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Police fear Western arms shipments to Ukraine may backfire

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Wednesday, June 8, 2022
  • 207 Impressed

Police fear Western arms shipments to Ukraine may backfire

 

 

Dhaka June 08 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bangladesh on June 08 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

Russia suspending fishing agreement with Japan – Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW. June 7 (Interfax) – Moscow is suspending the Russian-Japanese Agreement on Some Matters of Cooperation in the Field of Fishing Operations for Marine Living Resources, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a commentary published on the ministry website.

Tokyo “has taken a course towards freezing payments due under the Agreement on Some Matters of Cooperation in the Field of Fishing Operations for Marine Living Resources, which the governments of Russia and Japan concluded in 1998,” Zakharova said.

Tokyo has been stalling the signing of an annual executive document on the provision of gratis technical assistance to the Sakhalin region, “which is an integral element of the fulfillment of this intergovernmental agreement,” the statement said.

“Under these circumstances, we have to suspend the implementation of the Agreement of 1998 until the Japanese side fully meets its financial obligations,” it said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry regretted the Japanese conduct and said that Moscow “invariably viewed the interaction based on this agreement as an important area of Russian-Japanese relations in the field of fishing.”

“The agreement, based on a balance of interests of both countries, has allowed Japanese fishermen to harvest resources off the South Kuril Islands of the Russian Federation on the basis of a quota allotted by Russia,” it said.

 

Russia’s Industry and Trade, Finance ministries to analyze metal companies’ financial stability by end of June in order to take measures, including rescinding excise duty on steel

MOSCOW. June 7 (Interfax) – Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry, jointly with the Finance Ministry, is to analyze in detail by the end of June the level of financial stability of domestic metals companies in order to decide on additional support measures, including rescinding the excise tax on steel, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov told reporters.

“We have agreed that we would conduct detailed monitoring by the end of the month, including on the movement of the enterprises’ own funds, in order to understand how urgent this [rescinding the excise tax] is in order to take a prompt decision.”

Manturov explained that the discussions with the Finance Ministry were mainly focused on “ensuring the efficient export of metals products.”

The ministry noted that the Industry and Trade Ministry does not yet see the need to take an urgent decision on rescinding the excise tax on steel.

“I can confirm that the financial results for metals enterprises were not bad in January-April 2022 compared to 2021; therefore, it is probably not urgently necessary to take hasty decisions [on rescinding the excise tax on steel]. However, as I confirm, we have already started discussions with the Finance Ministry, because we see that the trend has been negative for the past week-and-a-half, primarily because of the ruble exchange rate,” Manturov said.

“Let us see how everything turns out, but the main factor once again today is the ruble exchange rate,” the minister said when answering about possibly rescinding the increased mineral extraction tax (MET) on iron ore and coal.

 

Russia’s Main Naval Parade to bring together 47 combat ships, defense chief says

MOSCOW, June 7. /TASS/. A naval group made up of 47 combat ships, gunboats and submarines will participate in Russia’s Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg on July 31, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday.

“Along with the first female crew of the Raptor patrol boat,” the defense chief stressed.

As the defense minister pointed out, “naval parades will also take place at naval bases of all the Fleets and Flotillas and at the port of Tartus in the Mediterranean Sea.”

“In all, these events will involve up to 200 combat ships of various classes, about 80 aircraft, more than 100 items of combat hardware and around 15,000 military and civilian personnel,” Shoigu said.

A live broadcast will provide an opportunity for millions of spectators both in Russia and abroad to watch these events, the defense chief said.

 

State Duma gives thumbs up to Russia annulling compliance with ECHR rulings

MOSCOW, June 7. /TASS/. The State Duma approved a package of bills on non-compliance with the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the second and third reading during its Tuesday session. According to the approved amendments, those ECHR decisions made after March 15, 2022 (the date Russia announced it was withdrawing from the Council of Europe) won’t be implemented. Additionally, compensation payments according to the ECHR’s rulings will be made only in rubles and only to accounts in Russian banks. That said, the office of the Russian Prosecutor General will be able to make payments according to the ECHR decisions until January 1, 2023.

The law also establishes that the ECHR’s rulings will no longer serve as grounds to reconsider the decisions made by Russian courts. The initiative also provides for the development of an additional compensating mechanism which will expand the grounds to cancel effective court decisions and make it possible to reopen criminal cases due to new or newly discovered circumstances.

“The European Court of Human Rights in the hands of Western politicians has turned into an instrument of political struggle against our country. Some of its conclusions directly contradicted the Russian Constitution, our values and traditions,” State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin noted.

For example, earlier, the ECHR demanded that Russia recognize same-sex marriages, he reiterated. “And there have been a multitude of such rulings by the European Court. We cannot agree with this,” he stressed. The top lawmaker specified that the decisions by Russia’s courts would have primacy over the ECHR’s conclusions.

The Russian Federation informed the director general of the Council of Europe that it was withdrawing from the organization based on Article 7 of its charter according to which any member of the council may withdraw following an official notification. Russia began the pullout process on March 15.

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

Russia reacts to dressing-down from top EU official

A Russian diplomat says the EU, not Moscow, is refusing to acknowledge the truth on the Ukraine conflict, after a row at the UN

A diplomatic spat unfolded on Monday over a UN Security Council session focusing on alleged war crimes, including sexual violence, by Russian forces in Ukraine.

