UKRAINE CONTINUES PREPARATIONS FOR ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT (12 03 2023)
Political strategic level
Yesterday was a rather overcast day at the political level in Europe and the US. France, Germany, the UK and Belgium were either preparing for or were overwhelmed by strikes of greater or lesser magnitude and the hustle and bustle of dissatisfied people in the streets. Strikes and dissatisfaction with wages, pensions or the health system are about to spill over into next week. The more trouble there is in the social and financial spheres in Europe, the more cheerful the murderous recidivists in the Kremlin.
As the brutal battles continue in the East over the ruins of Bakhmut, the West has found time to worry about sport, because it turns out that, despite the best efforts of Moscow's propaganda to persuade us otherwise, sport and politics are still very much linked.
That is why the British Government has written to Olympic sponsors urging them to put pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over its proposal to allow Russians and Belarusians to take part in next year's Paris Games. UK Culture Secretary Lucy Fraser wrote to 13 major Olympic sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Samsung and Visa, saying that "sport and politics are closely intertwined in Russia and Belarus and we are determined to prevent the Russian and Belarusian regimes from using sport for their own propaganda purposes".
A UK government spokeswoman said that the fundamental issue of the "neutrality" model has not been resolved and that her country is therefore opposed to Russian and Belarusian athletes being allowed to return to competition. Last month, the UK issued a joint statement with 34 other countries calling on the IOC to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing.
Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Paris Games if Russian and Belarusian athletes take part, but the IOC is hesitant to exclude them from the Olympics altogether, allegedly for fear of a return to the boycotts of the Cold War. Neutral athletes do not represent their nations at the Olympics and their achievements are not accompanied by the waving of flags or the playing of national anthems, he said.
It seems to us that it would be best if the Olympic Games were cancelled, as they were in 1940 and 1944, or at least if all the 35 countries that signed the joint declaration did not take part in them.
The 266th Pope Francis will celebrate the 10th anniversary of his election on Monday, far exceeding the "two or three years" of his pontificate once envisaged. The 86-year-old head of the Catholic Church is no longer talking about retirement and recently described the papacy as a job for life.
The Argentinian Jesuit-turned-God's-placeholder on earth had high hopes for tackling clerical sexual abuse. And while Francis has taken a series of decisions aimed at holding the Church's hierarchy to account, the results have been mixed, and there is a long way to go before Pope Benedict, who removed some 800 priests. Unfortunately, the continued sexual and psychological abuse of adults by the clergy is not in the Pontiff's sights.
At the 2014-2015 Synod on the Family, after hearing the plight of divorced Catholics, Francis opened the door to allowing divorced and remarried couples to receive Communion. Encouraged by the move, some priests began to urge the Pope to allow them to marry, but after the 2019 Synod, Francis rejected the idea. The appointment of several women to high-ranking positions in the Vatican has caused even more confusion among the faithful. There were fears that women's demand for ordination to the priesthood would be welcomed. However, Francis is sticking to the Church's doctrine which prohibits women from the priesthood.
However, some of his statements about the "feminine genius" have long been a source of controversy. Women theologians are "the icing on the cake", he once said, and nuns should not be "old maids". German Chancellor Angela Merkel was furious when he said that Europe should not be a "barren grandmother". After this speech, the former Chancellor, like a Macron, picked up the phone and phoned the pontiff to angrily tell him what she thought of the Pope's "jokes".
The LGBTQ community has the greatest sympathy for Francis compared to other popes. The Pope's insistence that long-marginalised LGBTQ Catholics find a welcome home in the Church can be summed up in two statements that have accompanied his pontificate so far: "Who am I to judge?" and "Being homosexual is not a crime".
Russian forces have made progress towards taking the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, but the offensive will be difficult to sustain without significant losses of personnel, British army officials said on Saturday.
In its latest assessment, the UK Ministry of Defence said that paramilitaries of the Kremlin-controlled Wagner Group have captured most of eastern Bakhmut, and that the river that runs through the town now marks the front line.
However, the ministry added that it would be "very difficult" for Wagner's mercenaries to push forward, as Ukraine had destroyed the main bridges over the river, and Ukrainian sniper fire from fortified buildings further to the west had turned a narrow open strip of land in the centre of the town into a "killing zone".
Three civilians were killed by Russian shelling in Kherson yesterday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, condemning what he called "brutal terrorist attacks" carried out by Horde units. Mr Zelensky said that the three people who died in Kherson had gone to a shop to buy groceries.
"I would like to support all our towns and communities that are experiencing brutal terrorist attacks," he said in his regular evening video address. "The evil state uses a variety of weapons... to destroy life and leave nothing human behind. The rubble, the wreckage, the bullet holes in the ground - this is Russia's self-portrait."
At the same time, the Ukrainian President said that her country was preparing for "active action" against the occupier.
Apparently, this is what Valery Zaluzhnyi, Commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed. Zaluzhnyj reported on his Telegram account that he and Milley discussed a number of important topics during their telephone conversation. "The issue of Ukraine's defence needs was discussed in detail. We talked about the supply of ammunition and equipment and the need to strengthen the capabilities of the air defence system," the message said.
Stormy weather is intensifying in the Black Sea, forcing the Russo-Fascists to withdraw some of their missile-carrying ships to their permanent destinations, and the group of ships has been reduced to four units.
Russia continues to fortify its border areas in the Briansk and Kursk regions and to build up its military capabilities on Belarusian territory, but it would not yet be able to carry out offensive actions without the support of the Belarusian army.
Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for the Ukrainian army, said that 221 soldiers of the so-called occupation forces were killed and more than 300 wounded in Bakhmut yesterday. Meanwhile, the Russian war crimes ministry reported that up to 210 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed on the Donetsk front. Given that the Kremlin had already been reporting months ago on the destruction of Western tanks and armoured vehicles, which do not exist in Ukraine, the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed is most likely an accidentally generated figure in the office of the unwell Medvedev.
Over the past day, armed thugs from Russia have struck 12 air strikes and 5 missile strikes, including 2 in Zaporizhzhya. Russian attackers also used an S-300 system for ground targeting and destroyed a civilian building. Fortunately, there were no casualties or injuries. In addition, the enemy fired 56 rounds of salvo fire.
The likelihood of further missile strikes across Ukraine remains quite high.
The main enemy objective over the past day has remained attempts to seize the Donbas. Attacks continued in the directions of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Maryinka and Shakhtarsk. In total, the defenders repelled 92 enemy attacks.
Defence Force aviation struck 6 strikes a day on occupation personnel and equipment concentrations, while rocket forces and artillery units struck 4 enemy personnel concentrations, one ammunition depot and 2 enemy radio communication and electronic warfare system deployment sites.
According to the ground forces, which we have been allowed to share, yesterday and during the night the Russian marauders suffered heavy losses and were forced to retreat during the sudden Ukrainian counter-attacks, coordinated by artillery, aviation, special forces and infantry, in the Dubovo-Vasylivka-Berchivka section, to the north of Bakhmut, and in the vicinity of Ivanivske, south of Bakhmut. The ring which the Drisks wanted to close has been considerably loosened and the H-32 road is back in Ukrainian hands.
In the photo, freshly mobilised Russians are reading a message to Russian Führer Putin complaining that they have not received any weapons or helmets, let alone other military equipment, when they arrived in Luhansk.
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