Upcoming Events

no events match your query!

New Events

no events posted in last week

Blog Feeds

Anti-Empire

Anti-Empire

offsite link Ukraine Buys Huge Amounts of Russian Fue... Fri Jan 20, 2023 08:34 | Antonia Kotseva

offsite link Turkey Has Sent Ukraine Cluster Munition... Thu Jan 12, 2023 00:26 | Jack Detsch

offsite link New Israeli Government Promises to Talk ... Tue Jan 10, 2023 21:13 | Al Majadeen

offsite link Russia Training Iranian Pilots Ahead of ... Tue Jan 10, 2023 15:19 | The Times of Israel

offsite link Lukashenko Abolishes Copyright Protectio... Tue Jan 10, 2023 15:05 | Nikki Main

Anti-Empire >>

The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Moveable Feast Cafe 2023/02/03 ? Open Thread Fri Feb 03, 2023 10:30 | cafe-uploader
2023/02/03 10:30:02Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of

offsite link From Imperial Failures to Imperial Excuses Thu Feb 02, 2023 21:35 | The Saker
By Batiushka for the Saker blog The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of the destruction

offsite link Biden Administration Lied About Pipeline Sabotage Wed Feb 01, 2023 23:08 | The Saker

offsite link Miseducated (Andrei Martyanov) Wed Feb 01, 2023 23:04 | The Saker
Please visit Andrei?s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspo... and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/beP...

offsite link Trials and Tribulations of the Collective West Wed Feb 01, 2023 16:44 | The Saker
by Pepe Escobar, widely distributed on the Internet and posted with the author’s permission Sit back, relax and enjoy a race to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The only

The Saker >>

Lockdown Skeptics

The Daily Sceptic

offsite link The Inside Story of How UsForThem Held Pfizer to Account for Misleading Parents about Covid Vaccine ... Fri Feb 03, 2023 11:00 | Ben Kingsley
In December 2021, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla was given the BBC's stage to promote his vaccine to children, describing it as "completely completely" beneficial. UsForThem complained that this was misleading ? and won.
The post The Inside Story of How UsForThem Held Pfizer to Account for Misleading Parents about Covid Vaccine Safety appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link The Ministry of Climate Truth Fri Feb 03, 2023 09:00 | Chris Morrison
A company called Logically has been paid handsomely by governments to carry out 'fact checks' on off-narrative climate claims to get them discredited and their sources demonetised. But the 'fact checks' are truly dire.
The post The Ministry of Climate Truth appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link The Alarming Trend in Core Mortality Since the Vaccine Rollout Fri Feb 03, 2023 07:00 | Nick Bowler
Focusing on 'core' mortality from non-respiratory causes removes most of the variation from year to year and reveals a truly alarming trend beginning around the time the vaccines were rolled out in 2021.
The post The Alarming Trend in Core Mortality Since the Vaccine Rollout appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link News Round-Up Fri Feb 03, 2023 01:09 | Will Jones
A summary of the most interesting stories in the past 24 hours that challenge the prevailing orthodoxy about the virus and the vaccines, the ?climate emergency? and the supposed moral defects of Western civilisation.
The post News Round-Up appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link Big Brother is Watching Me Thu Feb 02, 2023 19:34 | Toby Young
The alarming thing about the monitoring of lockdown and vaccine sceptics by the 77th Brigade and others is that such people are now regarded not as critics of Government policy, but a danger to public safety.
The post Big Brother is Watching Me appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

Lockdown Skeptics >>

Voltaire Network
Voltaire, international edition

offsite link EU mulls ways to censor Russian views Thu Feb 02, 2023 04:34 | en

offsite link Zelensky's sponsor and Hunter Biden fall from grace Wed Feb 01, 2023 03:30 | en

offsite link Two perceptions of the war in Ukraine, by Thierry Meyssan Tue Jan 31, 2023 07:03 | en

offsite link Pfizer modified Covid virus ahead of pandemic Mon Jan 30, 2023 13:28 | en

offsite link The Kremlin classifies its economic statistics Sun Jan 29, 2023 15:22 | en

Voltaire Network >>

Antonia Kotseva - Fri Jan 20, 2023 08:34

Editor's note: Remember when in the first half of 2022 Russia was bombing fuel depots? Well a lot of that fuel (40% by one disputed account) was Russian, imported via Bulgaria and refined in a Lukoil refinery in Bulgaria.


Source: Euractiv

In 2022, Ukraine bought a huge amount of fuels from Bulgaria made from Russian oil, according to data by the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute, provided exclusively to EURACTIV Bulgaria.

From January to November 2022, Bulgaria exported €700 million worth of fuels to Ukraine, and if the trend continues in December, the total value for the year will exceed €825 million. Compared to the period before the war, this is a 1,000-fold increase, as Bulgaria’s 2021 fuel exports to Ukraine totalled only €750,000.

The current scale of Bulgarian oil exports to Ukraine is so large that it corresponds to about 1% of the size of the entire Bulgarian economy.

The main fuel export from Bulgaria to Ukraine is gas oil (also known as red diesel), which makes up more than 90% of deliveries.

Gasoline supplies have also increased rapidly over the past six months, which is explained by Russian attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure. Diesel fuel is used in heavy industry to power machinery, generators, and off-road vehicles [such as tanks], as well as in agriculture and marine shipping.

The producer of gas oil in Bulgaria is the country’s only refinery, located in the port city of Burgas, owned by the Russian oil company Lukoil, which still operates mainly with Russian oil imported by tankers via the Black Sea, thanks to a derogation from EU sanctions.

The refinery in Burgas can afford to export fuel at significantly lower prices because it works with its own raw material. Last year, because of Western sanctions, Russian oil prices on world markets were on average $20-30 per barrel lower than stock market prices.

Bulgarian statistics show that Ukraine is now the Balkan country’s third-largest trading partner thanks to the export of fuels, having replaced the USA. In 2021, Ukraine ranked eighth among the countries outside the ЕU as a destination for Bulgarian exports.

Fuel exports from Bulgaria to Ukraine peaked in November 2022, when €130 million worth of petroleum products were exported.

The avalanche of oil exports то Ukraine began in May, when €40 million worth of products were exported, and reached €105 million in June. From June until the end of the year, levels were consistently high.

The period of the highest fuel sales to Ukraine coincides with the administration of the caretaker government of President Rumen Radev, who is accused by his opponents of being pro-Russian.

Radev is a staunch opponent of sending Bulgarian weapons to Ukraine but although divided, the parliament did not listen to him and a majority decided to send weapons at the end of last year.

Bulgaria protects its business

On 13 January, the Bulgarian parliament passed a law that allows fuels produced from Russian oil to be exported only to Ukraine. However, there is a loophole in the law that allows trade with other countries outside the EU for the fuels produced by Lukoil in Bulgaria, for which there is no market in Bulgaria.

This raises the question of the possible re-export of fuels from Russian oil to the EU, but only after they have been sold by Bulgaria to a country outside the EU.

If the oil originates from another country, for example, Kazakhstan, but has passed through Russia in transit, the new Bulgarian law says it can be imported into Bulgaria and the products can be sold on the European market.

At the end of last year, Lukoil announced its intention to make Bulgaria its main base in the EU. The Russian company promised to pay hundreds of millions of euros in taxes in Bulgaria if it is allowed to export its oil production in the country. Lukoil’s refinery in the Bulgarian city of Burgas is the largest in the Balkans.

A temporary derogation under the EU’s sixth sanctions package against Russia was foreseen for imports of crude oil by pipeline into those EU member states that, because of their geographic situation, suffer from a specific dependence on Russian supplies and have no viable alternative options.

Bulgaria has such a derogation until the end of 2024.

In 2022, Bulgaria also sold more than €1 billion worth of arms to Ukraine, although not directly but through intermediaries, a EURACTIV investigation showed last year.

The Balkan country is the main supplier of ammunition for the Soviet armament to the Ukrainian army, although the official authorities in Sofia still deny that such exports took place.

‘It’s logical’

“It’s logical that Bulgaria exports more fuels to Ukraine and this will continue this year as well,” Martin Vladimirov, director of the Energy and Climate programme at the influential Bulgarian think tank Center for the Study of Democracy (CID), told EURACTV Bulgaria.

Vladimirov, one of Bulgaria’s leading energy experts, also confirmed that fuels produced by Lukoil or by other importers of Russian fuels, such as the Bulgarian company Insta Oil, which directly imports fuels from Russia, are being exported to Ukraine.

“These are not importers of crude oil but of finished products, which are then exported through Romania, and according to my calculations, approximately 32,000 barrels of such fuels reach Ukraine per day. It is about gas oil, which is used for heavy machinery and agricultural machinery,” said Vladimirov.

He disagreed with recent stories published by Die Welt and Politico, where it was claimed that Bulgaria provided 40% of the fuel for the Ukrainian army, saying this percentage is greatly exaggerated.

Former Finance Minister Assen Vassilev told Die Welt that Bulgaria has become one of the largest exporters of diesel fuel to Ukraine and at times covered as much as 40% of its needs. Statistics show, however, that the main export from Bulgaria is gas oil.

“It is important to emphasise that all products exported to Ukraine are either fuels directly produced in Russia or produced in Lukoil Neftohim,” said Vladimirov, who expects this to continue this year as well.

“This will continue because the European Commission gave in December an explicit derogation for Bulgaria to be able to export products produced from Russian oil to Ukraine in the amount of the average values of the last five years,” Vladimirov said.

Editor's note: Remember when in the first half of 2022 Russia was bombing fuel depots? Well a lot of that fuel (40% by one disputed account) was Russian, imported via Bulgaria and refined in a Lukoil refinery in Bulgaria.


Source: Euractiv

In 2022, Ukraine bought a huge amount of fuels from Bulgaria made from Russian oil, according to data by the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute, provided exclusively to EURACTIV Bulgaria.

From January to November 2022, Bulgaria exported €700 million worth of fuels to Ukraine, and if the trend continues in December, the total value for the year will exceed €825 million. Compared to the period before the war, this is a 1,000-fold increase, as Bulgaria’s 2021 fuel exports to Ukraine totalled only €750,000.

The current scale of Bulgarian oil exports to Ukraine is so large that it corresponds to about 1% of the size of the entire Bulgarian economy.

