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The Unwarranted Ukraine Proxy War: A Year Later

US Big Defence will be the only winner of the proxy war in Ukraine. Not only do these global military contractors arm Ukraine, but they stand to benefit from the re-militarisation of Western European countries, Japan, and new NATO members.

In the view of Big Defence, peace is just a bad business proposition. There’s no money in it.

  

The World Financial Review, By Dr Dan Steinbock, 27 Jan 23

To Russia and Ukraine, the crisis is an existential issue. To the US and NATO, it’s a regime-change game. To Europe, it means the demise of stability – in the world economy, lost years (and that’s the benign scenario).

That’s how I characterised the US/NATO-led proxy war against Russia in Ukraine back in early March 2022. I argued that it was an “avoidable war that will penalise severely Ukraine, Russia, the US and the NATO, Europe, developing countries and the global economy”.[1]

At the time, the prediction was seen as contrarian. But it has prevailed. However, on January 25 the Ukraine proxy war entered a new, still more dangerous phase. The commitment of some 70 US, German, UK and Polish battle tanks herald lethal escalation, although hundreds more are needed to defeat Russia. For the first time since World War II, German tanks will be sent to the “Eastern front.” In Moscow, it will foster those voices who see the stakes of the war as existential.

Not only will economic and human costs climb even further, but strategic risks, including the potential of nuclear confrontation, will soar. With such escalation in high-tech arms sales to Ukraine, regional and military spillovers are no longer a matter of principle, but a matter of time.

Russia’s economic resilience

In early 2022, Western observers, with rare exceptions, predicted that the Russian economy would default within months as a net effect of sanctions. “Putin’s war” was doomed, they said. Obviously, the sanctions, which have been fuelled by might and economic coercion, have not been inconsequential. But nor were they new.

Already in February 2014, following the Russian annexation of Crimea, international sanctions were imposed against Russia and Crimea by the US, Canada, the EU, and the international organisations they dominate. While the West’s sanctions contributed to the fall of the Russian ruble, they also caused significant economic damage to the EU economy, with total losses at €100 billion in 2015. By mid-2016, Russia had lost an estimated $170 billion due to financial sanctions and another $400 billion in revenues from oil and gas.[2]………………………….

In fact, the Russian economy plunged 3.5 per cent in 2022, whereas inflation amounted to 5.4 per cent. In other words, Western institutions dramatically overestimated the GDP impact. Discrepancies of such magnitude are hard to explain away as simple prediction errors (figure 1 on original).

Proxy war united Russia            

Officially, the invasion of Ukraine began as Russia’s “special military operation”. Unofficially, it soon morphed into a US/NATO-led proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. The true political objective of this war has been regime change. Hence the goal “to weaken Russia”, as Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin acknowledged later. Hence, too, the international media predictions that the Russian economy would “inevitably” default and Putin be overthrown……………………

Today, in the view of ordinary Russians, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a defensive response to NATO’s offensive eastward enlargement. They see their country fighting for survival. That’s why the war caused Putin’s ratings to soar to the low 80s. That’s also why over 60 to 70 per cent of Russians support their government and believe the country is on the right track, despite extraordinary hardships. ……………………………………..

Amid this collapse of trust in the US and the EU, it certainly did not help that the Minsk peace process proved to be another Western ruse. Last December, German ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel disclosed in the Zeit newspaper that “the 2014 Minsk agreement was an attempt to give time to Ukraine.” That is, to make Ukraine stronger and for NATO to increase its support to the country in the face of Russia.[4]……………………

In the view of ordinary Russians, there is now a long continuum of betrayals from the pledge that NATO would never expand eastward in the early 1990s to Minsk today. In their view, the West’s recent arms escalation only confirms their worst suspicions.

Contradictory realities

Right before Christmas, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an emotional wartime appeal to a joint meeting of US Congress, pleading for more military assistance from the lawmakers, who were about to approve $45 billion in additional aid. It was necessary for “eventual victory”.[6]

Yet, there was a huge disconnect between the triumphant declaration and the realities. Earlier in the month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had acknowledged that Ukraine’s losses in the war amounted to 100,000 soldiers and 20,000 civilians, though her tweet was quickly deleted and a new one was released without the true death count (figure 3 on original).[7

Behind the choreographed photo ops and bold sound bites, devastation had been expansive, progressive, and relentless…………..

 In September 2022, a month before the Russian winter offensive, a World Bank report estimated that Russia’s invasion had caused over $97 billion in direct damage to Ukraine and it could cost $350 billion to rebuild the country. Worse, Ukraine had also suffered $252 billion in losses through disruptions to its economic flows and production, as well as extra expenses linked to the war.[8] (The report was quiet about the economic and human costs on the Russian side.)

In other words, what Zelenskyy asked in the Congress was less than one-tenth of what is actually needed to rebuild Ukraine.

Ukrainian nightmare

In effect, even as the international media was touting the mirage of Ukraine’s military triumph, the country’s real GDP declined over 35 per cent on an annual basis in the third quarter of 2022; that is, before Russia’s massive infrastructure attack.

Starting on 10 October, Russia’s waves of missile and drone attacks opened a new phase of the war.

The direct physical damage to infrastructure soared to $127 billion already in September; that’s over 60 per cent of Ukraine’s pre-war GDP. The impact on the productive capacity of key sectors, due to damage or occupation, is substantial and long-lasting.[9]

The population share with income below the national poverty line in Ukraine may more than triple, reaching nearly 60 per cent in 2022. Poverty will increase from 5.5 per cent in 2021 to 25 per cent in 2022, with major downside risks if the war and energy security situations worsen.[10] As casualties continue to mount, over a third of the population has been displaced and over half of all Ukrainian children have been forced to leave their homes. The nine months of war have caused massive population displacement. As of October 2022, the number of Ukrainian refugees recorded in Europe was over 7.8 million, and the number of internally displaced people was 6.5 million (figure 4 on original).[11]

As former Pentagon adviser Col. (ret.) Douglas Macgregor has argued, “Washington’s refusal to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate security interests in Ukraine and negotiate an end to this war is the path to protracted conflict and human suffering.”[12]

As former Pentagon adviser Col. (ret.) Douglas Macgregor has argued, “Washington’s refusal to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate security interests in Ukraine and negotiate an end to this war is the path to protracted conflict and human suffering.”[12]

West’s tough 2022 and darker 2023

Currently, the risk of recession casts a dark shadow over the US economy, ……………………………………………..

US and international war funding

In the proxy war, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine has been abundant………………………..

Internationally, the US provides the bulk of total aid to Ukraine (62 per cent). Aid from non-US sources amounts to $41.4 billion. The international total of more than $110 billion accounts for more than half of Ukraine’s pre-war GDP ($200 billion).[17] Effectively, these funding arrangements aim to sustain the hostilities and destruction not just in 2023, but at least until the late 2020s.[18] A scenario the West’s recent arms sales escalation could reinforce.

