RUSSIAN PRESIDENT INADEQUATE, SAYS ZELENSKY (31 03 2023)
Political strategic level
Asked by AP's Pace whether China is really pursuing peace in the light of Xi Jinping's visit to the Kremlin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that for Russia the visit did not produce the results the Kremlin had hoped for. The Ukrainian leader insisted that he did not know what China was really up to, but according to his intelligence, Russia was becoming increasingly isolated and was losing the support of even its economic partner China. "The visit was not good for Russia, that is the reality of the situation. I think the problem is that the Russian President is inadequate and therefore cannot understand what is going on", added Mr Zelensky.
Yesterday, some media outlets carried frightening reports about China's preparations for war and closer relations with Russia in terms of military exercises. On closer inspection, the 'most frightening' statements quoted from Xi Jinping and other official Chinese Communist Party mouthpieces date back several months.
To repeat: yes, China wants to 'take back' Taiwan as soon as possible, and yes, China is keeping a close eye on what the West and NATO are doing in order to stop the war in Ukraine and defeat Russia. But China, unlike the mindless in Moscow, has always had a calculated and pragmatic foreign policy. We see all this excitement as an information operation to try to trigger the West and see through which cracks the gutter will gush.
As always, the usual suspects are from Central Europe. Here in Austria, more than 20 far–right MPs walked out of parliament during the Ukrainian President's speech on the 400th day of the Russian invasion. Politicians from the Freedom Party (FPÖ) claimed that Mr Zelensky's speech violated Austria's neutrality.
It is difficult to say how that neutrality was violated. In a video address, Mr Zelensky thanked Austria for its humanitarian aid and its assistance in clearing landmines. He also invited MPs to go to Ukraine and see for themselves the destruction caused by Russia.
At the same time, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that the EU must be ready to put in place measures to protect trade and investment that China could use for its own security and military purposes.
"China's changing policies may require us to develop new defence measures in some critical sectors," she said. "Where dual–use objectives cannot be ruled out, or where human rights may be violated, we will need to be clear about whether investments or exports are in our own security interests."
Tomorrow, on Fools' Day – symbolically – Russia will take over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for one month. The White House has used the occasion to call on Russia to behave in a professional manner, saying that there are no measures to prevent Moscow from taking the post.
"Unfortunately, Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, and there is no real international legal way to change that reality," said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean–Pierre. "Russia will continue to use its seat on the Council to spread disinformation and justify its actions in Ukraine", she added.
Yesterday, the Turkish Parliament ratified Finland's application to join NATO. All 276 legislators present voted in favour of Finland's application. A few days ago, the Hungarian Parliament also approved Helsinki's membership, which should lead to Finland's formal accession to NATO in Vilnius.
In other good news, the Greek Defence Minister will travel to neighbouring Turkey next week in an effort to ease tensions between the two NATO members, which have long been at odds and often in conflict. Nikos Panagiotopoulos told reporters in Athens that he and Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar will visit areas devastated by the earthquakes in early February. "There is currently a decrease in tension in bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey. Our country would like to see this de–escalation become permanent."
"Four hundred days of our defence against large–scale aggression. This is a huge distance that we have covered. All of us together – all those who have fought and are fighting for Ukraine. Who cared and cares about the country and Ukrainians. Who helped and are helping our logistics. Who strengthened and reinforces the stability of Ukraine," the Head of State of Ukraine said in his customary video address yesterday.
The President thanked all the people of the world who stand with Ukraine, who share the Ukrainian understanding of freedom, who support the quest for justice, who believe that peace must be based on rules, civilised rules – humanity, respect and peace. "That is why Ukraine will win. Because freedom and justice, humanity and respect, the peace that people deserve, must prevail," stressed Mr Zelensky.
NATO intends to provide the Ukrainian army with everything it needs for a spring counter–offensive. This was stated by White House spokeswoman Carine Jean–Pierre. This is what "the allies will discuss at the upcoming ministerial meeting in Brussels", she said. The NATO Defence Ministers' meeting in Brussels will take place on 3–5 April.
Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said yesterday that the Ukrainian military had completed training in the States on how to operate Patriot surface–to–air missiles. A total of 65 Ukrainian troops were trained.
Colonel Yevhen Mezhevikin, Commander of the Joint Task Force Adam, believes that the battles at Bakhmut could be a turning point in the war and that Ukraine is capable of holding the town and pushing back the Russian troops. The Colonel is confident that Ukrainian forces will be able to hold the town and further push back the Russian troops.
If the Ukrainians maintain their recent gains, he said, last month's fighting at Bakhmut could be a turning point in Ukraine's defence against Russia. Stopping the latest Russian offensive, he said, is an opportunity to prepare for and strike a devastating retaliatory strike against the occupiers.
Armed vagabonds and marauders from Russia can order black sacks for a load of 200.
Overnight, the enemy fired nine missiles at Kharkiv's civilian infrastructure. It also used 10 Shahed–136 unmanned aerial vehicles for the terrorist attack, 9 of which were destroyed by defenders.
Over the past day, the occupiers have launched a total of 11 rocket and 4 air strikes, as well as 43 attacks with volley rocket systems.
The threat of further rocket and air strikes remains high throughout Ukraine.
In the directions of Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka, the Ukrainian Defence Forces have repelled more than 80 enemy attacks. Bilohorivka, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka are the centre of hostilities.
Russian so–called troops continue their combat training in the training grounds of the Republic of Belarus.
Over the past day, the Ukrainian Air Force has launched 6 air strikes against Russian military concentrations. Ukrainian rocket and artillery forces attacked a command post, hitting 6 enemy concentrations, 2 ammunition depots and 2 fuel and lubricant depots.
The Ukrainian defenders intensified their offensive in the Kinburn Spit. Tactically, this area is crucial for launching an offensive in Kherson towards Crimea. The HIMARS artillery seems to be working and the losses of the Horde have become unbearable.
Abroad and in Lithuania, the yellow press is spreading the general scandal about the Russian Vladyka's order to call up 147 000 recruits for compulsory service. Rest assured, this is just another headline–hunting duck. Spring and autumn conscription is a regular routine in Russia, as it is in other countries with conscripts.
No village brawls reaching our ears yesterday, thank God.
On that occasion, we walked in the woods at dusk and watched the violets begin to bloom, our heart rate calm down and our blood pressure drop.
Wish it was like this – every day!
And we wish you all the same.
Pictured here, Zelensky and UN atomic energy chief R.M. Grossi during a visit to Zaporizhzhya, Monday, 27 March 2023 (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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