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‘Take them all f**king out!’: Russian commander ‘orders his soldiers to shoot at Mariupol civilians’ | Daily Mail Online


Source: ‘Take them all f**king out!’: Russian commander ‘orders his soldiers to shoot at Mariupol civilians’ | Daily Mail Online

A Russian commander allegedly ordered his troops to shoot at Ukrainian civilians near besieged Mariupol.

In a foul-mouthed radio dispatch intercepted by Ukraine’s SBU and published on the security service’s official Facebook account, an unnamed soldier details the positions of non-combatants to nearby troops in a village near the southern port city.

His superior then demands: ‘Take them all f**king out’, before doubling down on his bloodcurdling instructions as the troop says that two people emerging from a nearby grove were dressed in ‘civilian clothes’. The commander screams: ‘Off them all, f**k!’.

The port city of Mariupol has become a living hell for those still trapped there by Russian occupiers. Local officials estimate up to 5,000 have died from Moscow’s shelling, while 90 per cent of the city’s infrastructure has been destroyed.

In recent days, Ukraine’s security officials have warned that Russia is preparing an alleged false flag provocation in the besieged city of Mariupol in which they will accuse Ukrainian troops of committing atrocities against their own populace.

‘The main task of Russian propaganda today is to divert the attention of the audience, both international and domestic, as much as possible’, the SBU said.

‘According to existing data, the occupiers are preparing a large-scale falsification: They plan to collect the bodies of Mariupol residents killed by the Russians themselves, and present them as mass victims of the Ukrainian troops.

‘For this reason, there have been false theses recently that Ukrainians use peaceful residents as human shields.’



Leaked audio footage captured the moment a foul-mouthed Russian commander demanded his troops ‘open fire’ on civilians in the besieged city of Mariupol (pictured)


A Ukrainian serviceman examines destroyed Russian heavy armour near the capital of Kyiv

Incredible moment woman is pulled alive from rubble after Russian shelling in Luhansk as Putin’s forces ‘use mobile crematorium to erase evidence’ in Mariupol

A woman was pulled alive from the rubble of a home in Rubizhne after a Russian airstrike which killed a civilian, as Putin‘s forces continue to pound the east of Ukraine.

Emergency services shared photos this morning of the distressed woman buried under timber and rocks as they scrambled to free her following the latest savage attack.

Once she was pulled to safety yesterday afternoon, the woman was carried by rescuers to an ambulance and she is being treated at hospital.

The airstrike injured five people and seven more ‘extricated themselves from the rubble’, the local governor Sergiy Gaiday said.

Meanwhile, in Mariupol, the city council have accused Russians of setting up mobile crematoriums to remove any evidence of potential war crimes.

Officials estimate the death toll in the port city is as high as tens of thousands, and the Kremlin is now trying to ‘cover their tracks’ after the international condemnation to the horrific scenes of Bucha where civilian bodies were piled high and buried in mass graves, they said.

The city council said: ‘After the widespread international genocide in Bucha, Russia’s top leadership ordered the destruction of any evidence of crimes committed by its army in Mariupol.

‘All potential witnesses to the occupiers’ atrocities are being identified through filtration camps and destroyed… The scale of the tragedy in Mariupol the world has not seen since the times of Nazi concentration camps.’

Russia has attempted to install a pro-Kremlin puppet mayor in Mariupol, Kostyantyn Ivashchenko, while mayor Vadym Boychenko remains trapped.

In the leaked audio recording, another soldier complains about their battalion being outnumbered by their Ukrainian adversaries.

‘Their [Ukraine’s] group has 150,000 soldiers and there’s f*** 3,000 of us… They are on the left, right, encircling us, f***!

‘There’s so many of them and few of us. We don’t have any support, no aviation, not a f****** thing!’

Other leaks have painted a picture of dissent and freefalling morale within Russian ranks, leading to troops being denied the right to use their own smartphones.

Moscow’s armies are expected to tighten their grip on their soldiers’ access to the internet and limiting their use of social media applications.

‘The security services have become aware of numerous cases of soldiers being blackmailed through their personal data and cases of soldiers being deceived with false information communicated to them personally through messenger apps such as Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram, Vkontakte and others,’ according to a document.

Ukrainian sources have said intercepting Russian communications has been a simple task because they still use technologically-inept equipment or commercial walkie-talkies.

Ukrainian authorities have residents of the country’s eastern regions to evacuate ‘now’ or ‘risk death’ as Putin ramps up plans for a fresh offensive to create a land bridge connecting his forces with Crimea.

To the south, the besieged southern port of Mariupol has been under bombardment throughout most of the invasion that began on February 24, trapping tens of thousands of residents without food, water or power.

The crucial port city remains surrounded and under siege from Russian forces amid constant shelling.

Mariupol’s capture could enable Russia to entrench a land passage between two separatist, self-proclaimed people’s republics in Donbas and the Crimea region which Russia seized and annexed in 2014.

‘The humanitarian situation in the city is worsening,’ British military intelligence said on Wednesday, while Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said people trying to flee would have to use their own vehicles.

‘Most of the 160,000 remaining residents have no light, communication, medicine, heat or water. Russian forces have prevented humanitarian access, likely to pressure defenders to surrender’, the MoD added.


Residents walk past a near entirely burnt out building in Mariupol on Monday


The besieged southern port of Mariupol has been under bombardment throughout most of the invasion that began on February 24, trapping tens of thousands of residents without food, water or power

Victims ‘blown up with a grenade’, a father shot dead in front of his 14-year-old son and troops who ‘executed all men under 50’: Horrifying details emerge of Russian atrocities in Bucha

By Jack Newman and Chris Pleasance for MailOnline

Charred body parts lay scattered over the streets of Bucha for days after a man was killed with a grenade, while men were stripped naked, tied up and summarily executed by Russians, traumatised civilians have revealed as vile stories emerge from the Ukrainian town.

Survivors from the month-long occupation of the town in Kyiv oblast have started to describe their gruesome treatment at the hands of Putin’s invading troops after area was liberated.

Mykola, a 53-year-old resident, spent a month hiding in the cold and dark cellar of his apartment building with his wife after witnessing callous executions on the streets of his hometown.

He told ABC that when the Russians arrived, they killed all men aged under 50 and then ordered him to bury his friends within 20 minutes.

Two of his friends were shot in front of him and another was hit by a grenade, blowing his body to pieces, which lay untouched for days until Mykola was allowed to quickly gather his parts in a bag and bury them in a shallow grave to ward off the dogs.

Vanya Skyba told The Economist how Russians rounded up a group of builders, ordered them to strip naked and lie face down on the floor while their bodies and phones were searched for evidence of military tattoos or anti-Russian sentiment.

One of the men was killed as an example to make the group talk, forcing one of the men to admit he had been a member of Ukraine’s territorial defence who had served in the Donbas, prompting the Kremlin thugs to execute him too.

The others were beaten and tortured until an order to kill was issued by a Russian saying: ‘F***ing do them in.’

They were led to the side of the building and each shot, and Skyba took a bullet in the side which went through his body. He played dead on the concrete floor until he heard silence when he fled over a fence to a nearby home.

He was later found there by Russians from a different unit who believed his cover story he was the owner of the home, but they led him back to the cellar where he had been shot where he sheltered with a dozens woman and children until they were freed.

After the savage killings, locals said Putin’s army occupied the dead civilians’ homes, drinking their alcohol, partying and stealing their belongings.

The city council have since accused Russians of setting up mobile crematoriums to remove any evidence of potential war crimes.

Officials estimate the death toll in the port city is as high as tens of thousands, and the Kremlin is now trying to ‘cover their tracks’ after the international condemnation to the horrific scenes of Bucha where civilian bodies were piled high and buried in mass graves, they said.

The city council said: ‘After the widespread international genocide in Bucha, Russia’s top leadership ordered the destruction of any evidence of crimes committed by its army in Mariupol.

‘All potential witnesses to the occupiers’ atrocities are being identified through filtration camps and destroyed… The scale of the tragedy in Mariupol the world has not seen since the times of Nazi concentration camps.’

Russia has even attempted to install a pro-Kremlin puppet mayor in Mariupol, Kostyantyn Ivashchenko, while the true mayor Vadym Boychenko remains trapped in the besieged city.

Remarkable footage from Thursday showed the moment a woman was pulled alive from the rubble of a home in Rubizhne in the wake of heavy Russian shelling, as Putin‘s forces continue to pound the east of Ukraine.

Emergency services shared photos this morning of the distressed woman buried under timber and rocks as they scrambled to free her following the latest savage attack.

Once she was pulled to safety yesterday afternoon, the woman was carried by rescuers to an ambulance and she is being treated at hospital.

The airstrike injured five people and seven more ‘extricated themselves from the rubble’, the local governor Sergiy Gaiday said.

It comes as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg today warned the war in Ukraine could last ‘months, even years’ as there is no sign Vladimir Putin has lost ‘his ambition to control the whole country’.

Stoltenberg, speaking ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, said the international community should be ‘realistic’ about Moscow’s intentions and ‘realise that this may last for a long time’ as the war entered its 41st day.

‘We need also to be prepared for the long haul, both when it comes to supporting Ukraine, sustaining sanctions and strengthening our defences,’ he added.

Stoltenberg also confirmed that some members of the alliance had sent heavy weaponry to Ukraine following reports the Czech Republic had supplied Soviet-era tanks to Kyiv.

 ‘Since the invasion allies have stepped up their support. I also expect that ministers when they meet today and tomorrow will discuss how they can further support Ukraine,’ he said, declining to give details.

‘I can say that the totality of what allies are doing is significant and that includes also some heavier systems combined with lighter systems.’

Several BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, howitzer artillery pieces and more than a dozen T-72 tanks were yesterday loaded on a train bound for Slovakia where they are expected to head on to Ukraine, footage run by public broadcaster Czech Television showed.

The Czech delivery has been funded by Prague as well as private donors who have contributed to a crowdsourced fundraising campaign to supply arms to Kyiv.


A woman has been pulled alive from the rubble of a home in Rubizhne after a Russian airstrike which killed a civilian, as Putin’s forces continue to pound the east of Ukraine

Field engineers of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine stand next to destroyed armoured vehicles on a street in the town of Bucha, on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, April 5, 2022


Field engineers of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine stand next to destroyed armoured vehicles on a street in the town of Bucha, on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, April 5, 2022


Zelensky accused the West of holding back on supplies because of ‘intimidation’ from Moscow and suggested Russia is in charge of NATO


The Czech delivery of T-72s (pictured) has been funded by Prague as well as private donors who have contributed to a crowdsourced fundraising campaign to supply arms to Kyiv

Ukraine burns through in a single day the same amount of weaponry it receives in a week, according to a senior Polish official, and Kyiv’s eastern neighbours are concerned with keeping up with demand.

Prague, and neighbouring Slovakia which has no tanks to give, are also considering helping repair and refit damaged Ukrainian military equipment. Germany will send several dozen infantry fighting vehicles to Kyiv and the UK has approved the delivery of 20 ambulances.

The United States has agreed to provide an additional $100 million in assistance to Ukraine, including Javelin anti-armour systems, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. US chipmaker Intel Corp (INTC.O) said it had suspended business operations in Russia, joining a growing list of companies leaving the country.

NATO has already supplied fuel, ammunition, helmets, protective gear and medical supplies to Ukraine, Stoltenberg said yesterday.

Ukraine’s deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk today said in a message on Telegram that residents of the country’s eastern regions should evacuate ‘now’ or ‘risk death’ due to a feared Russian attack.

‘The governors of the Kharkiv, Lugansk and Donetsk regions are calling on the population to leave these territories and are doing everything to ensure that the evacuations take place in an organised manner,’ she said.

The call for urgent evacuations comes as Ukraine says Russian forces are regrouping to launch a fresh offensive in the country’s east after retreating from the Kyiv region.

Vereshchuk asked residents to cooperate with authorities, saying Kyiv will ‘not be able to help’ them after an attack.

‘It has to be done now because later people will be under fire and face the threat of death. There is nothing they will be able to do about it, nor will we be able to help,’ she said.

‘It is necessary to evacuate as long as this possibility exists. For now, it still exists,’ she added.


‘The Five’ discusses China possibly buying stakes in Russian energy – YouTube


Source: ‘The Five’ discusses China possibly buying stakes in Russian energy – YouTube

‘The Five’ discusses Russia’s reaction to oil sanctions and ban imposed by U.S. and how Russians might turn to China to offset the economic fallout.Subscribe…

“Putin’s tentacles stretch over the Balkans”: the alarm goes off in the east of Italy – ilGiornale.it


Source: “Putin’s tentacles stretch over the Balkans”: the alarm goes off in the east of Italy – ilGiornale.it

” Putin ‘s tentacles stretch over the Balkans “: the alarm goes off in the east of Italy

Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, explains why his country could be in danger due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and what the decisive role of Serbia can be

"Putin's tentacles stretch over the Balkans": the alarm goes off in the east of Italy

The war between Russia and Ukraine, as we well know, is not an affair that concerns only Putin and Zelensky. Like wildfire, day after day, the conflict is spreading to countries and states that are more or less close from various points of view (food, gas, oil, relationships). That is why, after almost a month of the conflict, Kosovo is afraid both of Putin but also of his Serbian “counterpart”, President Aleksandar Vucic, considered a ” puppet of the Kremlin ” by Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti . In an interview with Repubblica , he points out that Vucic ” imitates Russia even though he is not “. Hence the concern that Putin may ” replicate the model“Ukraine also in the Balkans, being able to count on the fundamental support of the strongest nation.

Putin’s “plans”

The numerous war crimes committed by the Serbs during the Yugoslav wars forcefully return to the memory of Prime Minister Kurti, who makes a fitting comparison to the Italian newspaper: the former USSR has turned ” into an octopus with the Russian Federation at the center and its tentacles : Donbass, Crimea, Transnistria, South Ossetia … “. The former Yugoslavia, on the other hand, can be compared to a smaller octopus with ” Serbia at the center, the Serbian entity in Bosnia, a Serbian entity in Montenegro that does not recognize its independence and illegal structures in northern Kosovo “. In Putin’s plans, now, given the lack of “blitzkrieg” (lightning war) in Ukraine, there may be a desire to expand and “The Western Balkans is a region where you can try to do this. And it can use chemical weapons as it has already done in Syria “, stresses Kurti.

Serbia like Russia?

Kosovo is not part of NATO but mentally yes: it immediately condemned the Russian invasion but without being surprised. The country’s intention is to take a step forward towards partnership in the NATO Peace Program, which is considered “crucial” for the security of the area and ” we count on Italy’s help “. And now Serbia comes into play, the “little” Russia, which receives oil at a bargain price as long as it is in the hands of the Kremlin. Putin orders, Vucic executes. ” Last year Kosovo participated with 350 soldiers in the largest NATO exercise, Defender Europe 2021. Serbia, on the other hand, participated with Russia and Belarus in the ‘Slavic Shield ‘”, says the Prime Minister of Kosovo.and they can “predict” the future: Serbia spends 2.9% of GDP in the armed forces with a budget increased by 70% from 2015 to 2021; the Serbs, then, can count in the “gifts” of Belarus and Russia as many as 40 MiGs, Russian military aircraft as well as various tanks and armored vehicles and the Russian air defense system. If three clues prove it, here are many that show that Putin can always count on his Serbian counterpart in case of need.

“Why are we worried”

Kosovo is accused of treating the Serbian minority as the Ukrainians treated the pro-Russians in the Donbass. ” President Putin loves to mystify the NATO intervention to justify Russian hegemony “, said Albin Kurti, specifying that he had had elections in Kosovo and a referendum during the Serbian occupation ” but the referendums in Crimea and Donbass were very different: the ballot boxes were in the hands of armed Russian soldiers. Then there was the UN, and the International Court made it clear that independence does not violate international law “. Putin is not dealing with Zelensky but with Biden because he would like to recreate ” a new Yalta “, he adds.thinks he’s up to it. The war in Ukraine, where he is not achieving great results, will not be enough for him: he will have to expand it if he wants to deal with Biden. That’s why we’re worried , “he concludes.

A Kremlin paper justifies erasing the Ukrainian identity, as Russia is accused of war crimes | CBC News


Source: A Kremlin paper justifies erasing the Ukrainian identity, as Russia is accused of war crimes | CBC News

An aerial view shows residential buildings that were damaged in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 3. A Russian state media editorial suggests the Kremlin wants to wipe out the Ukrainian identity.

An editorial in a prominent Kremlin media outlet appears to provide justification for the war with its call to erase the Ukrainian identity — language that geopolitical experts say is especially alarming after the discovery of dozens of dead civilians in a Kyiv suburb.

Written by Timofei Sergeitsev in RIA Novosti, the rhetoric in the editorial — entitled “What Russia should do with Ukraine” — is inflammatory, even by the usual Russian state media standards.

It claims the word “Ukraine” itself is synonymous with Nazism and cannot be allowed to exist.

“Denazification is inevitably also De-Ukrainianization,”  Sergeitsev writes, stating that the idea of Ukrainian culture and identity is fake.

A prominent scholar whose career has been spent studying historical genocide said he felt sickened by reading the article — but he was also convinced that the Kremlin is using it to justify atrocities in Ukraine to the Russian people and the military.

“It’s just a clear, pretty laid-out template for what is going to happen,” said Eugene Finkel, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. “This article crossed the line between talking and thinking about the invasion as some kind of collection of war crimes into something much more co-ordinated.”

Bags containing bodies of civilians, who residents says were killed by Russian army soldiers, are seen at a cemetery after being picked up from the streets in Bucha, in the Kyiv region.(Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)

When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the military invasion into neighbouring Ukraine on Feb. 24, he justified the war by characterizing it as a way to “demilitarize” and “denazify” the country — utterly unfounded propaganda.

Yet Sergeitsev’s editorial seizes on those words and takes them much further, writing that Ukraine’s elite “must be liquidated as re-education is impossible” and since a “significant part of the masses … are passive Nazis and accomplices,” Russia’s punishment of the Ukrainian people is justified.

A former Canadian ambassador to Ukraine said those words caused him significant concern, noting the editorial read like an instruction manual for Russian soldiers.

“It’s essentially a rhetorical ‘licence to kill,'” said Roman Waschuk, who continues to work closely with the Zelensky government in Ukraine.

“It says if someone strikes you as terribly Ukrainian, you can ‘just off them’ for the good of the cause.”

WATCH | Ukrainian MP calls on the West to stop Russia’s ‘inhuman’ tactics

‘It’s literally inhuman’: Ukrainian MP calls on Canada to step up support after Bucha atrocities

Ukrainian MP Yevheniya Kravchuk tells CBC’s Power & Politics that her country needs more military aid from Canada to stop Russian forces from killing Ukrainian civilians, and the only way to do it is “to kick out Russians from our territory.” 8:15

The editorial was published on April 3, the same day as the bodies of at least dozens of civilians were discovered in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha after the retreat of Russian forces.

Many of the bodies displayed signs of torture or had their hands bound when they were killed. Eyewitnesses told media outlets that the civilians had been executed by Russian soldiers during almost a month of occupation.

Many world leaders have accused Russia’s military of committing war crimes, including Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, and want Putin investigated as a war criminal.

‘Nothing gets published without permission’

The key question, of course, is whether the editorial is channelling actual Kremlin policy on Ukraine — or if the author was trying to push Russia’s leadership in that direction.

While Russian state media sources are notorious for making outrageous claims, RIA Novosti is seen as being especially close to the Kremlin and often attempts to reflect the official thinking, Finkel said.

“Here we are talking about an official state news agency and nothing gets published without permission from above.”

Waschuk says he believes there’s been ample evidence to suggest Russia’s intention is to eliminate as many prominent Ukrainian leaders as possible.

A view of a dragon with depiction of Russian President Vladimir Putin in its mouth in a pond in Helsinge, Denmark. Some world leaders are suggesting that Putin be tried as a war criminal.(Mads Claus Rasmussen/Reuters)

“Western intelligence agencies were saying in January that Russia was drawing up kill lists and arrest lists of people they saw as inimical to their cause and overly Ukrainian,” he said.

“This [editorial] is just saying the quiet part out loud.”

Other Russian media watchers suggest that while it’s certainly possible the editorial was published with consent of Kremlin leadership, it’s not necessarily the case.

“It’s not the official line of the Kremlin,” said Kirill Martynov, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s best known independent media outlet.

Justification for an unjust war

Martynov left Russia in the days after the invasion because of a government crackdown on independent media. He’s now working from Riga, Latvia.

Martynov said he suspects the author of the article was asked by the publisher to offer some justification for what was happening in Ukraine — and this editorial is what he came up with, reflecting the generally ad hoc nature of the invasion since it began nearly six weeks ago.

“They [the Kremlin] started the war for no reason and afterward they invented a fantastic explanation for why it’s necessary … the longer the war goes on, the more fantastic the explanations they will give,” Martynov told CBC News.

Sergeitsev, the editorial’s author, has previously written other extreme pieces about Ukraine for the same publication and has appeared as a pundit on Russian state TV,  but he’s not a household name in Russia.

People react as they gather close to a mass grave in the town of Bucha, just northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Sunday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of committing “genocide” and attempting to eliminate the “whole nation” of Ukraine.(Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

Martynov said it’s impossible to know how much impact a single editorial such as this has on the Russian population, given the constant demonizing of Ukraine in the state media and that other sources of information about the war are banned.

The Levada Institute, arguably Russia’s most reputable pollster, reported a week after the war began that Putin’s approval ratings shot up to 83 per cent, but Martynov cautions about reading too much into that.

“It’s a complicated story of opinion polls in a totalitarian regime,” he said. “People are pretending [in order] to keep their families and workplaces safe.”

Ever since Russian bombs and artillery began demolishing cities like Mariupol and Chernihiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused the Russian forces of committing “genocide,” which he reiterated Monday after the discovery of dead and tortured civilians in Bucha. He said Russia was attempting to eliminate the “whole nation” of Ukraine.

Putin meets with Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov at the Kremlin in Moscow.(Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin/Reuters)

But Finkel, the genocide scholar, said he’s usually extremely reluctant to use the term, as it’s very hard to prove.

“The definition of [genocide] are acts committed with an intent to destroy an ethnic, racial or national group,” he said. “There is a tendency to call what we don’t like genocide.  But there is a criteria that is pretty hard to prove: you need to prove intent, which is almost impossible to do.”

However, Finkel says articles such as the one in RIA Novosti,  along with speeches denying Ukrainian identity made by Vladimir Putin and former president Dmitri Medvedev do point to a pattern of behaviour and, likely, show intent.

“It might not be clear orders from above, ‘kill those people,’ but the combination of state rhetoric and the actions of soldiers on the ground makes me think that [this is] not just some units that lose moral discipline — it’s bigger than that.”

For Ukrainians, the possible validation of the Russian agenda may not have much immediate impact on how the war unfolds or even the military help Western nations provide.

But Waschuk says it will definitely make any negotiations with Russia more difficult.

“It means that it’s much harder to come to some temporary peace proposals,” the former ambassador said.

“The Bucha killings are an emotional barrier and it makes it harder for Western countries to push Ukraine to end this war.”


After Ukraine war, Taiwan’s chip supremacy raises economic stakes | Russia-Ukraine war | Al Jazeera


Source: After Ukraine war, Taiwan’s chip supremacy raises economic stakes | Russia-Ukraine war | Al Jazeera

Chien-huei Wu, an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica in Taipei, questioned whether another country could replicate Taiwan’s role, pointing to the island’s special institutions for training semiconductor engineers and TSMC’s 24-hour research and development operations. “This cannot be surpassed, even compared to Samsung,” Wu said, adding that diversification efforts elsewhere would sooner or later run into pitfalls related to energy costs, labour costs, and the inability to replicate Taiwanese engineers’ efficiency.

Around the halls: Implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine


Source: Around the halls: Implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

In the early morning of February 24, Russia launched a full-scale military assault on Ukraine, bombing major cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa and invading from Russia, Belarus, Crimea, and the Black Sea. The attack followed months of troop buildups, Russian ultimatums to the United States and NATO, negotiations with the U.S. and European leaders, and U.S. warnings of Russian invasion plans, and was preceded by Moscow’s recognition of two separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine as independent.

Below, Brookings experts analyze the implications of the invasion, for Europe, Russia, international order, U.S. foreign policy, and much more, and offer policy recommendations for the United States, European, and other governments.

Pavel K. Baev
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe

Despite the strong evidence of Russian preparations for a massive invasion, there was, in my reading, and in the opinion of my many friends in Moscow, a strong possibility to avoid the war and promote the momentum for de-escalation. It is not that the idea of a war between Russia and Ukraine was too hard to contemplate; it was rather the assumption that the corrupt regime brings together thieves and rent-seekers, who are not “warriors,” but rather cowards and crooks. There was no propaganda campaign in Russia beating patriotic drums for war, which also supported the assumption it was a show of force and posturing. The conflict between progressively autocratic Russia and the West is fundamental and grows deeper with every spike in repressions, but the spasm of this conflict that started last November with the massing of troops and a diplomatic offensive seemed artificially orchestrated and lacking rationale.

Now we know that Putin’s obsession with Ukraine — which constitutes a threat to his regime not because of hypothetic NATO missiles, but because of its choice for democracy and closer ties with Europe — prevailed over common political sense and strategic risk assessments. Wars rarely go according to plans, and this one is set to turn bad for Russia because it is based on serious miscalculations about Ukraine’s capacity to defend its statehood, the strength of NATO resolve, and quite possibly the readiness of Russians to partake in this aggression. Every setback will prompt Putin to raise the stakes yet further.

Jessica Brandt ()
Policy Director, Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology Initiative and Fellow, Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology

For weeks, Washington and London have been deploying a novel strategy to get ahead of Russian hybrid measures in Ukraine: repeatedly using intelligence disclosures to expose them. The primary goal of this effort has not been to prevent Moscow from using force in Ukraine — which was likely impossible —  but rather to:

  • Introduce friction into Putin’s plans and limit his room for maneuver;
  • Build a common threat picture among partners and allies (including unenthusiastic ones), making it harder for them to plead ignorance or remain on the sidelines and easier for the U.S. to galvanize a coherent response;
  • Generate support among publics for that response.

As we move into the next phase of this crisis, I expect we’ll see Russia push narratives that deny or deflect blame for its violent misdeeds. We may also see efforts to amplify emerging partisan splits within the U.S. over Washington’s response. That would be in keeping with Moscow’s long-running effort to distract the U.S. and divide it from within, while also boosting isolationist sentiment that could drive skepticism of measures that would constrain Russia’s interests.

If Washington wants to push back on Putin’s information campaign in ways that are consistent with democratic values, it could move quickly to detail Russian losses in Ukraine. Impressive images of anti-war protests in Moscow suggest there’s an audience for that content among the Russian public. That is a vulnerability for Putin. To succeed in the information contest, Washington should to leverage asymmetries that work to its advantage. Putin’s fragility to the truth is one of them.

Senior Fellow, Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology and Director, Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors

Russia’s egregious invasion of Ukraine is not just the bookend to the post-Cold War era that was crumbling over the past decade. It also marked the end of the post-9/11 era, defined by counterterrorism and universalized opposition to nonstate armed actors.

In the new era, Russia’s attitude toward nonstate armed actors will depend on whether it wants to challenge the United States in the country or region in question. Outside of Myanmar, China will principally embrace governments, regardless of what policies toward nonstate armed actors they adopt.

Russia had previewed the dominance of the anti-American vector in its attitudes toward nonstate armed actors when back in 2017 it started providing the Taliban with funding, intelligence, and weapons, including to kill U.S. soldiers. That move was not just hedging based on the recognition that the Taliban was ascendant, the ground reality assessment that motivated China to make its peace with the Taliban well before it took power in August 2021. Russia’s cozying up to the Taliban showed hostility to the United States to be its dominant foreign policy prism.

The more large powers strike deal with nonstate armed actors, the more lesser powers will also do so, in a throwback to the Cold War mode.

In troubled countries where the U.S., Russia, and China are already on opposing sides —like Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Myanmar, and Afghanistan — conflicts will become even more intractable. Cooperation among the powers on conflicts or regime stabilization will be elusive; while both local governments and nonstate armed actors will be shopping among the big powers.

Jeremy Greenwood
Federal Executive Fellow

The current chair of the Arctic Council has just upended decades of European security architecture and violated international law with an aggressive invasion of a sovereign Ukraine. Arctic cooperation, previously small bright spot of U.S.-Russian relations within the construct of the Arctic Council’s pan-Arctic mission, is bound to be disrupted.

Less than one year into its two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, Russia is responsible for setting the agenda and charting the course of the organization’s work until 2023. There is bound to be intense pressure within the U.S. government for the interagency to severely curtail engagement with Russian government officials. Much of Russia’s planned Arctic Council activity centers on economic development of the Arctic — an area certain to be hit by Western sanctions. This has the potential to create an extremely large barrier to continued cooperation within the constructs of the Arctic Council’s expert working groups and the work of affiliated organizations like the Arctic Economic Council and the Arctic Coast Guard Forum.

This “chilling effect” is well-deserved, but will have unfortunate impacts on the close work of Arctic states in addressing environmental issues like climate change and combatting oil pollution in an Arctic seeing increased human activity.

Let’s hope that the governments of the other seven Arctic states can find a way to enforce Western sanctions on Russian economic activity in the Arctic, while maintaining lower-level channels to continue the Arctic Council’s important work on Arctic environmental matters critical to our entire planet.

Samantha Gross ()
Fellow and Director, Energy Security and Climate Initiative

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is already roiling oil and natural gas markets. Brent crude oil, a benchmark in Europe, rose to its highest price since 2014 at more than $105 per barrel. This rise is primarily due to concerns about whether the coming sanctions on Russia will affect financial transactions for Russian oil and gas. Russia is the world’s second-largest oil exporter.

It is the largest provider of natural gas to Europe, providing about 35% of total supply. Europe is already suffering through very high natural gas prices, due to some natural factors and earlier cutbacks in Russian supply. Natural gas prices in Europe rose further just after the invasion. At the Dutch TTF exchange, a key natural gas trading point for continental Europe, gas futures prices rose 40% on news of the invasion.

Current sanctions do not target Russia’s oil and gas exports, given fears further energy price increases in a global economy already suffering from high inflation. However, I am concerned about Russia’s willingness to cut natural gas supply to Europe in retaliation for international sanctions. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev tweeted that Europe should expect much higher natural gas prices in response to Germany halting approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russia can afford to sell less gas, with high oil prices and large currency reserves. Its position as a reliable energy supplier is already in tatters. This action would be terrible for Russia’s energy future, but given Moscow’s bellicose rhetoric, I would not rule it out.

Daniel S. Hamilton (@DanSHamilton)
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe

Putin has dropped his mask. His all-out invasion of Ukraine is clear evidence that he is determined to upend Europe’s security order and control his neighbors. He is intent on disrupting democratic societies, not because of what they do but because of who they are. As a consequence, Europe again finds itself between strategic epochs. The post-Cold War period has ended. A more fluid and disruptive era has begun. History did not end with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 or the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The hard reality is that the Soviet succession remains open-ended, and the continent as a whole remains tempestuous, dynamic, and prone to instability. The United States and western Europe will not escape the ripple effects of turmoil in eastern Europe.

The U.S. and its allies have responded quickly with tough economic sanctions. Now they must take further steps. Allies must bolster NATO’s ability to defend militarily against Russian forces on land, at sea, in the air, in outer space, and in cyberspace. They must make resilience to disruptive attacks on critical functions of our societies an integral part of NATO’s mission going forward. They should help Ukraine and Georgia defend themselves against Russian aggression. And they should take action against the Kremlin’s enablers — not just those in Russia, but also those closer to home.

Bruce Jones (@BruceBrookings)
Senior Fellow and Director, Project on International Order and Strategy

On the ground, the next days and weeks will determine the outcomes in Ukraine itself, as its armed forces and its people mount a defense (outgunned and overmatched) against Russia’s renewed and deepened invasion. The wider implications will unfold over a much longer period.

While it is too early for certainty, it seems likely this is not an isolated crisis, however severe, but the launch of an intensive and dangerous new phase in the efforts by Russia, and in different domains China, to renegotiate the terms of order. Among other things, Russia’s actions are a renewed violation of Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, the prohibition against the use of force to threaten the sovereignty of another state — the foundational provision of a stable order. China’s diplomatic wink and nod at Russia’s actions buffers Moscow in important ways as it challenges the West. And it may portend a shift in Chinese calculations about how much risk its willing to take, or tolerate, in its own effort — economic, diplomatic, technological, military though not yet forceful — to challenge the established order.

In the early responses, India has felt torn, but other Asian partners and allies have joined the U.S. and European Union in moves to punish Russia. Whether this portends more sustained collaboration between the Asian and European allies — building on AUKUS and other recent developments — remains to be seen. If Russia and China increasingly act in concert, that will be the core test of American statecraft in defense of international order.

Marvin Kalb ()
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy

In his invasion of Ukraine, President Putin is positioning himself in Russian history as a modern-day Catherine the Great. She ruled from 1762 to 1796, and, more than any other Russian leader, used the power of the Russian army in a series of wars to conquer, territory by territory, the country today called Ukraine.

Catherine fashioned herself an enlightened monarch, but she was determined to go down in history as the ruler who fulfilled Russia’s self-defined destiny as a great power.

Peter the Great, earlier in the 18th century, opened a backward Russia to the West. He fought Sweden and won control of the Baltic coast. Picking up from Peter, Catherine went further, driving south to Kiev and then all the way to the Black Sea, occupying the territory of what is today the southern half of Ukraine. To do this, she fought and won wars with the retreating Ottoman Empire. One prize was Crimea, seized in 1783.

To acquire control of what is today the western half of Ukraine, Catherine joined Prussia and Austria and divided up a weak Poland, allowing Russia to seize the eastern third of Poland. That became the western half of today’s Ukraine.

In Eastern Europe, national borders have a way of changing with deadly frequency, and Putin’s invasion suggests this is likely to continue.

Patricia M. Kim ()
David M. Rubenstein Fellow, John L. Thornton China Center and Center for East Asia Policy Studies

Beijing has made a grave strategic miscalculation in aligning closely with Moscow at a time when states around the world are unequivocally condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In recent days, Chinese official media have rushed to claim that Beijing has always maintained a “neutral position” and supported a peaceful resolution of the situation in Ukraine. Even up to early January, this assertion was somewhat tenable as Beijing refrained from explicitly endorsing Moscow’s security demands and publicly emphasized its ties with Ukraine, a Belt and Road Initiative partner. But its claims of neutrality lost all credibility when President Xi Jinping chose to mark the opening of the Beijing Olympics with a highly-publicized summit with President Putin, and the release of an unprecedented joint statement in which China expressed “sympathy” and “support” for Russian demands for “binding security guarantees in Europe.”

What has China concretely gained, besides ideological comradery, by embracing Putin at this moment and at what costs? Will it join other states in condemning and punishing Moscow for its blatant violation of state sovereignty and territorial integrity, principles Beijing professes to hold dear? Or will it choose to deflect by blaming Washington for “starting the fire” and cushion the blow of sanctions for Russia? Serving as Russia’s lifeline will come at a significantly greater economic and diplomatic price than protecting a small, isolated state like North Korea. Beijing should reassess whether its growing solidarity with Moscow is worth the profound costs to its global reputation, its economic prospects, and ties with the rest of the world.

Suzanne Maloney ()
Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy

The Biden administration and European leaders deployed an intense and inventive campaign to deescalate the crisis brewing in Europe, as President Putin engaged in ominous geopolitical brinkmanship toward Ukraine. Tragically, Putin’s imperial ambitions proved impervious to these concerted efforts at deterrence or dissuasion.

With this deliberate and long-planned act of war, Russia has shattered peace in Europe, precipitating the most serious threat to Europe since World War II. The consequences of the conflict now underway will be devastating and wide-ranging — first and foremost for the people of Ukraine and their embattled democratic state, under assault from overwhelming Russian force.

But the ripple effects of the invasion extend well beyond Ukraine. This conflict will have tragic, unpredictable consequences for the global economy and for the imperfect but essential rules-based international order that has facilitated the expansion of democracy, prosperity, and basic human rights and security around the globe. And it complicates a range of other urgent challenges — not the least of which is the final sprint by world powers, including Russia, to resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal.

In dealing with other recalcitrant powers, including Iran, this episode reinforces the enduring force of ideology and historical grievance. Leaders frequently disregard what might appear to be a rational cost-benefit assessment of their national interests in favor of ruinous pursuits. We can impose painful sanctions, but that alone won’t forestall or reverse aggression from the world’s most dangerous states.

Amy J. Nelson (@amyjnelsonphd)
David M. Rubenstein Fellow, Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology

We have not begun to see the magnitude of the effect of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The attack is not only one on Ukraine, but also an attack on the European security order/architecture and will leave both irrevocably changed.

Dual waves of détente and post-Cold War optimism ushered in a host of agreements designed to undergird or reinforce the security architecture in place from the Atlantic to the Urals, which now no longer apply to the region. Gone are the effects of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, and the Minsk agreements, to say nothing of languishing arms control treaties. When the conflict is over, there will be no basis or foundation for rebuilding any of this — likely much to Putin’s delight.

Perhaps not today, but ideally sometime soon, the West will need to think hard about the European security architecture. Though NATO will likely emerge intact and stronger from this assault, Russia will always be its neighbor. Will we see a return to a kind of Cold War-style isolation? And for how long? How will the U.S. approach a follow-on agreement to New START? Certainly, the benefits of a strategic arms control agreement remain in Russia’s best interest, but whether there will be an appetite for negotiations remains unknown. Though historically the U.S. and USSR maintained arms control diplomacy even when relations soured, it is quite possible that Putin’s lack of trustworthiness will make arms control negotiation — or negotiations of any kind for that matter — a non-starter for the foreseeable future.

Thomas Pickering
Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy

The implications of the Russian use of all-out military force to absorb Ukraine are vast. Democracy, freedom, markets, economic prosperity, and most importantly nuclear stability are under siege. The principal challenge is how to deal with an aggressor in the nuclear age without destroying our civilization, progress, and planet. It will require the most careful tuning of military, economic, and political steps with consummate care to avoid tumbling the United States and its friends and allies into a bottomless pit of nuclear use by accident, miscalculation, or misperception.

Push back strongly and negotiate forward are two conjoined answers. Harsh sanctions, including on commercial transactions, are important but not enough. Russia must both feel existential opposition and understand there is a way forward. Extensive economic and financial limitations, energy price pressure, military containment, and political isolation must be combined with military support for Ukraine to establish the leverage that can slow if not stop the invasion and build toward a diplomatic not a “diktat” outcome. Meanwhile, subsidized energy supplies for Europe and to drive down energy prices have to be provided, and soon.

The end result must be respectful, fair, and balanced for the people of Russia and for all other parties. It will take wisdom, time, sacrifice, and persistence. To get there, the U.S. must lead, help to finance, and participate extensively in an international coalition — through the United Nations if possible, outside it if necessary — and listen to all like-minded states.

Senior Fellow, Center for Middle East Policy and Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, and Director, The Intelligence Project

Syria is Russia’s closest and most consistent ally in the Middle East. Russian military intervention in 2015 saved Bashar Assad from defeat in the civil war. The crisis in Ukraine is an immediate and significant question for the Assad regime; it must stand with Moscow even if this complicates its own multiple overlapping wars at home. Syria is where Russian-American tensions in Europe may find a Middle East venue.

Russia’s defense minister visited Syria earlier this month, including a stop at Russia’s air base near Latakia. Later Damascus followed Moscow’s lead in recognizing the independence of the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine within hours. Assad clearly wants to show Putin that Syria is totally behind him.

Syria signed its first arms deal with the Soviet Union in 1956. When Hafez Assad took power in 1970 he gave the Soviets access to a naval base in Tarsus on the Mediterranean Sea. Hafez said his role model for a good leader was Joseph Stalin.

His son Bashar relies on Russian military support to stay in power. At least 10,000 Russian troops are in the country. The Russian and Syrian Air Force have begun flying joint patrols along Syria’s borders including near the Israel-controlled Golan Heights. There is a risk that Israeli Air Force strikes against Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria could now escalate to dogfights with the Russians. The U.S. also flies missions in Syria and has troops on the ground to combat the Islamic State group. Amidst confrontation over Ukraine, spillover into Syria is a growing possibility.

Natan Sachs (@natansachs)
Fellow and Director, Center for Middle East Policy

The war in Ukraine heightens a dilemma for America’s Middle Eastern partners: how to promote their interests with Russia and China, while not angering the United States. Israel exemplifies this: Its partnership with the United States is a top strategic priority, but it also has clear and immediate interest in cooperating with Russia, since Moscow’s air force dominates Syria’s airspace, to Israel’s immediate north.

Israel attempted neutrality in 2014 on Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The Israeli delegation was absent from a United Nations vote condemning Russian actions. Then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel’s Russian-language TV Channel 9: “I don’t understand the idea that Israel has to get mired in this.” An irate, though private, American response changed the Israeli stance over time, but the episode left a scar.

This week, Israel chose a different path, but not without trepidation. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid officially condemned “the Russian attack on Ukraine,” calling it “a serious violation of the international order.” Russia took note. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been more circumspect, voicing his sympathy for innocent Ukrainian citizens but avoiding any mention of Russia.

Israel is correct to realize the importance of the Ukraine crisis to the Unites States, leaving Israel with little choice: It must prioritize its relationship with America and the international order. Like many countries, however, Israel still hopes to clear the bar with the bare minimum, with one eye set on Washington and another set on Moscow.

Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe and Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and trans-Atlantic Relations

The Russia crisis is a teachable moment for Germany’s new center-left government, which also represents a generational shift in German politics. This morning, when Europe woke up to the news of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned “this ruthless act by President Putin,” adding that Germany stands in solidarity with Ukraine and its people. Scholz had already suspended the certification of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline; while that may sound legalistic and temporary, the brutality of the Kremlin’s actions today means the project is effectively dead. The leadership of Scholz‘s Social Democratic Party (SPD), which had before been inclined to sympathy for Russian narratives of victimhood and encirclement by NATO, has swung round hard. Lars Klingbeil, the 44-year-old party co-chair, said that Ukraine’s sovereignty and freedom to choose its alliances are not negotiable. Annalena Baerbock, the 40-year-old Green foreign minister, called out the Kremlin’s threats early on and demonstrated her support for Kyiv by visiting the Ukrainian frontline.

Still, this newfound realism will come under immense pressure in the months to come. Gas prices are spiking and the stock markets are tanking. Inflation is likely to rise even higher. And the German economy will bear the brunt of the burden of financial sanctions and export controls.

All this will increase public apprehension about the costs of the conflict for Europe and Germany, and it will become a test for the convictions and the stamina of this as yet mostly untested German government.

Caitlin Talmadge (@ProfTalmadge)
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology

Putin’s pointed, not-veiled nuclear threats are remarkable, signaling a willingness to turn to the country’s arsenal if the West interferes with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This constitutes worrying evidence in favor of the so-called Stability-Instability Paradox: the notion that mutual vulnerability at the strategic nuclear level can actually make conflict more likely at lower rungs of the escalation ladder.

Deterrence theorists often dismiss this idea, arguing that nuclear stalemate means both sides will avoid crises and conflicts out of the fear they could escalate. The result should be peace, stability, and less military competition. Yet Putin’s behavior suggests that revisionist actors are not so inhibited and may instead use their strategic nuclear forces as a shield behind which they can pursue conventional aggression, knowing their nuclear threats may deter outside intervention.

Notably, of course, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, nor a U.S. treaty ally. But then neither is Taiwan. So those who believe that nuclear stalemate is going to keep the peace in the Strait need to do some hard thinking about why it hasn’t kept the peace in Eastern Europe. China, in fact, is developing the same types of forces that Putin references in his remarks: not only a survivable second-strike capability, but also theater nuclear forces suited for limited strikes for coercive escalation. This is not a coincidence.

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for Middle East Policy

The immediate consequence of Russian aggression is the devastating tragedy for the Ukrainian people. But the post-Cold War order is also a casualty. Its breakdown has had many authors, not the least of which is Putin’s ambition, witnessed long before this invasion. But the U.S. role has been central too; a 2021 poll in 53 countries found the U.S. is seen as bigger threat to democracy than Russia and China.

Emerging as the sole superpower, the U.S. failed to help build an inclusive order. Instead, Washington has flaunted American power, as it did in expanding NATO into former Soviet-orbit states. But American policy in the Middle East takes a lion’s share in undermining a rules-based order.

The first major event of post-Cold War was Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The U.S. secured Soviet backing at the United Nations for war against their erstwhile partner in Baghdad. U.S. victory, however, resulted in building U.S. regional power, at Russia’s expense. The devastating U.S.-led 2003 Iraq war, without U.N. support, stands out as a blatant violation of norms under false pretext that infuriated many, including Putin. In 2011, NATO got Russian acquiescence for limited action against Libya, but went well beyond its mandate. The U.S. has continued to give cover to Israeli violation of international norms in Palestinian territories and embraced Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. And President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

While our focus must start with helping Ukraine and resisting Putin, the moment begs introspection.

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Energy Security and Climate Initiative

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will cause massive long-term harm to the country’s crown economic jewels: oil and gas production. Throughout the Soviet era, as Western Europe became more dependent on imported gas, analysts always worried that the gas weapon might be wielded. In reality, supplies proved reliable and prices, for the most part, reasonable. Russian exporters and Western importers, it was assumed, has discovered a stable, common interest in reliable supply. The current crisis in Ukraine is the latest and most visible evidence that all those old assumptions are no longer valid.

Weaning Europe off Russian gas will take a while, of course, because transformations in energy systems don’t happen quickly. But Putin has done something extraordinary that no Western leader could do. He united the West around sanctions. As Mike O’Hanlon and I have argued swift and painful sanctions are essential. Sure, as time drags on the sanctions will splinter and special interests will appear here and there, eroding the impacts. But the main effect is signal to Western companies that, going forward, Russia is toxic and risky — politically and legally. That harm won’t disappear any time soon.

Russia’s vulnerability is the need for technology and markets, especially for lucrative liquefied natural gas exports. Russian tax policy already encourages state firms to lower dependence on Western technology, but those efforts go only so far. Isolation is the new norm, and with even stronger sanctions — including antitrust action against Russian gas exporters — the harms will grow.

Andrew Yeo (@AndrewIYeo)
Senior Fellow, Center for East Asia Policy Studies and SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korean Studies

The Biden administration released its Indo-Pacific strategy exactly two weeks ago. Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine has now forced the U.S. to shift its full attention to Europe.

Although the crisis in Ukraine directly affects European security, its effects will ripple across the Indo-Pacific region. China is unlikely to follow Russia’s power play and attack any of its neighbors any time soon. However, Russia’s willingness to wage open war on Ukraine — hard to believe until yesterday — will weigh on the minds of Asian policymakers as they make decisions about boosting their own defense spending, seeking security guarantees from the U.S., and joining multilateral security coalitions. Critics of Washington’s “military-first” approach to the region, and experts calling for a stronger economic component to the Indo-Pacific strategy may now find themselves competing with voices to strengthen defense and deterrence capabilities in places like Taiwan. In South Korea, which will hold presidential elections in 12 days, a candidate’s position on defense and security issues may now actually weigh on voters’ minds as they see images of Russian artillery and fighter jets bombarding Ukraine.

The Indo-Pacific strategy may be an afterthought as the Ukrainian crisis unfolds. Nevertheless, the conflict in Europe will have a bearing on how Asian policymakers think about their own security in the wake of Chinese assertiveness and Beijing’s sovereignty claims in Asia.


Baltic states under Soviet rule (1944–1991) – Wikipedia


Map of Latvia

These Baltic states were under Soviet rule from the end of World War II in 1945, from Sovietization onwards until independence was regained in 1991. The Baltic states were occupied and annexed, becoming the Soviet socialist republics of EstoniaLatvia and Lithuania. After their annexation by Nazi Germany, the USSR reoccupied the Baltic territories in 1944 and maintained control there until the Baltic states regained their independence nearly 50 years later in the aftermath of the Soviet coup of 1991.