Ailing and indebted, the West cannot afford the proxy war in Ukraine. Hence, the frantic debt-taking. In the Eurozone, government debt to GDP remains close to 100 per cent. Ironically, that’s 40 percentage points higher than the region’s own debt limit. In the UK, the figure has doubled since 2008 to almost 100 per cent. In Japan, it is the worst among all high-income economies – close to 265 per cent, thanks to over two decades of secular stagnation. In the US, the debt ratio has also doubled and is inching toward 140 per cent. (That’s over 20 percentage points higher than that of Italy amid Rome’s 2010 debt crisis.) The rising debt as a percentage of the GDP will slow economic growth, push up interest payments to foreign holders of US debt, and heighten the risk of a fiscal crisis. The periodic debt-limit debacle in the US is just a minor political sideshow to the West’s future debt crisis, which will leave no economy, not even the major ones, unscathed (figure 5 on original).

The post-9/11 wars: the Big Defence bonanza

Ukraine is “absolutely a weapons lab in every sense because none of this equipment has ever actually been used in a war between two industrially developed nations,” said one source familiar with Western intelligence to CNN. “This is real-world battle testing.” Or as Zelenskyy put it more recently, arming Ukraine is a “‘big business opportunity,” as evidenced by his government’s new ties with Blackrock, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. In December 2022, he revealed that Ukraine had hired Blackrock to “advice” Kyiv on how to use the West’s reconstruction funds, which he then estimated would have to increase at least to $1 trillion.[19]

As I predicted in March 2022, US Big Defence will be the only winner of the proxy war in Ukraine. Not only do these global military contractors arm Ukraine, but they stand to benefit from the re-militarisation of Western European countries, Japan, and new NATO members. Washington has a great economic interest in such geopolitics. Brussels’ incentives are harder to fathom, especially as the euro area will pay a hefty premium on energy and food, which will also benefit Washington…………………………..

Military Keynesianism to rescue

From the economic standpoint, these military expenditures, including US Ukrainian aid, should be seen as massive, recurrent, multi-year bastard Keynesianism. That is, as a series of military stimulus packages to prop up the American economy (not Ukraine’s). Unlike Keynesian stimuli that can have an accelerator effect in the civilian economy, these packages benefit mainly the Pentagon and Big Defence; that is, the military industrial complex and its revolving-door elites.

Take, for instance, President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security advisor Jake Sullivan and Blinken’s right-hand, Victoria Nuland. All four were key actors already in the 2014 Ukraine crisis. In one way or another, all are also linked with the Center for a New National Security (CNAS) and its consulting arm WestExec Advisors, which in turn is funded particularly by Big Defence. The same goes for Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, a veteran of the US Army and ex-board member of Raytheon, one of the largest defence giants and a big beneficiary of the Ukraine devastation.[22]

what’s good for Big Defence is not necessarily good for either the American people or the global economy. It aggravates income polarisation in America and between the high-income West and the developing Global South, while escalating geopolitical risks worldwide…………………………………

Plunging global growth

Unsurprisingly, global growth is now expected to decelerate sharply to 1.7 per cent in 2023…………………………

The unwarranted war

A year ago, I characterised the Ukraine conflict as an “unwarranted war” because it was avoidable. As declassified files show, a series of security assurances were given to Mikhail Gorbachev and other Soviet leaders against NATO’s eastward expansion at the turn of the 1990s, starting with President George H.W. Bush, followed by a cascade of assurances by German, French, British, and NATO leaders. The betrayal of these pledges was widely condemned already in 1997 by 50 US foreign policy authorities, including the leading Cold War hawks, in an open letter to President Clinton. What has ensued is three decades of NATO eastward expansion, which has made the world poorer and less secure, just as these US experts predicted over 25 years ago.[28]

If in 2022 the proxy war’s costs were disastrous in the West and Russia, 2023 will be worse…………………………….

  • The year 2022 turned the Ukrainians’ dream of peace and development to ashes, as over a third of their economy disappeared, perhaps a quarter of the population fled and a generation of young men was sacrificed for the West’s geopolitics. What’s ahead in 2023 will be worse. Reconstruction will require a lot more than $1 trillion, according to Zelenskyy. That’s over five times Ukraine’s pre-war GDP.
  • US Big Defence is the big winner of 2022 and, thanks to the military aid arrangements, could reap war profits well into the late 2020s. By then, new big “weapons labs” will be needed elsewhere – North Korea, Taiwan, Iran, perhaps even China, where there’s a will, there’s a way – to ensure new wars that will generate adequate returns.

…………………………………….. In the view of Big Defence, peace is just a bad business proposition. There’s no money in it.

………………………………….. Even in April 2022, after a month of hostilities, Russia and Ukraine tentatively agreed to end the war. Yet, that decision was undermined by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. His carefully timed Ukraine visit was designed to stop the talks, which were not acceptable to the US and its allies.[30] Today, in Pentagon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sees the escalation as “a window of opportunity here, between now and the spring.”[31]

Only a year ago, Ukraine, under Zelenskyy’s leadership, was still positioned to play a constructive role as a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe, thanks to its vital position in China’s Bridge and Belt Initiative. Had that future prevailed, Ukraine might today be peaceful. Its GDP would be a third bigger. As a neutral country, its trading relationships would have thrived and it would have attracted investment from Russia and both Western and Eastern Europe. Young men would have good jobs. And Ukrainian refugees would be returning for new opportunities at home. When old sectarian conflicts dissipate, escaping abroad is no longer a necessity and even little children sleep their nights rather than being haunted by nightmares, overshadowed by post-traumatic stress.

Today, all those dreams, too, are in ashes. The proxy war is aimed against Russia. The Ukrainians’ role is to die in it. The puppet masters are the primary beneficiaries.

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January 31, 2023 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, Ukraine, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Despite failure to refit nuclear submarine, UK senior defence officials get £200,000 in performance bonuses

 Three senior ministry of defence officials have received more than
£200,000 in performance bonuses despite not being able to get a
Scottish-based nuclear submarine back in service more than seven years
after it started undergoing a refit and refuelling.

The MoD had hoped that
HMS Vanguard would be returned to Royal Navy service at Faslane last summer
but The Sunday Times has learnt that the repair and refuelling project for
the Trident missile-armed vessel has hit new snags.

However, the three top
executives at the ministry’s Submarine Delivery Agency, which is
responsible for keeping the navy’s submarines in working order, were paid
performance bonuses last year. Its chief executive, Ian Booth, received
£95,000 on top of his £290,000 salary before he retired just before
Christmas, according to the agency’s accounts. Its technical director and
financial officer each received £55,000 bonuses.

 Times 29th Jan 2023

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bonus-for-mod-officials-despite-sub-refit-delays-gmqb30s35

January 31, 2023 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

French nuclear availability reduced by 1.1 GW as strike gets under way– EDF

https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/french-nuclear-availability-reduced-by-1.1-gw-as-strike-gets-under-way-edfForrest Crellin for Reuters  30 jan 23

PARIS, Jan 30 (Reuters) – French nuclear power availability has been reduced by 1.1 gigawatts as production at four reactors lowered, the outage table of state-controlled nuclear group EDF showed on Monday as a strike over pension reforms got under way.

