Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Editor's Note

 I am now doing a lot of volunteer work on Tuesdays to help Ukrainian refugees adjust to living in Canada. I will try to do some blogging later this evening.

Update Wednesday 11:22 EST: I spent the night drinking with a bunch of Canadians of Ukrainian descent who are helping as best as they can with all of these new comers. I am not much of a drinker. Needless to say I am paying for it now (throbbing headache). 

Alex. Almost all of these refugees are women with their children. In a few cases like my cousin who moved to Winnipeg 6 weeks ago, her husband was allowed to leave due to a medical condition. From what I can tell. The vast majority want Canada to be their new home. If that is the case. I will not be surprised if their husbands/boyfriends will leave Ukraine to join them when the war is over. And I do not blame them. After this war Ukraine is going to be a destroyed country heavily indebted to the West. and to put it bluntly, there is no future in that.

Belarusian President Lukashenko Arrives In China For A 3-Day State Visit

 

CNA: Belarus President Lukashenko to arrive in Beijing for talks with Xi 

BEIJING: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will arrive in Beijing on Tuesday (Feb 28), kicking off a three-day trip in which he will meet Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. 

The state visit by Lukashenko - a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin - comes after Beijing released a position paper on Russia's war in Ukraine insisting it is a neutral party and calling for dialogue between the two sides.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Chinese state media is responding to Western reporting on Lukashenko's trip to Beijing .... Lukashenko's China trip shows West's petty-minded sensitivity (Global Times editorial). 

Belarusian President Lukashenko Arrives In China For A 3-Day State Visit  

China to host Belarusian leader amid Ukraine tensions -- AP  

'Hello old friend': Belarus President Lukashenko in Beijing to meet Xi Jinping -- Euronews  

Belarus' Lukashenko arrives in China on state visit -- TASS  

Belarus dictator Lukashenko, a key Putin ally, lauds China's "peaceful foreign policy" before meeting Xi Jinping -- CBS/AFP  

Lukashenko’s planned Xi meeting shows gulf between China and the US -- The Guardian

Kremlin Says Ukraine Launched Failed Drone Attacks On Russian Territory Overnight

Unverified photo posted on social media allegedly showing drone that crashed in Moscow region on Tuesday. 

Daily Beast: Drones Attack Russia From All Sides 

Fighter jets were deployed near St. Petersburg and an oil depot was set ablaze as authorities reported drones striking multiple regions. 

Chaos erupted in Russia overnight as drones swarmed multiple regions, sparking an explosion at an oil depot and the deployment of fighter jets near St. Petersburg, according to local reports. 

One strike at around 2 a.m. in the Krasnodar region was less than 100 feet from a Russian Defense Ministry barracks, the independent Agentstvo News reports. Two drones filled with explosives landed at a nearby Rosneft oil depot in Tuapse, sparking a blaze that was “quickly extinguished,” according to the Russian outlet Baza. 

Hours later, St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport came to a standstill as authorities shut down the surrounding airspace, reportedly in response to an “unidentified flying object” spotted in the area. Local authorities confirmed to RIA Novosti that incoming and outgoing flights were temporarily halted, though they gave no reason for the move. Meanwhile, Baza reported, fighter jets were deployed to take down the “object.”  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Russian news media is saying that these drones were neutralized .... Russia reports success against Ukrainian drone incursion (RT). What concerns me is that these drone were targeting specific sites. This drone crashed near a critical Gazprom gas compression station near Moscow .... Unidentified drone crashes near Moscow (RT). So how is Ukraine getting this intel? Not surprising. This is feeding into the Kremlin narrative that NATO is involved .... NATO de facto at war with Russia – Kremlin (RT). 

Kremlin Says Ukraine Launched Failed Drone Attacks On Russian Territory Overnight  

LIVE UPDATES: Ukrainian Drones Downed in Southern Russia After Attempted Attack, MoD Says -- Sputnik  

Live: Moscow says it foiled Ukraine drone attack on Russian territory -- France 24 

Putin orders Ukraine border tightening as drones hit Russia -- AP  

Putin Instructs FSB to Step Up Work Along Russian-Ukrainian Border -- Sputnik  

Ukraine launched Failed Drone Attacks On Russian Territory Overnight: Moscow -- NDTV 

Flurry of drone strikes hits inside Russia as TV and radio are hacked -- LA Times  

Drone crashes in failed attack southeast of Moscow, regional governor says -- Reuters  

UAV crashes in Kolomna district of Moscow Region, no damage caused — governor -- TASS  

Russia: Flights resume to St. Petersburg after air shutdown -- DW

Ukraine Admits The Situation Around The Besieged City Of Bakhmut Is 'Extremely Tense'

 

Daily Mail: Putin closes in on his first major war victory for six months: Ukraine admits situation is 'extremely tense' as Russia steps up assault on Bakhmut and moves to cut off supply lines, forcing a surrender 

* Russia is trying to cut Ukrainian defenders' supply lines to the city of Bakhmut 

* A victory for Putin would open way to capture of last remaining areas of Donetsk 

Ukraine today said the situation around the besieged city of Bakhmut is 'extremely tense' as Vladimir Putin's forces stepped up their assault to encircle Ukrainian troops. 