Responding to European Council President Charles Michel, Russia’s deputy UN envoy claimed it’s the EU rather than Russia that is failing to acknowledge the truth on the conflict. 

Earlier, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya stormed out of the UN session, while Charles Michel gave a speech sharply criticising Moscow. The EU official responded with a parting shot: “You may leave the room. Maybe it’s easier not to listen to the truth, dear Ambassador”.

His Twitter account posted the six-second episode, complete with subtitles and the text of the remark.

Dmitry Polyansky, Nebenzya’s deputy, tweeted a retort, saying the EU “clearly doesn’t need [the truth]” considering its “lies and unsubstantiated claims” about Russian soldiers.

“It’s painful to see such low professional standards and lack of manners from key EU functioners,” the diplomat said.

We came there to listen to the truth. But EU clearly doesn’t need it and we heard only cheeky lies and unsubstantiated claims many of which have been already debunked. It’s painful to see such low professional standards and lack of manners from key EU functioners!

https://t.co/IamjMkQKFI

— Dmitry Polyanskiy (@Dpol_un) June 6, 2022

Polyansky claimed the accusations made by Michel and other Western officials during the UN session lacked evidence, and some speakers even “failed to adjust the narrative after the ‘exposure’ of the lies told by [former] Ukrainian ombudsman” Lyudmila Denisova.

Denisova, who was sacked by the Ukrainian parliament last week, was the source of many allegations of sexual violence implicating Russian troops. She claimed Russian soldiers raped girls in front of their mothers, children as young as two, and elderly people.

Her office has not provided evidence of the alleged atrocities or even details of the supposed incidents, making it impossible to verify the claims. Nevertheless, her allegations have been widely covered in the Western media.

Ukrainian lawmakers critical of Denisova’s work say her fixation on sex crimes damage Ukraine’s credibility. Since being sacked, she has continued to make accusations against Russia. Among her latest claims are that Moscow keeps Ukrainian prisoners of war from Mariupol in a death camp and carries out mass deportations from captured Ukrainian territories as part of a genocidal policy.

Russia insists that its troops are not targeting Ukrainian civilians, describing claims to the contrary as propaganda. During his Monday speech at the UN Security Council, Vasily Nebenzya reiterated that stance and pointed to Denisova’s record to illustrate the West’s anti-Russia bias.

“The Ukrainian ombudsman was lying to the world all this time, which was shocking even to the authorities in Kiev. I call on those who savored details of the allegations against Russian soldiers to take a pause to think whether they should trust information – or rather disinformation – spread by Kiev. Denisova is not an isolated case,” he warned.

Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

 

Russia’s Victory in Ukraine is Needed for Stability and Survival of Middle East, Says Journalist

By Elizabeth Blade, Sputniknews.com

There are a number of Arab and Muslim nations that have been relying on the military and diplomatic assistance provided by Moscow. One of them is Syria, that has seen Russian troops on the ground since 2015.

Another is Egypt, that has been enjoying a steady supply of weapons from Moscow. A third is Iran; Russia also assists its ally, the Lebanon-based Shiite militia Hezbollah.

More than a hundred days have passed since the beginning of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine that aimed at demilitarising and de-Nazifying the country.

People’s Concerns

According to estimates, during the three months of fighting, Russia has managed to establish control over 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory. In the West, this has been presented as a failure and Ahmed Ayyach, a writer at the Lebanese A-Nahar newspaper, says the media war that’s waged against Moscow has affected the minds of some people across the Middle East.

“People on the streets were led to believe that Russia failed to settle the conflict in Ukraine quickly. As a result, some say that Moscow has lost its status as a superpower and only strong and decisive actions of the Kremlin would be able to restore their faith in it.”

Ties Are Getting Stronger

But the leaders of many Middle Eastern nations don’t seem to share these concerns, says the journalist. Indeed, since the eruption of the conflict in February, the delegations of many Arab states have visited Moscow.

In his turn, foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has toured the Gulf and the region. In addition, he has held numerous calls with the powers-that-be, cementing Russia’s position in the Middle East.

These meetings are dictated by the pressing reality. Gas and oil prices continue to climb following a barrage of Western sanctions on Moscow. Those have already led to energy shortages across the world and pressure has been mounting on the Gulf states to pump more crude.

Moscow and the Gulf have been coordinating their activity to tackle the crisis. Cooperation was also seen on the front of Russian wheat exports, that have been hampered as a result of the sanctions.

“Russia is a great country, and we in the Middle East hope she will win that war because if it doesn’t, the repercussions for the region will be irreversible. And the reality would be that some states — that are currently in the orbit of Russia — will not be able to cope with the West,” warned the journalist.

Several Middle Eastern countries are reliant on the military and strategic assistance of Moscow that has only grown stronger throughout the years.

One such country is Syria, that has been getting immense military support since 2015, following the decision of President Vladimir Putin to send Russian troops to the war-torn country to help Bashar Al Assad defeat the terrorists and foreign fighters that have been tearing his land apart. Another is Egypt, that receives significant supplies of Russia-made weapons. A third is Iran; Tehran and its ally, the Lebanon-based militia Hezbollah, have been getting diplomatic support from the Kremlin.

In this June 30, 2010 file photo, a Russian Buk-M2 air defense system is displayed at a military show at the international forum Technologies in machine building 2010 in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow – Sputnik International, 1920, 07.06.2022

In this June 30, 2010 file photo, a Russian Buk-M2 air defense system is displayed at a military show at the international forum “Technologies in machine building 2010” in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow

The Gulf states have also been gradually tilting towards Russia over the past several years.

Even before the eruption of the operation in Ukraine, the Gulf states have been regular customers of Russia’s military industry. The coming to power of US President Joe Biden with his initial anti-Gulf rhetoric has pushed those nations even further into Moscow’s fold. Cooperation has also been boosted around tourism, counter-terrorism and trade. For many, Russia has grown to be a nation that represented the voice of wisdom and responsible actions. Its policies stood in sharp contrast with those of the US, that snooped into the affairs of other nations and that imposed its will on them.

“Right now, with the conflict in Ukraine raging, Russia’s image as a country that stays out of conflict has been damaged but once the operation is over, it will stand firm again. We need Russia to be strong, not only for its own sake but also for sake of our own survival”.

 

Serbs Outraged by Disruption of Lavrov’s Visit, Russian Ambassador Says

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The disruption of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Belgrade after Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro denied passage to his plane has caused a public outcry in Serbia, as people were looking forward to receiving the top diplomat, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said on Tuesday.

On Monday, Botsan-Kharchenko informed Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that Lavrov’s visit to Belgrade, scheduled for 6-7 June, was canceled as the countries neighbouring Serbia closed their airspace for the minister’s plane.

“You cannot imagine the kind of resentment the actions of the West caused among the Serbian population and what started. Sergey Viktorovich [Lavrov] was expected here, he is very much loved, he is very popular and respected in Serbia. He would have been very well [received] here. People were preparing events, on their own, without any instruction to support Russia, out foreign minister, our leadership, the Russian president,” Botsan-Kharchenko told the Rossiya 24 broadcaster.

On Sunday, Serbian daily newspaper Vecernje novosti (Evening news) published photos of what it said were the orders signed by the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro to close their airspace to Lavrov.

On Monday, the information was confirmed by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who said that the EU and NATO demonstrated that they were yet again trying to close Moscow’s channels of communication. Lavrov echoed her statement later in the day, calling the situation around his visit to Serbia unthinkable and saying that he pitied the countries involved in the incident as they were effectively the servants of the West.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price called this decision “Europe’s commitment to hold Russia accountable” for the military operation in Ukraine launched after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian forces.

 

Explicit images of Hunter Biden leaked

The New York Post and Radar Online outlet have claimed President Biden’s son acquired a firearm illegally

US President Joe Biden’s 52-year-old son Hunter has found himself at the center of another budding scandal. Footage has been leaked to the media, featuring him naked, with a gun in one hand, accompanied by a woman, who several media outlets have described as a prostitute.

Reports suggest Biden junior had previously lied about his drug addiction to purchase the firearm.

The New York Post published several screenshots from the clip, which was in turn sourced from Radar Online website. According to the latter, the video was shot on October 17, 2018. In its articles, the Post described the president’s son as “casually wav[ing] around a handgun and even point[ing] it at the camera.” The paper also noted that the objects seen in the background in one of the screenshots look like crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia used to smoke it.

Since Hunter Biden has publicly acknowledged that he was struggling with drug addiction on several occasions, authorities could not have given him permission to carry a firearm, the Post surmised.

The outlet proceeded to reference another scandal, featuring Biden junior and weapons, which took place less than a week after the newly-leaked footage is said to have been recorded.

Reported on by Politico last year, the incident also involved Hunter Biden’s sister-in-law, Hallie Biden, who he was reportedly in a romantic relationship with at the time. The woman allegedly took away her partner’s gun and threw it in a trash can behind a grocery store. According to the outlet, when she returned to pick it up minutes later, the firearm was gone.

Recalling the case in several text messages in 2019, which were subsequently leaked to the New York Post, Hunter admitted that Hallie believed he “would harm [himself] due to [his] drug and alcohol problem and [their] volatile relationship.”

The president’s son was quoted as referring to the gun as “my 38.” According to the published text messages, Biden junior “freaked when [he] saw it was missing 10 minutes after she took it and when she went back to get it after [he] scared the s**t out of her it was gone.”

Politico claimed to have obtained copies of the Firearms Transaction Record and a receipt for the missing gun dated October 12, 2018.

 

The documents indicated that the president’s son responded “no” to a question on the form asking: “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” That is despite having been discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine five years prior, as well as having belatedly admitted to drug use himself, the article pointed out.

Politico surmised that Biden junior had lied, noting that technically that was a felony.

No charges were ever brought against anyone in connection with the incident, according to the report.

The New York Post noted that the latest video featuring Hunter Biden has surfaced at a time when the US was reeling from a rash of mass shootings that left at least 15 people dead and 61 injured across the country.

Responding to the latest cases of gun violence, President Joe Biden last Thursday called on Congress to pass new gun-control regulations as well as to “ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” In his televised address, Biden, among other things, argued that the “Second Amendment, like all other rights, is not absolute.”

The Post quoted Republican senator, Ron Johnson, who had slammed Biden’s apparent hypocrisy.

“Before proposing or passing any new federal gun legislation the Biden administration ought to enforce existing laws, regardless of who is violating them, even if that person is the president’s son,” the Wisconsin lawmaker charged.

He added that his letters to the U.S. Secret Service, FBI and ATF over the incident involving Hunter Biden’s gun dumped in a trash can behind a grocery store had yielded no meaningful response. “Unsurprisingly,” as Johnson concluded.

 

UN comments on grain stealing allegations

The organization doesn’t have proof that Russia has been illegally exporting Ukrainian grain

The UN is unable to verify accusations raised by Kiev against Moscow of “stealing” and exporting Ukrainian grain, Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, has said.

Asked about the claims by a reporter during a news briefing on Tuesday, Dujarric said that neither the UN Secretary-General’s office nor the UN World Food Programme (WFP) had any credible information on the matter.

“We’ve seen recent media reports, we’re talking to our colleagues at WFP. They have no way of verifying these allegations. I think WFP, as we all have, has been advocating for a free movement of food from the Black Sea to ensure that the needs of people around the world are met,” the official stated.

Ukraine has repeatedly accused Moscow of “stealing” its stockpiles of wheat amid the ongoing conflict that broke out in late February. Most recently, such accusations were flung at Russia by the Ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar.

“Russia shamelessly steals Ukrainian grain and sends it overseas from Crimea, including to Turkey,” Bodnar said on Friday, adding that Kiev has asked Ankara to “help resolve the issue.”

Ukraine and Western states alike have repeatedly accused Moscow of impeding grain exports by blocking Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, namely the major trade hub of Odessa. Russia, however, has rejected such claims, maintaining it was ready to ensure safe passage for grain-carrying vessels from the ports. The disruption of grain flow stems from Kiev’s own actions and extensive mining of the shoreline by the Ukrainian military, Moscow insists.

Russia attacked the neighboring state following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

 

Police fear Western arms shipments to Ukraine may backfire

Swedish law enforcement suggests that some of the weapons supplied to Kiev could end up with criminal gangs

Swedish police have voiced concerns that weapons delivered to Ukraine by its Western backers could make their way to the Scandinavian country, ending up in the hands of criminal gangs once the conflict is over.

Speaking to Swedish Radio on Monday, Crime Commissioner Gunnar Appelgren warned: “there is probably a high risk that flows of illegal weapons will enter Sweden” when peace is restored in Ukraine.

The official explained that while weapons may now be in high demand in the country’s conflict zones, when hostilities are over, Ukrainians will find themselves with a surplus of arms. Criminal groups could try to monetize the situation, according to Appelgren.

The police commissioner noted that most of the weapons currently used by criminal gangs in Sweden originate from the Balkan wars of the 1990s. “A lot of automatic weapons came in, AK47s,” Appelgren said, adding that hand grenades also made their way to Sweden a couple of years ago.

Sweden, along with other European nations, the US and Australia, have been supplying armaments and ammunition to Ukraine to help it repel Russia’s military offensive which President Vladimir Putin launched in late February.

In recent years, the Scandinavian nation has seen a surge in violent crime, with street gangs settling scores with the help of firearms – something Appelgren appeared to reference, saying: “we have conflicts in Sweden.”

Ylva Johansson, a Swedish politician serving as the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, echoed the police commissioner’s concerns in late May. Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper quoted her as saying: “with Putin’s war in Ukraine, we see a very high risk of increased criminal arms trafficking.”

During her visit to the Moldovan-Romanian border, Johansson, too, noted that “long after the war in the former Yugoslavia, we see the consequences in Sweden, where weapons from the war are being used in criminal shootings.”

The EU official pledged at the time that the European Commission would present a proposal aimed at preventing, detecting, and investigating illegal firearms trade by the end of summer.

Experts cited in Dagens Nyheter’s article along with Johansson warned that criminals in Sweden could potentially even get hold of armor-piercing bullets smuggled from Ukraine.

In late May, Europol chief Catherine De Bolle told the German media that one of her organization’s major concerns was the “whereabouts of the weapons that are currently being delivered to Ukraine.” She, too, compared the current situation to “that of 30 years ago in the Balkan war.”

 

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

 

Kherson Region may follow in Crimea’s footsteps — authorities

YALTA /Crimea/, June 7. /TASS/. The authorities of the Kherson Region believe that the territory will most probably decide to follow in Crimea’s footsteps with respect to the idea of reunification with Russia, the deputy chief of the Kherson Region’s military-civilian administration, Kirill Stremousov, told the media on the sidelines of the 15th international festival Great Russian Word in Yalta on Tuesday.

The leader of the Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, previously stated that Crimea in 2014 chose its own path of reunification with Russia. The liberated territories of Donbass and Ukraine will most likely use other solutions for integration with the Russia, in accordance with their special features.

“The ideology of attitude towards people should have an explicit humanitarian dimension. Including the systematic work of all organizations, which we demonstrate in Crimea today. After all, under Ukrainian rule I always heard that everything was bad in Crimea, but when people visit it from time to time and see the changes that have taken place over eight years, not just the new roads, but in terms of the quality of life, of course, they feel that Crimea is an example worth following. True, the LPR and the DPR have their own histories, but Crimea, as we say, is the best way of returning to the home harbor. In all likelihood, the Kherson Region will follow in Crimea’s footsteps,” Stremousov said.

Earlier, Stremousov said that the authorities of the Kherson Region intended to initiate a motion in the near future in favor of joining Russia in the capacity of a full-fledged constituent territory of the federation. He explained that the authorities were not yet working out the mechanisms of admission to Russia, because now they were entirely focused on addressing the residents’ day-to-day issues. On Tuesday, he said that the Kherson Region was likely to make a decision on joining Russia in a referendum. Then, elections to the legislative bodies of power will follow.

 

American weapons will ensure more deaths in Ukraine, but won’t change the conflict’s eventual outcome

@RealScottRitter

The US is doing everything possible to extend the suffering of the Ukrainian people by creating conditions that appear to mandate an expansion of Russia’s military effort, and the subsequent destruction of the Ukrainian nation.

US President Joe Biden has approved the transfer of at least four M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine. In a “guest essay” published in The New York Times, Biden declared that “[The United States has] moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table. That’s why I’ve decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

At least four of the HIMARS systems will be transferred to Kiev, part of a $700 million dollar military aid package sourced from the $8 billion authorized by Congress for direct drawdown from existing US military stocks. As configured for Ukraine, the M142 will be able to fire a pod of six 227mm artillery GPS-guided rockets, with a range of 43.5 miles (70 kilometers). What is known is that Biden will not be supplying Ukraine with the more advanced ATACMS short-range missile, with a range of 300 kilometers.

Ukrainian forces will be trained on the HIMARS systems prior to their being dispatched to Ukraine. According to the Pentagon, the estimated training time is three weeks. Previously, Ukrainian soldiers were trained on US M777A2 155mm artillery systems at a US Army training facility in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Given the need for an artillery range capable of accommodating the operational parameters of the HIMARS, it is likely that the Grafenwoehr facility will be used again.

Prior to the decision regarding HIMARS being announced, the president ppeared to be shying away from sending advanced artillery rockets to Ukraine. “We’re not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that strike into Russia,” he had announced, on May 30, in response to a reporter’s question. Biden, however, appears to have been speaking about the ATACMS missile. He clarified his position the next day, in his essay. “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”

The fact is, the HIMARS system, if deployed close to the Russian frontier, would give Ukraine the ability to strike nearby Russian cities, such as the strategic logistics hub in Belgorod. Biden’s apparent reversal was in large part due to guarantees from Kiev. “The Ukrainians have given us assurances that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared a day after Biden’s essay was published. “There is a strong trust bond between Ukraine and the United States.”

The Russian Presidential spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, decried the HIMARS decision as “deliberately and diligently pouring fuel on the fire,” while scoffing at the notion of Ukrainian assurances regarding the weapons systems’ future use. “In order to trust [someone], you need to have experience with situations when such promises were kept,” Peskov said. “Regretfully, there is no such experience whatsoever.”

According to President Biden, the purpose behind his decision to arm Ukraine with billions of dollars’ worth of advanced weaponry was motivated by pure intent. “America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.” Recognizing the difficult situation Ukraine has found itself in militarily, he seems to understand the pressures being placed upon Kiev to negotiate an end to the fighting. “I will not,” Biden declared, “pressure the Ukrainian government…to make any territorial concessions. It would be wrong and contrary to well-settled principles to do so.”

Biden was making specific reference to the fact that any potential agreement with Russia to stop the fighting would, at a minimum, need to recognize Crimea as Russian and the Donbass republics as independent, as well as understand the probability that Kherson and other Russian-majority territories currently under Moscow’s control would probably undertake referenda regarding whether they would remain a part of Ukraine going forward.

Biden’s posture flies in the face of historical and practical reality. Russia will never give up Crimea, nor will it pressure the newly independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk to rescind their hard-won liberation. Any other questions of territorial status are directly related to battlefield realities, and everything indicates that not only will Ukraine be unable to reverse Russia’s territorial gains but will more than likely lose additional swaths of territory, in the weeks to come. as the fighting continues.

Biden, by providing advanced weapons to Ukraine, is seeking to accomplish the impossible–a negotiated Ukrainian victory. This is reflected in his fanciful depiction of the current state of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. “Ukraine’s talks with Russia are not stalled because Ukraine has turned its back on diplomacy,” Biden states. “They are stalled because Russia continues to wage a war to take control of as much of Ukraine as it can. The United States will continue to work to strengthen Ukraine and support its efforts to achieve a negotiated end to the conflict.”

Biden’s words, like the American policy they ostensibly describe, are inherently contradictory and reek of hypocrisy. After declaring that “We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia,” Biden goes on to articulate a case for just that. “It is in our vital national interests to ensure a peaceful and stable Europe and to make it clear that might does not make right. If Russia does not pay a heavy price for its actions, it will send a message to other would-be aggressors that they too can seize territory and subjugate other countries.”

The ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict is one that should never have been fought and once started, should have been brought to a quick conclusion. The blame for both the initiation of the conflict, and the fact that is it still ongoing today, does not lie, as Biden suggests, with Russia.

