EU reveals how long Ukrainian refugees will be allowed to stay

European Union (EU) officials are working on draft proposals that would grant Ukrainian refugees who have fled the country protections to remain and work across the 27-member-state bloc for up to three years.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France 2 TV on Monday that it is the EU’s “duty to take those who flee war,” confirming EU that interior ministers tasked the European Commission on Sunday with writing up the proposals.

Those ministers are set to meet again on Thursday to formalize the details of the proposals.

As it stands, it’s been estimated by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi that over 500,000 people have fled in just over four days.

Senior EU and French officials say at least 300,000 of them have entered the bloc so far.

An EU temporary protection directive, which was drawn up in the 1990s in the wake of war in the Balkans, provides one-to-three years’ protection in all member states for refugees fleeing conflict.

Individuals who enter the EU from Ukraine would be entitled to a residence permit, access to employment, social welfare, and medical treatment under the prior protection directive.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Alva Johansson stated on Sunday that most ministers across the bloc have brought their support forward for the proposal, with the only questions remaining over the timescale and the best way to ensure the protections.

“All EU member states are prepared to accept refugees from Ukraine,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser stated, adding that member states “stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”

Janez Lenarcic, the European commissioner for crisis management, has estimated that the number of Ukrainians displaced by the conflict could be as many as seven million, calling it the “largest humanitarian crisis on our European continent in many, many years.”

The EU estimates that four million people could eventually flee the country as refugees.

Source: RT

Ukrainian and Russian delegations meet as Putin continues to flex nuclear muscles

Russian and Ukrainian delegations met for talks Monday amid high hopes but low expectations for any diplomatic breakthrough, after Moscow unleashed the biggest land war in Europe since World War II […].

As outgunned but determined Ukrainian forces slowed the Russian advance and sanctions crippled the Russian economy, the military confirmed that its nuclear forces were on high alert, following President Vladimir Putin’s order. While that raised the unimaginable specter of nuclear conflict, it was unclear what practical effect it had.

A tense calm reigned Monday in Kyiv, where people lined up to buy food and water after two nights trapped indoors by a curfew.

Explosions and gunfire were heard in embattled cities in eastern Ukraine, and terrified families huddled overnight in shelters, basements or corridors.

“I sit and pray for these negotiations to end successfully, so that they reach an agreement to end the slaughter, and so there is no more war,” said Alexandra Mikhailova, weeping as she clutched her cat in a makeshift shelter in the strategic southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Around her, parents sought to console children and keep them warm.

Exact death tolls are unclear, but the UN human rights chief said 102 civilians have been killed and hundreds wounded in five days of fighting — warning that figure was likely a vast undercount — and Ukraine’s president said at least 16 children were among the dead.

More than 500,000 people have fled the country since the invasion, another UN official said Monday — among millions who have left their homes.

Still, a tiny sliver of hope emerged as the first face-to-face talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials since the war began opened Monday. The delegations met at a long table with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag on one side and the Russian tricolor on the other.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said it would demand an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops.

But while Ukraine sent its defense minister and other top officials, the Russian delegation was led by Putin’s adviser on culture — an unlikely envoy for ending the war and a sign of how Moscow views the talks.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Central Bank scrambled to shore up the tanking ruble and the US and European countries upped weapons shipments to Ukraine.

While they hope to curb Putin’s aggression, the measures also risked pushing an increasingly cornered Putin closer to the edge — and inflicted pain on ordinary Russians.

In Moscow, people lined up to withdraw cash as the sanctions threatened their livelihoods and savings.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Putin is seeking in the talks, or from the war itself, though Western officials believe he wants to overthrow Ukraine’s government and replace it with a regime of his own, reviving Moscow’s Cold War-era influence.

The increasingly erratic Russian leader made a clear link between ever-tightening sanctions and his decision Sunday to raise Russia’s nuclear posture. He also pointed at “aggressive statements” by NATO, a reference to his long-held stance that the US-led alliance is an existential threat to Russia.

On Monday, the Defense Ministry said extra personnel were deployed to Russian nuclear forces, and that the high alert status applies to all their components: the forces that oversee land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the fleet of nuclear-capable strategic bombers.

It was not immediately clear whether the Kremlin announcement means any nuclear-armed aircraft could already be in the air around Ukraine. But the move is a clear escalation.

US and British officials played down Putin’s nuclear threat as posturing. But for many, they stirred up memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and concerns that the West could be drawn into a direct conflict with Russia.

Putin also stepped up his rhetoric Monday, denouncing the US and its allies as an “empire of lies.”

He described Western allies as US “satellites which humbly fawn on it, kowtow to it, copy its conduct and joyfully accept the rules.”

In another possible escalation, neighboring Belarus could send troops to help Russia as soon as Monday, according to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of current US intelligence assessments. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

US officials say they believe the invasion has been more difficult, and slower, than the Kremlin envisioned, though that could change as Moscow adapts.

The British Defense Ministry said Monday that the bulk of Putin’s forces are about 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Kyiv, their advance having been slowed by Ukrainian forces.

Battles also broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and strategic ports in the country’s south came under assault from Russian forces.

Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Sea of Azov, is “hanging on,” said Zelensky adviser Oleksiy Arestovich. An oil depot was reportedly bombed in the eastern city of Sumy. Ukrainian protesters demonstrated against encroaching Russian troops in the port of Berdyansk.

In addition to sanctions, the US and Germany announced they will send Stinger missiles to Ukraine among other military supplies.

The European Union — founded to ensure peace on the continent after World War II — is supplying lethal aid for the first time, including anti-tank weapons and ammunition. At least one Western country is studying a request from Ukraine to provide fighter jets, a European official said. She spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information not yet public.

EU defense ministers were to meet Monday to discuss how to get the pledged weaponry into Ukraine.

A trainload of Czech equipment arrived Sunday and another was en route Monday, though blocking off such shipments will clearly be a key Russian priority.

It remains to be seen how much the weaponry will help Ukraine fend off Russia’s vastly greater arsenal.

Ukrainian authorities have been handing out weapons to anyone willing to defend the city.

Ukraine is also releasing prisoners with military experience who want to fight, and training people to make firebombs.

Source: TOI

Header: Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov (2L) arrives to attend the talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus’ Gomel region on February 28, 2022. (Sergei KHOLODILIN / BELTA / AFP)

The Collapsing COVID Narrative is Being Replaced with Putin and Ukraine

Game-changing news has emerged out of Iceland.

As of [last] week, Iceland is the first country in the world to completely drop ALL COVID measures.

There will be no lockdowns or social restrictions. There will be no mandatory COVID testing and if you happen to catch COVID you do not have to isolate. There will be no vaccine passports and no vaccine mandates. Anyone regardless of their vaccination status can travel to the country with no test required. The unvaccinated will not face any form of discrimination or exclusion from society.

Iceland is returning to going back to life as it was before COVID.

This by itself would be astounding enough given that Iceland is in the midst of a massive COVID surge and posting record cases even as we speak.

If you did not know, the vaccination rate in Iceland is some 80% of the total population which means that around 90% of the adult population is fully vaccinated.

Obviously, the vaccines have done absolutely nothing to stop or even slow down the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Quite on the contrary, they seem to have led to its increase.

Not only has the government of Iceland decided to drop all COVID restrictions and vaccine requirements, but the Ministry of Health issued remarkable new guidelines on how to deal with the virus.

