Couple leaves baby while trying to board flight at Ben Gurion

A couple arrived today (Tuesday) with a baby in Tel Aviv to fly on a Ryanair flight to Brussels. While the couple had intended to fly with their baby, the child did not have his own ticket.

  • The two were asked to pay for the baby’s ticket, leading to an argument. The couple then left the baby in his stroller and went to passport control.

Channel 12 News reported that the flight attendants spotted the abandoned baby and quickly called the Israel Police. The police acted quickly in order to find the parents who had advanced towards the flight, and brought them back.

  • The two were taken for questioning after being reunited with their child.

The manager of the Ryanair station said:

“All the workers today are in shock, we have never encountered anything like this. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.”

Officials at the Airports Authority told Channel 12 News that the couple had arrived late after the flight’s counters were closed.

According to them, the couple attempted to reach the security check and left the baby by the conveyor belts.

  • “Since the couple did not have boarding passes for everyone, they were turned back and took the baby,” they added.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Biden comments on F-16 jets for Ukraine

The US won’t send F-16 fighter jets to Kiev, President Joe Biden said on Monday, commenting on media reports that the Pentagon was considering it. He had previously said that sending tanks to Ukraine would mean World War Three, only to change his mind last week.

“No,” Biden told reporters outside the White House, when asked about the F-16s.

According to Politico, however, some US military officials are “quietly pushing the Pentagon to approve” sending the jets to Kiev.

The outlet quoted a Defense Department official and “two other people involved” in the discussions.

  • “I don’t think we are opposed,” the unnamed official told the outlet, but added that no final decision has been made.
  • Asked about the issue, the White House referred to the deputy national security advisor, Jon Finer, who told MSNBC last week that the US will be discussing fighter jets “very carefully” and that Washington and its allies “have not ruled in or out any specific systems.”

Last week, however, he announced the delivery of 31 Abrams tanks to Kiev – just days after Politico reported this would not happen, citing well-informed Pentagon sources.

  • Information leaked to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal – that the Abrams will be promised to clear the way for Germany to approve Leopard 2 deliveries – turned out to be correct instead.

Russia has repeatedly warned the West against supplying Ukraine with weapons, arguing that it would only prolong the conflict.

  • Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said last week that continued deliveries serve as further proof that Western countries are directly involved in the hostilities.

Source: RT

Security detail of Attorney General increased following incitement and threats

Following the incitement and threats against her, mainly on social media, security around Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has been significantly increased, Channel 13 News reported on Monday.

  • According to the report, a meeting was held on Monday at the office of the Attorney General, with the participation of senior officials from the police and the Ministry of Justice, during which Baharav-Miara was presented with the level of threats and incitement against her.

Following this, it was decided not to take a risk and to massively increase her security detail.

Senior officials in the law enforcement system said that recent statements by politicians have also played a part in the threats and incitement against Baharav-Miara, and the time has come for them to tone down their statements.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir this past Saturday night attacked Baharav-Miara, claiming that she prevented the government from acting after the attack in the Neve Ya’akov neighborhood in Jerusalem, in which seven people were murdered.

  • In a statement outside Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, the minister blasted the Attorney General and said, “I expected that there would already have been permission in the morning to seal the home [of the terrorist who carried out the attack]. To my amazement, to this moment she has not permitted us [to do it]. I think it’s terrible. In my eyes, this not only does harm to me and the government, but to the citizens of Israel.”

Baharav-Miara, for her part, argued that what Ben Gvir’s statement was not true.

“As was made clear to Minister Ben Gvir by the professionals, action by the political echelon should be supported by a factual infrastructure, and he should present it.

Accordingly, the completion of the defense establishment opinions was transferred to the Attorney General only an hour ago, and these are now being reviewed.

  • The Attorney General will do everything possible to provide legal tools that will enable the implementation of the policy of the political echelon.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

France won’t rule out jets for Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron said that the idea of sending fighter jets to Ukraine had not been “excluded,” as Kiev ramps up its campaign to pressure the West into donating combat aircraft to its military.

Asked about the possibility of transferring jets to Kiev’s military, Macron told reporters that “nothing is excluded in principle,” according to France’s AFP news agency.

