UKRAINE MUST BE A MEMBER OF NATO TODAY (21 04 2023)
The boundless stupidity of humanity, manifested in Sudan by military violence, is further exacerbating world tensions. The fighting in Sudan between forces loyal to two top generals threatens to bring about the collapse of the country. Although Africa seems so far away, the consequences of this bloody war will be felt all over the world, and especially by the economically strongest and most advanced countries in the West. Lithuania is one of them.
Both sides have tens of thousands of fighters and foreign supporters in Sudan, and they control the mineral areas and other resources of the poor country. Uncontrolled bickering between fools (= harming both themselves and others) with deadly weapons is a straight path to long-term conflict, endless violence, suffering, civilian deaths and the other elements that have already devastated other countries in the Middle East and Africa in the past - from Lebanon and Syria to Libya and Ethiopia.
Armed attempts to seize power, which began as Sudan was trying to transition to democracy, have already killed hundreds of people and left millions trapped in the cities, hiding from shelling, bombings and marauders. On one side is General Abdel Fatah Burhan, commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and on the other is General Mohammed Hamdan Dagal, leader of the paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces, which grew out of the notorious Darfur Janjaweed militia. Both are seeking to take control of Sudan and, more specifically, of the resources of this impoverished country, which lie beneath the ground. One of the most important of these is gold. The winner will also declare himself President of Sudan, while the loser is likely to face exile and, if he cannot escape, certain death.
However, the most likely outcome is a protracted civil war or the division of the country into warring factions. Worst of all, if the first phase of the spineless war is not brought to an end soon, "the conflict will become a multi-level game in which regional and some international actors will pursue their own interests through money, arms supplies and perhaps their own troops or proxies", says Alex De Waal, a Sudan expert at Tufts University.
Even more worrying and confusing are the Arab Gulf states, which in recent years have been eyeing the Somali peninsula as they seek to expand their regional power. Their interests are undoubtedly encouraged and supported by Moscow, which is also seeking to consolidate the power of its dunghill.
The United Arab Emirates has close ties with the Rapid Reaction Force, which has sent thousands of fighters to assist the UAE and Saudi Arabia in their war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Meanwhile, Russia has long had plans in Port Sudan. The Russians are building a naval base on a vital Red Sea trade route that carries energy resources to Europe, which could house up to 300 troops and four ships.
The Kremlin's powerbrokers, the Wagner Group, have established a presence across Africa in recent years and have been operating in Sudan since 2017. Their job is to ensure that the red paws of the Maskovian bear are placed on the gold mines. And in the event of a civil war, or worse, if it spreads to neighbouring countries, the Russian hordes and their mercenaries, without flags and other distinguishing marks, will be able to party and pirate freely in the Red Sea from Port Sudan, thus controlling the oil trade route.
What this threatens the Western world, we think you understand: hundreds of thousands of refugees, manipulation of the gold and oil markets, food (shortages) as a tool of hybrid warfare.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg declared yesterday in Kiev that Ukraine's "rightful place" is in the military alliance and promised more support for the country during his first visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion just over a year ago. "Let me make it clear that Ukraine's rightful place is in the Euro-Atlantic family," Stoltenberg told a press conference. "Ukraine's rightful place is in NATO."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Mr Stoltenberg, who has helped mobilise the support of NATO members, to ask for even more support from them, including warplanes, artillery and armoured vehicles.
UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday, in a message to the White House summit, strongly challenged the efforts of US President Joe Biden and other world leaders to fight climate change, saying that the development of oil and gas drilling and other policies of the richest countries are a "death sentence" for the planet.
The warning was a public rebuke from the top UN official to those he called "the biggest polluters", burning fossil fuels and emitting gases that are heating up the planet.
Russia's war in Ukraine and other threats to the world's short-term supply of oil and gas are forcing the US and some other countries to increase production of climate-damaging oil, natural gas and coal.
Yesterday, the European Union agreed on a series of proposals aimed at ending years of controversy over how best to manage migration - a conundrum that has led to one of the bloc's biggest political crises. A two-thirds majority provides for an emergency aid plan that would oblige the EU's 27 member states to help one of them if that country's reception capacity is overwhelmed by sudden arrivals of people hoping to enter the country. Member States now have one year to finally reform the creaking asylum system before the pan-European elections in May 2024.
The Hungarian government will add honey and certain meat products to the list of food products temporarily banned for import from Ukraine, a government minister said on Thursday, ostensibly to ease market pressure on Hungarian farmers. In addition to honey and meat, the Hungarian government has banned the import of 25 Ukrainian products until 30 June, including cereals, oilseeds, flour and edible oil. Poland and Slovakia are also imposing bans.
Denmark and the Netherlands have announced plans to provide Ukraine with at least 14 refurbished German-made Leopard 2 tanks. They will reach Ukraine in early 2024 or later. Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen called it a "significant gift", on top of the Danish, Dutch and German contribution of at least 100 older Leopard 1 A5 tanks announced in February. In a joint statement, the Danish and Dutch defence ministers said the estimated €165 million cost of the "joint acquisition, upgrade and donation" would be shared equally between the two Nato members.
Mr van Dartel, the former Dutch ambassador to Serbia, Poland and Russia, has withdrawn over comments he made to the author of a new book. The Dutch broadcaster RTL reported that they included his words: 'Ukrainians are Russians too. We cannot forget that. This is the reality."
The scary thing is that a veteran diplomat has put bluntly what many of the current leaders of Western countries in office are thinking. The further west and south you go in Europe, the stronger this conviction becomes, and the more people think this.
The Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinian, has stated that Armenia is ready to receive the mission of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation established by Russia. It must be effective, he said.
As France and Poland have started to quarrel over the supply of ammunition to Ukraine, the process of EU support has slowed down even further and may stop altogether.
A counter-attack by the Ukrainian armed forces will be a surprise not only for Russia but also for the Ukrainians, said Venslavsky, a deputy and presidential spokesman in the Verkhovna Rada.
Yesterday, Russian pilots fired an aerial bomb over the city of Belgorod, probably aimed at Kharkiv. The bomb exploded in the city and there are reports that one woman was killed. The Russian Ministry of War Crimes announced that "an unusual jamming of the aircraft's ammunition occurred while the Su-34 paratroopers were in flight".
There could be more of these jams, not just over Belgorod. Peterhof and Moscow are waiting for the fireworks.
Intense battles are brewing near Bakhmut. The horde is trying to break through towards the road to Khromovo. Ukrainian artillery is engaged in a farce-making operation at the site of the Russian breakthrough.
Sakura blossoms in Vilnius. The sun has put smiles on the gloomy faces of passers-by.
We breathe in - we hold our breath - we breathe out. Ooooo-uuuuu-mmmmm.
It will all pass.
Let us enjoy this day, which, as one such dude who walked on the surface of the water said, has enough of its own misery.
In this photo, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, shake hands before a meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, April 20, 2023 (Press service of the President of Ukraine via AP)
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