The main fuel export from Bulgaria to Ukraine is gas oil (also known as red diesel), which makes up more than 90% of deliveries.

Gasoline supplies have also increased rapidly over the past six months, which is explained by Russian attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure. Diesel fuel is used in heavy industry to power machinery, generators, and off-road vehicles [such as tanks], as well as in agriculture and marine shipping.

The producer of gas oil in Bulgaria is the country’s only refinery, located in the port city of Burgas, owned by the Russian oil company Lukoil, which still operates mainly with Russian oil imported by tankers via the Black Sea, thanks to a derogation from EU sanctions.

The refinery in Burgas can afford to export fuel at significantly lower prices because it works with its own raw material. Last year, because of Western sanctions, Russian oil prices on world markets were on average $20-30 per barrel lower than stock market prices.

Bulgarian statistics show that Ukraine is now the Balkan country’s third-largest trading partner thanks to the export of fuels, having replaced the USA. In 2021, Ukraine ranked eighth among the countries outside the ЕU as a destination for Bulgarian exports.

Fuel exports from Bulgaria to Ukraine peaked in November 2022, when €130 million worth of petroleum products were exported.

The avalanche of oil exports то Ukraine began in May, when €40 million worth of products were exported, and reached €105 million in June. From June until the end of the year, levels were consistently high.

The period of the highest fuel sales to Ukraine coincides with the administration of the caretaker government of President Rumen Radev, who is accused by his opponents of being pro-Russian.

Radev is a staunch opponent of sending Bulgarian weapons to Ukraine but although divided, the parliament did not listen to him and a majority decided to send weapons at the end of last year.

Bulgaria protects its business

On 13 January, the Bulgarian parliament passed a law that allows fuels produced from Russian oil to be exported only to Ukraine. However, there is a loophole in the law that allows trade with other countries outside the EU for the fuels produced by Lukoil in Bulgaria, for which there is no market in Bulgaria.

This raises the question of the possible re-export of fuels from Russian oil to the EU, but only after they have been sold by Bulgaria to a country outside the EU.

If the oil originates from another country, for example, Kazakhstan, but has passed through Russia in transit, the new Bulgarian law says it can be imported into Bulgaria and the products can be sold on the European market.

At the end of last year, Lukoil announced its intention to make Bulgaria its main base in the EU. The Russian company promised to pay hundreds of millions of euros in taxes in Bulgaria if it is allowed to export its oil production in the country. Lukoil’s refinery in the Bulgarian city of Burgas is the largest in the Balkans.

A temporary derogation under the EU’s sixth sanctions package against Russia was foreseen for imports of crude oil by pipeline into those EU member states that, because of their geographic situation, suffer from a specific dependence on Russian supplies and have no viable alternative options.

Bulgaria has such a derogation until the end of 2024.

In 2022, Bulgaria also sold more than €1 billion worth of arms to Ukraine, although not directly but through intermediaries, a EURACTIV investigation showed last year.

The Balkan country is the main supplier of ammunition for the Soviet armament to the Ukrainian army, although the official authorities in Sofia still deny that such exports took place.

‘It’s logical’

“It’s logical that Bulgaria exports more fuels to Ukraine and this will continue this year as well,” Martin Vladimirov, director of the Energy and Climate programme at the influential Bulgarian think tank Center for the Study of Democracy (CID), told EURACTV Bulgaria.

Vladimirov, one of Bulgaria’s leading energy experts, also confirmed that fuels produced by Lukoil or by other importers of Russian fuels, such as the Bulgarian company Insta Oil, which directly imports fuels from Russia, are being exported to Ukraine.

“These are not importers of crude oil but of finished products, which are then exported through Romania, and according to my calculations, approximately 32,000 barrels of such fuels reach Ukraine per day. It is about gas oil, which is used for heavy machinery and agricultural machinery,” said Vladimirov.

He disagreed with recent stories published by Die Welt and Politico, where it was claimed that Bulgaria provided 40% of the fuel for the Ukrainian army, saying this percentage is greatly exaggerated.

Former Finance Minister Assen Vassilev told Die Welt that Bulgaria has become one of the largest exporters of diesel fuel to Ukraine and at times covered as much as 40% of its needs. Statistics show, however, that the main export from Bulgaria is gas oil.

“It is important to emphasise that all products exported to Ukraine are either fuels directly produced in Russia or produced in Lukoil Neftohim,” said Vladimirov, who expects this to continue this year as well.

“This will continue because the European Commission gave in December an explicit derogation for Bulgaria to be able to export products produced from Russian oil to Ukraine in the amount of the average values of the last five years,” Vladimirov said.

Jack Detsch - Thu Jan 12, 2023 00:26

Editor's note: There's a limit to how many artillery shells the US can send (only has 3-4 million left in storage). But the number can be increased if cluster-filled shells that are slated for destruction are sent to Ukraine instead. Now a Turkish precedent exists for the US to follow.


Turkey began sending Ukraine a form of U.S.-designed, artillery-fired cluster bomb in late 2022 after months of Kyiv pleading with the Biden administration for the munitions, current and former U.S. and European officials familiar with the decision told Foreign Policy, giving Kyiv a powerful—but controversial—weapon to destroy Russian tanks and kill troops on the battlefield.

The NATO ally began sending the first batches of so-called dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICMs) in November 2022, which were made during the Cold War era under a co-production agreement with the United States. The weapons are designed to destroy tanks by bursting into smaller submunitions, which can linger on the battlefield for years if they do not immediately explode. Each round scatters about 88 bomblets. The United States is barred from exporting DPICMs under U.S. law because of its high dud rate.

The move, which Turkey has sought to keep quiet for months, also highlights the high-wire act that Ankara has played throughout the conflict: supporting Ukraine with armed Bayraktar TB2 drones that helped break Russia’s advance on Kyiv and playing diplomatic middleman for the United Nations-brokered deal to export grain from the Ukrainian port of Odesa, all while purchasing Russian weapons for itself and angering NATO in the process. It was not immediately clear if the Turkish surface-to-surface weapons had been used in combat.

“After the U.S. denied [Ukraine] access to cluster munitions, Turkey was the only place they could get them,” said one source briefed on the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It just shows how even as Turkey cozies up to Russia in some respects, it’s become a really important supporter for Ukraine militarily.”

Neither the Turkish Embassy in Washington nor the Ukrainian defense ministry responded to Foreign Policy’s request for comment. But Turkey’s delivery of DPICMs showcases how Ankara has played an outsized role in supplying weapons to Ukraine to break Russia’s full-scale invasion at critical moments in the war since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the assault in February 2022.

The Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones helped halt Russian armored convoys converging on Kyiv in the early days of the war, and they reportedly had a role in assisting Ukraine’s sinking of the Russian cruiser Moskva, then the flagship of the Black Sea fleet. Turkish analysts also believe that Turkey is quietly running a drone bridge from Corlu air base near the Bayraktar TB2 factory, where weapons are shipped to Poland and moved to Ukraine. And Turkey has walked a tight line on weapons deliveries: Even as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his brass in Ankara have tried to keep them quiet, some of their close confidantes—including the president’s son-in-law, who is chair of the board of the company that manufactures Bayraktar TB2s—have openly championed the drone’s prowess on the battlefield.

Although Turkey has not shared information on the quantities of cluster munitions in its stockpile, the Ankara-based Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation has produced an extended-range artillery projectile in the past that can be fired out of 155 mm cannons with self-destructing DPICM submunitions as well as similar projectiles that are under license from the United States. Roketsan, another major Turkish weapons producer, once made TRK-122 rockets for 122 mm artillery systems that also scatter DPICM submunitions. Slovakia, Chile, and the United States have transferred cluster munitions to Turkey in the past.

But the move still is a reversal of sorts for Turkey, after it made pledges to the international disarmament community that it would not use cluster munitions. In a letter sent to the president of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a Geneva-based international organization, in October 2021 and obtained by Foreign Policy, Turkey insisted that it had not used, produced, imported, or transferred cluster munitions since 2005—when the convention was implemented—and did not intend to do so in the future.

“Turkey, indeed, shares the humanitarian considerations that guide the efforts to limit the indiscriminate use of weapons, including cluster munitions,” Sadik Arslan, Turkey’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, wrote in the letter to the convention.

Yet people who have advocated for the United States to send DPICMs have insisted that it would be the most effective way to root out Russian trench lines, which are not reinforced or covered, in the open terrain of the Donbas. And the need is compounded, those advocates said, by U.S. stockpiles already running low on high explosive artillery rounds. (U.S. officials also believe Russian artillery fire may have declined as much as 75 percent from its wartime high.)

Turkey, like the United States, is not a member of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Yet experts fear that the cleanup headache that DPICMs could cause might exacerbate the generational mine and cluster bomb mess that the Russian military has already left nearly a year after the Kremlin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Unlike traditional landmines, cluster munitions aren’t often neatly planted in rows that can be easily surveyed and cleared. Rather, they scatter more randomly when fired and have a high dud rate. Experts worry that because of its small size, akin to a D-cell battery, they are too unsafe to destroy en masse, and innocent civilians could mistakenly pick them up, something that happened during the 2006 Lebanon War.

“Ukraine already has a massive problem on its hands, and it’s only magnifying it by introducing this weapon,” Hiznay said. “They’re going to end up with a situation where the contamination is like lasagna: It’s layered upon each other over time.”

Editor's note: There's a limit to how many artillery shells the US can send (only has 3-4 million left in storage). But the number can be increased if cluster-filled shells that are slated for destruction are sent to Ukraine instead. Now a Turkish precedent exists for the US to follow.


Turkey began sending Ukraine a form of U.S.-designed, artillery-fired cluster bomb in late 2022 after months of Kyiv pleading with the Biden administration for the munitions, current and former U.S. and European officials familiar with the decision told Foreign Policy, giving Kyiv a powerful—but controversial—weapon to destroy Russian tanks and kill troops on the battlefield.

The NATO ally began sending the first batches of so-called dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICMs) in November 2022, which were made during the Cold War era under a co-production agreement with the United States. The weapons are designed to destroy tanks by bursting into smaller submunitions, which can linger on the battlefield for years if they do not immediately explode. Each round scatters about 88 bomblets. The United States is barred from exporting DPICMs under U.S. law because of its high dud rate.