  • The president added that Kiev would be forbidden from using French jets to attack Russian soil.

Macron was speaking after a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who told reporters that his government saw “no taboo” around sending US-made F-16 fighters to Ukraine, but admitted it would be a “big step.”

For nearly a year, the idea of sending any jets – let alone Western-designed ones – to Ukraine was considered too escalatory by the NATO powers.

In a matter of days, however, the idea has now gone from a “high risk” hypothetical – in the words of the Pentagon last March – to a proposal under serious consideration.

According to various media reports, the UK has dismissed the idea of delivering its Typhoon warplanes as “too escalatory,” while the US is discussing the idea of handing over its planes “very carefully” with the rest of the NATO bloc, amid pressure from the military industrial complex and its partners in the Pentagon.

  • Poland is willing to transfer its F-16s if other NATO members follow suit, while Germany has – for now – declared a Ukrainian request that it hand over its Tornado fighters “out of the question.”

The debate over sending jets to Ukraine appears to be following the same trajectory as the months-long discussion over tanks.

By the time France, Germany, the UK and US all agreed to donate tanks this month, the decision had been telegraphed for weeks through increasingly concrete government-sourced reports in the Western media.

Ukrainian officials believed throughout this process that their Western backers would eventually cave and announce tank deliveries.

  • The country’s foreign minister ridiculed Germany’s public recalcitrance, insisting that Berlin would “do it anyway,” long before the formal announcement was made.

Kiev appears equally hopeful about receiving aircraft from the West.

Posting on Facebook last week, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council, Aleksey Danilov, shared a video of American F-16s along with the caption “soon in the sky of Ukraine.”

Source: RT

Header: Emmanuel Macron speaks during a joint press conference with the Dutch prime minister in The Hague, Netherlands, January 30, 2023 ©  AFP / Ludovic Marin

Moscow provides more evidence of US biolabs in Ukraine

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Monday laid out more evidence that US-funded laboratories were working in Ukraine.

Documents and materials recovered by Russian troops showed that Western pharmaceutical companies operating in territory under Kiev’s control conducted HIV/AIDS research on Ukrainian military personnel.

The commander of Russia’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense Forces, Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, presented Ukrainian-language documents referring to HIV infection studies that began in 2019.

The list of targeted groups shows service members alongside prisoners, drug addicts and other “patients at high risk of infection.”

According to Kirillov, the Russian military has recovered more than 20,000 documents and other materials related to the biological programs in Ukraine, while interviewing eyewitnesses and participants.

The evidence “confirms the focus of the Pentagon on creating biological weapons components and testing them on the population of Ukraine and other states along [Russia’s] borders,” the general told reporters.

Based on documents originating with the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the Russian military identified eight more individuals involved in the US-funded research in Ukraine.

Among the names Kirillov singled out was Karen Saylors of Labyrinth Global Health, previously of Metabiota, a company linked to US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

The latest trove of documents, belonging to the company Pharmbiotest, was unearthed in Lisichansk in the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) early in January, Kirillov noted.

  • “Clinical samples and patient records with their personal data were buried, and not cremated or destroyed in a proper fashion. This suggests that the destruction of this evidence was carried out in extreme haste,” the lieutenant general said.

In October 2022, Russia filed an official complaint over alleged US-backed biological activities in Ukraine and requested a UN probe into the matter.

The UN Security Council rejected Moscow’s proposal after the US, UK, and France voted against it.

  • The US opposition “once again confirms that Washington has something to hide, and that ensuring the transparency of biological research is contrary to US interests,” Kirillov said.

As evidence of the widespread threat posed by the Pentagon’s biological research conducted beyond America’s borders,

Kirillov referred to the previously mentioned US involvement in coronavirus studies, including by funding the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance that contracted with the laboratory in Wuhan, China.

  • Kirillov also brought up the 1977 outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Egypt, near a biological laboratory run by the US Navy.

The disease previously known only south of the Sahara made a surprise appearance in Cairo a few months after the lab employees were vaccinated against it, the general said. Moreover, the Cairo strain was “highly pathogenic” compared to the disease’s normal flu-like symptoms, suggesting the involvement of gain-of-function experiments.

Source: RT

Berlin has abandoned its post-Hitler pacifism, the ‘German question’ has returned

After a period of playing hard to get, the German government has agreed to supply Ukraine with Leopard tanks – its own and those in service with other NATO countries.

We will leave it to military experts to assess how this will affect Ukraine’s combat capabilities and the course of operations. The question for us is what does it mean in political terms?

Germany and military power – the combination of these terms has made many Europeans uncomfortable for at least a century and a half.

The “German question”, which refers to Berlin’s place and role on the continent, led to major military clashes on more than one occasion before the two world wars.

The Second World War seemed to have resolved it by abolishing the unified German state and placing its regions under external control.

This is why the reunification of the country at the turn of the 1990s initially provoked cautious reactions from Bonn’s Western allies, for whom the memory of ambitions for a greater “Reich” were still fresh.

The irony of history is that it was Soviet Moscow that was the most enthusiastic about reunification.

Interestingly, the roots of the current dangerous crisis in European security can be traced back to this time. The idea of enlarging NATO arose from a context of providing guarantees in the event of German unification.

The US, France, Britain, Italy, West Germany and its smaller neighbors believed (not unreasonably) that keeping a reunited country in the US-led military bloc would deter any hypothetical desire to one day go its own way.

Washington, London, Paris and Bonn thought that the Soviet Union would oppose this, but the Kremlin took an unconventional approach and did not object to keeping Germany in NATO.

It turned out though that the extension of the bloc’s jurisdiction to the territory of the former GDR became a precedent for everything else. After all, the principle of the right of each state to choose its own membership in any association was enshrined in the ideological and legal framework. The path from this to the question of Ukraine’s NATO membership was not instantaneous, but it was straightforward.

The pacifism forced onto Germans after the Second World War implied that Germany (first only the West, then the whole) could and should be a model ally within the military bloc, but would not play a leading role.

This was the case after the Cold War – the operations in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan in which the Bundeswehr was involved were not initiated by Berlin, and its participation was somewhat reticent.

The “times have changed” position announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz in February 2022 implied the beginning of a new era, and at the same time major investments in defense modernization were promised.

However, against the backdrop of general exaltation, especially Eastern European, Berlin maintained an unhurried pace. Its Allies grumbled, but up to a certain point most of them also tried to act rather cautiously so as not to provoke an escalation.

  • Since the autumn, however, any limitations seem to have been lifted – especially in Washington and London (Warsaw never had any), but also more widely: The goal of defeating Russia militarily has been articulated directly and at all levels.

Here Germany faced a crucial choice, of which the tank plan was a concrete manifestation.

Given the prevailing mood in the Western bloc, it was immediately clear that Berlin would not be able to oppose the transfer of the Leopard tanks.

The hitch was probably the realization that Germany’s decision would qualitatively increase its involvement in the conflict and open the way for a further arms build-up. The next meeting of the contact group in Rammstein has already been named “airborne”. The more advanced the equipment sent to Kiev, the more likely it is that its forces will no longer be able to maintain the military hardware.

If we recall the straight line from the conditions of German unification to the preconditions of the current crisis, the conclusion is paradoxical.

33 years ago, NATO was seen as the surest guarantee against a hypothetical resurgence of German belligerence.

However, membership of the bloc is the main reason for Berlin’s increasing involvement in a military conflict.

  • From the West’s point of view, there is no danger because Germany is not acting on its own initiative and is in line with the general trend. But this is in a theoretical sense.
  • What about Poland, which is openly hostile to Germany? Not to mention France, where historical identity is largely shaped by the stories of the consequences of German military rearmament? Can we speak of a strong and self-confident unity?

No one dares predict the outcome of the Ukrainian crisis now, there are too many different circumstances. But, its transformative impact on all aspects of European security is undeniable. The immediate participants in the drama will emerge differently, and the deeper the involvement, the more significant the changes. And while the US, as always, has the advantage of physical distance and the ability to pass on most of the costs to its allies, the Moscow-Kiev-Warsaw-Berlin-Paris line is likely to see qualitative changes. And each will have their own strategy.

There are now no survivors from those who laid the foundations of “new Europe,” as it was called in the 1990 Charter.

It’s fair to say they would have been surprised by the outcome.

Source: Fyodor Lukyanov – RT

Johnson lied about Putin missile ‘threat’ – Kremlin

Allegations that Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a missile strike are “a lie,” Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Johnson’s accusations have emerged in a new BBC documentary about the crisis in Ukraine.

Recalling a telephone call with Putin on February 2, 2022, just over three weeks before tensions over Ukraine escalated into full military action, Johnson claimed the Russian leader “threatened me at one point.”

  • “He said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute’ or something like that… jolly,” the former PM told the British broadcaster.

“There were no missile threats,” Peskov told reporters on Monday.

  • “When he explained challenges to the security of the Russian Federation, President Putin remarked that if Ukraine joins NATO, the potential deployment of NATO or American missiles at our borders would mean that any missile could reach Moscow in mere minutes.”

Source: RT

Erdogan questions Macron’s competence

Emmanuel Macron is unfit to be French president and has overseen a significant deterioration in relations with Africa, his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested.

Erdogan claimed that with Macron at the helm, Paris is losing influence globally.

  • Speaking at a youth gathering in Bilecik province in western Türkiye on Sunday, Erdogan said that “the person at the head of France does not have the experience to be at the head of that state.”

The Turkish leader pointed to recent developments in Paris’ relations with African nations to support his case.

  • “Look, they are exploiting African countries right now. Mali is in a complete break with France right now,” Erdogan argued.

The Turkish president also noted that Burkina Faso has given French troops one month to leave the country.

  • Earlier in January, the West African nation suspended a 2018 agreement on the deployment of French service members on its territory. Relations between Paris and its former colony have been on a downward spiral, with the local population blaming France for its perceived inability to combat Islamic extremists. “And I think that Togo, they will send [the troops out] too,” Erdogan added.

According to the Turkish leader, France “is rapidly losing its reputation” in Africa.

  • “We have had many meetings with them, at international meetings and so on, but they are not honest,” Erdogan claimed. Macron has also “lost his credibility in parliament,” the Turkish president stated.

“France is constantly losing credibility, and it is losing credibility in the international community.”

  • “Of course, there are many leaders like this in the world,” Erdogan continued, without elaborating. “In the relations with Greece in the Mediterranean, they ignore Türkiye and enter into different relations with them,” he added.

Macron and Erdogan have frequently engaged in verbal clashes.

  • One of the most notorious incidents took place in 2020, when the Turkish president suggested that his French counterpart “needs mental treatment” while criticizing Macron’s attitude toward Islam and Muslims.

At the time, Macron said that radical Muslims in France were guilty of “Islamist separatism.”

  • In response to Erdogan’s comments, Paris recalled its ambassador to Türkiye for consultations.

Source: RT

NATO hopeful could be ‘shocked’ by Türkiye – Erdogan

Türkiye may rule differently on the NATO applications of Finland and Sweden, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told an audience of youth in the Bilecik province on Sunday, hinting that

  • “Sweden would be shocked when we respond differently to Finland.”

“But Finland should not make the same mistake,” the Turkish leader warned.

  • The two Nordic nations had both reached an agreement with Türkiye in June on joining the US-led military bloc, pledging not to provide support to groups Ankara has designated as terrorists, to extradite terrorism suspects, and to swear off arms embargoes involving any of the trio.

In return, Ankara has been expected to support their NATO membership.

  • However, that pact fractured earlier this month, when Swedish-Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan burned a Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in Sweden and vowed to destroy the holy book of Islam every Friday until Stockholm is allowed into NATO.
  • Erdogan addressed the provocative act in his remarks on Sunday, asking “Did [Sweden] wipe out Islam by burning our Koran?…They just showed how ignoble they are. Denmark did the same.”

Paludan burned additional copies of the Koran on Friday, this time in front of a mosque, the Turkish Embassy, and the Russian Consulate in Copenhagen.

  • While Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson condemned the Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party leader’s actions as “deeply disrespectful,” he stopped short of calling for any official punishment for Paludan, who had police permission for the stunt under Stockholm’s protections for freedom of expression. Türkiye condemned the country’s leniency, arguing the act “clearly constitutes a hate crime.”

While Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed last week that a planned meeting to discuss NATO membership with both Finland and Sweden had been postponed indefinitely, Erdogan told his audience on Sunday that Sweden nonetheless had been given a list of 120 people to extradite as “terrorists” in order to “enter NATO.”

Last week, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto suggested Helsinki might join the military bloc alone if its neighbor were to be blocked – a comment he quickly walked back.

Both nations’ foreign ministers confirmed on Saturday that their accession was still underway.

Addressing the two countries’ NATO bids, Russia has said the expansion of the bloc would not make the European continent more stable or secure, and while Moscow noted it “does not have problems” with Stockholm or Helsinki, it has nonetheless pledged to adjust its military posture in its northern region if the organization adds two new members.

Source: RT

World’s top-selling carmaker revealed

Japan’s Toyota Motor Corporation was the world’s best-selling automaker for the third consecutive year in 2022 despite supply-chain constraints, which plagued the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

  • According to the company, it sold roughly 10.5 million vehicles throughout the year. The sales included those of its subsidiaries Daihatsu and Hino Motors. While overall sales dipped 0.1% against 2021 due to a 9.6% drop in domestic sales, overseas deliveries jumped to record highs at 8.6 million vehicles.
Toyota has now held the title of best-selling automaker for three years in a row.
  • Germany’s Volkswagen, which ranks second, said earlier this month that overall sales plunged 7% last year to 8.3 million cars, the lowest level of deliveries in over a decade.

Toyota said that despite lingering constraints regarding semiconductor inventories, its overall global output rose 5% last year on strong Asian demand and optimization measures at its plants.

  • Its production target for the next fiscal year, which starts in April, is 10.6 million vehicles, which exceeds its pre-pandemic output.

Analysts from S&P Global Mobility predict Toyota’s 2023 sales to surpass last year’s, while Volkswagen is likely to recover from its 2022 slump but will still be unable to outpace its Japanese rival.

  • “For both companies, the impact of production constraints will gradually ease. Overall, moderate recovery and growth are seen over the medium to long term,” Yoshiaki Kawano from S&P Global Mobility told Bloomberg.

Source: RT

China’s smartphone sales drop to decade low – report

China’s smartphone sales plunged in 2022, dropping below 300 million units for the first time since 2013, Singapore-based market analysis firm Canalys said on Sunday.

According to the report, “mainland China’s smartphone market finished 2022 with an annual shipment of 287 million units,” down from 329 million in 2022, a year-on-year decrease of 14%.

Vivo smartphone maker was the leader in sales volumes, with a market share of little over 18%, closely followed by HONOR and Apple. Vivo’s total shipments fell 27% year-on-year, however, while HONOR’s surged over 30%.

  • Apple was the third best-selling phone brand in 2022, and reached an all-time-high market share of 18% in China due to “aggressive promotions and demand in the high-end segment.”

Analysts say that sales were affected by strict COVID-19 controls, which resulted in inventory issues.

“Fortunately, most vendors started to normalize inventory levels during promotions in Q4,” Canalys Analyst Amber Liu said. He noted, however, that “vendors are still very cautious about the market in 2023.”

  • “The recovery of the consumer market is taking time as the effect of stimulus on the economy and demand may take 6 to 12 months to show. We expect the supply chain to finally stabilize in 2023 as the pandemic control policy is no longer in operation, and the overall smartphone market will likely grow slightly year-on-year as business activities and confidence return,” he stated.

Another report by research firm IDC showed that the drop in smartphone sales in China reflected the global downward trend in the sector’s performance.

According to IDC estimations, global smartphone shipments dropped more than 11% year-on-year in 2022, to 1.2 billion units.

Source: RT

50 years after leaving Vietnam, the US keeps getting involved in wars without understanding them

In January 1973, the US signed an agreement that saw it pull out of Vietnam, abandoning its South Vietnamese partners.

In August 2021, history repeated itself in Afghanistan.

Vietnam being one of the theaters of the Cold War, the US decided to intervene to face the progression of communists in the country.

  • According to the domino theory, Vietnam needed to stay within the Western sphere of influence. For the sake of democracy all over the world, obviously.

The year 1965 was the beginning of a massive US involvement.

Until then, Washington had limited itself to sending supplies and about 900 military observers and trainers. But after the controversial Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, the American engagement became way more serious.

At its peak in 1969, the US intervention included more than 540,000 troops on the ground.

However, the large scale 1965-68 Operation Rolling Thunder, during which the US dropped 864,000 tons of bombs on North Vietnam, ended up a failure.

  • The surprise Tet Offensive launched by the North Vietnamese was also a failure, but it seriously damaged South Vietnam’s infrastructure and the US’ reputation as a trustworthy ally.

By the end of the ‘60s, the US population had grown tired of the conflict, and more and more protests against the war were organized throughout the country.

President Richard Nixon had campaigned in 1968 on the promise to end the war in Vietnam with peace and honor – the idea was to gain time and arm the South Vietnamese in order for them to defend their positions on their own.

However, Nixon had failed to deliver this peace and, in 1972, was facing re-election.

  • As the Americans had already proved during WWII when they constantly postponed the opening of a second front in Europe, a ‘democratic war’ is always closely linked to elections and internal political fights.

Three (very different) men in a boat

How the talks went is a crucial illustration of how cynical, and sometimes absurd, the foreign policy of the US can be.

Richard Nixon sent in Henry Kissinger, the national security adviser at the time. A brilliant personality, Kissinger (who is now 99) was already a member of the establishment.

He did not regard South Vietnam as being important in itself, but considered it necessary to support it in order to maintain the global power status of the US.

  • He was convinced that none of the allies of Washington would trust them anymore if the US were to dump Saigon too quickly. Realpolitik incarnate.

The North Vietnamese envoy for these negotiations was Le Duc Tho, who had started his career as a revolutionary when he was 16 and had been one of the founders of the Indochinese Communist Party in 1930. He had been jailed twice for several years by the French in very harsh conditions. He was dedicated to the unification of his country. Kissinger called him a “fanatic.”

The third man was South Vietnam’s president, Nguyen Van Thieu. He had joined Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh but left it after a year of service and went on to join the Vietnamese National Army of the French-backed State of Vietnam.

The president of South Vietnam since 1965, he had managed to ensure a relative security but was known for turning a blind eye to (and indulging in) corruption. Another example of American foreign policy, which the quote “He may be a bastard, but he is our bastard” summarizes quite well. To add cynicism to the picture, Nguyen did not actually get a chance to sit at the negotiating table.

The cosmopolitan intellectual, the revolutionary nationalist, and the opportunist politician. Which of them was the good, the bad, or the ugly is a matter of personal preference.

The Vietnam peace treaty: Rehearsal for Afghanistan?

Between 1969 and 1973, Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho met more than 15 times in Paris. According to American historian A. J. Langguth, at one point in 1970, when things seemed at a standstill, one of Kissinger’s attempts to talk to Le Duc Tho was met with a note saying:

  • “The US words of peace are just empty ones.” But with the US proposal and the coming presidential election, North Vietnam had a chance it could not pass up. As the subsequent events proved, the Vietnamese understood the Americans, but the Americans did not understand the Vietnamese.

The two sides ended up negotiating a complete withdrawal of the US and the release of all POWs in North Vietnam. However, the negotiations almost collapsed after this agreement, as Nixon wanted amendments and Nguyen Van Thieu, having been excluded from the talks, did not want to sign it.

Kissinger managed to gain some cosmetic concessions from the North Vietnamese in order for the US not to lose face. Washington sent an ultimatum to Nguyen Van Thieu. The peace treaty was signed on January 27, 1973 in Paris. However, the ceasefire was broken by both Vietnamese sides within 24 hours. Two years later, on April 30, 1975, Saigon fell to the communist North Vietnam and it marked the definitive and complete withdrawal of the US.

  • Nguyen Van Thieu made a final speech denouncing Washington for not keeping its word and then fled to Taiwan.

Any resemblance with the Afghan scenario is purely coincidental.

  • In 2020, the US and the Taliban signed an agreement for the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Afghan government was not invited to negotiate. The ceasefire was broken almost immediately. Two years later, Kabul fell to the Taliban.
  • Interestingly enough, the propaganda machine still has it that the US did not lose the Vietnam War – South Vietnam lost. Even Wikipedia does not mention that it was a US defeat: The French were defeated, but in the case of the US, it was simply a “withdrawal.”

Lost in translation

In Francis Ford Coppola’s movie ‘Apocalypse Now’, the character Hubert de Marais has this very important line which he delivers with a typical French accent:

“The Vietnamese are very intelligent. You never know what they think. The Russian ones who help them – ‘come and give us their money. We are all communists. Chinese give us guns. We are all brothers.’ They hate the Chinese! Maybe they hate the American less than the Russian and the Chinese. I mean, if tomorrow the Vietnamese are communists they will be Vietnamese communists. And this is something you never understood, you Americans.”

Coppola had, in the ‘70’s, understood something that former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara only came to understand in the ‘90’s when he met with Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap.

With astonishment, he suddenly realized that the Vietnamese were fighting a war of independence, not an ideological war. The 20-year conflict in Vietnam had never been about the spread of communism in the world. Concerning US foreign policy, the elderly and experienced politician went on to say:

  • “We don’t understand the Bosnians, we don’t understand the Chinese, and we don’t really understand the Iranians.” With the exception of colonized Western Europe, it seems to be a good summary of Washington’s policy towards countries all over the world.

But the propaganda machine works well: Kissinger will be remembered as the one who got the Nobel Peace Prize for the 1973 treaty. Le Duc Tho gracefully refused it.

  • The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Source: Matthieu Buge – RT

Russian company offers $70,000 reward for destroying NATO tanks

Fores, a Russian chemical manufacturer, is offering bounties to soldiers for destroying M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks in Ukraine.

The news comes after Washington and Berlin approved the deliveries to Kiev last week.

  • “Russian servicemen that destroy or capture a German Leopard 2 battle tank or an American Abrams will receive a monetary reward,” the company said in a statement on its website on Friday.
  • “Fores will pay 5 million rubles [$70,700] for the first trophy. The payment for every next one … will be 500,000 rubles [$7,070].”

The company added that if Ukraine ever acquires F-15 and F-16 jet fighters, Fores would hand out a 15-million-ruble ($212,100) prize for the first downed aircraft.

  • The decision to transfer Western tanks to Kiev shows that NATO is not only delivering defensive weapons to Ukraine, which highlights the need for consolidation and support for our army. We have been doing this since the first days of [Russia’s] special military operation and will continue to support our servicemen.
  • Founded in 2000, Fores makes and sells proppant, a grainy substance used by oil and gas companies for fracking, according to its website. The company’s office is in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

On Sunday, Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin, who is known for having hawkish views, announced a similar bounty on his blog.

  • “Certain members of the big business community have authorized me to inform you that they are setting a 10-million-ruble ($143,900) prize for every destroyed Abrams,” he wrote.

Berlin said last week that it would supply Kiev with 14 Leopard 2s and has greenlighted deliveries of the German-made tanks from other European countries.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany and its partners were looking to supply 112 tanks in total.

  • Meanwhile, the 31 Abrams tanks pledged by the US must be assembled first. Politico reported last week that it could take “many months, or potentially years” before they roll onto the battlefield.

Russia has maintained that foreign weapons would lead to escalation, but will not change the course of the conflict.

The Kremlin says that Western tanks in Ukraine will be treated as legitimate targets.

Source: RT

Drones attack convoy on Syria-Iraq border – media

A convoy of trucks was attacked by drones at the al-Qaim crossing on the Syria-Iraq border on Sunday, Al Arabiya reported, citing “opposition activists and a pro-government radio station.” The crossing is purportedly controlled by Iranian fighters.

According to Al Arabiya, 25 vehicles had crossed the border before the attack. Six refrigerator trucks were hit, Syria’s Sham FM and other local media claimed.

The TV channel Al-Mayadeen, however, reported that “three Iranian aid trucks loaded with flour and rice were targeted.”

“The convoy did not carry any weapons,” according to the media outlet.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the strike.

The drones allegedly fired a warning shot to allow the truck drivers to abandon their cargo, though there were conflicting reports on whether anyone was hurt. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed ambulances rushed to the area to treat the injured, while the Times of Israel suggested there were no reports of injuries.

While an official with an “Iran-backed militia” in Baghdad confirmed there had been an airstrike, he claimed only one truck had been targeted and did not mention casualties.

