Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party's top foreign policy official.
"It was important for me to share very clearly with Wang Yi that this would be a serious problem," Blinken said.
We would suggest that China is playing a double game. On the one hand, it wants to weaken the US and Western Europe, which are traditionally China's old rivals. On the other hand, it wants to marginalise Russia and take its Siberia. Could it be that the Chinese Communists see Russia's imminent crushing on the battlefield? It is very possible. That is why supplying arms and ammunition to the Russo-fascists is, in China's view, the right move in order to achieve its objectives - a weak Russia, a weak Alliance and, of course, a weakened USA.
This development in geopolitics, the macroeconomic and global security architecture involved is particularly worrying for Taiwan. Perhaps that is why today a delegation of US legislators met with the head of the Taiwanese legislature for a five-day visit. The delegation, which arrived on Sunday, is made up of Members of the House of Representatives Ro Khanna from California, Tony Gonzales from Texas, Jake Auchincloss from Massachusetts and Jonathan Jackson from Illinois.
They are expected to meet President Tsai Ing-wen and business representatives. "Our efforts to come here are by no means a provocation by China, but are in line with the President's foreign policy, which recognises the importance of relations with, for example, Taiwan, while still striving to ultimately bring peace to the region," said Khanna.
However, in addition to the officially named US officials, there seems to be one more guest - US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for China Michael Chase. A Pentagon spokesman did not comment on his visit, reiterating that "our commitment to Taiwan is strong and helps maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region". Taiwan's foreign ministry also said it had no information about such a visit.
As a reminder, tensions between the US and China have increased again after Washington accused Beijing of sending a spy balloon that was shot down over America's east coast and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken cancelled his trip to Beijing.
Will China remain rational, cold and calculating? So far, the facts suggest yes. But things can change very quickly - human stupidity is infinite, and the danger of stupid behaviour is that it cannot be predicted.
No fundamental changes.
Ukrainian forces are inflicting "extremely heavy" losses on Russian invaders near the town of Vuhledar and the besieged town of Bakhmut will continue to be defended, but "not at any cost", Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday, commenting on the fighting in the eastern Donbass region.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials urged members of the US Congress to press President Joe Biden's administration to send F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv. According to lawmakers, these aircraft would increase Ukraine's ability to strike Russian missile units with US-made missiles.
"They told us they want (F-16s) to suppress enemy air defences so they can get their drones out" behind the Russian front line, Senator Mark Kelly, a former astronaut who flew US Navy fighter jets in combat, told Reuters on Saturday evening.
Biden administration officials interviewed on Sunday said the United States should focus on supplying weapons that could be used immediately on the battlefield, rather than fighter jets that require lengthy training.
However, the US is, or will be, likely to consider increasing its forces in Poland. And, one hopes, in Lithuania. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday that during Biden's upcoming visit to Warsaw he and the US President will discuss the possibility of increasing the US troop presence in Poland and making it permanent.
"We are discussing with the President's administration the possibility of making their (troops') presence permanent and increasing it," Morawiecki said. "I am also very grateful for the sending of new Patriot systems and other very modern weapons and ammunition, because in a way this is also a substitute for the presence of troops, but of course these two things go together", he said.
Joe Biden will visit Poland on 20-22 February, the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. Ahead of the invasion on 24 February 2022, the United States has reinforced its troop presence in Poland and currently has around 11,000 rotational personnel there.
Joe Biden will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Eastern European allies and talk about Ukraine, but does not intend to travel to neighbouring Ukraine, according to the White House.
And we urge our President, if he hears us, to make every possible and impossible effort to ensure that Patriot and the US base are located in Lithuania. Not bunkers, but an air surveillance system with precision missile defence is the basis for the security of Lithuanian citizens. And, of course, US troops. The more the better.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that French leader Emmanuel Macron is wasting his time considering any dialogue with Russia. This was in response to Macron's suggestion that Russia should be "defeated but not crushed" and that the conflict in Ukraine should be resolved through negotiations.
"It will be a useless dialogue. Mr Macron is really wasting his time. I have come to the conclusion that we are incapable of changing Russia's attitude", Mr Zelensky told an Italian daily.
"If they have decided to isolate themselves with the dream of recreating the old Soviet empire, there is nothing we can do. It is up to them to decide whether or not to cooperate with the community of nations on the basis of mutual respect."
Mr Macron himself, rather unexpectedly, called on the allies to increase their military support to Ukraine. In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, he also said that he did not believe in regime change, that the chances of a democratic solution on the part of Russian civil society were slim and that there was no alternative to bringing Putin back to the negotiating table.
Wow! Is this the same French President, or was he replaced by someone when he spoke to Russian Führer Putin on the telephone? Someone take away Monsieur Macron's phone and he will be a great leader.
The Russian Federation continues to carry out large-scale armed aggression against Ukraine. The enemy has not stopped destroying key infrastructure, and continues to strike, with artillery shelling of civilian objects and civilian homes.
Over the past day, the Russo-fascists have fired 10 rockets and 25 air strikes (in Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhya). 62 shelling attacks were carried out with rocket fire systems. Civilians were injured and killed.
The threat of strikes by the Russian Federation remains high throughout Ukraine.
The enemy continues to concentrate its efforts on attacks in the directions of Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Shakhtar.
At Bakhmut, the Russians are pushing a ring around the town, but are unable to take control of the H-32 section of the road between Chasiv Yar and Bakhmut and M-03. The latter section of the road from Bakhmut to the north-west has become a front line: to the north of it, the Russians control Krasna Hora. From Pidhorodna, which is occupied by the Drisksis, the Russians are trying to cross the M-03 road in waves of infantry. The likely task is the storming of Jahidne and the control of the junction M-03 and T-05-13. Troops on the ground report that they have already repelled several such attacks by the Marauders. According to the defenders, the losses to the occupiers this night alone could exceed 50 killed and 200 wounded.
The Russian occupiers are exerting all kinds of pressure on the civilian population in the temporarily occupied territories. Ukrainian citizens suspected of collaborating with the defence forces and for taking a pro-Ukrainian stance are being illegally detained in separate settlements in Kherson region.
During the past day, Ukrainian Defence Forces aviation struck 20 strikes in areas of concentration of occupying personnel and military equipment, 7 air missile complexes in firing positions, and 2 more strikes on other important enemy targets.
The Ukrainians shot down an enemy Su-25 aircraft, 2 Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicles and 2 Lancet-3 unmanned kamikazes.
Rocket troops and artillery units struck an enemy volley rocket fire battery.
Today, Ukraine honours the memory of the Hundred Heroes of the Skies. It is a reminder of the high cost of freedom for Ukrainians and the values for which they fight. Then, at the turn of 2013-2014, Ukrainians made their civic choice.
AP/Emilio Morenatti photo: A Ukrainian woman in front of a house destroyed by Russian terrorists.
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