"British Bishop Richard Williamson speaks about Putin May 15, 2022 in Warsaw."
May 24 2022
Unit commander’s wife receives call saying prisoners have not been subjected to violence by Russian forcesUkrainian soldiers captured by Russian forces after the three-month siege of the Azovstal steel plant are being held in “satisfactory” conditions, according to the unit commander’s wife, amid uncertainty over the fate of the prisoners.
Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov battalion, was able to briefly call his wife, Kateryna, who said she had also been told that the prisoners had not been subjected to violence. It was not immediately clear if Prokopenko had been able to speak freely during the conversation.
“He said he was ‘OK’ and asked how I was,” Kateryna Prokopenko told the Guardian on Tuesday. “I’ve heard from other sources that the conditions are more or less satisfactory.”
The Azov battalion has played a central role in Russia’s justification for its invasion, which was originally launched with the supposed goal of “denazification”. Officials in Kyiv have suggested they could be swapped in a prisoner exchange, but some Russian officials have called for them to face trial or even execution on “terrorism” charges.
Previously, the only news of the fighters’ conditions had come via a news channel given access to the prison by the Russian Ministry of Defence. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is involved in monitoring the conditions for prisoners of war and has a long-held policy of not publicly commenting, has not issued a statement.
“They are being fed, given water. The conditions meet the requirements and they have not been subjected to violence during this short period,” said Kateryna Prokopenko. “What will happen next, of course, we don’t know but at the moment there are third parties – the UN and the Red Cross – who are controlling the situation.”
Most of the injured Azov fighters are being held in a prison in Olenivka, a village in Russian-occupied Donetsk, but a smaller group of severely injured fighters are in a hospital in the town of Novoazovsk, also in Russian-occupied Donetsk. Prokopenko said that to her knowledge none of the fighters have been taken to Russia.
Russia’s propaganda narrative of the war has long played up the influence of the battalion, claiming that its members are neo-Nazis.
Azov formed as a volunteer battalion in 2014 to fight Russian-backed forces and some its leaders are known to hold far-right views. Since then, it has been integrated in the Ukrainian army and Azov commanders say its fighters hold a range of political opinions.
Kateryna Prokopenko has launched an independent organisation to campaign for the Azovstal fighters who also include Ukrainian border guards and members of the Ukrainian security services.
“The aim of the organization is to organise weekly calls with those being held prisoners, to debunk Russian fakes about our guys, to ensure that their conditions remain satisfactory – a bed, medicine, water and food, and to campaign for their swift release,” said Kateryna.
Ritter suggests that Russia might either 1) slow things down and wait until the economic situation in the West will become so bad that they just can't go on 2) declare real war with Ukraine, Poland and even Finland and Sweden if necessary.
And now with a couple of Polish battalions having crossed over to Ukraine, Ritter says it maybe a 'gift' to allow Russia to take more serious action. I really hope it doesn't come to that, that would basically mean WW3.
Lex Friedman interview with Oliver Stone, May 17, 2022. Good interview relating to Russia and Putin.
Ukraine has “a wonderful lever of pressure” on Hungary via the Druzhba – which translates to ‘Friendship’ – oil pipeline, Ukrainian energy minister adviser Lana Zerkal claimed on Thursday. Speaking during an online discussion at the Kiev Security Forum, Zerkal criticized the policy of the Hungarian government, which is blocking a sixth round of EU sanctions, one which would ban Russian oil. Western countries have imposed harsh restrictions since late February, when Moscow launched its military attack on Ukraine.
In Zerkal’s opinion, Hungary is using the Russian military offensive as an instrument to achieve its own goals and thinks that now it “can demand anything” from the EU. “Ukraine has a wonderful lever of pressure in its hands – it’s the Druzhba oil pipeline,” Zerkal said, adding that “something could happen” with Hungary’s separate part of the infrastructure.
“And, in my opinion, it would be very appropriate if something happened to it. But, again, it is in the hands of the government and the president to make decisions on political issues, to decide if we really want to talk to [Hungarian President Viktor] Orban in a language that he understands and that he imposes on the EU, or if we are not ready for that yet,” Zerkal stressed.
Zerkal later took to Facebook to clarify “her humble opinion” that “caused a diplomatic scandal,” saying “facts are a stubborn thing.”
“But, to calm the situation, it is worth specifying that the official position of the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine on this matter is unchanged. Ukraine is a reliable transporter of energy carriers to Europe,” she stressed.
Thank you for sharing that. Such discourse is totally absent in the West and no window is given to the Russian worldview and the thoughts of people in Russia about the current state of affairs. It could be put up as a Sott article so that more people get the opportunity to see it from outside this Forum.
If Kiev uses NATO weapons to strike inside Russia, that could divide the alliance and escalate the conflict
The US and its allies have communicated to Ukraine the danger of escalation should the weapons provided by the West be used to attack targets inside Russia, according to an exclusive report by Reuters quoting anonymous officials on Thursday. However, Washington has not explicitly banned Kiev from doing so.
The highly sensitive, behind-the-scenes discussions have “sought to reach a shared understanding of the risk of escalation,” according to the agency’s sources.
“We have concerns about escalation and yet still do not want to put geographic limits or tie their hands too much with the stuff we're giving them,” said one of the three US officials who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Only two officials were quoted by name, and it wasn’t clear what their relation to these discussions might be. Douglas Lute, a retired US Army lieutenant-general and Washington’s former ambassador to NATO, said that if Ukrainian troops struck deep inside Russia, “it would spark a divisive debate inside the alliance. And, of course, the alliance doesn't want that. And neither does Ukraine.”
Reuters also confirmed that the Biden administration was considering supplying Ukraine with multiple rocket launchers such as the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which could theoretically be used to strike deep into Russian territory.
Less than an hour after the story was published, one Ukrainian official was on Twitter begging for HIMARS.
“We urgently need M270 MLRS or M142 HIMARS to save the lives of Ukrainian soldiers,” wrote Anton Geraschenko, adviser to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. “USA has 2,000 MLRS in the army and in warehouses. If they give us just 200 of those, we will stop [the Russian] attack on [Donbass] and will throw them outside of Ukraine!” he added.
Geraschenko echoed the sentiments of Congressman Jason Crow (D-Colorado), who met with the Ukrainian leadership over the past month. Crow, a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, said the US had told Kiev that its weapons “should be used responsibly,” but that he was “less concerned about the issue of escalation than making sure that Ukrainians can win now and push back the Russian forces.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces retreated from the key town of Liman in northern Donbass, bringing the Russian troops a step closer to Slavyansk. Fighting continued in the Severodonetsk and Lisichansk salient, while Russian troops approached the major supply hub of Bakhmut.
Ukrainian artillery has struck several villages on the Russian side of the border over the past month, killing civilians. Kiev has not admitted responsibility for the attacks. When two helicopters attacked a fuel depot in the Belgorod Region in early April, Ukrainian officials first claimed credit, then disavowed all knowledge of the operation.
The newly reported US concerns about escalation are at odds with previous public comments by US and other NATO officials. On April 27, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate it was up to Ukraine to decide whether to attack Russia. The day earlier, British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said it was “completely legitimate for Ukraine to be targeting in Russia's depth,” prompting Moscow to warn that such an action would “immediately lead to our proportional response.”
Reuters chose to end their article with a quote from one anonymous US official, who warned that there “could be scenarios where the Ukrainians are backed into such a corner that they feel they have to escalate further,” but noted that “we haven't seen that yet.”
In the above interview, Ritter makes quite a number of pretty interesting points about the situation that I have not heard anyone explaining and proposing in that way before. If I can, I‘ll try to summarize it in the coming days, for discussion. In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to listen to the above interview and I would love to hear what you think about it. On a number of points he could be right on the money, especially on how Putin might plan his next moves.
I watched this this morning and I think that Ritter's analysis makes for the most part a lot of sense. However, regarding the 40B$ he apparently isn't considering it meaningful that large chunks of that money is earmarked for various projects, not just cutting edge weaponry. This is all explained by Larry Johnson HERE. Quote:
I watched it and Scott went into the potential realities for Europe in terms of economic harm in the near future. So I think he made a good case for Putin to "slow roll" phase two and let Europe become a little more malleable to negotiation and compromise after they suffer some. That to me sounds more like something Putin would do being very prudent and strategic as he is wont to be. However, there's bound to be things we don't know and generally too many moving parts to make any absolute assertions.