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  • Writer's pictureAurimas Navys

TODAY, RUSSIA DOWNED A U.S. DRONE. WHAT TOMORROW? (2023 03 15)

Political strategic level

On Tuesday, a Russian fighter jet deliberately hooked the propeller of a US Reaper MQ-9 reconnaissance drone in international airspace in "brazen violation of international law", leading American forces to shoot down the unmanned drone over the waters of the Black Sea. The nearly €16 million sky scout disappeared into the waves forever.

This is the first time since the Cold War that a US aircraft has been destroyed after colliding with a Russian warplane. However, the Kremlin insists that its fighter jets did not target the MQ-9 Reaper drone. The terrorists claim that the US drone manoeuvred suddenly and crashed into the water "on its own" after colliding with Russian fighter jets that had been scrambled to intercept it near the Crimea.

The US European Command said two Russian Su-27 fighter jets intercepted the drone as it was operating in international airspace. The Russian fighters dropped fuel on the MQ-9, flew in front of it several times in a "reckless, ill-advised, and unprofessional manner", and finally one of them struck the MQ-9's propeller, leading to the downing of the drone by US forces in international waters. "This incident demonstrates not only unsafe and unprofessional behaviour, but also a lack of competence," the statement said.

US Air Force General J.B. Hecker, commander of the US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, said that the MQ-9 "was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted by a Russian aircraft that struck it, causing the MQ-9 to crash and be a total loss". He added that "in fact, this unsafe and unprofessional Russian action almost caused the crash of both aircraft".

According to White House national security spokesman John Kirby, US President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. He added that US State Department officials would speak directly to their Russian counterparts and "express our concerns about this unsafe and unprofessional interception".

State Department spokesman Ned Price called it a "brazen violation of international law". He said that the US had summoned the Russian ambassador to protest, and that the US ambassador to Russia, Ms Treisi, had made a similar statement in Moscow.

Russia's ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, called the US drone flight a "provocation" and said there was no reason for US military aircraft and warships to be on Russia's borders.

The focus on this incident in our review is very deliberate. It would appear to be a low-key tactical incident in which no people were hurt, and such shoving matches and trysts over who gets the longer one have become classics. However, this attitude is flawed and reflects the entire indecisiveness of the political leaders of the Western world and, unfortunately, of the commanders of military structures.

Yesterday, the Russo-fascists tested the West's reactions by shooting down a drone, but instead of a firm response, all they got was a display of fearful anxiety and a troll in the trousers. There is no doubt that this will encourage them to go further tomorrow, perhaps to shoot down an aircraft carrying cargo, or even worse, an aircraft with troops, or perhaps civilians.

Any expression of concern and anxiety by the war criminals in Moscow is laughable. Russian terrorists know only the language of force. According to sources, Russian fighter jets hovered near the drone for over half an hour. In that time, US aircraft could have been sent in from a nearby base, which, after the first Russian raid, would have buried the two 'jets' in the sea with the spilled fuel.

Oh, but this is escalation!? Nothing of the sort. Turkey's appropriate reaction, when a Russian fighter jet that violated its airspace was immediately shot down, put an end to the Russian provocations. Unfortunately, the West is still shaking its knuckles, as Zhirinovsky, who is burning in hell, so accurately put it. They are afraid, they are cowards, they are many times stronger, but the bravest always wins, he said. How ironic that the motto of one of the West's toughest special operations forces is 'He who dares, wins'.

Sweden and Finland's membership of NATO has become entirely at the whim of Turkish President Erdogan, who will seek a third consecutive term in the May elections. Incidentally, yesterday was the 20th anniversary of his rule. Erdogan, 69, who served as Prime Minister and then President from 2003 to 2014, began his career as a reformer, extending rights and freedoms and allowing the Muslim country to open negotiations for European Union membership. But he later reversed course, stifling opposition, suppressing the media and taking other decisions that undermined democracy.

Turkey's presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for 14 May, could be the biggest challenge for Mr Erdogan. They will take place against a background of economic turmoil and high inflation, just three months after the devastating earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people. NATO aspirants have high hopes for these elections.

Turkey, or rather its long-standing dictator, accuses both countries, and Sweden in particular, of being too soft on groups it considers terrorist organisations or an existential threat to Turkey, including the Kurds. Sweden's Prime Minister admitted on Tuesday that it is increasingly likely that neighbouring Finland will join NATO before his country, as Turkey is resisting Sweden's offer.

But the road will not be easy for Finland either. Lawmakers from Hungary's ruling party already want to postpone next week's parliamentary session, which means that the ratification of Finland's and Sweden's accession to NATO will be delayed. Opposition party spokeswoman Agnes Vadai says she has received a letter from Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen informing her that the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat coalition wants to postpone the parliamentary session that starts on Monday.

Will Vilnius be able to boast the addition of two more NATO members? We cautiously hope so.

The influx of migrants in Italy and the concerns of its officials, especially the Minister of Defence, about Russia's use of migrants as weapons have opened the EU's eyes even wider. The latter yesterday called on its Member States to deport more people who come to Europe without authorisation and have no right to stay, claiming that only about one in five would-be migrants who should be sent home are actually deported.

"Last year we had only 21% of those returned who have no right to stay," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told reporters at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. "When we fail to return people, it hampers our system and undermines trust."

