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Homeআন্তর্জাতিকWest bars Kiev from thinking about peace : Kremlin

West bars Kiev from thinking about peace : Kremlin

West bars Kiev from thinking about peace : Kremlin

 

Dhaka July 04 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on July 04 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

Ukraine fires ballistic missiles at Russian city – MoD

At least four people have been killed in Belgorod overnight in what appears to be the worst-ever shelling of Russian territory by Ukraine

Ukraine launched three Tochka-U ballistic missiles loaded with cluster munitions at the Russian city of Belgorod, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday. It added that all three had been intercepted mid-air, but that parts of one of the missiles had hit a house.

Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that three people were killed and four injured overnight. He added that 11 apartment buildings and at least 39 smaller houses were damaged.

Gladkov later said that the death toll had grown to four. Three of the victims are Ukrainian nationals and one is a Russian citizen, he added.

Russian news outlet Baza later reported that two more bodies were recovered from under the rubble, raising the death toll to five. This has not yet been confirmed by officials.

Belgorod is located around 40 kilometers from the Russia-Ukraine border.

Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said that Ukraine had also sent two Tu-143 Reys drones, “loaded with explosives,” towards Kursk, another Russian city close to the border. He said both drones were destroyed by air defenses before reaching the city.

Konashenkov said that Ukraine targeted residential areas, which had “no military sites.”

The Russian authorities have repeatedly accused Ukraine of shelling cities and villages close to the border. Moscow previously warned that it would hit Ukrainian “decision-making centers, including Kiev” if attacks on Russian territory did not stop.

Kiev accused Russian troops of attacking residential areas and killing civilians throughout Ukraine. Moscow insists its forces are only striking military targets.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

West still betting on continuing war, not allowing Kiev to talk about peace

MOSCOW, July 3. /TASS/. The West is currently betting on continuing the war, Washington does not allow Kiev to think or talk about peace, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday.

“Now is the moment when Western countries are betting on the continuation of the war. This means that the moment continues when Western countries, under the leadership of Washington, do not allow Ukrainians to think or talk about peace,” Peskov said in an interview with Rossiya-1 TV channel.

At the same time, he is convinced that sooner or later common sense in the West will prevail and negotiations on Ukraine will resume. “Now the demand for initiatives to pacify the situation has declined. But we have no doubt that sooner or later common sense will prevail and once again the turn of negotiations will come,” Peskov added.

He also noted that before the negotiation process resumes, Ukraine will have to “once again understand Moscow’s conditions”. “Agree to them. Sit down at the table. And just formalize the document that has already been agreed in many respects,” Peskov concluded.

European leaders most often lack the strength to be guided only by the interests of their countries, they have to follow the collective West, Russian presidential spokesman said.

“European leaders, they still have their own countries with their own interests. And they actually can have varying points of view. We see this very well,” Peskov said, commenting on the differences between countries in the G20.

 

Moscow suspects UK of seeking to ‘infiltrate’ Black Sea

London is looking for a “pretext” to take charge of ‘grain evacuation’ process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has claimed

The UK is looking for a “pretext” which would allow the Royal Navy to “infiltrate” the Black Sea and to take charge of the release of grain stocks from Ukrainian ports, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed on Sunday.

Kiev and Western nations have accused Russia of blocking food exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, allegedly contributing to surging global food prices. Moscow denies the allegation, saying it has been offering safe passage to freighters but that Ukraine is preventing civilian ships from leaving the ports, including Odessa. Russia also says Kiev’s deployment of sea mines has created a threat to shipping in the area.

In an interview for Rossiya 24 news channel, Lavrov noted that some countries are trying to use the food security issue “in the worst possible way” by accusing Moscow “of something it is not involved in” and by “whitewashing” Ukraine.

In this context, the Russian minister pointed to the statements of the Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Minister Liz Truss. From Lavrov’s point of view, they “are clearly trying to create conditions, to find pretexts for the Royal Navy to infiltrate the Black Sea and become almost in charge of all the processes of releasing grain from those ports that have been mined by Ukrainians and which Ukrainians must clear.”