The move, which Turkey has sought to keep quiet for months, also highlights the high-wire act that Ankara has played throughout the conflict: supporting Ukraine with armed Bayraktar TB2 drones that helped break Russia’s advance on Kyiv and playing diplomatic middleman for the United Nations-brokered deal to export grain from the Ukrainian port of Odesa, all while purchasing Russian weapons for itself and angering NATO in the process. It was not immediately clear if the Turkish surface-to-surface weapons had been used in combat.

“After the U.S. denied [Ukraine] access to cluster munitions, Turkey was the only place they could get them,” said one source briefed on the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It just shows how even as Turkey cozies up to Russia in some respects, it’s become a really important supporter for Ukraine militarily.”

Neither the Turkish Embassy in Washington nor the Ukrainian defense ministry responded to Foreign Policy’s request for comment. But Turkey’s delivery of DPICMs showcases how Ankara has played an outsized role in supplying weapons to Ukraine to break Russia’s full-scale invasion at critical moments in the war since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the assault in February 2022.

The Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones helped halt Russian armored convoys converging on Kyiv in the early days of the war, and they reportedly had a role in assisting Ukraine’s sinking of the Russian cruiser Moskva, then the flagship of the Black Sea fleet. Turkish analysts also believe that Turkey is quietly running a drone bridge from Corlu air base near the Bayraktar TB2 factory, where weapons are shipped to Poland and moved to Ukraine. And Turkey has walked a tight line on weapons deliveries: Even as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his brass in Ankara have tried to keep them quiet, some of their close confidantes—including the president’s son-in-law, who is chair of the board of the company that manufactures Bayraktar TB2s—have openly championed the drone’s prowess on the battlefield.

Although Turkey has not shared information on the quantities of cluster munitions in its stockpile, the Ankara-based Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation has produced an extended-range artillery projectile in the past that can be fired out of 155 mm cannons with self-destructing DPICM submunitions as well as similar projectiles that are under license from the United States. Roketsan, another major Turkish weapons producer, once made TRK-122 rockets for 122 mm artillery systems that also scatter DPICM submunitions. Slovakia, Chile, and the United States have transferred cluster munitions to Turkey in the past.

But the move still is a reversal of sorts for Turkey, after it made pledges to the international disarmament community that it would not use cluster munitions. In a letter sent to the president of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a Geneva-based international organization, in October 2021 and obtained by Foreign Policy, Turkey insisted that it had not used, produced, imported, or transferred cluster munitions since 2005—when the convention was implemented—and did not intend to do so in the future.

“Turkey, indeed, shares the humanitarian considerations that guide the efforts to limit the indiscriminate use of weapons, including cluster munitions,” Sadik Arslan, Turkey’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, wrote in the letter to the convention.

Yet people who have advocated for the United States to send DPICMs have insisted that it would be the most effective way to root out Russian trench lines, which are not reinforced or covered, in the open terrain of the Donbas. And the need is compounded, those advocates said, by U.S. stockpiles already running low on high explosive artillery rounds. (U.S. officials also believe Russian artillery fire may have declined as much as 75 percent from its wartime high.)

Turkey, like the United States, is not a member of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Yet experts fear that the cleanup headache that DPICMs could cause might exacerbate the generational mine and cluster bomb mess that the Russian military has already left nearly a year after the Kremlin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Unlike traditional landmines, cluster munitions aren’t often neatly planted in rows that can be easily surveyed and cleared. Rather, they scatter more randomly when fired and have a high dud rate. Experts worry that because of its small size, akin to a D-cell battery, they are too unsafe to destroy en masse, and innocent civilians could mistakenly pick them up, something that happened during the 2006 Lebanon War.

“Ukraine already has a massive problem on its hands, and it’s only magnifying it by introducing this weapon,” Hiznay said. “They’re going to end up with a situation where the contamination is like lasagna: It’s layered upon each other over time.”

Al Majadeen - Tue Jan 10, 2023 21:13

Source: Al Majadeen

The new Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen stated on Monday that the newly formed government will discuss Ukraine less in public.

"With regard to the Russia-Ukraine issue, we will do one thing for certain - in public - we will talk less," said the ministry, quoting Cohen.

Cohen noted, however, that "Tel Aviv" will continue to provide Kiev with "humanitarian aid", adding that he will be holding a phone call on Tuesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.

Former Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in earlier last week by the Israeli parliament as prime minister one more time, the third time in his political career after he formed a new government.

This is Netanyahu's sixth term after he was ousted from power in June last year, ending his 12-year run as prime minister.

However, despite Israeli claims that they don't want to get involved in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Israeli occupation already established direct and indirect involvement by supporting Kiev against Russia on numerous occasions.

A Russian intelligence source told Al Mayadeen last Thursday that the Israeli occupation is donating money to buy Ukraine weapons from third countries.

The Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported in November that the occupation spent millions of dollars to appease its western partners by procuring undisclosed strategic materials for Ukraine after "Tel Aviv" faced pressure to send arms to Kiev via a third country.

The Biden administration demanded the occupation to switch from strictly providing humanitarian supplies and expanding its assistance to Ukraine and give military equipment, prompting "Tel Aviv" to fund the purchase of strategic materials for Ukraine, including air defense systems, according to Haaretz.

The Israeli occupation also agreed to allow NATO to supply Kiev with weapons that have Israeli-produced components, such as optical equipment and fire monitoring systems, Israeli media said.

Former Russian President and senior Russian Security Council member Dmitry Medvedev in October warned "Israel" against providing weapons to Ukraine threatening that any move to boost Kiev's arsenal would severely damage bilateral relations.

Source: Al Majadeen

The new Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen stated on Monday that the newly formed government will discuss Ukraine less in public.

"With regard to the Russia-Ukraine issue, we will do one thing for certain - in public - we will talk less," said the ministry, quoting Cohen.

Cohen noted, however, that "Tel Aviv" will continue to provide Kiev with "humanitarian aid", adding that he will be holding a phone call on Tuesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.

Former Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in earlier last week by the Israeli parliament as prime minister one more time, the third time in his political career after he formed a new government.

This is Netanyahu's sixth term after he was ousted from power in June last year, ending his 12-year run as prime minister.

However, despite Israeli claims that they don't want to get involved in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the Israeli occupation already established direct and indirect involvement by supporting Kiev against Russia on numerous occasions.

A Russian intelligence source told Al Mayadeen last Thursday that the Israeli occupation is donating money to buy Ukraine weapons from third countries.

The Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported in November that the occupation spent millions of dollars to appease its western partners by procuring undisclosed strategic materials for Ukraine after "Tel Aviv" faced pressure to send arms to Kiev via a third country.

The Biden administration demanded the occupation to switch from strictly providing humanitarian supplies and expanding its assistance to Ukraine and give military equipment, prompting "Tel Aviv" to fund the purchase of strategic materials for Ukraine, including air defense systems, according to Haaretz.

The Israeli occupation also agreed to allow NATO to supply Kiev with weapons that have Israeli-produced components, such as optical equipment and fire monitoring systems, Israeli media said.

Former Russian President and senior Russian Security Council member Dmitry Medvedev in October warned "Israel" against providing weapons to Ukraine threatening that any move to boost Kiev's arsenal would severely damage bilateral relations.

The Times of Israel - Tue Jan 10, 2023 15:19

Source: The Times of Israel

Russia is preparing to provide Iran with Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets in the near future, according to a Saturday report citing Western intelligence officials.

The report by Channel 12 said the deal could include as many as 24 jets that were originally intended for Egypt, in a deal that the United States thwarted.

This left Moscow looking for a new potential buyer, which it has reportedly found in Tehran. The report comes after Iranian media said in September that Tehran was weighing such a purchase.

Intelligence indicated that Iranian pilots were already using the jets for training, the report said, without elaborating.

Washington has described an extensive relationship between Iran and Russia involving military equipment, especially since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February.

Reports indicate that Tehran has so far supplied Russian troops with some 1,700 offensive drones and plans on supplying 300 more in the near future.

Mossad chief David Barnea cautioned on Thursday that Iran is looking to expand its supply of advanced weapons to Russia.

Barnea said Mossad was “still warning about Iran’s future and intentions, which it is trying to keep secret.”

Source: The Times of Israel

Russia is preparing to provide Iran with Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets in the near future, according to a Saturday report citing Western intelligence officials.

The report by Channel 12 said the deal could include as many as 24 jets that were originally intended for Egypt, in a deal that the United States thwarted.

This left Moscow looking for a new potential buyer, which it has reportedly found in Tehran. The report comes after Iranian media said in September that Tehran was weighing such a purchase.

Intelligence indicated that Iranian pilots were already using the jets for training, the report said, without elaborating.

Washington has described an extensive relationship between Iran and Russia involving military equipment, especially since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February.

Reports indicate that Tehran has so far supplied Russian troops with some 1,700 offensive drones and plans on supplying 300 more in the near future.

Mossad chief David Barnea cautioned on Thursday that Iran is looking to expand its supply of advanced weapons to Russia.

Barnea said Mossad was “still warning about Iran’s future and intentions, which it is trying to keep secret.”

Nikki Main - Tue Jan 10, 2023 15:05

Editor's note: Good thing. "Intellectual property" is a mercantilist scam anyway. "Patent" originally simply meant monopoly. Everyone should do this.

 

Source: Gizmodo

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko legalized piracy in the country without requiring the consent of the rights holder last week. The law states it will include computer programs, audiovisual work, musical works, and film, cinema, and entertainment organizations.

The law cited that this decision is the result of “unfriendly” relations between Belarus and other countries including the U.S., EU, and the UK, amongst others, which imposed sanctions on the country amidst its support of the Russian government’s attack on Ukraine.

Lukashenko rose to power in 1994 during a democratic election and has continued to hold the position after a series of suspicious “landslide” victories, the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a referendum that removed the presidential term limits.

The U.S. imposed sanctions in July of last year effectively cutting Belarus off from most financial institutions, trade, and technology imports and targeting Russian and Belarusian elites, including Putin and Lukashenko who were cut off from their financial assets.

The sanctions came three months after the start of the Ukraine War when Lukashenko ordered Ryanair Flight 4978 to be redirected to Minsk due to an alleged security threat on board. Belarusian authorities passenger seized Roman Protasevich, claiming he had incited hatred and mass disorder in the country.