Well, where are all those who shouted that our turn-back policy is against EU law? We said ten years ago that food, energy and migrants were being used by the Kremlin as tools of hybrid warfare against the West. It is to be welcomed that, however, those constant speeches and explanations were not in vain. The EU has also finally started to prepare a comprehensive reform of the electricity market to protect citizens from sudden price hikes, to speed up the use of renewable energy sources and to increase the bloc's independence from Russia and Eastern energy sources. Yesterday, the EU Executive Commission presented a plan to phase out the use of gas in electricity generation.

It is on the right track. It is a pity that it is very slow.

Operational level

Ukraine's top military leadership is united in its support for defending the eastern Ukrainian sector, including the besieged city of Bakhmut, and inflicting maximum losses on the enemy, President Zelensky said on Tuesday. "The main focus was on <...> Bakhmut", said Mr Zelensky in his nightly video address. "The position of the entire leadership was clear: "to strengthen this sector and to destroy the occupiers to the maximum".

While in the east the occupiers are being destroyed to the maximum, in the west, human rights defenders in Belarus are worried about a new crackdown by the authoritarian government on dissidents. They claim that more than 100 people, including several psychologists and psychiatrists, have been detained over the week. Viasna, Belarus' oldest and most prominent rights group, said mass arrests took place in the capital Minsk as well as in the east and west of the country. The authorities targeted opposition activists, journalists, medical workers, members of shooting sports clubs and people working with drones.

This is yet another signal that the Kremlin may succeed in engaging Belarus in active hostilities, as it is showing signs of preparing to do so.

Russian Führer Vladimir Putin yesterday dismissed as "utter nonsense" accusations that Ukrainians may have been responsible for the explosions that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea last year. He again rambled on about the US and the West being jointly to blame. This is yet another very obnoxiously emphatic finger-pointing by the Kremlin at the US and NATO, essentially saying that Russia is fighting an existential war with the West. By the way, this message is not only for us, but also for the Russians deep inside Russia.

The Netherlands will provide Ukraine with two minesweepers, unmanned aerial vehicle radars and an M3 amphibious bridge-fixing system, Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said on Tuesday in the Ukrainian city of Odessa. Ms Ollongren was speaking at a press conference with her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov. The drone radars and the M3 system will be procured directly from industry, the press release said. Two minesweepers will be delivered to Ukraine in 2025, as the ships will be used to search for mines in the Black Sea after the war.

This means that the war will have to end in 2025.

The Polish Prime Minister has said that his government may hand over Soviet-built MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine "within the next 4-6 weeks". Last week, Polish leaders said the warplanes would only be sent as part of a larger international coalition. Slovakia has also said it is ready to hand over its MiG-29s to Kyiv, while both NATO countries have urged others to join.

The Norwegian government has decided to acquire 6 Lockheed Martin Corp. marine helicopters to strengthen the protection of the country's northern borders. The purchase of the MH-60R Seahawk helicopters is expected to cost a total of 12 billion kroner (US$1.1 billion) and will be delivered between 2025 and 2027, Defence Minister Bjorn Arild Gram said on Tuesday.

At this point we pause, think, remember and ask rhetorically: so where are our six Black Hawk purchases that were supposed to be delivered already this spring? I wonder if it is true that it is no longer six, but only four helicopters that are being bought, because someone has managed to ask for Israeli-made Spike anti-tank helicopters instead of the other two for the same amount? And is it true that the installation will take time because the US has refused to do so, on the grounds that it requires a separate authorisation from the Senate, but in fact is amazed at the mindless decisions of our village accents?

Of course, we are probably wrong, and our questions are rhetorical. There will be those screws, there will be. With anti-tank weapons. Someday, like wheel boxers.

Tactical level

During the day, the enemy launched 40 air strikes, 12 missile strikes and more than 100 attacks from salvo fire systems. One of the missile strikes hit the town of Kramatorsk, damaging a three-storey residential building and leaving local residents dead and wounded. Another rocket attack occurred in Zatoka, Odessa region, where rocket debris damaged one of the buildings of the children's educational institution "Zolota Rybka". The local population was unharmed and suffered no damage. The enemy also attacked a civilian infrastructure facility in the settlement of Ivanivka, Kherson region, with missiles. There were casualties among local residents and at least one private house was damaged.

The likelihood of further missile strikes across the territory of Ukraine remains quite high.

The main enemy target during the past day remained, as before, attempts to reach the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Ukrainian defenders repelled more than 90 enemy attacks.

During the day, the air force struck 9 times at occupier concentrations, 3 times at enemy air defence positions and 3 times at other important occupier targets.

Rocket and artillery units struck 3 enemy personnel concentrations, 3 Russian troop control points and an enemy air defence position.

In the Black Sea, 13 Russian ships are on combat readiness, including 4 Kalibr cruise missile carriers capable of launching a total of up to 28 Slav missiles; in the Azov Sea, 1 enemy ship; in the Mediterranean Sea, 7 enemy ships, including 3 Kalibr cruise missile carriers.

Princess Leonora, 17, the heir apparent to the Spanish throne, will undergo three years of military training from August, Defence Minister Margarita Robles announced on Tuesday. "As in all parliamentary monarchies, (the heir) must have a military education and a military career," Robles said after a meeting of the Spanish government.

Photo: Princess of Spain.

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