  • The attack comes hours after a drone strike on an Iranian munitions facility in Isfahan province.

Israel was reportedly responsible for that attack, according to US officials cited by the Wall Street Journal.

  • Tehran condemned it as a “cowardly” assault meant to spread “insecurity,” confirming its air defenses had brought down one drone and blown up two others.

Source: RT

Creators defend failed Russiagate platform

The US think tank Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) sought to clarify its activities on Friday, after internal Twitter messages published the same day by journalist Matt Taibbi called into question the accuracy of its “Russian bot” dashboard, Hamilton68.

The released communications show employees knew many of the listed accounts on the dashboard were neither Russians, nor bots.

  • ASD is now seeking to recast Hamilton68 as a “nuanced” tool misinterpreted by reporters.

The creators of the dashboard, which once claimed to track over 600 Kremlin-linked accounts to provide the West with an authentic window on Russian “influence operations,” published a statement on Friday insisting Hamilton68 never pretended the accounts it monitored took their orders from Moscow – only that they were “wittingly or unwittingly” amplifying Russian narratives.

Advised by a bipartisan panel consisting of Weekly Standard editor and Iraq war proponent Bill Kristol, Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, and former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, the ASD launched the dashboard in 2017 “to track Russian disinformation on Twitter,” according to its website. Hamilton68’s primary architect, former FBI agent Clint Watts, admitted the following year he was “not convinced on this bot thing.”

  • The group blamed “members of the media, pundits and even some lawmakers” for failing to include the necessary context explaining that Hamilton68’s conclusions weren’t drawn from real Russian bots, even though its own advisory committee members are on record in 2017 claiming “Moscow used [the accounts included in Hamilton68] to discredit the FBI…to attack ABC news…to critique the Obama administration…and to warn about violence by immigrants.”
  • Internal messages between Twitter employees published by Taibbi revealed that the social media platform’s executives had analyzed Hamilton68’s list of 644 putative Russian bots back in 2017, only to find “these accounts are neither strongly Russian nor strongly bots,” in the words of Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth.

Roth recommended Twitter “just call this out on the bulls*** it is” as “virtually any conclusion drawn from [the dashboard] will take conversations in conservative circles on Twitter and accuse them of being Russian.”

  • However, he was discouraged from calling out the group by Twitter’s head of global policy communication, Emily Horne, who reminded him “we have to be careful in how much we push back on ASD publicly.”

Source: RT

Russia to produce modernized iconic rifle

Russia’s Rostec defense consortium will start producing the newest model of the Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle this year.

  • It is the fifth generation of the legendary firearm.

The new design reflects the experience Russian troops have gained during the military operation in Ukraine, the head of Rostec, Sergey Chemezov, has said.

  • “We are working in cooperation with the military and are getting their feedback,” he noted as he unveiled the upgraded rifle on Friday.
  • “We can promptly react to the changing needs [of the army] and introduce construction changes as well as improving our products.”

According to Chemezov, the new AK-12 model received “major improvements” and is much more user-friendly and ergonomic.

  • “The new model will be mass produced this year,” he added.

The 5.45mm caliber AK-12 has increased operational accuracy and fire density in comparison to earlier generations.

It also features several Picatinny rails for gun sights and laser target indicators.

  • The weapon is just one of the Kalashnikov Group’s cutting-edge products, which also include the 5.56x45mm AK-19 assault rifle and the 9mm PPK-20 submachine gun.

The group produces AK-15 assault rifles with 7.62mm caliber for the Russian Army and the AK-19 for international clients.

Earlier in January, the Kalashnikov Group, which is part of Rostec, reported a 20-year record production increase, as its firearms division manufactured 40% more military and civilian small arms in 2022 than in 2021.

  • Kalashnikov fulfilled 45 state military contracts, 24 military-technical cooperation agreements, and one deal to license production elsewhere, describing them as “the biggest deals in history.”
  • Russian officials have said that the country’s defense industry kicked into high gear in response to Kiev’s Western backers “pumping” Ukraine full of arms.

Last month, President Vladimir Putin pointed to the need to fully supply “every platoon” fighting on the frontlines against Kiev’s forces as he spoke to defense industry executives in Tula.

Source: RT