January 31, 2023 Posted by | employment, France | Leave a comment

‘Delays and broken promises’ as flagship UK nuclear agency stalls

Great British Nuclear will be tasked with overseeing the development of the next generation of nuclear power sources

 https://inews.co.uk/news/business/delays-broken-promises-flagship-uk-nuclear-agency-stalls-2115492

By David Connett 30 Jan 23

The Government has been urged to stop delaying a new “flagship” ­agency to develop the UK’s next generation of nuclear reactors.

Ministers have been warned that the country risks “sleepwalking into the familiar pattern of delays and broken promises that have held back our nuclear ambitions in the past”.

The warning is contained in a letter signed by major companies, including Rolls-Royce and the US Westinghouse group, as well as the Prospect union, cross-party MPs and Lords, and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

It expresses dismay over delays in setting up Great British Nuclear (GBN), a body tasked with overseeing the development of the next generation of nuclear power sources.

It was envisaged as the cornerstone of former prime minister Boris Johnson’s plans to produce enough energy for the nation and reduce reliance on imports.

Last year, Mr Johnson said it would be launched to oversee the construction of up to 24 gigawatts of new capacity by 2050. “Our aim is to lead the world once again in a technology we pioneered so that by 2050, up to a quarter of our power consumed in Great Britain is from nuclear,” he said at the time.

However, a dispute between the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has delayed the move.

The letter warns that progress on GBN has “stalled”. It says: “We do not have time to spare. All but one of the UK’s existing nuclear reactors are due to retire by the end of the decade and this capacity needs to be replaced.”

It warns that private-sector funding and expertise could be lost to rivals because of the delay. It also says that a “global race for investment in next generation nuclear technologies is accelerating, spurred on by the Inflation Reduction Act in the US”.

The letter says the recent Skidmore report into the UK’s route to meet its net-zero climate change commitments demands “stable, long-term policy”, and adds: “We call on the Prime Minister to launch a fully funded Great British Nuclear programme as a matter of priority.”

A report outlining GBN’s strategy and operation, drawn up by the nuclear industry expert Simon Bowen, has been with ministers for several months.

He has asked for it to be published to help the industry prepare for the demands it will face in funding and training sufficient numbers of skilled people, but he has been told that it cannot be.

Experts have warned that continued delays in the nuclear programme will mean that the “ambitious” 2050 target will be missed.

The Government is already struggling to replace its current nuclear generation capacity even before it manages to expand it. Five nuclear power plants generated more than 15 per cent of the UK’s electricity last year. All but one is set to be decommissioned by 2028.

French power company EDF, which operates Sizewell B, has discussed plans with the UK’s nuclear regulator to extend the life of the existing UK reactors, but has not yet made a formal bid to the Office of Nuclear Regulation.

The energy minister, Graham ­Stuart, told MPs last week that he hoped the GBN strategy would be “published early this year”, but refused to be more specific.

January 31, 2023 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Belgium to shut down second nuclear reactor

By Anne-Sophie Gayet | EURACTIV.com

The Tihange 2 nuclear reactor – the second largest of the three Tihange reactors – will shut down permanently on Tuesday evening after 40 years of activity, making it the second nuclear reactor to shut down in the country.

In accordance with 2003 Belgian law on nuclear phase-out, Tihange 2 will be disconnected from the grid on Tuesday at midnight, despite calls from politicians across the political spectrum and citizen associations to stop the nuclear reactor shutdowns…………  https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/belgium-to-shut-down-second-nuclear-reactor/

 

January 31, 2023 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

Clear and present danger- Ukraine’s reactors remain at risk

Grossi and others insist that the nuclear plants themselves are not the problem. “It’s very simple, the problem in Ukraine and in Russia is they are at war. The problem is not nuclear energy,” he told the BBC in an interview.

Except that it IS the nuclear plants that are the problem. After all, if Ukraine was powered by renewables and not nuclear plants, this wouldn’t even be an issue.

Bombardments in Ukraine keep reactors in the crosshairs

Ukraine’s reactors remain at risk as one-year anniversary of war looms

Clear and present danger, Beyond Nuclear, By Linda Pentz Gunter 29 Jan 23

A year ago, even before Russia invaded Ukraine, we ran our first article about the very real dangers of commercial nuclear power plants being caught up in a war.

A year later, we can thank only luck that what we predicted could happen, hasn’t.  And the pinnacle — or, more accurately, nadir — of that “could” would be a catastrophic attack resulting in a major radioactive release.

Since the war began, the 15 Ukraine reactors situated at four sites, along with the defunct Chornobyl nuclear plant, have been at the center of media attention, once again bringing to light the inherent and extreme dangers of nuclear power plants at any time, let alone during an armed conflict. And, on a few occasions, all of those sites have also been in the crosshairs of actual fighting, most notably the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest both in Ukraine and all of Europe.

Despite pleadings by the International Atomic Energy Agency and its director, Rafael Grossi, not to engage in combat close to the nuclear plants, no effective deterrent or peaceful protective measure has been found or implemented, even as the IAEA continues to urge the creation of safe zones around the nuclear sites.

Grossi and others insist that the nuclear plants themselves are not the problem. “It’s very simple, the problem in Ukraine and in Russia is they are at war. The problem is not nuclear energy,” he told the BBC in an interview.

Except that it IS the nuclear plants that are the problem. After all, if Ukraine was powered by renewables and not nuclear plants, this wouldn’t even be an issue. As an Austrian government briefing paper, collected under “Fairy tales by the nuclear lobby,” said: “A ‘successful’ attack on a nuclear power plant in densely populated Europe would have radiological and economic consequences far beyond those experienced after Chernobyl or Fukushima. So far, no terrorist attacks on wind turbines or solar panels have been reported.”

An attack or other precipitating events caused by the war in Ukraine, could still result in such a disaster. Sadly, with the war raging on, nothing has really changed since the February 24, 2022 invasion.

Since it’s the most dangerous, being the largest, and also the closest to the worst of the fighting, let’s take Zaporizhzhia as our test case. 

There are approximately 200 different radioactive isotopes contained in any given nuclear reactor and its waste inventories. Zaporizhzhia houses at least 2,204 tons of highly radioactive waste within the reactors and the irradiated fuel pools, according to a March 2022 Greenpeace analysis, looking at 2017 figures, the latest data available. At least 855 tons of those wastes are in the pools. The quantities are so high because the reactors have been in operation for several decades. The first unit came on line in 1985, the sixth in 1996.

Among those 200 isotopes are iodine-131, which attacks the thyroid, cesium-134 that accumulates in muscle and strontium-90 which acts like calcium in the body and is easily incorporated into bone. Since all reactors also make plutonium-239 — with a half-life of 24,000 years — as part of the fission process, it, too, could be propelled into the environment. As an alpha-emitting particle, it is most dangerous when inhaled, attacking lungs, kidneys and other organs.

As we have written frequently at Beyond Nuclear since our first article appeared and the Russian war on Ukraine followed, there are a number of scenarios that could precipitate such a catastrophe. It could involve a full or partial reactor meltdown, an irradiated fuel pool fire or hydrogen explosion, or a breach of the radioactive waste storage casks.

The specific scenarios for this are described with essential detail and great clarity in the special section on “Nuclear Power and War” in the 2022 edition of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report.

