Friday, April 29, 2022

Indonesia refuses to supply arms to Ukraine

    Friday, April 29, 2022   No comments

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has confirmed that he has rejected a request from his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky, to supply arms to Kyiv.

Widodo said during a virtual press conference held today, Friday, according to CNN Indonesia, that Zelensky asked him to export arms to Ukraine, but that he stressed that Jakarta could not meet this request due to the principles guiding foreign policies.

The Indonesian president explained that Jakarta follows the principle of "free and active politics," adding that the country's constitution does not allow its government to supply arms to other countries.

He said: "I would like to stress that Indonesia may not support other countries by exporting arms to them, in accordance with its foreign policy principles and the constitution."

The Indonesian Constitution stipulates that the state shall refrain from taking the side of any state in any dispute and actively contribute to the political settlement of disputes and disagreements at the international level.

At the same time, Widodo pledged humanitarian aid to Ukraine, stressed the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities on the territory of this country, and expressed Indonesia's readiness to contribute to the peaceful efforts aimed at settling the conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

He invited Indonesian President Zelensky and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to participate in the G-20 summit to be held on the island of Bali next November.

Moscow and Tehran sign a comprehensive agreement in the field of transport

    Friday, April 29, 2022   No comments

Iranian Minister of Roads Rostam Qasemi, who led a delegation to Moscow, concluded a comprehensive agreement on railway cooperation between Iran and Russia, at the conclusion of his talks with the Russian Minister of Transport.

During the talks, which were also attended by members of the delegations of the two countries, Russian Transport Minister Vitaly Soliev, referring to the expansion of relations between the two countries, expressed his hope that the signing of the agreement would further expand bilateral cooperation in the field of transportation.

He said that the north-south railway corridor can be the basis for expanding cooperation between Russia, Iran, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and there is a need to sign a contract to implement this huge project, expressing the hope that the Rasht-Astara railway section will be completed with joint cooperation.

Vitaly Soliev said: In addition to joint efforts in the construction of this section, we can cooperate in its use and exploitation, which is of particular importance along the North-South railway.

The Russian Minister of Transport indicated that his country views the Islamic Republic of Iran as a hub for trade and transit in the region, and said: With the completion of the railways, especially the Rasht-Astara section, northern Europe will be linked to the Indian subcontinent, which will lead to huge transit revenues for the countries. Located along the route, including Iran and Russia.

The Iranian Minister of Roads also said that Iran is interested in developing and expanding cooperation with its neighbors, explaining that Iran shares its borders with 15 countries, and in the meantime, Russia is important to us as an important neighbor with historical ties.

Qassemi added: If Iran and Russia work closely together, the US and Western sanctions against the two countries will have no effect, explaining that every trade needs to develop the transportation field, and it is possible that any agreement between the two countries will be signed in the transportation field.

The Minister of Roads said: The exports between the two countries and Russian exports to other countries via Iran can be agreed upon and implemented in the shortest possible time, explaining that among the railways, the Rasht-Astara railway is very short and economical, and if the two countries cooperate in completing this section. The volume of exchange and transit of goods between the two countries will increase significantly.

In conclusion, Rostami stressed the possibility of increasing cooperation between Tehran and Moscow in both Chabahar and Shahid Rajaei port.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres walks in war zone characterizes the war in Ukraine as “absurd”, could see his own “grandchildren running in terror.”

    Thursday, April 28, 2022   No comments

ISR Comment:

To Mr. Guterres: There is another absurd war that is also absurd and was allowed to go on for seven years: The war in Yemen. But perhaps the children of Yemen do not look like your grandchildren, so that is why you cannot relate, you cannot imagine them to be your children; so you don’t visit Yemen’s destroyed cities and watch the children dying of hunger and lack of basis medicine because of the suffocating embargo by a regime that threatened to cut off aid to UN organizations if its crimes against children was reported by any UN agency. Perhaps, if the UN and many Western states spoke forcefully against the many wars in Muslim communities initiated or enabled by the West, the world will be more united and successful in preventing this war. Consistency is an element of justice. The bigotry and discrimination against communities of the Global South will haunt those complicit in all human rights crimes and will destroy the reputation of the UN organization for its failure to support for the poor and vulnerable.

The News:

Guterres - who is on his first visit to Ukraine since the start of the Russian war on the country on February 24 - said in front of destroyed buildings accompanied by soldiers and local officials, "I imagine my family in one of these houses, I see my grandchildren running in terror, the war is absurd in the 21st century, any war that is not acceptable in the 21st century.”

While touring damaged towns outside Kyiv, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Russia to cooperate with war crimes probes. Meanwhile, German lawmakers approved sending heavy weapons to Ukraine. DW has the latest.

Biden proposes using seized Russian oligarch assets to compensate Ukraine

The White House proposed using assets confiscated from Russian oligarchs to compensate Ukraine for damage caused by Russia's invasion of the country.

This would enable "transfer of the proceeds of forfeited kleptocratic property to Ukraine to remediate harms of Russian aggression," the White House said in a statement.

To date, European Union allies have frozen more than $30 billion (€ 28,6 billion) in Russian assets, including almost $7 billion in luxury goods belonging to oligarchs, including yachts, art, real estate and helicopters, the White House said.

The United States has "sanctioned and blocked vessels and aircraft worth over $1 billion (€950 million), as well as frozen hundreds of millions of dollars of assets belonging to Russian elites in US accounts."



Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Putin: Any country or party interfering with what is happening in Ukraine would make Russia "respond harshly"

    Wednesday, April 27, 2022   No comments

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned any country or party against interfering with what is happening in Ukraine, and stressed that his country would "respond harshly."

This came during Putin's speech before a session of the Council of Legislators of the Russian Federal Assembly, which was held in Petersburg.

"If an outside party tries to interfere in the Ukrainian events, it should know that our strikes will be lightning," he said.

He added that in the event of any threat to Moscow, "it will use means that none of its opponents yet possesses," without further clarification.

In this context, Putin considered that the West has turned neighboring Ukraine into an "enemy country of Russia," and continued, "Ukraine has simply become a consumable item in the war against Russia."

During his speech, Putin reiterated that all the objectives of the planned military operation in Ukraine "will be achieved without a doubt," stressing that it will guarantee the security of Donbass, Crimea and the whole of Russia in the future.

On February 24, Russia launched an attack on Ukraine, followed by international rejection and severe economic and financial sanctions against Moscow, which stipulate to end its operation that Kyiv abandon plans to join military entities and adhere to complete neutrality, which the latter considers an "interference in its sovereignty."

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Russia draws new rules of engagement: British weapons making their way Ukraine, if used to attack targets in Russia, will be responded to by attacks on "decision-making positions in Kyiv"

    Tuesday, April 26, 2022   No comments

After the statements of the British Deputy Defense Minister, that there would be no problem if the weapons supplied by Britain to Ukraine were used to "hit targets inside Russian territory", Moscow responded.

Russia draws new rules of engagement: British weapons making their way Ukraine, if used to attack targets in Russia, will be responded to by attacks on "decision-making positions in Kyiv"

The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that it will respond by striking decision-making positions in Kyiv, if the latter uses British weapons provided to it to strike targets inside Russian territory.

"We want to stress that London's direct provocation with such measures, if implemented, will immediately lead to an appropriate response on our part," the ministry said in a statement.

"There will be no problem if the weapons supplied by Britain to Ukraine are used to strike targets inside Russian territory," Hebei said earlier.

"As we previously warned, the Russian armed forces are on standby around the clock to launch long-range and precisely targeted strikes against decision-making centers in Kyiv," the Russian statement added.

"In the event of a response and strikes on the Ukrainian decision-making headquarters in Kyiv, advisers and citizens of one of the Western countries will not pose a problem to Russia," the statement continued, using a phrase Hebe said in his statements.

Two weeks ago, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced, during his meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv, that his country would provide a new package of financial and military aid, noting that this aid "is a testament to Britain's commitment to Ukraine's struggle against Russia."

In a related context, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace threatened to use nuclear weapons to protect the "NATO" alliance against Russia, noting that "some missiles are under water, and the British Navy is ready to launch nuclear weapons if necessary... Russia should not forget that." 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Russia Is Making Even More Money on Energy under Sanctions Regime; Ukrainian Finance Minister: embargo would raise prices so high that Russia could still earn significant revenue from oil and gas sales elsewhere

    Saturday, April 23, 2022   No comments

Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko said a potential European embargo on Russian energy would significantly raise prices and thus increase Russia’s earnings, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Marchenko said that an embargo would raise prices so high that Russia could still earn significant revenue from oil and gas sales elsewhere.

This is not an unforseen outcome; any systems thinker should be able to see how shortage in a product or good can increase profit. For example, amid chip shortage and the pandemic slowdown, car makers were producing less cars but they were selling what they were making at much higher prices, not only offsetting the lower production, but increasing profits.

Similarly, Russian profit from oil export increased and will continue to increase until the market adjust.

 Russia expects to earn 798.4 billion rubles ($9.6 billion) in additional revenue from energy sales in April due to high oil prices, the finance ministry said, as Moscow needs cash to finance its obligations while being cut off from its reserves.

In related news, Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero talks about Western sanctions imposed on Russia, and says that his country does not consider them an effective way to solve the crisis in Ukraine.

Today, Saturday, Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero stressed that his country does not consider the sanctions imposed on Russia an effective way to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.

He said that his country proposes a return to dialogue and calm, pointing out that imposing sanctions and siege is not a fruitful way to achieve peace, dialogue and diplomatic negotiations.

"For Argentina, the interests of Latin America are a priority, and there are now problems in the region that deserve attention," Cafiero noted.

He added, "It is true that the war in Europe has, to a certain extent, captured the public's attention, but the humanitarian crisis in Haiti is no less urgent, and it does not surface because the media does not focus on it."

Regarding preparations for the Ninth Summit of the Americas, which will be held in June in Los Angeles, Cafiero stressed "the need to discuss food security in the region," adding that the United States "cannot stand aside."

He believed that judging countries and imposing sanctions and embargoes "are not Argentina's style, and they never were, and it seems to us that these measures in the region have only led to more inequality and social backwardness."

"Buenos Aires will not support Russia's exclusion from all international organizations, including the G20, so that we do not believe that this contributes to resolving the crisis," said Gabriela Cerruti, a press spokeswoman for the President of Argentina.

German Central Bank: Boycotting Russian gas will cost the country 180 billion euros

    Saturday, April 23, 2022   No comments

The German Central Bank has indicated that the sudden interruption in supplies to the European Union could reduce economic output by 5 percent this year, according to the British Financial Times.

The central bank has warned that the immediate ban the European Union is considering imposing ban on Russian gas imports will cost Germany 180 billion euros this year.

And the bank added, in its monthly bulletin, yesterday, that this ban will affect the gross domestic product by 5% in 2022, which will lead to higher energy prices, in addition to one of the deepest recessions that the country has experienced in recent decades, according to the British newspaper.

Thus, the central bank's estimates are much more negative than those of academic economists, and it is likely to bring to the fore the fierce debates about the readiness of the economic power of the eurozone in the face of the absence of Russian gas.

This comes at a time when the Ukrainian government, along with European politicians and academics, considers that sales of gas, oil and coal to the West contribute to the stability of the Russian economy, and help "finance the war of President Vladimir Putin." The European Union will ban imports of Russian coal from August, while gas shipments are set to continue.

Last month, a group of nine university economists deemed the fallout of the entire energy ban "manageable," noting that it would affect Germany's gross domestic product by only 0.3 to 3 percent.

However, industry officials warned that the impact would be more severe. In this context, BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller noted that a sudden halt to Russian gas deliveries could destroy "the entire German economy" and could lead to the worst economic crisis since 1945.

For their part, politicians rejected allegations that the economic repercussions of the embargo would be “minor.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described these estimates as “wrong” and “irresponsible,” while Economy Minister Robert Habeck considered that Germany would permanently dispense with Russian gas by 2024.

During the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington yesterday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on the European Union to “be careful” about banning Russian energy imports, warning of the damage such a move could cause to the global economy.

The Bundesbank, which considered its estimates still highly questionable, estimated that industrial consumers could not replace Russian gas with alternative energy sources for three consecutive quarters. As a result, inflation, which reached 7.3 percent, will rise by 1.5 percent this year, exacerbating the risk of inflation, given the association of strong price pressures with weak growth, according to the newspaper.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Turkish FM says some NATO states want Ukrainian war to continue

    Thursday, April 21, 2022   No comments

Some NATO member countries want the Russia-Ukraine war to prolong so Russia gets weaker, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on April 20, stressing that rival states must not see Ukraine as an arena of competition.


“After the talks in Istanbul, we did not think that the war would take this long. There are those who want this war to continue,” the minister told broadcaster CNN Türk.


“But, following the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting, it was the impression that... there are those within the NATO member states that want the war to continue, let the war continue and Russia gets weaker. They don’t care much about the situation in Ukraine,” he added.


Çavuşoğlu stressed that Ukraine must not be seen as an arena of competition.


Source: Hurriyet Daily News


Putin announces the "liberation" of Mariupol; Kadyrov's forces shown in house-to-house clearing of the city

    Thursday, April 21, 2022   No comments

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced today that his country's forces succeeded in controlling the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and ordered the besieging of the last Ukrainian fighters, instead of storming the Azovstal industrial site where they are holed up.

"The operation to liberate Mariupol was a successful operation," Vladimir Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Putin promised again to guarantee the safety of Ukrainian soldiers who surrender, saying: "I once again propose to all those who did not lay down their arms to do so, provided that the Russian side guarantee their safety and treat them with dignity."

This comes after the Russian "Interfax" news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that the Russian forces had taken control of the city of Mariupol, with the exception of the "Azovestal" factory, where the remaining Ukrainian soldiers were hiding.

Shoigu informed Putin of the control of the city through a report that stated: "The Russian armed forces and the militia of the Donetsk People's Republic managed to liberate Mariupol, while the rest of the nationalists are hiding in the (Azovstal) industrial zone."


As a result, Putin ordered not to storm the "Azovestal" plant, stressing on the other hand the need to completely close the area and "prevent even the fly from entering."


He continued, "I consider storming the industrial zone unacceptable, and I order to withdraw from it immediately," noting that the health of the Russian soldiers and the preservation of their lives must now be considered, according to the Russian agency.


Earlier, the Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov, announced in an audio recording that the Russian forces will, within two days, end the "Ukrainian extremists'" control of Mariupal. 

Kadirov, later, released videos (below) showing his fighters in close contact combat in the city, and the following statement:

My dear BROTHERS - Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Adam Delimkhanov, deputy commander of the police regiment of the FFGKU "UVO VNG of Russia in the Chechen Republic" police colonel Sultan Rashaev "Fighter" and dear NEPHEW Khalid Kadyrov planned an assault on the Azovstal plant yesterday.⠀

Today, Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin canceled the assault on the enterprise and instructed to focus on other tasks. The main goal has already been achieved, Bandera and nationalists are blocked in industrial zones and will not go anywhere. Their only way out is to surrender. I hope they are smart enough to do so.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

China signs the security agreement with the Solomon Islands, drawing criticism from the US and Australia

    Tuesday, April 19, 2022   No comments

The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday, that Beijing and the Solomon Islands signed a joint security cooperation agreement.

The official Chinese CGTN network quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin as saying that "officials from China and the Solomon Islands signed a framework agreement for bilateral security cooperation."

"The security cooperation framework signed by China and Solomon Islands does not target any third party, and does not conflict with the existing bilateral or multilateral security cooperation mechanisms of the Solomon Islands," the Chinese newspaper, Global Times, quoted the Chinese foreign minister as saying.

On the other hand, the United States expressed its concern over China's conclusion of a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, to which a delegation of senior American diplomats went, in an effort to "thwart Beijing's expansion" in this strategic region.

"Despite the statements of the Solomon Islands government, the broad nature of the security agreement leaves the door open for the People's Republic of China to deploy military forces in the Solomon Islands," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

In turn, Australia asked the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavarre, not to sign the security agreement with China.

Two days ago, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed that "Australia will continue to cooperate with the Solomon Islands on security issues."

The Chinese government respended to US criticism by asking: "Why does the US bother to visit an island country where its embassy has been shut down for 29 years? To care about the country's development status or try to achieve other purposes?" 

The timing and the rhetoric signal that China is using current events to emphacize Western states' double standard by connecting the issues of the Solomon Islands, Taiwan, and Ukraine. The Chinese leaders seem unconvinced of the need to speak against Russia's war in Ukraine because of the utility of Putin's justification of his operation in Ukraine to China's security concerns related to US and EU support to Taiwan and US and Australia's objection to an agreement with the Solomon Islands: If Ukraine has the right to join NATO,  Solomon Islands, too, should have the right to enter into security agreement with China.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Wall Street Journal: Saudi Arabia pushed the Yemeni president to step down, and he was detained at his home in Riyadh and his contacts were restricted

    Monday, April 18, 2022   No comments

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Saudi Arabia pushed Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to step down earlier this month and that officials detained him at his Riyadh home and restricted his communications.

Hadi announced his resignation on April 7 and handed over his powers to a new leadership council as Yemen entered into a truce seen as a rare glimmer of hope in the conflict that has riven the poorest countries on the Arabian Peninsula.

The newspaper quoted unnamed Saudi and Yemeni officials as saying that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave Hadi a written decree delegating his powers to the council, which consists of eight representatives from different Yemeni groups.

According to these sources, some Saudi officials threatened to publish what they said was evidence of Hadi's corruption as part of their efforts to persuade him to step down, the newspaper wrote.

A Saudi official told the newspaper that Hadi has been detained since leaving his post inside his home in Riyadh and has been denied access to any phones.

This reported action, if true, is the second instance of Saudi rulers placing heads of government of foreign countries under limited access and forcing them to take specific action.
In 2017, Lebanese prime minister, Sa`d Hariri was detained and forced to resign; his release was later secured by France, and upon returning to Lebanon, he resended his resignation. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Chechen Special Purpose Police Regiment in Ukraine

    Friday, April 15, 2022   No comments
Chechen Special Purpose Police Regiment, an elite unit named after Akhmad-Khadzhi Kadyrov, a Chechen revolutionary who served as chief Mufti of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in the 1990s during and after the First Chechen War, are shown here in action in southeast Ukraine. Akhmad Kadyrov's son, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is now the President of the Chechen Republic, is believed to be overseeing the deployment of these fighters in person. 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Tehran in response to an American report on human rights: Washington is the biggest violator of human rights

    Thursday, April 14, 2022   No comments

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh responded to what was stated in the annual report of the US State Department on Iran.

In its annual report on the human rights situation in the world, the US State Department accused Iran of "committing widespread violations of human rights."

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said: "It is clear that the US administration, which is addicted to lies, cannot be expected to clarify the existing facts and facts. Therefore, the biased, political and intrusive nature of this report is clear and consistent for all and for the Iranian people."

Khatibzadeh pointed out that the US administration, "with its history full of wars, coups, assaults, assassinations, kidnappings, economic blockades, and killing of innocents around the world, has been a major violator of human rights, and therefore it is not worthy in any way to talk about lofty concepts such as human rights."

He added that the United States "shed crocodile tears for the Iranian people, while its crimes against Iran, including downing a passenger plane and inciting its tails at home to assassinate the people and officials over the past decades, will remain forever alive in the minds of the Iranian people."

The spokesman described the US administration's allegations as "duplicity" and "aimed at achieving its illegitimate political goals," saying that "the US president's direct issuance of orders to assassinate Major General Qassem Soleimani, in a cowardly manner, well revealed the terrorist nature of the United States."

Khatibzadeh pointed out that the US administration "turned a blind eye to the blatant and systematic violations of human rights within its country and at its allies," noting that "everyone has repeatedly witnessed how racial discrimination against minorities and Black Americans occurs systematically and widely in America, which in turn led to protests by Black people and by the people of that country."

He stressed that "the excessive violence of the police and the killing of Black people in front of the eyes of citizens exposes the approach of the US administration against human rights."


Irked by Kyiv cancellation of German President's Visit to Ukraine, Olaf Scholz says he won't visit Ukraine Soon

    Thursday, April 14, 2022   No comments

German Federal President Fran-Walter Steinmeier's visit to Kyiv was cancelled by Ukraine, which has irritated the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed his surprise, Wednesday, at the Ukrainian government's sudden cancellation of the scheduled visit of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to Kyiv.

In an interview with German RBB radio, Schulz described Kyiv's decision to cancel Steinmeier's visit as "confusing," noting that the German president was looking forward to visiting Ukraine and "it would have been good if they had received him there."

The German newspaper "Bild" had previously quoted sources in the Ukrainian government saying that Kyiv canceled Steinmeier's visit scheduled for yesterday because of his previous role in developing his country's relations with Russia.

The German chancellor indicated that "he himself does not intend to visit Ukraine in the near future," stressing that "he visited Kyiv shortly before the start of the Russian military operation in the territory of this country and since the outbreak of the conflict has been in constant contact with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky by phone."

For his part, Vice-President of the German Bundestag, Wolfgang Kubiki, expressed his opposition to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's visit to Ukraine after it refused to receive the country's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"I cannot imagine that the chancellor of the government supported by the FDP will go to a country that has declared the president of our country persona non grata," the DPA news agency quoted Kubiki, who is also vice-chairman of the Free Democratic Party of Germany, as saying.


Also on Wednesday, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov announced that more than 1,000 soldiers of the Ukrainian Marine Corps have surrendered to Russian forces in Mariupol.

"More than 1,000 soldiers of the Ukrainian marines surrendered in Mariupol, among them hundreds of wounded," Kadyrov said, adding that this was the "right choice."

The Chechen president, whose forces are fighting along Russian troops in Ukraine, said that there are about 200 wounded inside the Azovstal factory, and that they "cannot get medical help now", calling on the remaining Ukrainian forces in Mariupol to surrender.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Arrest of opposition figures in Russia and Ukraine get different coverage in Western media

    Wednesday, April 13, 2022   No comments

 Arrest of opposition figures in Russia and Ukraine get different coverage in Western media. Here is a sample.

News report 1:

Russian authorities on Monday arrested Vladimir Kara-Murza — a prominent Kremlin critic who has written columns for The Washington Post protesting Russia’s war in Ukraine and violations of human rights.

Kara-Murza was arrested outside his home in Moscow, the same day CNN published an interview in which he called Vladimir Putin’s government “a regime of murderers” and predicted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would lead to the Russian president’s downfall.

Source: Washington Post

News report 2: 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Tuesday on Telegram that Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician and oligarch, had been detained in a "special operation."

Zelensky posted a photo of a handcuffed and disheveled-looking Medvedchuk wearing fatigues, with the caption, "A special operation was carried out thanks to the SBU [the Security Service of Ukraine]. Well done! Details later."

Prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Medvedchuk had faced allegations of treason in Ukraine and had been under house arrest. His whereabouts had been unknown in the weeks following the invasion. Some observers speculated that Medvedchuk or one of his allies might be the Kremlin's preference to lead a puppet government in Ukraine if the Feb. 24 invasion succeeded in toppling Zelensky. 

 Source: CNN

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Qatar, Iran sign aviation agreements; discuss the feasability of tunnel linking the two coutnries

    Tuesday, April 12, 2022   No comments

April 12: Qatar and Iran have signed a bilateral agreement for operations to link Doha Flight Information Region (which was established in accordance with ICAO resolution) with the FIR in Iran.

An agreement to increase the number of flights between Qatar and Iran was also signed, in the presence of Minister of Transport HE Jassim bin Saif bin Ahmed Al Sulaiti and Iran’s Minister of Road and Urban Development Rostam Qassemi.

Besides, the meeting looked into all issues that would remove obstacles in a way that supports the promotion and facilitation of transport and trade between the ports of the two countries.

They also reviewed private investment opportunities in ports, in the presence of Al Sulaiti, and Iran’s Minister of Road and Urban Development.

Tehran and Doha to study the feasibility of the longest tunnel in the world

Iran is planning feasibility studies for what would be the longest tunnel in the world. If built, it would physically connect Iran to Qatar across the Persian Gulf.

The project would link the Iranian port of Bandar-e Deyr to an unspecified location in Qatar. The underwater tunnel would run for 190 km, with both road and railway sections, although the former is more difficult. Earlier this year, President Raisi visited Doha, his first visit to an Arab country, to sign four cooperation agreements, from energy to transport.  

India: "Our purchases in a whole month may be less than what Europe buys in one afternoon"; US: "an increase in human rights violations by some officials in India"

    Tuesday, April 12, 2022   No comments

US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held "frank" video talks, which did not seem to succeed in bringing the two countries closer together on the Russian military operation in Ukraine, which is destabilizing their relationship.

At the beginning of the virtual meeting, the US president praised the "deep relationship" between the two countries, expressing his desire to "continue close consultations" in light of the military operation in Ukraine.

For his part, the Indian Prime Minister described the situation in Ukraine as "extremely worrying", noting that India supports negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, which Washington views with much pessimism.

After the meeting, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters that "it is important to urge all countries, especially those that have influence on Russian President Vladimir Putin, to stop military operations."

"It is also important that democracies speak with one voice to defend the values ​​we share," he added.

On the other hand, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to a journalist who asked him why his country did not condemn the Russian military operation, saying: "Thank you for your advice and suggestion, but I prefer to do it my way."

After the White House said Biden had warned Modi that it would not be "in India's interest to speed up" its purchases of Russian energy exports—something that would partly offset the decline in Western purchases of these exports—the Indian foreign minister's response took a very sharp tone.

"Our purchases in a whole month may be less than what Europe buys in one afternoon," the minister told reporters.

For her part, US presidential spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, later, that "the president has made it clear that he does not believe it is in India's interest to accelerate or increase its imports of Russian energy," which so far represents a very small part of its purchases, or "other raw materials." .

Psaki stressed that Washington is ready to "help" India to "diversify" its energy sources.

The Biden administration wants to strengthen US alliances in the Asia-Pacific region to confront China, especially the re-launch of the so-called "Quad" alliance between the United States, India, Australia and Japan.

The disagreement shifted the conversation to another topic often used as pretext to frame conflict: human rights.

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, announced that the United States is monitoring what he described as "an increase in human rights violations by some officials in India," in a rare direct criticism from Washington of the human rights record in the Asian country.

These statements come after US President Joe Biden's video talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday, which did not succeed in bringing the two countries' positions on the war in Ukraine closer, and continue to destabilize their relationship.

In a joint press briefing with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Indian Foreign Minister Subramaniam Jaishankar, and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh today, Blinken emphasized: “We communicate regularly with our Indian partners on these shared human rights values, and for that, we are monitoring some developments. Alarming situation in India recently, including the increase in human rights violations by some government, police and prison officials.

Blinken did not elaborate. Singh and Jaishankar, who spoke after Blinken at the press briefing, did not comment on the human rights issue.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Mass demonstrations in support of Imran Khan in Pakistan's capital and other cities

    Sunday, April 10, 2022   No comments

Pakistan is likely to go through a challegning period in the weeks and months ahead, as the country and the world for that matter is adjusting to new circumstances and conditions bound to shape the global order.

The Pakistani Prime Minister, who was ousted yesterday, Imran Khan, posted a video clip on his Twitter page, showing a large demonstration in support of him in a square in the capital, Islamabad, on Sunday evening.

Commenting on the video, Khan wrote: "Never in our history have such crowds come out so spontaneously and in such numbers to reject the imported government led by fraudsters."

Al-Mayadeen's correspondent in Pakistan had reported that "supporters of Imran Khan demonstrated in support of him in the capital, Islamabad." Our correspondent added, "Other demonstrations by supporters of Imran Khan took place in the cities of Lahore and Karachi, while calls for demonstrations spread on Tuesday."

Today, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan asserted that his country was "being exposed to a foreign plot aimed at regime change". "Pakistan became an independent country in 1947, but today the struggle for freedom begins again against a foreign plot to change the regime," Khan said on his Twitter account.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Imran Khan was impeached by the Pakistani Parliament. Our correspondent said: "The result of the vote came in favor of the withdrawal of confidence from Prime Minister Imran Khan with 174 votes."

Late last month, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that he had received a threatening letter from the United States. "The United States threatened to topple my government because I refused to establish military bases for it on our land," he explained.


Is US, UK, and Australia cooperation to develop hypersonic weapons under AUKUS alliance driving China to support Russia in its war in Ukraine?

    Sunday, April 10, 2022   No comments

Is US, UK, and Australia cooperation to develop hypersonic weapons under the framework of the new AUKUS alliance driving China to support Russia in its war in Ukraine?

This analysis seems to make the connection.

As the US, the UK and Australia announced they would cooperate to develop hypersonic weapons under the framework of the new AUKUS alliance and the NATO leaders are set - for the first time ever - to discuss China's influence and "coercive policies" in its next strategic concept, analysts said that the US is making use of the Ukraine crisis to speed up the coordination of NATO and the "Asian version of NATO" to serve its purpose of containing China and keep its global hegemony, which will bring greater harm to both regional and global peace, and risk a regional arms race. 

read the article in its source

China send a fleet of Y-20 transport planes loaded with missiles to Serbia

    Sunday, April 10, 2022   No comments

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Russian ally Serbia took the delivery of a sophisticated Chinese anti-aircraft system in a veiled operation this weekend, amid Western concerns that an arms buildup in the Balkans at the time of the war in Ukraine could threaten the fragile peace in the region.

Media and military experts said Sunday that six Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes landed at Belgrade’s civilian airport early Saturday, reportedly carrying HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems for the Serbian military.

The Chinese cargo planes with military markings were pictured at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport. Serbia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment.

The arms delivery over the territory of at least two NATO member states, Turkey and Bulgaria, was seen by experts as a demonstration of China’s growing global reach.

“The Y-20s’ appearance raised eyebrows because they flew en masse as opposed to a series of single-aircraft flights,” wrote The Warzone online magazine. “The Y-20′s presence in Europe in any numbers is also still a fairly new development.”

Serbian military analyst Aleksandar Radic said that “the Chinese carried out their demonstration of force.”

read more from the AP story...

China's major English language online outlet said this about the event:

A fleet of six Y-20 cargo planes of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force was reportedly spotted in Serbia on Saturday, with observers saying on Sunday that it could be the largest overseas operation by the Chinese domestically developed large transport plane yet, displaying the country's strategic transport capabilities.

Citing commercial flight trackers, US news website reported on Saturday that the six Y-20 aircraft were first spotted heading west in Turkish airspace late Friday night, and later local residents took photos of the Y-20s, which allegedly landed in Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, Serbia. The aircraft later flew over the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey again on their way back to China.

China has not made an official announcement about the mission as of press time, but the Global Times learned that the Y-20s indeed have carried out such a flight.

Read GT story here...

Analysts have already connected this event to the war in Ukraine.

As the Ukraine war rages on, Serbia is feeling the heat because of its ties with Russia. While in the U.N. General Assembly, Serbia voted in favor of the resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supporting Ukrainian territorial integrity, Belgrade avoided imposing economic sanctions against Russia.

With its partnership with Russia under duress, Serbian ties with Beijing appear carefree in comparison. Indeed, the war in Ukraine provides Serbia with an opportunity to continue and boost the policy, which was already unfolding even before the war, of replacing Russia with China as Serbia’s primary non-Western partner. This policy is even more appealing as Serbia is about to undergo an electoral cycle in April 2022, making China a perfect instrument of domestic promotion for the Serbian leadership.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

A Shocking 99% of Us Are Now Breathing Unhealthy Air, WHO Warns

    Thursday, April 07, 2022   No comments

We often take the air we breathe for granted, but new data reveals that the pollutants behind millions of preventable deaths now taint the air most of us breathe at unhealthy levels.

"Air pollution has an impact at a much lower level than previously thought," says World Health Organization technical officer Sophie Gumy, in reference to WHO's recently updated air quality guidelines.

Based on an analysis of air pollution data covering more than 6,000 cities in 117 countries, WHO says 99 percent of the world's population now breathes air that does not meet the updated safety guidelines. This covers 80 percent of the world's urban areas.

read more ...

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Paper: Turkish government exploring plans to "initiate a dialogue with the Syrian government"

    Tuesday, April 05, 2022   No comments

Erdogan and Assad, archive picture
 The Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, reported on Monday that the Turkish authorities are currently in discussions to initiate a dialogue with the Syrian government, which would restore relations between the two countries to normal.

The newspaper quoted informed sources as saying that "the policy of balance recently adopted by Turkey, and the role that Ankara has played in recent months, especially toward resolving the war in Ukraine"... makes the current timing good for resolving Turkey's crisis in Syria.

The sources pointed out that Turkey, "in all its contacts with the Syrian administration," emphasizes 3 indispensable things, namely "preserving the unitary structure and the unity of the Syrian territories, and ensuring the security of refugees returning to their country," in addition to "the activity of the Kurdistan Workers' Party."

According to the newspaper, Ankara conveyed these important messages to Damascus, especially before the visit of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the UAE.

This development is one in many initiated by Erdogan's government to stablaize the economy before the elections. Turkish economy suffered due the the Syrian war, which Erdogan assumed would end fast. That did not. Now the Turkish economy is under stress due the war in Ukraine.

A Reuters poll showed, Monday, that "the annual inflation rate in Turkey is expected to rise to 61.5% in April, and only decrease to 52.2% by the end of the year, due to the country's impact on the crisis in Ukraine and the rise in commodity prices."

The average estimate of 17 institutions for annual inflation in April was 61.5%, with expectations ranging between 58.25% and 62.7%, and the decline of the lira and the rise in food and energy prices pushed inflation in February to its highest level in 20 years, recording 54.4% This is despite tax cuts on basic goods and government support for some electricity bills to ease the burden on household budgets.

Turkey's consumer price index has risen since last fall, with the lira weakening after the central bank in September began the 500 basis point cut cycle that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had long sought.

Economists pointed to "expectations of global consumer price inflation, in the wake of the Russian military operation, with energy prices reaching their highest levels in several years after the West imposed sanctions on Moscow," explaining that "Turkey imports almost all of its energy needs."

A Chicago synagogue officially designates itself 'anti-Zionist'

    Tuesday, April 05, 2022   No comments

The Tzedek Chicago membership has voted to add anti-Zionism to the core values of our congregation.

The Tzedek Chicago membership has voted to affirm a unanimous board decision to change “non-Zionism” to “anti-Zionism” in our core values statement. This vote followed on a months-long series of membership meetings and collective discernment - and the Tzedek leadership is immensely grateful to the many members who participated so actively and honestly in this process. Beyond this one decision, we are committed to continuing this important and sacred conversation together as a community -  and how we might create and live out a Judaism beyond Zionism.

We will be putting a committee together to draft a public statement that will explain our decision. We intend to include many of the comments and insights that were shared during our community process, so that the statement may reflect the depth and complexity of our conversation.

Here is the original board Q&A explaining the reason for its decision:

Why Did Tzedek Chicago originally include “Non-Zionism” as part of our core values?

read more from the source... 

Monday, April 4, 2022

See how almost a quarter of humanity ushered in Ramadan, their holiest month

    Monday, April 04, 2022   No comments

Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, began this weekend for the 1.8 billion Muslims around the world. From sun-up to sundown, the physically able among them will fast — abstaining not just from food but also so much as a sip of water.

Friday, April 1, 2022

With Russia is working on developing more trade with the ruble, the Dominance of US Dollar will be reduced

    Friday, April 01, 2022   No comments

With Russia is working on developing more trade with the ruble, together with sanctions, all that will Reduce Dominance of US Dollar.

The US-led Western sanctions campaign against Russia threatens to chip away at the US dollar’s dominance as the world’s reserve currency, a top IMF official told The Financial Times.

Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s first deputy managing director, said the sweeping sanctions against Russia will lead to more countries making transactions in other currencies.

“The dollar would remain the major global currency even in that landscape but fragmentation at a smaller level is certainly quite possible,” she said. “We are already seeing that with some countries renegotiating the currency in which they get paid for trade.”

Since the sanctions campaign began, Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken steps to increase trade with the ruble. He said that Russia will stop selling gas to “unfriendly” nations unless they pay in the Russian currency. Moscow has also proposed to India to make deals in ruble-rupee-denominated payments.

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