Wednesday, August 31, 2022

US War-Gamed With Ukraine Before This Week's Counteroffensive Was Launched


CNN: US war-gamed with Ukraine ahead of counteroffensive and encouraged more limited mission  

Washington CNN — In the buildup to the current Ukrainian counteroffensive, the US urged Kyiv to keep the operation limited in both its objectives and its geography to avoid getting overextended and bogged down on multiple fronts, multiple US and western officials and Ukrainian sources tell CNN. 

Those discussions involved engaging in “war-gaming” with Kyiv, the sources said – analytical exercises that were intended to help the Ukrainian forces understand what force levels they would need to muster to be successful in different scenarios. 

The Ukrainians were initially considering a broader counteroffensive, but narrowed their mission to the south, in the Kherson region, in recent weeks, US and Ukrainian officials said. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: These western reports on US involvement will only feed into the Russian narrative that it is the West, specifically the U.S., that is directing the war in Ukraine.

Venezuela's Refugee Crisis Is Now Matching The Refugee Crisis In Ukraine

Migrants from Venezuela crossing into Chile from the Bolivian border near Colchane, Chile [File: Matias Delacroix/AP]  

CNN: UN says similar numbers of refugees are fleeing Venezuela as war torn Ukraine  

More than 6 million Venezuelans have fled their country amid deteriorating conditions, matching Ukraine in the number of displaced people and surpassing Syria, according to the United Nations. 

The refugee crisis in Venezuela is striking because there is not a war in the country like Ukraine, where ongoing conflict has pushed people out of the country. 

There are about 6.8 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants spread around the world, according to the United Nations refugee agency—similar to the 6.8 million refugees from Ukraine. There are some 6.6 million refugees from Syria.  

Read more ....  

Update: Over 6.8 million have left Venezuela since 2014 and exodus grows (Al Jazeera)  

WNU Editor: If you add the internally displaced the situation in Ukraine is far worse than Venezuela or Syria .... Displaced Ukrainians now tie for largest refugee crisis worldwide (The Gazette).

U.S. Intelligence Says Russia's Military Is Suffering Manpower Shortages

Russian military forces in Ukraine 

Reuters: Russia's military suffering manpower shortages -U.S. intelligence 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Russian military is suffering manpower shortages as it battles Ukraine and is seeking to recruit contract service members and may even draw in convicted criminals, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, citing U.S. intelligence. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree last Thursday to increase the size of Russia's armed forces from 1.9 million to 2.04 million as the war in Ukraine enters its seventh month. 

Moscow has not revealed any losses in the conflict since its first weeks, but Western officials and the Kyiv government say they number in the thousands. 

"The Russian military is suffering from severe manpower shortages in Ukraine," the U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the downgraded intelligence.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Pentagon: Russian military ‘unlikely to succeed’ at recruitment target (The Hill)  

Update #2: U.S. Defense Official: Russia Struggling To Recruit New Soldiers, Turning To Prisons, Older Recruits (RFE)  

WNU Editor: Russia suffering manpower and ammo shortages has been the Western narrative since March. But what we have seen on the ground since March has been the opposite. The fall of Mariupol and the capture of thousands of Ukraine's best fighters in May. The complete capture of Luhansk province in June, and steady progress in Donetz province. And now Russian and separatist military forces are blocking a major Ukraine counter-offensive in the southwest part of the country. If the Russian military was suffering the losses that U.S. intelligence was saying, the Russian offensive would have ended a long time ago and their defense lines would be in a state of collapse..

Where Are The Western Weapons In The Ukraine War?

Ukrainian servicemen fire mortars on a front line in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine, in a handout picture released August 1, 2022. Press service of the 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces/Handout via Reuters  

Moon Of Alabama: Ukraine - A Frontline Report - Vanishing Foreign Weapons 

Some people ask why I read the New York Times and other such outlets of mostly 'western' propaganda. One obvious reason is to "know your enemy", to find out what the propaganda wants us to think. Another one is to find the gems that give a real picture of a situation which often sneak themselves into the coverage, though usually way below the headline. 

Today there is a piece about Ukrainian military units which are trading weapons with each other. 

A Frontline Shadow Economy: Ukrainian Units Trade Tanks and Artillery  

Within the 93rd Mechanized Brigade, Zmei was not just a lowly sergeant. He was the brigade’s point man for a wartime bartering system among Ukrainian forces. Prevalent along the front line, the exchange operates like a kind of shadow economy, soldiers say, in which units acquire weapons or equipment and trade them for supplies they need urgently. 

Most of the bartering involves items captured from Russian troops. Ukrainian soldiers refer to them as “trophies.” 