Unlike all other types of power plants, the safety of a nuclear power plant depends on continuously functioning cooling systems,” the WNISR authors write in the chapter introduction. “The physical reason for this is the radioactive decay of the fission products and transuranic elements produced by neutron capture on uranium. During this decay, considerable amounts of heat are generated, so-called decay heat. If it is not continuously removed by cooling, this leads to strong heat buildup, which can cause melting, fires, or other events that can cause major releases of radioactive materials. During operation and directly after a reactor shutdown, cooling requirements are particularly high.”

This also means that even when the reactors are shut down, as at least four have been at Zaporizhzhia, they are not out of danger. And the fuel pools present the greatest threat, as the radioactive waste inventory they contain is more radioactive than the fresh fuel before it is loaded into the reactor.

But it need not take a full blown attack to cause at least some of these disastrous outcomes. It could be as simple as a loss of power, or human error. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

As we ponder this in the context of the perils of war, we must also remember that war just makes this outcome [a Chornobyl type disaster] more likely. A major nuclear disaster is still possible — and even probable — on a daily basis at any nuclear power plant anywhere and at any time. Loss of power and human error remain key causes, along with violent weather events — occurrences that will continue to become more frequent and more severe as the climate crisis worsens. Sabotage and terrorism are an ever-present possibility as well.

This means that striving for the unrealistic goal, as the IAEA does, of ensuring nuclear reactors are not caught up in a war zone, doesn’t make us all that much safer. Only the complete elimination of nuclear power as an energy source will achieve that. 

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and writes for and curates Beyond Nuclear International.  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2023/01/29/clear-and-present-danger/

January 29, 2023 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

In Just Under Three Weeks, Ukrainian-Fired Prohibited “Petal” Mines Maim At Least 44 Civilians, Kill 2, in Donetsk Region

Covert Action Magazine, By Eva Bartlett, August 23, 2022 Excellent photographs

Ukraine continues to fire internationally-banned anti-personnel mines on civilian areas of Donetsk and other cities in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), in violation of international law and of the mine ban convention Ukraine signed in 1999 and ratified in 2005.

Since July 27, Ukraine has been firing rockets containing cluster munitions filled with banned PFM-1 “Petal” (or “Butterfly”) anti-personnel mines all over Donetsk and surrounding areas. Each rocket contains over 300 of the mines. Already by August 3, the DPR’s Ministry of Emergency Situations noted that Ukraine had fired several thousand of the prohibited mines on Donetsk.

As of August 15, 44 civilians, including two children, have suffered gruesome injuries. Another mine victim died in hospital.

Some days ago, such mines grotesquely maimed a 15 year old boy in Donetsk.

Younger children don’t know that the mines aren’t toys, and elderly often simply don’t see them, or likewise don’t understand the danger, as was the case with an elderly lady with dementia who, on August 8, lost a foot as a result of stepping on a mine while she was going to work in her garden plot.

Tiny but powerful, these insidious mines are designed not to kill but to tear off feet or hands. Their design allows them to float to the ground without exploding, where they easily blend in with most settings and generally lie dormant until stepped on or otherwise disturbed.

According to Konstantin Zhukov, Chief Medical Officer of Donetsk Ambulance Service, a weight of just 2 kg is enough to activate one of the mines. Sometimes, however, they explode spontaneously. An unspoken tragedy on top of the already tragic targeting of civilians is that dogs, cats, birds and other animals are also victims of these dirty mines.

In the grass, or surprisingly even on sidewalks and streets, it is very easy to overlook them or mistake them for a leaf. Even when I’ve seen such mines marked with warning signs or circled, it still took me quite a bit to actually see them.

In its relentless deploying of these mines, Ukraine has targeted all over Donetsk, as well as Makeevka to the east and Yasinovataya to the north. Ukraine has fired them elsewhere, including the hard-hit northern DPR city of Gorlovka, as well as regions in the Lugansk People’s Republic in previous months.

In fact, according to DPR authorities, Ukraine began using the mines in March, during battles for Mariupol, and in May was already firing them into DPR settlements. Also in early May, while in Rubiznhe in the Lugansk People’s Republic, I was warned that Ukraine had been littering nearby areas with the mines, something confirmed by locals when I went to nearby Sievierodonetsk on August 12.

Ukraine turns Donetsk into a minefield

first saw the Ukrainian-fired mines on July 30, in Kirovskiy, western Donetsk, just days after Ukraine began showering the city with them.

Mine clearance sappers had isolated mines scattered in a field, to detonate after they had destroyed mines in the courtyard of an apartment complex. Amidst the tall grass, wild plants and garden plots, the mines would have been impossible for a non-sapper to spot, and very easy to disturb and lose a foot or hand in doing so.

Although I’d been assured that sappers had cleared the path, I still watched every step I took. And generally for the duration of my time in the DPR, I looked down while walking, watching for mines that could have been moved by wind or rain.

Behind a wall at one end of the apartment complex courtyard, sapper timer-detonated the eight mines they’d found scattered around the playground, lanes and walkways.

That evening, Ukraine fired more rockets with petal mines at Donetsk, this time targeting the centre of the city. People driving in the streets unknowingly set some off.

On a central Donetsk street the next morning, I saw a grouping of seven mines on a curbside, gathered either by sappers or some courageous local, with warnings to pedestrians and drivers of their presence.

They were so plentiful that marking them however possible was the only way to mitigate the immediate danger of someone randomly stepping or driving over them until they could be neutralized by the sappers……………………………………………………………

Media Claims Russia is Laying the Mines

As with most of its war crimes against the civilians of the Donbass, Ukraine and NATO media invert reality and claim Russia is the guilty party. They cry crocodile tears for the Donetsk children Ukraine has targeted, also disingenuously claiming the now-famous video of a DPR soldier detonating a mine by throwing a tire at it was a Ukrainian soldier demining Russian-fired mines.

The notion that Russia would explode mines over the city is not a reality-based idea. Most of the population are ethnic Russians, a significant number who now happily hold Russian citizenship. And further, it is Russian and DPR sappers putting themselves at risk to clear the streets, walks and fields of the mines.

In fact, a 21 year old DPR sapper lost a foot to such mine. Director of the Department of Fire and Rescue Forces of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Colonel Sergey Neka, told me of his injury: “After the cleansing of territories from explosive objects, returning back to the transport, a mine fell from the building, as a result of which it exploded under his feet and he lost his foot.”

In Makeevka, Igor Goncharov, the Chief Physician of the bombarded orphanage, spoke to me about his anger that Ukraine was targeting the property, insisting it had been deliberate, that since 2001 the orphanage was well-known to various international organizations, as well as Kiev, because, “It was the only one specialized in HIV.”

According to him, “American law allowed the adoption of HIV-positive children, so the United States was the only state that adopted HIV-infected children, so we were well known both within Ukraine and the Russian Federation and abroad. When they shoot, they know where they shoot,” he said of Ukraine.

“I think that this is not just inhumane, it is without morality, without conscience and without honour.”

I asked him to address Ukrainian and Western claims that it was Russia which deployed the mines, Russia which is shelling Donetsk and surrounding areas, knowing full well any average local resident could likewise easily debunk the claims.

