Global Matters – Archive 3

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January 28th 2023

How tanks from Germany, US and UK could change the Ukraine war

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An M1 Abram battle tank
Image caption, US M1 Abrams are faster than most Russian-made tanks

By Jonathan Beale

Defence correspondent

Is this the week when the war dramatically turned in Ukraine’s favour? It was certainly a decisive moment, with a coalition of Western nations confirming they were finally willing to supply modern-made main battle tanks.

Germany said it would send Leopard 2 tanks and the US said it would send M1 Abrams tanks. Both the UK and Poland have already made concrete pledges, and other nations are expected to follow. Some commentators have described the move as a potential “gamechanger”.

But is it really enough to win the war?

Ben Barry, senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS), tells the BBC that Western tanks will make a difference. But the former British Army Brigadier also warns that the pledges made so far are unlikely to prove decisive.

In modern warfare, tanks have been a key element for offensive operations – to punch through enemy lines and retake territory.

Used effectively, they provide mobile firepower, protection, shock and surprise. Concentrated in numbers, they can dislocate an enemy’s defences. But they also need the support of artillery to first weaken those defences and then the support of infantry to hold retaken ground.

History shows tanks alone don’t win battles. The British first used hundreds of tanks at the battle of Cambrai in November 1917 – to end the deadlock of static trench warfare. Initially they made significant advances, but many tanks soon broke down and a German counter offensive turned British gains into losses.

Tanks can also be used in defence. In 1940 they were used by the retreating British and French armies at Arras to stall the Nazi invasion, allowing the subsequent evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk.

But Ukraine has made clear that it wants weapons not just to stall any potential Russian spring offensive, but to retake its own territory – to go on the attack.

How Ukraine might use tanks as attack spearheads

It would make little sense for Ukraine to disperse its additional tanks across a frontline of more than 1,000km (621 miles). To break through Russian defences, Ukraine will need to concentrate its forces – possibly over an area of between five and 20km (between three and 12 miles).

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former colonel in the British Army’s Royal Tank Regiment, says numbers do matter for a breakthrough. An armoured brigade for a significant offensive operation would normally include at least 70 tanks. So more than 100 Western battle tanks could make a big difference, he says.

If Ukraine had more it could try to conduct simultaneous offensive operations in different places, as it did last year in the north and the south.

Then there’s the additional support required for what the military call “combined arms manoeuvre”.

The UK is not just sending Ukraine 14 Challenger tanks, but also 30 artillery self-propelled guns and armoured vehicles to carry and protect troops.

That new package of military support also includes mine breaching and bridge-laying vehicles. In other words, the essential elements needed for any offensive operation.

The US is also providing Ukraine with more than 100 Bradley and Stryker armoured vehicles, and Germany 40 of its Marder infantry fighting vehicle – as well as tanks.

Tanks are the tip of the spear, designed to move quickly over open ground. The Challenger 2, Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams are faster than most Russian-made tanks with speeds of more than 25mph (40km per hour) on rough terrain.

To take ground quickly, with any element of surprise, they would likely avoid urban areas where they would be more vulnerable to attack. Russia showed early on in this war, in its failed attempt to surround Kyiv, that a long column of armour on a road is an easy target.

Mr Barry, of ISS, says any spearhead attack would look for an enemy’s weak points. But he also warns that Russia has spent the last few months reinforcing defensive positions with trenches and tank traps.

Western tanks are also about 20 tonnes heavier than their Russian counterparts. The additional armour gives better protection but it also means the tanks may be too heavy to cross some makeshift bridges. Russia and Ukraine have both blown bridges to slow down advances.

Surprise attacks at night

Mr de Bretton Gordon, who commanded a squadron of British Challenger tanks, says one of the big advantages of Western-made tanks is their ability to fight at night.

Night sights and thermal imaging camera are standard. Only Russia’s more advanced tanks – like the T-90 – are fitted to fight at night. Attacks under the cover of darkness also add to the element of shock and surprise.

The greatest challenge for Ukraine will be logistics – maintaining the flow of fuel, ammunition and spare parts. Ukraine is not just having to maintain its old Soviet-era arsenal, it is also having to worry about an increasingly complex inventory of Western supplied weapons.

Britain’s Challenger 2 tanks, for instance, do not use the same Nato standard ammunition as the Leopard and Abrams. The Challenger 2 is no longer in production and even the British Army has had to cannibalise some spare parts from its existing fleet.

Mr Barry says Ukrainian engineers may be familiar with repairing diesel engines – like those in the Leopard and Challenger. But he says the US-made Abrams runs on a more complicated gas turbine engine. It also consumes about twice the amount of fuel as a German-made Leopard.

A German Leopard tank during exercises
Image caption, Germany produces the vast majority of modern heavy tanks in Europe – the Leopard 2s

If Western pledges are firmed, Ukraine’s armed forces could be boosted by more than 100 tanks. That would still fall well short of what Ukraine’s overall military commander asked for.

Last October, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi said Ukraine needed an additional 300 tanks, 700 infantry fighting vehicles and 500 howitzers for his planned offensive this year. It might end up with just half of that.

The training required on the weapons will take time too – weeks if not months. And it’s still not clear when all this equipment will arrive.

The US has indicated that its 31 M1 Abrams tanks might not be ready for months. Ukraine is also waiting for the West to respond to its repeated request for modern warplanes. An army attacking on the ground will need protection from the air.

Western officials had hoped that Ukraine may be able to mount an offensive as soon as this spring. They believe there is now a window of opportunity while Russia struggles to recruit and rebuild its battered forces, and to replenish its dwindling supplies of ammunition.

Ukraine has managed to prove the doubters wrong in the past – but it will still need more Western support if it is to achieve its goal of expelling Russian forces.

Comment Here in the U.K our ruling elite expect us of the masses to share the mainstream elite media’s excitement about all this. There is no room for protest. My generation of spolied privileged university students have grown old and precious. They demand protection. Imagine the furore if Russia were doing this in Ecuador , Mexico, Venezuela or Brazil. R J Cook

U.K Ukraine simplistic war mongering is relentless. This top retired RAF officer expects the masses to share his excitement about the tanks and expect ignorant masses to applaud an escalation of carnage ,clinging to a national identity as if it were a football team. R.J Cook.
The Anglo-U.S led global elite have never been richer ,the NATO Proxy War on Russia hurrying it along , with a bonus of distracting and further impoverishing the masses , has heightend fear of communism. This elite still sees Russia and China as communist which is why , among other things, Apple have moved I Phone manufacture to India. This is World War III about power and greed just like the first two. Censorship and propaganda are vital tothe cause. R J Cook
Russia & Former Soviet Union28 January
Ukraine restricts official trips after scandal

Ukraine restricts official trips after scandal

Kiev is cracking down on official travel after President Zelensky’s party expelled a MP for posting a video from a beach in Thailand

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World News27 January

Pentagon think tank warns against ‘long war’ in Ukraine

Washington should work to end the conflict sooner rather than later, says a RAND Corporation study

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World News27 January

Pentagon think tank warns against ‘long war’ in Ukraine

Washington should work to end the conflict sooner rather than later, says a RAND Corporation study

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World News27 January
Zelensky issues warning over Abrams deliveries

Zelensky issues warning over Abrams deliveries

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has demanded more US-made Abrams tanks and insisted the proposed August delivery date is too late

Read more on the site

Russia & Former Soviet Union27 January
Russian foreign ministry puts question to Stoltenberg

Russian foreign ministry puts question to Stoltenberg

Russia spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has lashed out at NATO chief Stoltenberg for his attempts to disclaim responsibility for Ukraine conflict

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World News27 January
Top US official hails Nord Stream 2 blast

Top US official hails Nord Stream 2 blast

The US administration must be “very gratified” that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is no longer operable, Victoria Nuland said

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RT News

World News27 January

Private military competition: Why the US is really so worried about Russia’s Wagner

Having used private contractors like Blackwater for decades, Washington is now ‘concerned’ about the new household-name PMC

Read more on the site

Tyre Nichols not seen to resist in police beating video

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  • 1 hour ago

https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.47.2/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

Watch: New footage shows deadly arrest of Tyre Nichols

By Chelsea Bailey in Memphis and Jude Sheerin in Washington, DC

BBC News

Footage of a traffic stop that has seen five ex-Memphis police officers charged with murder shows them kicking and punching a motorist for several minutes as he cries out for his mother.

Officers are seen beating Tyre Nichols, 29, in the videos from the 7 January arrest, with no signs of him resisting.

US President Joe Biden said he was “deeply pained” by the “horrific” clip.

Lawyers for Mr Nichols’ family likened the assault to the 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.

Peaceful protests took place in Memphis on Friday night after the video was released, with some demonstrators blocking a major highway in the city, while small-scale demonstrations were held elsewhere in the country.

Many protesters held banners demanding justice for Mr Nichols and an end to “police terror”.

This article contains descriptions of violence that some people may find distressing

Police initially said Mr Nichols had been stopped on suspicion of reckless driving, which has not been substantiated. He died in hospital three days later, on 10 January.

Mr Nichols was black, as are all five officers charged in the case.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-64435109

January 27th 2023

“Over There” The yanks are coming George m cohan – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com › watch

2:53

overthere#americanpatriot #ww1#yanks “Over There” music by George M Cohan 1917 is an American patriotic song from the First World War, …

YouTube · NATI

10:29

In this upbeat WW II comedy, a popular band joins the army with the idea of putting on shows for troops overseas.

YouTube · Kresha Kopik · 3 Jul 2015

9 key moments in this video

January 26th2023

The Tanks Are Coming

Over There

Song by George M. Cohan

Lyrics

Johnnie, get your gun
Get your gun, get your gun
Take it on the run
On the run, on the run

Hear them calling, you and me
Every son of liberty
Hurry right away
No delay, go today

Make your daddy glad
To have had such a lad
Tell your sweetheart not to pine
To be proud her boy’s in line

Additional Lyrics by R J Cook

Johnnie, have lots of fun
Drive a tank with a big gun
Make them run run run
Fire your gun gun gun

They are calling you so loud

You should be so very proud

Fighting for rich folk’s liberty

Keep happy and so free

They need UKRAINE

That’s not insane

Hurry on your way

Sign up, sign up today

Your daddy will be so proud

Your gun will be so loud

Your girlfriend will love you more

When you march right out the door.

Your uniform will look grand

When you go there’ll be a band.

Get in your tank and drive away

Drive all night and all day

Britain’s rich and powerful are profiting masively from the ‘cost of war crisis. Mainstream media are super excited.

Send the word, send the word over there
That the Tanks are coming
The Tanks are coming
The drums will be far away

Nukes will turn night to day.

On the telly everyday

So prepare, say a prayer
Send the word, send the word to beware
You’ll be over, you’re coming over
And you won’t come back till it’s over, over there.

OK there might be nukes,

Your dead might look like spooks

StIll your tanks are all well protected

If radiation is detected.

A very happy man’ , Zelensky, , but who is the real dictator in what might be literally an earth shattering story ? Zelensky’s adoration for Britain’s Boris Johnson is so great that he wants him as British Ambassador for his new ‘independent’ Ukraine. This pair are the new ‘RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS’. ‘Unchained Melody’ should be Ukraine’s new national anthem.

Hoist the flag and let her fly
Yankee Doodle do or die
Pack your little kit
Show your grit, do your bit

Yankee to the ranks
From the towns and the tanks
Make your mother proud of you
And the old red, white and blue

Over there, over there
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming
The Yanks are coming
The drums rum tumming everywhere

So prepare, say a prayer
Send the word, send the word to beware
We’ll be over, we’re coming over
And we won’t come back till it’s over, over ther

Turkey Refuses Vote For NATO Christmas Roasting Plans.

It’s election season in Turkey, and barely a day has gone by this week without comments from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on one of his favorite international topics: NATO.Like other alliance members, Erdogan must approve applications by Sweden and Finland to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but he says he’s holding out until their governments do more to crack down on Kurdish groups outlawed in Turkey.Key reading:Erdogan’s Political Foes Try to Unite With Months Left Until Vote Turkey Says NATO’s Nordic Expansion Depends on Meeting Pledges Why Turkey Is Still Blocking Sweden’s NATO Accession Turkey to Draw Line Under Inflation Crisis as Elections Near Why Turkey’s Next Election Is a Real Test for ErdoganHe’s been demanding that Sweden extradite suspected Kurdish militants and alleged coup-plotters wanted by Ankara. A recent burning of Islam’s holy book in Stockholm by a right-wing extremist hasn’t helped matters, sparking outrage in Turkey and other Muslim nations.Sweden and Finland say they have fulfilled the conditions for membership, and all other members bar Hungary agree. NATO diplomats want to finalize the expansion in time for the alliance’s summit in Lithuania in July.The tussle over NATO holds broader relevance as war rages in Ukraine. Having Sweden and Finland on board could make it easier to stabilize the security of the area around the Baltic Sea and defend NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Those countries are often seen as potential targets for Russian military aggression.This is happening against the backdrop of Turkey heading toward elections slated for May when Erdogan will seek to extend his two decades in power.While he faces the biggest challenge yet to his presidency with an economy in turmoil, the opposition is still trying to get its act together — it has yet to name a candidate to challenge him — and two of its top leaders have been sanctioned by the courts for allegedly insulting election officials as well as Erdogan.To guarantee victory, Erdogan needs to consolidate the support of his conservative and nationalist base.The NATO dispute is a perfect way to portray himself as standing up to international pressure. — Sylvia Westall
Erdogan at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 30, 2022. Photographer: Valeria Mongelli/BloombergClick here to listen to our Twitter Space conversation yesterday about the many issues on US President Joe Biden’s plate — from a probe over classified documents to a brewing fight about the debt ceiling and tensions with Europe over policies to support domestic industry. And if you’re enjoying this newsletter, sign up here.
Global Headlines
Reversing course | Just last week, US officials insisted the M1 Abrams was a bad fit for Ukraine. Yet Biden offered 31 of the battle tanks yesterday, saying they would “enhance” Ukrainian defense capacity. While they will take months to arrive, the switch shows how nearly a year into Russia’s war keeping NATO unified remains paramount, after Germany had refused to send its Leopard battle tank without other allies doing the same.German Chancellor Olaf Scholz secured the broad international alliance he wanted before sending tanks to Ukraine, but the tortured process to get there may have hurt his reputation. Follow our rolling coverage of the war here.Seeking voters | Donald Trump’s reinstated Facebook and Instagram accounts could be a boon as the former US president tries to spark Republican enthusiasm around his so-far listless 2024 White House comeback bid. Trump had 34 million followers on Facebook and 23 million on Instagram before his suspension in 2021, and his campaign will be able to buy ads again to raise funds with direct appeals or by capturing users’ contact information to solicit them directly. Here are the rules Trump must abide by to avoid penalties including a further suspension.Enjoying one of Italy’s classic dishes has just become noticeably more expensive, with the average cost of cooking a Pizza Margherita up almost 30% in December from a year ago. That far outstrips last month’s overall inflation rate of 12.3% and underscores how, even after $82 billion of government cash spent on reducing gas and power bills, there’s only so much that can be done as other prices inch up.Growing pressure | When UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet gathers at his countryside residence of Chequers today, among those due to attend is one major distraction: Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi. The premier is under growing pressure from the opposition and within his own party to eject Zahawi after he conceded he’d been “careless” with his taxes and had settled a retroactive bill with the country’s tax collector.The UK’s beleaguered National Health Service faces its latest industrial action today as physiotherapists walk out in a pay dispute.
Best of Bloomberg Opinion
Zahawi’s Careless Tax Error Is Sunak’s Problem: Therese Raphael Adani Saga Puts Investor Trust in India in Doubt: Andy Mukherjee Begging Companies to Hike Wages Is Not the Answer: Gearoid ReidyRich exit | President Xi Jinping’s decision to dismantle Covid travel restrictions is accelerating an exodus by wealthy Chinese, who could fuel billions in capital outflows as they plow cash into property and assets abroad. Since the end of Covid Zero in December, many rich Chinese spooked by a crackdown on industries like technology, real estate and education have begun traveling overseas to check out property or firm up plans to emigrate.
Explainers you can use
What Tanks Ukraine Will Get and Why It Wants Them About the Brazil-Argentina Not-a-Common Currency Idea Cost of US Going Over Fiscal Cliff Is Trauma Then Unending PainImpeachment attempt | Leftist parties in Peru lodged a motion seeking the impeachment of President Dina Boluarte, escalating a political crisis that’s seen fatalities and protests across the country since she was sworn in last month. Boluarte took over from Pedro Castillo after he was impeached and arrested for trying to suspend congress, triggering Peru’s worst violence in decades as his supporters tried to oust the incoming government.A protest in Lima on Tuesday. Photographer: Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty ImagesBloomberg TV and Radio air Balance of Power with David Westin on weekdays from 12 to 1pm ET, with a second hour on Bloomberg Radio from 1 to 2pm ET. You can watch and listen on Bloomberg channels and online here.
News to note
The US and the European Union are discussing a possible deal on minerals and critical raw materials in a bid to allow the bloc to qualify for benefits in Biden’s massive new green investment plan, sources say. The US Treasury Department has refused to provide House Republicans with any suspicious activity reports it may have on foreign banking and other business transactions by Biden’s son Hunter and other members of his family. Indian authorities detained several students in the capital who were planning to organize a screening of a banned BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Senior members of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress blamed a range of factors outside their control for an electricity crisis that one major ally said is likely to cost the party victory in next year’s elections. Denmark plans military conscription for women, as the Nordic country seeks to significantly boost the size of its armed forces. Xi said relations between Australia and China are proceeding in “the right direction,” ahead of a meeting of top trade officials from the two countries expected within months.And finally … Zimbabwe’s political leaders have a remedy for the collapse of its capital: build a new “cybercity” for the elite with as much as $60 billion of other people’s money. A brochure for the development in Mount Hampden depicts pristine walkways, towering high rises and shining malls — a world apart from Harare’s urban sprawl to the south riddled with potholes where garbage is rarely collected, electricity supply is more often off than on and many areas haven’t had reliable running water for years.An artist impression of the planned Zim Cybercity.  Source: Mulk International 

January 25th 2023

US joins Germany in sending battle tanks to Ukraine

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https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.47.2/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

Watch: Biden says tanks are not an offensive threat to Russia

By Gareth Evans

in Washington

The US will send 31 powerful battle tanks to Ukraine, joining Germany in sending the vehicles to support the fight against Russia’s invasion.

The decision to deliver the M1 Abrams tanks was announced just hours after Germany said it would send 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks to the battlefield.

Berlin also cleared the way for other European countries to send German-made tanks from their own stocks.

Ukraine has lobbied Western allies to send the military equipment for months.

It hailed the twin announcements as a turning point that would allow its military to regain momentum and take back occupied territory almost a year after Moscow invaded. It also said the tanks could help deter a potential Russian offensive in the spring.

“An important step on the path to victory,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said. “Today the free world is united as never before for a common goal – liberation of Ukraine.”

Russia, meanwhile, condemned the moves as a “blatant provocation” and said any supplied tanks would be destroyed. “These tanks burn like all the rest. They are just very expensive,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said.

Read More https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-64404928

January 24th 2023

RT News

On The Road To Oblivion by R . J Cook

From the same posturing power crazed ruling elite class who brought us two world wars, the bizarre Vietnam War, Afghanistan and so many other epics, sit back and enjoy the prelude to what might be the most amazing show yet. A hundred of the Leopard 2 tanks pictured above are being readied for NATO’s proxy war on Russia in the name of corrupt Ukraine’s freedom. Ukraine is a perfect fit for instutionally corrupt moralising U.S ,U.K and Europe. One anticipates Russia’s response with interest. Will they really wait until the Spring when pre emptive action would seem inevitable – obviously outside current hybrid war limits ? R J Cook

Two World Wars later , their have been rolling post colonial wars, all out comes and in fillers for competing elite’s colonial rivalries. There has been no end to the post 1945 in filling wars along with the secret war against Russia – declared by Britain et al as soon as World War One was over. Hence MI6 designed the assassination of Lenin and rise of Stalin. Hitler was fostered for too long ,by the same elite , to contain Stalin and his version of Communism.

There have been western elite driven rolling post colonial wars ever since to date – massively profiting the lucrative arms industry, keeping its shareholders in luxury and the masses feeling ‘safe’ ( sic ).

Anyone , outside of police and other state institutions who googles this site,will see an unsafe site warning. So far, mainstream media has not mentioned Sergei Lavrov’s apocalyptic warning. Britain’s dumbed down education has no interest in literary masterpieces like Neville Shute’s ‘On the Beach.’

Fallout ad miserable death from Nuclear War is not a subject for masses who must live comfortably in a fantasy world of cretinous mass media like Naked Attraction and Love Island. That way the nuclear missiles will take them by surprise. It will be easier that way. Meanwhile , the rich morons who caused the war – and I do not mean Russia – will be tucked up in luxurious underground bunkers and towns.

Our elite’s judgement should be judged by Biden and Clinton’s unpunished failings. Britain’s motley crew includes disgraced Health Minister Matt Hancock who used taxpayer’s money to employ his mistress whose job was to take things down in his office and offer him stress relief. Today, I heard the best ones yet. Boris Johnson gave a banker friend the high status sinecure of Chairman of BBC after the banker man , Richard Sharp granted him a substantial loan. The funniest one yet is that a recently fired U.K Chancellor of the Exchequer has been fiddling millions in taxes since 2000. Neither admitted wrong doing.

As I write, BBC news are reporting massive systematic abuse in Doncaster’s Children’s care homes. The OFSTED chairman Amanda Spielman has trotted out the usual State body expressions of horror along with ‘lessons have been learned’ and the homes closed , the children being transferred to adult institutions. The news has now moved on to a former Swedish Prime Minister who is ecstatic that more countries are sending sophisticated Leopard tanks to the Ukraine war zone. He also emphasised how very keen Sweden and Finland are to join NATO because that will keep them safe. He is concerned that Turkey’s President Erdogan leads the world of offended Muslims following a Swede burning the Koran.

He wants the culprit et al , deported as terrorists to face Turkish justice. Otherwise he will block the Nordic admission to NATO. Meanwhile , Lavrov’s warnings are unheeded. Over here in U.K , the Cost of Ukraine Crisis is passed off to a docile public as ‘The Cost of Living Crisis.’ Given the implications of the Ukraine war and the quality of self seeking leadership ( sic) , perhaps it should be referred to as the ‘Cost of Dying Crisis.’ Britain’s Channel 4 News is excited at a recent German agreement to send 100 Leopard tanks to Ukraine. It is being called a game changer according a posh Lt Colonel Hamish Betton Gordon. Betton Gordon noted that Russian tanks are well protected, can fire at night , travel at 40 mph with a range of 400-500 miles a day, carrying multi weaponry including a 120 mm gun.