The country’s health authorities have advised the Icelanders that “as many people as possible need to be infected with the virus as the vaccines are not enough.”

Do you hear this?

Iceland’s government now tells its people that it is good to contract COVID. In other words, Iceland’s government has decided to handle COVID through herd immunity derived from natural infection.

This marks the complete negation of the official COVID narrative which was accepted as the conventional wisdom by nearly every government for the last two years.

The narrative ran something this: People should try to avoid getting infected at all costs and instead wait until they can get injected with the hastily concocted experimental vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and such.

Now, however, governments are increasingly encouraging their citizens to forget about the vaccines and instead go out and take on the virus with their own immune system.

What in the world?

They are saying this after two years of heavy-handed lockdowns, restriction and closures that have caused untold economic, social and psychological damage.

They have changed their mind after having conducted a global vaccination crusade that saw more then 60 percent of the Earth’s population injected with inadequately tested vaccines that have proved to be less than effective and that have needlessly killed what could be millions of people worldwide.

This is undoubtedly one of the greatest debacles in the annals of man.

There were scientists who advocated herd immunity through natural infection at the outset. Those voices, however, were ridiculed, censored, discredited, fired and cancelled.

Instead, one after another, governments across the world seized the false narrative and proceeded to impose a cascade of disastrous measures that inflicted unprecedented damage on the human race.

In the weeks ahead they will try to excuse themselves by claiming that the virus has changed and that it is less dangerous now that it was at the outset.

This is true to some degree. The fact, however, remains that the virus never posed a great danger to most people. Its survival rate for non-confined individuals was some 99.7 percent. It posed virtually no threat to healthy children. It posed only relatively low risk to active healthy people of productive age. Certainly, the threat was not sufficient to justify wide scale school and business closures and other onerous measures.

Nor did it justify indiscriminate mass vaccination of children and healthy people with the dangerous and deficient vaccines.

These policies were a gargantuan mistake that cost untold trillions of dollars and countless lives.

Now that the false narrative is collapsing, those responsible for this debacle should be asked to explain themselves.

These people, however, are very cunning and they are already in the process of skilfully diverting the public’s attention to another place with a new narrative.

Today they are all talking about Vladimir Putin as the greatest threat to mankind. They hope to inflame people’s passions so they will not notice that COVID has somehow gone away even though a short while ago we were allegedly all in danger of dying from it.

Now Vladimir Putin is the greatest evil we have ever faced. And as the added bonus, they will be able to blame him for the inflation, depression and other catastrophes brought by two years of destructive Covid policies.

The COVID-19 crisis was a government-imposed disaster from beginning to the end.

The virus – which was created by the Chinese state in cooperation with Dr. Fauci and his friends – either escaped or was released from the biolab in Wuhan.

The Ukrainian crisis is likewise a government induced disaster.

The feckless Joe Biden, Antony Blinken and their globalist cronies provoked Putin by pushing the idea of NATO at the doorstep of Russia. This was as unacceptable to the Russians in the same way that Mexico entering the Warsaw Pact would be unacceptable to the United States.

Putin asked for assurances that there will be no more NATO’s countries on the Russian border. This was not an unreasonable request, but they told him to go home and pound sand.

We should not be surprised at Putin’s anger. If he overreacts, the ensuing catastrophe will have been sparked by the provocateurs who were needlessly poking the Russian bear in the eye.

Both COVID and Russia are false narratives. In a way they are one of a piece.

The passions and emotions evoked by the latter are being used to hide and obscure the collapse of the former.

Source: Vasko Kohlmayer – American Thinker

EU Sanctions on Russia Equal ‘Suicide by Cop’

The EU has unveiled its first tranche of economic sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. EU leadership looks even more angry about this outcome than US leadership does. Here’s the article covering this tangled mess by Sputnik News.

We know that the EU is very dependent on Russian energy and the existing sanctions have hampered EU-Russian trade for years now. Europe is incredibly vulnerable here to any form of supply/demand shocks as their financial system teeters on the edge of the abyss.

There is no solidarity between the US and the EU on these matters, as I’ve pointed out in post after post here. So, the question now is, if Europe is targeting Russian energy exports and the ability of EU banks to do business to buy Russian gas and other export commodities why would they pick this fight?

The answer must be that this is exactly what they wanted in the first place.

In the US we call this ‘suicide by cop,’ which is exactly how I framed it when asked by Sputnik for my thoughts on the subject this morning. I was asked on Monday before Putin’s intervention in Ukraine, to answer the following questions. Events moved beyond them, obviously, but I publish them here anyway because they are still of some value. {current editorial comments in brackets}

According to recent research, US liquefied natural gas export capacity will be the world’s largest by the end of 2022. Could it be that part of the whole game around Ukraine was about the US petroleum sector benefitting from the current standoff in Ukraine?

Of course. That is a sub-plot in this very complicated story. There are many factors that went into this standoff over Ukraine, which Russia is now accelerating towards an end-game state {boy howdy was that an understatement 12 hours later}. LNG exports from the US is certainly one of them, but I think the bigger issues concern the future of NATO, the security architecture of Europe and who controls it.

I see this as much as a fight between the US/UK and the EU over security as much as it is about the US’s long-standing antipathy to Russian energy exports. These issues are, of course, all intertwined.

Is the current political battle over Ukraine just a pretext for the US to earn money via the energy sector, increasing supplies?

No, it isn’t. It’s much deeper and nuanced than that. There are future weapons contracts for US and UK military contractors at stake here, as well as France’s desires to become a major player in European arms sales.

Russia, I believe, is being used as a bogeyman to advance internal European and ‘Anglo’ political agendas having more to do with shifts in foreign policy focus than just the ‘follow the money’ angle here. ‘Following the energy and arms money’ is an important consideration but I think they are now downstream of a much different security landscape in Europe by 2030.

The European Union is looking for ways to assert its independence from Washington D.C. Downing St. is pushing everyone into conflict for its own selfish and historical reasons, clinging to outdated political theories about controlling the ‘World Island’ and driving a wedge between Russia and China, which is achieving the exact opposite result.

How likely is it that the US might now try to establish control over transit routes going through Ukraine? Will the “Russian invasion” narrative be used as a pretext for doing so?

The transit routes through Ukraine in the minds of the Russian leadership fully depreciated assets that they unfortunately still continue to subsidize. Putin mentioned the cost to subsidizing a hostile regime in Kiev during his speech announcing the recognition of the Donbass, $250 billion over 30 years.

If the US wants control over those transit routes, that’s fine. Russia will happily shut off the gas through them, since it costs Gazprom money to ship gas through them at this point. Putin has ordered Gazprom to keep those pipelines filled as a fig leaf to Europe who has continually bitten his hand.

I expect he won’t care to re-up the transit contract with Ukraine when it expires in December 2024.

So, if DC wants this, Putin will oblige and then stop transit all together, citing conflicts with Ukraine.

To what extent can the US indeed provide energy security for Europe by supplying resources?

The total US LNG output according to the EIA for 2022 is 11.5 bcf per day, which is 115 bcm per year, or roughly the capacities of Nordstream 1 and 2 combined.

Is there 55 bcm of spare capacity (the size of NS2) in the US system to feed a new market in Europe? No, not with demand rising at more than 6% annually and accelerating as the world comes out of COVID-19 lockdowns.

The demand for European LNG is so high that US and Russian suppliers both have massive market opportunities there. So, this isn’t about the money, in the end. With most of Europe ending its COVID-19 restrictions in a desperate attempt to stave off political unrest, demand is only going to rise further.

Moreover, US LNG is far more expensive than Russian piped gas. This is simply a fact. And with the Biden administration working with Davos to lean on banks to retard investment into new oil and gas projects, long-term supply of energy to Europe from the US is limited anyway.

US exports will go to where the bid is the highest and with Europe’s terrible future prospects, massive debt overhang and lack of economic dynamism they will not be capable of outbidding other global customers for gas. That’s been the reason for the insane prices in Europe this winter, competition for limited gas supplies driving prices up, despite rising global capacity.

Can Europe survive without Russian energy supplies, if they were to be disrupted now due to the standoff and sanctions?

No. It simply is not possible especially with Germany shutting down perfectly good nuclear reactors this year. The big winner will actually be France in the short term who can sell excess electricity capacity to Germany for outrageous prices thanks to its massive nuclear footprint.

What’s happening now is Germany going along with the political flow, slowing the certification of Nordstream2 in the hope that something can be done to keep the worst-case situation unfolding in Ukraine.

It’s too early to tell how violent things will get in the Donbass {very, apparently}, but it’s possible Russia’s recognition of the Donbass inspires other regions to declare their independence, pushing the UAF back towards Kiev. {all it will take is Russia’s full blow invasion of the country} Politically, the Germans will eventually have to make a choice. Russia and independence themselves or continued subordination to D.C.

{So far Germany has chosen poorly. This speaks to how surprised even Europe was by the size and scale of Putin’s move into Ukraine was. The reactions today by the EU and NATO scream that Putin promised them he wouldn’t do this and he did is anyway. Knowing Putin, the EU likely broke some other backroom deal.}

Is the fate of Nord Stream 2 at risk yet again amid recent developments?

Not likely. {this didn’t age well. It’s possible now that NS2 is abandoned by Russia in retaliation for NATO and EU stupidity.} The nomination of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to the board of Gazprom tells me that this is his reward for shepherding the project to this point and its eventual completion.

That said, Russia’s trade surplus is so high that they hold the cards on trade. No matter what sanctions packages are put in place, if the world wants what Russia sells, which goes far beyond oil and gas, they will eventually have to deal with Russia on her terms, not theirs.

For example, the recent announcement by China and Russia to expand gas sales by another 10 bcm per year and settle the trade in euros can easily be amended if the EU oversteps here with sanctions over Ukraine.

I’m sure if the EU tries to change the terms of the existing contracts currently settled in euros thanks to unilaterally imposed sanctions Russia will simply say, that’s fine, pay us in Rubles. And then let’s watch to see what happens after that.

The lesson here is that balance sheets matter. Russia’s is clean, with low debt, high reserves, a trade and current account surplus and plenty of policy room for its central bank to respond to sanctions. Sanctions against her targeting the ruble under these conditions are toothless, in fact, more toothless now than in 2014.

Is LNG a viable alternative to less expensive Russian gas speeding over to European countries?

As a stop gap, anything is viable. The LNG tanker market is a mess right now but that should revert back to normal soon. When you see current conditions in a market like that of LNG carriers, negative charter day-rates, it isn’t sustainable, any more than oil pricing in May 2020 going negative.

So, it’s only a viable alternative for a certain amount of time. In the long run, high energy prices for Europe are simply a drain on potential growth, or in Europe’s case, recovery. Absent a massive spending blitz by the EU, which it will never agree on in any reasonable time frame, Europe’s energy future without Nordstream 2 and the now canceled East Med pipeline from Israel, is bleak.

The setup now is for a complete collapse of European capital markets as the Fed moves to raise interest rates in March, further putting stress on the euro and Europe’s ability to pay for its import needs.

What’s clear from my responses to Sputnik and even from their questions is that neither side of this exchange expected the type of military move by Putin when these questions were formulated and responded to.

But much of the framework of these questions is still in place. The EU is in serious trouble.

Now that things have progressed in Ukraine far beyond what everyone thought, including many members of the political brass in the EU, the question now is whether the sanctions war will escalate from here.

And that’s where my ‘suicide by cop’ analogy is relevant:

[Sputnik asks about Europe’s energy security]

It all comes down to whether the EU decides to destroy its economy by doing what we Americans call ‘suicide by cop.’ That’s where someone wants to die and picks a fight with a policeman in order to get the cop to shoot him.

Europe is staring at a complete collapse of its economy if they sanction Russia’s energy sector and shut down her ability to do business with their banks. The question no one is asking is, “Did they provoke this fight on purpose to do exactly this?” From where I’m sitting, it looks to me like their insistence on zero diplomatic concessions to Russia led directly to this outcome. So, the answer to my question is ‘Yes, it was deliberate.’

But, even if I’m wrong and there are other unstated reasons why Russia blitzed Ukraine’s military installations off the map last night, the fallout from this will be far higher energy prices than the weak coalition governments will be able to sustain.

I expect the map of Europe will look very different by the end of 2024 than it does today, reaching far beyond Ukraine.

Source: Tom Luongo – Gold Goats ‘n Guns

US tells citizens to consider leaving Russia ‘immediately’

American citizens should “consider departing Russia immediately,” as options for commercial travel narrow, the US State Department said on Monday. Washington has previously warned Americans in Russia to prepare “evacuation plans.”

“US citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available,” read a State Department advisory.

“Due to Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, an increasing number of airlines are cancelling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines,” the advisory continued.

“In addition, air space around southern Russia is restricted and a number of airports in the area have closed.”

The advisory also cautioned Americans against traveling to Russian districts bordering Ukraine, or attempting to travel by land across the border.

The advisory was issued hours after the US authorized non-emergency personnel to leave its embassy in Moscow, and a day after the EU closed its airspace to Russian flights.

The UK and Canada also shut down their skies to Russian aircraft, while Russia responded by barring flights from 36 countries, in a tit-for-tat move.

The State department has advised against all travel to Russia for more than a month now, and last week issued a notice warning of potential terrorist attacks in Russian cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asked the US to show evidence of these supposedly impending attacks, asking Washington, “How is this to be understood?”

Meanwhile in Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian troops have engaged in battles in multiple cities, including Kharkov, Mariupol, and the outskirts of Kiev.

Talks were underway in Belarus between Ukrainian and Russian officials on Monday afternoon.

Source: RT

Meet the Israelis heading to Ukraine to fight

Although a Facebook post calling on Israelis to join Ukrainians defending their country has been taken down from the Ukrainian Embassy’s website, many Israelis with or without roots in Ukraine are still planning to go and fight.

Channel 12 News interviewed several would-be recruits who described their feelings as Russia attacks its neighbor.

Andrei Glembutzky is almost 50, but he plans to find a way to reach Ukraine from his current home in Bat Yam and join the battle.

“I’m trying to find a way to get there,” he relates.

“I still don’t know how I’ll manage it, but I really, really want to get to Ukraine to fight. I tried calling the Consulate but didn’t manage to get through to them yet. But I heard that there’s a group of people making arrangements, and I’m going to try and make contact with them.”

“If that doesn’t work out,” he adds, “I’ll make my own way there, via Poland.”

Asked if he’s frightened of putting himself in such danger, Glembutzky replies, “Of course – I’m human, after all. But this is something I have to do. And it’s something I can do. I arrived in Israel when I was 24 and joined the army and I did reserve duty every year that I was called up. Now I’m going to pick up a weapon again to fight the Russians.”

According to Glembutzky’s wife, who was at a demonstration on Sunday near the Tel Aviv consulate, there are large numbers of people determined to go to Ukraine to fight.

Another of them is Genya Vassergold, from Rishon Letzion.

“I immigrated from Russia to Israel in 2000,” he relates. “Now I’m going back to fight the Russian army.

“Here, I’m considered a Russian,” he continues, describing his complex situation. “But back there, I’m considered a Jew. And that’s what I am, first and foremost. As Jews, we know how to understand what’s going on,” he stresses.

“There’s no other nation who understands like we do. Injustice, inequality, being subject to the whims of a single person who rules the lives of many – these are all things we can relate to. This is a question of justice, of a people that deserves to live however it wants. If we don’t stand up for their rights today, tomorrow it will be our turn.”

Vassergold served in the Kfir Brigade during his mandatory service.

“This morning, the Ukrainian government issued a statement stating that anyone can come and receive military training and fight. I contacted the Ukrainian Embassy here in Israel and still have not received an answer but because they are officially calling for volunteers, I will try to arrange things through them. But if that doesn’t work out then I’ll make my own way there.”

Another potential recruit is Shai Dahan, 25 years of age, from Kfar Saba, a former soldier in the Armored Corps.

“I’m volunteering in order to help Ukrainians,” he told Channel 12.

“More and more people are talking about going out there to help, to fight – the idea is really gaining momentum. I didn’t actually see the Facebook post a lot of people saw,” he adds. “I came up with the idea on my own, and I feel that I can contribute.

“It’s infuriating to see what’s going on,” he says. “It drives me crazy to see how easy it is to brainwash someone into doing things like they’re doing out there. As humans, we have to do what we can to help, regardless of nationality. I got messages from people on Facebook telling me how Ukrainians hate Israelis, but the way I see it, with all the incitement here in Israel, it’s just as easy if not more to find Jews who hate other Jews even more than the Ukrainians hate us. I still want to help,” he concludes.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Israel preparing to absorb 10,000 new immigrants from Ukraine

Israel expects as many as 10,000 people could claim Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return and immigrate to the Jewish state from Ukraine in the coming weeks, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.

According to the Jewish Agency, some 5,000 Ukrainian nationals have already filed immigration requests, with half of the applicants seeking to move to Israel immediately.

Israel’s Immigration and Absorption Ministry is predicting that some 10,000 new immigrants will move to Israel from the Ukraine in the coming weeks.

That is more than three times the number of immigrants to Israel from Ukraine in all of 2021.

There are an estimated 43,000 Jews living in Ukraine, though under Israel’s Law of Return non-Jews with family ties to Jews – including non-Jewish children, grandchildren and spouses of Jews – can be eligible to gain Israeli citizenship.

There believed to as many as 200,000 Ukrainians potentially eligible to immigrate under the current law, nearly four-fifths of them not members of the Jewish community.

Ukraine is home to a Jewish community of around 43,000.

But approximately 200,000 Ukrainians are eligible for immigration under Israel’s Law of Return, which extends the right to citizenship to anyone with one Jewish grandparent.

On Sunday, the World Zionist Organization announced it will help absorb incoming immigrants from Ukraine by providing portable housing units in rural communities across Israel.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Fleeing the war in Ukraine: ‘Thank G-d we made it out’

Last week, journalist Itamar Mor arrived in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, in order to conduct an interview with members of the Jewish community in Ukraine for the journal “Olam Katan.”

As events spiraled out of control, Mor realized his difficult position and began to seek ways back out of the country; by then, there were no longer any civilian aircraft in the skies and so he left the capital in a car, headed for Lviv, a city in the west of Ukraine, hoping to join up with a group of Israelis he had heard were planning to cross the border there, into Poland. While still en route, Mor heard from a friend back in Israel that the Embassy had told Israelis stuck in Ukraine to try to cross the border independently. Mor then headed for a different border crossing – one after the other – trying, and failing, to reach Poland.

“Tensions were running high, with the Russians already bombing, paratroopers landing, gas stations empty of fuel and grocery shelves emptying fast too,” related his friend Meir Schwartz. “So Itamar decided – very fortunately, as it turned out – to head back to Lviv and join up with Guy Amar who had established his own chessed organization there.

“By then, he’d been on the road for around 60 hours,” Schwartz continued. “When he reached Lviv, he was given a bed and something to eat, and after a bit of sleep he got up like a new man. Yesterday [Sunday], together with reporters from Channel 12 and Channel 13 as well as a few Israeli citizens, they got on a bus headed for the Romanian border.”

Mor is now, finally, on his way back home to Israel.

As of Monday morning, explosions can still be heard in the city of Kyiv, as well as in the region of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city which is located in the east, very near the border with Russia. Reports are coming in that the city of Berdyansk, a coastal city in the south-east of Ukraine, has falled to the Russians.

Overnight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke with the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and told him that the next 24 hours would be “critical” for Ukraine.

Johnson replied that he and his allies would do everything in their power to ensure that defensive weapons reached Ukrainian hands.

Sunday saw fierce fighting in numerous locations across the country, with intense Russian attacks focused on Kharkiv, still in Ukrainian hands as of this writing, and on the capital, as the battle to gain control of the Hostomel airport continues.

Satellite imagery from MAXAR Technologies showed showed what appears to be a huge movement of Russian ground forces toward Kyiv, with hundreds of military vehicles as well as tanks progressing in a convoy over 3.25 miles (5km) long, from around 40 miles away from the capital.

According to MAXAR, the convoy was making its way to the capital from the north and contained fuel, logistics and armored vehicles including tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and self-propelled artillery.

Conflicting reports have emerged regarding the situation in Kyiv, with initial statements from the mayor, Vitaly Klitzko, indicating that the city was “surrounded by Russian forces, with residents no longer able to flee” – these were later contradicted by official Ukrainian sources which denied that Kyiv was effectively under siege.

Meanwhile, talks are expected to commence on the Belarus-Ukraine border at the Pripyat river on Monday at noon local time, with low confidence expressed by Ukraine’s President regarding their outcome.

“Nevertheless, we will try, so that no Ukrainian citizen should have any doubt that I, the President, did what I could to bring peace, no matter how small the chance,” Zelenskiy said on Sunday.

Overnight, US President Joe Biden was believed to be holding talks with heads of European states, to discuss future moves against Russia.

According to an article in the Washington Post, citing an American official, Belarus is on the verge of joining hostilities against Ukraine. Up until this point, it has allowed Russia to use its territory as a ground base for Russian forces, and unconfirmed reports have suggested that missiles have been filed from Belarus into Ukraine.

“It’s clear that Belarus is the Kremlin’s emissary,” said the American official quoted, estimated that the country will officially enter the conflict within a day or two.

According to the Ukrainian Health Ministry, 352 Ukrainians have been killed since the Russian invasion began last week, including 14 children. A further 1,686 people have been wounded, including 116 children.

Sources from the European Union have estimated that over seven million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes since the outbreak of hostilities.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Adevăratul război: războiul împotriva libertății

Cu un cinism incredibil, Comisia Europeană a declarat că cenzurarea presei devine politică oficială a Uniunii Europene.

Aceasta în aplauzele unor societăți fericite că astfel vor fi ”protejați de către propaganda rusă”.

Desigur, prima etapă a acestei cenzuri oficiale va fi aceea că în mass-media nu vor mai fi accesibile decât informațiile propagandei euro-atlantice.

Despre criza din Ucraina cetățenii europeni se vor putea informa doar din show-urile YouTube ale președintelui Zelenski. Operațiunile militare din Ucraina vor fi discutate de specialiști, pornindu-se de la imagini de PC Games. Iubitorii de frumos, vor rămâne cu impresia că tot concursul Miss Ucraina a îmbrăcat uniforma de luptă.

De asemenea, despre armata rusă, se va afla că au rămas fără…benzină (căci, desigur, Rusia duce lipsă tocmai de petrol, nu e așa?) și că este în același timp înfrântă, dar și învingătoare (că doar o Rusie care stă să învingă poate justifica dictatura vigilentă din UE).

Dar să nu credeți că închiderea platformelor mediatice rusești sau apropiate de Rusia din Uniunea Europeană va fi singura consecință.

Gândiți-vă că timp de doi ani de zile, orice rezistență la dictatura justificată sanitar, la campania de vaccinare, la dezastrul impus ca să nu facem o viroză, orice luptă pentru libertate, au fost etichetate ca ”afacere rusească”, ca ”propagandă rusă”, iar iubitorii de libertate au devenit ”oamenii rușilor”.

Chiar de dinainte de pandemia de COVID, orice voce suveranistă, orice voce eurosceptică, orice voce conservatoare, era suspectată că ”e cu rușii”. Asta pentru că mass-media finanțată de Rusia din Occident a fost poate cea mai obiectivă din Europa, pentru că jurnaliștii Sputnik sau Russia Today nu au tratat în logică tabloid problemele cu adevărat importante.

Practic, sub pretextul protejării europenilor de profesionalism jurnalistic și de informații alternative la cele propagandistice, Uniunea Europeană va închide, bloca, sancționa, orice formă de opoziție.

Pur și simplu, coșmarul totalitar se întinde deasupra Europei, după ce doi ani de zile a fost aplaudat de o societate civilă manipulată, obedientă sau cumpărată, că e singurul care ”salvează vieți”, iar acum este susținut, de aceeași societate civilă că ”ne apără de Rusia”.

Toate totalitarismele au găsit justificări.

Toate dictaturile au avut motivații mai mult sau mai puțin nobile. De fapt nu este nici măcar prima dată în istorie când frica indusă propagandistic de Rusia a justificat dictatura. Să nu uităm că Hitler a fost aplaudat și justificat în prima parte a carierei sale tocmai pentru că ar fi ”apărat” Occidentul de Rusia.

În România liderii unui partid ce se consideră conservator, suveranist, naționalist, creștin, au solicitat încă înainte de acest moment negru pentru libertatea de expresie, ca Sputnik să fie închis. Așa credeau liderii aceia că partidul lor nu va fi considerat un ”partid rusesc”.

Vestea proastă pentru ei este aceea că, oricât de anti-ruși, chiar rusofobi s-ar declara ei, oricât ar aplauda cenzura euro-atlantică, eticheta le-a fost aplicată.

Așa cum în timpul pandemiei nu sănătatea ci controlul vieților oamenilor a fost subiectul principal, la fel și acum, nu ”amenințarea rusească” ci amenințarea pentru sistem reprezentată de libertate, este ținta.

Iar ei, fiind suveraniști, conservatori, naționaliști, sunt condamnați să fie persecutați, condamnați, poate chiar interziși (orice dictatură ce începe prin a lichida libertatea de expresie, va merge și spre lichidarea libertății de acțiune) pe motiv că sunt ”oamenii rușilor”.

Source: SPUTNIK – RO

The ‘Constructive Destruction’ of Russia’s Model of Relations with the West

The collective West was already angry. And it is apoplectic after President Putin shocked western leaders by ordering a special military operation in Ukraine, which is being widely described (and perceived in the West) as a declaration of war: ‘a shock and awe assault affecting cities widely across Ukraine’. So angry in fact is the West that the information space has literally bifurcated into two: It is all black and white, with no greys.

For the West, Putin has comprehensively defied Biden; he has unilaterally and illegally ‘changed the borders’ of Europe and acted as a ‘revisionist power’, attempting to change not just the borders of Ukraine, but the current world order.

“Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, we are facing a determined effort to redefine the multilateral order,” the EU High Representative, Josep Borell, warned.

“It’s an act of defiance. It’s a revisionist manifesto, the manifesto to review the world order”.

Putin is characterised as a new Hitler, and his acts asserted to be ‘illegal’. It is claimed that it was he who tore up the Minsk II Accord (yet the Republics declared their independence in 2014, signed Minsk in 2015, and it was Russia who never signed the accord – and therefore cannot be in breach of it).

Indeed, it is the US effectively that has vetoed the Minsk process since 2014, and Russia’s publication of diplomatic correspondence in November 2021 exposed that France and Germany too, had little intention of pressurising Kiev on any meaningful implementation. And so, having concluded that a negotiated settlement – as stipulated in the Minsk Accords – would simply not happen, Putin determined that there was no point in waiting any longer before implementing Russia’s red line.

The late Stephen Cohen wrote of the dangers of such unqualified Manichanaeism — how the spectre of an evil-doing Putin had so overwhelmed and toxified the US image of him that Washington has been unable to think straight – not just about Putin – but about Russia per se. Cohen’s point was that such utter demonisation undercuts diplomacy. How does one split the difference with evil? Cohen asks, how did this happen? He suggests that in 2004, the NY Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, inadvertently explained, at least partially, Putin’s demonisation. Kristof complained bitterly of having been “suckered by Mr. Putin. He is not a sober version of Boris Yeltsin”.

Most Russians however, are behind Putin with the recognition of the Donbas Republics, which he then followed up by obtaining the authorisation of Russia’s upper parliament house for the use of armed forces outside Russia (as required under the constitution). The resolution by the Federation Council was unanimously supported by all the 153 senators at an extraordinary session on Tuesday.

In his national address, Putin spoke with a bitterness that is reflected by many Russians.

He views the post-2014 political developments in Ukraine as having been engineered to create an anti-Russian regime in Kiev nurtured by the West, and with hostile intentions towards Russia.

Putin illustrated this point by explaining that

“The Ukrainian troop control system has already been integrated into NATO. This means that NATO headquarters can issue direct commands to the Ukrainian armed forces, even to their separate units and squads”.

Putin also noted that the Russian constitution stipulates the borders of Donetsk and Lugansk regions to be as they were “at the time when they were part of Ukraine”. This is a carefully worded formulation — the borders of the two republics underwent significant changes in the aftermath of the Maidan coup.

(At issue here is Donetsk’s historic claim to coastal Mariupol).

Putin’s recognition statement was accompanied by an ultimatum to the Kiev forces to cease their artillery bombardment across the Line of Control or face military consequences.

Throughout Wednesday evening however, the situation on the Contact Line was heating up, with heavy artillery fire; but early Thursday morning, for the first time, multiple rocket-fire was used by the Kiev forces across the Control Line. (Someone from the Kiev side clearly wanted escalation – perhaps to put pressure on Washington). Putin immediately ordered what was evidently a pre-prepared Special Operation ‘to de-militarise and de-nazify Ukraine’. Russia’s military announced within a couple hours of the offensive that all of Ukraine’s air defense systems had been taken out. A massive Russian aerial presence, including fighter jets and helicopters, has been confirmed over much of the country.

Possibly this operation (which Putin said is not about occupying Ukraine), will follow the pattern of Georgia in 2018, when Russian forces withdrew after a few days. This was the pattern too, in Kazakhstan. We simply do not know whether this will be the case in Ukraine — very possibly not.

When Putin spoke of ‘de-nazification’ he was referring to the US co-option of a neo-Nazi formation in Ukraine’s armed forces to help mount the 2014 Maidan coup. The so-called Azov Brigade of neo-Nazis had proved to be the most effective fighting force in pushing back the DLR militia in the Donbass region.

(Ukraine is the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces and there will be scores to be settled).

Nonetheless, Putin’s Special Order has, as no doubt he foresaw, shocked the West deeply with its decisive military reaction.

It has set the world – and its financial and energy markets – on edge.

Indeed, the latter aspect may become the more salient.

In 1979, upheavals in the Middle East sent energy prices soaring (just as is occurring today), and western economies tumbling.

Wherever the next days bring, it must be plain that Putin’s short press conference on 22 February is acting as intended, as a powerful accelerant.

The “constructive destruction” of the old Global Order will proceed faster than many of us had imagined. It marks an End to Illusions — an end to the notion that the US imposed, rules-based order remains an option.

How then to interpret the extreme anger in the West? Simply this: In the end, there is reality. And that reality – i.e. what the West can do about it – is all that matters — which is … little.

The brutal first realisation underlying the anger is that the West has no intention – and critically, no ability – to counter Russia’s moves militarily.

Biden has repeated the ‘no boots on the ground mantra’ again in the wake of Russian military operations. And for Europe, the imposition of a sanctions regime on Russia could not have come at a worse moment.

Europe is facing recession and a pre-existing energy crisis (which will be hugely aggravated by Germany’s offering up Nordstream 2 to the hungry gods of vengeance). And spiking inflation (worsened with oil at $100) is causing interest rate and sovereign bond nerves to rattle. Now the pressure will be on Europe to find additional sanctions.

Sanctions there will be – and they will hurt Europeans directly in their pockets.

Some European states are putting up a rear-guard action to limit sanctions that might worsen the coming European recession. However, in a very real sense, the fact is that Europe is effectively sanctioning itself (it will sustain the bigger hurt from its own sanctions), and Moscow has promised to reciprocate any sanctions in a way that will hurt the US and Europe. We are in a new era. This prospect and impotence in the face of it, must account for a large portion of European frustration and anger.

Washington professes to have a ‘killer weapon’ targeted at Moscow: sanctioning semi-conductor chips.

“This would be the modern equivalent of a 20th century oil embargo, since chips are the critical fuel of the electronic economy”, Ambrose Evans Pritchard argues in the Telegraph:

“But this too, is a dangerous game. Putin has the means to cut off critical minerals and gases needed to sustain the West’s supply chain for semiconductor chips”.

In short, Moscow’s control over key strategic minerals could give Russia leverage, akin to Opec’s energy stranglehold in 1973.

Here lies the second strand to Europe’s outpouring of frustration: the unspoken recognition that Biden’s Ukraine policy; the west’s failure of diplomacy (all process and no substantive addressing of the underlying issues); plus Germany’s cack-handed handling of the Nordstream 2 question, have doomed the EU to years of economic decline and suffering.

The third strand is more complex and is reflected in Josep Borell’s indignant cry that Russia and China are two “revisionist” powers attempting to change the current world order.

The European ‘fear’ is grounded not only in the content of the Beijing joint declaration, but likely also that not in his entire life has President Putin before made a speech like Monday’s address to the Russian people. Nor has he ever named the Americans to be Russia’s national enemy in such unequivocal Russian terms – American promises: worthless; American intentions: deadly; American speeches: lies; American actions: intimidation, extortion and blackmail.

Putin’s speech portends a great fracture. It seems to be just dawning on Europeans (such as Borrell) just how much of an inflection point Putin’s address represents. It was framed around Ukraine, yet the latter issue – though compelling – is incidental to the decision by Russia and China to change forever the geo-political balance and the security architecture of the globe.

What the recognition of the Donbas republics represented was the manifestation of this earlier geo-strategic decision.

It is the first practical unfolding of that break with the West (never absolute, of course), and the unveiling of Russia’s compilation of ‘technical-military’ measures designed to force a separation of the globe into two distinct spheres.

The first was the republics’ recognition; the second military-technical measure was Putin’s address; and the third, his subsequent ‘Special Operations’ order.

They – the Russia-China Axis – want separation.

This is to come about either through dialogue, (which is unlikely, since the core principle of today’s geo-politics is defined by the deliberate non-comprehending of ‘otherness’), or it must be achieved by a contest of escalating pain (defined in terms of red lines) until one side, or the other, buckles.

Of course, Washington does not believe Presidents’ Xi and Putin possibly can mean what they say – and they believe that, anyway, the West has escalatory dominance in the field of imposing pain.

Less diplomatically put, Russia and China have concluded that sharing a global society with an America set on enforcing a hegemonic global order crafted to ‘resemble Arizona’ is no longer possible.

Putin means what he says: Russia’s back is to the wall, and there is nowhere to which Russia can now retreat — for them it is existential.

The West’s denial that Putin ‘means it’ (thus ensuring the consequent failure of diplomacy) suggests that this crisis will be with us for at least the next two years.

It is the start a drawn-out, high-stakes phase of a Russian-led effort to change the European security architecture into a new form, which the West presently rejects.

The Russian aim will be to keep the pressures – and even the latency of war ever-present – in order to harass war-averse Western leaders to make the necessary shift.

Ultimately – after a painful struggle – Europe will seek reconciliation.

America will be slower: the Beltway hawks will try to double-down. And it will be the western economic and market situation that may ultimately determine the ‘when’.

Source: Alastair Crooke – Strategic Culture Foundation

Russian military creates safe passage for residents to leave Kiev

The Russian Defense Ministry has called on Ukrainian civilians to evacuate from Kiev.

They can do so by taking the highway towards Vasilkov, a city located 20km southwest of the capital, it said in a statement on Monday, adding, “This direction is open and safe.”

The ministry said that Russia “only attacks military objects” and claimed that the civilian population would not be at risk.

The call came on Monday as Ukrainian and Russian delegations are set to start peace talks in Belarus. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a public address that he had low expectations for the negotiations. His country does not intend to surrender, he added.

Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko told AP on Sunday that the city was fully encircled by Russian troops, but backtracked on the claim later.

The Ukrainian government earlier distributed firearms to civilians, released felons with military experience from prison, and called on the people to prepare firebombs to fight Russian troops.

Russia attacked Ukraine on Thursday, claiming that the country had to be demilitarized and “denazified” to protect the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as Russia.

Source: RT

Ukraine vows ‘no capitulation’ in talks as massive Russian convoy nears Kyiv

Ukraine vowed to not give ground at talks with Moscow on Sunday as Ukrainian forces resisted a Russian invasion four days in and satellite imagery showed a massive military convoy approaching the capital Kyiv.

The fighting has killed hundreds, forced hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to flee west and could, according to the EU, eventually displace up to seven million people.

Russia has become an international pariah as its forces do battle on the streets of Ukraine’s cities, facing a barrage of sanctions including a ban from Western airspace and key financial networks.

Moscow put its nuclear forces on high alert in response in another dramatic escalation.

Ukraine said it had agreed to send a delegation to meet Russian representatives on the border with Belarus, which has allowed Russian troops passage to attack Ukraine.

The Kyiv Independent said a Ukrainian airport was targeted by a missile fired from Belarusian territory.

Kyiv insisted there were no pre-conditions to the talks with Russia.

“We will not capitulate, we will not give up a single inch of our territory,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said ahead of the first public contact between the two sides since war erupted.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky was skeptical.

“I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting,” he said.

“But let them try, to make sure that no citizen of Ukraine has any doubt that I, as a president, have not tried to stop the war.”

Ukrainian forces said they had defeated a Russian incursion into Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of Kyiv, on day four of that invasion that has stunned the world.

But satellite imagery showed new threats to Ukraine outside its borders and near the capital.

The US satellite imagery company Maxar released photos showing a massive line of Russian vehicles on a road heading toward Kyiv, some 40 miles from the capital.

The convoy was made up of hundreds of military vehicles and stretched for 3.5 miles (5 kilometers).

Other photos from Maxar showed “multiple new field deployments of armored equipment and troops” departing from existing military sites into forests and fields approximately 9 to 19 miles from Russia’s border with Ukraine.

Analysis of Sunday’s photos, plus others taken February 13, indicate troop and equipment movement near three localities in southwestern Russia, according to the Colorado-based satellite company.

As Western countries lined up to send arms to Ukraine and impose suffocating sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear “deterrence forces” onto high alert.

The United States, the world’s second largest nuclear power, slammed Putin’s order as “totally unacceptable.”

Germany said Putin’s nuclear maneuvering was because the offensive had “halted” and was not going to plan.

The UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency session Monday to discuss the conflict.

‘Brutal’ night

Ukraine has reported 352 civilian deaths, including 16 children, since the invasion began and Russia acknowledged for the first time that a number of its forces had been killed or injured.

The UN has put the confirmed civilian toll at 64 while the EU said more than seven million people could be displaced by the conflict.

“We are witnessing what could become the largest humanitarian crisis on our European continent in many, many years,” the EU commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic said.

Zelensky, who has defied Russia’s onslaught and rallied his country with determined appearances on social media, admitted: “The past night in Ukraine was brutal.

“They fight against everyone. They fight against all living things — against kindergartens, against residential buildings and even against ambulances,” he said.

Russian forces destroyed the world’s largest transport aircraft, the AN-225 “Mriya,” which belonged to Ukraine and had performed a host of humanitarian flights.

Russia, which has the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, accused Western countries of taking “unfriendly” steps against the country.

EU member states closed their airspace to Russian planes and many pledged arms for Ukraine — but stressed they would not themselves intervene militarily.

British energy giant BP announced Sunday it was pulling its 19.75-percent stake in Rosneft, a blow to Russia’s key oil and gas sector, which is partly reliant on Western technology.

Brussels also announced it would provide 450 million euros ($500 million) for Ukraine to buy weapons and ban Russian central bank transactions, as well as restricting two Moscow-run media outlets.

The weapons package will include fighter jets for the Ukrainian military, which were already on the way to Ukraine on Sunday night, an EU official said.

Refugees from the conflict continued to stream into Ukraine’s neighbors as Kyiv went to the International Court of Justice to accuse Russia of planning genocide.

At the Medyka border crossing with Poland, volunteer Jasinska said the long line of arrivals, mostly women and children, were “in need of warm jackets, hats, gloves, but also children’s clothes.”

Stiff resistance slows assault

Automatic gunfire and explosions were heard in Kharkiv earlier on Sunday and AFP saw the smoldering wreckage of a Russian armored vehicle and several others abandoned.

A regional official, Oleg Sinegubov, said Kharkiv had been brought under Ukrainian control and the army was expelling Russian forces.

Moscow has made better progress in the south, however, and said it was besieging the cities of Kherson and Berdyansk.

Both are located close the Crimea peninsula, which Russia took over from Ukraine in 2014, and from which it launched one of several invasion forces this week.

Ukrainian officials said a gas pipeline in eastern Kharkiv and an oil depot near the capital Kyiv had been targeted by Russian forces overnight Saturday to Sunday.

They said they were fighting off Russian forces in several other areas, and claimed 4,300 Russian troops had been killed.

Social media videos have shown what appear to be many Russian corpses, but none of the claims could be independently verified.

In Kyiv, many residents spent another night in shelters or cellars as Ukrainian forces said they were fighting off Russian “sabotage groups.”

But Sunday was relatively calm compared to the first days of fighting and the city is under a blanket curfew until Monday morning.

On Saturday, Russia ordered its forces to advance further into Ukraine “from all directions” but its soldiers have encountered fierce resistance from Ukrainian troops. Western sources said the intensity of the opposition had apparently caught Moscow by surprise.

On Sunday, Ukraine’s military urged willing foreigners to travel to Ukraine “and fight side-by-side with Ukrainians against Russian war criminals.”

Ukraine has called on its own civilians to fight Russia, with a brewery in Lviv in the country’s west switching its production line from beers to bombs, making Molotov cocktails for the volunteer fighters.

Crippling bank sanctions

Escalating its punitive response, the West said it would remove some Russian banks from the SWIFT bank messaging system, and froze central bank assets — hitting Russia’s global trade.

A senior US official said a task force would hunt down Russian assets belonging to the country’s influential billionaires.

The NATO alliance condemned Putin’s nuclear alert and has said it will, for the first time, deploy part of its rapid response force to the region to reassure eastern allies.

In response to hostilities, FIFA ordered Russia to play its home international fixtures in neutral venues and warned it was considering banning it from the 2022 World Cup. Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have said they will not play against Russia in World Cup qualifying games.

The Kremlin has so far brushed off sanctions, including those targeting Putin personally, as a sign of Western impotence.

Putin has said Russia’s actions are justified because it is defending Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The rebels have been fighting Ukrainian government forces for eight years in a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people.

Source: TOI

Header: An Antonov-225 Mriya cargo plane carrying medical cargo from China prepares to land at an airfield in Gostomel outside Kyiv, on April 23, 2020. (Genya Savilov/AFP)

Bennett declined Ukrainian request for military aid, report says

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett demurred when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Israel for military aid, according to a Sunday report.

Zelensky asked for “assistance with military implements and weapons” during a Friday phone call with Bennett, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

The request did not include any details on specific weapons or equipment, but was more of a general appeal for military help, the unsourced report said.

Israel responded with “diplomatic politeness,” and it appeared that the request was not on the table, the report said.

Israel has friendly relations with both Kyiv and Moscow, and has been walking a diplomatic tightrope between the two countries during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Israel’s ties with Russia are sensitive because Israel carries out airstrikes against Iranian-linked targets in Syria, which is allied to Russia, and where Russian forces have a presence.

There are also significant Jewish communities in both Ukraine and Russia, which Israel takes into account.

A report last week said Israel stopped the US from transferring Israel’s Iron Dome defense system to Ukraine last year to preserve Israel’s ties with Russia.

Israel’s ties with both warring countries have presented Jerusalem with opportunities, as well as a headaches.

During the Friday phone call, Zelensky asked that Israel serve as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk told The New York Times, “We do believe that Israel is the only democratic state in the world that has great relations with both Ukraine and Russia.” He added that Bennett did not give an immediate answer.

Bennett proposed the idea to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone call on Sunday.