Yes, sure, the Ukrainian units catch so many weapons from the Russians that there is a lively trade of those. However, read beyond the first 25 paragraphs of such heroic trade propaganda to get a picture of the real situation and mood at the front lines:  

Alex is waiting for his own kind of repairs. He was shot in the right leg during a patrol in May. The bullet shattered his femur. 

He and several other Ukrainian soldiers had been on a reconnaissance patrol in the gray zone — the area between Russian and Ukrainian front lines — when he was hit. The mission had carried two objectives, he said: to find Russian positions and to find abandoned equipment. 

“We are losing tanks,” Alex said. “If this war goes the distance, sooner or later we’ll be out of Soviet equipment and other Soviet tanks, so we will have to switch to something else.”  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: All of my contacts on the Ukraine side are telling me the same thing. The West needs to significantly increase their transfer of weapons and ammo to Ukraine or this is going to be a lost cause.

Satellite Images And Maps Show Scale Of Flood Disaster In Pakistan

This UN map shows the scale of damage to houses across Pakistan as of 26 August. The boundaries and names on the map do not imply endorsement by the UN. Pic: UN OCHA  

SKY News: Pakistan floods: Satellite images and maps show scale of disaster 

Parts of Pakistan are currently submerged by the worst floods in the country's history. 

The little boy in blue could be around nine or 10 years old. He's sat with his family on rescued furniture and they are surrounded by floodwaters. 

He lives in Mehar, one of the areas in Pakistan worst hit by the monsoon floods which have submerged a third of the country. 

This slider shows you what the boy's home district looked like on 29 August compared to the same time a month ago.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Pakistan’s deadly floods have created a massive 100km-wide inland lake, satellite images show (CNN)  

Update #2: Cataclysmic floods in Pakistan kill 1100, including 380 children (Reuters)  

WNU Editor: About half of the country has been impacted by this flooding.

President Biden And Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid Discuss Emerging Iran Deal In Phone Call

Biden assures Israeli prime minister US won’t allow a nuclear Iran © Provided by The Hill  

Reuters: U.S. will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, Biden tells Israel's Lapid 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday the United States will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, the White House said, as Tehran seeks stronger guarantees from Washington for the revival of a nuclear deal with world powers. 

Israel opposes a return to the 2015 deal, which imposed curbs on Iran's nuclear weapons program in exchange for the lifting of U.S., European Union and United Nations sanctions on Tehran. 

To Israel's delight, former president Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions, prompting Tehran to violate the pact's nuclear limits. Biden has vowed to revive the agreement while ensuring the security of Israel, Iran's regional arch foe.  

Read more .... 

President Biden And Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid Discuss Emerging Iran Deal In Phone Call 

Lapid, Biden talk Iran deal as EU says agreement could be days away -- Jerusalem Post  

Biden assures Israeli prime minister US won’t allow a nuclear Iran -- The Hill  

Biden, Lapid discuss ‘shared commitment’ against nukes for Iran -- Al Jazeera  

Biden and Lapid discuss emerging Iran deal in phone call -- Axios

Syria Reports Israeli Air Strikes On Aleppo Airport

A fire is reportedly seen at the Aleppo International Airport in northern Syrian following an airstrike attributed to Israel, August 31, 2022. (Social media)  

Times of Israel: Syria accuses Israel of consecutive airstrikes on Aleppo airport, Damascus  

State-run news agency does not elaborate on extent of airport bombing, but images show several fires in area; no immediate reports of injuries 

Syria accused Israel of carrying out two consecutive airstrikes on Wednesday night, the first against the Aleppo International Airport and the second near the capital Damascus. 

According to the state-run SANA news agency, the first airstrike caused damage to the airport in northern Syria. 

It did not provide further details. Images published on social media appeared to show several fires in the area.  

Read more .... 

Syria Reports Israeli Air Strikes On Aleppo Airport  

Alleged Israeli airstrikes target Aleppo, Damascus within an hour -- Jerusalem Post  

Syrian report: Israeli airstrikes target Iranian sites in Aleppo, Damascus -- i24 News  

Israel Attacks Aleppo's Airport With Rockets -Syria's State News Agency -- Reuters

Israel launches missile attacks on Syria's Aleppo airport and Damascus -- The National

Israel attacks Aleppo international airport – Syrian media -- RT

Russia - Ukraine War: Military Summary And Analysis For 31.08.2022


WNU editor: Another day of interesting updates.

Russia - Ukraine War Maps -- August 31, 2022 (Click on Images to Enlarge)

Tweets On The Russia - Ukraine War

Tweets Of The Day

U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve Hits A New Low

  WNU Editor: Oil reserves in the US Strategic Reserve have fallen to the lowest level since 1984.