A quick history lesson: The special military operation is a direct result of America’s ongoing efforts to use NATO expansion, including the desired incorporation of Ukraine, as a means of weakening Russia while undermining the viability of the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin so that he could be replaced with a modern-day clone of Boris Yeltsin—a Russian ‘leader’ in name only, who would once again cast the country prostrate at the feet of a domineering West.

The decade of the 1990s was good for those in the West seeking to punish Russians for the perceived Cold War sins of the Soviet Union. But it was a horrible time for the Russian people. Neither President Putin nor wider society appear to be willing to allow the US and NATO to reverse the hands of time and repeat that era of darkness. Any student of modern Russian history would know this. Unfortunately, Western leaders are informed not by Russian historians but by Russophobe propagandists, and the result is a conflict in Ukraine.

The special military operation, however, was not triggered by NATO’s expansion, but rather by the policies of Ukraine, promoted and facilitated by NATO, which subjected the ethnic-Russian population of Donbass to the eight-year horror of genocidal, ethnic-driven hatred inflicted on them at the hands of the most vile, odious ideology imaginable – the neo-Nazi extremism of the Ukrainian political far right, embodied in the form of the Azov Regiment and other organizations of its ilk.

Despite the existence of a negotiated framework for peace – the 2015 Minsk Accords – brokered as part of the Normandy Format mechanism that included France, Germany, and Ukraine, with Russia observing, the US and its NATO allies (including France and Germany) not only failed to pressure successive Ukrainian presidential administrations to fulfil their obligations under the accords, but actively conspired against any process that would have led to the peaceful conclusion of the Donbass conflict in a manner which not only ended the killing, but also ensured that the Donbass region would remain an integral part of the Ukrainian nation.

The result was an eight-year conflict which killed over 14,000 people, most of them ethnic Russians.

Russia’s military operation was initiated for the purpose of bringing the conflict in Donbass, and the suffering of the local population, Ukrainian and Russian alike, to an end. That it has taken this long is the direct result of miscalculations on the part of the Russian military in the initial phases of the operation, the unexpected resilience and determination of the Ukrainian armed forces, and the fact that the Ukrainians had eight years to construct some of the most complex defensive positions in modern history along the line of conflict in the Donbass regions. In the end, however, Russia’s determination to see the mission through to its completion, combined with the professionalism and competence of its military forces, are producing the very victory that is unfolding on the ground in eastern Ukraine today, and which Biden seeks to reverse through the provision of advanced weapons systems such as HIMARS.

An important reality which cannot be overlooked in the ongoing military struggle is that the Ukrainian military has been functioning as a de facto extension of NATO for some time now. Since 2015 the US and its NATO allies have been training Ukrainian officers and soldiers to NATO standards in terms of organization, tactics, communications, and leadership. While most of the Ukraine military’s pre-conflict inventory was composed of Soviet-era equipment, much of this had been upgraded so that it met or exceeded the capabilities of most NATO members. In short, if Ukraine had been a formal member of NATO, it would have possessed the third largest military in the organization, after the United States and Turkey, with greater capabilities and competency than most of its other would-be NATO partners.

In the years leading up to Russia’s special military operation, Ukraine was supplied with hundreds of millions of dollars of modern military equipment, including Javelin anti-tank weapons. These weapons, and the Ukrainian military, failed to defeat the Russians. Indeed, by the end of Phase One of Russia’s operation, announced on March 25, Russia had inflicted significant harm on the Ukrainian military, making a Russian victory in Phase Two–the liberation of the Donbass–all but inevitable.

The provision of tens of billions of dollars of military aid by the US, NATO, and the European Union has not been able to reverse this tide. What these weapons, when combined with the simultaneous provision of real-time intelligence about Russian force dispositions and an untouchable strategic depth in the form of military bases in Germany, Poland, and other NATO countries from where Ukraine can receive training and equipment without fear or Russian attack, have been able to allow is the ability for Ukraine to reconstitute many of the military formations that Russia had destroyed or degraded during Phase One.

Some of these units will be equipped with HIMARS.

The “HIMARS Effect” will not have any meaningful impact on the battlefield in Ukraine–Russia’s military superiority is assured across the board, regardless of the numbers and quality of the weapons the US and its allies provide Ukraine. However, the goal of the US in Ukraine, according to President Biden, is to inflict a heavy price on Russia for its actions. HIMARS, when employed, will inevitably kill and wound Russian soldiers, and damage and destroy Russian military equipment. The same is true for all the lethal weapons Ukraine has been provided by the West.

Russia is, in fact, paying a heavy price in Ukraine, not because of any aggressive act of territorial acquisition carried out by the Russian military, but rather as a direct result of the policies undertaken by both NATO and Ukraine to threaten the legitimate national security interests of the Russian nation, and the lives of the ethnic Russian population of the Donbass and other eastern Ukrainian territories. All HIMARS contributes to this process is an expanded death count without a change in the outcome. In this, the HIMARS Effect perfectly encapsulates Biden’s Ukraine policy as a whole, where he is willing to sacrifice the lives and viability of the Ukrainian people and nation for the purpose of inflicting harm on Russia with no hope of altering the outcome of events on the ground.

It is a policy of death, pure and simple, and as such epitomizes the role played by America in the world today.

 

‘Drown Russians in Drugs’: How Ukraine Unleashed a Hybrid War on Russia

The volume of drugs smuggled from Ukraine to Russia over the past several years is enough to poison the population of an entire city.

“Drone” (mephedrone) and “flakka”(alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone, a.k.a. alpha-PVP) started pouring into Russia eight years ago following the Maidan coup in Ukraine. Synthetic drugs became as prolific as heroin was in the 1990s.

One of the groups which started trafficking drugs from Ukraine in 2014 and mostly consisted of Ukrainians was the KhimProm Group. It would smuggle up to half a tonne of synthetic drugs per week, thus starting a war to destroy Russia from within, with the actors’ origins tracing back to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

The annual turnover of KhimProm exceeded two billion roubles ($33.5 million). Such clandestine operations, which have also developed logistics networks, still operate throughout Russia with Ukrainians as their main workforce. Sputnik interviewed Russian law enforcement officers and convicted drug dealers serving sentences in Russia to find out why Ukraine has become the main source of labour and supplier of designer drugs to Russia.

Hybrid War

Alexander is a member of one of the Russian law enforcement agencies fighting illegal trafficking. He has considered himself a soldier in this new hybrid war for the past eight years of his 15-year-long service, and the enemy’s main weapon in this war was drugs.

“Drug trafficking was already one of the most difficult crimes to detect, and we caught and arrested no more than 5-10% of all drug dealers. Following the outbreak of hostilities in the Donbass, Russian law enforcement agencies solved no more than 1–2% of such crimes. The number of crimes has increased as well,” Alexander told us.

The situation was exacerbated when Ukrainian law enforcement officers almost completely cut off contact with their Russian counterparts, he adds.

“I don’t think that this drug intervention began without their [Ukrainian law enforcement] knowledge. They’ve declared a kind of hybrid war against us, which has been going on for eight years now,” he said.

Recruiting

According to the Information and Analytical Centre of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, about 7,200 Ukrainians were detained for drug crimes in Russia between 2014 and 2021.

Artem, a native of Donetsk, is one of them. Like law enforcement officer Alexander, he is former military and knows first-hand what war is. Artem, who is currently serving his sentence in a prison near Orenburg, Russia, used to serve in the Donetsk militia. He conscripted in 2014 when the Ukrainian Army was approaching his home city.

After several years of service, he was seeking a civilian job and was approached by an unknown man on the Russian Vkontakte social media platform. The man offered Artem 40,000 roubles ($670.80) per month, which was more than enough to feed his entire family for up to two months.

“I agreed, and the person who corresponded with me told me to leave for Lugansk”, he explained.

Artem was then interviewed in Lugansk and sent to Russia. You can guess the rest: the arrest, the trial and the Orenburg prison.

His recruitment story resembles that of other Ukrainians convicted of drug trafficking. The scheme was almost always the same: a person living in a Ukraine city would find an advertisement for a job in Russia. These ads could be found in minibuses, shops, at train stations or on the Internet. Unidentified people then offered them a job as a courier in exchange for a pay that most Ukrainians would consider substantial. The person who fell for the bait contacted the employer by phone or via Internet and received an invitation for an interview in a cafe.

The potential recruit was usually met by two strong guys, who promised a solid salary for work in Russia. They gave the recruit money to travel and to rent a house, and they always supplied them with a smartphone with the encrypted messenger SovegMe installed, in which the handlers’ contacts had already been saved. The new drug trafficker would then go to Moscow, where their misadventures would begin.

Upon arrival, Artem was instructed to order a bank card in his name and travel to one of the cities chosen by the handlers, rent an apartment and wait for further instructions. These instructions consisted in finding a hidden cache with drugs, dividing it into doses and stashing it around town for resale. From that moment, the Ukrainian employee would begin his “military” career as a drug dealer.

SBU Involvement

Apart from the same recruitment scheme, the arrested drug dealers from Ukraine shared something else in common.

When asked about people who offered them the job and who supervised their activities in Russia, the convicts began to get nervous. However, after a brief pause they would reveal that they were introduced into the illegal business by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

Artem from Donetsk says that during the interview in Lugansk, a recruiter showed him an SBU ID and explained that he was looking for people to run a drug business in Russia. Artem does not name any details that would identify the officer, since he still has relatives in Ukraine and fears for their lives.

Andrei, who just recently finished serving his sentence, is more open about the SBU’s involvement. He was born in Ukraine before moving to Russia. When he found himself in financial problems in 2014, SBU Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Storchak, with whom he had connections since his days in Ukraine, introduced him to another SBU officer – Dmitry. The latter offered Andrei the chance to raise some money by handling “cargo transportation” in Russia.

Andrei soon learnt what kind of cargo transportation it was, trafficking shipments of between 5 and 200 kilograms of synthetic drugs from one city to another and hiding them in stashes. However, Andrei’s time as a drug trafficker ended in 2015, when he was arrested moving one of the drug shipments in Kurgan. He was sentenced to seven years, but was released early and is on probation.

To force Andrei to cooperate, his SBU recruiter Dmitry threatened him.

“Do not forget that your parents live in Ukraine, and now you will have to work for us anyway and you will always remember that they are here [in Ukraine] and you are there [in Russia]. Their health and life will depend on how you carry out our instructions”, Andrei recalls Dmitry as saying.

Other Ukrainians also recount that in response to their attempts to get out of the drug business, handlers either demanded that they return their travel allowances or threatened them, for example by sending them a photo of the house where their family lived.

