RUSSIA RESPONDS TO UNITED NATIONS' CALLS FOR AN END TO WAR WITH A HAIL OF MISSILES (16 02 2023)
Political strategic level
The European Union on Wednesday circulated a resolution to be voted on in the UN General Assembly next week on the eve of the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It calls for an end to hostilities and a peace that guarantees Ukraine's "sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity".
The resolution was requested by Ukraine. One year after the Russian invasion, the invaded country is seeking strong support from the international community for peace in Ukraine under the UN Charter, which calls for the peaceful settlement of disputes and declares that all parties must refrain "from the threat or use of force".
The General Assembly remains the only UN body still theoretically functioning, as the Security Council, which is supposed to maintain international peace and security, is hostage to Russia. The Assembly's resolutions have no legal force like the Council's resolutions, but they are important as a reflection of world opinion.
The first resolution, adopted eight days after the Russian invasion on 24 February last year, demanded an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russian troops. It was approved by 141 votes to none, with 35 abstentions and 5 votes against. A second resolution, adopted three weeks later, blamed Russia for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and called for the protection of the civilian population, their homes and the infrastructure essential to their survival. It was adopted by 140 votes to none, with 38 abstentions and 5 votes against.
The resolution of 12 October condemned Russia's "attempted illegal annexation" of four regions of Ukraine and demanded its immediate withdrawal. 143 UN members voted in favour, 5 against and 35 abstentions, as usual.
The other two resolutions, suspending Russia's membership of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and calling for Russia to be held accountable for its violation of international law in its invasion of Ukraine, including reparations for the damage caused and for the deaths and injuries sustained, were voted for by 93 and 94 UN Member States respectively.
World opinion is very clear, but as always, humanity is powerless to stop the destructive forces created by its part. Whether it is war, the unrestrained destruction of nature, plastic pollution, irreversible climate change, the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction, the intelligent person can only watch with great compassion.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday urged the 30 member countries to commit to spending at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defence by a set date, as Russia's war in Ukraine and other threats squeeze military spending. Back in 2014, following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, NATO allies agreed to allocate 2% of GDP to their defence budgets by 2024.
"What is clear is that if it was the right thing to commit to 2% in 2014, it is even more the right thing to do now, because we live in a more dangerous world," Stoltenberg told reporters as he chaired a meeting of NATO defence ministers for the first high-level discussion on the issue.
According to the latest figures, only 10 Alliance countries are close to reaching or exceeding the 2% benchmark. Thirteen are spending around 1.5% or less.
This is because many NATO allies see no real threat to them. Even in Lithuania, some so-called politicians, even now, are publicly crowing that Russia has been provoked, that is to say, it has annexed the Crimea, it has sacked the Donbass and it has launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, and that it is no threat to Lithuania. And no, you are wrong if you think that they are working for Moscow: they are too stupid to be hired by the Kremlin to do Judas' work.
According to the latest data from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German think-tank, between 24 January and 20 November 2022. At least €75.2 billion in financial, humanitarian and military aid has been provided by NATO members. The US has pledged the most - €47.8 billion - to Ukraine, of which €22.9 billion is for military aid. Military aid includes weapons, equipment and financial assistance to the Ukrainian army.
The United Kingdom is the second largest NATO member, with €7.1 billion pledged to Ukraine, and Germany is third with €5.4 billion. Poland is fifth after Canada with €3 billion, while Lithuania is 16th out of 30 Alliance members with at least €260 million pledged. Latvia is above with €310 million, followed by Estonia and Portugal with pledges of €340 million. Non-NATO members Sweden and Finland have pledged €810 million and €310 million respectively.
The European Union is considering the possibility of imposing new sanctions totalling EUR 11 billion on Russia and on certain third countries that supply vital goods that Moscow uses to keep its hordes alive in the war with Ukraine.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that the package being discussed by the 27 EU Member States is specifically aimed at depriving Russia of military equipment it needs and cannot get anywhere else. It includes proposals to impose sanctions on seven Iranian entities in order to prevent Russia from using Iranian drones to strike Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.
The proposals tabled by Mrs von der Leyen focus on additional electronic weapons components for equipment such as drones, missiles, helicopters and thermal cameras. She mentioned some of the measures at the EU-Ukraine summit earlier this month.
If EU members unanimously agree to the proposals, "we will ban all technical products found on the battlefield", said Ms von der Leyen.
One year on. That's how long it took for EU Member States, especially those like Hungary, to start considering sanctioning products that Russia needs to commit genocide in Ukraine. A nice, but very small, anniversary. Let us light a solitary candle, dear friends.
A new poll by The Associated Press-NORC shows that US public support for arms and direct economic aid to Ukraine has declined as we approach the grim one-year stage of the Russian invasion.
48% of respondents are in favour of the US providing arms to Ukraine, 29% are opposed, and 22% are neither in favour nor opposed. In May 2022, not even three months into the war, 60% of US adults said they supported sending arms to Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden is going to Poland next week to commemorate the first anniversary of the biggest conflict in Europe since the Second World War, to show that talk of some kind of war fatigue is just that - talk.
Unfortunately, the survey data clearly show otherwise.
On Wednesday, the UN humanitarian and refugee agencies announced that they are seeking USD 5.6 billion to help millions of people in Ukraine and in countries that have taken in Ukrainians fleeing since the Russian invasion began almost a year ago.
The bulk of the total appeal - $3.9 billion - is for refugees in the EU. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which aims to help more than 11 million people by channeling funds through more than 650 partner organisations. Meanwhile, the refugee agency UNHCR is seeking $1.7 billion to help some 4.2 million refugees who have fled to 10 host countries in Eastern and Central Europe.
This is one of the largest appeals of its kind for a single country since the start of the war. UN humanitarian appeals rarely receive the funding they request.
Russian forces said on Wednesday that Moscow's invasion of Ukraine was gathering momentum almost a year after it began, while Ukraine said it needed a few more months to mount its offensive.
Russian artillery, drones and missiles have been hitting Ukrainian-held territories in the east of the country relentlessly for months. Civilian targets have been indiscriminately targeted and infrastructure destroyed as the pace has slowed down substantially and the offensive has reached a stalemate. After months of setbacks, Moscow needs at least a small victory on the anniversary.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikoff says his country's forces need "a few months" to learn how to use the new Western weapons before they can try to drive the Russians out of Ukraine.
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions continue to take the brunt of Russian bombing raids, and Moscow is redeploying more and more troops to the region.
However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is confident that any Russian attempts to seize the initiative on the battlefield will be thwarted.
"We need to make a spring that really feels like Ukraine is moving towards victory. This is about training our defence forces, providing our state with weapons and our strategic initiative in the war. Any attempt by Russia to seize the initiative must be stopped. And I am confident that we will do so", the Head of State said in a video address yesterday.
The President recalled the heavy losses suffered by the enemy and expressed his conviction that throughout Russia it will soon be difficult to find e.g. "marines".
His words are confirmed by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which notes that since the start of the large-scale war, Russia has lost about 50% of its pre-war fleet of modern T-72B3 and T-72B3M tanks. In addition, the enemy has significantly depleted its stock of cruise missiles and Russian aviation has also suffered losses.
Despite these comforting words, this morning Russia again hit Ukraine with missiles. This is the terrorists' response to the promise of the West to increase military aid to the Ukrainian armed forces so that they can begin the planned liberation of the occupied territories sooner. Ukrainian officials said that air defences in the south had shot down eight Kalibr missiles fired from ships in the Black Sea, but other missiles hit northern and western Ukraine, as well as the central regions of Dnipro and Kirovograd.
The Romanian Ministry of Defence reported that it had sent two NATO-led fighter jets to the south-eastern skies of the country to search for an aerial object described as small and "similar in characteristics to a weather balloon". It was detected by radar systems in Romanian airspace at an altitude of around 11 000 metres on Tuesday.
"The crews of both aircraft did not confirm the presence of the aerial target either visually or on the radars of the aircraft," the ministry said in a statement, adding that both MiG-21 LanceR aircraft stayed in the vicinity for about 30 minutes and returned to base.
However, the military administration in the Ukrainian capital reported that six Russian balloons were indeed spotted over Kyiv and most of them were shot down. Officials did not specify when they flew over the capital, although air raid alerts were issued in the city on Wednesday.
"According to the now clarified information, these were balloons moving in the air driven by wind," the military administration wrote on the Telegram messaging app. "The purpose of the balloon launches may have been to detect and exploit our air defence munitions."
Pavlohrad was particularly affected by the Russo-fascist drone and missile attack overnight. The shelling damaged an industrial plant, destroyed seven private houses and damaged 30 others. One person was killed and at least seven others were injured.
During the previous day, the occupiers launched 3 rocket and 18 air strikes, as well as 52 anti-aircraft missile attacks.
The Ukrainian Defence Forces repelled enemy attacks in the vicinity of more than 15 settlements.
In Crimea's Simferopol, a local "Blood Centre" started mass blood collection from civilians. Propaganda is also being actively pursued to involve as many people as possible in blood donations, in view of the heavy losses and injuries suffered by the Russian occupiers on all fronts of the war. Additional blood transfusion stations are being opened in Rostov, Belgorod and Voronezh regions.
Over the past day, the Ukrainian Air Force has launched 11 air strikes against Russian troop and equipment concentrations and 5 air strikes against Russian anti-aircraft missile systems. A Russian Ka-52 attack helicopter was shot down.
Ukrainian rocket and artillery forces attacked 2 enemy headquarters, 6 Russian troop concentration points and 2 ammunition depots.
Today, 16 February, Lithuania celebrates its Independence Day. Fighting on three fronts, we have given our lives to all those who have attacked our restored country. We will do it again if necessary. Let us help our Ukrainian sisters and brothers as much as we can.
Photo: Pavlograd under fire tonight.
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