Russia is trying to cut supply lines to the city, the scene of some of the war's toughest fighting, and force them to surrender or withdraw. 

This would give Putin his first major victory in more than half a year and open the way to the capture of the last remaining urban centres in the Donetsk region.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: I have been told that there are anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers still in the city. The military experts that I trust tell me that the Russian military is on the verge of developing a real cauldron. Bottom line. These Ukrainian soldiers better get out in the coming days. 

Ukraine Admits The Situation Around The Besieged City Of Bakhmut Is 'Extremely Tense'  

As Russian forces bear down on Bakhmut, Ukraine admits situation there is ‘more and more difficult’ -- CNBC  

Ukraine war: Zelensky says situation in Bakhmut worsening -- BBC  

Ukraine Hints at Possible Withdrawal From Besieged Bakhmut -- Bloomberg  

Ukraine Army Says Situation 'Extremely Tense' Around Bakhmut -- AFP  

Russians tighten noose on Ukraine's Bakhmut, Putin warns of Western espionage -- Reuters 

Ukraine says Bakhmut situation ‘extremely tense’ as army battles elite Russian units -- Times of Israel  

'Extremely tense' as Russians bid to encircle Ukraine's Bakhmut, says commander -- ABC News Australia

Ukraine Says Fighting in Eastern Mining Town Becoming More Difficult -- VOA 

‘If you don’t burrow in you die pretty quickly’: the relentless battle for Bakhmut -- The Guardian  

Russia Steps Up Assault On Bakhmut; Zelenskiy Praises Ukraine's 'Heroic' Defense -- RFE

China Moves To Limit lithium Supplies

A lithium battery high-tech industrial park is seen in Hongshe, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province on August 29, 2022. The park hosts 35 companies in the industry and 49 projects, making it the largest such production base in Sichuan and Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality. 

Zero Hedge: Lithium Industry Reeling After China Shutters 10% Of Global Supply 

That's a nice little EV industry you got over there in the US, it's be a shame if suddenly it found itself without the most important commodity. 

 That's one way to interpret what just happened in China; another - a less cynical - is the way Bloomberg described it, namely that China’s lithium industry itself is reeling as its top production hub - responsible for around a 10th of the world’s supply - faces sweeping closures amid a government probe of environmental infringements. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: This push by China may only have a limited effect. Global production of lithium is growing, and it will minimize what China can do .... Analysis-Lithium price slide deepens as China battery giant bets on cheaper inputs (Reuters).

Arab Leaders Are Bringing Syria's Assad Back 'In From The Cold'

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad welcomes a delegation from the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union in Damascus, Syria [Syrian Presidency/Reuters]  

The Cradle: Egyptian FM in Syria for first high-level visit since 2011  

The Egyptian diplomat was received by his Syrian counterpart, and met with President Bashar al-Assad, signifying Damascus’ gradual return to the regional fold  

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrived in Damascus on 27 February to meet with President Bashar al-Assad and express his country’s solidarity with Syria following the devastating earthquake, signifying continued warming of relations between the Syrian government and regional states. 

The visit to Syria represents the first by a high-level Egyptian official since the start of the US-backed war in 2011. Upon his arrival at Damascus International Airport, Shoukry was received by Syria’s Foreign Minister, Faisal Mekdad.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: The visit by the Egyptian foreign minister was not the only Arab official visiting Damascus this week .... Syria’s Assad meets senior Arab lawmakers in Damascus (Al Jazeera). 

 This is also another sign on the declining influence of the U.S. in the region.

Airline Suspends Moldova Flights Over Airspace Safety And Reports That Ukraine May Seize Transnistria

Wizz Air is suspending all flights to and from Chisinau from 14 March. Photograph: Inquam Photos/Reuters 

 BBC: Wizz Air to suspend Moldova flights over airspace safety 

Wizz Air says it will suspend all flights to the Moldovan capital Chisinau from 14 March due to concerns about the safety of its airspace. 

A Russian missile was fired over Moldovan airspace earlier this month. 

Moldova's civil aviation authority called the airline's decision sudden and regrettable. 

Moldova is one of Europe's poorest economies and has been heavily exposed to the war in Ukraine. 

The airline said: "Safety of the passengers and crew remain Wizz Air's number one priority...

"Following the recent developments in Moldova and the elevated, but not imminent, risk in the country's airspace, Wizz Air has made the difficult but responsible decision to suspend all flights to Chisinau from 14 March."  

Read more .... 

 Update #1: Wizz Air to suspend Moldova flights, citing security (Reuters)  

Update #2: Wizz Air to suspend Moldova flights due to security fears (The Guardian)  

WNU Editor: It looks like Wizz Air has made the calculation that a Ukrainian invasion and seizure of Transistria is going to happen in the coming weeks.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Chinese Media Does An Animation On The Topic Of How The US Blew Up The Nord Stream Pipelines

WNU Editor: A lot of information warfare happening right now.

Despite US Pressure Brazil Allows Two Iranian Warships To Dock In Rio de Janeiro

Iranian military ship Iris Makran navigates on the coast of Rio de Janeiro as a Brazilian flag flutters in Copacabana Beach, Brazil, February 27, 2023. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes  

Reuters: Brazil allows two Iranian warships to dock in Rio despite US pressure 

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Two Iranian warships docked in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's government granted permission despite pressure from the United States to bar them. 

