– Do you speak English?
– No, I спік паску.
(“speak” sounds like the past tense of baked in Ukrainian – “спік” )
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a law allowing to call up reservists for military service without announcing a mobilization, his office said Wednesday.
The move comes amid a massive Russian troop buildup near Ukrainian borders and a flareup of cease-fire violations in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists since 2014.
The new law, passed by Ukraine’s parliament in late March, will allow the country to “quickly equip the military units of all state defense forces with reservists, thereby significantly increasing their combat effectiveness during military aggression,” Zelenskyy’s office said in a statement.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Tuesday that the Russian buildup across the border is continuing and is “expected to reach a combined force of over 120,000 troops” in about a week and urged the West to beef up sanctions against Moscow by targeting entire sectors of the Russian economy.
Moscow has rejected Ukrainian and Western concerns about the buildup, arguing that it’s free to deploy its forces and stressing that they don’t threaten anyone. At the same time, the Kremlin has warned Ukrainian authorities against trying to use force to retake control of the rebel east, saying that Russia could be forced to intervene to protect civilians in the region.
On April 17, the Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian diplomats it identified as spies with Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and General Directorate of the Armed Forces (GRU).
The Czech foreign affairs and interior ministries said they found evidence that Russian operatives were behind a 2014 explosion at an ammunition depot in the town of Vrbetice, which killed two people.
Russia has moved more than 50 fighter jets from Stavropol to the annexed Crimea, TASS reports with reference to the press service of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation.
The crews of the Su-25SM3 aviation unit of the 4th Air Force and Air Defense Army of the Southern Military District, stationed in Stavropol, are relocated to the military airfields in Crimea.
At the same time, the Su-25SM3 Squadron stationed in Crimea was relocated to the Ashuluk test site in the Astrakhan region of the Russian Federation.
“During flight tactical exercises, crews of Su-27SM, Su-30SM and Su-24M, Su-25SM3 and Su-34 bombers will carry out missile launches and bombings of naval targets,” the statement reads.
Russia has announced the that it is closing the Kerch Strait for warships of Ukraine and other countries during its military exercises, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
According to Kyiv, the decision comes into force from next week and will be in effect until October. It extends to parts of the Black Sea adjacent to the Kerch Strait.
“Such actions of the Russian Federation are yet another violation of the norms and principles of international law. They are intended to usurp the sovereign rights of Ukraine as a coastal state. It is Ukraine that has the right to regulate navigation in these areas of the Black Sea,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Kyiv believes that in this way Russia provokes not only on land, but also at sea. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called on the international community to increase pressure on the Kremlin.
A day earlier, an incident between Ukrainian and Russian border guards occured near the Kerch Strait.
According to the press center of the Ukrainian Navy, Russian FSB boats tried to block way for several Ukrainian boats on combat duty.
The Sackler Family’s Dynasty of Guilt
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday: 2021), 560 pages.
It hasn’t been easy to get to the bottom of the Sackler story. From the beginning, the family hid its business dealings in a tangle of subsidiaries. When reporter Barry Meier blew open the story of OxyContin in 2003 with his book Pain Killer: A Wonder Drug’s Trail of Addiction and Death, the Sacklers convinced his employers at the New York Times to ban him from writing about opioids over a contrived conflict of interest. Depositions have been sealed, whistleblowers intimidated, critics bought off, publications threatened with lawsuits.
Patrick Radden Keefe got the full Sackler treatment when he published his blockbuster article “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain” in the New Yorker in 2017, which launched the trend of taking the Sackler name off various endowed buildings, galleries, and professorships. Their lawyer fired off dozens of letters to Keefe’s editors alleging factual errors and threatening to sue Keefe if he proceeded with this book project. Some unknown party even sent a mysterious man in an SUV to stake out Keefe’s house. These attempts at intimidation failed, and we now have the book, Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.
. . . .
His advertising firm came to the attention of the FBI during the McCarthy era. Sackler had a habit of hiring refugees, immigrants, and blacklisted journalists who had been fired from other jobs for their political connections. The result, Keefe says, was a radical atmosphere around the office. “On one occasion, a Swedish designer, who was a communist, made a scene by starting a small fire in the office and burning some of the firm’s own advertisements, to indicate his distaste for such ‘capitalist trash.’” According to one coworker, “We all thought it was hilarious.”
The FBI might have been onto something. It was not until the FBI files were FOIA’d by Keefe and other researchers that it became publicly known that at least one Sackler brother, and possibly all three, were Communist Party members. Raymond and his wife Beverly Feldman cared enough to transfer their membership to the Boston chapter when they moved there in 1944 and then back again to New York when they relocated. Arthur was close friends with millionaire Soviet spies Alfred Stern and Martha Dodd. One veteran Daily Worker journalist who worked for Arthur told a researcher in 1991 that, as he understood it, “all three Sacklers had been party members early on.”
The existing scientific evidences challenge the safety and efficacy of wearing facemask as preventive intervention for COVID-19. The data suggest that both medical and non-medical facemasks are ineffective to block human-to-human transmission of viral and infectious disease such SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, supporting against the usage of facemasks. Wearing facemasks has been demonstrated to have substantial adverse physiological and psychological effects. These include hypoxia, hypercapnia, shortness of breath, increased acidity and toxicity, activation of fear and stress response, rise in stress hormones, immunosuppression, fatigue, headaches, decline in cognitive performance, predisposition for viral and infectious illnesses, chronic stress, anxiety and depression. Long-term consequences of wearing facemask can cause health deterioration, developing and progression of chronic diseases and premature death. Governments, policy makers and health organizations should utilize prosper and scientific evidence-based approach with respect to wearing facemasks, when the latter is considered as preventive intervention for public health.
He drew attention to the fact that the transfer of Russian military equipment and soldiers is accompanied by a stream of disinformation from the Kremlin.
“The speaker of the Russian Foreign Ministry, who we call among ourselves “Moscow Masha”, says that the escalation was caused by the buildup of NATO and Ukrainian Armed Forces in the region. In reality, the opposite is true. And that’s the problem,” the general said.
Hodges believes that there is not threat of Russian invasion of the Donbas. According to him, Moscow has other goals, which are not less bloody.
“The Russians do not need a decisive attack on the Donbas now. The Donbas is needed to continue destabilization in the region and to inhibit Ukraine’s integration with the West. The goal of the Russian Federation is to keep the situation in the region in a state of chaos,” Hodges said.
In his opinion, the South of Ukraine is a higher priority for Russia. Moscow, according to the general, plans to cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea.
“The Kremlin is interested in establishing full control over the Black Sea coast, including Mariupol, Odessa and Berdyansk. All this movement of Russian forces is most likely a diversionary maneuver to strike and capture the water canal connecting Crimea to the Dnieper River. And then, it will become a springboard for further capture of the Black Sea coast,” the U.S. general said.
He specified that Moscow may use the Georgian scenario for the new aggression. The Kremlin will resort to a provocation that will allow it to accuse Ukraine of aggression and give it a pretext for the attack.
The Kremlin claims its military escalation is owing to a March 24 presidential decree by Zelensky that outlines a military strategy to retake Crimea.
I think that is merely a smokescreen and a false pretext. Putin knows that Ukraine is incapable of anything like this.
I think there are two real reasons:
(1) In February, the Ukrainian government imposed sanctions against Viktor Medvedchuk, Putin’s righthand man in Ukraine, and his three television news networks. These news networks were very effective in convincing Zelensky’s supporters to abandon his party to support the pro-Putin political party. And I was predicting at Concorde Capital (I left in January) that Medvedchuk and his party were on the path to retaking the parliament or the cabinet with enough time (because Medvedchuk was so effective in peeling off Zelensky’s supporters, most of whom voted for him to end the war in Donbas).
Without these three television networks, Medvedchuk and his party are severely crippled in retaking power. And the Kremlin understood this and was rather irate with Zelensky, who is a 100% puppet of the IMF (now that he has been cut off from his pimp Kolomoisky). And with the February sanctions, the Kremlin understands that it can never retake Ukraine through democratic means with its mass media outlets being censored. And the only means of taking Ukraine is by military warfare.