Belarus is now responding to “foreign states that commit unfriendly actions” by legalizing piracy with the caveat that when people or entities utilize pirated content, they must pay a remuneration fee to state-owned bank accounts. The law reads, “After three years, the remuneration not demanded by the right holder or the organization for the collective management of property rights will be transferred by the Patent Authority to the republican budget within three months,” TorrentFreak reported.

The law also states that the piracy law is a solution to “the development of the intellectual and spiritual and moral potential of society” and “the reduction of critical shortages in the domestic market of food and other goods,” according to the Odessa Journal.

The money paid out by those accessing the pirated programs will be determined by the lower house of the Belarusian parliament and will be directed to the Patent Authority which will hold the money for three years. If at the end of that period, the rightsholders or the property rights management organizations do not claim the remuneration, it will be claimed by the Belarusian government.

The law will be instated this week and will continue for two years, ending on December 31, 2024.


https://twitter.com/Gerashchenko_en/status/1604923998311251991

Luka you're much too kind. You're far baser than the WEF soyboy.

Editor's note: Good thing. "Intellectual property" is a mercantilist scam anyway. "Patent" originally simply meant monopoly. Everyone should do this.

 

Source: Gizmodo

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko legalized piracy in the country without requiring the consent of the rights holder last week. The law states it will include computer programs, audiovisual work, musical works, and film, cinema, and entertainment organizations.

The law cited that this decision is the result of “unfriendly” relations between Belarus and other countries including the U.S., EU, and the UK, amongst others, which imposed sanctions on the country amidst its support of the Russian government’s attack on Ukraine.

Lukashenko rose to power in 1994 during a democratic election and has continued to hold the position after a series of suspicious “landslide” victories, the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a referendum that removed the presidential term limits.

The U.S. imposed sanctions in July of last year effectively cutting Belarus off from most financial institutions, trade, and technology imports and targeting Russian and Belarusian elites, including Putin and Lukashenko who were cut off from their financial assets.

The sanctions came three months after the start of the Ukraine War when Lukashenko ordered Ryanair Flight 4978 to be redirected to Minsk due to an alleged security threat on board. Belarusian authorities passenger seized Roman Protasevich, claiming he had incited hatred and mass disorder in the country.

Belarus is now responding to “foreign states that commit unfriendly actions” by legalizing piracy with the caveat that when people or entities utilize pirated content, they must pay a remuneration fee to state-owned bank accounts. The law reads, “After three years, the remuneration not demanded by the right holder or the organization for the collective management of property rights will be transferred by the Patent Authority to the republican budget within three months,” TorrentFreak reported.

The law also states that the piracy law is a solution to “the development of the intellectual and spiritual and moral potential of society” and “the reduction of critical shortages in the domestic market of food and other goods,” according to the Odessa Journal.

The money paid out by those accessing the pirated programs will be determined by the lower house of the Belarusian parliament and will be directed to the Patent Authority which will hold the money for three years. If at the end of that period, the rightsholders or the property rights management organizations do not claim the remuneration, it will be claimed by the Belarusian government.

The law will be instated this week and will continue for two years, ending on December 31, 2024.


https://twitter.com/Gerashchenko_en/status/1604923998311251991

Luka you're much too kind. You're far baser than the WEF soyboy.

Marko Marjanović - Mon Jan 09, 2023 16:28

As part of its latest military reform and expansion, Russia will raise the draft age from 18 to 21.

I wrote in October that since Putin has decided that 18-year-old conscripts are politically undeployable it makes no sense to keep them in the army:

It is difficult to see why the draft is going ahead at all. Logically conscripts should have been committed to war from day 1, before the mobilization was even decreed. But since Putin has now decreed mobilization, but maintains that serving conscripts remain non-deployable they have become dead weight.

The capacity of any military to equip, train and integrate men is limited. Especially in short order and on a budget. Every conscript is taking up training ground capacity, instructor time, equipment, weapon, and a slot in an existing unit that could have gone to a mobik, but only one of the two is actually deployable.

If Russia is in a war (is she??), it is pointless for her to be inducting into the military masses of personnel who are a priori banned from the war. Especially when those who are deployed are short of everything.

If Putin insists that conscripts are non-deployable (an absurd stance) then they don’t have a role in the military. At least for the heavily pressured land combat arms, if they can not be part of the rotation then there is very little rationale to spend resources on them. Logic dictates that draft ought to be suspended indefinitely and the freed-up resources spent on mobiki.

Instead of abolishing mandatory military service, Moscow will make the draft kick in at 21 years of age. This will produce conscript soldiers that are politically more deployable than the current crop of 18-year-olds.

However, the vast majority of current 21-year-olds have already served when they were 18 or 19 and can’t be recalled for a 2nd term. So even in theory, this reform can’t kick in for at least 3 more years when the present unrecruited 17 and 18-year-olds turn 21.

In practice it will take even longer. RUMOD says the age will be raised gradually — because the military doesn’t want to go 3 years with zero conscripts.

For example, if each class is retained for 18 months, rather than the current 12, then each next class can be 6 months older than the previous.

So then in about 3 to 9 years, Russia will finally have a conscript corps that Putin is politically comfortable using in Ukraine.

Better late than never?

VVP has been in power for 23 years. Donbass War started 8 years ago. And the Ukraine War 1 year ago.

Some might build an army ahead of a war. Putin started an “SMO”. Waited a year. Then started the reform that will produce an army for the SMO in 3 to 9 years.

The whole idea of having 250,000 trained conscripts integrated into your armed forces but then when the war comes having the units that will go to war expel them from their ranks and leave them at home is bizarre.

It is such a bizarre idea that in February when the first reports were coming in that the Russian military had gone in without its conscript component, I disregarded them. — Something that dumb was just too insane to believe.

It’s not until March that I tackle the conscript blunder head-on:

This conscript ban (if real) is yet another way in which Putin is hamstringing the military and thinking he can wage a halfway war.

There is actually something very disturbing about that. Putin’s thesis is that a Russian-Ukrainian war is a fratricidal war between brothers, between one and the same people even. So what excuse is there for Russia to not do everything in her power to create the overmatch that puts Ukraine out of its misery quickly?

What possible excuse can there be to juggle the needs of the war against trifles such as the state breaking its word to conscripts and their mothers? (A state that lies all the time BTW, as they all do.) All this seeming high-minded stuff Putin started the war with sounds nice enough on paper, but what it does in the real world is prolong the bloodletting and ultimately drives up the price for everyone involved.

If you are truly high-minded then just don’t escalate.

But if you do escalate, then do it the correct way — going all in and giving it your all.

No willful self-delusion. No drawing up of a plan that has the theoretical potential of delivering a near bloodless resolution, but that has nearly zero chance of actually panning out. (And leaves you maldeployed when it fails.) Draw a plan that is actually going to work in the real world that limits the loss of life as much as possible within the constraints of an actually workable, realistic plan.

Now that a year into the war Ukraine has doubled the size of its armed forces, and Russia has belatedly mobilized, whether 150,00 Russian conscripts in the land combat arms are deployed or not is something of a moot point. It won’t mean much either way.

But Moscow falling upon Ukraine in February with the 200,000 it brought, or with the 350,000 it could have brought, could have made a world of difference at the time. You’re talking about the difference between sending the Russian ground army to face roughly equal numbers and sending it to face half its number.

That’s the difference between setting up an early slugfest and setting up early victories that are almost trivially easy.

Do that and you’re entering 2023 in a completely different position with Kharkov and Zaporozhye in Russian encirclement, with Russia still having a bridgehead on the right bank, and with Nikolayev and Dnipro probably likewise encircled.

As part of its latest military reform and expansion, Russia will raise the draft age from 18 to 21.

I wrote in October that since Putin has decided that 18-year-old conscripts are politically undeployable it makes no sense to keep them in the army:

It is difficult to see why the draft is going ahead at all. Logically conscripts should have been committed to war from day 1, before the mobilization was even decreed. But since Putin has now decreed mobilization, but maintains that serving conscripts remain non-deployable they have become dead weight.

The capacity of any military to equip, train and integrate men is limited. Especially in short order and on a budget. Every conscript is taking up training ground capacity, instructor time, equipment, weapon, and a slot in an existing unit that could have gone to a mobik, but only one of the two is actually deployable.

If Russia is in a war (is she??), it is pointless for her to be inducting into the military masses of personnel who are a priori banned from the war. Especially when those who are deployed are short of everything.

If Putin insists that conscripts are non-deployable (an absurd stance) then they don’t have a role in the military. At least for the heavily pressured land combat arms, if they can not be part of the rotation then there is very little rationale to spend resources on them. Logic dictates that draft ought to be suspended indefinitely and the freed-up resources spent on mobiki.

Instead of abolishing mandatory military service, Moscow will make the draft kick in at 21 years of age. This will produce conscript soldiers that are politically more deployable than the current crop of 18-year-olds.

However, the vast majority of current 21-year-olds have already served when they were 18 or 19 and can’t be recalled for a 2nd term. So even in theory, this reform can’t kick in for at least 3 more years when the present unrecruited 17 and 18-year-olds turn 21.

In practice it will take even longer. RUMOD says the age will be raised gradually — because the military doesn’t want to go 3 years with zero conscripts.

For example, if each class is retained for 18 months, rather than the current 12, then each next class can be 6 months older than the previous.

So then in about 3 to 9 years, Russia will finally have a conscript corps that Putin is politically comfortable using in Ukraine.

Better late than never?

VVP has been in power for 23 years. Donbass War started 8 years ago. And the Ukraine War 1 year ago.

Some might build an army ahead of a war. Putin started an “SMO”. Waited a year. Then started the reform that will produce an army for the SMO in 3 to 9 years.

The whole idea of having 250,000 trained conscripts integrated into your armed forces but then when the war comes having the units that will go to war expel them from their ranks and leave them at home is bizarre.

It is such a bizarre idea that in February when the first reports were coming in that the Russian military had gone in without its conscript component, I disregarded them. — Something that dumb was just too insane to believe.

It’s not until March that I tackle the conscript blunder head-on:

This conscript ban (if real) is yet another way in which Putin is hamstringing the military and thinking he can wage a halfway war.

There is actually something very disturbing about that. Putin’s thesis is that a Russian-Ukrainian war is a fratricidal war between brothers, between one and the same people even. So what excuse is there for Russia to not do everything in her power to create the overmatch that puts Ukraine out of its misery quickly?

What possible excuse can there be to juggle the needs of the war against trifles such as the state breaking its word to conscripts and their mothers? (A state that lies all the time BTW, as they all do.) All this seeming high-minded stuff Putin started the war with sounds nice enough on paper, but what it does in the real world is prolong the bloodletting and ultimately drives up the price for everyone involved.

If you are truly high-minded then just don’t escalate.

But if you do escalate, then do it the correct way — going all in and giving it your all.

No willful self-delusion. No drawing up of a plan that has the theoretical potential of delivering a near bloodless resolution, but that has nearly zero chance of actually panning out. (And leaves you maldeployed when it fails.) Draw a plan that is actually going to work in the real world that limits the loss of life as much as possible within the constraints of an actually workable, realistic plan.

Now that a year into the war Ukraine has doubled the size of its armed forces, and Russia has belatedly mobilized, whether 150,00 Russian conscripts in the land combat arms are deployed or not is something of a moot point. It won’t mean much either way.

But Moscow falling upon Ukraine in February with the 200,000 it brought, or with the 350,000 it could have brought, could have made a world of difference at the time. You’re talking about the difference between sending the Russian ground army to face roughly equal numbers and sending it to face half its number.

That’s the difference between setting up an early slugfest and setting up early victories that are almost trivially easy.

Do that and you’re entering 2023 in a completely different position with Kharkov and Zaporozhye in Russian encirclement, with Russia still having a bridgehead on the right bank, and with Nikolayev and Dnipro probably likewise encircled.

Marko Marjanović - Sun Jan 08, 2023 17:26

Source: Edward Slavsquat

AE-recommended Russian war blogger Murz (“War cat Murz”) who is a volunteer in Lugansk wrote a 5000-word post on the state of the Russian front. The post was almost immediately censored by Roskomnadzor

But that didn’t matter. They could only get to his blog post, but his post on Telegram stayed up. The essay was highlighted by Strelkov as necessary reading and reposted by a host of other Russian war blogging Telegram channels.

The most interesting part of the article reports the Russian army is now running short on artillery shells “you can’t talk about it, because then someone will have to answer for it, but no one wants to”, up to the point of now using tanks in indirect fire mode as makeshift artillery. Murz criticizes this, pointing out that tanks fire shells at much higher velocities so their guns wear out much faster. He says all this is going to accomplish is that soon all these tanks are going to need a refit, and then there will be a shortage of tanks in addition to a shortage of artillery.

https://twitter.com/Roberto05246129/status/1607476490936926208

The first time we heard of a “shell hunger” on the Russian side was in early November when “War Gonzo” and Ramzan Kadyrov revealed that one of the reasons the Russian position in Kherson was untenable and warranted a withdrawal was because the Russians forces there didn’t have stable access to artillery ammunition. At the time I assumed that was because the Ukrainians had heavily damaged the bridges across the Dnieper, but it might have been that there was also already a shortage of shells just in general.

Since then several Russian Telegram channels have spoken up on the shell shortage, particularly in the last days of December. These include TopaZ (a fighter with Rusich volunteers in Lugansk), Two Majors, and Wagner’s Grey Zone.

This murmur on shell shortages seemingly forced Vladimir Putin himself to speak up on the matter. He stopped short of confirming that there is an ammo crisis of such proportions as to affect gun crews at the front, but in a televised event with the media he confirmed that Russia was indeed depleting its ammo stock.

At the same time, a video appeared in which what looks like a Wagner gun crew is cursing Gerasimov and complaining they have no shells with which to support their infantry in the Bakhmut meatgrinder. Some immediately proclaimed the video a fake — it was surely dastardly Ukrainians dressed up as Wagner! But then Prigozhin and Grey Zone made sure everyone knew it was legit. Prigozhin visited Bakhmut and sought out the very gunners who had made it and Grey Zone publicized that they repeated their complaints.

“But Prigozhin found these positions, arrived there and did not see “Ukrainian nationalists” there, but he saw his fighters, who confirmed the problem.”

https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1607341682906873857

Taken together, unless Murz, TopaZ, Grey Zone and Two Majors are all hallucinating at the same time, it all points to a severe shell hunger on the Russian side. (Hunger that Ukraine has been operating under since the start of the war.) I don’t think that the Russians are out of shells as such. But there is some Draconian rationing system in place now that means shells do not reach some gun crews, or in far smaller quantities than they are used to.

I can’t emphasize enough how shocking this is.

For one thing, the USSR left behind 30 million tons(!) of ammunition, much of it 152 mm shells (as many as 100 million rounds). What happened to all of it? Was it all destroyed, lost, or wasted to poor storage? (Probably yes. By 2013 just 2.6 million tons of useable ammo was accounted for.)

https://twitter.com/marmar_ae/status/1607665164689756164

Look, war places an enormous demand on shells and it takes gigantic industrial enterprises to keep those shells coming. For example, in WW2 one third of German and Soviet steel production was consumed by their respective ammunition makers. That is why shell crises are not unheard of. Especially famous ones occurred in early WW1.

But it is precisely because by 2022 everyone knows what a huge demand war places on shells that you would expect the kremlins would have handled this preemptively. If the Russian stockpile was this limited, then why during the summer as many as 60,000 were fired daily? That’s an incredibly high number, and it’s not as if they were consumed to some great effect. They caused some attrition, but the frontline barely moved. Just a little rationing and moderation back then could have postponed or spared the current crisis.

Instead, a limited resource was being consumed with wild abandon as if it were limitless in an uneconomical fashion and to diminishing returns. It could have been as easy as appointing a shells quartermaster who monitored the stockpile and controlled drawdowns.

https://twitter.com/devarbol/status/1607865584007680000

Also, it has been 10 months since the start of the war. If steps to ramp up production were taken immediately, by now there would have been some results. It’s one thing to run out of shells. That happens. It’s nobody’s fault. But it’s another thing to run out of shells because you didn’t do basic rationing ahead of time, and didn’t get serious about production expansion until well into the war. Putin hasn’t done so much as visited a defense plant in a photo-op until last month, and spent more than half a year downplaying the SMO as just one of the many parallel projects of the state.

https://twitter.com/powerfultakes/status/1608468948323909639

In the height of irony, in the spring and summer when the Russian military had the momentum and the shells, it didn’t have the manpower to properly exploit that. (And used up even more shells in a desperate bid to try to make up for the shortage of infantry.) But now that mobilization doubled its manpower, it no longer has the shells to properly support its men with fires. (And the professional component of the army that was left alone in the fight for so long has been significantly attrited and can’t lead with the same vigor as before.) Exactly what I have been warning about throughout the year has happened. By committing its resources piecemeal the Kremlin made sure they would be exhausted with the lowest return possible.

It’s interesting that after confirming that Russia was depleting its stocks, Putin went on to qualify that by saying that at least Russian manufacturing capabilities were expanding, while Ukraine’s military-industrial complex is falling apart:

https://twitter.com/PutinDirect/status/1607176492471013377

At this point, one has to ask if Vladimir Putin is a fool, or if he just plays one on TV. This is such a sleight of hand. Ukraine went through its artillery ammo stockpile in the first 6 weeks of the war, and produced its very first 152 mm shell only in November. Ukrainian defense industry has never been a factor in this equation. If Kiev was relying on Ukrainian shells this would have been an entirely different war. Ukrainian artillery fires past the first 6 weeks were sustained by Bulgarian, Czech, South Korean and especially American shells. The US has delivered 1 million shells, has another 3-4 million in storage and is taking steps to expand production from 15,000 monthly to 40,000. (And can order many more in plants in Europe and Asia.) That is what a Russian leader should be thinking of how to counter, not running victory laps over eliminating Ukrainian capabilities that never existed in the first place.

Shortly after, Viktor Murakhovsky (a defense pundit with strong establishment connections) and Rybar (perhaps the most popular Russian war-watching channel) also tackled the shells issue and confirmed a crisis:

“The reasons for this lie not only in the destruction of enterprises of the military-industrial complex, but also in the absence of an order for a large amount of ammunition from the Ministry of Defense due to the lack of such a huge expenditure in the KTO in the North Caucasus, operations in Syria and Donbass. Stocks for an operation of this level were more than enough, warehouses were not empty.”

“And the arsenals were thinned out in 2010-2011 at the direction of the former Minister of Defense. No one really carried out an audit, therefore, those samples that could have been safely delivered to the Syrian Arab Army in 2015 were also liquidated.

“But then came the turn of the SVO with a wild consumption of ammunition: firing 100k shells in a couple of days is commonplace. Warehouses began to empty, and the production of the pre-war level could not cover everything. The decision to expand production was made much later than necessary.”

The Kremlin didn’t expect a long war, didn’t plan for a long war, and didn’t prepare for a long war. The SMO was supposed to triumph in just days.

In his 5000-word critique Murz constantly returns to his refrain of “such levels of incompetence do not exist,” suggesting that the glaring deficiencies he chronicles are the result of sabotage. War blogger DonRF who is a Donetsk native, however, remembers that in 2014 he saw the same incomprehensible levels of incompetence on the Ukrainian side, which thus do not need to point to a betrayal.

Thus we have a pessimist who suspects intentional sabotage and an “optimist” who posits that the Russian war effort is simply just as incompetent as Ukrainians were 8 years ago. Uplifting stuff.

 


*Reportedly in 2020 Russia refurbished 300,000 artillery shells and manufactured 750,000 new ones in 2019. By contrast, the US is now in the process of ramping up production from 180,000 yearly to 480,000 yearly by 2024. In this context, Russian figures look good, until you calculate that at height of consumption, Russia was expending a year’s worth of production in three weeks and over 10% of its 10-15 million stockpile.

Source: Edward Slavsquat

AE-recommended Russian war blogger Murz (“War cat Murz”) who is a volunteer in Lugansk wrote a 5000-word post on the state of the Russian front. The post was almost immediately censored by Roskomnadzor

But that didn’t matter. They could only get to his blog post, but his post on Telegram stayed up. The essay was highlighted by Strelkov as necessary reading and reposted by a host of other Russian war blogging Telegram channels.

The most interesting part of the article reports the Russian army is now running short on artillery shells “you can’t talk about it, because then someone will have to answer for it, but no one wants to”, up to the point of now using tanks in indirect fire mode as makeshift artillery. Murz criticizes this, pointing out that tanks fire shells at much higher velocities so their guns wear out much faster. He says all this is going to accomplish is that soon all these tanks are going to need a refit, and then there will be a shortage of tanks in addition to a shortage of artillery.

https://twitter.com/Roberto05246129/status/1607476490936926208

The first time we heard of a “shell hunger” on the Russian side was in early November when “War Gonzo” and Ramzan Kadyrov revealed that one of the reasons the Russian position in Kherson was untenable and warranted a withdrawal was because the Russians forces there didn’t have stable access to artillery ammunition. At the time I assumed that was because the Ukrainians had heavily damaged the bridges across the Dnieper, but it might have been that there was also already a shortage of shells just in general.

Since then several Russian Telegram channels have spoken up on the shell shortage, particularly in the last days of December. These include TopaZ (a fighter with Rusich volunteers in Lugansk), Two Majors, and Wagner’s Grey Zone.

This murmur on shell shortages seemingly forced Vladimir Putin himself to speak up on the matter. He stopped short of confirming that there is an ammo crisis of such proportions as to affect gun crews at the front, but in a televised event with the media he confirmed that Russia was indeed depleting its ammo stock.

At the same time, a video appeared in which what looks like a Wagner gun crew is cursing Gerasimov and complaining they have no shells with which to support their infantry in the Bakhmut meatgrinder. Some immediately proclaimed the video a fake — it was surely dastardly Ukrainians dressed up as Wagner! But then Prigozhin and Grey Zone made sure everyone knew it was legit. Prigozhin visited Bakhmut and sought out the very gunners who had made it and Grey Zone publicized that they repeated their complaints.

“But Prigozhin found these positions, arrived there and did not see “Ukrainian nationalists” there, but he saw his fighters, who confirmed the problem.”

https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1607341682906873857

Taken together, unless Murz, TopaZ, Grey Zone and Two Majors are all hallucinating at the same time, it all points to a severe shell hunger on the Russian side. (Hunger that Ukraine has been operating under since the start of the war.) I don’t think that the Russians are out of shells as such. But there is some Draconian rationing system in place now that means shells do not reach some gun crews, or in far smaller quantities than they are used to.

I can’t emphasize enough how shocking this is.

For one thing, the USSR left behind 30 million tons(!) of ammunition, much of it 152 mm shells (as many as 100 million rounds). What happened to all of it? Was it all destroyed, lost, or wasted to poor storage? (Probably yes. By 2013 just 2.6 million tons of useable ammo was accounted for.)

https://twitter.com/marmar_ae/status/1607665164689756164

Look, war places an enormous demand on shells and it takes gigantic industrial enterprises to keep those shells coming. For example, in WW2 one third of German and Soviet steel production was consumed by their respective ammunition makers. That is why shell crises are not unheard of. Especially famous ones occurred in early WW1.

But it is precisely because by 2022 everyone knows what a huge demand war places on shells that you would expect the kremlins would have handled this preemptively. If the Russian stockpile was this limited, then why during the summer as many as 60,000 were fired daily? That’s an incredibly high number, and it’s not as if they were consumed to some great effect. They caused some attrition, but the frontline barely moved. Just a little rationing and moderation back then could have postponed or spared the current crisis.

Instead, a limited resource was being consumed with wild abandon as if it were limitless in an uneconomical fashion and to diminishing returns. It could have been as easy as appointing a shells quartermaster who monitored the stockpile and controlled drawdowns.

https://twitter.com/devarbol/status/1607865584007680000

Also, it has been 10 months since the start of the war. If steps to ramp up production were taken immediately, by now there would have been some results. It’s one thing to run out of shells. That happens. It’s nobody’s fault. But it’s another thing to run out of shells because you didn’t do basic rationing ahead of time, and didn’t get serious about production expansion until well into the war. Putin hasn’t done so much as visited a defense plant in a photo-op until last month, and spent more than half a year downplaying the SMO as just one of the many parallel projects of the state.

https://twitter.com/powerfultakes/status/1608468948323909639

In the height of irony, in the spring and summer when the Russian military had the momentum and the shells, it didn’t have the manpower to properly exploit that. (And used up even more shells in a desperate bid to try to make up for the shortage of infantry.) But now that mobilization doubled its manpower, it no longer has the shells to properly support its men with fires. (And the professional component of the army that was left alone in the fight for so long has been significantly attrited and can’t lead with the same vigor as before.) Exactly what I have been warning about throughout the year has happened. By committing its resources piecemeal the Kremlin made sure they would be exhausted with the lowest return possible.

It’s interesting that after confirming that Russia was depleting its stocks, Putin went on to qualify that by saying that at least Russian manufacturing capabilities were expanding, while Ukraine’s military-industrial complex is falling apart:

https://twitter.com/PutinDirect/status/1607176492471013377

At this point, one has to ask if Vladimir Putin is a fool, or if he just plays one on TV. This is such a sleight of hand. Ukraine went through its artillery ammo stockpile in the first 6 weeks of the war, and produced its very first 152 mm shell only in November. Ukrainian defense industry has never been a factor in this equation. If Kiev was relying on Ukrainian shells this would have been an entirely different war. Ukrainian artillery fires past the first 6 weeks were sustained by Bulgarian, Czech, South Korean and especially American shells. The US has delivered 1 million shells, has another 3-4 million in storage and is taking steps to expand production from 15,000 monthly to 40,000. (And can order many more in plants in Europe and Asia.) That is what a Russian leader should be thinking of how to counter, not running victory laps over eliminating Ukrainian capabilities that never existed in the first place.

Shortly after, Viktor Murakhovsky (a defense pundit with strong establishment connections) and Rybar (perhaps the most popular Russian war-watching channel) also tackled the shells issue and confirmed a crisis:

“The reasons for this lie not only in the destruction of enterprises of the military-industrial complex, but also in the absence of an order for a large amount of ammunition from the Ministry of Defense due to the lack of such a huge expenditure in the KTO in the North Caucasus, operations in Syria and Donbass. Stocks for an operation of this level were more than enough, warehouses were not empty.”

“And the arsenals were thinned out in 2010-2011 at the direction of the former Minister of Defense. No one really carried out an audit, therefore, those samples that could have been safely delivered to the Syrian Arab Army in 2015 were also liquidated.

“But then came the turn of the SVO with a wild consumption of ammunition: firing 100k shells in a couple of days is commonplace. Warehouses began to empty, and the production of the pre-war level could not cover everything. The decision to expand production was made much later than necessary.”

The Kremlin didn’t expect a long war, didn’t plan for a long war, and didn’t prepare for a long war. The SMO was supposed to triumph in just days.

In his 5000-word critique Murz constantly returns to his refrain of “such levels of incompetence do not exist,” suggesting that the glaring deficiencies he chronicles are the result of sabotage. War blogger DonRF who is a Donetsk native, however, remembers that in 2014 he saw the same incomprehensible levels of incompetence on the Ukrainian side, which thus do not need to point to a betrayal.

Thus we have a pessimist who suspects intentional sabotage and an “optimist” who posits that the Russian war effort is simply just as incompetent as Ukrainians were 8 years ago. Uplifting stuff.

 


*Reportedly in 2020 Russia refurbished 300,000 artillery shells and manufactured 750,000 new ones in 2019. By contrast, the US is now in the process of ramping up production from 180,000 yearly to 480,000 yearly by 2024. In this context, Russian figures look good, until you calculate that at height of consumption, Russia was expending a year’s worth of production in three weeks and over 10% of its 10-15 million stockpile.

Roman Skomorokhov - Sat Jan 07, 2023 18:28

Source: Voennoe Obozrenie

Machine translated from Russian

The repair plant needed by the front went under the hammer for metal

Despite all the arguments and requests of the committee to save the plant, headed by the former director, Colonel Alexander Shinkarenko, Rostec sold the 9th CARZ for its further disposal.

Let's start with an article on the Military Review, which was read by almost a million people and which caused a strong reaction.

Why does GABTU not want to repair military equipmentYes, the web archive because we had to pull the article from publication.

What started next?

Then there was a wave raised by several media and Saratov TV channels, the governor of the Saratov region Roman Busargin stood up for the plant, it came to Moscow.

In general, everything was quite joyful and promising: the governor was “for” the revival of the plant, these are jobs, this is money for the budget, in general, everyone who fought for CARH No. 9 noted the active and positive work of Roman Busargin. He raised the deputies of the State Duma, the deputies got involved in the work, there was a meeting with Volodin, who promised to support fellow countrymen (Volodin himself was a native of the Saratov region) and kept his word.

On November 1, 2022, State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin meets with Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov.

Many people talked about this, it’s enough for us that State Duma deputy Nikolai Pankov wrote on his telegram channel and another deputy, Alexander Strelyukhin, whom Volodin appointed to oversee the issues of CARZ No. 9 and the locomotive plant, gave an interview in which he said:

"Vyacheslav Viktorovich instructed to take this topic into work. Grateful for the trust. She is very close to me, she worked as a director at the Locomotive Plant, she is also well acquainted with the activities of the 9th CARZ. Ready to work for results."

 

What Volodin and Chemezov were talking about, we will never know. And the result was as follows: in the fire order, CARZ No. 9 was sold.

But before that, following the results of the meeting, a commission was sent to the plant, headed by a representative of KamAZ JSC Petrushenko D.V., Remdiesel employees took part in the commission.

The commission, having visited the plant, presented a report from which it followed that there was nothing at the plant except for two drunken guards and three dogs. The information was received by the initiator of the revival of the plant, Colonel Shinkarenko, from the representative of JSC "High Precision Complexes" Ryazantsev, who was also contacted with the issue of taking CARZ No. 9 under his wing. Ryazantsev was surprised when Shinkarenko presented him with documents showing that instead of one plant there were TWO, since CARZ No. 9 also has a branch in the city of Samara, the former 16th ARZ. And five hundred items of equipment and property.

 

In general - not only walls.

JSC "NPO High Precision Complexes" did not believe the reports of "KamAZ" and sent its commission, headed by A.V. Shevtsov. True, "Complexes" would need a plant with high-tech machines for the production of spare parts, therefore it did not grow together with the VTK, to our great regret.

Sale

And on December 30, 2022, information was published (Appendix 1) that JSC "9 CARH" was sold to a private entrepreneur from Tver, Zaitsev Nikolai Kirillovich.

IP Zaitsev Nikolai Kirillovich was registered on March 14, 2022.

It is difficult to judge how the declared retail trade via the Internet was carried out by IE Zaitsev, apparently to the envy of many, because Zaitsev laid out the 245,035,555 rubles 55 kopecks offered by him as the only bidder for the plant.

However, it follows from the text that IP Zaitsev acts in the interests of Engelssky Metal LLC (clause 6 on sheet No. 2).

 

As follows from the site, the company does not repair equipment. And the plant acquires solely in order to destroy it. For Engels Metall has been operating in the market of ferrous and non-ferrous metals since 2018 and is part of the financial and industrial group of companies.

Dismantling of metal structures, buildings and structures is an integral part of the process of selling rolled metal, harvesting and processing scrap. EM has a lot of experience in this area.”

And as last year, the girls from the press service of RT-Capital assured me ... How they try to find a buyer for a completely unnecessary and unprofitable plant in such a way as to save and increase, continue operation, and so on.

The plant was sold for subsequent destruction. If you follow link No. 1, then there, in the text of the document, you can see a link to a list of everything that is included in the lot.

And there you can see more than 400 positions. Buildings, machinery, machines, cranes... It's worth taking a look at the list to see how it fits "blank walls".

The initial price of Lot No. 1 is 288,274,901.40 rubles. IP Zaitsev offered 245,035,555.55 rubles on December 23, 2022, and his offer was accepted immediately (December 26, 2022), about which a protocol was drawn up, certified by both the seal and the electronic signature of the auction organizer.

And this is where the questions begin.

According to the certificate submitted to the governor of the Saratov region, the authorized capital of JSC "9 CARZ" together with a branch in Samara is 817,668.0 million rubles.

Accounts payable is: 1,211,137,996 rubles. A huge figure, but:

- debt to the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation - 738,531,229 rubles;
- debt to the State Corporation "RosTech" - 450,816,061 rubles;
- the share of other creditors accounts for 21,790,675 rubles.

It turns out that the amount offered for the liquidation of the plant is about a fifth of the entire debt.

The plant, which could be repaired according to a certificate signed by Colonel Alexander Shinkarenko, the capacity of the plant, even after they were reviewed by the bankruptcy trustee, remained such that it would be possible to repair up to 300 BMP-1 or BMP-2 vehicles a year when working in one shift and 450-500 machines when working in two shifts.

Shinkarenko is sure that it is realistic to equip the plant to work in two shifts. And then the combat vehicles can be repaired at a small distance from the front line.

Let's take the railway junction of Likhaya station as the point of departure, as a place capable of loading equipment onto platforms with maximum speed and convenience and having the ability to send equipment to different regions of the country.

From Likhoi to Engels by rail about 650 km. Let's look at the factories that will be able to repair the same infantry fighting vehicles.

The nearest one is 163 BTRZ in st. Kushchevskaya, Krasnodar Territory. But this relatively new repair plant (2009) is a structural subdivision of Uralvagonzavod, that is, it is focused primarily on tanks .

Next, we have the 114th BTRZ in the city of Yekaterinburg. Almost 2000 km from Likhoi.

And the last place is 560 armored personnel carriers in the village of Vozzhaevka, Belogorsk district, Amur region. About 6,000 km.

For certain reasons (government order for the production of new equipment), we do not even consider KurganMashZavod.

Obviously, the plant in Engels could save just a lot of money and (which is no less important) time on transporting broken equipment to the place of repair.

Oh yes, I forgot. We will build two new repair plants! And in a couple of years they will definitely build it.

***

I am very grateful to fate for giving me the opportunity to at least somehow help real people with a capital letter - the council of veterans of the 9th CARZ, headed by a real officer. Comrade Colonel Alexander Shinkarenko will forever remain for me an example of honor and service to his army. I was very glad to be in the same trench with him.

And I am very happy for the residents of the Saratov region, who have such a governor. Roman Busargin is an example of how to rush into battle for the interests of your region. Unfortunately, even the powers and capabilities of the governor are not enough.

Links:
Bidding results .
IP Zaitsev, who bought the
Engels metal plant

Source: Voennoe Obozrenie

Machine translated from Russian

The repair plant needed by the front went under the hammer for metal

Despite all the arguments and requests of the committee to save the plant, headed by the former director, Colonel Alexander Shinkarenko, Rostec sold the 9th CARZ for its further disposal.

Let's start with an article on the Military Review, which was read by almost a million people and which caused a strong reaction.

Why does GABTU not want to repair military equipmentYes, the web archive because we had to pull the article from publication.

What started next?

Then there was a wave raised by several media and Saratov TV channels, the governor of the Saratov region Roman Busargin stood up for the plant, it came to Moscow.

In general, everything was quite joyful and promising: the governor was “for” the revival of the plant, these are jobs, this is money for the budget, in general, everyone who fought for CARH No. 9 noted the active and positive work of Roman Busargin. He raised the deputies of the State Duma, the deputies got involved in the work, there was a meeting with Volodin, who promised to support fellow countrymen (Volodin himself was a native of the Saratov region) and kept his word.

On November 1, 2022, State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin meets with Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov.

Many people talked about this, it’s enough for us that State Duma deputy Nikolai Pankov wrote on his telegram channel and another deputy, Alexander Strelyukhin, whom Volodin appointed to oversee the issues of CARZ No. 9 and the locomotive plant, gave an interview in which he said:

"Vyacheslav Viktorovich instructed to take this topic into work. Grateful for the trust. She is very close to me, she worked as a director at the Locomotive Plant, she is also well acquainted with the activities of the 9th CARZ. Ready to work for results."

 

What Volodin and Chemezov were talking about, we will never know. And the result was as follows: in the fire order, CARZ No. 9 was sold.

But before that, following the results of the meeting, a commission was sent to the plant, headed by a representative of KamAZ JSC Petrushenko D.V., Remdiesel employees took part in the commission.

The commission, having visited the plant, presented a report from which it followed that there was nothing at the plant except for two drunken guards and three dogs. The information was received by the initiator of the revival of the plant, Colonel Shinkarenko, from the representative of JSC "High Precision Complexes" Ryazantsev, who was also contacted with the issue of taking CARZ No. 9 under his wing. Ryazantsev was surprised when Shinkarenko presented him with documents showing that instead of one plant there were TWO, since CARZ No. 9 also has a branch in the city of Samara, the former 16th ARZ. And five hundred items of equipment and property.

 

In general - not only walls.

JSC "NPO High Precision Complexes" did not believe the reports of "KamAZ" and sent its commission, headed by A.V. Shevtsov. True, "Complexes" would need a plant with high-tech machines for the production of spare parts, therefore it did not grow together with the VTK, to our great regret.

Sale

And on December 30, 2022, information was published (Appendix 1) that JSC "9 CARH" was sold to a private entrepreneur from Tver, Zaitsev Nikolai Kirillovich.

IP Zaitsev Nikolai Kirillovich was registered on March 14, 2022.

It is difficult to judge how the declared retail trade via the Internet was carried out by IE Zaitsev, apparently to the envy of many, because Zaitsev laid out the 245,035,555 rubles 55 kopecks offered by him as the only bidder for the plant.

However, it follows from the text that IP Zaitsev acts in the interests of Engelssky Metal LLC (clause 6 on sheet No. 2).

 

As follows from the site, the company does not repair equipment. And the plant acquires solely in order to destroy it. For Engels Metall has been operating in the market of ferrous and non-ferrous metals since 2018 and is part of the financial and industrial group of companies.

Dismantling of metal structures, buildings and structures is an integral part of the process of selling rolled metal, harvesting and processing scrap. EM has a lot of experience in this area.”

And as last year, the girls from the press service of RT-Capital assured me ... How they try to find a buyer for a completely unnecessary and unprofitable plant in such a way as to save and increase, continue operation, and so on.

The plant was sold for subsequent destruction. If you follow link No. 1, then there, in the text of the document, you can see a link to a list of everything that is included in the lot.

And there you can see more than 400 positions. Buildings, machinery, machines, cranes... It's worth taking a look at the list to see how it fits "blank walls".

The initial price of Lot No. 1 is 288,274,901.40 rubles. IP Zaitsev offered 245,035,555.55 rubles on December 23, 2022, and his offer was accepted immediately (December 26, 2022), about which a protocol was drawn up, certified by both the seal and the electronic signature of the auction organizer.

And this is where the questions begin.

According to the certificate submitted to the governor of the Saratov region, the authorized capital of JSC "9 CARZ" together with a branch in Samara is 817,668.0 million rubles.

Accounts payable is: 1,211,137,996 rubles. A huge figure, but:

- debt to the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation - 738,531,229 rubles;
- debt to the State Corporation "RosTech" - 450,816,061 rubles;
- the share of other creditors accounts for 21,790,675 rubles.

It turns out that the amount offered for the liquidation of the plant is about a fifth of the entire debt.

The plant, which could be repaired according to a certificate signed by Colonel Alexander Shinkarenko, the capacity of the plant, even after they were reviewed by the bankruptcy trustee, remained such that it would be possible to repair up to 300 BMP-1 or BMP-2 vehicles a year when working in one shift and 450-500 machines when working in two shifts.

Shinkarenko is sure that it is realistic to equip the plant to work in two shifts. And then the combat vehicles can be repaired at a small distance from the front line.

Let's take the railway junction of Likhaya station as the point of departure, as a place capable of loading equipment onto platforms with maximum speed and convenience and having the ability to send equipment to different regions of the country.

From Likhoi to Engels by rail about 650 km. Let's look at the factories that will be able to repair the same infantry fighting vehicles.

The nearest one is 163 BTRZ in st. Kushchevskaya, Krasnodar Territory. But this relatively new repair plant (2009) is a structural subdivision of Uralvagonzavod, that is, it is focused primarily on tanks .

Next, we have the 114th BTRZ in the city of Yekaterinburg. Almost 2000 km from Likhoi.

And the last place is 560 armored personnel carriers in the village of Vozzhaevka, Belogorsk district, Amur region. About 6,000 km.

For certain reasons (government order for the production of new equipment), we do not even consider KurganMashZavod.