The IRIS Makran and IRIS Dena warships both arrived on Sunday morning, Rio's port authority said in a statement. 

Reuters earlier this month reported that Brazil had bowed to U.S. pressure and declined Iran's request for the vessels to dock in Rio in late January, in a gesture from Lula as he flew to Washington to meet U.S. President Joe Biden. 

However, with Lula's trip over, the ships have been allowed to dock. Vice Admiral Carlos Eduardo Horta Arentz, the deputy chief of Brazil's Naval Staff, gave his approval for the ships to dock in Rio between Feb. 26 and March 4, according to a Feb. 23 notice in the official gazette.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Iranian media is playing this port of call up .... Two Iranian warships dock in Brazil's Rio in challenge to US (MEHR News Agency).

Russia - Ukraine War: Military Summary And Analysis For 2.27.2023 (Video)

 

WNU Editor: A lot of updates on the Russia - Ukraine war from the Military Summary channel. Alexander Mercouris gives his update on the war below. 

Tweets On The Russia - Ukraine War

Tweets Of The Day

Is The Romanian Army Moving Air Defense Systems To The Borders With Moldova?

WNU Editor: This is an ominous development. For the past week there have been numerous reports from the Russian Ministry of Defense that Ukraine was positioning forces to seize Transnistria .... Russia Says Ukraine Preparing To Invade The Breakaway Region Of Transnistria In The Coming Days (February 23, 2023). And according to today's Military Summary Channel report (link here), the Russian Ministry of Defense believes Ukraine has already completed its deployment of forces to invade the territory. 

If this Ukraine offensive operation does occur, and my gut is now telling me that it will, this Romanian deployment of air defenses will be seen by Russia as an attempt to provide air cover for Ukraine and its forces from any Russia retaliation or marine helicopter operation. 

I hope that I am wrong. But we may be on the verge of other countries (Moldova and NATO member Romania) becoming actively involved in this war. Or more to the point. Romanian air defense shooting at Russian aircraft and helicopters.

US Arms Manufacturers Are Ramping Up Weapons Production To Meet Ukraine Demand

The Pentagon is now aiming to boost the production of artillery shells by 500% for both its own needs and to keep supplying the Ukrainian army (Picture source: U.S. Army)  

American Military News: US factories ramping up weapons production to meet Ukraine demand  

The U.S. is increasing the production of weapons at some locations that were previously shut down to meet the demands of American military commitments to Ukraine. 

According to some reports, Ukrainian military forces are consuming up to 7,000 artillery rounds per day, pushing the need for new supplies. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: There is some confusion on how much US factories will be ramping up weapons production. 

According to Defense News, the U.S. is hoping to eventually ramp up production to roughly 90,000 shells a month .... With demand high in Ukraine, US Army ramps up artillery production (Defense News) 

According to the US Secretary of the Army, there is an expectation that artillery production will increase according to this timetable .... the U.S. will go from making 14,000 155mm shells each month to 20,000 by later this year and 40,000 by 2025 (Politico)

I find this US weapons production to be pathetic. 

The US is hoping to produce 40,000 shells by 2025. Russia's military is using anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 shells per day.

As to what is happening on the Russian side for weapons production. The narrative from the Kremlin is that Russia's defense factories are working around the clock to meet demand .... Russia's Medvedev says defence factories meeting demand, denies missile shortage (Reuters).

Putin Says The Ukraine War Poses An Existential Threat To The ‘Russian People’

Russian President Putin delivers his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow © Thomson Reuters  

The Hill: Putin says Ukraine war poses existential threat to ‘Russian people’ 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a new interview that Russian people may not survive if Western countries succeed in handing a “strategic defeat” to Moscow in its war in Ukraine. 

Putin’s comments to state TV channel Russia 1 followed his decision to suspend Russia’s involvement in the last remaining arms control treaty with the United States. 

 “In today’s conditions, when all the leading NATO countries have declared their main goal as inflicting a strategic defeat on us, so that our people suffer as they say, how can we ignore their nuclear capabilities in these conditions?” Putin said, per Reuters.

Putin accused Western countries of seeking to divide Russia in order to take control of the country’s raw materials. “I do not even know if such an ethnic group as the Russian people will be able to survive in the form in which it exists today,” he said. Read more ....  

Update #1: Putin casts war as a battle for Russia's survival (Reuters)  

Update #2: Vladimir Putin accuses west of seeking to ‘dismember’ Russia (The Guardian) 

WNU Editor: He he is not the only one who is pushing this line .... Russia to be 'torn to pieces' if it stops special op without winning — Medvedev (TASS). More here .... Former Russian president sends warning to US (RT). 

As to what is my take.

I disagree with Russian President Putin's view that the war in Ukraine poses an existential threat to the Russian people.

But I am a minority of one. Everyone I know in Russia is now on board with the Kremlin's message that this conflict is an existential threat and can only end with a Russian victory.