Putin did not seize on the idea and the proposal was unlikely to lead to any concrete results, Kan reported.

Bennett reportedly initiated the call with Putin and updated the United States and Ukraine both before and after the conversation.

The phone call marked the first time Bennett and Putin spoke since Russia’s invasion.

The Kan report said Bennett reassured Putin that a planeload of supplies slated to depart from Israel to Ukraine this week will include only humanitarian supplies, not military aid.

Delegations from Ukraine and Moscow will instead meet on the border between Ukraine and Belarus.

Zelensky initially refused to hold peace talks in Moscow’s ally Belarus, which has allowed Russia to use its territory as a staging ground for the invasion.

Zelensky later agreed on Sunday to talks with a Russian delegation on the border. Details on the talks are not yet clear, including on when they will happen and if Zelensky will attend.

Israel has mostly sought to steer clear of the conflict.

Bennett convened a meeting of the security cabinet on Sunday evening for a “comprehensive” discussion to examine “the implications of the situation for Israel.”

According to Kan, Bennett told ministers that Israel needs to “maintain a low profile” in the conflict, and that it is not a focal point in the crisis.

At the cabinet meeting Sunday morning, Bennett expressed concern for Ukraine and warned of humanitarian consequences, but refrained from condemning Russia or even mentioning it by name, as he did on Thursday.

Israel has been careful in its comments on the conflict and Bennett has avoided criticizing Moscow publicly.

This is believed to be at least partly due to its need to work with the Russian military presence in neighboring Syria.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid last Thursday called “the Russian attack on Ukraine” a “serious violation of the international order,” however, in a statement said to be coordinated with Bennett.

Lapid added: “Israel condemns that attack, and is ready and prepared to offer humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian citizens.”

Source: TOI

Header: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, on October 22, 2021. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Kosovo asks for permanent US base, NATO membership

Kosovo has announced it would ask Washington to set up a permanent military base on its territory, urging the US and its allies to accept Pristina’s bid to join NATO.

Currently, four members of the US-led military block still refuse to recognize Kosovo as an independent state.

In a post on social media on Sunday, Kosovo’s Defence Minister Armend Mehaj argued that Pristina was “in an immediate need” of an “accelerated membership in NATO and the establishment of a permanent base of American forces” in view of the ongoing military conflict between Russian and Ukraine.

Referring to the Kremlin’s “special military operation” as “the military aggression,” Mehaj said that the permanent deployment of the US forces is necessary to “guarantee peace, security and stability in the Western Balkans and beyond.”

“The Republic of Kosovo and its citizens, we have proven … that we are worthy fighters in defense of the Euro-Atlantic values ​​of freedom, peace and democracy, the values ​​on which NATO stands and its mission,” Mehaj wrote.

The defense minister argued that now was the time for those NATO member states that have so far been unwilling to recognize Kosovo, namely Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain, to do so. “Do not hesitate anymore!” Mehaj wrote.

A little over 50 percent of UN member states have recognized Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008 with the support from the West.

Serbia, Russia, China, Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and South Africa, among other countries, still consider it a breakaway region of Serbia.

Back in 1999, NATO launched a 78-day bombing campaign in former Yugoslavia, ostensibly to protect civilians against the atrocities by Serbian troops during an insurgency of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

The campaign codenamed “Operation Allied Force”, however, has led to heavy civilian casualties and a displacement of an estimated 200,000 ethnic Serbs from Kosovo.

Dozens of schools and over 20 hospitals were destroyed amid the “humanitarian intervention,” and about 40,000 homes were damaged.

Source: RT

European Commission head says EU wants Ukraine ‘in’

The president of the European Commission has claimed that the EU wants to see Ukraine joining its ranks as a military conflict between Kiev and Moscow rages on.

The official was short on specifics and did not provide a timeline for the potential accession, however.

“We have a process with Ukraine that is, for example, integrating the Ukrainian market into the single market. We have a very close cooperation on the energy grid. So, many topics where we work very closely together,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday.

“Over time, they belong to us, they are one of us, and we want them in,” she added.

Kiev has long sought to join the block, however, the process has dragged on for years, with the EU being reluctant to promise membership to Ukraine, urging it to carry out reforms to tame corruption first.

On Saturday, Zelensky asked the EU to make an “urgent” decision on the country’s membership.

The appeal drew immediate support from Poland and Lithuania, who on February 23 signed a declaration saying that Kiev should be given the status of candidate for EU membership.

Speaking on the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine, Von der Leyen stressed a need for ceasefire, saying that it was “important that the Ukrainian side agrees to the peace talks [with Russia]” provided that Kiev is satisfied with the conditions.

“In general, it is always better to have peace talks than to have a fight,” she noted.

The EU announced on Sunday that it would “finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and equipment” to Ukraine.

The block also banned Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik, accusing them of spreading “harmful disinformation.”

The measures were in addition to the raft of sanctions the block has imposed on the Russian economy, its banking sector as well as on hundreds of officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking about a potential impact of the penalties on the EU itself, Von der Leyen admitted that the sanctions might backfire.

“Yes, we know that every war comes at a cost,” she said.

Source: RT

Soros compares Ukrainian conflict to siege of Nazi-held city

Billionaire investor and major political donor George Soros appeared to inadvertently drew parallels between the Nazis and the modern Ukrainian military in a blog post, in which he compared the current conflict to the 1944 siege of Nazi-held Budapest by the Soviet army.

In the post published on his website on Saturday, Soros called on the world to “stand with Ukraine, as they stand with us” before finding apparent similarities between the Russian military action in Ukraine and the the siege of Budapest, then a Nazi-held city, by the Soviet forces.

“Brave Ukrainians are now on the frontline and risking their lives in an onslaught that reminds me of the siege of Budapest in 1944 and the siege of Sarajevo in 1993,” the billionaire noted.

The message also appeared on Soros’s Twitter account, but was later removed after some of the users pointed to the uncanny parallels. The blog post is still accessible on Soros’ site as of Monday morning.

“It is important that both the transatlantic alliance (the United States, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom) but also other nations do whatever is in their power to support Ukraine in its time of existential threat,” the Open Society Foundations founder wrote, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering “a direct attack on the sovereignty of all States that were once in the Soviet Union, and beyond.”

The 1944 siege of Budapest saw the Hungarian city, at the time occupied by the Nazi military, surrounded by Soviet troops for months of grueling house-to-house combat. Soros, then 14, and of Jewish origin, later claimed that he was able to survive the Nazi occupation of his city only because his family managed to obtain Christian IDs.

Ordering a “special military operation” in Donbass, Russian President Vladimir Putin described Russia’s mission in the country as one of “de-Nazification” and “demilitarization”. The Ukrainian military is widely reported, including by the western media, to include far-right “volunteers” such as the Azov Battalion, who were seen sporting Nazi regalia on multiple occasions.

Facebook last week reversed its 2019 ban on praise for the far-right paramilitary force which is now embedded with the Ukrainian National Guard. The social media giant, however, said that the battalion would still be banned from posting or recruiting on Facebook.

While the Kremlin has accused Kiev of perpetrating genocide against the population of Donbass, Kiev countered that claim, insisting that Russia used it as a false pretext to launch a military offensive. In its appeal to The International Court of Justice on Sunday, Ukraine accused Russia of “planning acts of genocide” against Ukrainians. It fell short of providing any concrete evidence of the alleged war crime.

Source: RT