THE STAGING AREA FOR THE COUNTER-ATTACK AT BAKHMUT IS READY (19/05/2023)
All NATO member states agree that Ukraine should become a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said. "I cannot predict the decisions of Heads of State and Government, but one thing is clear: all NATO countries agree that Ukraine should become a member of the Alliance. They already underlined this at last year's summit and confirmed it in December. But the most urgent task now is to help Kyiv in the military conflict," said the Alliance head.
However, the Secretary-General avoided answering a direct question on whether he could see NATO accepting Ukraine as a full member before the war is over.
"There are various proposals on the table. The Kyiv Security Treaty, drafted by a group of experts that included Ukraine and my predecessor, proposes strengthening Ukraine's own defence capabilities. This should be achieved through large-scale arms deliveries and long-term investments in Ukraine's defence capabilities", Stoltenberg wagged his tail.
The massacre in Ukraine can be brought to an end quite quickly, and not only Stoltenberg, but even Macron, the virtuoso on the phone, is well aware of this. The straight and sure way is for Ukraine to be admitted to NATO within the borders approved by international agreements. We are aware that this idea alone makes the Alliance's leader's stomach churn, and we, therefore, propose that a warming step be taken at the outset: the deployment of NATO peacekeepers around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, and the blocking of terrorist Russia's Black Sea fleet by diverting some of NATO's ships to the Crimean Peninsula.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis, after nearly 450 days of bloody war, has decided to send personal peace envoys to the presidents of Ukraine and Russia to try to mediate an end to the war, the Catholic website reported on Thursday. Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna is scheduled to travel to Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, while Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, head of the Vatican's Department for the Oriental Churches, is to travel to Moscow to meet Vladimir Putin, an international criminal wanted by the world. Putin and the President of Ukraine are said to have agreed to meet with the papal envoys, but no confirming sources or details are given.
If the envoys are sent, it will be an identical gesture to that of the late Pope John Paul II, who sent high-level representatives to Washington and Baghdad in 2003 in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the start of the Iraq war. The big difference here is that John Paul II tried to stop hostilities before they started.
Nice intentions, to be sure, but utterly pointless. Envoys should have been sent as early as 2014, and continuously, and only to Moscow. Or cruise missiles. But the Pope, of course, like us, is a pacifist and an advocate of world peace. He believes in and must pray for all people, and he must bring all people to their senses through persuasion.
But in the Kremlin, it is non-humans who give the orders for massacres. War criminals and hardened terrorists understand only one prayer - a slap on the muzzle.
It was the hatchet that was waved by a US official before the G7 summit in Japan when he said that the United States and the rest of the Group of Seven major economies would impose new sanctions and export controls against Russia because of its war against Ukraine.
The G7 leaders meeting in Hiroshima on Friday are focusing on the invasion of Ukraine, which is now in its second year. The US has initiated tough sanctions against Russian companies, banks and individuals, and the forthcoming report aims to reaffirm the determination of the world powers to support Ukraine and put pressure on Moscow. The latest G7 efforts aim to disrupt Russia's access to battlefield materials, close loopholes used to circumvent sanctions, further reduce international dependence on Russian energy and narrow Moscow's access to the international financial system.
"Our commitment to further tightening sanctions against Russia remains as strong as it was last year," the official said.
Good. It would be nice if another step were taken, too, to cut off all trade with a terrorist state that still earns an average of around EUR 5.5 billion a month from the US and the EU.
Early on Thursday, Russia fired 30 cruise missiles at various parts of Ukraine, but almost all of them were shot down by Ukrainian air defences. 29 cruise missiles were destroyed, demonstrating that Western technology is far superior to the curve-headed troglodytes. However, one Russian missile hit an industrial building in the southern region of Odessa. According to Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the region's military administration, one person was killed and two were injured.
The hail of missiles has not stopped the Ukrainian defenders' offensive on the eastern front. Ukrainian soldiers near the front line said that Russia was bombing the roads approaching Bakhmut to slow down the Ukrainian offensive, but that the defending forces had advanced more than one kilometre in places. "Despite the fact that our units do not have superior equipment ... and personnel, they continued to advance on the flanks and covered a distance of between 150 and 1 700 metres," said army spokesman Serhiy Cherevaty.
Tonight, Russia again attacked Kyiv with drones, the tenth air strike in 19 days of May. All Iranian-made Kamikaze Shahed drones were destroyed as they approached the capital. The Russians used a new tactic of "multiple waves", with short intervals between attacks. In this way, the Russians are trying to deplete the capital's air defence system and to psychologically influence the civilian population, the military administration in Kyiv said.
We rejoice with the Ukrainians who have cleverly used Western technology to lock the skies over Kyiv.
Ukraine's president on Thursday set up a reintegration council to advise on how to restore Ukrainian rule in Crimea. Mr Zelensky said the liberation of the peninsula, seized by Russia in 2014, "will definitely happen". He was speaking at a meeting in Kyiv to commemorate the anniversary of the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars from the peninsula in 1944 during the Soviet era.
Two Ukrainian pilots who trained for two weeks in special simulators at a US air force base exceeded the Pentagon's expectations. It will take them four months to learn how to fly an F-16, not 16 months as previously thought. It was noted that the two Ukrainian pilots, one MiG-29 qualified and the other Su-27 qualified, had not received any formal training on the F-16 other than a short briefing. They were then put through the simulator, completing "nine simulator exercises totalling 11.5 hours".
US officials are preparing for Russia's war against Ukraine to turn into a frozen conflict that could last for years or decades, just as it is happening on the Korean peninsula. The White House and various US agencies are currently discussing what lines should be drawn between Ukraine and Russia, which both sides would agree not to cross. Ah... well. If you're interested, see our forecasts and the most likely scenario of the war, which we described more than six months ago.
The 3rd Separate Assault Brigade made a breakthrough in the vicinity of Bakhmut and created a bridgehead for a counter-offensive. The breakthrough is approximately 2 km wide and 700 m deep. Preliminary estimates put the losses of the Horde at at least 50 dead and 100 wounded, with four others captured. Enemy reserves in this direction, including several Russian ammunition depots, have also been destroyed.
The Patriot surface-to-air missile system damaged in the 16 May missile attack on Kyiv has now been repaired and is fully operational again, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said.
With the "Chekiki" scandal forcing out a presidential adviser and a minister, Dalia Grybauskaitė said yesterday that "such situations would not have happened under her watch".
We are deeply saddened by these words of the former President. We must point out that it is precisely 'such a situation' that existed under Her Excellency, since the current President, Nausėda, was elected only four years ago. "Unfortunately, this is the situation that has prevailed and continued throughout the two terms of office of Mrs Grybauskaitė.
It is a pity that cheap populism or illiterate communication advisers are putting both feet in the mouths of both the rulers and the former President.
And we, who could not help but spoil the party, were rhetorically asking: why is the issue of councillors' allowances being raised now, why has the STT not taken any action, even though it has known about the situation for years, why and by whom did it so unwisely advise the Prime Minister to defend a morally crooked cabinet member, and why, as if to a musical note, did the Karbauskis-dominated opposition begin to sing in an attempt to bring down the entire Government?
In case anyone has forgotten, the war is right outside our door. Who benefits from this 'benzyne drama', which is affecting all the political parties and the entire political system of the country?
Have a good weekend, dear followers.
Pictured here is a panorama of the ruins of Bakhmut.
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