UN Inspectors Head To Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant


FOX News: UN watchdog heads to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant with 'explicit guarantees' for its safety 

The IAEA hopes to set up a permanent mission to protect the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant 

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on Wednesday said it was headed for Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) with "explicit guarantees" for the safety of its team. 

Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been repeatedly threatened with a barrage of shelling that officials warn could result in a massive nuclear disaster if the plant is damaged. 

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said before departing south from Kyiv that his team had finally been granted access to the plant after "six months of strenuous efforts."  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Russia has accepted the idea of a permanent UN presence at the nuclear plant .... Russia welcomes idea of permanent IAEA presence at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant (Reuters). More here .... IAEA seeks permanent presence at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant (Axios). 

UN Inspectors Head To Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant  

IAEA team heads for Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant -- Reuters  

UN inspectors head to Ukraine nuclear plant in war zone -- AP  

IAEA Team Heads for Ukraine Nuclear Plant Inspection in War Zone -- Bloomberg  

UN nuclear team in Zaporizhzhia limbo as Russia narrows access to plant -- The Guardian 

UN mission says Ukraine nuclear plant inspection to last 'a few days' -- Reuters

Russia Shuts Nord Stream 1 Gas pipeline to Europe For Three Days Citing Maintenance Reasons


CNBC: Russia halts gas flows to Europe via Nord Stream 1 for maintenance works 

* It is expected that gas flows via Nord Stream 1, which runs from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, will be suspended from Aug. 31 through to Sept. 3.

* The temporary halt to supplies reflects a deepening gas dispute between Russia and the European Union and underscores both the risk of a recession and a winter shortage. 

* “Europe is in full bunkering mode and taking no chances with Russian supplies heading into the winter,” said Wei Xiong, senior analyst at energy consultancy Rystad Energy. 

Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom on Wednesday halted gas flows to Europe via a major pipeline, citing maintenance works on its only remaining compressor. 

It is expected that gas flows via Nord Stream 1, which runs from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, will be suspended from Aug. 31 through to Sept. 3.  

Read more .... 

Russia Shuts Nord Stream 1 Gas pipeline to Europe For Three Days Citing Maintenance Reasons  

Nord Stream 1: Russia shuts major gas pipeline to Europe -- BBC  

Russia deepens Europe's energy squeeze with new gas halt -- Reuters 

Energy crisis: Russian energy giant Gazprom halts Nord Stream 1 gas flows to Germany -- Euronews/AP  

Nord Stream 1: Russia switches off gas pipeline citing maintenance -- The Guardian 

Russia halts natural gas flows via Nord Stream 1 pipeline, intensifying the pressure on Europe in its energy crisis -- Business Insider 

Russia halts gas supplies to Germany as France warns of winter rationing and power cuts -- The Independent  

Russian gas deliveries to Europe halted for three days -- RTE  

Russia halts Nord Stream 1 gas flow to Europe again -- Al Jazeera

Taiwan Warns It Will Counterattack If China Violates Its Territorial Waters And Airspace

On Wednesday, defence officials said Taiwan would exercise its right to self-defence should Beijing decide to move against the island. Pictured: Military honour guards hold a morning Taiwan flag raising ceremony in Taipei, August 30 

Reuters: Taiwan vows counter-attack if Chinese forces enter its territory 

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan said on Wednesday it would exercise its right to self-defence and counter-attack if Chinese armed forces entered its territory, as Beijing increased military activities near the democratically governed island. 

Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own against the strong objections of the Taipei government, has held military exercises around the island this month in reaction to a visit to Taipei by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

Taiwanese defence officials said China's "high intensity" military patrols near Taiwan continued and Beijing's intention to make the Taiwan Strait separating the two sides its "inner sea" would become the main source of instability in the region. 

Read more .... 

Taiwan Warns It Will Counterattack If China Violates Its Territorial Waters And Airspace 

Taiwan vows 'COUNTER-ATTACK' if Chinese warships and fighter planes enter its territory, following Beijing's huge military drills around the island -- Daily Mail 

Taiwan Warns of Severe Military Challenge as China Edges Closer -- Bloomberg  

Taiwan Warns of Counterattack if China Violates Territorial Waters, Airspace -- WSJ  

Taiwan Will 'Counterattack' if Chinese Forces Enter Territory: Official -- Newsweek

Taiwan Vows Counter-Attack If China Enters Territory Amid 2nd 'Warning Shot' Drone Incident -- Zero Hedge

U.S. Navy Releases Video Of A Mysterious Drone Swarm Over The USS Zumwalt


Warzone/The Drive: Video Of Mysterious Drone Swarm Over Navy’s Most Advanced Destroyer Released  

The swarm incident involving USS Zumwalt was just one of many similar events involving Navy ships off California in 2019.  

