Saturday, April 30

Russia's Amazing Arctic Silk Road

This all-too-short video, made by B1M, is probably the best one so far about Russia's fabulous enterprise in the Arctic.: 

Why Russia is Building an Arctic Silk Road - YouTube

B1M is itself pretty fabulous; their videos about construction projects all over the world are addictive. Check out this one:

The $4BN Railway Reshaping Delhi - YouTube


Diesel Fuel Shortages Perfect Storm

... "At the end of the first week of Russia’s military action in Ukraine, with no sanctions yet specific to Russia’s diesel fuel exports, the European diesel price was already at a thirty-year high. It had nothing to do with war. It had to do with the draconian global covid lockdowns since March 2020 and the simultaneous dis-investment by Wall Street and global financial firms in oil and gas companies, the so-called Green Agenda or ESG. Almost on day one of Russian troop actions in Ukraine, two of the world’s largest oil companies, BP and Shell, both British, stopped deliveries of diesel fuel to Germany claiming fear of supply shortages. Russia supplied some 60 to 70% of all EU diesel before the Ukraine war. ... "

Diesel In ‘Crisis’ Mode As Prices Break Records | - By Julianne Geiger - April 29

Diesel prices, the lifeblood of industry, have hit a record $5.16 per gallon, trending $1 per gallon higher than gasoline prices, with inventory shortages adding severe pressure and resulting in inflated prices for consumer goods. 

 “While gasoline prices get much of the attention, diesel, which broadly is the fuel that moves the economy, has quietly surpassed its recent record high as distillate inventories, which include diesel and jet fuel, have plummeted to their lowest level in years,” media quoted Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, as saying. 

AAA records diesel at $5.18 per gallon as of early Friday. 

De Haan warned that if U.S. distillate inventories fall much further–by five million barrels–they will be lower than at any point in the last two decades.

In the first half of March, diesel and gasoline prices began to soar to record highs as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions, coupled with post-pandemic economic recovery that has led to a continual uptick in demand. 

Loss of refining capacity will make the diesel crisis the most painful for the U.S. Northeast, and there is no indication of a reprieve in the near future, with GasBuddy predicting that diesel prices will remain high and continue to outpace gasoline prices. 

Record-high diesel prices continue to drive up the cost of consumer goods, which all have to be transported by a trucking industry powered by diesel engines.  

There is now concern that a ripple effect could see U.S. diesel prices topping $6 per gallon as Russia cuts off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. That could potentially force Europe to shift to other fuels, such as diesel, to fill in gaps. 

Diesel exports to Europe from the Middle East are also now soaring, Bloomberg reports, with the Russia-Ukraine war pushing prices up significantly. 

“I’ve started to use the term diesel ‘crisis’, Tom Kloza, head of global energy research at OPIS, told CNBC. “It clearly is a crisis that’s happening before our eyes. I wouldn’t rule out lines, shortages or $6 [price] in places beyond California. I wouldn’t say it’s a shortage yet. Europe, I think they’re headed for a shortage,” he said. 


Food Shortages Perfect Storm

From the comment section at

MoA - Ukraine - Doubling Down (
Seems a perfect storm is brewing for the global food market. with the following adding to the Chinese woes, the Ukrainian reduced supplies and soaring fertilizer costs:

Heat wave scorches India’s wheat crop, snags export plans

Brazil’s Drought: The Trigger that Could Take Corn Prices Higher?

Posted by: Roger | Apr 29 2022 16:31 utc | 28

The AP report about the Indian drought is alarming.


Thursday, April 28

Uh oh

 Blackmail, Sanctions & Gas for Rubles (Live) - YouTube - The Duran

By getting cute with Russia, US/EU unwittingly triggered a new monetary system.

There have been a number of discussions by financial and commodities analysts about this complicated turn of events, which has been greatly obscured by the Russian military operation in Ukraine, but the April 2 interview published at Russia's RT is a good introduction that's relatively easy to understand. Although there are speculations about a gold-backed ruble, what Russia has already done is the real game changer.   

Gold-backed ruble could be a game-changer (INTERVIEW) — RT Business News

Linking the currency to gold and energy is a paradigm shift for the global economy, a precious metals analyst tells RT

The Bank of Russia has resumed gold purchases this week, but more importantly, the regulator is doing so at a fixed price of 5,000 rubles ($59) per 1 gram between March 28 and June 30, raising the possibility of Russia returning to the gold standard for the first time in over a century.

If the country takes the next step, as has been proposed this week, to sell its commodities priced in rubles, these combined moves could have huge implications for the ruble, the US dollar, and the global economy.

To get some answers, RT spoke to precious metals analyst Ronan Manly at BullionStar Singapore.

— Why is setting a fixed price for gold in rubles significant?

By offering to buy gold from Russian banks at a fixed price of 5,000 rubles per gram, the Bank of Russia has both linked the ruble to gold and, since gold trades in US dollars, set a floor price for the ruble in terms of the US dollar.

We can see this linkage in action since Friday 25 March when the Bank of Russia made the fixed price announcement. The ruble was trading at around 100 to the US dollar at that time, but has since strengthened and is nearing 80 to the US dollar. Why? Because gold has been trading on international markets at about US$62 per gram which is equivalent to (5,000 / 62) = about 80.5, and markets and arbitrage traders have now taken note, driving the RUB/USD exchange rate higher.

So the ruble now has a floor to the US dollars, in terms of gold. But gold also has a floor, so to speak, because 5,000 rubles per gram is 155,500 rubles per troy ounce of gold, and with a RUB/USD floor of about 80, that’s a gold price of around $1,940. And if the Western paper gold markets of LBMA/COMEX try to drive the US dollar gold price lower, they will have to try to weaken the ruble as well or else the paper manipulations will be out in the open.

Additionally, with the new gold to ruble linkage, if the ruble continues to strengthen (for example due to demand created by obligatory energy payments in rubles), this will also be reflected in a stronger gold price.

The same can now be done with Russian oil. If Russia begins to demand payment for oil exports with rubles, there will be an immediate indirect peg to gold (via the fixed price ruble – gold connection). Then Russia could begin accepting gold directly in payment for its oil exports. In fact, this can be applied to any commodities, not just oil and natural gas.

— What does that mean for the price of gold?

By playing both sides of the equation, i.e. linking the ruble to gold and then linking energy payments to the ruble, the Bank of Russia and the Kremlin are fundamentally altering the entire working assumptions of the global trade system while accelerating change in the global monetary system. This wall of buyers in search of physical gold to pay for real commodities could certainly torpedo and blow up the paper gold markets of the LBMA and COMEX.    

The fixed peg between the ruble and gold puts a floor on the RUB/USD rate but also a quasi-floor on the US dollar gold price. But beyond this, the linking of gold to energy payments is the main event. While increased demand for rubles should continue to strengthen the RUB/USD rate and show up as a higher gold price, due to the fixed ruble - gold linkage, if Russia begins to accept gold directly as a payment for oil, then this would be a new paradigm shift for the gold price as it would link the oil price directly to the gold price.  

For example, Russia could start by specifying that it will now accept 1 gram of gold per barrel of oil. It doesn’t have to be 1 gram but would have to be a discounted offer to the current crude benchmark price so as to promote take up, e.g. 1.2 grams per barrel. Buyers would then scramble to buy physical gold to pay for Russian oil exports, which in turn would create huge strains in the paper gold markets of London and New York where the entire ‘gold price’ discovery is based on synthetic and fractionally-backed cash-settled unallocated ‘gold’ and gold price ‘derivatives.

— What does it mean for the ruble?

Linking the ruble to gold via the Bank of Russia’s fixed price has now put a floor under the RUB/USD rate, and thereby stabilized and strengthened the ruble. Demanding that natural gas exports are paid for in rubles (and possibly oil and other commodities down the line) will again act as stabilization and support. If a majority of the international trading system begins accepting these rubles for commodity payments arrangements, this could propel the Russian ruble to becoming a major global currency. At the same time, any move by Russia to accept direct gold for oil payments will cause more international gold to flow into Russian reserves, which would also strengthen the balance sheet of the Bank of Russia and in turn strengthen the ruble.

Talk of a formal gold standard for the ruble might be premature, but a gold-backed ruble must be something the Bank of Russia has considered.     

— What does it mean for other currencies?

The global monetary landscape is changing rapidly and central banks around the world are obviously taking note. Western sanctions such as the freezing of the majority of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves while trying to sanction Russian gold have now made it obvious that property rights on FX reserves held abroad may not be respected, and likewise, that foreign central bank gold held in vault locations such as at the Bank of England and the New York Fed, is not beyond confiscation.  

Other non-Western governments and central banks will therefore be taking a keen interest in Russia linking the ruble to gold and linking commodity export payments to the ruble. In other words, if Russia begins to accept payment for oil in gold, then other countries may feel the need to follow suit.

Look at who, apart from the US, are the world’s largest oil and natural gas producers - Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar. Obviously, all of the BRICS countries and Eurasian countries are also following all of this very closely. If the demise of the US dollar is nearing, all of these countries will want their currencies to be beneficiaries of a new multi-lateral monetary order.  

— What does this mean for the US dollar?

Since 1971, the global reserve status of the US dollar has been underpinned by oil, and the petrodollar era has only been possible due to both the world’s continued use of US dollars to trade oil and the USA’s ability to prevent any competitor to the US dollar.

But what we are seeing right now looks like the beginning of the end of that 50-year system and the birth of a new gold and commodity backed multi-lateral monetary system. The freezing of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves has been the trigger. The giant commodity strong countries of the world such as China and the oil exporting nations may now feel that now is the time to move to a new more equitable monetary system. It’s not a surprise, they have been discussing it for years.  

While it’s still too early to say how the US dollar will be affected, it will come out of this period weaker and less influential than before.

  — What are the ramifications?

The Bank of Russia’s move to link the ruble to gold and link commodity payments to the ruble is a paradigm shift that the Western media has not really yet grasped. As the dominos fall, these events could reverberate in different ways. Increased demand for physical gold. Blowups in the paper gold markets. A revalued gold price. A shift away from the US dollar. Increased bilateral trade in commodities among non-Western counties in currencies other than the US dollar.



Gen. Austin, the war is over. The Russians won.

The U.S. Secretary of Defense, General (Ret.) Lloyd Austin, was behind events when he counseled that "the first step in winning a war is to believe you can win." (Blinken and Austin in Kiev - Lies, Revealing America's Real Goal - It's a Hot War With Russia - YouTube -- Regis Tremblay, starts at 00:59 minute mark)

The war he's talking about is over. What Austin is looking at in Ukraine now is the mop-up phase. Granted, there could be a second war if the U.S. prods Romania or Poland into playing the fool, but the Russians have already factored that in.





U.S. weapons lobbyists go bananas, Bernhard makes fun of German military aid

This YouTube video, based on an article by Matt Taibbi -- The "Gentlemen's Agreement": When TV News Won't Identify Defense Lobbyists ( -- wrings humor out of an unfunny situation:

And there is Moon of Alabama's knee-slapper (the site's author, Bernhard, is German). It gets funnier and funnier as it goes along; Bernhard is in fine fettle:

MoA - Politico: "Germany approves tank sales to Ukraine, bowing to pressure" ( - April 28

There is another post, published in 2021, which is also hilarious although the author wasn't trying for laughs. Still, for those who've developed a trench sense of humor, it's laugh-out-loud funny, particularly in light of what's happening today. Somebody needs to tell the American government that it's hard to buy meaningful friends if your target recipient knows you're dangerously untrustworthy:

New Report: Nearly $300 Billion In Foreign Aid Spent By U.S. Government (


Friday, April 22

Ukraine Army's transport problems and Russian Army's Clobber List

From Moon of Alabama April 22 


3. Military supplies

 So how will it get all those shells to the frontline? It won't.

Yesterday Russia attacked four railways crossing over the [Dnieper] river. One in the Zaporozhye region and three in the area of Dnepropetrovsk.


This cuts off Ukrainian troops on the Donbas front east of the river from all large scale supplies.


The Ukrainian military, like Russia's, depends on railways for all long distance mass supplies as both have relatively few logistic trucks.

The U.S. and others have said they would give the Ukraine dozens of 155mm towed artillery guns plus tens of thousands of shells with them. The U.S. guns come with one truck each to tow the gun.

That is all manageable so far but now let's look at the logistics (especially without railways). A 155mm shell plus the powder needed to fire it weighs about 50 kilogram. A three axle military truck can carry 7.5 metric tons or 150 shells. That's about what one or maybe two guns will fire on a good day.

The distance from the Ukrainian border with Poland to the Donbas front is about 1,200 kilometer (~800 miles). That is at least a two days drive with a truck. The daily supplies for one gun on the frontline will thus require constant traffic of at least 6 trucks plus all the fuel needed to run them. Adding maintenance and load/unload time means even more trucks. Now multiply that with the number of guns that are supposed to come in.

This is very fast becoming a huge transport operation with lots of trucks the Ukraine does not have. So how will it get all those shells to the frontline? It won't.

4. Current operations

After a few days of this the Russian troops will be able to roll them up with little difficulties.

Since the launch of phase two of its operation the Russia military has not started any larger offensive but has increased its artillery fire on the frontline. Here is a part of the 'clobber list' from this morning's Russian Defense Ministry briefing:
Kalibr high-precision long-range missiles destroyed up to a battalion of enemy personnel with weapons and military equipment near Miliorativnoe railway station.

High-precision air-based missiles of the Russian Aerospace Forces hit 3 military assets of Ukraine.
Operational-tactical aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces hit 58 military assets of Ukraine. Among them: 4 command posts, 3 fuel depots, and 51 areas of Ukrainian manpower and military equipment concentration.

Missile troops and artillery carried out 1,285 firing missions during the night. Destroyed: 9 fuel depots, 37 command posts. 1,221 strong points, areas of enemy's manpower and military equipment were hit.

One artillery firing missions usually includes multiple guns (often 6) and multiple shells (3 to 10) fired per gun. This constant incoming artillery fire will be extremely demoralizing (and deadly) for the Ukrainian troops on the frontline. (I have experienced only one artillery onslaught, during officer training and in a safe bunker. It was still extremely violent. Some of us literally wet their pants.)

The Ukrainian soldiers can only dig in, keep their heads down and hope to not receive a direct hit. Their artillery is gone. They have no way left to respond to the fire. After a few days of this the Russian troops will be able to roll them up with little difficulties.



"Liberation of Mariupol"

Note that the guys at SouthFront are still wearing sackcloth and throwing ashes.  Not even this great victory dissuades them from issuing dire warnings that the Russian military can continue to screw up. Yes, I know it's hard watching from the sidelines.....
Liberation Of MariupolSouth Front - April 22, 2022 SouthFront

Video text:

Forces of Russia and the Donetsk People’s Republic are finishing the operation to liberate the city of Mariupol. On April 21, the Russian Defense Minister told President Vladimir Putin that Mariupol is “liberated” and the remnants of Ukrainian nationalist formations are hiding in the Azovstal industrial area. In response, President said that it is needed to avoid a direct storm of this fortified area. He ordered to block it and once again propose fighters remaining there to surrender.

Meanwhile, fighters of the Azov Regiment continue their resistance, while servicemen from other units are used as just human shields for the ‘best part of the Ukrainian patriots’. Despite this, if an opportunity arises, servicemen of the Ukrainian Army and National Guard surrender. Over 30 fighters surrendered on April 30 alone. The captives report that Azov keeps other units under control, to the point that any movement is forbidden without the consent of a specific Azov fighter supervising them. Families of Azov members are reportedly being held in underground communications and bunkers at Azovstal.

Not a single civilian from the territory of Azovstal was released via provided humanitarian corridors. On April 19, it was announced that over 100 people were evacuated, however, these were the residents of the residential areas directly adjacent to Azovstal.

For its part, the Azov regiment has no problem with water and food due to its huge reserves. There is still a central water supply for a part of the plant area. There is even internet access.

Nevertheless, Azov members fully understand that they have no chance to succeed in the battle. On April 20, there was another panic-like appeal from Azov commanders blocked inside the factory to the leaders of NATO member states to ensure their evacuation to those countries.

Meanwhile, battles continue on other parts of the frontline. Pro-Kyiv units were forced to withdraw from Rubizhne and Kreminna. Heavy street fighting is taking place in Popasna.

On 20 April, there was no significant advance of Russian Armed Forces units from Izyum in the direction of Barvenkovo and Slovyansk. Kyiv sent its main reserves to this very area, which resulted in intense fighting that curtailed the Russian offensive. Kyiv’s forces are also strengthening the defences of Seversk, Yampole and Krasny Lyman.

In the Zaporizhzhia Region, active fighting is taking place east of Hulyaipole. Russian-led forces advanced west of Velyka Novosilka capturing several settlements. There is no change on the Kamenskoye-Orekhov-Hulyaipole line.

In the Ugledar area, intense fighting is taking place on the Novomikhailovka-Ugledar line and at Velyka Novoselka. Russian units took control of two settlements south of Velyka Novoselka.

There are no offensive actions near Mykolaiv. The Russian military mainly strikes at targets in Mykolaiv and south of Nikopol. Kyiv’s forces try to respond with attacks in the direction of Kherson. Fighting is taking place in settlements between Kherson and Mykolaiv.

In the evening of April 20, Kyiv’s forces carried out a massive artillery strike on settlements to the rear in the DPR. Reports claimed a significant increase in the number of Ukrainian drones in the skies over the DPR and LPR.

East of Donetsk, over the town of Shakhtyorsk, DPR air defence intercepted a Tochka-U missile with cluster munitions launched by the Ukrainian armed forces. At the same time, DPR authorities reported that at least three adults were wounded and one child was killed in Shakhtersk.

The intensification of shelling of the DPR’s rear could be a sign that Kyiv’s forces are preparing active operations in the region in order to divert Russia and DPR from other areas of operations.

If such an attempt succeeds, it would mean the loss of the strategic initiative by Russia and the transition of the conflict to the stage of a protracted war, where the forces of NATO countries will be directly or indirectly involved on the side of Ukraine.


"I have very bad news for Ukraine" UPDATED 9:25 PM ET

Intel Slava Z - April 22 at 15:24:

have very bad news for Ukraine. It turns out that the land corridor to the Crimea, the goals of control over which were announced today in our Defense Ministry, is Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Melitopol, Kherson region.

Also, the second goal of the operation includes a corridor to Transnistria, i.e. Kherson region, Nikolaev and Odessa. Together with the cities

The objectives of the second stage of the operation are control over southern Ukraine and a corridor from the Donbass to the Crimea (Kherson region, completed) and to Transnistria, i.e. Nikolaev and Odessa regions. Deputy Commander of the Central Military District Rustam Minnekaev reported. According to him, the second phase of the operation began 2 days ago.

He also added that control over the South of Ukraine would give the Russian Armed Forces one more outlet to Transnistria, where there are facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population. Powerful.

This is how goals should be formulated. Clear, concise, military. Thanks to Deputy Commander of the Central Military District Rustam Minnekaev. Can you continue to report, and not someone else?

[UPDATE: PUNDITA NOTE:  Only sometimes does it pay to be clear and concise.  Such attributes are prized by the audience for a war, which always wants to be kept well informed, but this is not necessarily good military strategy. ]

The Intel Slava notes reference the following RT report

The Russian army during the second stage of the special operation should establish full control over the Donbass and Southern Ukraine. This was stated by the Deputy Commander of the Central Military District (CMD) of Russia Rustam Minnekayev.

"Since the beginning of the second phase of the special operation (it has already begun, just two days ago), one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbass and Southern Ukraine," TASS quoted him as saying.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the beginning of a new phase of the special operation in Ukraine.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the special military operation in Ukraine will continue until the goals are achieved. He also noted that the main tasks of the first stage of the special operation in Ukraine have already been completed.




Happening in Donbass now, "Final annihilation of what remains of Ukraine's best fighting forces down in the southeastern corner of the country. They can't change that."

 Quote is from a genuine military expert, America's Colonel Douglas Macgregor (Ret.), in an interview today with Tucker Carlson:

Gonzalo Lira is alive and more or less well

The guys at The Duran never gave up hope and kept their audience on track by refusing to pass along rumors of his death or speculations about what happened. They kept saying they would wait until they had facts.

Earlier today Gonzalo was able to contact The Duran's Alex Christoforou, who posted a video of the four-minute conversation.

Gonzalo Lira #WhereisGonzaloLira - YouTube

Moon of Alabama has a summary of the conversation:

MoA - Ukraine - Gonzalo Lira, War Aims, Railway Supplies And Incoming Fire (

 Gonzalo Lira is alive

Lira had been arrested on April 15 by the SBU, the Ukrainian Gestapo, but is now at some private place in Kharkov under a kind of house arrest. He is not allowed to leave the city. It seems that the public attention the case had caught has helped to hold back the nastier side of the Ukrainian authorities. Last night Alex Christoforou of The Duran published a short video talk with Gonzalo Lira (vid).


Thursday, April 21

India Today in-depth video interview with Sergey Lavrov published April 20

Discussion in English. Interview conducted by India Today Foreign Affairs Editor.  


Wednesday, April 20

Arunita in the performance that made her a global singing star

Arunita Kanjilal started training at the age of four in Indian classical singing. Here she's 17 or 18 years old.  Indian Idol couldn't resist gilding the lily -- in later performances in the competition piling makeup, Bollywood hair, jewelry on her. They knew they had a superstar on their hands after just that one performance, even though she couldn't have won. (Long story.) But they gave her next best and so much else it didn't matter she didn't carry off the top prize.

Just this one You Tube channel is up to about 80 million views since it was first posted, but there are scores of video presentations of the performance. Song begins at the 2 minute mark.

Monday, April 18

So much for surrender

I guess there weren't enough who wanted to surrender to stand up to the Azov combatants.  Anyhow, what happened as consequence was inevitable.  See Pundita posts yesterday for description of Russian Last Chance ultimatum. 

Intel Slava Z – Telegram yesterday:
he ultimatum for militants 



Sunday, April 17

America follows Spanish and British empires in their Thousand Different Directions era

This was the era that immediately preceded the collapse of those empires. Alexader Mercouris pointed out the parallels in one of his discussions last week at The Duran.

The Duran - YouTube

What else to say? M.K. Bhadrakumar has a few things to say about America's attempt to nail down every corner in Asia...... 

Asian fault lines of Biden’s war on Russia - Indian Punchline - M.K. Bhadrakumar - April 11 

The tremors of the United States’ tensions with Russia playing out in Europe are being felt in different ways already in Asia. The hypothesis of Ukraine being in Europe and the conflict being all about European security is delusional.

From Kazakhstan to Myanmar, from Solomon Islands to the Kuril Islands, from North Korea to Cambodia, from China to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the fault lines are appearing.

To be sure, extra-regional powers had a hand in the failed colour revolution recently to overthrow the established government in Kazakhstan, a hotly contested geopolitical landmass two-thirds the size of India, bordering both China and Russia, Washington’s sworn adversaries. Thanks to swift Russian intervention, supported by China, a regime change was averted.

Equally, the Anglo-American project to embroil Myanmar, bordering China, in an armed insurgency has floundered for want of a sanctuary in India’s northeastern region and due to the perceived congruence of interests among the surrounding countries in Myanmar’s stability.

In comparison, the North Korean fault line has aggravated. North Korea moves on its own timetable and has probably decided that the Ukraine crisis offers useful cover while it ramps up its testing program. Pyongyang explicitly supports Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, commenting that “the basic cause of the Ukraine incident lies in the high-handedness and arbitrariness of the United States, which has ignored Russia’s legitimate calls for security guarantees and only sought a global hegemony and military dominance while clinging to its sanctions campaigns.”

North Korea’s objective is to enhance its security and leverage by increasing the quality and quantity of its deterrent capabilities and strengthening its bargaining position.

On another plane, the Ukraine crisis injected a new urgency into the US efforts to cultivate new Asian partners. But Washington has run into headwinds and had to indefinitely postpone a special summit with the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that was initially scheduled for end-March. No new date has been proposed, although the US had hyped up the summit as “a top priority.”

Showing some ire, Washington has since sanctioned Cambodia, currently the ASEAN Chair. Clearly, the southeast Asian countries are chary of taking sides between the US and China or of voicing criticism against Russia.

Perhaps, the most direct fallout of the Ukraine crisis in Asia so far is the sharp deterioration in Japan’s ties with Russia. It is an unwarranted development insofar as Tokyo simply did a cut and paste job, copying all the US sanctions against Russia (including against President Putin). Prime Minister Kishida wantonly destroyed what his predecessor Shinzo Abe had carefully cultivated as a cordial, friendly relationship.

Japan now openly refers to Russian “occupation” of the Kuril Islands — something it hasn’t been doing in the past. Moscow retaliated by designating Japan as an “unfriendly” country. Yet, analysts were estimating until recently that Russia and Japan had congruent interests in blocking China’s Arctic ambitions and were, therefore, moving toward solving their dispute over Kuril.

Suffice to say, Kishida’s motivations in an abrupt turnaround to make an Kuril a potential flashpoint in relations with Russia are, to say the least, to be traced to the broader US strategy to isolate Russia.

Meanwhile, a contrarian development has also appeared in China’s challenge to the US’ Island Chain strategy in the Western Pacific by negotiating a new security deal with Solomon Islands. This game-changing development may have extensive consequences and is dangerously interwoven with the Taiwan issue. Biden is reportedly dispatching a top White House official to Solomon Islands to scuttle the deal with China.

The Biden administration is now doubling down on India to roll back its ties with Russia as well. That becomes a fault line in the US-Indian strategic partnership. What must be particularly galling for Washington is the likelihood of India pursuing its trade and economic cooperation with Russia in local currencies. Indeed, China and India have taken a somewhat similar stance on the Ukraine crisis.

Given the size of the Chinese economy and the high potential of growth for the Indian economy, their inclination to bypass the dollar would be a trend-setter for other countries. Russia, hit by Western sanctions, has called on the BRICS group of emerging economies to extend the use of national currencies and integrate payment systems.

Suffice to say, the “weaponised dollar” and the West’s abrasive move to freeze Russia’s reserves sends a chill down the spine of most developing countries. Nepal caved in to ratify the Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement following threat by a middle ranking US official!

There is no conceivable reason why the NATO should become the provider of security for the Asian region. That is why Afghanistan’s future is of crucial importance. Without doubt, the regime change in Pakistan is partly at least related to Afghanistan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has disclosed certain details of the US interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs and its pressure on former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

But time will show how realistic are Washington’s  expectations of inducting Pakistan into the US orbit and making it a surrogate to leverage the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Russia and China are making sure that the door remains closed to NATO’s return to Afghanistan. They have undercut Washington’s recent efforts to co-opt the Taliban leadership in Kabul. (See my blog US pips regional states at race for Kabul.)

The message out of the recent Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan Issue Among the Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan in Tunxi, China, is that in that country’s transition from chaos to order, the regional states hope to undertake a lead role. Thus, the regional states have incrementally marked their distance from the West’s exceptionalism and are instead adopting a persuasive track through constructive engagement. The joint statement issued at Tunxi reflects this new thinking.

The developments over Afghanistan provide a signpost that any attempt at imposing Western dominance over Asia will be resisted by the regional states. Most Asian countries have had bitter experiences with colonialism in their history. (See my blog India’s dilemma over West vs. Russia

Although the American analysts underplay it, the fact remains that the conflict in Ukraine is bound to impact the “Asian Century” very significantly. The US is determined to transform the NATO as the global security organisation that will act beyond the purview of the United Nations to enforce the West’s “rules-based order.”

The West’s desperate push to weaken Russia and tilt the global strategic balance in the US’ favour aims to clear the pathway leading to a unipolar world order in the 21st century. In a recent interview, Hal Brands, Henry Kissinger distinguished professor of global affairs at Johns Hopkins, put across the US strategy behind the war in Ukraine as very logical:

“Well, there’s long been a debate in the United States over whether we should prioritise competing with Russia or China or treat them as co-equals. And that debate has flared up again in the context of this war. I think what the war indicates, though, is that the best way of putting pressure on China, which is the more dangerous and the more powerful of the two rivals, is actually to ensure that Russia is defeated, that it does not achieve its objectives in this war, because that will result in a weaker Russia, one that is less capable of putting pressure on the United States and its allies in Europe and thus less useful as a strategic partner for Beijing.

“The United States simply can’t avoid the reality that it has to contain both Russia and China simultaneously.”



What if the fighters start shooting ones who attempt to surrender?

If enough move to surrender, their numbers should protect them because they will still have their weapons up to that point.

Beyond that, the Russians gave it their best try. See two previous Pundita posts.  Again, it's down to prayer.


Logistics of surrenders at Azovstal UPDATED 3:00 AM ET

See previous post for Sputnik's announcement of Russia's offer to combatants at Azovstal.  The offer went into effect at 5:00 AM Moscow time, which is 7 hours ahead of Washington, DC time. So the surrenders, if they are occurring, are already underway, God willing.)


First, exactly how the Russians notified the combatants.  [smiling] You can see the Russians wanted to make Double Dutch sure the offer was received by all.
From IntelSlava Z - 2:00 AM
The Azovstal plant in Mariupol began to fire leaflets with a proposal to the Armed Forces of Ukraine to surrender, Izvestia correspondent Semyon Eremin reported.

Shells are loaded into a 120mm Gvozdika gun mount, so that as it fires into the air over the area, it disperses several thousand instructions on how to properly surrender.

The correspondent stressed that about 1,700 Ukrainian servicemen had already surrendered.


From IntelSlava Z -2:18 AM:
The Russian Defense Ministry, after calling on the militants of nationalist formations and foreign mercenaries blocked at Azovstal to surrender on Sunday morning, publishes an algorithm of actions:

Since 5.00 a continuous connection is established between the Russian and Ukrainian sides for the exchange of information;

From 5.30 am, militants of nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries - on the one hand, the Russian Armed Forces, together with the military formations of the DPR - on the other hand, declare a "complete silence regime";

At 06:00, both sides will mark the actual beginning of the “silence regime” by raising flags: from the Russian side - red, from the Ukrainian side - white around the entire perimeter of Azovstal;

From 6.00 to 13.00 Moscow time - the exit of all without exception Ukrainian armed units and foreign mercenaries, without any weapons and ammunition.

See also: 

Russia offers Ukrainian stronghold chance to surrender — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union 


Saturday, April 16

Zero Hour UPDATED 2:45 AM ET

See next Pundita post for information about the logistics worked out for the surrenders: 
"Considering the catastrophic situation that has developed at the Azovstal metallurgical plant, and being guided by purely humane principles, the Russian Armed Forces propose that militants of nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries stop all hostilities and lay down arms starting from 06:00 Moscow time [03:00 GMT] on April 17, 2022," Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry's National Defense Control Center, said
According to Mizintsev, the nationalists and mercenaries at Azovstal are "persistently demanding permission from the authorities in Kiev to lay down their arms and surrender. At the same time, representatives of the Ukrainian authorities categorically forbid doing this and are threatening [them] with subsequent executions.".
Yes, the fighters would know about the ultimatum, which was issued at least as early as 5 hours ago, when Sputnik published it. The Russians have been dropping leaflets and probably using additional means to communicate with the fighters holed up at the factory.  A British fighter at Azovstal surrendered after reading a leaflet assuring that those who surrendered would be treated well.  
The Russians have been treating those who surrender very well, treating them with respect, providing excellent medical care and nourishing food. The same with the Donbass militias.   
A photo of one surrendered fighter, serving in the Ukrainian military, I think, just about broke my heart.  He was so young and starved to the point he looked skeletal. He was on a stretcher being given medical care including oxygen and was recovered enough to speak to the camera. I saw his photo at Intel Slava Z – Telegram .
Technically prisoners of war aren't supposed to have their images broadcast but in this case the Russians have been reaching out in every way possible to the fighters, especially the legitimate military ones, in hopes they will decide to live by surrendering.
I know from the Syrian situation that those who fought honorably will be treated with more than fairness when their cases are reviewed by the Russian captors. In fact, many of those POWs will be returned to their homes after signing an agreement not to return to fighting the Russians.  
But this offer is the last chance for the fighters in Azovstal -- and from what I know of them, many if not most of those particular fighters don't even deserve a last chance. But that's the Russians for you; just keep trying to get the message across, as they did in Syria. And Chechnya. The Russians have faith that for those with some common sense, common sense will eventually prevail.  
But right now, for those fighters in the steel factory, it's down to prayer.  

Friday, April 15

Uh oh. UPDATED 3:43 AM ET

 "Explosions in Odessa! The alarm is roaring in the Kiev, Odessa, Vinnitsa, Zhytomyr, Cherkasy and Kirovograd regions."

April 14 22:52

Intel Slava Z

Telegram: Contact @intelslava

Air raid sirens. Also, ISZ has videos of some of the explosions, lights out. Scroll from bottom up for videos, although they don't show much.

Nothing at SouthFront yet.  Check back around 9 AM U.S. Eastern Time

SouthFront: Crisis News, World Events, Political SurveySouth Front | Analysis & Intelligence

What's going on? We'll just have to wait and see, but this is close to the date that the major battle in Donbass is projected to launch.  The spate of missile attacks could be RU military telling UKR defenders of those cities to stay in place because they could be next.  Just a wild guess. 


A little clarity from this breaking news report from Sputnik:

Russian Military Vows More Strikes Against Targets in Kiev in Case of Attacks on Russian Territory - 15.04.2022, Sputnik International (

This explains at least the explosions in Kiev:

On Thursday, two Ukrainian combat helicopters crossed into Russian airspace and made at least six strikes at residential buildings in the Bryansk Region.
Moscow will ramp up the scale of its missile strikes targeting objects in Kiev in response to any attacks or sabotage on the territory of Russia, Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Friday.
"The number and scale of missile strikes against targets in Kiev will increase in response to the commission by the Kiev nationalist regime of any attacks of a terrorist nature or sabotage on the Russian territory," Konashenkov told reporters.
The spokesman said that high-precision Kalibr cruise missiles hit a military facility on the outskirts of Kiev overnight. As a result of the attack on the Vizar Zhulyany machine-building plant, workshops for the production and repair of long-range and medium-range anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as anti-ship missiles, were destroyed. [emphasis mine]


I can just hear the guys at SouthFront:  WHY ARE THEY ONLY NOW BOMBING THAT PLANT???? !!!!  Why wasn't it bombed WEEKS ago????!!!!

I know it's not funny but I can't help myself.  SouthFront is hopping mad at the Russian military command and has been since the second or third week of the war.  They think the command is stuffed with idiots.  I think they need to calm down.      


Sunday, April 10

The missile serial numbers were Ukranian

[sigh]  now the 4/8 photo isn't posting, although I was able to copy it and initially post it. And the link I found it turns out is for members only. 


Well, if you're that interested in seeing a finger point at serial numbers, you'll have go to Intel Slava and scroll up until you find the post.  

Intel Slava Z – Telegram

Intel Slava Z

Saturday, April 9

“We went to the sea. We are cleaning up."

Intel Slava Z

Fights in Mariupol are coming to an end

According to units of the DPR and the RF, Armed Forces have reached the sea and are fighting in the port of Mariupol. Previously, it was under the control of the Ukrainian national battalions.

“We went to the sea. We are cleaning up,” one of the people’s militia fighters told us.

A significant part of the port is already in the hands of the allies. If the defense of the Ukrainian Nazis there finally collapses, then it will be possible to safely state the capture of Mariupol.

We are waiting for our victory

U.S.-Saudi relations headed for divorce?

One Saudi official was quoted this week as remarking: “A more realistic discussion [of relations with Washington] should focus on one word: divorce.”

I find this turn of events particularly interesting because Saudi Arabia is a charter member of what I call the 'Get Russia Crowd,' i.e., the governments, business interests, and sundry actors working to get control of Russia and barring that, destroy it. It was oil, more than anything, which governed the Saudi stance on Russia going all the way back to the Soviet era in the Cold War. But I see the Saudi shift away from the United States as another sign that Riyadh is developing a friendly approach to Moscow. 

As always, we wait on events.   

Oil Gulf states pivot toward China amid sharpening standoff with US - DEBKAfile - April 5 


Beijing is now said to be offering weapons with no strings attached to America’s two biggest oil-producing Gulf allies, since they spurned US President Joe Biden’s bid to boost production to help combat the soaring oil prices generated by the Ukraine war. The cold shoulder by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Republic, born of resentment for the Biden policies, is straining the longstanding friendship to breaking point, jeopardizing security and economic relations and placing a question mark under US top power status in the Middle East/Gulf region.

The rulers of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have refused to welcome a Biden visit or even take his phone calls, while also declining to stop working hand in glove with Russia on oil production levels and pricing. By rebuffing Washington, they are giving Russian President Vladimir Putin access to a steady flow of cash for continuing his no-holds-barred assault on Ukraine while counterbalancing the direst straits of US-European sanctions. 

Piling insult on injury, Dubai has opened its banking and financial institutions to a flow of Russian wealth by welcoming the oligarchs who are Putin’s friends.

While in past years, Saudi and Emirati officials used ambiguous language to sugarcoat their resentments of their American ally, these days they air them frankly, along with a new assertiveness as to their next steps .One Saudi official was quoted this week as remarking: “A more realistic discussion [of relations with Washington] should focus on one word: divorce.”

The Biden administration’s fluctuating talks with Tehran over the revival of the 2015 nuclear accord with the six world powers have blown up into a big bone of contention in the Gulf. 

The Saudis and Emiratis protest that a deal would send a river of billions of dollars gushing into Iranian coffers and fund the supply of advanced lethal precision weapons to Tehran’s terrorist proxy terrorist organizations for pressing their aggression against the two oil Arab nations. Both had instead looked to the US for protection.

The Emirati rulers are still smarting over President Biden’s veto on the sale of F-35 stealth planes. They share the Saudi princes’ frustration over his refusal to back them up in their offensive to crush the Houthi revolt in Yemen that is driven from Tehran.

Both Gulf rulers make no bones about the benefits to be gained from the regional ripples of the Ukraine storm. China, for instance, by siding with Russia, is playing the multipolar card against the United States – and not only over the Ukraine conflict. 

And so, the same outspoken Saudi official disclosed this week: “While American policy is beset by baffling contradictions, Chinese policy is simple and straightforward. Beijing is offering Riyadh a simple deal; sell us your oil and choose whatever military equipment you want from our catalogue.” Beijing was quoted as requesting in return: “… help us to stabilize global energy markets.”