This war for a notably corrupt Ukraine is now at tipping point. We receive very sophisticated Anglo U.S propaganda in the U.K. To argue or dissent is treason to a nation repeatedly described in main stream as a leading example of democracy. What would you say to a motorist repeatedly describing his car as a car ? So why do we have to continually be reminded that Britain is a democracy ? The simple answer is that Britain is not a democracy.

By the way , a short while ago I attempted to watch one of my favourite shows , Masha and the Bear , only to find the channel was blocked because the programme is Russians . R J Cook

Russia & Former Soviet Union23 January

Russia expels EU state’s ambassador

Russia has told the Estonian ambassador to leave the country by February 7

Read more on the site

Russia & Former Soviet Union23 January
Wagner founder outlines his view on US hostility

Wagner founder outlines his view on US hostility

Washington doesn’t know what to do with the Russian PMC because it doesn’t fear American “gangsters,” Yevgeny Prigozhin told RT

Read more on the site

Russia & Former Soviet Union23 January

Russia and West on verge of ‘real war’ – Lavrov

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the conflict between Russia and the West is escalating from a hybrid war into a real one

Read more on the site

Cost Of Suviving In The Free World

The companies that churn through young workers

By Alex Christian12th January 2023

Some employers look to hire and continually turn over junior employees – sometimes harming young workers’ careers before they’ve even begun.

Sarah had always dreamed of working in the fashion industry. Aged 21, she decided to follow her dream, move to London and find a career she loved. “Like many young people, my passion was fashion,” she says. “But the reality wasn’t quite so glamorous.”

After working for less than a year in fashion retail, Sarah secured an e-commerce assistant role in the head office of a global luxury brand. In both jobs, she was surrounded by like-minded twenty-somethings, all of whom wanted to succeed in the fashion world. “It’s like any creative industry: young people always see it as cool to work in,” she says. “And the perks are great, even in sales: we’d get heavily discounted items all the time.”

However, Sarah adds that there was always a high office turnover – particularly among low-level staff. “Young employees would quit all the time: an 18-year-old intern only lasted a week after realising her job was essentially unpaid manual labour, and long hours just carrying and packing away clothing returned from shoots. The interns who lasted months would eventually quit from burnout. There was just a steady churn of young, impressionable workers and nothing was ever done about it – it just became a test of who had the thickest skin.”

While Sarah lasted in her job for two years, the excitement of working in fashion soon gave way to frustration and tedium: “Admin tasks with long hours and bad pay.” Without management offering her a clear career trajectory or a sense of progress, she says her job eventually ground her down – she quit. “Both management and employees knew it was a competitive workplace to be at – that your job would always be in high demand. If you left, you’d be replaced with another young worker excited to be there.” 

Experts say there are many employers that specifically hire new graduates looking to pursue their passions – often in competitive, even ‘glamourous’ careers. In some cases, this can be great for these workers, who are looking for a way into an industry of their dreams. Sometimes, however, young employees can get ground down in low-paying, demanding roles, as employers know that vacancies will always be hotly desired. These situations can leave early-career workers, hoping to establish themselves, making them vulnerable to burnout or disillusionment right at the start of their careers.

‘Unclouded by experience’

Many jobs are set up with the expectation that younger workers will grow into them. There are often clear paths for promotion and goals to reach; sometimes companies even offer mentorship and development programmes to guide entry-level employees up the ladder. Even if the climb can be a slog, many employers want to invest in workers to stay with an organisation. 

Yet experts say there are other companies that take a different tack – setting up infrastructures in which they hire young employees that have little, if any, opportunity for upward trajectory, and then load them up with demanding tasks. In these situations, employers often expect that these young workers will leave the organisation at some point – whether it’s because they’re at a dead-end or they’ve burnt out from the position. Then, they are generally replaced by other young workers, destined for the same fate. 

There was just a steady churn of young, impressionable workers and nothing was ever done about it – it just became a test of who had the thickest skin – Sarah

Of course, young employees are often expected to grind out the early years of their careers by showing ambition, persistence and resilience in the workplace – in some sense, ‘paying their dues’. Not every young worker without an explicit growth path is at a company that intentionally churns through entry-level talent, says Helen Hughes, associate professor at Leeds University Business School, UK. She points to public relations, for instance, where starting, lower-paid roles “fit into a person’s career trajectory: the expectation is that in the early stages, you have to take junior roles before you can progress”.

Yet some decide to establish what Hughes calls a “short-sighted model”. There are many reasons companies choose to churn through young workers, instead of investing in them. 

First, there are the financial implications. Fresh grads begin at the bottom of the ladder on starting salaries, and don’t have the same compensation expectations of experienced employees. “Employers often hire graduates because they can pay them less,” says Dominik Raškaj, marketing manager at job listings site Posao.hr, based in Croatia. “It’s effectively a source of cheap, undervalued labour.”

Additionally, entry-level workers may be more malleable and willing to accept certain working conditions. “The less experienced the employee is, the more open-minded and generally accepting they are of a work environment,” says Hughes. “They’re unclouded by experience, which brings advantages to an employer – they’re easier to mould.”Some young workers discover that they're assigned to tasks they didn't expect to be doing (Credit: Getty Images)

Some young workers discover that they’re assigned to tasks they didn’t expect to be doing (Credit: Getty Images)

However, this can leave young workers looking to break into a career susceptible to mis-sold jobs or toxic working environments. “Graduates can find themselves vulnerable to exploitation where they haven’t acquired the experience to know what’s OK and what’s not,” says Hughes. “Graduates can get a sense that it’s really competitive, so they feel desperate to accept a challenging role that may not have the best conditions.”

‘It can warp someone’s view’

In these situations, the short-term risk is burnout. Workers may find themselves burdened with long hours, massive workloads or menial tasks, and, due to their lack of seniority, unable to advocate for themselves. It can leave workers frustrated at best, or in cases like Sarah’s, under a lot of stress.

Many, however, feel like they don’t have a choice but to stick it out, especially if they’re trying to break into certain industries with high barriers to entry. For young workers desperate to establish themselves in a competitive career, faced with long hours and bad working conditions, the effects can be insidious. 

“Some might decide to stay and burn themselves out because they’re early-career,” says Hughes. “But without past experiences to benchmark against, the risk is they accept this is what the workplace entails, bad conditions become normalised and the young worker ends up thinking this is all they’re worth.”

This can have longer-term knock-on effects for these young workers, souring their expectations of what it means to be in the workforce at all. “You see workers begin to withdraw, hold back the effort and display quiet quitting behaviours,” says Jim Harter, chief scientist for workplace management and wellbeing at US analytics-firm Gallup. “It can warp someone’s view of what a career means, and their relationship with work.”

Graduates can find themselves vulnerable to exploitation where they haven’t acquired the experience to know what’s OK and what’s not – Helen Hughes

“Graduates can be so worried about getting a job that they think any will do,” adds Hughes. But working long, hard hours on bad pay with no end in sight creates long-term consequences. “You adjust to the norm around you – bad norms – right at the beginning of your career.”

The good news is the current employee-favourable job market can give young workers options if they find they’re in an exploitative position with no path to advance, or that’s becoming highly taxing. “There are now also more questions being asked about graduate jobs,” says Hughes. “And there’s more calling out of bad work practices on social media, meaning there’s greater pressure for organisations that don’t look after their young employees to change.”

However, even in the age of staffing shortages and online reviews, many of these tough environments will endure. This means the burden may fall to entry-level employees to recognise when they’re in a bad position. But identifying this may be easier said than done, since employees with little workforce experience may not know what’s standard in a junior role, versus what may be a step too far.

Sarah, for her part, did recognise that her job had pushed her to the breaking point and left. But instead of moving within the industry, she took another path. She now works for a creative agency outside of fashion. She says she’s much happier in her new role that offers clear progression, challenging work and varied daily tasks. “[Fashion] may have sounded like an impressive place to work,” she says, “but I realised it’s more important to have a fulfilling job than a cool name on a CV.”

Sarah’s surname is being withheld for career considerations

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January 23rd 2023

The French branch of Russia’s state-controlled broadcaster is shutting down. RT France is closing operations after its assets were frozen in a recent round of EU sanctions related to the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.
New Zealand’s next PM will be Chris Hipkins. The former health minister, who led the country’s pandemic response, will succeed Jacinda Ardern.
A far-right politician burned a Quran at a protest near the Turkish embassy in Sweden. The provocation adds to growing tensions between Ankara and Stockholm.
A Chinese health official said 80% of the population caught covid in the latest wave. That would mean more than 1.1 billion people have been infected in the world’s largest outbreak.
Protesters in Israel condemned the government’s plan to overhaul the justice system. An estimated 100,000 people took part in a demonstration on Saturday (Jan. 21).
Malaysia’s egg shortage is a boon for India’s exports. India is set to export a record 50 million eggs this month thanks to demand from Malaysia.
What to watch for
Lunar New Year celebrations offer new opportunities for China’s internet censor to monitor and ban unwanted content. The first new year celebration to take place since the lifting of zero-covid restrictions is expected to see millions traveling to see family, but brings with it the possibility of a spike in covid cases and deaths.
The Cyberspace Administration of China—the country’s top internet regulator—wants to make sure that the narrative is tightly controlled through its recently inaugurated, month-long “Spring Festival internet environment rectification” campaign.
Among other things, censors have been ordered to erase “gloomy emotions” as part of their mission to “increase the rectification of pandemic-related online rumors.” Of course, Chinese authorities have carte blanche to deem anything inconvenient or unfavorable to the regime a “rumor.” Unfortunately, tragedies will unfold nationwide as covid rampages through communities. Whether those stories will be publicly told and remembered is another matter.
The American public weighs in on non-compete clauses
Earlier this month, the US Federal Trade Commission proposed a ban on non-compete clauses, a move that could impact as many as 30 million workers and increase their earnings by as much as $300 billion annually. Now, the agency is accepting comments from the public on the decision.
Here’s what some people had to say:
“My dad lost his job after his union failed to reach an agreement with his previous employer, but because the old contract had a non-compete clause he was unable to work around our home. As a result, he now drives 50 miles across the state border for his current job.” —Jennifer Lee, Illinois
🩺 “Current non-compete causes force physicians to leave our state if they want or need to change jobs. This worsens our state’s physician shortage, and discourages providers from moving to the area.” —David Kenneally, Nevada
“Imagine that, wanting to work, being great at your job, being wanted by another employer, but being forbidden to change jobs. It’s the opposite of the American dream.” —Susan Wheeler, Montana
You reap the health that you sow
When trying to eat healthy, we often tend to look at the produce itself, but the quality of the soil in which it was grown is more indicative of a plant’s nutritional value.
For decades, farmers have leaned on chemical fertilizers and pesticides to yield larger amounts of monocrops. The more robust harvests help farmers pay back start-up loans and turn profits. But decades of chemicals have ruined soils, making them less capable of providing nourishment for the crops, and lessening their nutritional value as a result. They also can have adverse effects on humans.
Transitioning a conventional farm to a regenerative one requires an initial investment and about three years of development, but the long-term benefits are real—for produce, people, and planet, as Clarisa Diaz finds in her latest piece for Quartz.
✦ Love stories like these? Help keep content like this free and accessible to all by getting a Quartz membership. We’re offering 50% off.
Russia & Former Soviet Union22 January

Kiev’s star mercenary threatens to ‘burn Ukrainian army to the ground’ – media 

Emese Fajk, now with Kiev’s foreign legion, blackmailed a general to protect her position, Daily Mail has reported 

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January 22nd 2023

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Netanyahu’s hard-line new government takes office in Israel

  • Published
  • 29 December 2022
Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a special session of the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem on 29 December 2022
Image caption, Benjamin Netanyahu said his administration would “restore governance, peace and personal security”

By Yolande Knell & David Gritten

BBC News, Jerusalem & London

The most religious and hard-line government in Israel’s history has been sworn in.

Benjamin Netanyahu returns as prime minister, after his Likud party formed a coalition with ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies.

There is domestic and international concern it will inflame the conflict with the Palestinians, damage the judiciary and restrict minority rights.

Mr Netanyahu has promised to pursue peace and safeguard civil rights.

Addressing a special session of the Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem, he stated that his administration would “restore governance, peace and personal security to the citizens of Israel”.

“I hear the opposition’s constant laments about ‘the end of the state’, ‘the end of democracy’, members of the opposition, losing the elections is not the end of democracy – this is the essence of democracy.”

Mr Netanyahu was heckled by his opponents, some of whom chanted “weak”.

They suggest he has been forced to sign deals with hard-line parties because more liberal ones refuse to sit in government with him while he is on trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He denies any wrongdoing.

Several hundred protesters meanwhile gathered outside, waving Israeli flags, rainbow flags bearing the Star of David, and signs reading “shame”, “danger” and “down with racism”.

Mor, a woman from Jerusalem, told the BBC: “I’m here because my country’s falling apart from its democratic values.”

People protest against Israel's new government outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on 29 December 2022
Image caption, Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Knesset ahead of the swearing-in ceremony

This is a record sixth term as prime minister for Mr Netanyahu, who was ousted by his opponents 18 months ago, but his coalition partners are pledging to lead the country in a new direction.

The first guiding principle of the new government, published on Wednesday, declares that “the Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the land of Israel”. It says that includes the occupied West Bank and promises to “advance and develop” settlements there.

About 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. Most of the international community considers the settlements illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

There are also some 100 outposts – small settlements built without the Israeli government’s authorisation – across the West Bank.

In a coalition deal with the ultranationalist Religious Zionism party he signed last week, Mr Netanyahu agreed to retroactively legalise the outposts. He also promised to annex the West Bank while “choosing the timing and weighing all of the State of Israel’s national and international interests”. Such a step would be opposed by Israel’s Western and Arab allies.

Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir (L) and Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich (R) attend a special session of the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem on 29 December 2022
Image caption, Far-right politicians Itamar Ben-Gvir (L) Bezalel Smotrich (R) will hold key positions in the new government

Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich, a West Bank settler, will be finance minister and also oversee the Civil Administration, which approves settlement building in the West Bank and controls important aspects of Palestinians’ lives.

Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, another settler and ultranationalist politician who has previously been convicted of racism and supporting a terrorist organisation, will be national security minister, responsible for the police.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned that the plans to develop West Bank settlements would have “repercussions for the region”.

Mr Netanyahu’s coalition partners reject the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict – the internationally backed formula for peace which envisages an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank alongside Israel, with Jerusalem as their shared capital.

There have also been expressions of concern both inside and outside Israel about some ministers’ very rigid views on the application of Jewish law and LGBTQ rights.

Avi Maoz, head of the anti-LGBTQ Noam party, will serve as a deputy minister in the prime minister’s office. He has called for Jerusalem’s Gay Pride event to be banned, disapproves of equal opportunities for women in the military, and wants to limit immigration to Israel to Jews according to a strict interpretation of Jewish law.

Activists, doctors and business leaders have meanwhile warned that discrimination against LGBTQ individuals could potentially be legalised if the anti-discrimination law is changed to allow businesses to refuse services to people on religious grounds.

Israeli LGBTQ activist Daniel Johnas protests outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on 29 December 2022
Image caption, Daniel Johnas said he was concerned about future of life in Israel for himself, his husband and children

Although the coalition deal between Likud and the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party calls for such an amendment, Mr Netanyahu has said his administration will not allow any harm to the LGBTQ community. He has also chosen an openly gay member of Likud, Amir Ohana, to be parliamentary Speaker.

Critics have expressed concern at the coalition’s intention to pass legislation that would give a parliamentary majority the ability to override Supreme Court rulings.

Mr Netanyahu’s coalition partners have also proposed legal reforms that could end his corruption trial.

At Thursday’s protest, a woman from Tel Aviv, who did not want to give her name, said: “I refuse to accept what I feel is the possibility of the beginning of a fascist regime and I want to protect the rights of every citizen living in this country.”

Daniel Johnas, an activist in the religious LGBTQ community, said he was worried for the first time to go on the street with the rainbow flag. He was also concerned about the future of life in Israel for himself, his husband and children.

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Jerusalem: Palestinian anger over far-right Israeli minister’s holy site visit

  • Published
  • 3 January

https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.47.2/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

WATCH: Israeli minister visits contested Jerusalem site surrounded by police

By Yolande Knell & Raffi Berg

BBC News, Jerusalem & London

Palestinians have condemned a visit to a contested holy site in Jerusalem by a far-right Israeli minister as an “unprecedented provocation”.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has called for a harder line towards the Palestinians, walked around the site surrounded by police.

Competing claims to the compound bitterly divide Israel and the Palestinians.

Tensions have risen with the advent of Israel’s new nationalistic government.

Mr Ben-Gvir’s visit was his first public act since the government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was sworn in five days ago.

The hilltop site is the most sacred place in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. It is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, site of two Biblical temples, and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, the site of Muhammad’s ascent to Heaven. The entire compound is considered to be al-Aqsa Mosque by Muslims.

Jews and other non-Muslims are allowed to go to the compound but not pray, though Palestinians see visits by Jews as attempts to change the delicate status quo.

Mr Ben-Gvir, leader of the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, has long said that he wants to bring about a change to the rules to allow Jewish worship at the site. There is no indication that Mr Ben-Gvir prayed during Tuesday’s visit.

“The Temple Mount is open to everyone,” he tweeted, accompanied by a photograph of him surrounded by a security cordon with the golden Dome of the Rock in the background.

Itamar Ben-Gvir at Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif
Image caption, Itamar Ben-Gvir has said he wants to change rules to allow Jewish prayer at the site

Ahead of November’s election, Mr Ben-Gvir said that he would demand that Benjamin Netanyahu introduce “equal rights for Jews” there.

However, Mr Netanyahu has sought to reassure Israel’s allies that he will not allow any changes. A clause in his coalition deals states that the status quo “with regard to the holy places” will be left intact.

Mr Ben-Gvir was given the go-ahead for his first visit since becoming a minister after consulting Mr Netanyahu and security officials.

Following the 15-minute walkaround, the Palestinian foreign ministry denounced what it described as “the storming of al-Aqsa mosque by the extremist minister Ben-Gvir and views it as unprecedented provocation and a dangerous escalation of the conflict”.

Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh called for “thwarting the raids that aimed at turning the al-Aqsa Mosque into a Jewish temple”, saying Mr Ben-Gvir’s visit was “a violation of all norms, values, international agreements and laws, and Israel’s pledges to the American president”.

A spokesman for the Palestinian militant Islamist group, Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, called it a “crime” and vowed the site “will remain Palestinian, Arab, Islamic”, AFP news agency reported.

Jordan, one of a small cluster of Arab countries to formally recognise Israel, summoned Israel’s ambassador in protest.

In his tweet, Mr Ben-Gvir sent a message of defiance to Hamas, declaring: “No Israeli government that I’m a member of is going to bow to a despicable and murderous terror organisation… and if Hamas thinks that I’ll be deterred by its threats, it needs to accept that times have changed and that there’s a government in Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem holy site map

Tensions between Israel and Palestinians which escalated into violence at the site in May 2021 saw Hamas fire rockets towards Jerusalem, triggering an 11-day conflict with Israel.

A visit to the site in 2000 by Israeli right-winger Ariel Sharon, then opposition leader, infuriated Palestinians. Violence which followed escalated into the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada.

The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif is the most sensitive site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Situated in occupied East Jerusalem, it was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. Under a delicate set of arrangements, Jordan was allowed to continue its historical role as custodian of the site, while Israel assumed control of security and access.

Muslim prayer continued to be the only form of worship allowed there, although a bar on Jewish visits was lifted. Palestinians argue that in recent years, steps have been taken that undermine the status quo, with Orthodox Jewish visitors often seen praying quietly without being stopped by Israeli police.

The number of visits by Jews has swelled in the past few years, something Palestinians claim is part of a surreptitious attempt to take over the site.

Comment The Liberal ( sic ) mainstream media automatically condemn conservative protestors in the U.S, Canada and Latin America as anti democratic. They routinely put their agent provacteurs in their to liven things up -as we saw with the so called Capitol Riots and Brasilia. But when the same sort of ‘liberals’ protest against governments in Israel , Belarus or Russia , they are protesting for democracy. No body does hypocrisy and double standards like the west with their so called ‘independent’media. R J COOK

RT News

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Ukraine war: Zelensky adviser says West’s ‘indecision’ is killing Ukrainians

  • Published
  • 6 hours ago

Related Topics

Bundeswehr Leopard tank, 20 May 19
Image caption, The Leopard tank is designed to compete with the Russian tanks being used in the invasion

An adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the West’s “indecision” over sending extra weapons to Ukraine is “killing more of our people”.

“Every day of delay is the death of Ukrainians,” Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

His remarks come after Ukraine’s defence minister said he had a “frank discussion” with his German counterpart about German Leopard 2 tanks, which Kyiv is urgently requesting to confront Russian armour.

Germany has insisted that it is not blocking the delivery of German-made Leopard tanks, which other countries want to send.

“We had a frank discussion on Leopards 2. To be continued,” Oleksii Reznikov said after meeting Western allies on Friday.

The meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany brought an agreement to supply more armoured vehicles, air defence systems and ammunition.

On Saturday, an adviser to Mr Reznikov told the BBC that Nato countries committed to helping Ukraine need to be several steps ahead of the enemy.

Yuriy Sak said that the West needed to redefine what it meant to stand with Ukraine – and that it did not simply mean stabilising Ukraine’s front line.

“To be able to defend our land means to be able to de-occupy our land, to liberate our territories and for this we need heavy tanks, for this we need armoured vehicles,” he said.

The Leopard 2 is seen as a potential game-changer for Ukraine, as it is easy to maintain and designed specifically to compete with the Russian T-90 tanks, which are being used in the invasion.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said opinions remained divided over supplying Leopards, and he denied that Berlin was blocking such a move.

Under German export laws, other countries who want to supply Leopards – like Poland and Finland – are unable to do so until Berlin gives the all-clear.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the Nato partners for their military assistance, but said “we will still have to fight for the supply of modern tanks”.

“Every day we make it more obvious that there is no alternative, that a decision about tanks must be made.”

Ukraine’s current tanks are mostly old Soviet models, often outnumbered and outgunned by Russian firepower.

More than 2,000 Leopards are sitting in warehouses all over Europe. President Zelensky believes about 300 of them could help to defeat Russia.

Mr Pistorius said Berlin was prepared to move quickly if there was consensus among allies, though he could not say when a decision on the tanks might be made.

Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov (R) with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (C) and German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius
Image caption, Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov (R) with Kyiv’s US and German allies in Ramstein

Germany has found itself in a deadlock due to several factors including international diplomacy and the legacy of World War Two.

It used to have a policy of not sending arms to conflict zones, but that was reversed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Late last year, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said Germany was now “among the allies providing most military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine”, by supplying artillery, air defence systems and Marder infantry fighting vehicles.

But Germany is reluctant to send Leopards unless they are part of a wider Nato package that preferably includes America’s powerful M1 Abrams tanks. The US has rejected this, saying the Abrams tanks are impractical for Ukraine’s forces because they are difficult and expensive to maintain.

Regardless, there has been pressure in some corners for the US to send its tanks, and to persuade Germany to do the same.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin denied that Berlin was waiting for the US to make the first move. “This notion of unlocking – in my mind it’s not an issue,” he said after Friday’s meeting of 54 countries at Ramstein Air Base.

Germany also remains haunted by the Nazi-era devastation it caused in World War Two, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been cautious about having anything to do with an escalation in Ukraine.

A leading opposition Christian Democrat (CDU) politician in Germany, Johann Wadephul, condemned the government’s “policy of refusal” on the Leopards, saying it would affect Germany’s international reputation. “What is Scholz waiting for?” he asked.

Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau also criticised Germany’s reluctance.

“Arming Ukraine in order to repel the Russian aggression is not some kind of decision-making exercise. Ukrainian blood is shed for real. This is the price of hesitation over Leopard deliveries. We need action, now,” he tweeted.

Western countries have committed billions in other weaponry – but without Germany’s commitment on tanks, it was not the result Ukraine was hoping for.

Other countries have committed to sending tanks, including the UK, which will send 14 Challenger 2s.

The US announced fresh support worth more than $2.5bn (£2bn) this week, including armoured vehicles.

The Pentagon promised an extra 59 Bradley armoured vehicles, 90 Stryker personnel carriers and Avenger air defence systems, among other supplies.

Nine European nations have also promised their own weapon support after meeting in Estonia on Thursday.

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COST OF UKRAINE WAR ON RUSSIA CRISIS BY R J COOK.

COMMENT

Britain’s Bear faced cheek & hypocrisy over Ukraine They will reap what they sow..

The elite have feared and been at war with Russia since LENIN took over – which is why MI6 assassinated him. They thought they had finished the job with the Yeltsin coup and the asset strippers.

Something went wrong , so they must put it right. Its elite , the driving force of U.K fake democracy , hope to lead the U.S astray as it did in Kosovo , Iraq , Syria , Libya and Afghanistan. Having positioned itself outside the EU for the long run up to this so far proxy war on Russia , its spies and toffee nosed advisers say this is the time to go for the Russian jugular. Meanwhile, the U.K masses ,like the ‘uni’ educated puppets that they are, think they endure a cost of living crisis. They must not know that they are enduring a Cost Of Ukraine War Crisis enriching the already super rich.

Culling Europe’s gullible dog trained masses is no problem. There is an apparently endles supply of THIRD WORLD African labour to keep costs low and prices high. So it becomes ever more obvious that NATO is humiliating Russia. Bear Baiting was always popular with morons. These morons may soon be laughing on the other side of their face. They believe all the authorities tell them , as they believed masks and lockdowns would stop Covid 19. R J Cook

January 20th 2023

Ukraine war: Give us tanks, says Zelensky, as Western allies meet

No decision on sending German tanks to Ukraine – Poland

NATO is the most unified I’ve ever seen Nato – US General

We hear next from US Gen Mark A. Milley who starts his address by saying today’s efforts for more military equipment has been made following the co-operation of 54 countries.

“This is the most unified I’ve ever seen Nato,” he says.

“In the words of President Biden as much as it takes, for as long as it takes in order to keep Ukraine free and sovereign.”

US Defence Secretary says no decision made on tanks

BBCCopyright: BBC

A reporter says many people expected a breakthrough in the discussions about supplying heavy battle tanks but this was not mentioned – Austin is asked why that is.

He says we heard the German defence minister say earlier that they’ve not made a decision on the provision of leopard tanks.

“What we’re focused on is making sure Ukraine has the capability it needs to be successful right now,” he says.

“We have a window of opportunity between now and the spring when Ukraine commence their counter offensive and that’s not a long time.”

US Defence Secretary says no decision made on tanks

A reporter says many people expected a breakthrough in the discussions about supplying heavy battle tanks but this was not mentioned – Austin is asked why that is.

He says we heard the German defence minister say earlier that they’ve not made a decision on the provision of leopard tanks.

“What we’re focused on is making sure Ukraine has the capability it needs to be successful right now,” he says.

“We have a window of opportunity between now and the spring when Ukraine commence their counter offensive and that’s not a long time.”

He says he doesn’t have any announcement to make on M1 tanks.v

He says he doesn’t have any announcement to make on M1 tanks.

The UK is to send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine to bolster the country’s war effort, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said.

He spoke to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in a call on Saturday, during which he confirmed he would send the equipment and additional artillery systems, No 10 said.

Downing Street said the move shows “the UK’s ambition to intensify support.”

The government is to issue 14 tanks to Ukraine.

Around 30 AS90s, which are large, self-propelled guns, are also expected to be delivered.

President Zelensky has thanked the UK, saying that the decision to send the tanks “will not only strengthen us on the battlefield, but also send the right signal to other partners”.

He said the UK’s support was “always strong” and was “now impenetrable”.

No 10 said that during the call, Mr Sunak and Mr Zelensky also discussed recent Ukrainian victories, as well as the “need to seize on this moment with an acceleration of global military and diplomatic support”.

The announcement came as a series of missile attacks were launched across Ukraine on Saturday, including in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa.

At least 14 people were killed in a strike on an apartment block in the eastern city of Dnipro.

Mr Sunak said the Challengers, the British Army’s main battle tank, would help Kyiv’s forces “push Russian troops back”.

Built in the late 1990s, the Challenger tank is more than 20 years old, but it will be the most modern tank at Ukraine’s disposal. The tanks will provide Ukraine with better protection, and more accurate firepower.

The UK will begin training the Ukrainian Armed Forces to use the tanks and guns in the coming days.

While the donation alone is not considered a game-changer, it is hoped that the UK’s move will inspire other countries to donate more modern equipment to help Ukraine.

Chair of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood said he welcomed the UK “getting serious about the hardware it supplies Ukraine”, but that international assistance had been “far too slow”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “That’s exactly what Russia wants us to do – to remain hesitant.

“Unless we step forward and support Ukraine, Russia will not go away – and that will mean the bully has won.”

He stressed that he wanted to see an arms factory in Eastern Poland which would allow Ukraine to procure its own weapons for the long term.

Infographic on the UK's Challenger 2 tank, explaining its technical characteristics

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The US Department of Defense cannot account for hundreds of billions in equipment provided to contractors, a government audit has found

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France disrupted by strikes over pension reform

France disrupted by strikes over pension reform

Strikes and protests have taken place all across France as labor unions protest President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms

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January 19th 2023

RT News

Moscow provides details on latest missile strikes against Ukraine

Russia & Former Soviet Union15 January

Moscow provides details on latest missile strikes against Ukraine

The most recent missile barrage targeted Ukrainian command and control facilities, as well as energy sites, Russia’s defense ministry says

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Russia & Former Soviet Union16 January
Ukrainian blogger calls for genocide of all Russians

Ukrainian blogger calls for genocide of all Russians

Influencer Melania Podoliak wants the entire Russian nation “wiped off the face of the Earth”

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Russia & Former Soviet Union15 January

Putin provides assessment of Ukraine campaign   

Russia’s president has spoken of “positive dynamics” in Moscow’s military operation in the neighboring country  

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World News16 January
Asian country aims to ramp up arms sales to UAE

Asian country aims to ramp up arms sales to UAE

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol travels to Abu Dhabi, seeks to expand weapons sales as the Emirates cut reliance on US defense support

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January 18th 2023

Britain Home Of Alleged Independent Media On Line Harm Legislation To Outlaw Anti Vax Covid Conspiracy Posts To Protect Democracy ( Sic ). So why are British Media Permitted In Russia & Its War Zone ? This Site Is Marked Harmful Content By Google.

RT News

Ex-Russian president blasts Davos forum

Russia & Former Soviet Union17 January

Ex-Russian president blasts Davos forum

The fact that the delivery of tanks to Ukraine is being discussed at Davos is a “disgrace,” former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev says

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World News17 January
Far-right group on trial over Macron assassination plot

Far-right group on trial over Macron assassination plot

An alleged far-right terrorist group that plotted to kill Emmanuel Macron is now on trial in France

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Putin allows sanctioned Russian firms to disregard shareholders from ‘unfriendly’ states

President Vladimir Putin has allowed sanctioned Russian companies to disregard foreign shareholders from unfriendly countries

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s17 January

German leaders detail new defense minister’s strengths

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has named Boris Pistorius as the country’s new defense minister

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January 17th 2023

Leading American university removes the word ‘field’ because it is ‘racist’

University of Southern California says the term ‘field work’ may have negative connotations for descendants of slavery

By Nick Allen in Washington 12 January 2023 • 3:21am

The word “field” has been declared to have racist connotations and will no longer be used in a department at a leading American university….

Read More https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/01/12/university-southern-california-department-removes-word-field/

RT News

Russia & Former Soviet Union16 January

NATO tanks ‘will burn’ – Kremlin

Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has criticized pledges by a number of NATO countries to send tanks to Kiev

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German FM says ‘hole’ in law protects Russia

Annalena Baerbock wants to change international law so the West could put the Russian leadership on trial for war crimes in Ukraine

Gerwomany – a comment by R.J Cook.

Comment International Law also protects the likes of Britain and the U.K ,who wrote its essentials, from prosecution for war crimes. This is why , after framing war crimes whistle blower Julian Assange for rape, the truth was out. Assange was arrested when the Anglo U.S funded regime change in Ecuador opened the doors to drag Assange out of that oppressed nation’s London Embassy where he gained citizenship and asylum. Anglo U.S , with EU lackeys , love their own illegal wars , replete with war crimes , which are not illegal because they define the law. States , like individuals , framed for crimes they have not committed , have a tendency to lash out and go mad regardless. When those states and individuals have the power to dish out retaliatory kamikazee harm , careless of self destruction , the results are dreadful. We saw that in post 1919 Germany and we see it with terrorists. Choosing pleasant faced innocent looking naive young females as moralising authorities like the German FM , will only exacerbate the situation. Her country should be renamed Gerwomany. Meanwhile , those who have nothing have nothing to lose except their identity and self respect. R J Cook.

Non threatening Miss R.J Cook who was offered , by State authorities threatening ‘hospital’, chemical lobotomy via anti psychotic drugs to complete her sex change an elevation onto socially important cabbage level. All is about keeping people happy – the ‘Greatest HAPPINESS of the Greatest number ,keep us safe from thoughts in wartime slumber. Utitiitarian Jeremy Bentham ( whose corpse is preserved by LONDON university ) would love the U.K’s pledge to his Utilitarianism..

January 15th 2023

Iran executes suspected UK spy

Iran executes suspected UK spy

Alireza Akbari has been executed after a conviction for spying on behalf of Britain’s MI6

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Russia & Former Soviet Union14 January
Russia outlines endgame for Ukraine conflict

Russia outlines endgame for Ukraine conflict

The Ukraine conflict can be ended by either diplomatic or military means, but only when Kiev stops being a threat, Moscow has said

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January 14th 2023

Statement by NATO Foreign Ministers

Bucharest, 29-30 November 2022

  • 29 Nov. 2022 –
  • |
  • Last updated: 28 Nov. 2022 19:49

The NATO Invitees associate themselves with this Statement.

Official photo of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs

1. We are gathered in Bucharest, close to the shores of the Black Sea, at a time when Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine threatens Euro-Atlantic peace, security, and prosperity.  Russia bears full responsibility for this war, a blatant violation of international law and the principles of the UN Charter.  Russia’s aggression, including its persistent and unconscionable attacks on Ukrainian civilian and energy infrastructure is depriving millions of Ukrainians of basic human services.  It has affected global food supplies, and endangered the world’s most vulnerable countries and peoples. Russia’s unacceptable actions, including hybrid activities, energy blackmail, and reckless nuclear rhetoric, undermine the rules-based international order. We stand in solidarity with Poland following the incident of 15 November that led to the tragic loss of life as a result of Russia’s missile attacks against Ukraine. We condemn Russia’s cruelty against Ukraine’s civilian populations and violations and abuses of human rights, such as forcible deportations, torture, and barbaric treatment of women, children, and persons in vulnerable situations. All those responsible for war crimes, including conflict-related sexual violence, must be held accountable. We also condemn all those, including Belarus, who are actively facilitating Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. 

2. We welcome Foreign Minister Kuleba today, stand in full solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine in their heroic defence of their nation and land, and pay tribute to all those lives lost.  We remain steadfast in our commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.  We will never recognise Russia’s illegal annexations, which blatantly violate the UN Charter.  We will continue and further step up political and practical support to Ukraine as it continues to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and our shared values against Russian aggression, and will maintain our support for as long as necessary.  In this context, NATO will continue to coordinate closely with relevant stakeholders, including international organisations, in particular the EU, as well as like-minded countries.  Building on the support provided so far, we will help Ukraine now to strengthen its resilience, protect its people, and counter Russia’s disinformation campaigns and lies.  Allies will assist Ukraine as it repairs its energy infrastructure and protects its people from missile attacks. We also remain resolute in supporting Ukraine’s long-term efforts on its path of post-war reconstruction and reforms, so that Ukraine can secure its free and democratic future, modernise its defence sector, strengthen long-term interoperability and deter future aggression.  We will continue to strengthen our partnership with Ukraine as it advances its Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

3. Finland and Sweden are participating today as states invited to join the Alliance.  Their accession will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. Their security is of direct importance to the Alliance, including during the accession process.

4. Recalling that the Western Balkans and the Black Sea regions are of strategic importance for the Alliance, we welcome our meeting with the Foreign Ministers of NATO partners Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova, as NATO strengthens its tailored support to building their integrity and resilience, developing capabilities, and upholding their political independence.  We firmly stand behind our commitment to the Alliance’s Open Door policy.  We reaffirm the decisions we took at the 2008 Bucharest Summit and all subsequent decisions with respect to Georgia and Ukraine.

5. NATO is a defensive Alliance.  NATO will continue to protect our populations and defend every inch of Allied territory at all times. We will do so in line with our 360-degree approach and against all threats and challenges.  We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stand in solidarity with Türkiye in grieving the loss of life after the recent horrific terrorist attacks. We face threats and challenges from authoritarian actors and strategic competitors from all strategic directions.  In light of the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades and in line with the Strategic Concept, we are implementing a new baseline for our deterrence and defence posture by significantly strengthening it and further developing the full range of robust, combat-ready forces and capabilities.  All these steps will substantially strengthen NATO’s deterrence and forward defences.  We remain committed to prepare for, deter, and defend against hostile attacks on Allies’ critical infrastructure. Any attack against Allies will be met with a united and determined response. We stand together in unity and solidarity and reaffirm the enduring transatlantic bond between our nations. We will continue to strive for peace, security and stability in the whole of the Euro-Atlantic area.

Programme

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NATO’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

  • Last updated: 09 Dec. 2022 13:52

NATO condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine – which is an independent, peaceful and democratic country, and a close NATO partner. NATO and Allies continue to provide Ukraine with unprecedented levels of support, helping to uphold its fundamental right to self-defence.

This page contains information about NATO and its relationship with Ukraine, and the latest news on NATO and Allies’ responses to the ongoing war.

Relations with Ukraine

Relations with Ukraine

A strong, independent Ukraine is vital for the stability of the Euro-Atlantic area. Relations between NATO and Ukraine date back to the early 1990s and have since developed into one of the most substantial of NATO’s partnerships. Since 2014, in the wake of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, cooperation has been intensified in critical areas. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, NATO and Allies have provided unprecedented levels of support. more >>

Comment The hypocritical self righteous Anglo U.S led NATO have created World War 3 in all but name. They lie that it is all for democracy not power greed and war profiteering. U.K has now agreed to supply 12- 20 state of the art Challenger tanks and pressurising Germany to follow suit. Russia has warned of serious consequences including a widening conflict which could go nuclear at any moment. Russia has extended sanctions on selected British citizens. R.J Cook

The Spectacular Rise of the “Bad Boys” of NATO During the Ukraine Crisis

Judy Dempsey,  Alexander Gabuev,  Rose Gottemoeller,  Karim Sadjadpour,  Ashley J. Tellis

  • March 22, 2022

Summary:  And how Russia’s war has upended ties in China, Turkey, and the Arctic.

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This Q&A features excerpts from a Carnegie live event, moderated by NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly, on the global fallout of the Ukraine crisis. It has been edited for clarity and brevity. See more Carnegie events here.

Mary Louise Kelly: What is your sense of communication at this moment between Beijing and Russia? To what extent are they sharing information?

Alexander Gabuev

Gabuev is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

@alexgabuev

Alexander Gabuev: They don’t. I think that the Chinese contacts I talk to are as shocked as many people are. They read the assessments of the U.S. intelligence community in the media. The U.S. government shared some intelligence assessments with the Chinese, but the move is just so irrational, and going so much against the core national interests of Russia, that the Chinese had until the last moment really never believed that this would happen. So they pretend like they are keeping some communication line.

There is Western pressure for China to play a mediation role or to put pressure on Russia, which they don’t want to do. So they will keep in contact with the Russians, but there is zero meaningful coordination. They know that the Russians don’t need them to win this war, as ugly as it is.

Rose Gottemoeller

Rose Gottemoeller is a nonresident senior fellow in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program. She also serves as the Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Rose Gottemoeller: There was an op-ed in the Washington Post about how China stands for sovereignty and territorial integrity and all these lies about China knowing in advance about the invasion. I’m curious about what you make of that.

Alexander Gabuev: China has had a very well-developed narrative and talking points since at least the 2014 annexation of Crimea. These talking points include support for peace and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, mild criticism toward unilateral sanctions that don’t help the problem, and now criticism toward the expansion of U.S.-led alliances, meaning both NATO and AUKUS. And depending on the audience, the Chinese cherry-pick the parts of this message.

So it’s only normal that Ambassador Qin Gang went out to a major U.S. paper and underlined these parts. I totally believe that there was no discussion between [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and [Chinese President] Xi [Jinping] on what’s likely to happen. . . . [In] the meeting of the Russian National Security Council, the closest members of Putin’s war cabinet were visibly shaken and shocked because they had only realized what had happened. So I don’t believe that Putin had shared this with a foreign leader in the presence of other diplomats.

China is a very selfish power. It really cares about its own interest. It doesn’t care about Ukraine or Russia, for that matter. And just underscoring the parts of the message and talking to the West are really an imperative for them.

Mary Louise Kelly: To what extent do you see parallels or total dissimilarities between China’s designs for Taiwan in Russia’s designs for Ukraine?

Alexander Gabuev: I think they’re different, and they are not synchronized. It’s not that Putin made this reckless and terrible move on Ukraine that will make China believe that U.S. attention is somewhere else and will jump on Taiwan. In order to enforce observation of Taiwan into the People’s Republic on Chinese terms and put the gun on the table, you first need to make this gun really big and scary. And for that, China needs a nuclear deterrent on par with the United States. That’s what they are busy doing right now. They need about a decade to do this. And then are the conventional elements.

I think the lesson they’ve learned watching the fallout of the Russian operation is that the Russians believe their economy is sanctions-proof, when in fact it’s not. So if you want to do something like Putin did or if you want to take Taiwan by force, you really need to sanction-proof your economy much better. It’s basically a live simulation going in front of their eyes. I imagine that they will double down on indigenous innovation, double down on creating an economy that makes it really much easier to cut ties with the rest of the global economy. I think that’s where the focus will be for the next ten to fifteen years.

Mary Louise Kelly: [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky has so successfully framed the Ukrainian resistance as a fight for democratic values, and I’ve been trying to figure out how that resonates in India. As I have tracked India’s role, it has struck me as a kind of hedging its bets. But what you described [earlier in the event] sounds more like India is stuck, trying to figure out, from the department of not really any good options, how it navigates this. Does that sound fair?

Ashley J. Tellis

Ashley J. Tellis is the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, specializing in international security and U.S. foreign and defense policy with a special focus on Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Ashley J. Tellis: I think that’s an accurate description. I don’t think it’s hedging its bets in the sense that India has chosen its interests over the competition with values. They appreciate what the values in contention are, including the destruction of the liberal, rules-based order. But they are so dependent on the Russians in so many ways, and they’re so afraid of the prospect of an even tighter Russian-China embrace, that they are hoping that sitting on the sidelines will give them continued leverage with Moscow. [They are hoping] that Moscow will remember when a crisis with China comes down the line that India did not set out to censure the Russians, as many other states have done.

Mary Louise Kelly: What of Turkey’s relationship with the West and with Russia at this moment?

Karim Sadjadpour: I think for me what’s been most notable is this Turkish drone, the Bayraktar—I see Ukrainian women on social media saying they’re going to name their sons Bayraktar—has played the same role in this war that the Stinger played in the war against the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. So Turkey and Russia (historic rivals) and the Turkish military role here (the drone aid to Ukraine) have played seminal roles.

Karim Sadjadpour

Karim Sadjadpour is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he focuses on Iran and U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East.

@ksadjadpour

Turkey and Russia have also been obvious rivals in the Syria conflict. But both Putin and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan have managed for many years now having geopolitical rivalries with countries while not severing ties with them. So it seems that there is a level of dialogue between Turkey and Russia, even though, as I said, the Turkish drone has really been one of the military stars of this conflict.

Rose Gottemoeller: I’ve been watching with amazement how Turkey, as one of the bad boys of NATO, has been playing these positive roles in this current invasion—not only providing the drones but also trying to facilitate some diplomacy. The Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers met [recently] in Turkey.

It’s much different from when I was NATO deputy secretary general and Turkey had just bought the S-400 [missile defense system from Russia]. The United States and NATO were cutting Turkey out of the F-35 program as a result, and they seemed to be much in some senses closer to Moscow at that point than to NATO headquarters—at least that’s what a lot of people thought. Now it all seems to be healing. The United States apparently has offered Turkey upgraded F-16s in return for the better behavior. It’s no longer the bad boy it was, and we’ll see where it goes from here.

I’ll end by noting that all the bad boys of NATO—Poland, Hungary, and Turkey—have been performing spectacularly in this horrible crisis. Hungary itself had terrible differences with Ukraine over the Hungarian minority in Ukraine, which again was the top issue for Hungary and Ukraine while I was at NATO. But all is forgiven now it seems.

Mary Louise Kelly: The “bad boys of NATO” is a phrase I’m not going to be able to get out of my mind.

Rose Gottemoeller: The bad boys of the EU too—at least Hungary and Poland.

Mary Louise Kelly: What are the conflict’s implications for climate change consensus? How will it affect competition in the Arctic?

Alexander Gabuev: Russia is not a big player at the climate change negotiations, but all of the measures that have been introduced last year, to have an agenda for sustainable growth and combat climate change, are now rolled back because Russia will not be able to continue with the modernization of its oil processing plants and many other parts of its economy. So it will be much less green than before because of a lack of access to Western technology and Western green finance.

On the Arctic, China wanted to use Russia as a proxy to be more visible and more present. Russia is the only large state with a coastline that would be permissive to Chinese economic and financial interests, and China was a big investor in Russian oil and gas projects in the Yamal Peninsula and the Arctic liquified natural gas project. I think now, as Western companies are exiting the Russian market, it’s very likely that China will fill the void and find a way to be even more present, and Russia will not be able to push back.

Judy Dempsey

Dempsey is a nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie Europe and editor in chief of Strategic Europe.

@Judy_Dempsey

Judy Dempsey: This climate change agenda is creating turmoil in Germany, frankly because [Chancellor] Olaf Scholz says he wants to wean Germany off Russian energy, which will not really happen, and off coal, which will happen. Of course, one should perhaps use nuclear power for climate change, but the Greens are absolutely ideologically against this. Germany, which sets itself to be the leader of the green revolution, has got itself in a bit of a problem on this.

Rose Gottemoeller: Rosatom and TENEX, its commercial arm, are going nuts right now. They had [billions of dollars] in orders on their books for nuclear power plants around the world. Basically, it’s all been shot to pieces now. So that means, I suppose, less nuclear power, unless somebody like South Korea or China now steps in to take over that order book that Russia is going to be forced to abandon under sanctions. We’ll see if they can climb back in some way from this.

The Arctic was a centerpiece of Russian policy. It chair the Arctic Council right now, which was a big deal for them. They really wanted to show off their positive policy in the Arctic with the other member states of the Arctic Council. But the other member states have walked out and are refusing to participate now in meetings under Russian chairmanship.

Karim Sadjadpour: One of the things I’ve learned in this industry is to never make predictions, especially about the future, to paraphrase Yogi Berra. But I spoke to a friend of mine, who is a very successful investment fund manager on Wall Street, a few months ago, and he told me something I thought was very interesting: over the last decade the investments that did the best were tech stocks—the Apples, Googles, Microsofts, et cetera. Over the next decade, where he’s putting his money is much more on commodities and oil and gas.

I don’t have any money riding on any of these predictions, but I did think it was interesting that someone who does do this for a living is betting on oil and gas and commodities. That’s certainly been a big winner for 2020 up until now. It remains to be seen whether that will remain the case several years out.

Watch the full event below, and see more Carnegie events here.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=eULSiLfuvYs%3Fwmode%3Dtransparent%26enablejsapi%3D1%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fcarnegieendowment.org

World News09 January
EU state to reintroduce conscription

EU state to reintroduce conscription

NATO hopeful Sweden is set to reactivate civil conscription in an attempt to bolster defense amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine

Read more on the site

The Crisis of Missing Migrants

What has become of the tens of thousands of people who have disappeared on their way to Europe?

By Alexis Okeowo

January 9, 2023

A shadow of a boat looms over the scene of a pathology lab.

Cristina Cattaneo, a forensic scientist, said, “Knowing whether your son is dead or not is a fundamental right.”Illustration by Chris Kim

Listen to this story

By the time Nasenet Alme Wildmikael arrived in Germany, in 2015, she had passed through four countries by land or sea and had spent a month in a migrant prison. Wildmikael was twenty-three and petite, with full cheeks and a puff of curly hair. She had grown up in a small town in western Eritrea, the fourth of ten children. Her father died when she was young, and her mother raised the kids alone, working as a laundress. Although they had little money, she refused to let her children work. Wildmikael’s home life was happy. She loved cars and wanted to be a mechanic. But there was little opportunity for the necessary schooling, and her future was uncertain. “Even if you dreamed to have something more, you knew that you would never reach it,” she told me recently.

When Wildmikael was sixteen, she fell in love with a neighbor, a boy named Biniam, and soon became pregnant. Their son, Yafet, was born in 2008. Biniam took part in the baptism and promised to marry Wildmikael, but he left for Sudan before Yafet turned one. This was her first heartbreak. Biniam didn’t explain why he left, but Wildmikael believed that he wasn’t ready to be a father and wanted to escape repression in Eritrea. President Isaias Afwerki, the country’s longtime leader, has been accused of a variety of human-rights violations, including mass surveillance, arbitrary arrest, torture, and indefinite military conscription for Eritreans. To leave the country, Eritreans must have an exit visa, but the government rarely grants them. Many citizens feel trapped. Some five thousand people a month attempt, illegally and at great risk, to leave the country, according to the United Nations. (The Eritrean government has denied committing human-rights violations.) Wildmikael’s brother, at sixteen, had to enter military service, where conscripts endure forced labor, low pay, and physical abuse; those caught trying to escape are imprisoned or killed. “I didn’t want my son to be in the military,” Wildmikael told me. When she was eighteen, she left Eritrea with Yafet, walking three days through the desert to reach Sudan.

In Khartoum, the capital, Wildmikael spent six years serving chai at a café. Biniam also lived in the city, but he was not involved in Yafet’s life. Wildmikael and Biniam were both undocumented, a precarious status in Sudan: security services have abducted Eritreans living in Khartoum to send them back. By the spring of 2013, Biniam, at the age of twenty-six, had left Sudan. Later that year, Wildmikael found out that he had disappeared. He had been texting friends throughout his journey, but his messages stopped after he boarded a boat in Libya, bound for Italy. Soon afterward, on October 3rd, a rickety fishing boat crammed with migrants, many of them Eritrean, sank off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost island. The authorities found the remains of three hundred and sixty-six people in the wreckage. Photographs of the possible victims circulated among the tight-knit Eritrean community in Khartoum, and Wildmikael saw someone who looked like Biniam. She felt grief. “I was really hurt by him, but I loved him,” she said. “I grew up without a father, and I didn’t want my son to grow up without a father, too.”

Two years later, Wildmikael decided to try making it to Europe, too. “I knew that it was difficult to go from Sudan to Libya, especially if you are a woman,” she said. “I knew that people were dying in the sea to reach Europe. I knew everything. But I made the decision.” She wanted to earn money to send to her mother back home, and to give Yafet opportunities that she had been denied. “I really wanted to study and to have a job, a normal life,” she told me. She decided to leave Yafet, who was six, with a family friend in Khartoum. This was her second heartbreak. But it was for his safety: she knew a woman who had drowned in the sea with her sons. If Wildmikael received asylum in Europe, she thought, Yafet could fly to join her.

She made her way through the Sahel desert, using a route where many migrants have died of hunger or thirst, and where sexual violence is so common that some women take contraceptives before embarking. In Libya, she was held in a detention center in Tripoli. The guards fed the prisoners once a day and frequently beat the male detainees. After a month, she was released, and paid almost two thousand dollars to board a boat to Italy. “When I was on the boat, I thought I would never reach the ground again,” Wildmikael said. “But, alhamdulillah, I arrived.” She continued on to Germany, and was eventually granted asylum and given a renewable two-year residency permit. She moved to Vacha, a serene town in the center of the country, where she enrolled in German classes and made friends with her neighbors, an elderly German couple who helped her navigate the grocery store. “I felt like I had freedom,” she said.

But when she called the German Embassy in Khartoum to send for Yafet, she was told that he couldn’t join her. German law stipulated that she needed his father’s consent to bring him, or a death certificate proving that his father was dead. Migrants who don’t survive the journey to Europe are rarely found or identified, though, and Wildmikael had no proof of Biniam’s death. She hired a lawyer, who told her that, without official documentation, she had little recourse. When I met Wildmikael, last year, she had not seen Yafet, who is now fourteen, in almost eight years. They had interacted only through daily video calls. She sent three hundred euros a month to Sudan for his needs, including to pay for a private tutor, because he couldn’t attend school as an undocumented migrant. “He’s a really smart boy,” she told me. “He studies every day, and he learns quickly.” Yafet had recently asked if he could make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean himself, to join her.

Two people playing chess outside one person standing up and looking at the board from an aerial view.

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Last year, through Eritrean diaspora networks, Wildmikael contacted a forensic anthropologist named Cristina Cattaneo, the head of the Anthropological and Odontological Lab (LABANOF), at the State University of Milan. Cattaneo has spent much of her career identifying the bodies of people who have gone missing in Italy. Since 2013, she has also used the tools of forensic science—antemortem photographs, dental superimpositions, body markings, personal belongings, DNA samples—to help identify the bodies of missing migrants. When Cattaneo first heard from Wildmikael, she was struck by how long Biniam had been missing, with no state effort to determine what had happened to him. “You feel that the system has failed enormously,” she told me. “We have European relatives of victims of disasters who complain, rightly so, because they have to wait two or three weeks for a burn victim to be identified. It’s even more outrageous that people have to wait ten years.” Cattaneo hopes to give some dignity to the deceased, and a sense of closure to the living. She immediately took on the case. “It’s about respecting the rights of humans to have their dead identified,” she said.

In the past decade, the Mediterranean Sea and the shores of Italy, Malta, Cyprus, and Greece have become a vast graveyard. As a result of conflict, repression, economic circumstances, famine, and drought, more than two million people have tried to cross the Mediterranean to Europe since 2014, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. At least twenty-five thousand have disappeared in the crossing and are presumed dead. Most of these bodies remain at the bottom of the sea; some have washed ashore and been buried in unmarked graves—two thousand in Italy alone. The relatives of those who go missing are often left with only social-media posts from their loved ones and unfinished text conversations. “What about the families? There’s nobody that provides an answer,” José Pablo Baraybar, the forensic coördinator at the International Committee of the Red Cross, in Paris, said.

The International Commission on Missing Persons was started in 1996, by President Bill Clinton, after the conflict in the Balkans. Forty thousand people had gone missing. The I.C.M.P. helped countries arrange the excavation of mass graves and the extraction of DNA from human remains. Seventy per cent of the bodies were ultimately identified. In 2004, after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the organization helped affected countries extract DNA samples to build an extensive database of the missing, which led to the identification of tens of thousands of people. “Finding missing persons and investigating their disappearances is a state responsibility, regardless of whether the person is a citizen or noncitizen, regardless of their nationality, their ethnic background, their racial background,” Kathryne Bomberger, the Commission’s director-general, told me. “Clearly, there is a double standard.”

The I.C.M.P. has pushed for a similar effort to locate and identify the bodies of deceased migrants today, and to investigate their disappearances. In 2017, a member of the Italian parliament proposed a motion that would fund migrant identification, but it never made it to a vote. The following year, Italy, Malta, Greece, and Cyprus agreed to share information on the DNA of migrant bodies with the Commission, but so far none of the countries have submitted the relevant data. Instead, the European Union has invested heavily in efforts to block migration, even at the risk of contributing to migrant deaths. In 2018, it equipped and trained the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrants headed for Europe. Sometimes the Coast Guard sank boats in the process. Captured migrants have been taken to prisons in Libya, where they have been tortured, extorted, and sold into forced labor. The E.U. has discouraged humanitarian groups from rescuing migrants in sinking boats; Italy has repeatedly blocked vessels carrying migrants from disembarking in its waters.

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Unrecorded deaths have legal ramifications. People who can’t prove that a spouse has died find it difficult to remarry. The relatives of missing migrants face challenges when filing civil suits or joining criminal proceedings against smugglers accused of overloading boats or sending faulty ships to sea. When governments are at fault, it is difficult for families to hold them accountable. In late June, about two thousand migrants and refugees from Sudan and other African countries tried to scale a border fence between Morocco and Melilla, a Spanish enclave. Dozens were injured in a stampede, and security forces in Morocco savagely beat the migrants and shot them with rubber bullets. On the other side of the fence, Spanish guards tear-gassed them. At least twenty-three people were killed, and seventy-seven were reported missing. In the days afterward, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights posted photographs on Twitter showing freshly dug graves, and alleged that the government planned to bury the deceased without identifying them, alerting their families, or investigating the causes of their deaths. (The Spanish Ministry of the Interior has stated that its security forces, and those of Morocco, “acted in a proportional and temperate manner.”)

Psychiatrists call the emotional purgatory of not knowing whether a loved one is dead “ambiguous loss.” Family members suffer the pain of knowing that a loved one is likely gone, but are denied the rituals of mourning—burial, funeral—that allow them to move on. “From a clinical point of view, the symptoms are quite similar to those of people tortured,” Marzia Marzagalia, a psychiatrist in Milan who treats migrants, told me. Those suffering from ambiguous loss often struggle with sleeping and eating, have nightmares, feel that they are in danger, and experience obsessive ideation and physical pain. Ambiguous loss can also lead to depression and alcoholism, and has been linked to cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, and immunological diseases. “I have a mother who lost three children,” Marzagalia said. “She didn’t see them die on the boat. She left with them and arrived alone. And she goes on looking for them.”

Cattaneo, of LABANOF, the forensic lab, is fifty-eight and slight, with curly, dyed-blond hair, a scratchy voice, and a forceful bearing. She speaks quickly in both Italian and English, and generally expects others to get to the point quickly, too. She grew up in Montreal, studied biomedical sciences at McGill University, and co-founded LABANOF, in 1995. In its early years, the lab primarily worked to identify the victims of murders or accidental deaths in Milan. “If the body doesn’t have a name, how can you start investigating the crime?” she said. In 2007, Cattaneo’s lab spurred the creation of Italy’s Special Office of the Commissioner for Missing Persons, which now coördinates identification efforts. In 2012, the lab created a national database that collected photographs of unidentified bodies, the country’s first. Three years later, two Croatian sisters found a photo of their father, who had been missing for twenty years, and learned that he had died suddenly on a work trip to Milan; they had always believed that he had walked out on their family. “Twenty-five years ago, many of the unidentified bodies that we were doing autopsies on were migrants from Ukraine or Romania,” Cattaneo said. “But never like this.”

On October 3, 2013, Cattaneo was in Geneva, speaking at the International Committee of the Red Cross, when she saw the news that a migrant boat had sunk less than two miles from Lampedusa’s coast—one of the first big disasters of what came to be called the “migrant crisis.” Five hundred and eighteen people had been on board, and most had died. “I was outraged,” Cattaneo recalled. None of their families would ever know what happened to them. Cattaneo agitated the Special Office of the Commissioner for Missing Persons to allow the lab to identify the victims. People thought that the process would be too onerous, she told me, and that the families wouldn’t care about learning their relatives’ fates. “We said, Let’s try,” Cattaneo recalled. “Let’s do one pilot study.”

The police had already recovered the bodies from the wreck and taken photographs and DNA samples. They were able to identify a hundred and fifty people, and asked Cattaneo’s lab to help with a hundred and seventy-six more. The Italian missing-persons office requested that Sudanese and Eritrean embassies in other European countries announce that Italy was trying to identify victims from the boat. In the months that followed, eighty families paid their own way from Denmark, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in Europe to meet with Cattaneo’s team, in Milan and Rome. They carried photographs of missing family members and brought relatives who could give DNA samples; one family brought nail clippings from a grandmother who could not travel, in case they proved useful. On the morning of the meetings in Milan, Cattaneo found several families sleeping on benches in the lobby of the lab. At the meetings in Rome, an older Eritrean man, whose son had gone missing, sat in a corridor of a government building watching CNN footage of a recovery effort after a recent plane crash. “He was seeing everyone run for those people,” Cattaneo said. “But he had waited a year for someone to move a finger for his son.”

In some instances, when the bodies were well preserved, Cattaneo’s team was able to make quick identifications using recognizable tattoos or dental superimpositions. She identified a dozen bodies within days, with photographs provided by relatives. “They were showing us the Facebook profile of the missing person, and you had amazing pictures of tattoos, people on the beach with the smiles showing the dental profile—and you can identify with that,” she said. One Eritrean woman was looking for her nephew, who had just graduated from high school and had ritual facial scarring; Cattaneo soon identified his body. The son of the man who had been watching CNN had a tattoo of a cross, and Cattaneo found him as well. In the end, Cattaneo’s lab and the police identified about sixty per cent of the people whom the families were searching for. “It showed that you can identify these migrants, and that people are looking for their loved ones,” Cattaneo said. “I was really happy to prove people wrong.”

This past March, I visited Cattaneo on the campus of the State University of Milan, in Città Studi, the city’s academic district. Her office, just above the lab, is big and homey, with a red couch covered in letters and anatomy books. A replica of Michelangelo’s last Pietà—representing empathy for the relatives of the dead, she told me—stood near the room where her team meets with migrants’ family members, at the top of a staircase that leads to the city morgue. Outside, it had been sunny, but downstairs the lab was cool, lit by fluorescent lights. One lecture hall had a ceramic table on which Mussolini’s autopsy had been performed.

Two cats on nightstand talking about water glass while owner sleeps.

January 13th 2023

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Ukraine defence minister: We are a de facto member of Nato alliance

Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov
Image caption, Oleksii Reznikov said he believed Russia was trying to gather forces and weapons for a new offensive in the south and east

By Hugo Bachega

BBC News, Kyiv

Ukraine has become a de facto member of the Nato alliance, the Ukrainian defence minister says, as Western countries, once concerned that military assistance could be seen as an escalation by Russia, change their “thinking approach”.

In an interview with the BBC, Oleksii Reznikov said he was sure Ukraine would receive long-sought weapons, including tanks and fighter jets, as both Ukraine and Russia seemed to be preparing for new offensives in the spring.

“This concern about the next level of escalation, for me, is some kind of protocol,” Mr Reznikov said.

“Ukraine as a country, and the armed forces of Ukraine, became [a] member of Nato. De facto, not de jure (by law). Because we have weaponry, and the understanding of how to use it.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has framed his invasion of Ukraine as an existential battle against Western countries that want to weaken Russia.

Russian figures have argued they are fighting Nato in Ukraine, as the West has supplied the country with weapons in what they call a war of aggression.

Ukraine, for years, has sought to join the military alliance between the US, Canada and 28 European countries, something President Vladimir Putin has described as a security threat for Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pushed for fast-track accession, but it is unclear whether full membership is something the alliance members will seriously consider even after the war is over, despite pledges of support.

Article 5 of the Nato Treaty says an armed attack against any member should be considered an attack against all.

Mr Reznikov, however, denied that his comments would be seen as controversial, not only by Russia but, perhaps, by Nato itself, as the alliance has taken steps not to be seen as a party to the conflict.

“Why [would it be] controversial? It’s true. It’s a fact,” Mr Reznikov said. “I’m sure that in the near future, we’ll become member of Nato, de jure.”

Ukrainian forces fire at Russian positions at the front line near Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine
Image caption, Soledar, a small town in the eastern Donetsk region, has been experiencing some of the war’s most intense fighting

The defence minister spoke in the capital, Kyiv, as Ukrainian and Russian forces continued to fight for the small town of Soledar, in the eastern Donetsk region, in some of the most intense battles in the nearly 11-month-old war.

The Russian offensive is led by the mercenary Wagner Group, whose founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, a long-time Putin ally, has become a vocal critic of the Russian army’s performance in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Mr Prigozhin claimed that his fighters had seized control of the town, an allegation that was dismissed by Ukraine and, remarkably, by the Kremlin, in what was considered a rebuff to Mr Prigozhin.

The situation in Soledar was “very difficult”, Mr Reznikov said, but “under control”. He said Wagner fighters were being used in “wave after wave after wave” of attacks, leading to a high number of deaths, and that Mr Prigozhin was interested in the possible economic benefits of seizing the town, home to Europe’s largest salt mines.

“They’ll earn money from blood,” he said.

Soledar is about 10km (six miles) from Bakhmut, a strategic city where Ukrainian and Russian forces have been engaged in a months-long war of attrition that has caused widespread destruction and heavy losses on both sides. There, Wagner mercenaries have also been deployed in large numbers, and Mr Prigozhin is believed to have made the capture of Bakhmut a personal goal.

The group, Mr Reznikov said, “need to deliver some kind of proof to declare they’re better than the regular armed forces of the Russian Federation”. If seized, Bakhmut could pave the way for a Russian push towards Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, two Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk, a region that has been a key target for President Putin.

Mr Reznikov was speaking before Russia on Friday claimed it had taken control of Soledar. Ukraine disputed this and accused Russia of “information noise”.

Map shows areas of control in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine

Any gains would be, more than anything else, of extreme symbolic value for Russia. They would come after a series of humiliating setbacks, including a chaotic retreat from the north-eastern region of Kharkiv and the withdrawal from the southern city of Kherson, the only regional capital Russian forces had captured in the war.

Mr Reznikov claimed that “approximately 500 or 600” Russian fighters were being killed every day across the country, while Ukraine was losing a tenth of that, figures that could not be independently verified. He believed Russia could be trying to gather “forces, ammunition and weapons” for an offensive from areas it already occupies in the south and east.

Ukraine, in the meantime, needed time to regroup and rearm while it waited for the delivery of Western weapons. “Spring is the best period to refresh the movement for all sides,” he said. “We understand they’ll be ready to start and, surely, we have to be ready to start.”

However, he did not repeat a claim that Russia could be preparing another invasion from Belarus, a warning that has been dismissed by the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence agency. The movement from the north, Mr Reznikov said, “would take a lot of time and they [Russia] have no resources”.

Mr Reznikov spoke a day after the Russian defence ministry replaced the commander of its forces in Ukraine, a surprise announcement that was seen as a sign of a power struggle. Gen Valery Gerasimov, one of the architects of last year’s invasion, would return to the post that was being held by Gen Sergei Surovikin, who had been appointed in October.

The change, Mr Reznikov said, was a result of the “conflict between Mr Prigozhin and the armed forces of the Russian Federation”. Gen Surovikin oversaw the recent brutal attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure that, according to Mr Reznikov, “reduced the [Russian missile] stocks without any results”, repeating a Ukrainian claim that “they’re running out of missiles”.

As Poland and Britain revealed plans to deliver battle tanks for the first time, Mr Reznikov said he was sure Ukraine would receive “tanks, fighting aircrafts or jets, and long-range weaponry to hit targets in 300km (186 miles) as well”, because “things were changing” in Western countries.

He dismissed concerns that the announcements could trigger a Russian response, despite now-familiar threats from Moscow. “I have a war in my country,” he said. “They’re hitting my cities, my hospital, my kindergartens, my schools. They killed a lot of civilians, a lot of civilians. They’re an army of rapists, murderers and looters. What’s the next level of escalation?”

Additional reporting by Mohamed Madi, Hanna Tsyba and Robbie Wright.

Comment People shoulD need no more evidenece that this is another rich man’s World War where the masses can be relied upon to fight to kill the official enemies. NATO are dangerous liars and hypocrits- but stilL the masses wiilld ie for them while the arms manufactuers go on making billions. But there isg reat danger if Russia detrmines not to accept a NATO takeover. R J COOK

More on this story

RT News

Kremlin comments on major Donbass battle

Russia & Former Soviet Union12 January

Kremlin comments on major Donbass battle

The Russian troops have devoted “gigantic” efforts to seize the mining Donbass town of Soledar, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said

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Russia blasts France for arming Ukraine

Russia blasts France for arming Ukraine

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized Paris for a decision to provide more heavy weapons to Ukraine

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Russia sends high-ranking military representative to closest ally

Russia sends high-ranking military representative to closest ally

Russia’s deputy commander of its Ukraine mission has arrived in Belarus to inspect the two countries’ joint regional force

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Special counsel to investigate Biden

Special counsel to investigate Biden

Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to probe President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents

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The US Justice Department suppressed the story about Biden’s classified docs prior to the midterms, Edward Snowden has claimed

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January 11th 2023

Stefanie Lambert was a defense attorney with financial woes before seizing on the election-denial movement for new business. Now she faces potential disbarment and a criminal investigation into voting-data hacks. Her journey highlights the key role lawyers played in a struggle shaking American democracy.

By NATHAN LAYNE and PETER EISLER

Filed Dec. 23, 2022, 11 a.m. GMT

Stefanie Lambert was a Detroit defense lawyer working on a succession of routine criminal cases – theft, drug possession and firearms charges. Then Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss transformed her life.

As Trump started falsely alleging voter fraud that November, Lambert began reinventing herself as a key player in his campaign to overturn the election results. She pushed conspiracy theories in court, joined efforts to break into voting machines seeking evidence of fraud and organized a nonprofit that has raised at least a half million dollars to finance election challenges.

A REUTERS INVESTIGATION

  1. Conspiracy chronicles
  2. The origins and evolution of the election-denial movement
  3. Part 1. The programmer
  4. Part 2. The professor
  5. Part 3. The attorney

Lambert advanced quickly to the vanguard of a campaign by pro-Trump lawyers to perpetuate the election-denial movement through the nation’s courts. That movement endures despite the wholesale rejection of its baseless claims by judges across America, and despite the poor showing in last month’s midterm elections by Trump-backed candidates who embraced his stolen-election falsehoods. In Arizona, election conspiracists Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, who ran as Republicans for governor and secretary of state in the midterms, have claimed they were cheated and challenged their losses in court. Neither Finchem nor Lake responded to requests for comment.

Lambert started in her home state of Michigan, joining four lawsuits on behalf of Trump supporters. They included two within weeks of the 2020 election that challenged Democrat Joe Biden’s victory based on debunked fraud allegations and sought to impound voting machines across Michigan to inspect for evidence.

She has worked with a lawyer pursuing another four lawsuits in Pennsylvania, three targeting state and local officials and one against Dominion Voting Systems, according to court records and Lambert’s social media posts. The suits relied on similarly debunked fraud claims.

“She is an important figure in the dangerous election denial movement.”Norm Eisen, election lawyer and former ethics counsel to U.S. President Barack Obama, on attorney Stefanie Lambert.

A Trump spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Lambert has also been involved in unauthorized breaches of sensitive election equipment in three states, according to a review of legal filings, police records and people familiar with the matter. Such violations can expose confidential voter information, enable election-tampering by revealing security protocols and raise questions about the vulnerability of voting systems to manipulation.

Michigan’s attorney general accused Lambert in August of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to seize vote tabulators. Lambert denies any wrongdoing and remains defiant.

“I am not intimidated!” Lambert said in a statement posted to social media after being named as a target of the state probe. She called herself “a voice for the American people” in a July 2021 interview with two right-wing websites, the Gateway Pundit and 100 Percent Fed Up.

Lambert, 41, declined requests to be interviewed for this article. In response to detailed written questions from Reuters, a lawyer representing Lambert sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the news organization halt publication of this story, saying its inquiries included “fraudulent misrepresentations.”

This account is based on interviews with more than a dozen people who have worked with or know Lambert, as well as hundreds of pages of court documents, previously undisclosed emails from her associates, and police reports related to the alleged conspiracy to access voting equipment and data in Michigan.

The reporting reveals that Lambert, sometimes working with influential Trump allies, played a larger than previously known role as a coordinator and defender of voting-system breaches being investigated as possible violations of state law. It documents how the former prosecutor, facing financial and personal struggles, emerged as a central figure in a movement of lawyers that is sowing distrust in American voting systems and administrators.

Lambert and other election-denying attorneys say they are strengthening American democracy by pointing out its vulnerabilities to fraud or manipulation. Legal experts say they are exploiting the courts to undermine voters’ confidence in election results.

Read More https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-election-lambert/?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

Comment This constant reference to Western Democracy is nauseating. Hilary Clinton and her clique spent the whole of Donald Trump’s term in office disputing the election which her and her clique considered their divine right. It seems that only the self styled smug comfortable liberal left are untainted by conspiracy theories or conspiring. Britain and the U.S elites are as one on these matters, patronising their masses while stiring up conspiracies in their home countries and abroad. Europe can be relied upon to fall in line.These people dominate mainstream media through ownership or occupation as journalists. Threre is nothing democratic about this or any aspect of Western style democracy. If there was ,then we would not keep hearing drivel to the contrary and how war , enriching the elite and their stranglehold on earth resources is war for freedom – though it is obviouly so for their’s. R.J. Cook.

January 10th 2023

Europe accuses US of profiting from war

EU officials attack Joe Biden over sky-high gas prices, weapons sales and trade as Vladimir Putin’s war threatens to destroy Western unity.

US-RUSSIA-UKRAINE-CONFLICT-PROTEST
The Ukrainian flag and coat of arms is waved in front of the White House in Washington | Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

By Barbara Moens, Jakob Hanke Vela and Jacopo Barigazzi

Top European officials are furious with Joe Biden’s administration and now accuse the Americans of making a fortune from the war, while EU countries suffer. 

“The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the U.S. because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons,” one senior official told POLITICO. 

The explosive comments — backed in public and private by officials, diplomats and ministers elsewhere — follow mounting anger in Europe over American subsidies that threaten to wreck European industry. The Kremlin is likely to welcome the poisoning of the atmosphere among Western allies. 

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“We are really at a historic juncture,” the senior EU official said, arguing that the double hit of trade disruption from U.S. subsidies and high energy prices risks turning public opinion against both the war effort and the transatlantic alliance. “America needs to realize that public opinion is shifting in many EU countries.”

Another top official, the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, called on Washington to respond to European concerns. “Americans — our friends — take decisions which have an economic impact on us,” he said in an interview with POLITICO.

The U.S. rejected Europe’s complaints. “The rise in gas prices in Europe is caused by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s energy war against Europe, period,” a spokesperson for Biden’s National Security Council said. Exports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. to Europe “increased dramatically and enabled Europe to diversify away from Russia,” the NSC spokesperson said.

The biggest point of tension in recent weeks has been Biden’s green subsidies and taxes that Brussels says unfairly tilt trade away from the EU and threaten to destroy European industries. Despite formal objections from Europe, Washington has so far shown no sign of backing down. 

At the same time, the disruption caused by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is tipping European economies into recession, with inflation rocketing and a devastating squeeze on energy supplies threatening blackouts and rationing this winter. 

As they attempt to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, EU countries are turning to gas from the U.S. instead — but the price Europeans pay is almost four times as high as the same fuel costs in America. Then there’s the likely surge in orders for American-made military kit as European armies run short after sending weapons to Ukraine. 

It’s all got too much for top officials in Brussels and other EU capitals. French President Emmanuel Macron said high U.S. gas prices were not “friendly” and Germany’s economy minister has called on Washington to show more “solidarity” and help reduce energy costs. 

Ministers and diplomats based elsewhere in the bloc voiced frustration at the way Biden’s government simply ignores the impact of its domestic economic policies on European allies. 

When EU leaders tackled Biden over high U.S. gas prices at the G20 meeting in Bali last week, the American president simply seemed unaware of the issue, according to the senior official quoted above. Other EU officials and diplomats agreed that American ignorance about the consequences for Europe was a major problem. 

“The Europeans are discernibly frustrated about the lack of prior information and consultation,” said David Kleimann of the Bruegel think tank.

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic recognize the risks that the increasingly toxic atmosphere will have for the Western alliance. The bickering is exactly what Putin would wish for, EU and U.S. diplomats agreed. 

The growing dispute over Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — a huge tax, climate and health care package — has put fears over a transatlantic trade war high on the political agenda again. EU trade ministers are due to discuss their response on Friday as officials in Brussels draw up plans for an emergency war chest of subsidies to save European industries from collapse. 

“The Inflation Reduction Act is very worrying,” said Dutch Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher. “The potential impact on the European economy is very big.”

“The U.S. is following a domestic agenda, which is regrettably protectionist and discriminates against U.S. allies,” said Tonino Picula, the European Parliament’s lead person on the transatlantic relationship.

An American official stressed the price setting for European buyers of gas reflects private market decisions and is not the result of any U.S. government policy or action. “U.S. companies have been transparent and reliable suppliers of natural gas to Europe,” the official said. Exporting capacity has also been limited by an accident in June that forced a key facility to shut down.

In most cases, the official added, the difference between the export and import prices doesn’t go to U.S. LNG exporters, but to companies reselling the gas within the EU. The largest European holder of long-term U.S. gas contracts is France’s TotalEnergies for example

The NSC spokesperson quoted above added: “The increase in global LNG supplies, led by the United States, helped European allies and partners get storage levels to an encouraging place ahead of this winter, and we will continue to work with the EU, its members, and other European countries to ensure sufficient supplies will be available for winter and beyond.”

It’s not a new argument from the American side but it doesn’t seem to be convincing the Europeans. “The United States sells us its gas with a multiplier effect of four when it crosses the Atlantic,” European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton said on French TV on Wednesday. “Of course the Americans are our allies … but when something goes wrong it is necessary also between allies to say it.”

Cheaper energy has quickly become a huge competitive advantage for American companies, too. Businesses are planning new investments in the U.S. or even relocating their existing businesses away from Europe to American factories. Just this week, chemical multinational Solvay announced it is choosing the U.S. over Europe for new investments, in the latest of a series of similar announcements from key EU industrial giants. 

Allies or not?

Despite the energy disagreements, it wasn’t until Washington announced a $369 billion industrial subsidy scheme to support green industries under the Inflation Reduction Act that Brussels went into full-blown panic mode.

“The Inflation Reduction Act has changed everything,” one EU diplomat said. “Is Washington still our ally or not?”

For Biden, the legislation is a historic climate achievement. “While we understand that some trading partners have concerns with how the [electric vehicle] tax credit provisions in the IRA will operate in practice with respect to their producers, we are committed to continuing to work with them to better understand and do what we can to address their concerns,” the NSC spokesperson said. “This is not a zero-sum game. The IRA will grow the pie for clean energy investments, not split it.” 

But the EU sees that differently. An official from France’s foreign affairs ministry said the diagnosis is clear: These are “discriminatory subsidies that will distort competition.” French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire this week even accused the U.S. of going down China’s path of economic isolationism, urging Brussels to replicate such an approach. “Europe must not be the last of the Mohicans,” he said.

The EU is preparing its responses, such as a big subsidy push to prevent European industry from being wiped out by American rivals. “We are experiencing a creeping crisis of trust on trade issues in this relationship,” said German MEP Reinhard Bütikofer. 

“At some point, you have to assert yourself,” said French MEP Marie-Pierre Vedrenne. “We are in a world of power struggles. When you arm-wrestle, if you are not muscular, if you are not prepared both physically and mentally, you lose.”

Behind the scenes, there is also growing irritation about the money flowing into the American defense sector.

The U.S. has by far been the largest provider of military aid to Ukraine, supplying more than $15.2 billion in weapons and equipment since the start of the war. The EU has so far provided about €8 billion of military equipment to Ukraine, according to Borrell.

According to one senior official from a European capital, restocking of some sophisticated weapons may take “years” because of problems in the supply chain and the production of chips. This has fueled fears that the U.S. defense industry can profit even more from the war. 

The Pentagon is already developing a roadmap to speed up arms sales, as the pressure from allies to respond to greater demands for weapons and equipment grows.  

Another EU diplomat argued that “the money they are making on weapons” could help Americans understand that making “all this cash on gas” might be “a bit too much.” 

The diplomat argued that a discount on gas prices could help us to “keep united our public opinions” and to negotiate with third countries on gas supplies. “It’s not good, in terms of optics, to give the impression that your best ally is actually making huge profits out of your troubles,” the diplomat said.

Giorgio Leali, Stuart Lau, Camille Gijs, Sarah Anne Aarup and Gloria Gonzalez contributed reporting.

This article has been updated to include comments from a spokesperson for the NSC.

Unpacked

What Ukraine — or Russia — must do to win

While Moscow largely holds its battlefield destiny in its own hands, Kyiv’s fate rests in those of its Western allies.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT-WAR
Destroyed tank on the outskirts of the village of Kamyanka near Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine | Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images

By Jamie Dettmer

January 10, 2023 3:03 pm CET

8 minutes read

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Jamie Dettmer is opinion editor at POLITICO Europe.  

“We have to learn and learn,” Russian political commissar Pavel Kalitov confided in his journal in September 1942. “For a start, we must stop being so careless.”  

His words foreshadow the complaints of pro-war Russian critics today, fervent in the face of the incompetence that laid billeted Russian conscripts open to a devastating Ukrainian missile strike at Makiivka on New Year’s Day. 

Much like this war, the Red Army had started World War II badly. Its weaknesses were mercilessly exposed by the battle-tested Germans, as its officer corps was still recovering from Stalin’s purges and was in the early stages of remaking itself when Adolf Hitler and his generals — confident of a quick victory — struck in June 1941. In fact, so confident was the German High Command that it didn’t even plan to supply winter clothing for its troops — just like Russia’s generals were so cocksure of a speedy win last year, they urged subordinates to pack for victory parades in Kyiv.   

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By the war’s end, however, the Red Army had indeed learned. And the question is, under the overall command of General Sergey Surovikin, can Russia’s armed forces do the same today? The answer could well determine the outcome of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. 

“Wars measured in years become contests in organisational learning and adaptation; eventually it’s the difference between victory and defeat,” notes military academic Michael Clarke. And as Putin’s war approaches its first anniversary, both sides are now taking stock and planning their next steps in a conflict that has been stuck in a holding pattern for the last three months.  

The land warfare is now focused on a 600-kilometer-long front line in Ukraine’s Donbas region. It has become a meat grinder of a conflict, and fierce close-quarter fighting has seesawed with high casualties downplayed by both sides. Ukraine appears to have the upper hand in Luhansk, but around Soledar in the Donetsk region, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s “penal battalions” have made inroads, driving Ukrainian forces to deploy reinforcements in the past few days to try to prevent Russia from completing a takeover of the salt-mining town, Western military officials say. 

Clearly, both sides are thinking about breakouts and decisive spring campaigns.  

Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate, told ABC News last week that Ukraine is planning a major offensive in the spring and that he expects the fighting to be “hottest” in March. “This is [when we will see more] liberation of territories and dealing the final defeats to the Russian Federation,” he said. And he implied Ukraine is planning disruptive attacks with drones and missiles “deeper and deeper”in Russia.

Ukrainian officials also believe Russia is massing arms and equipment for offensives of its own in the south and east of Ukraine, and they claim the Kremlin will soon announce another partial mobilization, this time of 500,000, to add to the 300,000 already called up. Putin has denied this is in the offing, but he’d said much the same just days before last year’s partial mobilization too. 

However, pro-war Russian military bloggers say another mobilization will be necessary to mount breakouts around Donetsk and Kharkiv. And former Russian intelligence officer and paramilitary commander Igor Girkin,who played a key role in Crimea’s annexation and in the Donbas, has predicted another call-up will be announced to coincide with the first anniversary of the war: “There will be a second wave of mobilization. We will be forced to carry out the second, and maybe the third wave. To win in Ukraine, we will need to call up at least another half a million soldiers,” he wrote on Telegram.  

Yet, military experts are doubtful that sheer numbers will be sufficient to overwhelm Ukrainian forces — although considerably more troops on the ground will indeed have an impact. Instead, the real challenge for Russia will be to adapt and professionalize in order to overcome poor logistics and fight a 21st century war, requiring integrated infantry, armor, artillery and air support to achieve mutually complementary effects. 

Thanks to Western training since 2014 and assistance from Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet network, Ukraine has proven adept at such combined arms warfare — sometimes known as fourth generation warfare. But Russia has not, and it has floundered. 

A Ukrainian tank sits along a street in the town of Kupiansk which has experienced regular shelling from the Russians on January 06, 2023 | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This has also been the case with small-unit tactics, where Russia has consistently been outperformed by better-trained Ukrainian forces, who can rely on competent leadership by noncommissioned officers (NCOs) with the authority to make decisions on the fast-moving battlefield. The Russian military has long acknowledged it has a problem with poorly trained NCOs, starting an academy many years ago, as it realized it lacks good leadership at the lower levels. However, little progress had been made before last year’s invasion.

Thus, for Russia to win on the battlefield, all of that — from dramatically improving its combined arms warfare to remaking its NCO cadre — will have to be corrected. That’s a tall order in the middle of a war, and will take months of training.  

For Ukraine to win, though, it all comes down to supplies of the equipment it needs to strengthen its offensive capabilities, hence the months-long pleas from Kyiv to its Western allies for 300 so-called third generation main battle tanks built to fight on the digital-age battlefield — in other words, for America’s M1A2 Abrams, France’s Leclerc, Britain’s Challenger 2 and Germany’s Leopard  — as well as around 600 fighting vehicles. 

What has been offered so far instead — 50 Bradley and 40 Marder fighting vehicles by the U.S. and Germany respectively, and around 30 light AMX-10 RC armored vehicles by France — falls far short of the armored punch Kyiv calculates it needs in its pursuit of victory. But Ukrainians hope this is a sign they will be able to cajole the allies into providing more of what they say they need. 

Last week, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said: “There’s no rational reason why Ukraine has not yet been supplied with western-type tanks.” But while that may be so from his perspective, it isn’t the case for Ukraine’s hesitant allies, who appear to have two worries: that transferring such a huge amount of armor will deplete their own arsenals— and that it will do so at a time of heightened tensions both in Europe and Asia.

Here, Britain’s in a tighter spot than most other major military powers, with only 227 Challenger 2 tanks — 148 of which are being upgraded or are earmarked for refurbishment to extend their operational lives to 2035. The remaining 79 are needed as a stopgap and will then be retired.  

Meanwhile, there are 2,000 Leopard tanks in active service distributed between Germany, 13 other European countries and a handful of non-EU nations, including Canada. and no individual country has much more than a 100 of them in service — except Germany, which has 266.

for a spring offensive. And Ukrainian officials are growing frustrated with the argument that arsenals are depleting, pointing out that while their allies aren’t facing an immediate existential threat, their emergency is now — something the country will emphasize at the next meeting of the “Ramstein” contact group of Western defense ministers, scheduled for January 20. 

However, 3,600 Leopard 2 tanks were built, and hundreds of older models that are mothballed and stored across Europe could possibly be repurposed in time for a spring offensive. And Ukrainian officials are growing frustrated with the argument that arsenals are depleting, pointing out that while their allies aren’t facing an immediate existential threat, their emergency is now — something the country will emphasize at the next meeting of the “Ramstein” contact group of Western defense ministers, scheduled for January 20. 

At the meeting, Ukraine will also confront its allies’ second objection when it comes to tanks — the fear of escalation and the risk of Russian retaliation that might bring. Kyiv has been facing this argument from the more nervous Western European allies since the start of the war — though not from its near neighbors, who are more likely to suffer the consequences of Russian retribution and believe this is no time to give into a school-yard bully.  

So, while Russia largely holds its battlefield destiny in its own hands, Ukraine’s fate ultimately rests in those of its allies. 

Unpacked

What Ukraine — or Russia — must do to win

While Moscow largely holds its battlefield destiny in its own hands, Kyiv’s fate rests in those of its Western allies.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT-WAR
Destroyed tank on the outskirts of the village of Kamyanka near Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine | Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images

By Jamie Dettmer

January 10, 2023 3:03 pm CET

8 minutes read

Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Share on WhatsApp Mail Print

Jamie Dettmer is opinion editor at POLITICO Europe.  

“We have to learn and learn,” Russian political commissar Pavel Kalitov confided in his journal in September 1942. “For a start, we must stop being so careless.”  

His words foreshadow the complaints of pro-war Russian critics today, fervent in the face of the incompetence that laid billeted Russian conscripts open to a devastating Ukrainian missile strike at Makiivka on New Year’s Day. 

Much like this war, the Red Army had started World War II badly. Its weaknesses were mercilessly exposed by the battle-tested Germans, as its officer corps was still recovering from Stalin’s purges and was in the early stages of remaking itself when Adolf Hitler and his generals — confident of a quick victory — struck in June 1941. In fact, so confident was the German High Command that it didn’t even plan to supply winter clothing for its troops — just like Russia’s generals were so cocksure of a speedy win last year, they urged subordinates to pack for victory parades in Kyiv.   

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By the war’s end, however, the Red Army had indeed learned. And the question is, under the overall command of General Sergey Surovikin, can Russia’s armed forces do the same today? The answer could well determine the outcome of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. 

“Wars measured in years become contests in organisational learning and adaptation; eventually it’s the difference between victory and defeat,” notes military academic Michael Clarke. And as Putin’s war approaches its first anniversary, both sides are now taking stock and planning their next steps in a conflict that has been stuck in a holding pattern for the last three months.  

The land warfare is now focused on a 600-kilometer-long front line in Ukraine’s Donbas region. It has become a meat grinder of a conflict, and fierce close-quarter fighting has seesawed with high casualties downplayed by both sides. Ukraine appears to have the upper hand in Luhansk, but around Soledar in the Donetsk region, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s “penal battalions” have made inroads, driving Ukrainian forces to deploy reinforcements in the past few days to try to prevent Russia from completing a takeover of the salt-mining town, Western military officials say. 

Clearly, both sides are thinking about breakouts and decisive spring campaigns.  

Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate, told ABC News last week that Ukraine is planning a major offensive in the spring and that he expects the fighting to be “hottest” in March. “This is [when we will see more] liberation of territories and dealing the final defeats to the Russian Federation,” he said. And he implied Ukraine is planning disruptive attacks with drones and missiles “deeper and deeper”in Russia.

Ukrainian officials also believe Russia is massing arms and equipment for offensives of its own in the south and east of Ukraine, and they claim the Kremlin will soon announce another partial mobilization, this time of 500,000, to add to the 300,000 already called up. Putin has denied this is in the offing, but he’d said much the same just days before last year’s partial mobilization too. 

However, pro-war Russian military bloggers say another mobilization will be necessary to mount breakouts around Donetsk and Kharkiv. And former Russian intelligence officer and paramilitary commander Igor Girkin,who played a key role in Crimea’s annexation and in the Donbas, has predicted another call-up will be announced to coincide with the first anniversary of the war: “There will be a second wave of mobilization. We will be forced to carry out the second, and maybe the third wave. To win in Ukraine, we will need to call up at least another half a million soldiers,” he wrote on Telegram.  

Yet, military experts are doubtful that sheer numbers will be sufficient to overwhelm Ukrainian forces — although considerably more troops on the ground will indeed have an impact. Instead, the real challenge for Russia will be to adapt and professionalize in order to overcome poor logistics and fight a 21st century war, requiring integrated infantry, armor, artillery and air support to achieve mutually complementary effects. 

Thanks to Western training since 2014 and assistance from Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet network, Ukraine has proven adept at such combined arms warfare — sometimes known as fourth generation warfare. But Russia has not, and it has floundered. 

A Ukrainian tank sits along a street in the town of Kupiansk which has experienced regular shelling from the Russians on January 06, 2023 | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This has also been the case with small-unit tactics, where Russia has consistently been outperformed by better-trained Ukrainian forces, who can rely on competent leadership by noncommissioned officers (NCOs) with the authority to make decisions on the fast-moving battlefield. The Russian military has long acknowledged it has a problem with poorly trained NCOs, starting an academy many years ago, as it realized it lacks good leadership at the lower levels. However, little progress had been made before last year’s invasion.

Thus, for Russia to win on the battlefield, all of that — from dramatically improving its combined arms warfare to remaking its NCO cadre — will have to be corrected. That’s a tall order in the middle of a war, and will take months of training.  

For Ukraine to win, though, it all comes down to supplies of the equipment it needs to strengthen its offensive capabilities, hence the months-long pleas from Kyiv to its Western allies for 300 so-called third generation main battle tanks built to fight on the digital-age battlefield — in other words, for America’s M1A2 Abrams, France’s Leclerc, Britain’s Challenger 2 and Germany’s Leopard  — as well as around 600 fighting vehicles. 

What has been offered so far instead — 50 Bradley and 40 Marder fighting vehicles by the U.S. and Germany respectively, and around 30 light AMX-10 RC armored vehicles by France — falls far short of the armored punch Kyiv calculates it needs in its pursuit of victory. But Ukrainians hope this is a sign they will be able to cajole the allies into providing more of what they say they need. 

Last week, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said: “There’s no rational reason why Ukraine has not yet been supplied with western-type tanks.” But while that may be so from his perspective, it isn’t the case for Ukraine’s hesitant allies, who appear to have two worries: that transferring such a huge amount of armor will deplete their own arsenals— and that it will do so at a time of heightened tensions both in Europe and Asia.

Here, Britain’s in a tighter spot than most other major military powers, with only 227 Challenger 2 tanks — 148 of which are being upgraded or are earmarked for refurbishment to extend their operational lives to 2035. The remaining 79 are needed as a stopgap and will then be retired.  

Meanwhile, there are 2,000 Leopard tanks in active service distributed between Germany, 13 other European countries and a handful of non-EU nations, including Canada. and no individual country has much more than a 100 of them in service — except Germany, which has 266.

for a spring offensive. And Ukrainian officials are growing frustrated with the argument that arsenals are depleting, pointing out that while their allies aren’t facing an immediate existential threat, their emergency is now — something the country will emphasize at the next meeting of the “Ramstein” contact group of Western defense ministers, scheduled for January 20. 

However, 3,600 Leopard 2 tanks were built, and hundreds of older models that are mothballed and stored across Europe could possibly be repurposed in time for a spring offensive. And Ukrainian officials are growing frustrated with the argument that arsenals are depleting, pointing out that while their allies aren’t facing an immediate existential threat, their emergency is now — something the country will emphasize at the next meeting of the “Ramstein” contact group of Western defense ministers, scheduled for January 20. 

At the meeting, Ukraine will also confront its allies’ second objection when it comes to tanks — the fear of escalation and the risk of Russian retaliation that might bring. Kyiv has been facing this argument from the more nervous Western European allies since the start of the war — though not from its near neighbors, who are more likely to suffer the consequences of Russian retribution and believe this is no time to give into a school-yard bully.  

So, while Russia largely holds its battlefield destiny in its own hands, Ukraine’s fate ultimately rests in those of its allies. 

Asia rising and the challenges ahead

Fast becoming the hub of global economic activity, the triumvirate of India, China and Japan is a behemoth of unparalleled potential.

CHINA-LIFESTYLE
Asia’s cooperation and willingness to go green is key to the global effort to curb climate change | Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

By Mohit Anand and Rajesh Mehta

January 4, 2023 4:01 am CET

5 minutes read

Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Share on WhatsApp Mail Print

Mohit Anand is a professor of international business and strategy at EMLYON Business School. Rajesh Mehta is a leading consultant and columnist working on market entry, innovation and public policy.

There’s a commonly held view that the 21st century will belong to Asia.

Fast becoming the hub of global economic activity, innovation, and manufacturing, the triumvirate of India, China and Japan is a behemoth of unparalleled economic potential and value, driving the region’s growth and influence.

That’s not to say Asia doesn’t have its share of challenges — it has plenty. The possibility of China’s aggression toward Taiwan is a matter of great geopolitical concern; the Sino-Indian rivalry on the Himalayan border reflects on the tumultuous relationship between two nuclear-armed neighbors; the rising turbulence in Iran and the Middle East is causing great uncertainty in West Asia — all while the detrimental effects of climate change are felt across the continent.

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By Nathalie Tocci

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By Paul Taylor

Ultimately, how all of these play out will shape the region’s growing role in the new world order in both the long and short term.

Recently securing an unprecedented third term in office, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be general secretary of the Communist Party for another five years. But while Xi’s position as president, party leader and head of the military gives him remarkably strong, sweeping powers over China’s future, the country’s simultaneously facing headwinds from the effects of its own domestic issues, such as the repercussions of its zero-COVID policy and the deepening real estate crisis threatening to pull its economy into a tailspin.

On the international front, however, China continues to be belligerent with its neighbors, and these potential border flare-ups, standoffs and clashes serve only to increase the uncertainty and instability in the region, aggravating already existing challenges.

China ramping up its aggressive rhetoric toward Taiwan, coupled with its increased military exercises, forebodes potentially ominous events — made all the more grave by the fact that China’s control over Taiwan increases its influence in the already contested South China Sea. Carrying over one-third of all global maritime trade, China’s expansion over the area makes it a point of contention with its neighbors.

Moreover, a conflict between China and Taiwan would cause a huge supply chain shock to manufacturing around the world. The West — which is still reeling from the Ukraine conflict — would be hard-pressed to make the difficult choice of divesting from China as it did with Russia. And the decision would be even more painful, as dependency on China is far greater.

Meanwhile, as long-time competitors India and China go through oscillating phases of partnership and icy relations, the border between the two countries has long been a contentious issue. And this has particularly been the case since the Galwan Valley clash between the two countries’ border troops in 2020 dragged ties between India and China to its lowest point in decades.

But the Galwan Valley is just one of the many places that have seen troops amassing on either side of the shared border in recent years. And by consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control is critical for the overall development of bilateral relations with China, India has long tied the remainder of the Sino-Indian relationship to the situation on the border — something China has argued against and attempted to separate from other areas of cooperation.

However, if Chinese military adventurism continues — from Ladakh in the north all the way to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in the far east — the Himalayan range may well become another flash point of friction in the coming year.

People clash with police during a protest following the death of Mahsa Amini, in Tehran, Iran, on September 21, 2022 | STR/EPA-EFE

Additionally, the sharp rise in domestic opposition to the Iranian regime may lead to greater instability in the region. Triggered by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the wave of protests against the regime is ongoing and more widespread than any past protests in recent memory, and they run the possibility of spreading to other neighboring countries that have a similarly draconian imposition of laws and religious values.

Amid all this instability, also critical is the fact that countries in Asia are among those most affected by climate change. Owing to rising sea levels, island nations that have contributed the least to carbon emissions run the risk of being submerged, which will, in turn, propel more climate refugees seeking asylum in other countries.

Asia also has huge numbers of people living in abject poverty, and combining development with the reduction of carbon emissions will require radical new solutions in cleantech that can be implemented on a mass scale. Thus, in 2023 and beyond, any proposed solution for reducing emissions must include Asia. Thankfully, as the recently concluded G20 Leaders’ Summit in Bali will now be followed by the upcoming G20 in India, bringing greater focus to the Global South.

Asia’s cooperation and willingness to go green is key to the global effort to curb climate change. And with almost 60 percent of the world’s population living on the continent, the transition to sustainability and our ability to meet global climate commitments truly require cooperation, support and initiative from the region.

In coming decades, Asia will find itself at the front and center of the geopolitical stage — particularly with the recent formation of critical alliances like the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Indian Ocean Forum. And the year ahead will be crucial in addressing pressing challenges as the region rises to the occasion.

Asia rising and the challenges ahead

Fast becoming the hub of global economic activity, the triumvirate of India, China and Japan is a behemoth of unparalleled potential.

CHINA-LIFESTYLE
Asia’s cooperation and willingness to go green is key to the global effort to curb climate change | Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

By Mohit Anand and Rajesh Mehta

January 4, 2023 4:01 am CET

5 minutes read

Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Share on WhatsApp Mail Print

Mohit Anand is a professor of international business and strategy at EMLYON Business School. Rajesh Mehta is a leading consultant and columnist working on market entry, innovation and public policy.

There’s a commonly held view that the 21st century will belong to Asia.

Fast becoming the hub of global economic activity, innovation, and manufacturing, the triumvirate of India, China and Japan is a behemoth of unparalleled economic potential and value, driving the region’s growth and influence.

That’s not to say Asia doesn’t have its share of challenges — it has plenty. The possibility of China’s aggression toward Taiwan is a matter of great geopolitical concern; the Sino-Indian rivalry on the Himalayan border reflects on the tumultuous relationship between two nuclear-armed neighbors; the rising turbulence in Iran and the Middle East is causing great uncertainty in West Asia — all while the detrimental effects of climate change are felt across the continent.

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Russia digs in for a long war

By Jamie Dettmer

Taiwan has learned a lot from the war in Ukraine — it’s time Europe caught up

By Nathalie Tocci

EU must seize the geopolitical moment in the Balkans

By Paul Taylor

Ultimately, how all of these play out will shape the region’s growing role in the new world order in both the long and short term.

Recently securing an unprecedented third term in office, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be general secretary of the Communist Party for another five years. But while Xi’s position as president, party leader and head of the military gives him remarkably strong, sweeping powers over China’s future, the country’s simultaneously facing headwinds from the effects of its own domestic issues, such as the repercussions of its zero-COVID policy and the deepening real estate crisis threatening to pull its economy into a tailspin.

On the international front, however, China continues to be belligerent with its neighbors, and these potential border flare-ups, standoffs and clashes serve only to increase the uncertainty and instability in the region, aggravating already existing challenges.

China ramping up its aggressive rhetoric toward Taiwan, coupled with its increased military exercises, forebodes potentially ominous events — made all the more grave by the fact that China’s control over Taiwan increases its influence in the already contested South China Sea. Carrying over one-third of all global maritime trade, China’s expansion over the area makes it a point of contention with its neighbors.

Moreover, a conflict between China and Taiwan would cause a huge supply chain shock to manufacturing around the world. The West — which is still reeling from the Ukraine conflict — would be hard-pressed to make the difficult choice of divesting from China as it did with Russia. And the decision would be even more painful, as dependency on China is far greater.

Meanwhile, as long-time competitors India and China go through oscillating phases of partnership and icy relations, the border between the two countries has long been a contentious issue. And this has particularly been the case since the Galwan Valley clash between the two countries’ border troops in 2020 dragged ties between India and China to its lowest point in decades.

But the Galwan Valley is just one of the many places that have seen troops amassing on either side of the shared border in recent years. And by consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control is critical for the overall development of bilateral relations with China, India has long tied the remainder of the Sino-Indian relationship to the situation on the border — something China has argued against and attempted to separate from other areas of cooperation.

However, if Chinese military adventurism continues — from Ladakh in the north all the way to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in the far east — the Himalayan range may well become another flash point of friction in the coming year.

People clash with police during a protest following the death of Mahsa Amini, in Tehran, Iran, on September 21, 2022 | STR/EPA-EFE

Additionally, the sharp rise in domestic opposition to the Iranian regime may lead to greater instability in the region. Triggered by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the wave of protests against the regime is ongoing and more widespread than any past protests in recent memory, and they run the possibility of spreading to other neighboring countries that have a similarly draconian imposition of laws and religious values.

Amid all this instability, also critical is the fact that countries in Asia are among those most affected by climate change. Owing to rising sea levels, island nations that have contributed the least to carbon emissions run the risk of being submerged, which will, in turn, propel more climate refugees seeking asylum in other countries.

Asia also has huge numbers of people living in abject poverty, and combining development with the reduction of carbon emissions will require radical new solutions in cleantech that can be implemented on a mass scale. Thus, in 2023 and beyond, any proposed solution for reducing emissions must include Asia. Thankfully, as the recently concluded G20 Leaders’ Summit in Bali will now be followed by the upcoming G20 in India, bringing greater focus to the Global South.

Asia’s cooperation and willingness to go green is key to the global effort to curb climate change. And with almost 60 percent of the world’s population living on the continent, the transition to sustainability and our ability to meet global climate commitments truly require cooperation, support and initiative from the region.

In coming decades, Asia will find itself at the front and center of the geopolitical stage — particularly with the recent formation of critical alliances like the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Indian Ocean Forum. And the year ahead will be crucial in addressing pressing challenges as the region rises to the occasion.

Unpacked

Putin’s toxic brew is pure Nicholas I

He is the czar that the Russian leader most closely resembles, but also the one he most seldom mentions.

iStock-1031299522

amie Dettmer is opinion editor at POLITICO Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin likes to mine his country’s history, appropriating dead czarsand other notable figures for his preferred national narrative — and his picks can be quite telling.

Peter the Great, who battled the Swedes for mastery of Central Europe, and the highly reactionary Alexander III are two of his favorites. Going further back, there’s Prince Alexander Nevsky, famous for rebuffing foreign invaders and canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547. And rounding off the list, of course, is the pagan-turned-Christian Vladimir the Great, whose baptism in 988 and subsequent mass conversion of his people has been cited by Putin as evidence of the indissoluble bond between Russians and Ukrainians.

Yet, oddly, the Russian leader never invokes Nicholas I, who reigned from 1825 to 1855 — the czar he arguably most closely resembles.

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It’s a striking omission, particularly considering Nicholas’ string of impressive military victories, seizing territory in the Caucasus from Persia, assisting the Greeks in breaking away from the Ottoman Empire, and crushing uprisings against Austrian rule in both Poland and Hungary — the color rebellions of their day — which, like Putin, he feared could become contagious and spread to Russia.

Nicholas embraced the idea of a transnational Russian civilization, just as Putin does today. A civilization uniting ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people, comprised of a core culture, traditions and Orthodoxy — a mystical georeligious vision as much as it was a geopolitical one. And both the czars’ Holy Rus and Putin’s Russkiy Mir — or Russian World — fuse religion, nationalism and the defense of conservative values in a toxic, murky brew.

Nicholas “saw himself as the defender of the Orthodox faith,” according to historian Orlando Figes, while the West and its secular, liberal values represented a danger to Russia’s distinctiveness. Thus, he shaped a new national ideology to counter these Western ideas and the erosion of traditional and Christian values. Meanwhile, his education minister, Sergei Uvarov, instructed Russia’s schools to teach “Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality.”

Putin similarly rails against what he sees as the subversive decadence of Western powers. “They sought to destroy our traditional values and force on us their false values that would erode us, our people from within,” he said in his speech announcing the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine. To his way of thinking, LGBTQ+ rights, feminism and multiculturalism are degrading and contrary to human nature; they present an existential threat to Russia.

And much like Uvarov’s instructions, this year, Putin’s Kremlin launched the so-called “My Country” curriculum, offering a highly selective and colored historical narrative, which emphasizes that the nation’s schoolchildren should be taught “love for the Fatherland” and how “it’s not scary to die for Russia.”

Putin’s brooding and complaints about Western powers demeaning his nation, his accusation that they want to dismantle the Russian Federation and tear Ukraine away also closely echo Nicholas’ views.

The czar harbored deep grievances against Western powers for what he saw as unfair treatment — a fact that was brought home by comments he scribbled in the margins of an 1853 memorandum outlining relations between Russia and the European powers. Written for him by history professor Mikhail Pogodin, much to the czar’s delight, the piece fulminated against what he saw as Europeans’ double standards.

“No one has the right to intervene” when France or England annex territory or declare war on China, but “Russia is obliged to ask Europe for permission if it quarrels with its neighbor,” Pogodin noted. “We can expect nothing from the West but blind hatred and malice,” he added. And in the margin, Nicholas had scrawled: “This is the whole point.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in Tehran in July | Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

So, given all these parallels and similarities in thinking and behavior, why doesn’t Nicholas figure in Putin’s pantheon?

Maybe because he ultimately serves as a cautionary tale about imperial overreach and a lesson in failure, one that Putin — who never likes a loser — doesn’t want to be reminded of, and certainly doesn’t want to bring to mind for those he rules.

After years of getting his way, Nicholas finally underestimated the resolve of Western powers, and he misjudged Ottoman determination to resist his demand for the sultan’s Orthodox subjects to be placed under his protection, and for Russian Orthodox authorities to control the sacred shrines in Palestine — instead of the Catholics. He ordered an invasion of Ottoman-ruled Moldavia and Wallachia, sending other forces to advance on Constantinople, sparking the Crimean War.

However, England and France intervened, Slavs in the Balkans failed to respond to his call for a rebellion against the sultan, and Nicholas’ military floundered.

The war was a disaster for Russia, exposing the country’s many weaknesses, including, according to Figes, “the corruption and incompetence of the command; the technological backwardness of the army and navy . . . the inability of the economy to sustain a state of war against the industrial powers; the weakness of the country’s finances; and the failures of autocracy.”

Nicholas died during that war, reportedly remorseful. His successor was forced to sign a humiliating treaty, and Russia was left to mourn a quarter-of-a-million dead, with one of Nicholas’ officials questioning: “What was the point of it all?”

One wonders if there are any Kremlin officials now asking a similar question of Putin today.

amie Dettmer is opinion editor at POLITICO Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin likes to mine his country’s history, appropriating dead czarsand other notable figures for his preferred national narrative — and his picks can be quite telling.

Peter the Great, who battled the Swedes for mastery of Central Europe, and the highly reactionary Alexander III are two of his favorites. Going further back, there’s Prince Alexander Nevsky, famous for rebuffing foreign invaders and canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547. And rounding off the list, of course, is the pagan-turned-Christian Vladimir the Great, whose baptism in 988 and subsequent mass conversion of his people has been cited by Putin as evidence of the indissoluble bond between Russians and Ukrainians.

Yet, oddly, the Russian leader never invokes Nicholas I, who reigned from 1825 to 1855 — the czar he arguably most closely resembles.

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By Jamie Dettmer

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By Nathalie Tocci

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By Paul Taylor

It’s a striking omission, particularly considering Nicholas’ string of impressive military victories, seizing territory in the Caucasus from Persia, assisting the Greeks in breaking away from the Ottoman Empire, and crushing uprisings against Austrian rule in both Poland and Hungary — the color rebellions of their day — which, like Putin, he feared could become contagious and spread to Russia.

Nicholas embraced the idea of a transnational Russian civilization, just as Putin does today. A civilization uniting ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people, comprised of a core culture, traditions and Orthodoxy — a mystical georeligious vision as much as it was a geopolitical one. And both the czars’ Holy Rus and Putin’s Russkiy Mir — or Russian World — fuse religion, nationalism and the defense of conservative values in a toxic, murky brew.

Nicholas “saw himself as the defender of the Orthodox faith,” according to historian Orlando Figes, while the West and its secular, liberal values represented a danger to Russia’s distinctiveness. Thus, he shaped a new national ideology to counter these Western ideas and the erosion of traditional and Christian values. Meanwhile, his education minister, Sergei Uvarov, instructed Russia’s schools to teach “Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality.”

Putin similarly rails against what he sees as the subversive decadence of Western powers. “They sought to destroy our traditional values and force on us their false values that would erode us, our people from within,” he said in his speech announcing the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine. To his way of thinking, LGBTQ+ rights, feminism and multiculturalism are degrading and contrary to human nature; they present an existential threat to Russia.

And much like Uvarov’s instructions, this year, Putin’s Kremlin launched the so-called “My Country” curriculum, offering a highly selective and colored historical narrative, which emphasizes that the nation’s schoolchildren should be taught “love for the Fatherland” and how “it’s not scary to die for Russia.”

Putin’s brooding and complaints about Western powers demeaning his nation, his accusation that they want to dismantle the Russian Federation and tear Ukraine away also closely echo Nicholas’ views.

The czar harbored deep grievances against Western powers for what he saw as unfair treatment — a fact that was brought home by comments he scribbled in the margins of an 1853 memorandum outlining relations between Russia and the European powers. Written for him by history professor Mikhail Pogodin, much to the czar’s delight, the piece fulminated against what he saw as Europeans’ double standards.

“No one has the right to intervene” when France or England annex territory or declare war on China, but “Russia is obliged to ask Europe for permission if it quarrels with its neighbor,” Pogodin noted. “We can expect nothing from the West but blind hatred and malice,” he added. And in the margin, Nicholas had scrawled: “This is the whole point.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in Tehran in July | Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

So, given all these parallels and similarities in thinking and behavior, why doesn’t Nicholas figure in Putin’s pantheon?

Maybe because he ultimately serves as a cautionary tale about imperial overreach and a lesson in failure, one that Putin — who never likes a loser — doesn’t want to be reminded of, and certainly doesn’t want to bring to mind for those he rules.

After years of getting his way, Nicholas finally underestimated the resolve of Western powers, and he misjudged Ottoman determination to resist his demand for the sultan’s Orthodox subjects to be placed under his protection, and for Russian Orthodox authorities to control the sacred shrines in Palestine — instead of the Catholics. He ordered an invasion of Ottoman-ruled Moldavia and Wallachia, sending other forces to advance on Constantinople, sparking the Crimean War.

However, England and France intervened, Slavs in the Balkans failed to respond to his call for a rebellion against the sultan, and Nicholas’ military floundered.

The war was a disaster for Russia, exposing the country’s many weaknesses, including, according to Figes, “the corruption and incompetence of the command; the technological backwardness of the army and navy . . . the inability of the economy to sustain a state of war against the industrial powers; the weakness of the country’s finances; and the failures of autocracy.”

Nicholas died during that war, reportedly remorseful. His successor was forced to sign a humiliating treaty, and Russia was left to mourn a quarter-of-a-million dead, with one of Nicholas’ officials questioning: “What was the point of it all?”

One wonders if there are any Kremlin officials now asking a similar question of Putin today.

This has been updated to correct the date of Nicholas I’s reign.

This has been updated to correct the date of Nicholas I’s reign.

Erdoğan plots war, crackdown to save his skin

The Turkish leader is using every trick in the autocrat’s book to snatch reelection.

TURKEY-POLITICS
The European Union is Turkey’s biggest trade partner | Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

By Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor is a contributing editor at POLITICO.

PARIS — Having crashed the Turkish economy and impoverished the middle class that he himself had enriched, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now dragging his country toward an unnecessary war and manipulating the courts against his rivals.

It’s a ruthless drive by Erdoğan to cling to power in 2023 — the centenary of the Turkish Republic — and let’s hope he fails.

Turkey’s presidential election, set to be held on June 23, is arguably the most important — though by no means the fairest — vote in the world this year. It will determine whether this nation of 85 million citizens, on the hinge of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, will keep hurtling down the road toward being an authoritarian, expansionist power, or whether it chooses a more liberal, pluralistic path.

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For the first time since Erdoğan’s conservative, Islamist-tinged Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, there’s a serious prospect of political change. Inflation is running at over 80 percent a year, the Turkish lira has plummeted against the dollar, and the government’s popularity has sunk as economic hardship has risen.

According to the polls, Erdoğan — who has ruled with an increasingly autocratic hand after amending the constitution to create a made-to-measure presidential system — is in serious political trouble, with the AKP barely receiving 30 percent support.

Of course, his response has been characteristically brutal on both the domestic and international fronts.

Despite opposition from both Washington and Moscow, Erdoğan has trumpeted preparations to send tanks into Syria, looking to dislodge Kurdish militias allied with the West in the fight against Islamic State militants, but that Ankara sees as linked to outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas. He seems determined to complete a buffer zone on the other side of Turkey’s southern border.

Meanwhile, the Turkish president is also threatening to strike NATO ally Greece amid manufactured disputes over gas drilling, Cyprus, and the alleged “militarization” of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea — although the international economic and political cost of any such action makes it highly improbable.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Erdoğan has positioned Turkey as the indispensable mediator between Moscow and Kyiv, helping broker deals and hosting talks between U.S. and Russian security chiefs. He’s also managed to support Ukraine — including with military drone sales — while maintaining trade and energy ties with Russia and without jeopardizing his personal relationship with President Vladimir Putin or incurring the West’s wrath.

In the meantime, back at home, the Turkish president has used a justice system not quite noted for its independence to try to disqualify his most potent potential challengers.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu — a popular figure from the secular center-left Republican People’s Party (CHP), who could be a unifying opposition presidential candidate — has just been sentenced to more than two years in jail and banned from public office for “insulting public officials.” For now, the ruling’s suspended pending appeals, but Erdoğan may try to expedite the judicial process, so his rival is barred from running.

The West would undoubtedly be relieved to see the back of Erdoğan | Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

Also, over 100 politicians from the main pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) remain on trial for alleged terrorism offenses, which could lead to the movement being outlawed. The HDP isn’t part of the six-party opposition alliance, which is putting together a common electoral platform, ranging from the social-democratic left to the liberal center-right. However, it could emerge as the kingmaker if — as polls suggest — neither the AKP nor the opposition wins a majority in parliament.

Erdoğan, a former Istanbul mayor, was himself on the receiving end of similar judicial harassment before the AKP triumphed in 2002. Sentenced to a year in jail for reading a supposedly Islamist poem, he was barred from running for office and made to wait before becoming prime minister.

However, it remains to be seen just how far this formidable campaigner is willing to go this time in terms of real military action to play the nationalist card in his struggle for reelection.

In 20 years, Erdoğan has lurched from a policy of “zero problems with the neighbors” to open or latent conflict with Syria, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Armenia. However, in recent months, he’s begun a rapprochement with several of these adversaries — partly because the failure of the Turkish-supported Arab Spring uprisings has forced him to adjust his foreign policy, but also because he desperately needs Arab and Western capital to shore up the economy, gutted by his reckless policy of maintaining low interest rates.

While public opinion is strongly nationalist in Turkey, a ground incursion into Syria that triggered a U.S. or Russian reaction, forcing Ankara to back down, could backfire on him — as could his crude use of the judiciary to sideline the opposition. On the other hand, a limited cross-border operation with few Turkish casualties could actually be acceptable to voters, in the same way Israel’s regular strikes on Gaza in retaliation for Palestinian Hamas rocket attacks are seen as police operations rather than wars.

The coming months will thus be full of martial gesticulation, not least to mark the 100th anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s foundation of a modern, secular republic over the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

Supporters of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu protest against the re-run of the mayoral election in 2019 | Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images

Erdoğan will want to project Turkey’s restored clout in a multipolar world where medium-sized powers can wield more influence, as the U.S. and Russia are less willing or able to act as global policemen. But after interventions in Libya and in support for Azerbaijan against Armenia, he may well stop short of a ground assault in Syria, if the major powers continue to warn him.

The European Union, sadly, is likely to be a bystander rather than a force for moderation or change. The bloc is Turkey’s biggest trade partner, but it has lost influence in Ankara, as the country’s long-stalled EU accession process is moribund, and Brussels has to regularly buy Turkey off with assistance to keep nearly 4 million Syrian refugees on its soil rather than letting them flood into Greece.

The West would undoubtedly be relieved to see the back of Erdoğan. But governments are hedging their bets, keeping lines of communication open to the strongman on the Bosphorus, and offering depressingly little public help to the opposition, even as they quietly pray for a more moderate, pro-Western Turkey come June.

Fingers crossed.

Paul Taylor is a contributing editor at POLITICO.

PARIS — Having crashed the Turkish economy and impoverished the middle class that he himself had enriched, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now dragging his country toward an unnecessary war and manipulating the courts against his rivals.

It’s a ruthless drive by Erdoğan to cling to power in 2023 — the centenary of the Turkish Republic — and let’s hope he fails.

Turkey’s presidential election, set to be held on June 23, is arguably the most important — though by no means the fairest — vote in the world this year. It will determine whether this nation of 85 million citizens, on the hinge of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, will keep hurtling down the road toward being an authoritarian, expansionist power, or whether it chooses a more liberal, pluralistic path.

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By Nathalie Tocci

For the first time since Erdoğan’s conservative, Islamist-tinged Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, there’s a serious prospect of political change. Inflation is running at over 80 percent a year, the Turkish lira has plummeted against the dollar, and the government’s popularity has sunk as economic hardship has risen.

According to the polls, Erdoğan — who has ruled with an increasingly autocratic hand after amending the constitution to create a made-to-measure presidential system — is in serious political trouble, with the AKP barely receiving 30 percent support.

Of course, his response has been characteristically brutal on both the domestic and international fronts.

Despite opposition from both Washington and Moscow, Erdoğan has trumpeted preparations to send tanks into Syria, looking to dislodge Kurdish militias allied with the West in the fight against Islamic State militants, but that Ankara sees as linked to outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas. He seems determined to complete a buffer zone on the other side of Turkey’s southern border.

Meanwhile, the Turkish president is also threatening to strike NATO ally Greece amid manufactured disputes over gas drilling, Cyprus, and the alleged “militarization” of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea — although the international economic and political cost of any such action makes it highly improbable.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Erdoğan has positioned Turkey as the indispensable mediator between Moscow and Kyiv, helping broker deals and hosting talks between U.S. and Russian security chiefs. He’s also managed to support Ukraine — including with military drone sales — while maintaining trade and energy ties with Russia and without jeopardizing his personal relationship with President Vladimir Putin or incurring the West’s wrath.

In the meantime, back at home, the Turkish president has used a justice system not quite noted for its independence to try to disqualify his most potent potential challengers.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu — a popular figure from the secular center-left Republican People’s Party (CHP), who could be a unifying opposition presidential candidate — has just been sentenced to more than two years in jail and banned from public office for “insulting public officials.” For now, the ruling’s suspended pending appeals, but Erdoğan may try to expedite the judicial process, so his rival is barred from running.

The West would undoubtedly be relieved to see the back of Erdoğan | Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

Also, over 100 politicians from the main pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) remain on trial for alleged terrorism offenses, which could lead to the movement being outlawed. The HDP isn’t part of the six-party opposition alliance, which is putting together a common electoral platform, ranging from the social-democratic left to the liberal center-right. However, it could emerge as the kingmaker if — as polls suggest — neither the AKP nor the opposition wins a majority in parliament.

Erdoğan, a former Istanbul mayor, was himself on the receiving end of similar judicial harassment before the AKP triumphed in 2002. Sentenced to a year in jail for reading a supposedly Islamist poem, he was barred from running for office and made to wait before becoming prime minister.

However, it remains to be seen just how far this formidable campaigner is willing to go this time in terms of real military action to play the nationalist card in his struggle for reelection.

In 20 years, Erdoğan has lurched from a policy of “zero problems with the neighbors” to open or latent conflict with Syria, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Armenia. However, in recent months, he’s begun a rapprochement with several of these adversaries — partly because the failure of the Turkish-supported Arab Spring uprisings has forced him to adjust his foreign policy, but also because he desperately needs Arab and Western capital to shore up the economy, gutted by his reckless policy of maintaining low interest rates.

While public opinion is strongly nationalist in Turkey, a ground incursion into Syria that triggered a U.S. or Russian reaction, forcing Ankara to back down, could backfire on him — as could his crude use of the judiciary to sideline the opposition. On the other hand, a limited cross-border operation with few Turkish casualties could actually be acceptable to voters, in the same way Israel’s regular strikes on Gaza in retaliation for Palestinian Hamas rocket attacks are seen as police operations rather than wars.

The coming months will thus be full of martial gesticulation, not least to mark the 100th anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s foundation of a modern, secular republic over the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

Supporters of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu protest against the re-run of the mayoral election in 2019 | Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images

Erdoğan will want to project Turkey’s restored clout in a multipolar world where medium-sized powers can wield more influence, as the U.S. and Russia are less willing or able to act as global policemen. But after interventions in Libya and in support for Azerbaijan against Armenia, he may well stop short of a ground assault in Syria, if the major powers continue to warn him.

The European Union, sadly, is likely to be a bystander rather than a force for moderation or change. The bloc is Turkey’s biggest trade partner, but it has lost influence in Ankara, as the country’s long-stalled EU accession process is moribund, and Brussels has to regularly buy Turkey off with assistance to keep nearly 4 million Syrian refugees on its soil rather than letting them flood into Greece.

The West would undoubtedly be relieved to see the back of Erdoğan. But governments are hedging their bets, keeping lines of communication open to the strongman on the Bosphorus, and offering depressingly little public help to the opposition, even as they quietly pray for a more moderate, pro-Western Turkey come June.

Fingers crossed.

By Jamie Dettmer

December 30, 2022

Pro-war Russia enraged over military failings

With frustration building about command incompetence, the demand for hapless commanders to be replaced is unlikely to ease up.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-CONFLICT-LIFESTYLE-NEW YEAR
On social media platforms clamor is growing for blame to be apportioned and calls are mounting for military heads to roll | Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

Jamie Dettmer is opinion editor at POLITICO Europe.

There’s one thing Western and Russian military strategists agree on — crowding a large number of mainly new conscripts inside a building within range of Ukrainian missiles so that they could see in the new year was a fatal error.

“They should never have been there,” said Britain’s retired Air Vice-Marshal Sean Bell.

Reportedly, around 600 Russian troops were at the college in Makiivka when it was struck by four American-supplied HIMARS rockets on New Year’s Day. Russia says 89 soldiers were killed — the highest single battlefield loss Moscow has acknowledged since the war began — while Ukraine estimates the death toll nearer 400.

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Bell and other Western military experts say the Russians laid themselves wide open to the devastating attack — and the country’s furious pro-war military bloggers and lawmakers agree.

On Telegram and other social media platforms used by these increasingly influential and bellicose critics, clamor is growing for blame to be apportioned and calls are mounting for military heads to roll.

 “Our generals are untrainable in principle,” wrote Igor Girkin, a former intelligence officer and paramilitary commander who played a key role in Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas.

Girkin, who uses the pseudonym Igor Strelkov, and others have been left fuming at the series of missteps that gave Ukraine the opportunity to pull off their deadliest single attack on the Russian military so far.

And not only were a large number of conscripts gathered together in one place just a dozen kilometers behind the frontlines, they were also quartered close to a massive ammunition dump, which, the bloggers say, added to the power of the blast.

“What happened at Makiivka is horrible,” wrote Archangel Spetsnaz Z, a Russian military blogger with over 700,000 subscribers to his Telegram channel. “Who came up with the idea to place personnel in large numbers in one building, where even a fool understands that even if they [are] hit with artillery, there will be many wounded or dead?”

With criticism from lawmakers and state broadcasters also mounting — including from top propagandist Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the state-controlled Russia Today — the defense ministry had little alternative but to break its initial silence on the debacle and try to manage the narrative by promising an investigation.

The effort has so far misfired, however, largely due to the ministry’s attempts to prejudge the investigation by blaming the conscripts themselves for defying a ban on using cell phones. “It is already obvious that the main reason for what happened was the large-scale use of mobile phones by the troops despite the ban,” Lt Gen. Sergei Sevryukov, deputy head of the main Military-Political Department of the Russian Armed Forces, said.

“This factor allowed the enemy to track and determine the co-ordinates of the soldiers’ location for a missile strike,” he added.

Pedestrians look at the destroyed Russian military vehicles at an open air exhibition in Kyiv on January 5, 2023 | Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP via Getty Images

Although it’s believed that both sides have used cell phone signals for targeting purposes — possibly by Russia to strike a Ukrainian military base near Lviv and possibly by Ukraine to target a Russian general last March — some Russian critics mistrust the claim, including Semyon Pegov, a high-profile blogger who was awarded the Order of Courage by President Vladimir Putin last year.

“The story of mobiles is not very convincing,” he wrote on Telegram. “I rarely say this — but this is the case when it would probably be better to remain silent, at least until the end of the investigation. As such it looks like an outright attempt to smear the blame.”

The defense ministry’s attempt to prejudge the probe has gone down badly with many who see the original decision to gather so many soldiers in one place as the main cause of the debacle, and they say attributing blame to the soldiers is part of a bid to explain away the failings of commanders and officers.

Blaming the conscripts is also adding to skepticism that any senior commanders will be found guilty and punished — but if no one is, signs indicate that the furor will grow. For weeks now, there have been rumors of a shake-up in the higher echelons of Russia’s armed forces, with talk that the Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, among others, might be replaced — something these pro-war bloggers, alongside the likes of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and paramilitary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, have long demanded.

With frustration building and recriminations about command incompetence flying, this demand by Russia’s pro-war critics, who have been fulminating about the conduct of the war for months, are unlikely to ease up — they’re already busy highlighting other operational missteps as they see them.

For example, the pro-war blogger known as Rybar, who has over a million subscribers on Telegram, recently drew attention to the failure to distribute Russian conscripts between units that have already seen combat, so the newcomers can learn more quickly — a practice followed by the Ukrainians, who now avoid creating new units from scratch.

“It is worth, once again, referring to the experience of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which back in April drew a conclusion from their experience of working with mobilized people: the called-up reinforcements must be ‘mixed’ with combat units that have already been tested in combat conditions,” he wrote.

Jamie Dettmer is opinion editor at POLITICO Europe.

There’s one thing Western and Russian military strategists agree on — crowding a large number of mainly new conscripts inside a building within range of Ukrainian missiles so that they could see in the new year was a fatal error.

“They should never have been there,” said Britain’s retired Air Vice-Marshal Sean Bell.

Reportedly, around 600 Russian troops were at the college in Makiivka when it was struck by four American-supplied HIMARS rockets on New Year’s Day. Russia says 89 soldiers were killed — the highest single battlefield loss Moscow has acknowledged since the war began — while Ukraine estimates the death toll nearer 400.

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By Paul Taylor

Bell and other Western military experts say the Russians laid themselves wide open to the devastating attack — and the country’s furious pro-war military bloggers and lawmakers agree.

On Telegram and other social media platforms used by these increasingly influential and bellicose critics, clamor is growing for blame to be apportioned and calls are mounting for military heads to roll.

 “Our generals are untrainable in principle,” wrote Igor Girkin, a former intelligence officer and paramilitary commander who played a key role in Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas.

Girkin, who uses the pseudonym Igor Strelkov, and others have been left fuming at the series of missteps that gave Ukraine the opportunity to pull off their deadliest single attack on the Russian military so far.

And not only were a large number of conscripts gathered together in one place just a dozen kilometers behind the frontlines, they were also quartered close to a massive ammunition dump, which, the bloggers say, added to the power of the blast.

“What happened at Makiivka is horrible,” wrote Archangel Spetsnaz Z, a Russian military blogger with over 700,000 subscribers to his Telegram channel. “Who came up with the idea to place personnel in large numbers in one building, where even a fool understands that even if they [are] hit with artillery, there will be many wounded or dead?”

With criticism from lawmakers and state broadcasters also mounting — including from top propagandist Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the state-controlled Russia Today — the defense ministry had little alternative but to break its initial silence on the debacle and try to manage the narrative by promising an investigation.

The effort has so far misfired, however, largely due to the ministry’s attempts to prejudge the investigation by blaming the conscripts themselves for defying a ban on using cell phones. “It is already obvious that the main reason for what happened was the large-scale use of mobile phones by the troops despite the ban,” Lt Gen. Sergei Sevryukov, deputy head of the main Military-Political Department of the Russian Armed Forces, said.

“This factor allowed the enemy to track and determine the co-ordinates of the soldiers’ location for a missile strike,” he added.

Pedestrians look at the destroyed Russian military vehicles at an open air exhibition in Kyiv on January 5, 2023 | Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP via Getty Images

Although it’s believed that both sides have used cell phone signals for targeting purposes — possibly by Russia to strike a Ukrainian military base near Lviv and possibly by Ukraine to target a Russian general last March — some Russian critics mistrust the claim, including Semyon Pegov, a high-profile blogger who was awarded the Order of Courage by President Vladimir Putin last year.

“The story of mobiles is not very convincing,” he wrote on Telegram. “I rarely say this — but this is the case when it would probably be better to remain silent, at least until the end of the investigation. As such it looks like an outright attempt to smear the blame.”

The defense ministry’s attempt to prejudge the probe has gone down badly with many who see the original decision to gather so many soldiers in one place as the main cause of the debacle, and they say attributing blame to the soldiers is part of a bid to explain away the failings of commanders and officers.

Blaming the conscripts is also adding to skepticism that any senior commanders will be found guilty and punished — but if no one is, signs indicate that the furor will grow. For weeks now, there have been rumors of a shake-up in the higher echelons of Russia’s armed forces, with talk that the Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, among others, might be replaced — something these pro-war bloggers, alongside the likes of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and paramilitary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, have long demanded.

With frustration building and recriminations about command incompetence flying, this demand by Russia’s pro-war critics, who have been fulminating about the conduct of the war for months, are unlikely to ease up — they’re already busy highlighting other operational missteps as they see them.

For example, the pro-war blogger known as Rybar, who has over a million subscribers on Telegram, recently drew attention to the failure to distribute Russian conscripts between units that have already seen combat, so the newcomers can learn more quickly — a practice followed by the Ukrainians, who now avoid creating new units from scratch.

“It is worth, once again, referring to the experience of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which back in April drew a conclusion from their experience of working with mobilized people: the called-up reinforcements must be ‘mixed’ with combat units that have already been tested in combat conditions,” he wrote.

And after a string of successive failures, as calls for action continue to grow, it remains to be seen whether those in command will listen.

And after a string of successive failures, as calls for action continue to grow, it remains to be seen whether those in command will listen.

By Jamie Dettmer

January 6, 2023

Brain Matters

What causes your brain to procrastinate and how to face it

A study shows that there are two ways that may help in tackling procrastination — setting reminders and envisioning your future self

Image without a caption

By Richard Sima

January 5, 2023 at 6:03 a.m. EST

As a chronic procrastinator, I feel a sense of anguish as each new year arrives. In a time of resolutions or nudge words, I still have goals from the old year.

Why do people procrastinate?

A 2022 study in the journal Nature Communications suggests that a root of procrastination may lie in a cognitive bias — we believe that doing tasks will somehow be easier in the future.

“You know it’s going to stink in the future just as much as it’s going to stink doing it now, but internally you just can’t help yourself,” said Samuel McClure, professor of psychologyand cognitive neuroscientist at Arizona State University. “It’s a fascinating phenomenon — that myopia you can’t escape — even though if you just stop and think about it, it’s ludicrous.”

There is individual variation, but “procrastination is a tendency that we all encounter in our life in different domains, or at different time points in our lives,” said Raphaël Le Bouc, a neurologist at the Paris Brain Institute and author of the study. “But the true cognitive mechanisms behind it are not really known. And this might be a reason why it’s difficult to overcome this tendency.”

Procrastinating brains believe that tasks will be easier in the future

Researchers asked 43 adults to rate their preferences for receiving smaller rewards quicker or larger rewards later, as well as for performing easier tasks sooner or more effortful tasks later.

For rewards, earlier research has shown that humans tend to be more impulsive and prefer a smaller reward sooner over a larger reward later, a finding that was replicated in Le Bouc’s study. A bird in hand now is worth two in some future bush.

His study also shows people similarly discount and downplay future effort, preferring an easiertask now vs. a more difficult one in the future, such as memorizing 10 digits of pi in one day or 20 digits by next week.

When the researchers had 27 of the 43 subjects perform the same experiment in an fMRI neuroimaging machine, one brain area stood out as central to making this cost-benefit calculation — the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex.

Brain activity in this region seemed to combine information about rewards and efforts for a task; more effortful tasks increased its neural activity, while more rewards decreased it.

When you are struggling to decide because the choices are almost equal, that is when this brain area is most active, said McClure, who was not involved in the study. This fits with the subjective feeling of procrastination, he said: “You’re struggling with it and doing it anyway.”

Procrastination-prone brains were especially sensitive to the idea that doing tasks in the future was much easier.

“When they imagine doing an effort in one month, for them, the cost decreases a lot,” Le Bouc said. But for non-procrastinators, the cost decreases much slower.

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NATO powers send tanks to Ukraine

Andre Damon
@Andre__Damon
5 January 2023

The United States, France and Germany have announced that they will send over a hundred tanks and other armored, tracked vehicles to Ukraine, massively escalating NATO’s proxy war with Russia.

French President Macron declared Wednesday, “Until victory, until peace returns to Europe, our support for Ukraine will not weaken. I confirmed it to President Zelensky: France will provide light combat tanks.”

FILE – American soldiers drive a Bradley fighting vehicle during a joint exercise with Syrian Democratic Forces at the countryside of Deir Ezzor in northeastern Syria, Dec. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad, File)

Macron announced the deployment of the AMX-10 RC tank, in what an aide to the president told France 24 was “the first time that Western-designed tanks are supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces.”

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Emmanuel Macron promised great change would come with his rise to the French presidency five years ago. A brand of centrist economics lauded in other European capitals was to overcome decades of reform inertia born from France’s old demons of strikes, protests and political attrition.But as his government presents a plan to overhaul pensions today, there’s a sense that upheaval and conflict may be an immutable part of French politics, or as the saying goes: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose — the more things change, the more they stay the same.Key reading:Macron Stakes Economic Legacy on Pension Reform Fight Macron Risks Upheaval With Plan to Make French Work Longer France’s Stunning Economic Rebound May Seal Macron’s Re-Election French Economy Set to Dodge Recession With Growth in Early 2023Both moderate and militant labor unions are unusually united in an unwavering rejection of Macron’s plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 62. The president says it’s needed to eradicate fiscal deficits and boost employment; they say it’s an unfair attack on the least well-off.Social unrest appears inevitable, fueled too by a drop in living standards as inflation surges and the Yellow Vest protesters that brought disruption in 2018 begin to organize marches once more.To get through parliament without the contentious use of special-decree mechanisms, Macron is aiming to secure the support of the conservative Republicains, who have indicated they could back him under certain conditions.Yet an easier legislative ride won’t change sentiment on the street, with a vast majority of French people agreeing with the unions. According to a Jan. 4 survey by pollster Elabe for BFM TV, 47% want the minimum retirement age to remain unchanged and another 25% say it should be lowered.During Macron’s first trip as president to the Davos World Economic Forum in 2018, he famously claimed “France is Back” at the core of Europe.While that may be true, it’s not necessarily the France he was thinking of. — William Horobin
A protester throws a trash bin over a barricade during traditional May 1 demonstrations in Paris. Photographer: Nathan Laine/BloombergClick here to follow Bloomberg Politics on Facebook. And if you’re enjoying this newsletter, sign up here.
Global Headlines
Reasserting control | Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reasserted his authority after protesters loyal to his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro stormed buildings in the capital, with security forces arresting more than 1,500 people camping in front of the military headquarters demanding the overthrow of the government. Lula met with the governors of Brazil’s 27 states — even Bolsonaro allies — and said there would be no coup.Bolsonaro’s presence in the US state of Florida, where he was hospitalized yesterday for stomach pains, has turned into a diplomatic quandary, and President Joe Biden is facing pressure to kick him out.First test | US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy passed the first test of his leadership as Republicans backed new rules for the chamber, including one that will make it easier for dissidents to challenge him. The package contains a provision that gives greater power to an ultraconservative GOP faction wanting a confrontation with Democrats that could lead to a market-rattling standoff this year over the nation’s debt ceiling.The House voted to repeal most of the $80 billion of Internal Revenue Service funding that Democrats approved last year to catch tax cheats, a move that is doomed to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Former US President Donald Trump told congressional Republicans to play “tough” on raising the federal debt limit.Russia’s oil exports made a small gain last week, but not by enough to prevent what appears for now to be a decline in the nation’s shipments to a diminished group of buyers. On a four-week average basis, the total seaborne flow to Jan. 6 was down by more than 500,000 barrels a day. That could spell trouble for Russia, which hasn’t managed to diversify its pool of buyers since Europe all but halted purchases early last month over its invasion of Ukraine.Rural infections | Villagers in China’s heartland would normally have begun preparations for the Lunar New Year celebration weeks ago, slaughtering pigs, geese and chickens and adorning their doors with red scrolls proclaiming good wishes for the coming spring. Read how this year there’s only an ominous silence as rural communities struggle with waves of Covid-19.China suspended issuing some visas for South Korean and Japanese visitors in Beijing’s first retaliation against Covid-related curbs on Chinese travelers.
Best of Bloomberg Opinion
First the US, Then Brazil. Where Next?: Eduardo Porter Beware the Aftershocks of China’s Covid Pivot: Clara F. Marques Europe’s Plan to Tax Carbon at the Border Needs Work: EditorialLandslide zone | India’s top court will hear a petition next week seeking to halt construction of a hydroelectric project after large cracks appeared in hundreds of houses across the Himalayan town of Joshimath. As this report shows, the fate of the town, which is built on the debris of an old landslide, highlights the trade-offs policymakers face between development and ecological preservation.A house with cracked walls in Joshimath, Uttarakhand state, on Sunday. Source: AFP/Getty Images
Explainers you can use
What Led Up to the Attack on Brazil’s Government? Thai Election Jockeying Heats Up as PM Prayuth Joins New Party Earth’s Ozone Layer Is Recovering in Rare Climate Success StoryWar games | A hypothetical Chinese invasion of Taiwan would founder but exact high costs on the island democracy, Japan and the US Navy, according to the results of a set of war games released yesterday by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Yet as Tony Capaccio writes, American losses “would damage the US global position for many years.”Tune into Bloomberg TV and Radio air Balance of Power with David Westin on weekdays from 12 to 1pm ET, with a second hour on Bloomberg Radio from 1 to 2pm ET. You can watch and listen on Bloomberg channels and online here.
News to Note
Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region amid shared concerns over China and North Korea. The daughter of former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was sentenced to five years in prison after being arrested for her alleged role in anti-government protests, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. Chinese President Xi Jinping warned officials against colluding with the business world, underscoring that his government’s crackdown on the private sector will remain a worry for investors despite efforts to boost the economy. At least 17 people died in the city of Juliaca in Peru yesterday during clashes with law enforcement, the Ombudsman’s office said, the highest daily death toll amid protests since President Dina Boluarte took office on Dec. 7. After years of drought, California has faced a parade of storms, killing at least 14 people, closing highways up and down the state and sending residents fleeing for their lives.And finally … US and European policymakers are racing to counteract China’s early dominance in producing electrolyzers, which can extract hydrogen from water without producing any planet-warming emissions — a key step in creating a green fuel capable of decarbonizing such industries as steel, cement or shipping. David R Baker and Will Mathis explain that after losing out to Beijing in solar manufacturing, many Western clean tech veterans eye the emerging competition with a queasy feeling of déjà vu.A worker inspects electrolyzers at an Iberdola green hydrogen plant in Puertollano, Spain. Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

January 9th 2023

The world’s torrid future is etched in the crippled kidneys of Nepali workers

JANAKPUR, Nepal — Head nurse Rani Jha circled around her busy kidney ward, reeling off the list of patients who were too young, too sick, too many to count.

There, lying against the far wall, was Tilak Kumar Shah, who had worked in construction for seven years in the Persian Gulf before collapsing. The next bed had belonged to Mohan Yadav, who had labored in Qatar — until he died two weeks earlier. Next to Jha’s cubicle, huddling quietly under a blanket, was another typical case: Suraj Thapa Magar, a shy 28-year-old who had left his mud hut in Nepal to install windows on skyscrapers in Kuwait, often dangling by a rope in the scorching, 120-degree purgatory between the sun and the desert.

Jha ran her finger through a large notebook filled with names written neatly in ink. About 20 percent of the dialysis patients at the Second Provincial Hospital in southern Nepal were healthy young men before they went abroad to work, she estimated. Why did they keep getting sick and ending up back here?

“Heat,” she said.

In recent years, scientists and groups including the International Labor Organization have increasingly warned about the deadly, yet often overlooked, link between exposure to extreme heat and chronic kidney disease. Exactly how heat scars and cripples the microscopic tubes in the organs is still debated, researchers say, but the correlation is clear.

That link has been observed among workers toiling in rice fields in Sri Lanka and steamy factories in Malaysia, from Central America to the Persian Gulf. As the world grows hotter and climate change ushers in more frequent and extreme heat waves, public health experts fear kidney disease cases will soar among laborers who have no choice but to work outdoors.

“These epidemics of chronic kidney disease that have surfaced … [are] just the beginning,” said Richard Johnson, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado who is studying pockets of kidney disease globally. “As it gets hotter, we expect to see these diseases emerge elsewhere.”

In an April statement on climate change, the American Society of Nephrology warned that “the confluence of socioeconomic, geographic, and climate change risk factors may increase the incidence of kidney disease.” The association of kidney specialists noted that global surface temperatures are expected to rise by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by mid-century, and pointed to one population of particular concern: the global poor who must work “in an increasingly hostile outdoor environment.”

A glimpse of that future is emerging in Nepal, local and international researchers say. Here, in a small and impoverished nation that sends nearly 1 in 10 people abroad to work — often in some of the world’s hottest places — the disease, and its consequences, can be seen with devastating clarity.

In the villages that dot Nepal’s impoverished plains and Himalayan hillsides, working abroad has long been considered the best and only route out of a country ranked 163rd in the world in per capita income, where a day’s hard labor earns a bag of rice. Instead, the journey is sending back men crippled with an incurable disease. It is forcing their families to confront soaring costs, crushing debts, social isolation — and often a desperate, murky search for a new kidney.

In 2021, researchers at the Bournemouth University surveyed Nepal’s nephrologists and found three-fourths said they saw a correlation between men working abroad and increased risk of kidney disease.

Pukar Shrestha, a prominent Nepalese surgeon, agrees. When he opened Nepal’s first organ transplant center in the picturesque hills outside Kathmandu in 2013, Shrestha expected to perform kidney transplants almost exclusively for elderly patients with diabetes.

After 300 operations, Shrestha noticed something unexpected, he said. One-third of his patients were young men without histories of diabetes or high blood pressure. But they would show up needing transplants, their kidneys badly scarred, shrunken to half their normal size.

“They’d tell me, ‘I came back from Saudi, Malaysia, Qatar,’” Shrestha recalled. “It was a huge number.”

“I said: ‘there’s something wrong.’”

Read More https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/01/06/climate-change-heat-kidney-disease/?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

More than 600 Ukrainian troops killed in ‘retaliation operation’ – Moscow

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Climate Activists to Defend Village From Demolition by Coal Mine 

January 08, 2023 12:29 PM


Activists demonstrate at Luetzerath, a village that is about to be demolished to allow for the expansion of the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine of Germany's utility RWE, Germany, Jan. 8, 2023.
Activists demonstrate at Luetzerath, a village that is about to be demolished to allow for the expansion of the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine of Germany’s utility RWE, Germany, Jan. 8, 2023.

Berlin — 

Climate activists pledged Sunday to defend a tiny village in western Germany from being bulldozed for the expansion of a nearby coal mine that has become a battleground between the government and environmental campaigners.

Hundreds of people from across Germany gathered for protest training and a subsequent demonstration in the hamlet of Luetzerath, which lies west of Cologne next to the vast Garzweiler coal mine.

The open-cast mine, which provides a large share of the lignite — a soft, brownish coal — burned at nearby power plants, is scheduled to close by 2030 under a deal agreed last year between the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia and utility company RWE.

SEE ALSO:

Climate Activists Protest as German Village to Make Way for Coal Mine

The company says it needs the coal to ensure Germany’s energy security, which has come under strain following the cut in gas supplies from Russia since the invasion of Ukraine.

But environmental groups have blasted the agreement, saying it will still result in hundreds of millions of tons of coal being extracted and burned. They argue that this would release vast amounts of greenhouse gas and make it impossible for Germany to meet its commitments under the 2015 Paris climate accord.

“[We] will fight for every tree, for every house, for every meter in this village,” said Luka Scott, a spokesperson for the alliance of groups organizing protests. “Because whoever attacks Luetzerath, attacks our future.”

Prominent campaigners have rallied support to defend the village from destruction, citing the impact that climate change is already having on Germany and beyond.

A damaged police civil car is seen at Luetzerath, a village that is about to be demolished to allow for the expansion of the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine of Germany's utility RWE, Germany, Jan. 8, 2023.
A damaged police civil car is seen at Luetzerath, a village that is about to be demolished to allow for the expansion of the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine of Germany’s utility RWE, Germany, Jan. 8, 2023.

German news agency dpa reported that some activists have erected barricades and other defensive measures to prevent Luetzerath from being razed. Last week, protesters briefly clashed with police at the site.

The village and surrounding areas belong to RWE and the last farmer residing there sold his property to the company in 2022 after losing a court case against his eviction. Since then, only a handful of activists have remained, some living in self-built tree houses or caravans.

Police have said no clearance will take place before Jan. 10.

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Please don’t film me in 2023

/

Unsuspecting people can get pulled into TikTok content without even knowing it. Can we leave that behind in 2022?

By Mia Sato

Dec 26, 2022, 8:00 PM GMT|

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Art rendering of transparent laptop in front of a wall of surveilling eyes.

In my favorite TikTok video of 2022, an amateur interviewer with a tiny microphone approaches a stranger in an AC/DC T-shirt minding their own business. Pushing the mic in front of the person’s face, the interviewer comes in with the favorite question of gatekeepers from time immemorial:

“Can you name three AC/DC songs?” 

Wordlessly, without hesitation, the person in the AC/DC shirt glances down at the mic, back up at the interviewer, and swats away his hand, like how you’d shoo away a fly near your food. It is beautiful, amazing, perfect, and, if we’re all so lucky, will hopefully become way more normalized in the future.

https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/7133999030887140614?lang=en-GB&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theverge.com%2F2022%2F12%2F26%2F23519605%2Ftiktok-viral-videos-privacy-surveillance-street-interviews-vlogs%3Futm_source%3Dpocket-newtab-global-en-GB&embedFrom=oembed

The video is from an account that peddles these person-on-the-street soundbites, which is just one flavor in a genre of video that derives its entertainment value from unwitting passersby. The person filming might come up with the concept, but the most interesting parts of the videos are the subjects who are knowingly or unknowingly roped in.

TikTok’s For You page has probably served you up a version of this kind of thing — the world first met Corn Kid, one of the cutest viral sensations of the year, when he was interviewed for a casual internet show called Recess Therapy, where a host talks off-the-cuff with kids out and about in New York. There are shows that ask people trivia questions in exchange for money; the astrology app Co—Star shares clips of conversations with ordinary people and tries to guess their zodiac sign; fashion vloggers stop the best-dressed and ask where every article of clothing is from.

But often, people are featured in videos having never signed up for it in the first place. In a clip that’s been viewed more than 20 million times, two friends sit on a New York City stoop, observing — and recording — the people walking by. One person appears to bend down to hide from a passing emergency vehicle, looking genuinely concerned. Another stands near-motionless for a time, seemingly unable to move. It’s unclear if they’re having a medical issue, but the clip is presented as amusing. The intention is to stitch together a tapestry of things the creator considers odd. Instead, it ends up feeling like an unnecessary intrusion into a stranger’s walk home. 

Many viewers on TikTok ate it up, but others pushed back on the idea that there’s humor in filming and posting an unsuspecting neighbor for content. This year, I saw more and more resistance to the practice that’s become normal or even expected. 

One type of video that tends to go mega viral is the “random acts of kindness” variety, in which a man (it’s always a man) will film themselves doing something nice for a stranger and show the audience the person’s reaction. The people who are “blessed” with “kindness” are often presented as a person in need — a mom shopping at Walmart, a person asking for spare change, or simply someone sitting alone in a public space.

It’s unnerving and weird to be filmed by others

After being the subject of one of these viral TikToks, a woman from Melbourne told news outlets in July that she felt “dehumanized” after being commodified for cheap content — the implication being that any older woman should be thrilled to get even a crumb of attention. If you approach me while I am sitting alone, thinking my thoughts, hoping to use me to manufacture sympathy and followers, I, too, would go to the media and complain! 

Other people who have been featured in videos unbeknownst to them have pointed out that even if there’s no ill will, it’s just unnerving and weird to be filmed by others as if you’re bit characters in the story of their life. One TikTok user, @hilmaafklint, landed in a stranger’s vlog when they filmed her to show her outfit. She didn’t realize it had happened until another stranger recognized her and tagged her in the video.

“It’s weird at best, and creepy and a safety hazard at worst,” she says in a video.

The man-on-the-street genre is a well-worn format — before Billy Eichner was writing and starring in movies, he was bothering normal, unsuspecting people about La La Land. Journalists have long used the form to get first-hand accounts and opinions for news hits. In the case of more professional operations, there’s likely at least some level of getting permission, whether that’s having subjects sign release forms or identifying clearly who’s filming and why. In the case of random TikTok creators, it’s clear the level of consent and notice runs the gamut. 

Even before TikTok, public space had become an arena for constant content creation; if you step outside, there’s a chance you’ll end up in someone’s video. It could be minimally invasive, sure, but it could also shine an unwanted spotlight on the banal moments that just happen to get caught on film. This makeshift, individualized surveillance apparatus exists beyond the state-sponsored systems — the ones where tech companies will hand over electronic doorbell footage without a warrant or where elected officials allow police to watch surveillance footage in real time. We’re watched enough as it is. 

So if you’re someone who makes content for the internet, consider this heartfelt advice and a heads-up. If you’re filming someone for a video, please ask for their consent. And if I catch you recording me for content, I will smack your phone away.

Comment This piece of writing oozes feminist liberal self righteousness. These people are part of an insidious protected specie mindset authorised officially or uofficially to police non conformists. By this argument even dash cams should be banned Meanwhile police surveillance vehicles , including helicopters, film dogging sites and council has cameras permanently located on sites like Thornborough Bridge Buckinghamshire That is not to mention the fact that the U.K has more spy cameras per head than any other country in the world – working as consultants to others.

The logical implication of this young lady’s request would also have implications for press photographers who have intruded on my life nastily. This is more of the liberal feminist assault on social media in a concerted effort to confine commentary to the control of the gatekeeper class. Elite owned and controlled mainstream media must have their way to consolidate their bland mindless mass soporific autophaguous culture above whom they must reign eternally , warring between themselves every so often ,risking world war but always above criticism and control from those they oppress.

This article is another effort and step toward ever greater oppression in the name of freedom. Meanwhile the author , assuming special protection of her sex, should consider that taking pictures in public for reproduction ,is currently not illegal but smacking peoples cameras is. She may get a stronger reaction than she expects . R J Cook

January 7th 2023

US State Department Issues Warning to Americans Not to Travel to Mexican State

By Jack Phillips

January 6, 2023Updated: January 6, 2023

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The U.S. Department of State on Thursday warned Americans not to travel to Sinaloa state, Mexico, following reports of widespread cartel violence after Ovidio Guzman Lopez, son of Mexican drug kingpin “El Chapo,” was arrested.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price, in a press conference, advised Americans not to go to Sinaloa, home to the Sinaloan drug cartel. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested and extradited to the United States several years ago, and he’s now incarcerated in a maximum security federal prison in Colorado.

“There has been reports of gunfire, roadblocks, and fires throughout the cities of Culiacán, Los Mochis, Guasave in Sinaloa, Mexico,” Price told reporters. The Embassy in Мехісо Сіtу posted аn аlеrt tо U.Ѕ. сіtіzеnѕ tоdау аdvіѕіng thаt thе Ѕіnаlоаn gоvеrnоr hаѕ саllеd fоr thе рublіс tо ѕhеltеr іn рlасе,” he added.

The State Department is continuing to advise U.Ѕ. сіtіzеnѕ іn Ѕіnаlоа “tо rеmаіn аlеrt fоr роtеntіаl vіоlеnсе thrоughоut thе ѕtаtе,” Price added, “аnd аgаіn wе rеіtеrаtе оur trаvеl warning” to Sinaloa, which continues to remain at “Level 4.”

“Wе аdvіѕе Аmеrісаnѕ nоt tо trаvеl tо Ѕіnаlоа аѕ а rеѕult,” Рrісе added, pointing to a State Department travel advisory. For Sinaloa state, officials warn that Americans could face crime or kidnapping as “violent crime is widespread,” and “criminal organizations are based in and operating in Sinaloa.”

On Thursday, Mexican authorities announced Ovido Guzman Lopez’s arrest, triggering a wave of violence mainly in the city of Culiacan in the northern Sinaloa. State governor Ruben Rocha was quoted by Reuters as saying that seven members of Mexico’s security forces had been killed, including a colonel, and 21 more were injured.

Rocha said there had been 12 clashes with the security forces, 25 acts of looting, and 250 vehicles had been set on fire and used to block roads. Eight civilians were also hurt in the violence, he said.

“Tomorrow we think we will be able to work normally,” he said, adding that he had not discussed calling for more reinforcements from the army or the National Guard.

Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval confirmed the capture of the 32-year-old Guzman on Thursday, saying he was being held in the capital, Mexico City. Videos shared on social media appeared to show heavy fighting overnight in Culiacan, with the sky lit up by helicopter gunfire.

Ovidio Guzman, son of kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, is briefly captured by Mexican military police in a residential compound near the centre of Culiacan in the state of Sinaloa
Ovidio Guzman, son of kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is briefly captured by Mexican military police in a residential compound near the centre of Culiacan in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, on Oct. 17, 2019 in this still image taken from a helmet camera footage obtained on Oct. 30, 2019. (Mexican Government TV/Handout via Reuters)

Photos published online also appeared to show Guzman with his hands up as he was being arrested by Mexican officials. The State Department had described him as a “high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel and the son of former Sinaloa Cartel leader,” and was involved in his own “drug trafficking organization” along with his brother.

A Mexican air force plane was also shot at, the federal aviation agency said, adding that the airport in Culiacan, as well as in the Sinaloa cities of Mazatlan and Los Mochis, would remain closed until security could be ensured.

The younger Guzman was previously arrested by Mexican authorities in 2019, but he was released on the orders of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in a bid to avoid more fighting and bloodshed. The move angered his opponents and U.S. law enforcement officials, saying it set a dangerous precedent.

“You can’t value the life of a delinquent over the lives of the people,” Lopez Obrador said at the time.

The United States had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Ovidio’s arrest or conviction. It is not clear whether Guzman will be extradited to the United States like his father, who was convicted in New York in 2019 of trafficking billions of dollars of drugs into the country and conspiring to murder enemies.

Biden Visit

Guzman’s recapture came just days before President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Mexico City. Earlier this week, Biden told reporters that he plans to also visit the U.S.-Mexico border amid record levels of illegal immigration into the United States and as the Supreme Court last month moved to keep the Trump-era Title 42 immigration order intact until it hears arguments in the case.

A reporter asked the president if he’s going to the border next week, to which he replied, “That’s my intention, we’re working out the details now.” A day later, the White House announced new efforts to enhance border security amid bipartisan criticism of his immigration policies.

A parole program that was designed for Venezuelans would be expanded to Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua, according to the White House. People from those countries can now apply for legal status for two years if they can find a U.S. sponsor and pass a background check.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

Jack Phillips

Breaking News Reporter

Jack Phillips is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in New York. He covers breaking news.

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NATO chief nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

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About the Author

Robert Cook
facebook https://www.facebook.com/rj.cook.9081 I went to school in Buckinghamshire, where my interests were music ( I was a violinist ), art ( winning county art competitions ) athletics and cross country ( I was a county team athlete ). My father died as a result of an accident- he was an ex soldier and truck driver- when I was 11. It could be said that I grew up in poverty, but I did not see it like that. As a schoolboy, I had my interests, hobbies and bicycle, worked on a farm, delivered news papers, did a lot of training for my sport, painting, and music. I also made model aeroplanes and was in the Air Training Corps, where we had the opportunity to fly an aeroplane. I had wanted to be a pilot, but university made me anti war. At the University of East Anglia-which I also represented in cross country and athletics- I studied economics, economic history, philosophy and sociology. Over the years, I have worked in a variety of manual, office and driving jobs. My first job after univerity was with the Inland Revenue in Havant, near Portsmouth. I left Hampshire to work for the Nitrate Corporation of Chile, then lecturing, teaching and journalism - then back to driving. I play and teach various styles of guitar and used to be a regular folk club performer. I quit that after being violently assaulted in Milton Keynes pub, after singing a song I wrote about how cop got away with killing Ian Tomlinson at G7, in broad daylight and caught on camera. The police took no action, saying taht my assailant had a good job. The pub in question was, and probably still is, popular with off duty police officers.

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