Source: Baltic states under Soviet rule (1944–1991) – Wikipedia

BBC – Ethics – War: War crimes


Source: BBC – Ethics – War: War crimes

At the heart of the concept of war crimes is the idea that individuals can be held criminally responsible for the actions of a country or its soldiers. War crimes and crimes against humanity are among the gravest crimes in international law.

Belarus Rail Lines Carrying Trains With Supplies for the Russian Army Are Being Hit by Sabotage Attacks – RedState


Biden is being replaced as ‘leader of the free world’: Nigel Farage – YouTube


Source: Biden is being replaced as ‘leader of the free world’: Nigel Farage – YouTube

Former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage discusses Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China’s effort to ramp up missi…

Blinken assures UAE leader of US help over Houthi attacks | Houthis News | Al Jazeera


Source: Blinken assures UAE leader of US help over Houthi attacks | Houthis News | Al Jazeera

US Secretary of State Blinken holds talks with UAE de facto leader Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Morocco.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken also explored options for helping end Morocco and Algeria’s festering dispute over the Western Sahara [File: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has sought to assure Gulf monarchies that Washington is determined to help them fend off attacks from the Houthi rebel group in Yemen as he urged regional allies to “speak out” against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken made the remarks on Tuesday in Morocco, where he met the United Arab Emirates’ de facto leader Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and senior Moroccan officials.

The trip comes in the shadow of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which along with sanctions against Moscow has sent wheat and fuel prices soaring in a serious blow to import-dependent North African countries.

Speaking to journalists in Rabat, Blinken said the US recognised the “disaster” the supply crunch had caused.

“We’re discussing concrete steps we can take … to help reduce the impact, particularly on the most vulnerable populations,” he said.

Blinken also said he was “encouraging partners to speak out against Russian aggression” and said he doubted Russia’s “seriousness” in talks with Ukraine held in Turkey.

Washington’s top diplomat flew to Rabat late Monday from Israel, where he had met his counterparts from the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain and Egypt, underlining a seismic shift since 2020 in relations between Arab countries and Israel.

On Tuesday he met Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita for discussions including on the Western Sahara dispute and security cooperation.

The same subjects will loom large in meetings the following day with Morocco’s regional rival Algeria, after months of deteriorating relations between Rabat and Algiers.


Tensions with UAE

Blinken met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed – often dubbed “MBZ” – as Washington warily watches longtime ally the UAE diverging from many of its policies.

The UAE has refrained from criticising Russia, even sending its top diplomat to Moscow. It also recently hosted Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and has expressed unease with attempts by the administration of US President Joe Biden to revive the languishing Iran nuclear deal.

“We have real challenges to confront together, in the region and beyond,” Blinken said at the start of the meeting with Sheikh Mohammed at the crown prince’s private residence in Rabat.

He said the US was “determined to do everything we can to help you defend yourselves” against attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have recently stepped up rocket strikes on both the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

He pledged to consult with the Emiratis on the Iran nuclear negotiations and also in dealing with the effects on global energy and food security caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Western Sahara

Ahead of a visit to Algeria on Wednesday, Blinken also explored options for helping end the neighbours’ dispute over the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara after new developments.

Morocco controls 80 percent of the area including a key highway towards West Africa, while the rest – a desert region bordering Mauritania and Algeria – is run by the Polisario Front independence movement.

Former US President Donald Trump in 2020 recognised the region as sovereign Moroccan territory in a break with decades of US policy, after Rabat agreed to re-establish relations with Israel under the so-called Abraham Accords.

Biden’s administration has been tight-lipped on how it will follow up on the move, which came just weeks after the Polisario Front declared a 1991 ceasefire null and void, sparking fears that the long-frozen conflict could flare up again.

Bourita on Tuesday called on European states to follow Spain in backing a Moroccan plan for autonomy there under Rabat’s sovereignty.

“We think it’s time for Europe … to get out of this comfort zone where people are just supporting a process that doesn’t mean supporting a solution,” he said.

“There is a consensus that the solution should be within Moroccan sovereignty and the Moroccan plan of autonomy.”

Blinken said Washington continues “to view Morocco’s autonomy plan as serious, credible and realistic”.

The US Department of State said in a report Monday that it supports the plan and the work of Staffan de Mistura, envoy of the United Nations – which sees the territory as a “non-self-governing territory”.


Britain Says Moscow Is Plotting to Install a Pro-Russian Leader in Ukraine – The New York Times


Source: Britain Says Moscow Is Plotting to Install a Pro-Russian Leader in Ukraine – The New York Times

In a highly unusual public statement, backed by U.S. officials, London named the putative head of a potential puppet government but few other details.

Bucha killings: ‘The world cannot be tricked anymore’ | Russia-Ukraine war News | Al Jazeera


Source: Bucha killings: ‘The world cannot be tricked anymore’ | Russia-Ukraine war News | Al Jazeera

The reported killings in Bucha and neighbouring suburbs have been compared to the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Bosniak Muslims by ethnic Serbian militants in the town of Srebrenica

Bucha victim: ‘Russian troops beat me, doused me in diesel fuel’ | Russia-Ukraine war News | Al Jazeera


Source: Bucha victim: ‘Russian troops beat me, doused me in diesel fuel’ | Russia-Ukraine war News | Al Jazeera

A Ukrainian survivor recounts being tortured by Russian forces in the town near Kyiv, where evidence of atrocities is growing.

A mass grave with bodies of civilians, who according to local residents were killed by Russian soldiers, is seen in Bucha, in Kyiv region, Ukraine [Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters]

Vinnytsya, Ukraine – In mid-march, two weeks after Russian troops entered Bucha hoping to move farther southeast to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Viktor had been walking home.

Gun-toting soldiers stopped him to check his ID. They rummaged through his backpack to find a bottle of liquor, a torchlight and his documents.

Then they checked his mobile phone.

They came across the Telegram app and scanned the Ukrainian military’s channel.

Photographs of Russian soldiers and their burned tanks appeared to upset them, and Viktor believes they took their anger out on him.

(Al Jazeera)

What came next was a round of torture, said Viktor, who requested Al Jazeera withhold his last name.

While Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify his account, it is consistent with a growing body of evidence linking Russian forces to atrocities in Bucha, a town northwest of Kyiv, whose name has become a synonym for harrowing mass killings of civilians.

Because of fierce Ukrainian resistance, Russian troops got stuck in and around the tranquil commuter town of 37,000, whose proximity to Kyiv triggered a construction boom in recent years.

People stand next to a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine [File: Rodrigo Abd/The Associated Press]

According to survivors, Ukrainian officials, human rights groups and media reports, the soldiers turned to indiscriminate, arbitrary and senseless torture and killings of civilians, to rape and looting.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fears about 300 people were killed in the town, a number Viktor says could have easily included him.

“I said I was a civilian, going home, and didn’t take any part in military action,” Viktor said in a telephone interview from his neighbour’s house in Bucha.

But the Russians decided against letting him go.

Instead, they took him to one of their headquarters on Yablunska street, which bisects Bucha and leads to Irpin, another Kyiv suburb where mass killings of civilians have been reported.

Bodies on the street

In early April, dozens of bodies of civilians killed by Russian soldiers were found on Yablunska street.

Six had their hands tied behind their back, officials said. Twenty-two more were taken out of their cars and shot dead for trying to leave Bucha.

The Kremlin has denied responsibility for the killings, calling the apparent massacre a “production” staged by Ukrainians after Russian forces retreated from Bucha on March 30.

But a New York Times examination of satellite photos and videos of the dead bodies, including those “scattered over more than half a mile” of Yablunska street, showed that the killed had been there for at least three weeks – the time when Viktor was detained and interrogated.

He said Russia’s headquarters in Bucha were in a private house with torn-down front gates, surrounded by armoured vehicles.

An officer there examined his phone again and looked at the recently erased items. The officer saw a video of a moving Russian column Viktor had taken when Russian forced entered Bucha in late February, but deleted later.

Ira Gavriluk holds her cat as she walks next to the corpses of her husband and her brother, who were killed in Bucha [File: Rodrigo Abd/The Associated Press]

A severe beating followed.

The Russian soldiers knocked Viktor on the ground, made him turn his face towards the floor and struck him with a club, breaking his rib and finger.

They kept asking him about the whereabouts of Ukrainian forces.

But the constant repetition of their questions and indifference to his answers made him think that they simply enjoyed his helplessness.

“You understand that nothing depends on you. When they are simply taking you into nowhere. Then, there is anxiety with hope – maybe they will let you go because you’re a civilian. Not a soldier, nor a spy,” he said.

‘Let’s set him on fire’

He said the Russian soldiers doused him with a flammable liquid. He immediately recognised the smell – diesel fuel from one of their armoured vehicles.

“It wasn’t gasoline, they only have diesel. They said: ‘Let’s set him on fire and send back to his people,’” Viktor said.

“When I was completely exhausted and all covered in blood, they simply threw me in the basement, with a kick. You know – boom, and down you go.”

He rolled down the steps into the house’s dark, damp and cold basement, where the former homeowners once kept vegetables, smoked meat and glass jars with home-made pickles.

There, Viktor lay alone for some 40 minutes, still soaked wet with blood and diesel fuel – and thinking about the inevitability of death.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the media after visiting Bucha [File: Marko Djurica/Reuters]

He believed the resumption of shelling spooked the interrogators and ultimately saved his life.

“They simply hid, and it saved me,” he said, describing how he later sneaked out of the basement, climbed a fence and ran home.

“I wasn’t scared to be blown to pieces, I just had to run,” he said.

Bucha was big enough for him to hide, and Russians did not look for him even though they had his backpack and documents stating his address.

He ran to his neighbour’s house, where he stayed for days, bedridden and covered in bruises.

“His whole body was blue with bruises,” the neighbour, Oleh Matsenko, told Al Jazeera.

Viktor is still there, recovering and barely able to move.

“They gave me one heck of a beating. It still hurts,” he said.

Can sanctioning Russian oligarchs influence Putin’s war in Ukraine? – Vox


Source: Can sanctioning Russian oligarchs influence Putin’s war in Ukraine? – Vox

Sanctions are one of the key ways the US and Europe are retaliating against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. These sanctions are throttling the Russian economy, and they’re particularly making life and business difficult for Russia’s oligarchs, an elite group of uber-wealthy people who began wielding enormous influence on Russian politics as they got rich during the privatization of the post-Soviet state.

Foreign governments around the world are seizing many oligarchs’ assets and yachts, banning them from travel, and cutting them off from doing most business with the US and Europe. The goal is to squeeze Russia’s wealthiest citizens, to censure and compel them to pressure Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to end his campaign against Ukraine.

“It’s the trillion-dollar question,” said Oliver Bullough, a journalist who writes a newsletter about oligarchy at Coda. “Can these people restrain Putin?”

But it’s important to realize that since Putin was elected in 2000, the oligarchy in Russia doesn’t work the way it used to; its members have a lot less power and influence than they once did. These punishing sanctions have so far prompted only muted comments about Ukraine from a few oligarchs, many of whom are based outside of Russia.

“Putin has brought oligarchy in-house,” Bullough told Recode. “And now we’ve got much more of a system akin to the Tudor court of Henry VIII, with a king and then a number of aristocrats around him who own their property as long as he’s prepared to tolerate them.”

“The word ‘oligarchy’ is a bit out of date, in a weird way, but we don’t have a better one,” Bullough added.

The limited power of Putin’s oligarchs 2.0

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last month, the world has been grappling with questions of how the conflict might end, and whether Putin’s advisers or the country’s class of elites — once so influential within the Kremlin — could play a part.

But the idea that individual oligarchs could sway Putin now is a misunderstanding of modern Russia, said Ben Judah, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and author of Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin. “That’s how Russia operated 15 or 20 years ago,” Judah said, “not how Russia operates today.”

Reining in Russia’s oligarchs was something Putin promised during his first campaign for president, and he didn’t wait long to start. In 2003, Putin arrested and jailed Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who owned a 78 percent stake in Russia’s massive Yukos oil company and was at the time Russia’s wealthiest man. Khodorkovsky was officially charged with financial crimes, but he was also funding Putin’s opposition parties.

The example Putin set by arresting Khodorkovsky was clear: “The oligarchs essentially realized that they owned their wealth only as long as [Putin] wanted them to own it. That changed their entire approach to politics. It also increased their motivation to get more wealth outside of Russia, to get as much as possible offshore, where it would be safe,” Bullough told Recode.

Meanwhile, a new kind of oligarch gained power: the siloviki, which mainly describes businessmen who have connections to the Federal Security Service, the police, and the military. The siloviki were instrumental in Putin’s consolidation of power, serving as his muscle. They’ve become extremely wealthy thanks to their proximity to the president, creating a class of “silovarchs” who are even more dependent on Putin than oligarchs who accumulated their wealth in the 1990s.

All Russian oligarchs’ power and wealth is tenuous, and they know it. That’s why the limited number who have spoken up so far about the war are ones who hold foreign passports or reside outside of Russia. Some oligarchs, and even their children, have called for peace — but without explicitly condemning Putin.

Oleg Deripaska, a Russian industrialist currently worth a little over $2 billion, according to Forbes, called peace “very important.” “The whole world will be different after these events and Russia will be different,” he wrote on Telegram. He was sanctioned by the US government back in 2018 for his ties to Putin in the wake of allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Mikhail Fridman, founder of Alfa Bank, called the invasion a tragedy during a press conference. But when asked about using his influence to put pressure on the Kremlin, Fridman responded, “You should understand that it’s a very sensitive issue,” and said that he could not put his partners and staff at risk by commenting on Putin. He was sanctioned by the EU on February 28.

Evgeny Lebedev, who owns British newspapers the Independent and the Evening Standard, wrote an op-ed in the Standard imploring Putin to stop the war. Lebedev holds dual Russian and British citizenship; he’s also a member of the British peerage. He has not been sanctioned.

Again, these measured reactions from oligarchs shouldn’t come as a surprise. Stanislav Markus, a University of South Carolina professor who has extensively researched Russia’s oligarchs, told Recode that direct criticism of Putin would be “a pretty dangerous position to hold.”

“When it came to this decision to go all-in in Ukraine, Putin took the decision essentially alone,” said Judah, the Atlantic Council senior fellow. “Over the last few years, Putin has become increasingly distant from the old so-called inner circle and the Russian elite in general.”

Judah cited a scene from the security council meeting Putin called on February 21, shortly before invading Ukraine. Sergey Naryshkin, director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, stammered when Putin asked if he supported recognizing the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, two Ukrainian territories that have been controlled by pro-Russia rebels for almost a decade.

“The way Putin spoke to him made him so scared that he forgot what topic was being discussed,” Judah said. “So if Sergey Naryshkin is that frightened of Putin, seemingly that distanced from him, there’s very little chance for those businessmen to simply walk in and stop him.”

The narrative that Putin’s siloviki — or other oligarchs — could meaningfully dissent is “wishful thinking,” Judah said.

“[The sanctions] may indeed cause grumbling and dissatisfaction and fear in the political system,” he continued. But when it comes to what might happen with Putin, he said we should think about “what happens to dictators, not what happens to strongmen with governments.”

How Putin’s war could influence power in the long run

If this war truly was Putin’s decision alone, then he’s both in control and in isolation.

Squeezing Russia’s oligarchs may not lead to Putin doing an about-face in a war that he’s already indicated he’s willing to sacrifice so much for. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t have an impact later. These sanctions will have aftershocks; if anything, they reveal to the Russian oligarchy the limits of their power and how their fortunes are tied up with an authoritarian who’s begun closing them off from almost the rest of the world in pursuit of war.

How they’ll react is an open question.

Markus, whose research investigates what Russia’s oligarchs want and how they try to influence the government, told Recode that part of the reason they haven’t pushed back often against their government is that the existing global financial playground lets them keep so much capital offshore. With so much of their wealth stashed outside of the Kremlin’s grip, there’s less of a pressing need to demand that the Kremlin reform.

Prolonged sanctions could increase desire among Russia’s elite for institutional change, even as achieving it remains difficult. Over the years, Putin has shown them how easy it is to fall out of his favor, and the dire consequences of that.

“If before, they thought, ‘Whatever the Kremlin does, I still have my profitable trade with the United States or Europe or whomever, I don’t need to get political in Russia,’ now, more and more, they’re being pushed against the wall,” Markus said.

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