According to the Russian foreign minister, there are “many manifestations of those convulsions” in the Western politicians’ actions, especially now, when they are facing various domestic problems amid elections which have to take place “every two, three or four years.” Lavrov claimed that “the principles of neoliberal democracy” require these politicians to divert the attention of the population. Therefore, the minister argued, it makes sense to follow the debates about possible advantages of “states with a strong central government” and the ways they are responding to the various crises.

During the recent G7 summit in Germany, the British prime minister called for urgent action to help move grain supplies out of the Black Sea ports, adding that British expertise in “remote de-mining” and insurance of shipping in contested waters could help in fulfilling this task.

The UK also pledged £10 million ($12.1 million) in materials and equipment to Ukraine Railways to repair rail infrastructure and help get grain out of the country by rail. The government is also putting £1.5 million ($1.8 million) to develop a testing process “to identify whether grain sold by Russia on the world market has been illegally taken from Ukraine.”

 

West bars Kiev from thinking about peace – Kremlin

The US and its allies are still interested in continued conflict in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday. Western nations effectively prevent the government in Kiev from even thinking about any potential peace talks, the official added.

When asked about potential reasons that have led German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron to no longer call Russian President Vladimir Putin, Peskov called this another sign suggesting that western leaders are not interested in achieving peace through dialogue and negotiations.

“At the moment, the western nations are actively betting on the continued war,” Peskov told the TV show  ‘Moscow. Kremlin. Putin.’ on Russia’s Rossiya 1 channel. The position of the western nations –led by Washington– leads to a situation where they “allow Ukrainians neither to think nor talk about or discuss peace,” the Russian president’s spokesman added.

The Kremlin believes that “common sense” would eventually prevail and the sides will return to the negotiation table. “Now, the demand for pacifying the situation is low,” Peskov commented, adding that “we are sure … that the time for talks will come.”

Kiev will still have to “once again understand” all the demands put forward by Moscow before the talks could continue, the Kremlin spokesman pointed out. The Ukrainian government is well aware of Russia’s position, he said, adding that Kiev just needs to “sit down at the [negotiation] table” and “sign a document that has already been largely agreed.”

Moscow and Kiev started peace talks just four days after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine in late February. The sides have held several rounds in person in Belarus and then continued the talks via a video link. In late March, the delegations from Russia and Ukraine met once again in Istanbul.

Since then, however, the talks have completely stalled, as the Ukrainian side has insisted it would only come back to the table when it was in a “stronger negotiating position.” In April, Putin accused Kiev of bringing the process to a deadlock. Peskov said at that time that Russia had provided Ukraine with a draft agreement and was awaiting a response.

In June, Ukraine’s top negotiator David Arakhamia suggested that Kiev believes it could achieve this “favorable position” by late August after it conducts “counteroffensive operations in certain areas.”

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

Russia Could Launch Both Light, Heavy Angara Rockets This Year – Rogozin

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia will launch its lightweight Angara-A1.2 rocket this year, while the launch of the heavy-lift Angara-A5 rocket is expected at the end of 2022, or in early 2023, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian state-run space agency Roscosmos, told Sputnik.

“This year, we also plan to launch the light Angara, and after the payload is determined by our main customer, the heavy Angara will also be launched. When will it happen, the end of the year or the start of next year, it’s up to them,” Rogozin said.

He added that the heavy-lift Angara-A5 rocket is already at the Plesetsk cosmodrome, while the lightweight Angara-A1.2 will get delivered there soon.

In May, Rogozin told reporters that Roscosmos had delivered all Angara rockets ordered by the Russian Defense Ministry to the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

The first Angara-A5 test launch was conducted in December 2014, while the first launch of the Angara-1.2 rocket was successfully completed in July of that year.

In October of last year, Russian media reported that the Russian Defense Ministry was planning to carry out 17 launches of the new Angara-A5 heavy-lift rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome before the end of 2027.

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

Donbass republic fully liberated – Russian defense minister

The whole territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic has been wrested from Ukrainian control, Moscow says

The last remnants of Ukrainian forces have been driven out of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced on Sunday. He reported the news to President Vladimir Putin, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Shoigu said Russian troops and Donbass forces had completely seized Lisichansk, the last major city which had remained under Ukrainian control since 2014, when the LPR declared its independence shortly after a coup in Kiev.

Russia and Ukraine reported heavy fighting around Lisichansk earlier this week, with the most fierce combat occurring at the city’s oil refinery.

News of the capture of Lisichansk comes after Ukrainian troops retreated from Severodonetsk, a nearby city on the opposite side of the Seversky Donets River, last week. The fighting for Severodonetsk had lasted for several months.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

German minister speaks out against boycott of Russian culture

Numerous Western cultural institutions have removed Russian-linked works in response to the Ukraine conflict

Boycotting Russian culture is “completely wrong,” German Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media Claudia Roth said in an interview with Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, which was published on Saturday.

Some Western institutions have started to remove Russian-linked works of art and culture since the beginning of Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine in late February.  

In the interview, Roth cited a recent story involving a mayor in North Rhine-Westphalia who banned a youth orchestra from playing music by the famous Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky. He subsequently had to make a U-turn and allow the music to be performed following public backlash. However, Roth claimed that there is still “a great deal of uncertainty” when it comes to dealing with Russian culture.

“I believe that a boycott is completely wrong, because it is often the Russian artists who try to maintain the last freedoms,” the minister said.

She added that Russian classic culture, be it music or literature, should not be boycotted either.

“I’m not going to let Putin take Chekhov from me!” she said.

Debates about how to deal with Russian culture amid Moscow’s “special military operation” are ongoing in many Western countries with some German politicians among the most outspoken critics of culture bans.

Sergey Loznitsa, a prominent Ukrainian director and screenwriter of Belarusian origin, said in his acceptance speech at the Cannes Film Festival that all cultural figures had suddenly found themselves “on the front line.” He spoke out against ‘canceling’ Russian culture, claiming that “there is no logic or sense” to respond to the “barbarism” by “demanding the destruction or abolition of what has always opposed barbarism.”

The Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra in Wales removed Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s famous 1812 Overture, which celebrates Russia’s successful defense against Napoleon, from its program, claiming it was “inappropriate.” Meanwhile, a university in Milan, Italy tried to suspend a course on acclaimed Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, saying it was trying to avoid tensions by focusing on Ukrainian authors instead. After a public backlash, the decision was reversed.  

The Royal Opera House also canceled the traditional summer season of Bolshoi ballet, while Netflix paused the production of ‘Anna K’, an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel ‘Anna Karenina’.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has likened efforts by the elite in the West to weaponize “cancel culture” against famous Russian composers and writers to Nazi book burnings.

 

UK Defense Ministry Threatens to Cut Off Fuel Suppliers Over Use of Russian Oil

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The UK Ministry of Defense has threatened to abandon fuel suppliers that use Russian oil, a ministry spokesman said on Sunday.

“If oil products supplied to the Ministry of Defense are found to come from Russian suppliers, we will take immediate action to switch to alternate suppliers,” the spokesman was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

The ministry reportedly buys fuel from a range of suppliers, including jet fuel from Greek company Motor Oil Hellas, which signed a five-year deal with Russia’s Rosneft in November 2017.

Tanker tracking data shows that shipments of fuel oil have been sent from Russia to Motor Oil’s terminal in Corinth since the start of the special operation in Ukraine. The spokesman said that the ministry was assured that the fuel obtained from Motor Oil Hellas was not sourced from Russia.

The UK announced in March it would phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of 2022, in response to the Russian security operation in Ukraine. Russian imports accounted for 8% of the country’s total oil demand and 18% of diesel before the operation began.

 

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

Russian Defence Ministry report on the progress of the special military operation in Ukraine (July 3, 2022)

 

The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continue the special military operation in Ukraine.

Successful offensive of Central group of troops commanded by Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin have resulted in establishing contol in Verkhnekamenka, Zolotaryovka, Belogorovka, reaching Seversky Donets river and having cordoned Lisichansk in coordination with Southern group of troops commanded by General of the Army Sergey Surovikin.

Ukrainian group of troops has been completely isolated in this pocket. 38 Ukrainian servicemen, whose major part constitute local residents forcibly mobilised by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), have surrendered in this area just over the past 48 hours.

Russian troops and units of the Lugansk People’s Republic are fighting near Lisichansk and defeating the isolated enemy. Novodruzhevsk, Maloryazantsevo and Belaya Gora located near Lisichansk had been liberated over the past day.

The enemy suffers considerable losses on all fronts.

54th Mechanised Brigade of the AFU has lost over 60 per cent of personnel and equipment near Maryinka (Donetsk People’s Republic) during several days. The rest of the personnel is demoralised and refuse to fulfil combat tasks.

High-precision attacks launched by Aerospace Forces near the eastern part of Kharkov has resulted in the elimination of provisional base of 127th Separate Territorial Defence Brigade.

The attack has resulted in the elimination of over 100 Ukrainian servicemen and 15 units of equipment.

Up to 120 ‘soldiers of fortune’ have been eliminated by an attack launched by Russian Aerospace Forces at a base of foreign mercenaries.

A unit of 5th Separate Assault Regiment from 1st Separate Brigade of the President of Ukraine has been eliminated near Spornoye (Donetsk People’s Republic). 18 Ukrainian militants have been eliminated, 2 of them have surrendered, and the rest have escaped.

Russian Federation Armed Forces continue launching attacks at military facilities located in Ukraine.

High-precision attacks launched by Russian Aerospace Forces have resulted in the elimination of 10 command posts near Spornoye (Donetsk People’s Republic), Lepetikha (Nikolayev region), Zelenodolsk (Dnepropetrovsk region), 7 munitions depots near Konstantinovka, Bakhmut (Donetsk People’s Republic), Malaya Shesternya (Kherson region), Visunsk, Nikolayevka and Polyana (Nikolayev region), as well as AFU manpower and military equipment in 15 areas.

Within the counter-battery warfare, high-precision attacks launched by Russian Aerospace Forces have resulted in the neutralisation of 3 artillery and 5 mortar plattoons near Verkhnekamenskoye (Donetsk People’s Republic), Belogorovka, Maloryazantsevo, Zolotaryovka (Lugansk People’s Republic).

Operational-tactical and army aviation, missile troops and artillery have neutralised: 32 AFU command posts, 1 munitions depot, as well as manpower and military equipment in 287 areas.

Russian air defence means have shot down 2 Su-25 of Ukrainian Air Force near Dibrovnoye (Kharkov region) and Kvitnevo (Nikolayev region).

10 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles have been shot down near Novoye (Zaporozhye region), Volnovakha, Donetsk (Donetsk People’s Republic), Dmitrovka, Izyum, Berezovka and Kupyansk (Kharkov region).

8 MRLS projectiles have been intercepted, including 4 laucnhed by HIMARS near Stakhanov (Lugansk People’s Republic) and 4 launched by Uragan near Popasnaya (Lugansk People’s Republic) and Kamenka (Kharkov region) and near the city of Donetsk.

In total, 229 airplanes and 134 helicopters, 1,440 unmanned aerial vehicles, 353 air defence missile systems, 3,893 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 704 combat vehicles equipped with multiple rocket-launching systems, 3,078 field artillery cannons and mortars, as well as 3,979 units of special military equipment have been destroyed during the special military operation.

Tonight, from 03.00 AM to 03.30 AM (Moscow time), the Kiev regime launched an intentional attack by Tochka-U ballistic missiles with cluster munitions and Tu-143 Reys unmanned aerial vehicles at the residential areas of Belgorod and Kursk that have no military facilities.

I emphasise that this missile attack had been intentionally planned and was launched at civilian population of Russian cities.

Russian air defence means have destroyed all the 3 Tochka-U ballistic missiles launched by Ukrainian nationalist at Belgorod. Fragments of one of the destroyed Ukrainian missiles fell down at a residential buildings in the city.

In addition, Russian air defence means have destroyed 2 Ukrainian Tu-143 Reys unmanned aerial vehicles charged with explosives while approaching Kursk.

 

INSIGHTS

The US and Russia mark Pearl Harbor and Hitler’s invasion very differently – that tells us a lot about national identity

@RealScottRitter@ScottRitter

Over generations, perceptions distort history, and keeping memory alive is important for national identity

Last month, Russia marked June 22, the date Operation Barbarossa – or Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union – began in 1941. As a former American officer from a military family, whose close ancestors fought in World War II, I could not but reflect on why in America the date that war began for us – December 7, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor – is not observed as solemnly as June 22 is in Russia.

My father was a career Air Force officer which meant that, when I was a child, we moved from place to place, depending on the needs of the service. In the early 1970’s, we were fortunate to be stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, on the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii. My father was assigned to the headquarters of the US Pacific Air Force. The building he worked in bore the bullet holes made when Japanese aircraft strafed it during the attack. These scars of war, together with similar holes in the wooden banister of the interior staircase, were retained as part of an official policy designed to instill the mantra, “Never Again” in everyone who saw them.  

The other constant reminder of Japanese perfidy existed across Pearl Harbor Bay, off Ford Island, where on December 7, 1941, the US Pacific Fleet was moored. There, one could find the rusting hulls of the USS Arizona and USS Utah, left where they sank, a permanent cemetery for the thousands of sailors who lost their lives in the Japanese surprise attack. Over the remains of the USS Arizona a white structure had been built, a memorial to those lost that day. One could reach it by ferry. I visited it often, and always found myself staring at the holes in the ship’s structure where the massive turrets containing the Arizona’s mighty 14-inch guns had been mounted. I took solace in the thought that one of these turrets had been recovered and re-mounted on the USS Nevada and was used to bombard Japanese positions during the battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa; even as a child, one can learn to hate, especially when gazing upon the graves of so many.

My grandmother on my father’s side came to visit us while we were in Hawaii. Her husband, Irving Ritter, had served in the US Air Corps during the first World War, flying Curtiss ‘Jenny’ fighters (the war ended before he could be sent to the front). Irving and my grandmother had three children: Helen, Shirley, and my father. Helen married a Marine Corps veteran of the battle of Iwo Jima, and Shirley married a US Army weatherman who was crippled in a training accident before he could participate in a covert mission behind enemy lines in Burma to collect climate data used to direct US bombing attacks on the Japanese. My father was too young for World War Two, but he served a tour in Vietnam, and was now in Hawaii.

My grandmother insisted that we visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial. There was no love lost on her part for the Japanese, something that became apparent as she told us stories about how she listened to the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and, later, President Roosevelt’s address to the nation, where he declared that a state of war existed between the US and Japan. Always the proper lady, my grandmother dressed up for the visit, wearing a modest dress and her hair up, befitting the occasion.

To get on the ferry to the memorial, you had to purchase tickets. As we stood in line, my grandmother noticed bus loads of Japanese tourists arriving at the ferry wharf, tickets in hand, waiting to board the ferry to the memorial. It was 1972, some 31 years since the Japanese attacked the sleeping US fleet, and given the age of many of the tourists, men and women in their fifties and sixties, they had not only been alive when the attack took place but had been active participants in the society that carried it out.

My grandmother was a well-bred lady of a certain stature in society, not prone to making scenes or using foul language, but when she saw the Japanese tourists, she turned to my father, and in as an indignant voice as can be imagined, asked loudly, “Why are there so many goddamned Japs here?”

The Americans in line with us looked at my grandmother with sympathy; they could tell by her age, and where we were standing, that her emotional outburst was coming from a place of authenticity. All eyes were turned to the Japanese, many of whom had heard her words, and were now looking down at the ground in shame and embarrassment. It was not a comfortable moment for anyone present.