Russian President Putin Says Future Nuclear Arms Control Agreements Must Take Into Account The "Nuclear Potential" Of NATO Countries Like The U.K. And France, As Well As The U.S.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Eternal Flame and the Unknown Soldier's Grave in the Alexander Garden during an event marking Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow on February 23, 2023. Putin told Russian state media channel Rossiya-1 that Russia will "take into account" the "nuclear potentials" of NATO countries. © Mikhail Metzel / Sputnik/AFP  

Newsweek: Putin Says Russia Has to Take NATO 'Nuclear Potential' Into Account 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow must "take into account" the "nuclear potential" of NATO countries like the U.K. and France, as well as the U.S., after freezing a key nuclear arms control agreement. 

Speaking to Russian state media channel Rossiya-1, or Russia-1, Putin said "all the leading NATO countries have declared their main goal to inflict a strategic defeat on us, so that our people suffer." 

Putin then asked state media host Pavel Zarubin, according to a readout from state news agency Tass: "Under these conditions, how can we not take into account their nuclear potential?" 

On February 21, Putin announced in an annual address to lawmakers that he was suspending Russia's participation in the new START nuclear arms reduction treaty.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Putin: will 'take into account' NATO's nuclear capability (AP)  

Update #2: Putin: Russia can't ignore NATO's nukes, West wants to liquidate Moscow (Reuters)  

WNU Editor: You might as well add China to the mix. Something that US nuclear arms control experts have been calling for years.

What Victory Looks Like To Putin

Putin addresses the Federal Assembly on Feb. 21. Sergei Savostyanov / TASS  

Tatiana Stanovaya, Moscow Times: A Fight for Survival: What Victory Looks Like to Putin 

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation address on Feb. 21 was eagerly anticipated inside Russia, yet it shed no light on the question that is foremost on the minds of the Russian elite and public: how Putin intends to win this war. 

The address had been postponed from last year, prompting speculation that Putin didn’t know what to say amid the lack of victories at the front. It’s more likely, however, that he was just too immersed in his unsuccessful military campaign to find the time. In the end, the address was a mixture of what Putin considered it necessary to say (the geopolitical part about the “crazy” West), and what he is required to say under the constitution (an update on Russia’s socioeconomic situation).  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Just as Ukraine President Zelensky has framed the war as a fight for the existence of Ukraine as a nation state, Russian President Putin has done the same thing in Russia.... Russia issues warning about future of Ukraine conflict (RT). 

Bottom line. This is a war that is going to be decided on the battlefield, and the end of it will occur when the losing side agrees to the terms of the other. 

So what does victory look like to Putin? IMHO It has changed since the start of the war last year. 

From what I am hearing, Putin's current version of victory is the fracturing of Ukraine where some (if not all) of the Russian speaking portions of Ukraine join the Russian Federation. The parts of the country that are dominated by Ukrainian speakers will permitted to exist as Ukraine. A commitment by Ukraine to never enter NATO or any other defense bloc without Moscow's approval. And the demilitarization of its military. 

Will this happen? I do not know. It all comes down to what will the West do. But I do know that the Kremlin is preparing for a long war that may last for years. To put it into context. The second Chechen war fought with Putin as the Russian President lasted 9 years. The war in eastern Ukraine has been ongoing since 2014. My nightmare scenario sees the Ukraine war grinding on for 3 to 5 years.

Western Leaders Are Privately Admiting That Ukraine Can't Win The War

Ukrainian servicemen of the 80th Independent Air Assault Brigade take a break at their base near the frontline town of Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine February 24, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica  

Consortium News: Western Leaders Privately Say Ukraine Can’t Win the War 

The German and French leaders have told Ukraine they must seek peace with Russia in exchange for a post-war defense pact, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. 

Western leaders privately told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Ukraine can not win the war against Russia and that it should begin peace talks with Moscow this year in exchange for closer ties with NATO. 

The private communications are at odds with public statements from Western leaders who routinely say they will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes until it achieves victory on the battlefield. 

The Wall Street Journal, which reported on the private remarks to Zelenksy, said: 

  “The public rhetoric masks deepening private doubts among politicians in the U.K., France and Germany that Ukraine will be able to expel the Russians from eastern Ukraine and Crimea, which Russia has controlled since 2014, and a belief that the West can only help sustain the war effort for so long, especially if the conflict settles into a stalemate, officials from the three countries say. 

‘We keep repeating that Russia mustn’t win, but what does that mean? If the war goes on for long enough with this intensity, Ukraine’s losses will become unbearable,’ a senior French official said. ‘And no one believes they will be able to retrieve Crimea.’ 

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Zelensky at an Γ‰lysΓ©e Palace dinner earlier this month that he must consider peace talks with Moscow, the Journal reported. 

According to its source, the newspaper quoted Macron as telling Zelensky that “even mortal enemies like France and Germany had to make peace after World War II.”  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Ukraine President Zelensky is not listening .... Zelensky Says Ukraine Is Preparing to Attack Crimea (Antiwar.com). 

On a side note. I always ask my Ukrainian friends and family members who are 100% convinced that Ukraine will win the war on how can that be accomplished when Russia has ten times the manpower, resources, and fire power committed to the war that Ukraine has. I am still waiting for an answer.

Could Climate Engineering Trigger A War?

 

Washington Post: A ‘climate solution’ that spies worry could trigger war 

It sounds like something out of science fiction: A country suffering from heat, flooding or crop failures decides on its own to send out a fleet of aircraft to spray a fine, sun-blocking mist into the earth’s atmosphere, reducing temperatures and providing relief to parched populations. 