The U.S. Navy has released a new video from an incident that involved six unidentified drones flying over its most advanced surface combatant, the USS Zumwalt. The incident occurred in the waters off the coast of Southern California in April 2019. 

The War Zone received the video via the Freedom of Information act as part of our ongoing investigation into reports of drone swarm incidents that occurred near Navy vessels intermittently throughout 2019 off Southern California. Our previous update in the investigation produced a number of briefing documents, including an unclassified video and photographs that provided a significant increase in detail about these strange incidents. While the bulk of the drone swarm events occurred in July of 2019, we learned of several new events that occurred earlier in the year. Among these was the incident involving the USS Zumwalt.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Cannot tell much from the short video, but the person who is filming the drone swarm is clearly excited.

EU Agrees To Suspend Russia Visa Deal But Will Stop Short Of A Full Tourist Ban


DW: EU foreign ministers agree to suspend Russian visa accord 

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell says EU foreign ministers have agreed to suspend the bloc's visa facilitation agreement with Russia over Moscow's war in Ukraine. 

EU foreign ministers have agreed to suspend a 2007 visa facilitation agreement with Russia over the country's war in Ukraine, top EU diplomat Josep Borrell announced on Wednesday.

"This will significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by the EU member states. 

It's going to be more difficult, it's going to take longer," Borrell said at the end of a two-day meeting of foreign ministers in Prague.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: How times have changed. During the Cold War the Soviet Union put up the Iron Curtain to keep its citizens within it's borders. Flash forward to today. Europe is putting up a "new curtain" to keep Russian citizens within its borders.

EU Agrees To Suspend Russia Visa Deal But Will Stop Short Of A Full Tourist Ban  

EU foreign ministers agree to scrap Russia visa deal but stop short of full tourist ban -- Euronews  

EU will suspend agreement with Russia that eases visa issuance - Hungary minister -- Reuters 

EU countries torn over Russian tourist visa ban move -- AP  

European Union to Restrict Visas for Russian Citizens -- WSJ

Turkey Says Greek Missiles Locked On Its Fighters Over The Mediterranean While Carrying Out A NATO Mission

The F-16s were at an altitude of 3,000 metres to the west of Greece’s Rhodes island [File: Murad Sezer/Reuters]  

Daily Sabah: ‘Greek missiles locking on Turkish fighters over Med challenges NATO’  

Greece has challenged NATO and its allies, not Türkiye, by locking its air defense systems on Turkish jets carrying out a NATO reconnaissance mission, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said late Tuesday. 

Erdoğan lashed out against Greece over the harassment of Turkish jets carrying out reconnaissance missions over the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, calling it a "hostile act." 

"Greece has challenged NATO and its allies by increasing its hostile attitude, which started with harassing our airspace and aircraft and escalated to the level of S-300 radar lockdown," the president said, ahead of a celebration concert for the centenary of Türkiye's Victory Day at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Turkey accuses Greece of 'hostile action' against jets (CNA/AAFP)  

Update #2: Turkey accuses Greece of ‘hostile action’ against its jets (Al Jazeera)  

WNU Editor: Greece has responded .... Greece has effective deterrents against Turkish threats, spokesman says (Ekathimerini).

Goldman Sachs Warns UK Inflation Could Top 22% As Energy Prices Soar

In a scenario where wholesale prices for energy remain their current levels, Goldman Sachs predicts a peak of 22.4% next year. Photograph: Paul Marriott/Rex/Shutterstock  

CNBC: UK inflation could top 22% as energy prices soar, Goldman Sachs warns 

* U.K. inflation could hit 22.4% next year if energy prices continue their upward spiral, Goldman Sachs warned. 

* It comes after British households were hit with a projected 80% increase in their energy bills in the coming months. 

* The investment bank also forecast that gross domestic product could drop 3.4%. 

LONDON — U.K. inflation could soar above 22% next year if energy prices continue their upward spiral, U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs warned. 

 In a research note dated Monday, Goldman said headline inflation could peak at 22.4% and gross domestic product could drop by 3.4% if energy costs keep rising at their current pace.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Energy prices could push UK inflation to 22%, a near post-war record (The Guardian) 

Update #2: UK Inflation Could Top 22% Next Year, Warns Goldman Sachs (Bloomberg)  

WNU Editor: U.K. is not going to be alone. It looks like all European nations are going to be experiencing double digit inflation in 2023. In fact, some are there already .... Rate hikes are little help for Estonia's 22% inflation, Europe's worst (Washington Post).

Pope Francis Orders All Church Financial Liquid Assets To Be Transfered To The Vatican Bank By October 1

Reuters: Pope further tightens controls, centralisation of Vatican finances 

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Tuesday acted to eliminate wiggle room or foot- dragging by Vatican departments in imposing tighter financial controls, setting a deadline for the closing of investment portfolios in foreign banks, including in Italy. 

Francis issued a document known as a “rescriptum,” or re-writing, making clear that all investments by all departments would have to go through the Vatican bank under new rules that come into effect on Sept. 1.

A greater role for the bank is a key plank in a centralisation policy announced last month that strips all Vatican departments of the ability to invest their funds independently.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Pope imposes deadline for Vatican to transfer assets to bank (AP)  

Update #2: Pope Francis instructs Vatican entities to move all funds to Vatican bank by Sept. 30 (CNA)  

WNU Editor: With financial and economic turmoil the new normal in international markets, you have to wonder what does the Vatican know that we do not know?

Are Climate Lockdowns Next?

The Daily Signal: Europe’s Descending Into Climate Lockdowns. Will America Be Next? 

 If energy is life and the lack of energy is death, then Europe’s dismantling its own energy security is the equivalent of civilizational suicide. 

 Europe is once again on the brink of lockdowns—though its goal this time around is not to “stop the spread” of a virus. This time, European Union members, and even the U.K., are imposing energy rationing schemes in an attempt to keep people from freezing to death this winter. 

In Germany, they’re no longer heating public pools, traffic lights are being shut off, and they’re turning off city fountains. Hungary instructed schools to look into wood-burning to keep warm. The Netherlands is urging citizens to shower less, and Spain is literally regulating people’s thermostats.  

Read more .... 

Update: Coming soon: Climate lockdowns? (Kristin Tate, The Hill)  

WNU Editor: Proponents for climate lock-downs are saying science is on their side .... Cleaner air as a result of coronavirus lockdown (Science Daily). More here .... Cleaner air as a result of pandemic lockdown (

US Army Grounds Entire Fleet Of 400 Chinook Helicopters Over Engine Fires


CNN: US Army grounds fleet of Chinook helicopters after engine fires 

(CNN)The Army grounded its entire fleet of Chinook helicopters after a "small number" of engines fires were discovered, according to an Army spokeswoman. 

The Army identified the cause of the engine fires as a fuel leak among an "isolated number" of Boeing H-47 Chinook helicopters, Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said, adding that the service is taking steps to fix the issue. 

No injuries or deaths occurred as a result of the fuel leaks or engine fires, Smith said. Even so, the Army temporarily grounded the fleet of approximately 400 Chinooks "out of an abundance of caution," Smith said. 

The Army's workhorse helicopter, which has been in service since the 1960s, will be grounded until the corrective steps are complete. 

Read more .... 

US Army Grounds Entire Fleet Of 400 Chinook Helicopters Over Engine Fires  

US Army Grounds Entire Fleet of 400 Chinook Helicopters -- Bloomberg  

Army grounds hundreds of Chinook helicopters following engine fires -- CBS  

Army grounds entire fleet of Chinook helicopters over engine fires: report -- FOX News  

Army grounds Chinook helicopter fleet after "small number of engine fires" -- Axios  

U.S. Army grounds its entire fleet of Chinook helicopters over engine fires -- Market Watch  

US Army Grounds Entire Fleet Of Chinook Helicopters After Reports Of "Engine Fires" -- Zero Hedge

Picture Of The Day

President Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in the White House in 1987. REUTERS/File  

WNU editor: The above picture is from this photo-gallery .... Mikhail Gorbachev: 1931 - 2022 (Reuters).

White House To Ask Congress To Approve $1.1B Arms Sale To Taiwan

A soldier stands guard during Combat Readiness Week drills in Hsinchu, Taiwan, October 29, 2020. (Ann Wang/Reuters) 

Politico: Biden administration to ask Congress to approve $1.1B arms sale to Taiwan  

Fears have grown in recent years that China is positioning itself to take Taiwan by military force. 

The Biden administration plans to formally ask Congress to approve an estimated $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan that includes 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the package. 

The news comes as China continues to send warships and aircraft into the Taiwan Strait on a daily basis, just weeks after Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governing island and condemned Beijing’s attempts to isolate and intimidate Taiwan. In response to Pelosi’s visit, Beijing launched massive, unprecedented military drills around Taiwan that involved shooting missiles over the island for the first time. 

Read more .... 

White House To Ask Congress To Approve $1.1B Arms Sale To Taiwan  

US Congress to weigh proposed US$1.1 billion weapons sale to Taiwan: report -- SCMP

US Readies $1.1 Billion Arms Sale of Missiles, Radar to Taiwan -- Bloomberg  

Biden plans to ask Congress to approve $1.1 bln arms sale to Taiwan- Politico -- Reuters  

Biden to ask for approval for $1.1bn arms sale to Taiwan: Report -- Al Jazeera  

Biden Preparing $1.1 Billion Arms Sale To Taiwan -- Zero Hedge

China Reselling Russian Natural Gas To Europe

An LNG ship docked at a port in Chiba, Japan. China’s resales of LNG have added supply to the spot market

Zero Hedge: China Is Aggressively Reselling Russian Gas To Europe 

One month ago, we were surprised to read how, despite a suppressed appetite for energy amid its housing crash and economic downturn (for which "zero covid" has emerged as a convenient scapegoat for emperor Xi), China has been soaking up more Russian natural gas so far this year, while imports from most other sources declined. 

 In July, the SCMP reported that according to Chinese customs data, in the first six months of the year, China bought a total of 2.35 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) – valued at US$2.16 billion. The import volume increased by 28.7% year on year, with the value surging by 182%. It meant Russia has surpassed Indonesia and the United States to become China’s fourth-largest supplier of LNG so far this year! 

Read more ....  

Update: China is reselling natural gas to energy-strapped Europe as its economic slowdown leaves it with a surplus, report says (Insider)  

WNU Editor: Chinese middlemen must be making a fortune on the backs of Europe right now.

Russian Warships Conducting Exercises Off The Irish South Coast

The Marshal Ustinov is one of at least three Russian navy warships spotted acting unusually off Ireland's south coast. Photograph: Russian Defence Ministry Press Service via AP  

Irish Times: Defence Forces monitoring Russian warships acting unusually off Irish south coast 

Cruise missile ship the Marshal Ustinov among at least three Russian navy ships spotted sailing north through the Irish Sea before turning back 

The Defence Forces is monitoring a group of Russia warships which have been spotted acting unusually off the south of the country. 

The Marshal Ustinov, a large cruise missile ship, is one of a group of at least three Russian navy ships which have been travelling back from the Mediterranean to their home port in the north of Russia. It was one of the ships involved in planned live-fire exercises in Irish-controlled waters in February.  

Read more ....  

Update: Royal Navy forces Russian vessel to U-turn after 'unusual transit' through Irish Sea (Express)  

WNU Editor: The U.K. was caught off guard by this Russian naval exercise. I do not know why. The U.K. is training Ukrainian soldiers on its soil, and it is pumping billion in military aid to Ukraine.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Bloomberg: Russia Can Easily Afford To Completely Stop Its Gas Supplies To The European Union

DETV: Complete gas stop in the EU for Russia no problem economically — RT DE 

According to the business publication Bloomberg, Russia can easily afford to completely stop its gas supplies to the European Union. According to analysts, the rise in global energy prices is entirely in Moscow’s favour. 

Russia could completely halt natural gas exports to the EU for more than a year without causing significant damage to its own economy, Bloomberg reported, citing analysts at Capital Economics. 

Russia’s balance of payments is in such a strong position given the current price situation that if oil prices and oil exports stay the same, Russia could cut gas exports to Europe to 20 percent of normal levels for at least three years, the company said in a report available to Bloomberg.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Russia can afford complete halt in gas supplies to EU – Bloomberg (RT)  

Update #2: Russia might suspend gas shipments to Europe without damaging economy (Prensa)  

WNU Editor: It looks like the Russian economy is more resilient than many had predicted in March when sanctions were first imposed .... Russian Industry Surprises With Smaller Drop as Economy Steadies (Bloomberg).

Russia Burns Millions Of Dollars Off Gas Near The Finnish Border Per Day As Europe's Energy Bills Skyrocket To Record Highs

A gas flare at a Russian oil and gas field. Photograph: Denis Sinyakov/Reuters 

 BBC: Climate change: Russia burns off gas as Europe's energy bills rocket 

As Europe's energy costs skyrocket, Russia is burning off large amounts of natural gas, according to analysis shared with BBC News. 

They say the plant, near the border with Finland, is burning an estimated $10m (£8.4m) worth of gas every day. 

Experts say the gas would previously have been exported to Germany. 

Germany's ambassador to the UK told BBC News that Russia was burning the gas because "they couldn't sell it elsewhere". 

Scientists are concerned about the large volumes of carbon dioxide and soot it is creating, which could exacerbate the melting of Arctic ice.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: It looks like Russia is sending a message. 

Russia Burns Millions Of Dollars Off Gas Near The Finnish Border Per Day As Europe's Energy Bills Explode To Record Highs  

Russian plant ‘burning off £8m of gas a day’ as supply to Germany is limited -- The Guardian  

Russia burning off '$10m of gas a day meant for Europe' as millions face rising bills -- The Independent  

Mystery over Russia burning $10m of gas a day in huge flare close to Nord Stream 1 -- The Telegraph  

Russia is burning off millions of dollars in gas every day. Here's why -- CNN  

Gazprom’s huge gas flare near Nord Stream 1 compression station poses questions -- Upstream

Shell CEO Warns Europe Will Be Facing ‘Terrible’ Winters For The Next Decade

Fortune: Shell CEO warns the gas crisis could last for several years, as Europe faces ‘terrible’ winters for the next decade 

Europe may be in for gas rationing and expensive electricity bills for a decade to come. 

Shell’s chief executive officer Ben Van Beurden cautioned that the continent may need to ration gas for several winters as the crisis brought on by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine looks unlikely to end any time soon. 

“I do not think this crisis is going to be limited to just one winter,” the CEO of the Anglo-Dutch oil major told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Norway’s oil and gas hub Stavanger.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: He knows what is coming.

Former Russian President Medvedev Says Russia Can't Stop War Even If Ukraine Drops Its Demand To Join NATO

Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council, delivers a speech in Saint Petersburg 

Reuters: Russia can't stop war, even if Ukraine drops NATO hopes -Putin ally 

(Reuters) - A top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Moscow would not stop its military campaign in Ukraine even if Kyiv formally renounced its aspirations to join NATO. 

Former President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, also said in a French television interview that Russia was prepared to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy subject to certain conditions. 

Even before the February invasion, Moscow made clear Ukrainian membership of NATO was unacceptable to it. 

"Renouncing its participation in the North Atlantic alliance is now vital, but it is already insufficient in order to establish peace," Medvedev told LCI television in quotes reported by Russian news agencies.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Former Russian President Medvedev has definitely become one of the harshest hawks in the Kremlin .... ‘I hate them’: Dmitry Medvedev’s journey from liberal to anti-western hawk (The Guardian). 

But he is right that the "goalposts" to end the war have moved since March. The goal of the Kremlin right now is for regime change in Kyiv, and to assert control over the Russian-Ukrainian dominated parts of Ukraine. 

In the eyes of people like Medvedev the Ukraine government lost its legitimacy when they moved to ban the Russian language and culture two months ago .... Ukraine Parliament Moves To Ban Russian Books And Music (June 20, 2022).

European Leaders Are Now Realizing That The Continent Is Entering A Severe And Protracted Economic Crisis


Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism: Will Europe Go Down to Defeat Before Ukraine? 

During the runup to the financial crisis, your humble blogger pointed out that financial time moved faster than political time. Market players often had better and more comprehensive access to important information than officials did and had strong incentives to act on it. 

By contrast, regulated entities were motivated to shuffle their feet and mumble until problems became undeniable…and then the regulators themselves would too often hope gunshot wounds would magically heal themselves, rather than risk having to answer embarrassing questions by going into emergency response mode.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: She is spot on with this observation .... 

 .... Now that European leaders are returning from summer holidays, it appears only now to be dawning on them that Europe is entering a severe and almost certainly protracted economic crisis. 

It is a long post, but provides an excellent analysis on the growing economic crisis in Europe.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Says The World Is Now Standing On A Nuclear Precipice

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern  

Jacinda Ardern, The Guardian: The world stands on a nuclear precipice – we must avoid catastrophe  

The world can still step back from the abyss. The nuclear weapon states – the US, Russia, China, France and the UK – must lead the way 

In 1945 nuclear weapons were used in armed conflict for the first and only time. 355,000 people were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by two nuclear bombs. 

Two. That number alone puts in stark perspective the world’s current arsenal of about 13,000 nuclear weapons. 

And yet in many ways the 13,000 weapons held globally represents progress; it’s less than a quarter of the more than 63,000 weapons in circulation in 1985 during the cold war. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Here are 6 times the world was on the edge of nuclear war (link here).

US Navy Blocks Iranian Boat From Seizing A 5th Fleet Sea Drone In The Persian Gulf


VOA: US Navy Stops Iran From Seizing Drone Ship  

Pentagon — The U.S. Navy said its forces overnight prevented a support ship from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from capturing a U.S. unmanned surface vessel operating in the Arabian Gulf. 

The U.S. military released video Tuesday showing the IRGC support ship Shahid Baziar "unlawfully towing a Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel in international waters" "in an attempt to detain it." 

U.S. Navy patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt immediately responded, along with a MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter based in Bahrain. 

Shahid Baziar disconnected its towing line to the drone and departed the area approximately four hours later, the Navy said.  

Read more .... 