Of course, the Russians could be bluffing yet again in order to frighten the West. Putin knows occupying all of Ukraine is too expensive. But he can occupy certain strategic locations (Kherson water reservoirs, eastern military bases, eastern natural gas pipelines) and bomb others further west.
(2) The second reason is the increasing possibility of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline being derailed. Completion of the pipeline is of utmost concern to Putin, and the project’s derailment would be as great a defeat as losing Donbas and Crimea. By expanding his occupation of Ukraine, Putin would put a certain end to natural gas transit through Ukraine and force the Europeans to accept the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, with no other alternative.
Zenon Zawada, political analyst for Concorde Capital investment company in Kyiv between 2012 and 2020.
The Russian government is escalating its confrontations with the West in order to test the Biden administration’s resolve.
Contrary to some assertions, however, we are not witnessing a second Cold War. The Cold War was essentially a stalemate until the Soviet empire imploded. Instead, President Vladimir Putin is engaged in an intimidating international offensive to regain world stature, reconstruct a Muscovite empire, and divide the West.
Russia is reinforcing its military deployments along Ukraine’s borders and raising the prospect of another invasion. It has increased its maritime presence in the Arctic and persistently provokes its Western adversaries through overflights of U.S. and NATO ships in the Baltic and Black seas and close to Alaskan airspace. Such actions have three main objectives: to demonstrate that Russia is a global power, to probe for soft spots in Western defenses, and to distract attention from growing internal turmoil in the Russian Federation. The danger is that Putin’s strategists and generals will miscalculate and precipitate an armed conflict that will rebound against Russia.
There had been a huge blizzard in March that inconvenienced everybody for about two weeks, and then a long melting period, and a last gasp of winter in mid March.
After much encouragement, I convinced my son to go for a walk down to the lake to see the melting ice. I told him it was his last chance to see the fishermen sitting on their stools on the ice.
The wind had blown the ice and it broke in layers and rose up the edge of the concrete dam. Danny broke the ice with the badminton racket. It chipped off in long crystals and he put some in his pockets, and insisted I do the same even after I told him they’d just turn into water.
There were only three fishermen left on the ice sitting by the sluice gates, and another one on the other side of the lake who seemed to be checking a row of fishing lines in holes drilled far apart.
Last month, we had a perfect Sunday afternoon of sledding in Stryiskyi Park, with the afternoon sun slanting through the trees and live jazz music too.
Stryiskyi Park (Kilinski Park) is one of the oldest and most beautiful Parks in Lviv, a monument of landscape art of national importance. Located in Sofiyivka, Halytskyi district. It was considered the most beautiful park in interwar Poland.
Psaki brushed off the reporter’s question as if it was total nonsense with no documents to back up the claims.
“I am not familiar with that claim. It does not sound like it is backed up with a lot of evidence,” she said.
Last September the Senate Finance and Homeland Security Committees released a devastating report on the Biden crime family and backed up their claims with documents from the Treasury Department.
Poland is pushing legislation that would fine social media platforms $13.5 million for censoring users over ideological differences.
Deputy Polish Justice Minister Sebastian Kaleta – the man behind the law – says tech companies have targeted conservatives, Christianity and traditional values for “too long.”
“Freedom of speech is not something that anonymous moderators working for private companies should decide,” said Kaleta to Fox News Wednesday. “Instead, that is for the national body; duly elected officials and all industries, car, phones, finance — were unregulated till they grew too large — the same should happen with Big Tech.”
“We see that when Big Tech decides to remove content for political purposes, it’s mostly content which praises traditional values or praises conservatism,” Kaleta continued. “And it is deleted under their ‘hate speech policy’ when it has no legal right to do so.”
The new legislation hits any platform with a $13.5 million fine if a user is banned over content that is legal under Polish law.
Twitter’s recent banning of former President Trump set a dangerous precedent, Kaleta warned.
“It’s very disturbing because if Big Tech sees themselves as an organization empowered enough to ban a sitting president of the U.S., it sends a message to the world –that we can ban anyone, whenever we want,” said Kaleta.