“Even without being educated in military matters, it’s easy to localize the craters. Which way they are located indicates which side they were sent from. We know perfectly well where they shoot from. It’s all from Peski, Avdeevka, Nevelskoye. You can hear the crash and the whistle coming first. Ballistics can be defined. All the shelling comes from the Ukrainian side, it is unambiguous.”

Even without that logical thinking, let’s recall that Ukraine has been committing war crimes in the Donbass for over eight years, violating the Minsk Accords signed in 2014 and 2015. That Ukraine would use Petal mines from its enormous stockpile, after already shelling and sniping civilians, it not at all out of the question.

Ukrainian nationalists openly declare they view Russians as sub-human. School books teach this warped ideology. Videos show the extent of this mentality: teaching children not only to also hate Russians and see them as not humans, but also brainwashing them to believe killing Donbass residents is acceptable. The Ukrainian government itself funds Neo-Nazi-run indoctrination camps for youths.

As mentioned at the start, Ukraine signed the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, under which Ukraine was obliged to destroy its 6 million stock of the mines. However, reportedly, its stockpile remains over 3.3 million such mines.

The convention, “prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines (APLs).” Further, as outlined, Ukraine is, “in violation of Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty due to missing its 1 June 2016 clearance deadline without having requested and being granted an extension.”

Ukraine’s firing of rockets containing these mines is against international law and the Geneva Conventions. Ukraine is specifically targeting civilian areas with them. It is pure terrorism. And it is another Ukrainian war crime in a very long list of war crimes stretching back over eight years.  https://covertactionmagazine.com/2022/08/23/in-just-under-three-weeks-ukrainian-fired-prohibited-petal-mines-maim-at-least-44-civilians-kill-2-in-donetsk-region/

January 29, 2023 Posted by | Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Cracking Under Pressure: Inside the Race to Fix France’s Nuclear Plants

Macron’s government wants to help EDF build six new large reactors and begin preparatory studies on another eight units by 2050.

But building 14 new reactors is “absolutely not within EDF’s reach with its current balance sheet,” said Celine Cherubin, a senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service………..

The plan to fix seven safety cooling systems in 2023 is “not the end of the story,”… “It’s possible that we have to carry long and complex works. I think that 2023, ’24 and ’25 will continue to entail issues related to the stress corrosion.”

Yahoo News, Francois De Beaupuy, Sat, January 28, With assistance from Samuel Dodge and Patricia Suzara.

(Bloomberg) — Behind layers of security and a thick concrete wall, a team of welders work in shifts to fix the crippled Penly nuclear plant in northern France. Sweating under protective gear, they’re replacing cracked pipes in the emergency cooling system which protects against a reactor meltdown.

Each weld takes at least three days to complete, with workers often on their knees or backs to reach for the correct angle. Even in radiation suits, health regulations limit work in that environment to a maximum 40 hours a year.

The complicated procedures, replicated across sites this winter, have hampered the ability of Electricite de France SA to get its reactors back online after lengthy shutdowns.

Deadlines have slipped. The two Penly reactors were scheduled to be back online this month and next. Instead, EDF has been forced to delay the restarts to May and June.

“These are complex situations, in a noisy and radioactive environment,” Laurent Marquis, a manager at Altrad Group-Endel which is coordinating the repairs for EDF at Penly, said last month, before the restarts were pushed back. “Workers can sometimes only hold their position for just a few minutes before they need to be replaced.”

The power station, below a cliff on France’s northern coast, normally provides electricity for about 3.6 million households. Its two reactors have been, in effect, grounded by faulty plumbing — the same cracked pipes first discovered by EDF at another plant in late 2021. That reactor, at Civaux in central France, only came back online on Wednesday after extensive repairs.

The discoveries plunged the operator into a crisis with repercussions for all of Europe. EDF called it an “annus horribilis,” and from early May to late October, about half of its 56 reactors sat idle due to the repair and maintenance backlog.

It flipped France from Europe’s biggest electricity exporter into a net importer last year, just as the continent needed it more than ever. After gas imports from Russia dried up, energy prices soared, governments spent billions helping consumers with their bills and Europe was threatened with shortages and blackouts.

So far, Europe has avoided the worst-case scenario, thanks to efforts to conserve energy and a relatively mild winter that reduced heating demand

But the crisis is far from over, and EDF needs to find a way to avoid a repeat next winter. That challenge — finding problems, fixing them, doing checks — is already a mammoth task, and it’s being compounded by financial issues and staff shortages………………………………………………………….

By May, the utility had concluded that 16 of its reactors had pipes more prone to stress corrosion. Significantly, they were actually the group’s newest reactors, where the French nuclear plant builder Framatome — a unit of EDF — had modified the original Westinghouse Electric Co. design used for the 40 older units………………………………….

EDF has a history of missed maintenance deadlines, which an external audit published in June blamed on inadequate management of data, staff shortfalls and inexperienced teams in charge of turnarounds.


The company is still trying to figure out the speed at which cracks progress through pipes once they appear, meaning it faces tighter, more frequent monitoring of its reactors. Future setbacks can’t be ruled out.

The plan to fix seven safety cooling systems in 2023 is “not the end of the story,” Cedric Lewandowski, EDF’s senior executive vice-president for nuclear and thermal production, said at a parliamentary hearing this month. “It’s possible that we have to carry long and complex works. I think that 2023, ’24 and ’25 will continue to entail issues related to the stress corrosion.”

If that caps nuclear output, that means less power for France, and less to export to Europe.

Compounding the pipe issues is the broader maintenance work needed on what’s an aging fleet. Most of EDF’s reactors were built from the late 70s to the mid-90s, and now require longer down time. The utility wants to coincide the corrosion repairs with the other halts to maintain production, Lewandowski said.

On top of that, the utility is still repairing 122 faulty welds at a new flagship reactor in Flamanville in Normandy, which it wants to commission in the first half of 2024. The project is already over a decade behind schedule, and about €10 billion over budget.

All of which raises significant questions for EDF and the French government……………..

Macron’s government wants to help EDF build six new large reactors and begin preparatory studies on another eight units by 2050.

But building 14 new reactors is “absolutely not within EDF’s reach with its current balance sheet,” said Celine Cherubin, a senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service………………………..

The bigger question is whether EDF and the government can now reverse the sense of decline in France’s nuclear industry.

January 29, 2023 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Putin ready for war with NATO and U.S.? Russia plans renewed offensive in Feb over tanks aid.

27 Jan 2023 Russia has warned U.S.-led West and NATO against escalating the conflict in Ukraine. Russian Deputy Ambassador to the OSCE Maxim Buyakevich said that the U.S. and NATO have approached a dangerous line on the way to a full-scale military conflict in Europe after the U.S. and Germany agreed to send modern battle tanks to Ukraine. “Their deliberate actions to escalate the military confrontation in Ukraine, provoking the regime to military action against the population of Russia with the use of Western heavy weapons and targeting based on NATO intelligence is a direct path to a full-scale military conflict in Europe, from which absolutely all residents of our continent will definitely lose.” said Buyakevich at the meeting of the OSCE Post Council. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing for a new offensive in Ukraine, which will be launched next month. Watch this video for more.