Death Laboratories

International drug trafficking is not the only scheme that SBU handlers were involved in. They also branched out into designer drug production.

“The KhimProm drug syndicate, which operated in 14 regions of Russia (it was liquidated in 2017, 47 of the 67 detained members of the group were citizens of Ukraine), produced between 150 and 500 kilograms of controlled substances per week. And in total, in recent years, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs have terminated over 500 laboratories. You can count how much drugs they produced and how many people they could poison”, law enforcement officer Alexander explained.

The drug laboratories set up with the help of the SBU mainly produced two relatively new types of synthetic drugs – mephedrone (a.k.a. “drone”) and alpha-PVP (sometimes referred to as “flakka”).

“The effect of these euphoriants on the human body, and even more so on the body of a teenager, has not been fully studied. But we can already note the strongest changes in the psyche and the pathological deviations detected after a prolonged use”, Alexander explained.

According to law enforcement agency officers, Ukrainians either built laboratories in the border areas and smuggled drugs into Russia or set up production and distribution within Russia’s territory. For example, in 2019, in the Belgorod region alone, 62 kg of drugs were seized from circulation, including 7 kg of synthetic drugs. In 2020, this figure increased almost nine-fold to 534 kg, of which more than half (343 kg) were designer drugs. In 2021, the volume of seized drugs doubled again, to 1,066 kg.

Alexander says that a laboratory at maximum capacity can produce up to 30 kg of drugs per day. Rent, chemical equipment and reagent costs are minimal.

One of arrested chemists was also called Alexander, a native from the Kirovograd region. Chemist Alexander led an illegal laboratory in the Moscow region a few years ago. He is currently awaiting a court verdict in Moscow and has already faced trial for drug production in Ukraine in the past. He reluctantly reveals the identity and methods used to convince him to return to the drug business and go to Russia to “work”. According to Alexander, a graduate of the SBU Academy called Roman offered him the role, but he claims he cannot remember any further details about him.

Unlike other Ukrainians hired for the job, Alexander was not a mere grunt in this hybrid war warranting a simple interview in a café. The future chemist was sent to one of the hostels in the centre of Kiev where he had to pass a lie detector test.

“The interviewers used a polygraph. They were interested in the following: whether I am going to steal money or consume the product, whether I had any connections in the law enforcement, whether I desire to build a career in this business”, chemist Alexander says.

In Russia, Alexander quickly bought everything necessary to set up the laboratory, while all the instructions concerning what and how to “cook” were received from the handler via messenger.

“We produced about five kilograms per day, which at retail cost [sold for] about 2,000 roubles ($33.5) per gram, that is two million roubles ($33,500) per kilogram, which is 10 million ($167,714) per day. This is a crazy profit, just crazy, despite the fact that the reagents cost next to nothing. And we were paid just pennies”, he claims.

The chemists hid the product in the forests, from where it was taken away and re-stashed by a wholesale courier at the instructions of handlers. The scheme was organised in such a way that manufacturers and distributors never crossed paths. Despite this, particularly distinguished couriers could be promoted to work in the laboratory.

The handlers paid special attention to the secrecy of their endeavour. Employees received money for production needs through QIWI and bitcoin wallets or on bank cards issued to different people. In case anyone got stopped by the police, each dealer had their own story explaining why they came to Russia. In case the stories didn’t work, couriers carried a hefty bundle of banknotes with them at all times to try and negotiate with officers “on the spot”.

Drugs as a New Weapon

Who profited from the sale of drugs? Certainly not the Ukrainians who worked on behalf of the handlers. They were earning between 20-40,000 roubles ($335-$670) a month in 2015 selling between 10 and 100 dozes at between 1,300 and 2,000 roubles ($21-$33) each.

Surplus profits from the sale of “dope” were reaped by Ukrainian “generals” – actual owners of online stores – and their patrons among the SBU employees. The proceeds from the operations were transferred via the same QIWI and bitcoin wallets.

“Money from the sale of drugs was cashed out through the banking system of Ukraine, in which PrivatBank played the leading role. The SBU officers, who were turning a blind eye to the recruitment of drug dealers in Kiev or recruiting them on their own, received part of these incomes. The SBU then directed these funds to finance right-wing radical groups such as the Right Sector* or Azov [battalion]”, a source in a Russian Security Service Agency told us.

However, in addition to reaping mega profits, the handlers of these drug operations pursued other goals. In a conversation with couriers, some of them directly said that their task was to make Russian youth “drown in drugs”.

History knows cases when countries organised drug interventions in other states in order to achieve political goals. The 19th century opium wars in China is a fine example. Britain’s efforts to ship its goods to China were blocked by the Qing dynasty’s pursuit of a policy shielding the empire from foreign influence. In response, London organised the trafficking of Indian opium to China, thus boosting the financial income of their colony and at the same time pressing Chinese authorities to cooperate.

In 1839, the emperor closed the country’s market to all merchants and smugglers from Britain and India, prompting London to launch an offensive against China, in which the Crown prevailed. Beijing was forced to open its ports to British goods, pay a hefty indemnity and give up Hong Kong. In turn, the country started suffering from public unrest and its population began to die out.

‘Right Sector’ is a organization banned in Russia

 

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