Obviously, the plant in Engels could save just a lot of money and (which is no less important) time on transporting broken equipment to the place of repair.

Oh yes, I forgot. We will build two new repair plants! And in a couple of years they will definitely build it.

***

I am very grateful to fate for giving me the opportunity to at least somehow help real people with a capital letter - the council of veterans of the 9th CARZ, headed by a real officer. Comrade Colonel Alexander Shinkarenko will forever remain for me an example of honor and service to his army. I was very glad to be in the same trench with him.

And I am very happy for the residents of the Saratov region, who have such a governor. Roman Busargin is an example of how to rush into battle for the interests of your region. Unfortunately, even the powers and capabilities of the governor are not enough.

Links:
Bidding results .
IP Zaitsev, who bought the
Engels metal plant

Rebecca R. Ruiz - Fri Jan 06, 2023 11:40

Source: The New York Times

In recent weeks, Nord Stream AG, which is majority-owned by a Kremlin-controlled company, has begun pricing out the cost to repair the pipe and restore gas flow, according to a person briefed on the work who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about it publicly. One repair estimate starts at about $500 million, the person said. Consultants for Russia are also studying how long the damaged pipes can withstand saltwater exposure. The inquiries raise the question of why, if Russia bombed its own pipelines, it would begin the expensive work of repairing them.

But like any good mystery story, the sabotage has layers of intrigue and multiple players with degrees of motive and ability. Even the decision by the Swedish government to keep details of its inquiry secret from Western allies has prompted whispered speculation that perhaps investigators have cracked the case and are strategically keeping quiet.

Not so, Mr. Stenling said. “We have no concrete evidence,” he said. “But hopefully we will.”

As for his government’s choice to keep its cards close, Mr. Stenling said: “The entire investigation is unusual.”

Nord Stream encompasses two projects, each a pair of concrete-encased steel pipes nearly four feet in diameter and more than 700 miles long.

Just about everyone else in Europe, along with the United States, objected. A senior Polish official even compared the pipeline deal to the pre-World War II pact between Hitler and Stalin that carved up Poland.

...

Last year, Ukrainian energy regulators sent a 13-page letter to Poland as part of a coordinated effort to stop the new pipeline from coming online. Nord Stream II “will negatively impact on Ukraine’s national security,” read the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. The letter also warned of economic consequences for Ukraine, since Russian companies still pay to send gas through Ukrainian pipes.

Even after Russia invaded, a Ukrainian government document obtained by The Times shows that Ukraine expected to continue charging Russian companies, including state-owned Gazprom and Rosneft, to transmit gas during the first half of 2022. Under its contract, Ukraine receives an average of $1 billion a year in transit fees.

So the pipelines had no shortage of adversaries.

Source: The New York Times

In recent weeks, Nord Stream AG, which is majority-owned by a Kremlin-controlled company, has begun pricing out the cost to repair the pipe and restore gas flow, according to a person briefed on the work who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about it publicly. One repair estimate starts at about $500 million, the person said. Consultants for Russia are also studying how long the damaged pipes can withstand saltwater exposure. The inquiries raise the question of why, if Russia bombed its own pipelines, it would begin the expensive work of repairing them.

But like any good mystery story, the sabotage has layers of intrigue and multiple players with degrees of motive and ability. Even the decision by the Swedish government to keep details of its inquiry secret from Western allies has prompted whispered speculation that perhaps investigators have cracked the case and are strategically keeping quiet.

Not so, Mr. Stenling said. “We have no concrete evidence,” he said. “But hopefully we will.”

As for his government’s choice to keep its cards close, Mr. Stenling said: “The entire investigation is unusual.”

Nord Stream encompasses two projects, each a pair of concrete-encased steel pipes nearly four feet in diameter and more than 700 miles long.

Just about everyone else in Europe, along with the United States, objected. A senior Polish official even compared the pipeline deal to the pre-World War II pact between Hitler and Stalin that carved up Poland.

...

Last year, Ukrainian energy regulators sent a 13-page letter to Poland as part of a coordinated effort to stop the new pipeline from coming online. Nord Stream II “will negatively impact on Ukraine’s national security,” read the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. The letter also warned of economic consequences for Ukraine, since Russian companies still pay to send gas through Ukrainian pipes.

Even after Russia invaded, a Ukrainian government document obtained by The Times shows that Ukraine expected to continue charging Russian companies, including state-owned Gazprom and Rosneft, to transmit gas during the first half of 2022. Under its contract, Ukraine receives an average of $1 billion a year in transit fees.

So the pipelines had no shortage of adversaries.

Dave Lawler - Fri Jan 06, 2023 10:48

Source: Axios

The U.S. is following the lead of Venezuela's opposition lawmakers and no longer considering Juan Guaidó as the country's legitimate leader after the opposition-controlled National Assembly voted to dissolve the interim government, a senior U.S. State Department official confirmed to Axios on Wednesday.

Guaidó never truly held the levers of power in Caracas, and his support with the public and within the fractured opposition had been slipping for years. But U.S. policy and, crucially, the opposition's claim to billions in Venezuelan assets overseas, were still based around the premise of Guaidó's legitimacy.

Opposition lawmakers voted 72-29 on Friday to pull the plug on the "interim presidency," four years after the Trump administration and dozens of other countries had backed Guaidó's bid to displace Nicolás Maduro.

  • Guaidó's allies warned that the move would compromise the opposition's international legitimacy and risk the overseas assets falling into Maduro's hands.
  • But others in the opposition noted that Guaidó's government had failed to produce democratic elections and was never intended to be permanent.

The step put the U.S. in an awkward position. While the Biden administration has softened its approach to Maduro and promoted dialogue with the regime, it had continued to treat Guaidó as its primary interlocutor — even as governments in Europe and Latin America stopped recognizing him.

  • After the vote, spokespeople for the White House and State Department declined to say directly whether the U.S. was dropping its recognition of Guaidó. Instead, they said the U.S. recognized the National Assembly elected in 2015, which Guaidó had led, as Venezuela's "only remaining democratically elected institution."
  • However, the senior State Department official told Axios on Wednesday: "The 2015 National Assembly recognizes Guaidó as one of its members, not as Interim President, as the Interim Government no longer exists. So we’re following their lead."
  • "The National Assembly is currently in the midst of making internal decisions regarding its own leadership, so we’re going to wait and see how that plays out," the official said.
  • The U.S. will continue to communicate with Guaidó and other "likeminded" members of the opposition, the official added.

Guaidó's presidency became a "self-perpetuating thesis," said Phil Gunson, an International Crisis Group analyst in Caracas.

  • His mission to quickly replace Maduro had failed, he'd lost public confidence, and he lacked the support of three of the four major opposition factions — but his international backing and control of some government assets seemed to make him immovable, Gunson told Axios.
  • Finally, though, opposition lawmakers decided to "chop off the afflicted limb" and accept the "painful" consequences, Gunson said, adding that it remains to be seen whether the dissolution of the interim government will have any bearing on court cases regarding gold reserves held in the U.K. or control of oil refiner Citgo.

The National Assembly, which convenes over Zoom because much of the opposition is now in exile, is expected to select its new leadership this week.

  • While Guaidó derived his claim to the presidency on the assembly leader's place in the presidential line of succession, that model has now been scrapped.
  • The opposition remains divided and appears unlikely to rally around one single figure in the near term. There may be no clear opposition leader until candidates are selected for the presidential elections planned for 2024.

Source: Axios

The U.S. is following the lead of Venezuela's opposition lawmakers and no longer considering Juan Guaidó as the country's legitimate leader after the opposition-controlled National Assembly voted to dissolve the interim government, a senior U.S. State Department official confirmed to Axios on Wednesday.

Guaidó never truly held the levers of power in Caracas, and his support with the public and within the fractured opposition had been slipping for years. But U.S. policy and, crucially, the opposition's claim to billions in Venezuelan assets overseas, were still based around the premise of Guaidó's legitimacy.

Opposition lawmakers voted 72-29 on Friday to pull the plug on the "interim presidency," four years after the Trump administration and dozens of other countries had backed Guaidó's bid to displace Nicolás Maduro.

  • Guaidó's allies warned that the move would compromise the opposition's international legitimacy and risk the overseas assets falling into Maduro's hands.
  • But others in the opposition noted that Guaidó's government had failed to produce democratic elections and was never intended to be permanent.

The step put the U.S. in an awkward position. While the Biden administration has softened its approach to Maduro and promoted dialogue with the regime, it had continued to treat Guaidó as its primary interlocutor — even as governments in Europe and Latin America stopped recognizing him.

  • After the vote, spokespeople for the White House and State Department declined to say directly whether the U.S. was dropping its recognition of Guaidó. Instead, they said the U.S. recognized the National Assembly elected in 2015, which Guaidó had led, as Venezuela's "only remaining democratically elected institution."
  • However, the senior State Department official told Axios on Wednesday: "The 2015 National Assembly recognizes Guaidó as one of its members, not as Interim President, as the Interim Government no longer exists. So we’re following their lead."
  • "The National Assembly is currently in the midst of making internal decisions regarding its own leadership, so we’re going to wait and see how that plays out," the official said.
  • The U.S. will continue to communicate with Guaidó and other "likeminded" members of the opposition, the official added.

Guaidó's presidency became a "self-perpetuating thesis," said Phil Gunson, an International Crisis Group analyst in Caracas.

  • His mission to quickly replace Maduro had failed, he'd lost public confidence, and he lacked the support of three of the four major opposition factions — but his international backing and control of some government assets seemed to make him immovable, Gunson told Axios.
  • Finally, though, opposition lawmakers decided to "chop off the afflicted limb" and accept the "painful" consequences, Gunson said, adding that it remains to be seen whether the dissolution of the interim government will have any bearing on court cases regarding gold reserves held in the U.K. or control of oil refiner Citgo.

The National Assembly, which convenes over Zoom because much of the opposition is now in exile, is expected to select its new leadership this week.

  • While Guaidó derived his claim to the presidency on the assembly leader's place in the presidential line of succession, that model has now been scrapped.
  • The opposition remains divided and appears unlikely to rally around one single figure in the near term. There may be no clear opposition leader until candidates are selected for the presidential elections planned for 2024.

Anti-Empire >>

© 2001-2023 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy