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RUSSIA WORRIES ABOUT EXPECTED UKRAINIAN COUNTER-ATTACK (25 03 2023)

Political strategic level

Putin's replacement, Dmitry Medvedev, has stated that Russia wants demilitarised zones around annexed regions. It is necessary to "throw out all the foreigners who are there in the broadest sense, to create a buffer zone that would not allow the use of any kind of weaponry operating at medium and short range, that is, 70-100 km, to demilitarise it", the drunkard explains, threatening that if such zones were not created, Russia would have to push further into Ukraine, to occupy Kyiv or even Lviv. Medvedev also says that Russia has no plans to engage in direct conflict with NATO.

In other words, Moscow is proposing a very clear 'peace plan': to give Russia Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and some other unclear areas, and to draw Ukrainian troops within 100 km of them. In return, they offer... nothing.

The Chinese dictator's visit to Putin has raised more questions than answers for some, and for others it has brightened the mood. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, for example, said that China's voice must be listened to if the war is to end and Ukraine is to regain its territorial integrity. French President Emmanuel Macron also welcomed the Chinese plan. He is due to visit Beijing next month, together with the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

Macron's bluster is justified only in the context of a visit to Beijing. Otherwise, it can be said that Paris has lost all ability to 'read Russia'.

In this context, the statement by the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, that the determination of Ukraine's future (!) borders can be done by diplomatic means, is very important. At the same time, Mr Blinken acknowledged that the Ukrainian army can reclaim all of its internationally recognised territory.

What does this ambiguous statement mean? That Ukraine can, but cannot, recover its territories? And what do future borders mean? It is possible that the White House has understood (and so have we) Putin's and Jinping's statement that the war in Ukraine is the fault of NATO, the expansion of the alliance and the sanctions against Russia. In other words, Xi, in a joint statement, has demonstrated that he supports Russia's ultimatum to NATO not only to halt its expansion, but also to return to the geopolitical framework of 1997. Russia's ultimatum to the West before the invasion (which many have forgotten) was precisely a demand to pull NATO out of Eastern Europe and to withdraw the US military contingent from Europe.

Another key moment was the Kremlin's nuclear threats and blackmail the day after Xi's visit. It is possible that Jinping promised to turn a blind eye to nuclear blackmail and to the use of a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

Beijing has probably also promised military support, which has swelled the bloated torsos and whetted the appetites of the Kremlin's aged thugs. Russia may have diplomatic support from Beijing and partial military support for all its planned actions, which means that Ukraine and the West are in for a difficult period. Or at least that is the impression that is being given. A hasty attempt to regain the occupied territories by force is unfortunately unlikely to succeed today. Another move is needed, using non-standard means. Washington will undoubtedly play a key role in this. That is probably what these ambiguous words from the US Secretary of State mean.

The air force chiefs of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark say they have signed a letter of intent to create a unified Nordic air defence force to fight Russia. According to statements by the four countries' armed forces, they plan joint operations based on NATO standards. The Nordic navies and air forces are impressive: Norway has 57 F-16 fighter jets and 37 F-35 fighter jets. Finland has 62 F/A-18 Hornet fighters and 64 F-35s on order, while Denmark has 58 F-16s and 27 F-35s on order. Sweden has more than 90 Gripen fighters.

This is a welcome and very right step, enabling allies to respond with lightning speed to local and global threats. It would be nice to see our national politicians doing something similar, for example, by forming a coalition of the Baltic States together with future NATO members. Nordefco + Baltics with Poland and the UK would be really cool, especially if it is not just on paper. So far, no such bold initiatives are in sight and we continue to slumber in the political cradle of the NATO baby. Seeing us sleeping, the US generals are already trying to wake up the political top, which, let us face it, seems strange.

In accordance with the Geneva Convention, Ukraine unilaterally carried out a humanitarian action and handed over to Russia all the severely wounded occupiers whose condition allowed their transport. Meanwhile, the aggressor state is still holding thousands of Ukrainian citizens hostage, including the seriously ill and injured, civilians, children and women, the elderly, and those who were captured by Russia before the large-scale invasion began.

The UN accuses the forces of both countries - Ukraine and Russia - of carrying out executions and expresses concern about reports of war crimes in Ukraine. Matilda Bogner, head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, reports that the organisation has recorded executions by both sides. "We are deeply concerned about the executions (of 25 Russian prisoners of war and individuals) by the Ukrainian armed forces that we have documented," said Ms Bogner. The Vagner mercenary group is allegedly responsible for 11 extrajudicial executions.

A UN report published yesterday said that Ukrainian soldiers had threatened prisoners of war with death, simulated executions or threatened sexual violence. Some beatings were "purely retaliatory", the report said. Ukrainian prisoners of war alleged torture and sexual violence by Moscow forces and denial of food, water and medical care.

We understand how you are upset by such 'concerns', where the victim is equated with the executioner, which reminds us, as it were, of the post-war 'partisans and Strybians were all the same' statements. However, we must accept, with gritted teeth, the rules of international law that oblige us to detain, wash, feed and nurse an intruder who invades a house to kill and rape.

The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has adopted a resolution that will significantly speed up the development and delivery of indigenous unmanned aerial vehicles to the frontline forces. Mass production of drones has been launched, which will significantly accelerate the development and delivery of indigenous drones to the front line.

The EU's plans to confiscate $350 billion of Russian assets are unprecedented and complex, says the head of the EU task force. Swedish diplomat Anders Ahnlid says that "nothing is simple" when it comes to finding the huge sums of money to be diverted to the reconstruction of Ukraine. There are mountains of assets, from oligarchs' yachts to the Russian Central Bank's foreign reserves, but it is extremely difficult to take them all over in a legal way.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said yesterday that Chinese President Xi Jinping should now talk to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after his visit to Russia. "We think it goes without saying that we need to talk not only to the Russian president but also to the Ukrainian president," Scholz told an EU conference in Brussels.

Our belief is that Xi may call Zelensky just "for the sake of appearances". After having blessed Putin's war and the massacre of Ukrainians, after having condemned the military support for Ukraine, the Chinese dictator has nothing more to say.

The Kremlin has welcomed Denmark's invitation to Gazprom to repair the Nord Stream pipe and investigate the causes of the explosion. "It is certainly positive news when the owner of the pipeline is invited to participate in very important stages of the investigation," Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin's fairy-tale spokesman, cheered.

Operational level

Kyiv is preparing for a counter-attack.

The Ukrainian army is reportedly preparing for a counter-attack after months of defensive campaign while Russia is still seeking to seize the eastern part of the city of Bakhmut. Oleksandr Syrsky, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Land Forces, says that Wagner's mercenaries are "losing a lot of strength" and "are running out of steam". The group has been at the forefront of the Russian offensives in the east and south.

The Ukrainian General Staff said in a report yesterday that the Russian offensive against the towns of Lyman, Avdiivka, Maryinka and Shakhtarsk was unsuccessful. However, Moscow's main focus was on Bakhmut.

The Russian media and war crimes analysts are awaiting the Ukrainian offensive with great anxiety. And although the military leadership assures that the Russian General Staff is preparing countermeasures, it is doubtful whether there are sufficient forces not only for offence but also for defence.

The Horde is storming Avdiivka with all its might. In this way, the armed wallahs are seeking to cut off Ukrainian supply lines, which would allow the marauders to move towards other Ukrainian strongholds in the eastern Donetsk region.

Yesterday, a British Boeing RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft was spotted over the Black Sea. It is accompanied by two British Eurofighter Typhoon fighters. The British Ministry of Defence has not yet commented on the move.

Tactical level

The terrorist Russian state yesterday carried out 50 air strikes, 11 missile strikes and 75 salvo missile attacks, traditionally targeting civilian infrastructure and the Ukrainian Defence Forces.

The enemy is attacking with the last of its strength in the directions of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Maryinka and Shakhtarsk. The Ukrainian defenders have repelled 59 attacks by the Drisks in these areas.

In Enerkhodar, Zaporizhzhya region, the Russian occupiers are organising "excursions" for high school students abroad to Volgodonsk in Russia and the Rostov NPP.

The Ukrainian Air Force has launched 17 air strikes on Russian so-called military concentrations.

Ukrainian defenders shot down a Russian Mi-24 attack helicopter and 6 unmanned aerial vehicles of various types.


Ukrainian rocket and artillery forces attacked 2 Mashkol command posts, 4 live fire sites, 2 anti-aircraft missile systems, an ammunition depot, an artillery system and 2 electronic warfare posts.

A Russian airstrike hit a homeless shelter in the town of Kostyantynivka in the eastern Donetsk region, killing three women and injuring two others, according to Ukraine's Emergency Situations Service. The dead women had been internally displaced to Kostynivka from Bakhmut, Chasiv Yar and Opytne, but this did not save them from the terrorists.

Lithuania

Today is Stork Day and International Waffle Day. But the return of the storks to the skies of Lithuania does not please the politicians mired in political bullshit.

That's the pepper. To paraphrase the famous humanist Viktor Frankl, one of them, squatting in a slurry pit, looks up and sees the sky and the stars, while the other digs and sorts through his own shit.

For the latter, we would suggest that they better go and bake waffles and feed their political opponents.

The German Leopard 2 pictured here will soon be feeding fire to Russian invaders on Ukrainian soil.

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