Putin digs himself ever deeper into a quagmire

The Crimes of the Crime against Ukraine: The Case of the Russian Carpet Bombing of Poland in 2022 and the Beginning of the Cold War

David A. Andelman, a contributor to CNN, is a winner of the Deadline Club Award and author of A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen. He was a reporter for CBS News in Europe and Asia. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. CNN has more opinion.

A laundry list of horrors that had been launched by Putin only seems to have driven his nation further away from the civilized powers that he once sought to join.

Now Poland is facing the repercussions from these attacks – and it’s not the only bordering country. Russian rockets have knocked out power across neighboring Moldova, which is not a NATO member, and therefore attracted less attention than the Polish incident.

But the proximate reason for this action was in fact Putin’s utterly inhumane carpet bombing of Ukrainian infrastructure. It is all part of a misguided and futile attempt by Putin to destroy the nation at a time when it is needed most.

Whatever the exact circumstances of the missile, one thing is clear. “Russia bears ultimate responsibility, as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Wednesday.

These attacks began at the beginning of the war and have only increased in scope and virulence after Ukrainian forces attacked a bridge that was close to Putin’s heart.

Russian retaliation – an onslaught of missile attacks – has expanded as Ukrainian forces have continued to push back Russian units and reclaim territory seized in the early days of the war.

The force has planted mines in large parts of Kherson which they have recently withdrawn from like the force did in Cambodia in the 70s. Indeed, Cambodian de-mining experts have even been called in to assist with the herculean task facing Ukraine in 2022. The evidence of torture and atrocities left by the Russian armies are very similar to those of the Khmer Rouge.

Some Russian soldiers are rebelling at what they have been told to do and not fight. Amid plummeting morale, the UK’s Defense Ministry believes Russian troops may be prepared to shoot retreating or deserting soldiers.

Indeed a hotline and Telegram channel, launched as a Ukrainian military intelligence project called “I want to live,” designed to assist Russian soldiers eager to defect, has taken off, reportedly booking some 3,500 calls in its first two months of activity.

Diplomatically, Putin finds himself increasingly isolated on the world stage. The G20, which Zelensky dubbed the “G19,” was the only session in which the head of state stayed away. Though Putin once lusted after a return to the G7 (known as the G8 before he was ousted after his seizure of Crimea), inclusion now seems but a distant dream. Russia’s sudden ban on 100 Canadians, including Canadian-American Jim Carrey, from entering the country only made the comparison with North Korea more striking.

Above all, many of the best and brightest in virtually every field have now fled Russia. This includes writers, artists and journalists as well as some of the most creative technologists, scientists and engineers.

I spoke with a leading Russian journalist, who has settled in Berlin after fleeing his homeland, who told me that he was prepared to accept the reality that many of his countrymen are not going to be able to return to their homeland.

Putin’s Ruling in Africa: The Case for a Realistic Future of High-Energy Interaction with Russia and the United States

There is aumbling in the background as the West attempts to shift away from Russian oil and gas in an attempt to prevent them from pursuing this war. “We have understood and learnt our lesson that it was an unhealthy and unsustainable dependency, and we want reliable and forward-looking connections,” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission told the G20 on Tuesday.

Further wedges into the Western alliance are proving unfulfilled due to Putin’s dream of this conflict driving more burden on Western countries. On Monday, word began circulating in aerospace circles that the long-stalled joint French-German project for a next-generation jet fighter at the heart of the Future Combat Air System – Europe’s largest weapons program – was beginning to move forward.

Still, he continues to hold, as he did in a Tuesday address in the Kremlin, that “attempts made by certain countries to rewrite and reshape world history are becoming increasingly aggressive, ultimately and obviously seeking to divide our society, take away our guiding lines and eventually weaken Russia.”

Editor’s Note: Joyce M. Davis, outreach and opinion editor for PennLive and The Patriot-News, is the president and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She has worked for and lived around the globe, and is an author, a journalist, and a Knight Ridder Newspapers reporter. The opinions expressed here are her own. Read more opinion at CNN.

Russia seems to be getting ahead of the United States in Africa. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov highlighted that stark reality while on a tour of some African capitals.

Putin is the best friend of a brutal dictator. The US’s efforts to exclude Russia and strengthen its ties in Africa are in trouble because of his lack of scruples.

During his visit, leaders in a number of countries treated him like a friend instead of a pariah.

In South Africa, Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor greeted Lavrov with open arms. She didn’t repeat her calls for Russia to stop killing Ukrainians during the meeting. She said it would be silly to do that.

Pandor announced South Africa will be conducting naval drills with Russia and China, which they called exercises with friends. The US and Europe were not amused.

Several African countries, including South Africa, abstained from UN General Assembly votes to condemn Russia and the annexation of Ukraine.

In regards to military co-operation with undemocratic, authoritarian regimes, one of the few countries that openly backed Russia was Eritrea, and it had a long history of co-operation with Russia.

It is possible for democracies to hold their leaders accountable. The rule of law is one of the things Western democracies care about. Putin simply does not. No one holds him accountable for his actions.

He doesn’t care that Eritrea’s president Isaias Afewerki has been unelected since 1993 and that Human Rights Watch says the country has no legislature, no independent civil society organizations, and no independent judiciary.

He ignores the fact that the human rights group claims that the security forces of the country are responsible for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture.

Russia’s military group is bolstering authoritarian regimes throughout Africa, including in Libya. And human rights organizations say Wagner is guilty of its own atrocities on the continent.

During the time of crisis when the US sought a unified condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s influence in Africa had a dramatic impact. There is a vote at the United Nations.

It is true, America has also been guilty of propping up authoritarian regimes and ignoring human rights abuses. The atrocities of the American government in Africa should not be forgotten.

President Biden’s pledge of $55 billion in economic, health, and security aid over three years not only helps counter Russia’s influence but China’s, as well.

Also in Africa last week, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin used her trip to promise even more money. She announced American plans to expand partnerships with Africa on conservation, climate change, and access to clean energy. And she said the United States will provide over $1 billion to support African-led efforts to combat climate change.

And as Russia focuses its efforts on controlling Africa’s despots, the US would do well to focus on the African people, especially on its youth. As they soon take over the seats of power, there are signs young people want more responsible and accountable governments.

On the weekend of October 13-15, a Russian destroyer carrying one of Moscow’s most powerful weapons pulled into a port on South Africa’s east coast.

While the Russian tanks that rolled into Ukraine last year were painted with “Z” and “V” on their blackened smokestacks, the navy’s fleet of Zircon missiles has a “Z and V” painted on its blackened smokestack.

The armed wing of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement: a sell-out in the Indian Ocean?

It is participating in a 10-day naval exercise in the Indian Ocean alongside South African and Chinese warships, war games that South Africa says have long been planned.

The timing of the exercises is a concern for the Western diplomats who are incensed and critical of the government.

The anniversary of the war is a time when the world’s attention will be focused on South Africa and the timing of these exercises is unfortunate. Stevengruzd is the head of the African Governance and Diplomacy Program at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

“By default, we are on the side of Russia. We call it a sell-out in the country of Ukraine. It is selling out to the west,” said Obey Mabena, a veteran of the ANC’s armed wing in an interview last year with CNN.

He was like many in his generation that fled South Africa due to police brutality. In exile, many South African youth joined the armed wing of liberation movements like the ANC and Pan Africanist Congress.

The country that we found is similar to the Soviet bloc and was prepared to give us what we needed. For the first time, we came across White people who treated us as equals, that’s what they gave us.

Liberation fighters and politicians have a very different experience with the West. The US government only supported comprehensive economic sanctions in mid-1980s – decades after the apartheid regime took power.

Nelson Mandela, the first Black president of South Africa, was placed on a terrorism watch list until 2008 due to the Cold War. Many ANC members are convinced that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had a hand in Mandela’s capture, something that has never been proven.

The anti-apartheid movement had some of its strongest allies in the US. Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state was criticized by Joe Biden in Congress, for backing the White South African government.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/19/africa/south-africa-russia-china-military-drills-intl-cmd/index.html

On the morality of the South African stance on the Ukraine war and the tests of the Zircon missile from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov

The person said you can take it or leave it. In the face of arrogance, the only decision we could make was to leave, according to the minister of international relations and cooperation.

She maintains that the goal for the global community should be a negotiated settlement between Russia and Ukraine under the authority of the United Nations. The President of South Africa offered to help out in the talks.

Neither side has taken him up on the offer. But South Africa’s stance on the war has hardly frozen out the country. Since the beginning of the war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other senior US diplomats have all visited South Africa.

But if South African officials believe their stance is the pragmatic approach, it is difficult to argue that it is the moral one. Certainly with a pedigree of moral giants like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu – the late Archbishop of Cape Town whose foundation said this was no time to “sit on the fence.”

Pretoria may come under even more criticism if, as rumored, Russia test-fires a hypersonic Zircon missile from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov during the naval exercises.

Showing them off in the joint drills could be another propaganda highlight for the Russian leader, whose weapons haven’t lived up to expectations in the Ukraine war.

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