Displaying items by tag: Russia
Mariangela Alejandro, a history and politics student, was taught by professor Tim Hayward at Edinburgh University. But a few weeks into the course she complained, ‘He goes from talking about global financial markets and poverty into this realm of conspiracy theories about the Syrian president and Russia.’ Days after a maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed, Prof Hayward retweeted a Russian ambassador to the UN describing the attack as #fakenews. The tweet said the hospital had been controlled by the Ukrainian military, and no patients were there. In a lecture he outlined an argument that the renowned aid organisation the White Helmets may have helped fake a chemical attack in Syria. Russia has said the attack was staged. In March he and other academics were accused by MPs in the House of Commons of spreading misinformation about the Ukraine war. Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the Government would crack down hard on misinformation.
Vladimir Putin's admiration for Peter the Great is well known, but he now has ideas of ‘Great’-ness himself as he openly compared himself to the 18th-century tsar. He is equating Russia's invasion of Ukraine with Peter's expansionist wars three centuries ago, thereby acknowledging that his own war is a land grab. Putin's empire-building ambitions have irked his neighbours; Estonia has called his comments ‘completely unacceptable.’ Putin said he sees a new battle for geopolitical dominance, and that Peter the Great was his role model. ‘You might think he was fighting with Sweden, seizing their lands’, Putin said, referring to the northern wars which Peter launched to forge a new empire. ‘But he seized nothing; he reclaimed it. It has fallen to us, too, to reclaim and strengthen.’
The story of this war cannot yet be written, but we can pray about possible scenarios. One would be Russia and Ukraine grinding each other down with neither demonstrating capacity to land a tactically decisive blow. Pray the West will supply Ukraine with all that is needed to overcome Putin. Another could be Putin announcing a ceasefire, pocketing his territorial gains and declaring ‘victory’ with a land corridor to Crimea established. This might change the narrative but not end the fighting. Pray for God’s wisdom to saturate Ukraine’s leaders so that a theoretical peace is avoided, and for US, UK and European policymakers to ensure Russia's invasion fails, for the sake of Ukraine and the international order. Pray for Ukraine’s victory using its new long-range rockets. Pray that it can retrieve territory where Russian supply lines are stretched, causing the troops to withdraw to where they were before the invasion, as Western sanctions hit Russia's war machine.
President Erdogan is giving signals of an imminent cross-border large-scale military incursion into Syria. Military equipment is on the frontier, and artillery shells now pound positions held by Syrian Kurdish armed forces. Senior officials and analysts believe operations against the groups will commence soon, hoping to conclude before the NATO summit on 29 June. ‘We will crack down on them suddenly overnight’, Erdogan told reporters. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said it will coordinate with Syrian troops to fend off any Turkish invasion. An SDF commander said Damascus should use air defence systems against Turkish planes. Turkey’s vowed new offensive will be on areas controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia, a key part of the SDF. Syria warned Turkey there will be no compromise on territorial integrity. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organisation. Syrian Kurdish forces are backed by Washington, and co-ordinated with Syria and its ally Russia. See
Fears of a global food crisis are swelling as Russian attacks on Ukraine’s ability to produce and export grain have choked off one of the world’s breadbaskets, fuelling charges that President Putin is using food as a powerful new weapon in his three-month-old war. On 24 May world leaders called for international action to deliver twenty million tons of grain now trapped in Ukraine, predicting that the alternative could be hunger in some countries and political unrest in others, in what could be the gravest global repercussion yet of Russia’s assault on its neighbour. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where worries about the war’s consequences have eclipsed almost every other issue, speakers reached for apocalyptic language to describe the threat. 'It’s a perfect storm within a perfect storm,' said David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme. Calling the situation 'absolutely critical,' he warned, 'We will have famines around the world.'
More than 14 million people are thought to have fled their homes since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the UN says. More than six million have left for neighbouring countries, while eight million people are displaced inside the war-torn country itself. The EU has granted Ukrainians the right to stay and work throughout its 27 member nations for up to three years. The UN says that as of 24 May, 2.1 million Ukrainians have returned to Ukraine. Some are returning to areas such as the capital Kyiv, which is now considered safer. Kyiv's mayor, Vitali Klitschko, says the city's population is back to two-thirds of its pre-war level.' More than 60,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK, after fleeing the Russian invasion. Some have travelled on family visas, while others have come via a sponsorship scheme which lets unrelated people host an individual or group.
It is well known that Vladimir Putin has had back surgery more than once. He has cultivated a strong action-man image and does not want to appear weak or sick. However, there is talk of Parkinson’s, based on his recent twitches and shaking. An American magazine has released a recorded interview of an unnamed oligarch saying he had to have treatment for blood cancer shortly before ordering the Ukraine invasion. There is evidence of repeated visits by a senior cancer specialist, and a video is being circulated showing him shaking. He appeared frail at Victory Day celebrations, with speculation he is ill with something serious. His erratic, impatient behaviour lately could account for Russia’s many military blunders. It is believed that Moscow has lost a third of its ground forces; there are critical shortages of bridging equipment and surveillance drones, plus increasingly low morale.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sent 42 experts to probe alleged war crimes since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The team of investigators, forensic experts and support staff will improve the gathering of witness testimony and the identification of forensic materials, and help ensure that evidence is collected in a manner that strengthens its admissibility in future proceedings. The court is based in the Netherlands and a significant number of Dutch national experts will help the mission, working together with French forensic experts who are already in Ukraine. The work of all those involved in the conflict area must be effectively coordinated. The ICC prosecutor said alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity turned Ukraine into a crime scene just four days after the 24 February Russian invasion. In the first trial of its kind since the war began, a Russian soldier has admitted killing an elderly Ukrainian civilian. If convicted, he faces up to life imprisonment: see
The EU is finding it difficult to decrease its dependence on Russian oil and gas. One alternative is the proposed EastMed pipeline, which would carry natural gas extracted from fields under the waters of Israel's and Cyprus's exclusive economic zones to Greece and from there to other European countries. The pre-feasibility studies of the pipeline, conducted from 2015-18 and paid for by the EU, found that the project is ‘technically feasible, economically viable and commercially competitive’. The US under secretary of state for political affairs, meeting with her counterparts in Turkey, has said that more pipelines are needed in the Eastern Mediterranean. However, the USA prefers to steer business to Turkey rather than to America's democratic allies, Cyprus, Israel and Greece. Algerian gas pipelines are also acceptable to the Americans, but the long-planned EastMed pipeline is not.
Ukrainian military officials said on 7 May that they had sunk another Russian warship in the Black Sea. The ship was a craft designed to transport and deploy troops to the shore. The strike was executed with Turkish drones, which Ukraine has relied on during the war. Just weeks after the Russian flagship Moskva missile cruiser was hit by Ukraine’s missiles and sunk, this Russian warship was left burning in the Black Sea. A reliable naval source verified that a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile struck the vessel, with a large number of Russian aircraft circling overhead. Russia’s fleet is shrinking. See also