January 29, 2023 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NATO’s ‘war against Russia’ inches ‘closer to direct conflict’

After all, it is mainly Ukrainians paying the price of the “war against Russia” fueled from afar.

“We are fighting a war against Russia,” the German Foreign Minister says, as the US and Germany authorize tank shipments, and new dangers, in the Ukraine proxy war.

Aaron Mate Substack 29 Jan 23

Since the first week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron has repeated a mantra on behalf of his NATO partners: “We are not at war with Russia.”

Nearly one year in, that notion has officially been dispelled.  

“We are fighting a war against Russia,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said this week.

Baerbock was trying to assuage NATO allies’ frustration over German reluctance to send Leopard 2 tanks into Ukraine. She can now claim vindication. In a reversal of its initial position, the German government has announced it that will deliver Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukrainian army.

To overcome German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s jitters, the White House engaged in an about-face of its own, approving the shipment of 31 US-made M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. …………………………………………………..

As Gen. Mark Milley learned when he came out in favor of diplomacy with Russia to end the fighting, the Pentagon’s outlook is no match for Washington’s proxy war fever. The White House reversed course, Politico notes, after “a parade of Democrats and Republicans” in Congress “pressured the Biden administration to grant Berlin’s request to send U.S. tanks first.” ……………………………

When President Biden overruled the Pentagon and unveiled the M1 approval, Austin stood by his side. “These tanks are further evidence of our enduring, unflagging commitment to Ukraine and our confidence in the skill of Ukrainian forces,” Biden declared.

Yet the publicly trumpeted US tank shipment comes with a quietly disclosed delay.

The M1s are “probably not for the near fight,” and in fact “are not likely to arrive for many months, if not years,” a US official told the Washington Post………………..

At this stage, NATO has pledged at least 105 tanks for Ukraine, well short of the 300 tanks that the head of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, has said are “urgent needs” to turn the tide………………………………………..

The F-16’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, is happy to oblige. Lockheed will be “ramping production on F-16s… to get to the place where we will be able to backfill pretty capably any countries that choose to do third party transfers to help with the current conflict,” Frank St. John, the military giant’s chief contracting officer, told the Financial Times. According to European officials, talks on such transfers are at an “early stage.”

Just as the prospect of diplomacy with Moscow is off-limits to Western policymakers, so is serious consideration of Russia’s response. The more advanced NATO weaponry pours in, the more that Russia will play its part in “permanent escalation”

Whatever the impact of the German tank shipments on the battlefield, their utility is not strictly military. By convincing Germany to send tanks for battle with Russian forces, the White House is advancing a goal that long predates the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine: undermine ties between Germany, Western Europe’s biggest power, and neighboring Russia, the United States’ biggest adversary.

……………………………………………………………………………………… “maintaining a powerful wedge between Germany and Russia is of overwhelming interest to the United States.”

………………………… Before Scholz caved to their pressure campaign, US officials noted that the German Chancellor “does not believe the world is ready to see German tanks near the borders of Russia, a reminder of the Nazi invasion in World War II,” according to the New York Times. Although the Times no longer allows itself to acknowledge it, there is another fraught historical irony: Germany is now sending tanks to a Ukrainian military that has formally incorporated what the Paper of Record once described as the “openly neo-Nazi” Azov Battalion.

……………………………. In seeking to force Germany to send its tanks into battle with Russia, the US wants Germany “to draw Russia’s counterfire,” German parliamentarian Sevim Dağdelen writes. “One cannot escape the impression that it is hoped a possible counterstrike would hit Berlin first and foremost. The United States would thus have achieved one of its long-term strategic objectives, namely to prevent cooperation between Germany and Russia for ever.” US officials, Dağdelen warns, are “forcing their ally, like a vassal, to sacrifice itself.”

Dağdelen’s characterization of the US use of Germany applies to Ukraine as well. According to Der Spiegel, Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) is “alarmed by the high losses of the Ukrainian army in the battle for the strategically important city of Bakhmut,” where a “three-digit number” of Ukrainian soldiers are losing their lives daily. Russia’s capture of Bakhmut, the BND warns, “would have significant consequences, as it would allow Russia to make further forays into the interior of the country.” Russian advances on Bakhmut follow a 300,000-plus troop mobilization that has “appeared to tilt the calculus of attrition in Moscow’s favor,” the Wall Street Journal notes.

Perhaps the coming influx of NATO tanks will reverse that trend. If not, the proxy war’s NATO architects can point to other victories: Russian forces depleted, Berlin-Moscow ties severed, and US dominance of NATO strengthened. After all, it is mainly Ukrainians paying the price of the “war against Russia” fueled from afar.  https://mate.substack.com/p/natos-war-against-russia-inches-closer?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=100118&post_id=98811692&isFreemail=true&utm_medium=email

January 29, 2023 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

King Charles wants to honour nuclear test heroes but medals are being delayed by MoD red tape

King Charles wants Britain’s nuclear test heroes honoured before his coronation, but the MoD is accused of creating “unreasonable delay”

Mirror, By Susie Boniface. Reporter , 27 Jan 2023

King Charles wants to give a medal to Britain’s nuclear test heroes within months – but Ministry of Defence red tape could hold up the process for at least a year.

The King has told friends he has pencilled in a full “investiture” type ceremony in April, before his coronation.

But two months after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a gong for victims of the Cold War radiation experiments, civil servants say it will take more than a year for the design of the medal to be signed off.

Alan Owen, whose dad died after witnessing 24 bombs in 78 days, said: ““It beggars belief that this country can organise a coronation in 8 months but we’ve been told it will take even longer to do one, simple, medal.

“It took them 70 years to get around to asking the monarch for what we should have had on day one. They know how to make medals, this is just another unreasonable delay by the MoD so that there are as few veterans as possible left to collect it.”

A source close to the King said: “His Majesty is taking a close interest in the issue of nuclear test veterans, and wants to see some form of official ceremony as soon as possible.

“He recognises that those who can be given it are not going to be around for long.

“His staff have pencilled in something for April, depending on approval from government.”…………………………………………….

The Mirror has campaigned for official recognition on their behalf for 40 years, and last year saw the first sign of change when the PM finally asked the King to approve a medal.

Cabinet Office staff have told campaigners that “the usual process” for medal design and delivery is handled by the MoD medal office according to “set procedures”.

It is understood they are still working out criteria, with no date for inviting applications, or for it to be made by the Royal Mint…………………………………….

Mr Sunak also promised a face-to-face meeting with veterans to discuss war pension reform, education packages, and missing records on nuked blood. Despite No10 acknowledging the request, no date has been set.

Campaigners have also been promised meetings with Office of Veterans Affairs staff to discuss grant applications to a £200,000 fund, but none have been arranged.

Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey, who campaigns for the veterans, said: “When he announced the medals, the PM witnessed their decades of pain and grief. The families wept as he promised them a meeting. They are still waiting, and time is running out. I urge the PM to meet us as soon as he can.” ………………………………………………
more https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/breaking-britains-nuclear-test-veterans-28544461

January 29, 2023 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s ‘Protect and Survive’ nuclear attack advice deemed ‘futile’ in face of modern threats

The 32-page booklet Protect and Survive about what to do in the event of a nuclear attack was offered to the public in 1980. But it was widely criticised and mocked at the time, and has since been deemed nothing but a “charade”.