Other countries view it as a threat to their own citizens and ready a military response. But members of the U.S. intelligence community and other national security officials were worried enough last year to plot how to avert a war triggered by this kind of climate engineering.

In a role-playing exercise, they practiced managing the tensions that would be unleashed, according to people familiar with the exercise, a sign that they see it as a credible threat in need of a strategy. 

Read more ....  

Update: Climate engineering is the greatest, most immediate threat to the human race – Dane Wigington of Geoengineering Watch (BizNews) 

WNU Editor: I understand the science and how climate engineering can lower sunlight and cool down temperatures. Major volcanic eruptions in the past where mega-tons of particulate matter were blasted into the atmosphere have always resulted in global temperature dropping for 2 to 3 years. But lowering the sunlight will also have an immediate impact on food production.

Cooler temperatures .... but shortages in food resulting in hunger and maybe famine. This climate solution has a lot of drawbacks.

After Many Promises, Germany's Military Is Still In A Dire State

 

Politico.eu: Germany’s new defense minister faces ‘ticking time bombs’ in his armed forces  

Boris Pistorius’ honeymoon might soon be over as he faces fights over reforms and budget for the military. 

BERLIN — Germany’s new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has swiftly conquered the hearts and minds of the security community — and enjoys soaring polling among German citizens. Yet massive challenges, some of them deeply ingrained in his ministry’s structures, risk derailing him from his popularity path. 

Barely four weeks into his tenure, Pistorius gained a major win in almost instantly securing long-discussed German tanks for Ukraine. But he’s also garnered credibility by speaking plainly about the state of his country’s armed forces and making bold demands of his boss — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

At the Munich Security Conference this past weekend, Pistorius earned applause by saying, “Ukraine must win this war” — a clear formulation that Scholz has yet to utter. And while Scholz reiterated his point at the conference that Germany must “permanently” spend 2 percent of its economic output on defense, Pistorius pushed boldly ahead, stating “it must be clear to everyone” that “barely 2 percent” is not enough.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: The problem is that even with all of these promises of revamping the German military, nothing has really changed .... The truth about Germany’s defense policy shift (Politico).  

Update: Why am I not surprised. There are calls for even more money .... German army chief wants more money for equipment (DW). More here .... Only 30% of Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks are not combat ready, €100 billion insufficient (Frontier India).

Israel’s Netanyahu Is Said To Be Hold Regularly Meetings With Top Brass On Attacking Iran's Nuclear Facilities

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Israel Air Force base at Hatzerim, May 18, 2021. With him are Air Force chief Amikam Norkim (left) and deputy IDF chief of staff Eyal Zamir (Kobi Gideon / GPO)  

Times Of Israel: Netanyahu said to huddle repeatedly with military brass over possible attack on Iran 

TV report says PM held 5 meetings with defense minister, IDF chief, Mossad head, Military Intelligence chief; he tells conference world must back up promise to thwart nuclear drive 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly held a series of secret high-level meetings with top military officials aimed at upping preparations for a possible confrontation with Iran. 

According to a Channel 12 report on Tuesday, the premier huddled five times in recent weeks with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Mossad head David Barnea, Military Intelligence chief Aharon Haliva and other military brass to discuss readying for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear program. 

The report, which was not attributed to any source, included few other details about the discussions, and may itself be designed to telegraph the seriousness of Israeli threats to resort to military action in order to shut down Iran’s suspected drive toward a nuclear weapon, which Netanyahu has described as an existential threat.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Israel Planning Iran Attack? Netanyahu Holds Meetings With Top Brass Amid "Military Action" Call (News 18)  

Update #2: Report: Israel’s Netanyahu Held Meetings With Top Brass on Attacking Iran (Antiwar.com)  

WNU Editor: The new government of Israeli PM Netanyahu has been putting pressure on the Biden administration to issue an ultimatum to Iran on its nuclear program. This leaked report on Netanyahu regularly meeting with his military brass over military action against Iran tells me that they are intensifying this pressure even more.

Israel Steps Up Talks With Saudi Arabia On Developing Closer Military And Intelligence Ties To Confront Iran

Bloomberg: Israel Steps up Talks With Saudi Arabia Over Ties to Combat Iran 

Israel’s new government has stepped up US-backed talks with Saudi Arabia on developing closer military and intelligence ties in light of growing concerns about Iran, according to several people familiar with the discussions. 

Officials from the two countries held exploratory meetings ahead of the recent US-Gulf Cooperation Council Working Group gathering on defense and security in Riyadh, six people said, asking not to be identified as the talks are private. 

Further engagement is expected to take place in Prague to coincide with the Munich Security Conference this weekend, three of the people said. “We think that other regions integrating and beginning to sit at the same table with Israel is in the interest of stability and security in the region,” US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, Dana Stroul, said in Riyadh on Monday.  

Read more ....  

Update #1: Israel said to boost its efforts for closer ties with Saudi Arabia to face down Iran (Times of Israel) 

Update #2: Israel stepping up talks with Saudi Arabia over ties to combat Iran - report (i24 News).  

Update #3: Israel, Saudi Arabia Hold Talks on Increasing Military Ties (Antiwar.com)  

WNU Editor: The last thing the world needs right now is a major war in the Middle East.

Pentagon Report Says Military Bases Should Stop Selling Guns To Soldiers Under 25 To Prevent Suicides

FOX News: Pentagon panel recommends bases stop selling guns to troops under 25 to fight suicides  

Independent Pentagon panel also recommends creating national database tracking firearm purchased on Defense Department property 

An external evaluation of suicide in the U.S. military has produced a report calling for greater gun control restrictions for troops. 

The Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee (SPRIRC) was formed by the Department of Defense in March 2020 to help combat the rising rate of suicides among servicemembers. 

In the committee's report, released Friday, the independent body recommends, "On DoD property, raise the minimum age for purchasing firearms and ammunition to 25 years."  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Firearms are used in 66% of suicides among active duty troops, 72% among reservists and 78% in the National Guard. 

Also from the report .... The suicide rate for active-duty service members in 2021, the most recent data available, was 24.3 per 100,000 people, which was down from 28.7 in 2020, the highest active-duty suicide rate since the Defense Department started tracking the data in 2011.  

The report is here ... Preventing Suicide in the U.S. Military: Recommendations from the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee. 

Pentagon Report Says Military Bases should Stop Selling Guns To Soldiers Under 25 To Prevent Suicides 

Pentagon's suicide prevention committee recommends age limit and waiting period for on-base gun purchases -- CNN  

Slowing down access to firearms could prevent more suicides in the military, panel finds -- CBS  

Pentagon panel says military bases should stop selling guns to troops under 25 to prevent suicides -- NYPost  

Keeping firearms out of easy reach key to preventing military suicides -- Military Times

China Says The US Is 'Endangering Peace And Stability' By Flying Aircraft Through The Taiwan Strait

Reuters: China says U.S. 'endangered' peace with Taiwan Strait fly-through 

BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) -China accused the United States of "endangering" peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait after a U.S. military plane flew through the sensitive waterway on Monday, with the U.S. Navy responding that it had been in international airspace.

Beijing has been incensed by U.S. military missions through the narrow strait, most frequently of warships but occasionally of aircraft, saying China "has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction" over the waterway. 

Taiwan and the United States dispute that saying it is an international waterway. 

The Eastern Theatre Command of China's People's Liberation Army said its forces closely monitored the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance plane, which is also used for anti-submarine missions, as it flew through the strait which separates China from Taiwan.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Beijing was quick to criticize this US surveillance plane's transit through the Taiwan Strait .... PLA criticizes US warplane's flight over Taiwan Straits (China Daily). 

China Says The US Is 'Endangering Peace And Stability' By Flying Aircraft Through The Taiwan Strait  

China protests US surveillance plane's Taiwan Strait flight -- AP  

China alleges US 'endangered peace and stability' by flying aircraft through Taiwan Strait: report -- FOX News  

China protests after US Navy jet flies through Taiwan Strait -- SCMP 

American naval aircraft makes rare Taiwan Strait transit -- Focus Taiwan

Picture Of The Day

Supply Chain 

An Army CH-47F Chinook assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division delivers relief supplies to Turkish authorities in Samandang, Turkey, Feb. 17, 2023. The 1AD CAB provides dynamic lift capability in direct support of USAID and Turkish relief efforts to those affected by the earthquakes in Turkey. Photo By: Army Spc. William Thompson

North Korea Holds Rare Meeting On Farming Amid Food Shortage

Farmers plant rice using a rice seedling transplanter during a media event at the Chongsan Cooperative Farm near Nampho City on May 9, 2022. © Kim Won Jin, AFP  

France 24: North Korea's Kim opens farming summit amid reports of food shortages 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has opened a key party meeting to discuss agricultural development, state media said Monday, following a report of "grave" food shortages in the isolated country. 

Normally such meetings are convened only once or twice a year, but the plenary comes just two months after a previous one, which also focused on agricultural issues. 

The unusual frequency of the meetings focused on agriculture has fuelled speculation that there may be serious food shortages in North Korea now.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: North Korea has always had a crisis over food production. But it looks like it is getting worse .... North Korea on brink of return to 1990s famine as 'food rations' given to troops (Express). 

North Korea Holds Rare Meeting On Farming Amid Food Shortage  

North Korea Holds Rare Meeting on Farming Amid Food Shortage -- AP  

North Korea calls agriculture meeting amid food crisis -- UPI  

North Korea scrambles to address country's worsening food shortage -- NYPost  

N Korea holds meeting on farming amid fears of food shortages -- Al Jazeera

North Korea Says Joint US - South Korea Military Drills Amount To ‘Declaration Of War’

Republic World: North Korea Warns US, Says 'provocative Acts' May Be Construed As A 'declaration Of War' 

North Korea test-fired four "Hwasal-2 strategic cruise missiles" from the city of Kim Chaek towards the Sea of Japan on Friday morning. 

North Korea test-fired four "Hwasal-2 strategic cruise missiles" from the city of Kim Chaek towards the Sea of Japan on Friday morning, according to reports in North Korean media. 

This announcement coincided with joint military exercises hosted by the Pentagon and involving US and South Korean forces.

In response to what it sees as persistent "hostile and provocative practices" by the US, North Korea has warned that these actions may be construed as a 'declaration of war', according to a statement by Kwon Jong-gun, the director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry's US affairs department, as reported by state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).  

Read more ....  

Update #1: North Korea slams US-ROK visit to submarine base as ‘nuclear war demonstration’ (NK News)  

Update #2: North Korea says US drills amount to ‘declaration of war’ (RT)  

WNU Editor: Expect more missile tests .... North Korea says it fired cruise missiles as rivals trained (AP).

Belarus Air Base Attacked. Russian A-50 Mainstay Airborne Early Warning And Control Aircraft Attacked

Beriev A-50U Mainstay. (Russian MoD)

Warzone/The Drive: Claims Swirl Around Supposed Strike On Russian A-50 Radar Jet In Belarus  

One of Russia’s most prized military aircraft, an A-50 Mainstay, is claimed to have been struck at its forward base in Belarus. 

There has been quite the buzz this Sunday on social media about a supposed attack on a Russian A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning and control aircraft that is forward deployed to Machulishchy Air Base south of Minsk, in Belarus. 

We cannot confirm that this attack actually happened or the nature of the damage, if any, to the A-50 — the type has been a staple at the base throughout the war. But if it did occur, it would be a significant loss for the Russian Air Force and, depending on how it was carried out, it could be a sign of a developing front and what's to come in the now year-old war. 

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: There are only 9 (now 8) A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning and control aircraft in the Russian fleet. On social media there are reports that another Belarus air base was attacked, and that there have been clashes on the Belarus - Ukraine border where one Belarusian soldier was killed.

Russian A-50 Mainstay Airborne Early Warning And Control Aircraft Attacked  

Russian A-50 AEW&C Attacked In Belarus; Was Ukraine’s ‘Mystery Drone’ Behind The Bombing? -- EurAsian Times  

Belarusian partisans claim responsibility for blowing up important Russian plane at Belarus air base -- EuroWeekly  

Opposition group: Explosion at Belarusian military airfield damaged Russian aircraft in reported partisan attack -- Kyiv Independent  

Russian plane destroyed near Minsk airfield: Belarus opposition -- Al Jazeera

Sunday, February 26, 2023

New Poll Says US Voters Willing To Commit U.S. Naval And Air Power To Defend Taiwan Against A Chinese Invasion, But Against Sending Ground Troops

EurAsian Times: ‘No Boots On Ground‘: Majority Of US Voters ‘Chicken Out’ From Sending Soldiers To Taiwan To Battle China 

In an interesting reflection of American society, a recent survey found a massive majority of likely voters backing intervention in support of Taiwan – but without boots on the ground. 

They agree that the US should militarily intervene, but with only jets and warships and not with soldiers, which entails higher casualties. 

The findings in the survey by Rasmussen Reports put the figure at 79% who would support the United States imposing economic sanctions on China for invading Taiwan, including 60% who would ‘Strongly Support’ sanctions. Only 12% would oppose sanctions if China invaded Taiwan.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 79% of Likely U.S. Voters would support the United States imposing economic sanctions on China for invading Taiwan, including 60% who would Strongly Support sanctions. Only 12% would oppose sanctions if China invaded Taiwan.

As to sending in troops, the numbers are close. 46% say they would oppose the U.S. sending ground troops to defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion by China, compared to 42% who say they would support it. 

 More details on the poll are here .... Rasmussen Poll: Plurality Doesn't Want to Defend Taiwan With Ground Troops (NewsMax).

New U.S. Intelligence Has Concluded That The Covid Pandemic Most Likely Arose From A Chinese Laboratory Leak

The Guardian: Covid-19 likely came from lab leak, says news report citing US energy department 

Updated finding comes with ‘low confidence’ and is a departure from previous studies on how virus emerged, Wall Street Journal reports 

The virus that drove the Covid-19 pandemic most likely emerged from a laboratory leak but not as part of a weapons program, according to an updated and classified 2021 US energy department study provided to the White House and senior American lawmakers, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. 

The department’s finding – a departure from previous studies on how the virus emerged – came in an update to a document from the office of National Intelligence director Avril Haines, the WSJ reported.

It follows a finding reportedly issued with “moderate confidence” by the FBI that the virus spread after leaking out of a Chinese laboratory.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: This updated and classified 2021 US energy department study joins the FBI in saying Covid came from a Chinese lab .... Energy Department Joins FBI In Supporting COVID-19 Lab Leak Theory: Report (Huffington Post). 

Remember all the condemnation that former President Trump received when he suggested the same thing. 

Update: WOW! National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan "can't confirm or deny" the WSJ report on new intel that says Covid was leaked from a Chinese military bio research facility (see video below). 

 

New U.S. Intelligence Has Concluded That The Covid Pandemic Most Likely Arose From A Chinese Laboratory Leak  

US Energy Department assesses Covid-19 likely resulted from lab leak, furthering US intel divide over virus origin -- CNN  

US agency says COVID-19 likely emerged from China lab leak: Reports -- AFP 

Covid Likely Originated From Lab Leak, Energy Department Reportedly Finds—But Biden Aide Says There’s No ‘Definitive Answer’ -- Forbes  

Another US agency assesses COVID-19 origin likely a Chinese 'lab leak': report -- FOX News  

Covid-19 Likely Originated with Lab Leak, U.S. Energy Department Finds in New Report -- National Review  

Classified Energy Department report finds lab leak likely cause of COVID-19 pandemic -- UPI  

WSJ: U.S. Energy Department Report Says Lab Leak Most Likely Source of Global Coronavirus Pandemic -- Breitbart  

COVID "Likely Arose" From Lab Leak, US Energy Department Admits In Classified Report -- Zero Hedge

CIA Director Burns Says China Has Some Doubt On Its Ability To Invade Taiwan

Axios: CIA director: China has doubts whether it could accomplish invasion of Taiwan 

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his military leaders likely have some doubts as to whether China could accomplish a successful invasion of Taiwan after witnessing the trajectory of Russia's war in Ukraine, CIA Director Bill Burns told CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday. 

Driving the news: While U.S. intelligence indicates that Xi has instructed his country's army to be ready for a potential invasion by 2027, Burns stressed that a decision has not yet been made. 

* "I think we need to take very seriously Xi's ambitions with regard to ultimately controlling Taiwan. That doesn't, however, in our view, mean that a military conflict is inevitable," he added.  

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: I see no indications that Chinese President Xi or from his military leaders that they have some doubts as to whether China could accomplish a successful invasion of Taiwan after witnessing how Russia is conducting its war in Ukraine. On the opposite. I have seen China doubling down on its rhetoric and military exercises on Taiwan since the start of the year. 

 CIA Director Burns Says China Has Some Doubt On Its Ability To Invade Taiwan 

 CIA chief: China has some doubt on ability to invade Taiwan -- AP  

China has doubts on ability to invade Taiwan, CIA chief says -- DW  

CIA Director William Burns says President Xi Jinping ‘unsettled and sobered’ by Russia’s performance in Ukraine -- SKY News

Report Says Russian Oil Is Being Sold Far Above Price Cap

Shun Tai crude oil tanker is seen anchored at the terminal Kozmino in Nakhodka Bay near the port city of Nakhodka, Russia, December 4, 2022. REUTERS/Tatiana Meel/File Photo  

gCaptain/Bloomberg: Russia Sold Oil Far Above Price Cap, Researchers Say 

(Bloomberg) –Russian companies got far more money from selling the country’s oil than previously thought in the weeks that followed the imposition of a price cap on the nation’s exports, a group of academics said. 

The research weakens the idea that the price limits are crushing Moscow’s revenue to fund the war in Ukraine.

Russia’s crude fetched an average of about $74 a barrel in the four weeks that followed the cap, according to calculations by experts including from the Institute of International Finance, Columbia University and University of California. 

That’s about a quarter above the threshold — $60 a barrel — that the Group of Seven set from Dec. 5. Their work was based on an analysis of customs’ invoice-level data for the four weeks after the cap was set for crude sales to buyers all over the world, and from all ports and pipelines.  

Read more ....  

Update: Researchers say that the oil price cap imposed by Western leaders to limit Russia's ability to fund its war against Ukraine didn't exactly work (Bloomberg) 

WNU Editor: Another sign that Russian sanctions are not working .... Barrels of Russian oil switched off the coast of Greece to avoid sanctions Bloomberg (Ukrainska Pravda). More here .... Russian Oil Flows to China Hit Highest Levels Since Ukraine Invasion (Bloomberg). 

The report is here .... Assessing the Impact of International Sanctions on Russian Oil Exports (SSRN).

Majority Of Germans See Their Country's Arms Deliveries To Ukraine As Participation In The War Against Russia

 

DW: Germans see arming Ukraine as involvement 

A poll conducted by Germany's DPA news agency suggests many Germans disapprove of arming Ukraine in its war against Russia. 

The majority of German people see their country's arms deliveries to Ukraine as participation in the war against Russia, a recent poll suggests. 

The poll was conducted on behalf of Germany's DPA news agency by the opinion research institute YouGov. It surveyed 2,072 Germans nationwide from February 21 until February 23, ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

Fifty-one percent of the respondents thought arming Ukraine meant being part of the war, an argument that Russia has been pushing. Meanwhile, 37% disagreed with the statement. 

Germany has approved some €2.6 billion ($2.75 billion) worth of weapons and armaments since the start of the war. 

Read more .... 

WNU Editor: The German Foreign Minister said so herself last month that Germany is at war against Russia .... German Foreign Minister Announces That 'We Are Fighting A War Against Russia' (January 25, 2023).  

Update: Peace demonstrations are starting in Germany .... Thousands in Berlin attend 'naive' Ukraine peace rally (DW).

10 Graphics Calculating The Effects Of Russia's Invasion On Ukraine

DW: Russia's war on Ukraine in numbers 

Cities in ruins, millions of refugees, continued military support, and ongoing sanctions: Russia's war on Ukraine has sent shockwaves across the globe. Here are 10 graphics calculating the effects of Russia's invasion. 

February 24 marks one year since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Despite counter-advances by the Ukrainian army, substantial parts of eastern Ukraine remain occupied by Russian troops. Most recently, on January 19, 2023, Ukrainian forces withdrew from the embattled city of Soledar in the Donbas region, which has since been under Russian control again.  

Read more ....  

WNU Editor: Here are some more graphs .... One Year of Russia’s War on Ukraine, in Graphs (Moscow Times).