My father explained that many of the Japanese had come as an act of atonement, to show respect for the dead. He outlined that times had changed, and that we were now friends with the Japanese, and that we didn’t use words like ‘Japs’ when referring to them. My grandmother listened in silence, seething. But she retained her composure, and we completed the tour without further incident. Afterwards, as we drove home, she wept quietly. “They have no right,” she said, referring to the Japanese. “That place is not meant for them.”

Her pain was real, and there was no amount of time that could pass which would cure the wounds she felt in her heart. She died later that year, and her memories of the war passed with her.

Every December 7, I pause and reflect on the meaning of that day. I re-read President Roosevelt’s address and pay special attention to the notion that it was “a date which will live in infamy.”

Infamy. According to Merriam-Webster, the word means an “evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking, or brutal.”

My grandmother certainly believed that was the case, and having experienced Pearl Harbor through her eyes, so did I. I could, and have, forgiven the Japanese for what they did that day.

But I will never forget.

Sadly, I can’t say the same thing about my fellow Americans. When was the last time we, as a nation, formally marked Pearl Harbor Day? Yes, every year the US military holds a solemn ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial, attended by local politicians and senior military officers. But does Poughkeepsie, New York pause and reflect? Mobile, Alabama? Bangor, Maine? Kalamazoo, Michigan?

No. As a nation, we have no collective memory of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the underlying infamy attached to those who perpetrated it. History has no meaning if you don’t ingrain it into your very being. For me, the memory of my grandmother’s indignation at the very site of the infamy in question left an indelible imprint. But unless one has a similar moment of clarity, history is but a collection of stories from a bygone era, merely the experience of strangers, and is thus seldom learned, never cherished, and easily forgotten.

In June 1988, I was part of a five-person advanced party of US personnel sent to Votkinsk, a Russian city located some 750 miles east of Moscow, in the foothills of the Soviet Union, where the Soviets maintained a factory that produced ballistic missiles. I was working for the On-Site Inspection Agency, whose job it was to implement the provisions of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, one of which was to build a monitoring facility outside the gates of this missile factory. We arrived in Votkinsk on June 18. The first team of US inspectors was due to arrive on July 1. We had a little less than two weeks to get things ready for their arrival.

The Soviets put us up in an upscale dacha (country house) on the outskirts of the town that had been built to host former Defense Minister Dmitry Ustinov during his frequent visits to Votkinsk. Now it played host to five Americans.

A few days after arriving, I woke and went for a morning run, accompanied by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official whose job it was to make sure I didn’t “get lost.” After breakfast, the Soviets drove us to the factory, which we were seeing for the first time. I walked the perimeter of the factory, initiating what was to become a routine for all future inspection teams (the inspection provisions called for a perimeter patrol to be conducted twice a day.) We then toured the rail sheds outside the factory gates, took measurements of places where equipment was scheduled to be installed, and returned to the dacha for lunch. On the television, I saw images of the Second World War being broadcast. I quickly realized what day it was and turned to my Soviet hosts.

“This is the anniversary of the German attack on the Soviet Union,” I said. “Are there any ceremonies taking place to mark the occasion? If so, I’d like to attend, and pay my respect.”

My hosts were appreciative of my grasp of history but told me that there were no official ceremonies. “The veterans and their families might visit a memorial,” they said. “But the official holiday for the Great Patriotic War is on May 9, Victory Day.”

That night, as we walked along the lakefront in Votkinsk, my hosts took me to a downtown memorial. There were bundles of flowers laid out in front. As we watched, families would pass by and lay more flowers.

“In America,” I told my hosts, “we have an official holiday to mark our entry into the Second World War: ‘Pearl Harbor Day’. I’m surprised you don’t have something similar here to commemorate the German attack.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs official thought about what I said for a moment, before responding: “Perhaps we chose to memorialize the victory. Those were dark days. Maybe it is best to remember them in private.”

On June 22, 2022, I watched the Russian president lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and at the Hero Cities memorials, in commemoration of the Day of Remembrance and Sorrow. Eighty-one years ago, on that date, the forces of Nazi Germany began their attack on the Soviet Union, beginning nearly four years of conflict that impacted virtually every family in the country. At least 27 million Soviet citizens lost their lives.

As I watched the solemn ceremony, I was struck by the contrast between the conversation I had in Votkinsk some 34 years prior and the events of the present. What had changed?

In short, history. Or at least how a nation collectively opted to remember its history.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought with it a fundamental change in the way Russians viewed their history. The Soviet Union was largely denigrated, and that which had been celebrated in the name of Soviet glory was left to languish amid an atmosphere of frustration and recrimination. Russia, as a nation, floundered, its identity as confused as its future.

To create a foundation of historical fact that could be used to redefine the character of modern Russia, its first president, Boris Yeltsin, in 1996, instituted June 22 as a national memory day, the Day of Remembrance and Sorrow. In keeping with the solemnity of the occasion the law mandated that there be no entertainment programs broadcast on TV or radio.

Over the years, June 22 has grown to resonate with many of the Russian people. History, it seems, is learned. More than fifty years after the end of the Great Patriotic War, the people of Russia were compelled to re-learn an aspect of their collective history that had been neglected by earlier generations. The May 9 celebration remained, for sure – everyone wants to celebrate a victory, especially one as grand as the occasion of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Days of remembrance and sorrow, however, are more difficult to embrace, especially by those who have not been directly touched by the events occasioned. While it is true that every family in Russia was affected in some way, shape, or form by the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, as the grandparents who fought in the war die off, and the children of those veterans themselves age and deal with the realities of the present, the grandchildren are left contemplating a nation whose identity could very well be dominated by the challenges of the future.

By making June 22 a holiday of remembrance and sorrow, where no extraneous entertainment will be brooked lest the memories of what happened be somehow sullied, Russia is manufacturing history. This manufacturing is not being done by fabrication or distortion, but by simply taking the building blocks of history that had been allowed to collapse from past neglect and shaping them into something that the present generation could identify with, absorb, and make a real and present part of their identity as citizens of Russia.

In the United States, we have allowed the memory of what happened to be erased from our collective history and confined it to the myriad instances of family lore, until it dwindled to mean nothing for the nation as a whole.

Not so in Russia. The Russians put a halt to the whisper game, instead ensuring that everyone was told the same thing at the same time about a horrible event in their collective past that should never be forgotten, lest such events happen again.

There is a reason why the issue of “denazification” in Ukraine resonates with Russians more so than anywhere else in the world.

Russia has, through its actions, made sure that June 22 will not go the way of December 7.

I think my grandmother would have approved.

 

NATO boss lets the cat out of the bag: US-led bloc has ‘been preparing since 2014’ to use Ukraine for proxy conflict with Russia

@Robert_Bridge

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s words strengthen the case for Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine

NATO’s chief lets the cat out of the bag: US-led bloc has ‘been preparing since 2014’ for proxy conflict with Russia

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg may have said the quiet part out loud on Wednesday when he revealed to reporters that NATO’s push into Eastern Europe since 2014 was done specifically with Russia in mind.

“The reality is also that we have been preparing for this since 2014,” he said. “That is the reason that we have increased our presence in the eastern part of the alliance, why NATO allies have started to invest more in defense, and why we have increased [our] readiness.”

The NATO chief went on to insist that Russia has been “using force in the eastern Donbass since 2014.”

What he neglected to mention, though, was the role Western powers played in the outbreak of civil violence in Kiev on February 24, 2013 that led to the Maidan coup and, ultimately, to the current situation. The US and its influence on the ground in Ukraine, channelled through “civil society” groups it bankrolled, was largely responsibility for that mess.

Even Victoria ‘F**k the EU’ Nuland (then-US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs) admitted as much in April 2014 when she said Washington had invested $5 billion dollars into “spreading democracy” in Ukraine – apparently because such efforts worked so well before.

Russia’s greatest ‘crime’ at the time was to provide an alternative route to national development for Kiev. The US Diplomatic Forces flew into swift action on November 21, 2013 when the government of then-Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych made the sudden decision not to sign the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA), which the West had been insisting upon, opting for closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. Here is where all the talk about “building democracy” was exposed as the lie it was.

“It would be a huge shame to see five years of work and preparation go to waste if the AA is not signed in the near future,” Nuland said at the December 13, 2013 US-Ukraine Foundation conference. “So it is time to finish the job.”

That sounds more like an implicit threat than any sort of call to democratic principles. As Ukraine would soon discover, Washington considers as ‘democratic’ only those countries that obey its will.

While Nuland was taking multiple trips to Kiev in the midst of the Maidan melee, passing out snacks alongside John McCain and the US Ambassador, very strange things were happening that have never been adequately explained.

To this day no definite result has come from investigations into the infamous ‘Maidan snipers’ that killed dozens of both protesters and police officers. Conflicting reports and claims by various sides name them as working for the embattled government, the protesters, Russia – all in the name of stoking tensions further. According to some of the snipers themselves, they received direct orders from a US officer. Would that be something that NATO (or someone linked to NATO) could have sanctioned? It’s impossible to say with any certainty, but the killings went far towards enraging the masses, which ultimately drove Yanukovych out of the country.

Meanwhile, Reuters, then not yet so sure of Kiev’s innocence, asked (back in 2014) why no one was charged with killing policemen, especially when it is considered that the prosecutors and the minister in charge of the investigation all played a part in fueling the uprising. By way of evidence, the General Prosecutor of Ukraine Vitaly Yarema was videotaped striking a traffic cop in the face during the protests. To what degree was Yarema and numerous other Kiev officials were corrupted and compromised by Western money will never be known, but it’s a question still worthy of asking.

Another thing to question is why the Western media barely reported Kiev’s shelling of the Donbass, home to millions of Russian speakers and passport holders, over the course of the last eight years? At the same time, numerous reports – many of them from Ukrainian citizens caught up in the fighting – describe atrocities and war crimes being committed by Ukrainian forces, many of them outright neo-Nazis, such the Azov Battalion. These forces have been indiscriminately bombing schools, hospitals and residential areas, and, to emphasize, these eyewitness accounts are coming from the Ukrainian people themselves.

Back to NATO and Ukraine. The brutal reality, as summed up by Jens Stoltenberg’s remark, is that Ukraine is already a de facto proxy member of NATO, and has been since at least 2014.

As the scholar John Mearsheimer explained, “The alliance began training the Ukrainian military in 2014, averaging 10,000 trained troops annually over the next eight years.”

The arming of Ukraine happened regardless of who was in the White House. In December 2017, the Trump administration, together with other NATO states, began sending ‘defensive’ weapons to Ukraine, while Kiev took a major role in military exercises held on the Russian border.

The US and Ukraine have been co-hosting Exercise Sea Breeze, yearly naval drills in the Black Sea. The July 2021 iteration was the largest to date, including navies from 32 countries. In September the same year, the Ukrainian army led ‘Rapid Trident 2021’, which the US Army describes as “A US Army Europe and Africa-assisted annual exercise designed to enhance the interoperability among allied and partner nations.”

The key word here is “interoperability,” which would give ‘non-NATO partner’ Ukraine much of what was already being given to regular paying client states. Yet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky just keeps asking for more, and NATO is happy to oblige.

Some may argue that Ukraine was absolutely right to join forces with NATO, considering that Russia had ‘annexed’ the Crimean Republic and absorbed it into its ‘empire’. That’s the view being sowed across NATO and its partner states. In reality, the Crimean population held a democratic referendum that asked whether they wanted to rejoin Russia as a federal subject, or if they wanted to restore the 1992 Crimean constitution and peninsula’s status as a part of Ukraine.

The result should have silenced the critics, but instead it just infuriated them more: a 97% vote for integration of the region into the Russian Federation with an 83% voter turnout. Consequently, President Putin signed a decree, after its formal ratification in the State Duma, recognizing Crimea as a sovereign state –without so much as a drop of blood being shed.

It would take a dyed-in-the-wool Russophobe to take in all of the above and not, at the very least, understand why Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine.

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