Express UK By RHIANNON DU CANN, Jan 29, 2023 “…………………………….. what should people do if the worst were to happen? Is there any official advice? Here, Express.co.uk looks at the UK’s last official piece of nuclear advice: a booklet titled Protect and Survive.

The booklet told the public “how to make your home and family as safe as possible under nuclear attack”. In the event of a crisis, the 32-page booklet would be distributed with announcements made on the TV, the radio, and in the press. The pamphlets and a series of public information films were only intended to be made known to the public in the event of a crisis. Some 2,000 copies of the pamphlets were sent to senior officials in the emergency services and local authorities.

The apocalyptical pamphlet — which described how no part of the UK would be considered safe in the event of a nuclear bomb or missile attack — advised the public to create a “fall-out room” and “inner refuge” to protect from radiation

The public was ordered to stay in the room furthest from the outside walls and roof for 14 days without leaving “at all”, essentially barricading themselves in to protect against the penetration of radiation. If possible, Britons were advised to build a “lean-to” inside using dense materials, again to resist radiation. If you lived in a flat of more than five floors, then you must head to the basement or ground floor.

Windows were to be painted with white emulsion to reflect the heat and advice was given on how to bury and label those who had died.

The public would be told to put together a survival kit which consisted of three and a half gallons of drinking water and some for washing; tinned or well-wrapped food to last for a fortnight; a portable radio (described as “only link to the outside world”); warm clothing; letter writing paraphernalia; tin and bottle openers

; crockery; bedding and toilet “articles”.

The booklet also included a checklist that asked questions such as “do you know the warning sounds?”; “have you got buckets of water ready on each floor?” and “have you sent the children to the fall-out room?”

The senior curator of the 2017 People Power: Fighting for Peace exhibit at the Imperial War Museum told The Times that year that the pamphlet was “chilling”.

Matt Brosnan said: “The matter-of-fact instructions are written so as to be easy to follow, yet never broach the underlying question that all readers would be likely to ask: in a nuclear strike, would most of this be futile?”……………………………………….more https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1727069/uk-protect-and-survive-booklet-nuclear-attack-advice-spt

January 29, 2023 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

USA tries to prevent a Russian offensive in Ukraine by offering a sort of war endgame deal with Russia

Crimea is a particular point of discussion. There is a widespread view in Washington and Kyiv that regaining Crimea by military force may be impossible. Any Ukrainian military advances this year in Zaporizhzhia oblast, the land bridge that connects Crimea and Russia, could threaten Russian control. But an all-out Ukrainian campaign to seize the Crimean Peninsula is unrealistic, many U.S. and Ukrainian officials believe. That’s partly because Putin has indicated that an assault on Crimea would be a tripwire for nuclear escalation.

By John Helmer, Moscow,26 Jan 23  http://johnhelmer.org/blinken-concedes-war-is-lost-offers-kremlin-ukrainian-demilitarization-crimea-donbass-zaporozhe-and-restriction-of-new-tanks-to-western-ukraine-if-there-is-no-russian-offensive/#more-70535

David Ignatius has been a career-long mouthpiece for the US State Department. He has just been called in by the current Secretary of State Antony Blinken to convey an urgent new message to President Vladimir Putin, the Security Council,  and the General Staff in Moscow.

For the first time since the special military operation began last year, the war party in Washington is offering terms of concession to Russia’s security objectives explicitly and directly, without the Ukrainians in the way.

The terms Blinken has told Ignatius to print appeared in the January 25 edition of the Washington Post The paywall can be avoided by reading on.  

The territorial concessions Blinken is tabling include Crimea, the Donbass, and the Zaporozhye,  Kherson “land bridge that connects Crimea and Russia”. West of the Dnieper River, north around Kharkov, and south around Odessa and Nikolaev, Blinken has tabled for the first time US acceptance of “a demilitarized status” for the Ukraine. Also, US agreement to  restrict the deployment of HIMARS, US and NATO infantry fighting vehicles, and the Abrams and Leopard tanks  to a point in western Ukraine from which they can “manoeuvre…as a deterrent against future Russian attacks.”

This is an offer for a tradeoff –  partition through a demilitarized zone (DMZ) in the east of the Ukraine in exchange for a halt to the planned Russian offensive destroying the fortifications, rail hubs, troop cantonments,  and airfields in the west, between the Polish and Romanian borders, Kiev and Lvov, and an outcome Blinken proposes for both sides to call “a just and durable peace that upholds Ukraine’s territorial integrity”.

Also in the proposed Blinken deal there is the offer of a direct US-Russian agreement on “an eventual postwar military balance”; “no World War III”; and no Ukrainian membership of NATO with “security guarantees similar to NATO’s Article 5.”

Blinken has also told the Washington Post to announce the US will respect “Putin’s tripwire for nuclear escalation”, and accept the Russian “reserve force includ[ing] strategic bombers, certain precision-guided weapons and, of course, tactical and strategic nuclear weapons.”

President Putin has offered a hint of the Russian reply he discussed with the Stavka  and the Security Council last week.  

Putin told a meeting with university students on Wednesday, hours after Blinken’s publication.   “I think that people like you,” the president said,    “most clearly and most accurately understand the need for what Russia is now doing to support our citizens in these territories, including Lugansk, Donetsk, the Donbass area as a whole, and Kherson and Zaporozhye. The goal, as I have explained many times, is primarily to protect the people and Russia from the threats that they are trying to create for us in our own historical territories that are adjacent to us. We cannot allow this. So, it is extremely important when young people like you defend the interests of their small and large Motherland with arms in their hands and do so consciously.”

Read on, very carefully, understanding that nothing a US official says, least of all through the mouths of Blinken, Ignatius,  and the Washington Post is trusted by the Russians; and understanding that what Putin and the Stavka say they mean by Russia’s “adjacent historical territories” and the “small and large Motherland” has been quite clear.  

Follow what Blinken told Ignatius to print, before Putin issued his reply. The propaganda terms have been highlighted in bold to mean the opposite — the public positions from which Blinken is trying to retreat and keep face. 

January 25, 2023
Blinken ponders the post-Ukraine-war order
By David Ignatius

The Biden administration, convinced that Vladimir Putin has failed in his attempt to erase Ukraine, has begun planning for an eventual postwar military balance that will help Kyiv deter any repetition of Russia’s brutal invasion.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined his strategy for the Ukrainian endgame and postwar deterrence during an interview on Monday at the State Department. The conversation offered an unusual exploration of some of the trickiest issues surrounding resolution of a Ukraine conflict that has threatened the global order.

Blinken explicitly commended Germany’s military backing for Ukraine at a time when Berlin is getting hammered by some other NATO allies for not providing Leopard tanks quickly to Kyiv. “Nobody would have predicted the extent of Germany’s military support” when the war began, Blinken said. “This is a sea change we should recognize.”

He also underlined President Biden’s determination to avoid direct military conflict with Russia, even as U.S. weapons help pulverize Putin’s invasion force. “Biden has always been emphatic that one of his requirements in Ukraine is that there be no World War III,” Blinken said.