US Navy Blocks Iranian Boat From Seizing A 5th Fleet Sea Drone In The Persian Gulf  

US Navy says Iran seized, later let go of American sea drone -- AP  

U.S. Navy foils Iranian attempt to capture unmanned vessel in the Gulf - fleet statement -- Reuters  

Navy Blocks Iranian Attempt to Steal U.S. Surface Drone in Persian Gulf -- USNI News  

US Navy prevents Iranian attempt to capture American maritime drone in Persian Gulf -- CNN 

Iran Seizes, Then Releases US Navy Drone Vessel: Pentagon -- AFP  

Navy stops Iran from taking US military drone in Arabian Gulf -- FOX News  

US Navy Says It Foiled Iranian Attempt to Capture Sea Drone -- Bloomberg  

US Navy halts Iranian boat from seizing a 5th Fleet unmanned vessel -- Navy Times

Iran tried to capture US unmanned vessel, stopped by Navy patrol -- Business Insider

Mikhail Gorbachev, Last Soviet Leader and Architect of Glasnost And Perestroika, Dies at 91


Daily Mail: Mikhail Gorbachev dead at 91: Final leader of the Soviet Union who helped end the Cold War and bring down the Iron Curtain but then saw his own superpower crumble dies in hospital 

* Mikhail Gorbachev - the last leader of the Soviet Union - has died in a Moscow hospital aged 91 

* Gorbachev helped bring the Cold War to an end and failed to prevent the collapse of the USSR 

* Under his rule, the Iron Curtain which had divided Europe since the Second World War disintegrated 

* He became general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in 1985 committed to reforming the system 

* But many Russians never forgave Gorbachev for the turmoil his liberalising reforms unleashed 

Mikhail Gorbachev - the last leader of the USSR whose failure to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union after the Cold War is despised by Russian nationalists including Vladimir Putin - has died at the age of 91, Russian news agencies cited hospital officials as saying. 

The Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow said that the former Soviet leader died 'after a serious and long illness' but gave no other details, according to the Interfax, TASS and RIA Novosti news agencies. 

Gorbachev had been suffering from long term kidney problems and was on dialysis - and had been confined to a clinic during the Covid pandemic.  

Read more ....

WNU Editor: Wow! We now live in a very different world from the time when he was President of the Soviet Union. 

He introduced Glasnost And Perestroika. And for that I am forever grateful. 

Mikhail Gorbachev, Last Soviet Leader and Architect of Glasnost And Perestroika, Dies at 91  

Live: Tributes pour in for leader who helped end Cold War -- BBC 

Live: Tributes pour in as Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet leader, dies -- The Guardian 

LIVE UPDATES: Tributes Pour in After Death of Former USSR Leader Mikhail Gorbachev -- Sputnik  

Mikhail Gorbachev dies at 91 -- RT  

Mikhail Gorbachev has died at age 91 -- TASS  

Mikhail Gorbachev Dead at 91 After Being Diagnosed With Serious Illness - Central Clinical Hospital -- Sputnik  

Mikhail Gorbachev, Last Soviet Leader and Architect of Perestroika, Dies at 91 -- Moscow Times  

Mikhail Gorbachev, who steered Soviet breakup, dead at 91 -- AP  

Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended the Cold War, dies aged 91 -- Reuters

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev dies aged 91 -- DW 

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has died aged 91, Russian media report -- France 24  

Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dies at 91 -- BBC 

Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet leader who ended cold war, dies aged 91 -- The Guardian  

Gorbachev ended Cold War but presided over Soviet collapse -- Reuters  

Mikhail Gorbachev: The Soviet leader who helped end the Cold War -- BBC 

From Pizza Hut to the free press: Gorbachev's years after power -- France 24  

Gorbachev and first lady Raisa, a life 'hand-in-hand' -- France 24  

Mikhail Gorbachev to be buried next to wife at Moscow’s Novo-Dyevitchiye cemetery -- TASS 

Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev -- TASS

Born under Stalin, young Gorbachev survived famine and saw his grandfathers sent to the gulags – but rose through the Communist ranks to become a reforming titan of 20th Century politics -- Daily Mail  

Putin expresses condolences on death of Gorbachev -- RT  

Putin offers deepest condolences over Gorbachev’s death — Kremlin -- TASS  

World hails 'one-of-a-kind' ex-Soviet leader Gorbachev -- France 24  

Global reactions to the death of last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev -- Reuters  

World reacts to death of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev -- CBS  

In pictures: The life of ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev -- BBC

Russia - Ukraine War: Military Summary And Analysis For 30.08.2022


WNU Editor: A lot of updates today. 

I could be wrong, but I am having the impression that this Ukraine counter-offensive lost some steam today, and that high casualties are being reported. 

Interestingly, unlike the Russian Ministry of Defense that is now giving a lot of updates on this counter-offensive, the Ukraine military command has been very quiet. This (of course) could change by tomorrow, but my gut is telling me that Ukraine is throwing everything into this battle, and  a better picture on what is happening will be made more clearer by the weekend.

Russia - Ukraine War Maps -- August 30, 2022 (Click on Images to Enlarge)