THE WAR WILL BE OVER BY THE END OF THE YEAR (13 APRIL 2023)
Political strategic level
Pope Francis yesterday urged world leaders to resolve disagreements with reason rather than weapons, recalling the Cold War between Washington and Moscow in 1960. In St Peter's Square, the pontiff noted that Tuesday marked the 60th anniversary of Pope John XXIII's Cold War-era encyclical. The encyclical, Pacem in Terris, addressed both to the Catholic Church and to the whole world, was issued a few months after the Cuban missile crisis, which fuelled fears of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.
He quoted a passage from the encyclical which reads: "Relations between political communities, like relations between individuals, should not be regulated by force of arms, but by the light of reason, that is to say, by truth, justice and solidarity of action."
"I pray that the leaders of the nations will be inspired by (the encyclical) in their plans and decisions," Francis said. He did not name the leaders and did not mention any of the current geopolitical tensions, such as those between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine, or Washington and Beijing over Taiwan. But, as he has done repeatedly in his public remarks since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Francis did mention war, saying, "Let us pray for all those who are suffering in Ukraine".
Praying is, of course, very good. Prayer is reassuring and helps us to concentrate before making decisions. Unfortunately, prayer does not deal with the stupidity and selfishness of humanity. In the long run, a long and purposeful education in values oriented towards humanity can do that. In the short term, it is necessary to raise the sword against the sword that slaughters children and stop the slaughter. The Pope, of course, cannot call for aggression to be stopped by aggression, so we do, knowing full well that if at least two of God's commandments - thou shalt not kill and honour thy father and mother (love thy neighbour) - were followed literally by mankind, we would all be able to join hands today to spiritually uplift ourselves in joyful prayers.
In the meantime, instead of prayers, Ukraine has launched an investigation into a gruesome video allegedly showing the beheading of a Ukrainian soldier. The video quickly went viral on the internet and sparked outrage among Kyiv officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as international organisations. The Kremlin called the footage "horrific" but said it needed to be verified.
The video, circulating online, shows a man wearing a green uniform and a yellow bracelet usually worn by Ukrainian militants. Another man wearing Russian army camouflage is seen cutting off a Ukrainian man's head with a knife and shouting. A third man is holding a bullet-proof vest, apparently belonging to the man who was beheaded. The men are speaking Russian.
Since the invasion of the territory by Russian forces on 24 February 2022, they have been committing war crimes on a regular basis, some of which have been widely publicised in Western societies. Many of them, such as the Butcha massacre, the bombing of the Mariupol theatre, in the basement of which hundreds of civilians were hiding, have been repeatedly referred to as war crimes by the United Nations and other human rights groups.
Despite all the war crimes, Russia continues to hold the presidency of the UN Security Council, whose main task is to ensure world peace and security.
Shekora, apparently seeking, like Russia, world peace and security, today launched an intercontinental ballistic missile and may have tested a new type of more mobile, harder-to-detect weapon system, neighbouring countries reported. As a result of this test, Japan issued an evacuation order to the population of the northern island, which was later revoked. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that a missile fired from a high angle near Pyongyang landed in waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan after a flight of about 1 000 km. The US National Security Council called it a long-range missile and Japan's defence minister called it an intercontinental ballistic-class weapon.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron, apparently aware of the dissatisfaction in Europe and America over his remarks on China and Taiwan, decided yesterday to continue playing the tough guy and insisted that his attitude had not changed.
"The French and the Europeans have the same position on Taiwan. We are in favour of the status quo and this policy is constant," said Mr Macron. "It has not changed. It is a policy of one China and a peaceful resolution of the issue".
We recall that Macron said after his visit to Beijing: "The question we have to answer as Europeans is: is it in our interest to precipitate (the crisis) in Taiwan? No."
Hungary, another EU country on a steady trajectory to break up the bloc, has signed new agreements guaranteeing continued access to Russian energy resources. This is a clear sign that the country continues to maintain diplomatic and commercial ties with Moscow, whose war criminals are beheading prisoners of war alive with knives.
Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that Russia's state-owned energy company Gazprom had agreed to allow Hungary to import, if necessary, natural gas in excess of the amount agreed in a long-term contract amended last year. The price of the gas, which would reach Hungary via the Turkstream pipeline, would be capped at €150 per megawatt-hour, Mr Szijjarto said. This is part of an agreement under which Hungary will be able to postpone the payment of gas purchases if market prices exceed this level.
So there you go. Neither Hungary nor France believes that Russia or China can occupy them, one by forceful sowing of the seeds of violence, the other by the purchase of territories, technologies and interconnection routes, together with industrial complexes. Hungary, France, Russia, China - above all. Yes, indeed. Why not?
Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, commented on the four "wild war scenarios" that, according to the New York Times, have been considered in the US as possible factors influencing the course of Russia's war against Ukraine.
O. Danilov stressed that war is a very complex thing: "I don't know why they did it. First of all, these are certainly not our scenarios. These are so-called apocalyptic scenarios, where impossible things can happen. This is how we have to look at it. All these four scenarios are very complex and there have to be certain circumstances for them to start developing", he said.
"The New York Times published an article on four likely fatal war scenarios. The journalists claim that the respective scenarios for Russia's war against Ukraine in the unlikely event of a war have been considered by US intelligence officials. The scenarios include the deaths of Russian Führer Putin and/or Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a change of leadership in the Russian armed forces, and a Ukrainian strike on the Kremlin.
A Ukrainian blow to the Kremlin is not so unlikely. And it is very logical if this war is really to be won.
The Kremlin's campaign to Russify Ukraine and destroy the national identity of Ukrainians has led to xenophobia against national minorities in Russia itself, according to the Institute for Military Studies. The pro-Russian information lobby is demonstrating its militarism in the form of "persistent Russian nationalism and intense xenophobia", which is also directed at Russia's own national minorities.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shymkhal announced that international partners would provide Ukraine with USD 115 billion in long-term financial assistance. Speaking at a World Bank ministerial roundtable in support of Ukraine, Mr Shmyhal said that mobilising resources for Ukraine's recovery was one of the main themes of his working visit to Washington.
"International partners will provide Ukraine with $115 billion in long-term support. This will not only ensure our financial stability, but will also send a clear signal to Russia that Ukraine's allies will support us for as long as we need. Until total victory", he stressed.
Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges believes that the war in Ukraine could end by the end of 2023. But for that to happen, the US and other Western countries need to make the right political decision and give Ukraine everything it needs to win.
"Victory can come this year. It depends very much on the US and some other Western countries making a strong statement that Ukraine will finally win. And if we take a political decision, the war will be over by the end of the year because we will give Ukraine everything it needs. There will be no more excuses, no more half measures. We will take it and we will do it. And I believe in this possibility", he said.
We look forward to victory.
The US and Latvia have confirmed that their troops are on Ukrainian territory. However, they are not involved in hostilities. The static troops are serving to protect embassies and cargo to and from them.
Analysts at the Centre for the Study of War believe that the Russians have not made significant gains in Bakhmut and continue to control only 76.5% of the ruins.
The Russian occupation forces are active on four fronts.
Over the past day, Russian troops have launched more than 45 attacks in the vicinities of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka.
The fiercest fighting continues near Bakhmut. The Russians are trying to take full control of the city itself, and are also launching attacks north of Khromovo and near Bogdanivka and Predtchin, with apparent failure. Vasiukovka, Orekhovo-Vasilyevka, Novomarkovka, Grigorovka, Bogdanovka, Bakhmut, Ivanovskoye, Novodmitrovka, Kurdiumovka, Druzhba, Severnaya and Zheleznaya are under constant shelling.
In the Donetsk direction, the Ukrainian Armed Forces Special Operations Forces detected the location of a Russian R-330Z "Rezident" automatic obstacle preparation station. The station was located quite far behind the front line. It was completely destroyed by an artillery strike.
During the past day, the enemy has launched 2 rocket and 32 air strikes, more than 40 salvoes of fire against Ukrainian military positions and civilian infrastructure in populated areas. Civilians were killed and injured. 2 Russian missiles fired from the S-300 air defence system hit civilian infrastructure in Slovyansk.
The Ukrainian Defence Forces struck 6 times at concentration areas of occupying personnel and military equipment and shot down 2 enemy Orlan-10 UAVs. Rocket and artillery units struck 4 areas of concentration of personnel, weapons and military equipment, hit 2 enemy ammunition depots and an enemy radar station.
The country's political parties are at loggerheads over a clear foreign policy direction. They are trying to find a formulation that suits everyone and finally agree on a strategic document.
However, the good wishes of the ruling coalition are not helped even by a virtuoso of diplomacy and a political professional with some of the best negotiating skills in the countryside on the "other side of the barricades".
The opposition, stubborn as a goat, says that the "party of the goat" will not tell it what to do and how to do it.
When the children in the sandpit, angry about the spade and the cars, are wondering how to come up with more insulting epithets for each other, the cat comes along and, after digging a hole, demonstrates what he thinks about all this.
We will just smile indulgently at you. Even the old democracies in London and Paris have their cats.
Photo: Ukrainian brothers-in-arms in battle.
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