Russia’s colossal failure to achieve its military goals, Blinken believes, should now spur the United States and its allies to begin thinking about the shape of postwar Ukraine — and how to create a just and durable peace that upholds Ukraine’s territorial integrity and allows it to deter and, if necessary, defend against any future aggression. In other words, Russia should not be able to rest, regroup and reattack.

Blinken’s deterrence framework is somewhat different from last year’s discussions with Kyiv about security guarantees similar to NATO’s Article 5. Rather than such a formal treaty pledge, some U.S. officials increasingly believe the key is to give Ukraine the tools it needs to defend itself. Security will be ensured by potent weapons systems — especially armor and air defense — along with a strong, noncorrupt economy and membership in the European Union.

The Pentagon’s current stress on providing Kyiv with weapons and training for maneuver warfare reflects this long-term goal of deterrence. “The importance of maneuver weapons isn’t just to give Ukraine strength now to regain territory but as a deterrent against future Russian attacks,” explained a State Department official familiar with Blinken’s thinking. “Maneuver is the future.”

The conversation with Blinken offered some hints about the intense discussions that have gone on for months within the administration about how the war in Ukraine can be ended and future peace maintained. The administration’s standard formula is that all decisions must ultimately be made by Ukraine, and Blinken reiterated that line. He also backs Ukraine’s desire for significant battlefield gains this year. But the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council are also thinking ahead.

Crimea is a particular point of discussion. There is a widespread view in Washington and Kyiv that regaining Crimea by military force may be impossible. Any Ukrainian military advances this year in Zaporizhzhia oblast, the land bridge that connects Crimea and Russia, could threaten Russian control. But an all-out Ukrainian campaign to seize the Crimean Peninsula is unrealistic, many U.S. and Ukrainian officials believe. That’s partly because Putin has indicated that an assault on Crimea would be a tripwire for nuclear escalation.

The administration shares Ukraine’s insistence that Crimea, which was seized by Russia in 2014, must eventually be returned. But in the short run, what’s crucial for Kyiv is that Crimea no longer serve as a base for attacks against Ukraine. One formula that interests me would be a demilitarized status, with questions of final political control deferred. Ukrainian officials told me last year that they had discussed such possibilities with the administration.

As Blinken weighs options in Ukraine, he has been less worried about escalation risks than some observers. That’s partly because he believes Russia is checked by NATO’s overwhelming power. “Putin continues to hold some things in reserve because of his misplaced fear that NATO might attack Russia,” explained the official familiar with Blinken’s thinking. This Russian reserve force includes strategic bombers, certain precision-guided weapons and, of course, tactical and strategic nuclear weapons.

Blinken’s refusal to criticize Germany on the issue of releasing Leopard tanks illustrates what has been more than a year of alliance management to keep the pro-Ukraine coalition from fracturing. Blinken has logged hundreds of hours — on the phone, in video meetings and in trips abroad — to keep this coalition intact.

This cohesiveness will become even more important as the Ukraine war moves toward an endgame. This year, Ukraine and its allies will keep fighting to expel Russian invaders. But as in the final years of World War II, planning has already begun for the postwar order — and construction of a system of military and political alliances that can restore and maintain the peace that Russia shattered.

Click to follow Putin’s remarks in the official Kremlin translation.  

Highlighted in bold type in Blinken’s text is the phrase, “a strong, noncorrupt economy and membership in the European Union”. This is Blinken’s message to the Kremlin that the  US wants to preserve Ukraine’s agricultural economy, its grain export ports, and the trade terms agreed with the European Union before the war. It is also Blinken’s acknowledgement that  Vladimir Zelensky’s  move early this week to force the resignations and dismissals of senior officials means the US is calling the shots in Kiev and Lvov.

Nothing is revealed in Blinken’s offer “for the Ukrainian endgame and postwar deterrence” of how, and who on the US and Russian sides, to negotiate directly on the particulars. Instead,  there is the hint that if the Russians agree to trust the Americans and delay the planned offensive, and if they allow the rail lines to remain open between Poland and Lvov, the Americans will reciprocate by keeping the Abrams and Leopard tank deliveries in verifiable laagers west of Kiev.

As Russian officials have been making clear for months, no US terms of agreement can be trusted on paper, and nothing at all which Blinken says.  A well-informed independent military analyst comments on the Russian options: “The best response is continue the special military operation, destroy the Ukrainian military in their present pockets,  complete de-electrification and destruction of the logistics, then either take everything east of the Dnieper or establish a de facto DMZ,  including Kharkov. Blinken and the others cannot be trusted to follow through if they think they have a chance to stall for time. The Ukrainian Nazis are conspicuously absent from this proposal – and they remain to be dealt with. We know there will be no end to trouble if the Russian de-nazification objective against them stops now.”

January 29, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Kramatorsk radiological accident

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kramatorsk_radiological_accident#:~:text=The%20Kramatorsk%20radiological%20accident%20was,rate%20of%201800%20R%2Fyear.

The Kramatorsk radiological accident was a radiation accident that happened in Kramatorsk, in the Ukrainian SSR from 1980 to 1989. A small capsule containing highly radioactive caesium-137 was found inside the concrete wall of an apartment building, with a surface gamma radiation exposure dose rate of 1800 R/year.[1] The capsule was detected only after residents requested that the level of radiation in the apartment be measured by a health physicist.[1]

The capsule was originally part of a radiation level gauge and was lost in the Karansky quarry in the late 1970s. The search for the capsule was unsuccessful and ended after a week. The gravel from the quarry was used in construction.[2] The caesium capsule ended up in the concrete panel of apartment 85 of building 7 on Mariyi Pryimachenk Street (at the time under the Soviet name Gvardeytsiv Kantemirovtsiv), between apartments 85 and 52.[1]

Over nine years, two families lived in apartment 85.[1] A child’s bed was located directly next to the wall containing the capsule.[1] The apartment was fully settled in 1980. A year later, an 18-year-old woman who lived there suddenly died. In 1982, her 16-year-old brother followed, and then their mother. Even after that the flat did not attract much public attention, despite the fact that the residents all died from leukemia. Doctors were unable to determine root-cause of illness and explained the diagnosis by poor heredity. A new family moved into the apartment, and their son died from leukemia as well. His father managed to start a detailed investigation, during which the vial was found in the wall in 1989.

By the time the capsule was discovered, four residents of the building had died from it and 17 more had received varying doses of radiation.[2] Part of the wall was removed and sent to the Institute for Nuclear Research, where the caesium capsule was removed, identified by serial number and disposed of.[1]

January 29, 2023 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Zelenskyy demands more sanctions, as Ukraine reels from Russian bombardment; explosions heard near nuclear power plant

 https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/27/russia-ukraine-live-updates.html Ukraine is reeling from the most recent wave of Russian drone and missile strikes Thursday that killed at least 11 people and triggered emergency power outages in 10 regions of the country.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for more sanctions on Russia in his nightly video address, and for a tribunal to address Russian war crimes.

The attacks came a day after Ukraine’s Western allies pledged to send the country battle tanks, opening up a new front in the types of weapons they are willing to provide in the fight against Russian forces.

January 28, 2023 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment