Wars and Rumors of War 1-24-23

Russia, Iran, Israel and NATO are all part of today’s war report. Links will be below.

Situation for Kiev is Very Difficult

Russia Preparing to end the war while the Pentagon wants to prolong it

Russia Boots Estonian Ambassador

Ukraine Losing Hundreds of troops per day

NATO Tanks going to Ukraine

US Will allow F16s to go to Ukraine

Poland Insists on Germany Releasing Tanks

Russian Air Defenses Moscow

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Why is Russia expanding short-range air defenses around Moscow?

Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst

Air defense is one of the key modern military capabilities that provide adequate protection for ground units, helping them retain their combat capabilities. In recent decades, these systems have become increasingly networked and multilayered, giving the defenders a plethora of options to shoot down hostile jets, missiles, drones, etc. More recently, modern militaries have started relying on swarms of well-coordinated drones designed to saturate an area and overwhelm existing air defenses. Only a handful of countries have developed and battle-tested systems against such new offensive weapons.

For well over half a century, Russia has been at the forefront of the development of various SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems and other types of air defenses. What started out as an effort to nullify Western long-range bomber advantage in the aftermath of the Second World War soon turned into a key area of defense strategy without which it’s impossible to imagine modern warfare. By the 1970s, air defenses were no longer only focused on enemy fighter jets or bombers, but also on ballistic missiles and even space assets, both civilian and military (although this divide seems to be blurring by the day, especially when taking into account projects such as the SpaceX’s “Starlink”).

In recent days, the footage taken in Russia shows that short-range air defenses, particularly the now legendary “Pantsir” hybrid SAM-AAA (anti-aircraft artillery) system, are being deployed to protect crucial areas in the capital city of Moscow. Dozens of sources have published both video and photo evidence that a number of “Pantsir-S1” SAM-AAA systems have been placed on top of certain key buildings in Moscow, triggering speculation that Russia is expecting renewed attacks by the Kiev regime forces. It’s quite possible that this also includes defending from long-range Soviet-made drones such as the now infamous Tu-141 “Strizh” that flew nearly 600 km through NATO’s air defenses in Romania, Hungary and Croatia in early March last year.

The 1970s-era jet-powered drone was also used during December attacks against Russian airbases housing strategic bombers/missile carriers. Initial reports suggested that the Kiev regime forces launched the Tu-141, but more recent findings indicate that this isn’t necessarily true for all attacks deep within Russia, with some security experts warning about sabotage attacks (apparently, coordinated by the CIA), including with small drones operated by infiltration teams or even a single sleeper agent. Whichever of the two possibilities is true, the “Pantsir” SAM-AAA system has been proven against both types of attacks, shooting down thousands of drones, missiles, rockets and other weapons in the Middle East and more recently in Ukraine, including the infamous HIMARS.

All this might be the reason behind ramping up Russian air defenses in critically important areas, particularly in the capital city. In addition, the number of exercises involving advanced SAM systems just outside Moscow has also increased dramatically. Over the weekend, the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed this in an official statement:

“In the Moscow oblast [region], a training session was held with the personnel of the anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Western Military District on repelling air attacks on important military, industrial and administrative facilities. The combat exercise was centered on the operation of a S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. As they marched, soldiers repelled an attack by a mock enemy sabotage group on a military convoy. Under the cover of a smoke screen, the air defense convoy was able to get out of the attack and continue fulfilling its tasks.”

Russia’s capital is protected by one of the most extensive air defense networks in the world and it also includes systems capable of shooting down ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles), incoming MIRV (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) warheads, satellites and other space-based assets used by its adversaries. However, this doesn’t make Moscow immune to sabotage attacks involving the aforementioned drones and drone swarms. Sleeper agents operating small drones (military or even commercial) might be able to jeopardize critically important targets, particularly in Moscow, which has an extremely high concentration of institutions of vital significance for Russia, be it the state itself, its military, industrial capacity, etc.

While the country’s capital still hasn’t seen such attacks, this possibility should never be excluded, especially now when the Kiev regime is desperate to gain at least some propaganda wins and get more weapons from the political West to have a chance against Russia’s upcoming offensive. This is particularly true as the Russian military is steadily advancing in the Donbass and more recently in the Zaporozhye oblast (region), in addition to weeks of breakthroughs around the city of Bakhmut/Artyomovsk in the DNR. The Neo-Nazi junta will hopelessly try to respond to any new large-scale operation by Russia and it appears that Moscow is simply preparing for this contingency, especially at the time when the US-led political West is expanding its comprehensive aggression against Russia.

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Poland claims Germany will face international isolation if it does not send tanks to Ukraine

Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher

Germany contends with increasing pressure and scrutiny from its so-called European Union and NATO allies to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine. However, a fake narrative is also being constructed that Berlin is an international pariah, so-much-so, that it could even face international isolation for not sending the tanks.

“Germany will be in international isolation if it does not allow Leopard tanks to be sent to Ukraine,” Polish Vice Chancellor Arkadiusz Mularczyk said to Polskie Radio. “It must be understood that Germany, by not accepting the shipment of tanks to Ukraine, will find itself in international isolation. If it continues with this position, its position will be very weak.”

This is of course a ridiculous notion since it is actually Poland, and the wider European Union, who are in the global minority of sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia.

The expression of willingness by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on January 22 to approve the shipment of Leopard tanks to Ukraine from other countries is the result of major pressure, including from Poland and the Baltic republics, but especially from the UK and the US.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz stressed Warsaw’s call for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to take a position on the supply of Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

“In the legal-formal sense the position of the foreign minister should be sufficient, but taking into account how the discussion inside Germany looks, we would probably have more confidence that the declaration of consent would be considered positive, if this position were also presented by Chancellor Scholz,” Przydacz told Polskie Radio.

Earlier, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, in an interview to Polsat, stated that Warsaw is ready to send German Leopard tanks to Ukraine without permission from Berlin. He stressed that Poland is ready to form a coalition for the supply of tanks to Ukraine without the participation of Germany if the latter does not approve the shipment of its tanks to Kiev.

On January 21, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius declared that NATO countries and their allies failed to reach a consensus on the supply of German tanks to Kiev but that Berlin will study its possibility.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov previously warned that any arms shipment to Kiev will become a legitimate target for the Russian military. At the same time, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov commented that the attempts to saturate Ukraine with weapons will negatively impact the situation and negotiations.

Senior NATO officials met on January 20 at a German military base to discuss — unsuccessfully — a possible new shipment of heavy weapons to Kiev, an issue that has become increasingly acrimonious as time progresses.

For his part, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called on his allies to deepen their support for Ukraine, stressing that “this is not a moment to slow down.”

“It’s time to dig deeper. The Ukrainian people are watching us. The Kremlin is watching us. And history is watching us. So we won’t let up. And we won’t waver in our determination to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s imperial aggression,” he added.

However, it is recalled that Washington’s request comes at a time when Germany is refusing to send Leopard tanks to Kiev. Berlin, for its part, has said it will not send tanks unless the US also sends its M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

Germany is facing an immense economic and energy crisis and does not want problems with Russia to deepen. If Germany sends tanks to Ukraine, the country would be even more involved, a prospect it does not want since Russia is a fellow European country that it must deal with, unlike the US which has an entire ocean of separation.

Although Germany has the power to veto any decision to export its Leopard tanks, it has sought a conditional agreement with the US, Reuters reported. According to CNN, the controversy between the two countries occurs in the midst of a much broader debate about whether or not it is a good idea to equip Ukraine with more sophisticated and powerful weapons.

The positions of both countries have generated all kinds of reactions. For example, we recall that Morawiecki asserted that Poland could deliver its Leopard tanks to Ukraine without waiting for German permission.

“We have agreed with our Ukrainian friends and also with our Western European partners that we will hand over these tanks together. The permit is already a secondary issue, we will get it quickly or else we will act as we see fit,” he said to Polsat.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, indicated that the intentions of several Western countries to send Ukraine more weapons are with the aim of “raising the stakes” and will only escalate the conflict.

In this sense, the reluctance to increase weapon deliveries to Ukraine could be interpreted as a sign that Germany wants to re-establish some of the dialogue it lost with Moscow after the departure of Angela Merkel. This is obviously something that Washington categorically does not want to occur.  Although the US can count on other European Union countries to arm Ukraine, particularly Poland, no country besides France has the political, industrial, and military power of Germany.

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Russia preparing new plan to end war while Pentagon wants it ‘well into 2024’

Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst

In the last several months, the Russian military has been conducting intensive training for approximately 300,000 newly mobilized soldiers, in addition to other preparations that would enable it to deliver a final knockout punch and end hostilities in Ukraine. The stakes are now being raised even higher with Army General Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, assuming the overall command of Russia’s counteroffensive against NATO’s “quasi-Barbarossa”. The move clearly implies that the Russian military is intent on achieving greater coordination and that it’s focusing much of its conventional capabilities to put the final nail in the coffin of the Neo-Nazi project in Ukraine.

Expectedly, the political West’s mainstream propaganda machine is presenting this change as the supposed failure of General Sergei Surovikin, resulting in his apparent replacement due to perceiving battlefield setbacks. However, quite conveniently, they are withholding critically important information, such as the fact that the Russian special military operation in Ukraine is now expanding in scope and magnitude, making it virtually impossible for Surovikin to coordinate the entire endeavor all by himself. For that reason, Moscow has decided to employ four of its top commanders and give them command of various operational sectors, with General Gerasimov at the helm of this expanded operation.

Apart from Russia’s Chief of the General Staff, three other top-ranking Russian military officers are directly taking part in commanding Moscow’s troops engaged in Ukraine — Army General Oleg Salyukov and Colonel General Alexei Kim, in addition to General Surovikin himself, now assuming the positions of General Gerasimov’s deputies, with special tasks within the enlarged scope of the special military operation. With a force of well over half a million men, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces and Navy firing hundreds of long-range cruise missiles and swarms of drones, the Kiev regime is faced with an offensive the scale of which is incomparable to anything seen in decades.

Naturally, the Russian military’s plan for the new offensive in Ukraine is a secret, but the information provided by several sources allows a reasonable estimate as to how it might play out. Head of the Kiev regime’s State Property Fund Rustem Umerov claims that the upcoming offensive will come from three directions. “The attack will come from the north, [from] across the Belarusian border, from Russian strongholds in eastern Ukraine and from the south,” Umerov stated, without citing any sources or intelligence. The claim comes approximately a week after CIA chief William Burns visited Kiev and apparently warned Volodymyr Zelensky about Russia’s “impending offensive”.

The possibility of an all-out Russian offensive from three directions certainly shouldn’t be excluded. However, it’s also in the interest of the Russian military to maintain at least some element of surprise and deny the Kiev regime forces the ability to accurately predict its course of action. It’s a strong possibility that the Eurasian giant might decide to take control of the entire left-bank Ukraine, which would require offensive operations in at least three sectors, the northeast (toward Chernigov), east (toward Kharkov) and south (toward Zaporozhye and Dnepropetrovsk). All the while, troops deployed in the Donbass are expected to maintain pressure and tie in as many Kiev regime forces as possible, which eventually could result in the encirclement and final elimination of these units.

The success of such an operation would result in irrecoverable losses for the Neo-Nazi junta and possibly even end the conflict or at least wipe out Kiev’s overall fighting capability, limiting it to militia troops incapable of any maneuvers or large-scale movement necessary to stop further Russian advance. Meanwhile, many of the regime’s forces would be tied in expecting Russian advance from the north, which may or may not happen. And while it’s impossible to say how likely this scenario is, such shaping up of the battlefield can certainly be expected from the Russian military, as this would enable it to take key areas and further exacerbate the Neo-Nazi junta’s position, forcing it to negotiate on terms favorable to Moscow or even surrender if the battlefield losses become completely unbearable.

Although the mainstream propaganda machine is spinning the narrative about General Surovikin’s alleged “failures”, the Kiev regime’s high command doesn’t share the same blind optimism. Kiev’s chief commander General Valery Zaluzhny is well aware of Gerasimov’s competence, as he himself once described Russia’s top military officer as “the smartest of men”. Realizing the impending consequences of Gerasimov’s appointment as the overall commander of the Russian forces engaged in Ukraine, the Neo-Nazi junta is fuming at its NATO sponsors for not providing more weapons. The political West is now divided on delivering heavy tanks, with Washington DC and Berlin trying to toss the hot potato to each other.

Despite its refusal to commit more advanced heavy armor and repeated insistence that its European allies and vassals do this, the US wants the hostilities to last for as long as possible. During a meeting at the Ramstein airbase in Germany, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said: “From a military standpoint I still maintain that for this year it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from all, every inch of… Russian-occupied Ukraine.” While NATO pledged more weapons for the Kiev regime, the aforementioned question of delivering heavy tanks was left unanswered. And although it still hasn’t even been a full month this year, the US wants the hostilities to last “well into 2024”, obviously hoping to see at least another year of stalemate, despite mounting casualties of its favorite puppet regime.

Situation for Kiev is “very, very difficult” – US top general

Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

While Western journalists insist that Ukraine is “winning” the conflict, experienced military and analysts continue to point to the evident fact that Russia cannot be defeated so easily. In a recent interview, a top US general commented that the situation is very complicated for the Ukrainians, who will have many difficulties to fulfill their promise to “expel” Russian forces from territories already reintegrated into Moscow’s sovereign space.

According to the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, Ukraine will face many problems in order to achieve its military objectives in the current conflict against Russia. He points out that most Western leaders, and even the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, despite the bellicose speech, believe that the resolution of the conflict will be done through diplomatic negotiations instead of by force. Milley seems skeptical of any possibility of Ukrainian success through the military dispute.

Milley also commented on the time it would take to end hostilities. Although some Ukrainian and Western politicians claim that they plan to expel the Russians as soon as possible, he does not believe in the possibility of this process being completed by 2023. The solid positions maintained by the Russian forces in the regions newly integrated into the Federation make it difficult to believe in the possibility of a rapid military reversal strong enough to guarantee Kiev the control of these territories.

“President Biden, President Zelensky, and most of the leaders of Europe have said this war is likely to end in a negotiation (…) From a military standpoint, this is a very, very difficult fight (…) I still maintain that for this year, it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from every inch of Russian-occupied Ukraine (…) That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But it’d be very, very difficult”, he said during the interview.

Milley’s views sound realistically. He makes it clear that Ukraine’s weaknesses will not be overcome so easily, despite Western help. The US alone has already sent over 110 billion dollars in military aid to Kiev, providing packages that include heavy weapons, combat vehicles, anti-aircraft systems and over a million artillery shells. Europe and NATO allied nations are also providing everything they can to the Ukrainian neo-Nazi regime. However, Russian military superiority sounds evident, as Moscow celebrates more and more important victories, such as the recent seizures of Soledar and Klescheevka.

There are many factors that explain Russia’s success despite Western aid to Ukraine. Moscow’s focus is on avoiding a war of attrition that needlessly kills Russian soldiers and civilians. For this, there is a strategic direction of the fighting forces to key regions, where the military victory makes viable the cutting of the supply lines of the Ukrainian forces. Also, Russian artillery focuses on big military zones and infrastructure facilities, while parallel troops, such as the private military company “Wagner Group” play the role of infantry force, mainly in urban areas.

On the other hand, Kiev seems to have difficulties in strategically managing the conflict. Despite NATO’s support, the Ukrainian forces, as already reported by several on the ground informants, are marked by disorganization and corruption. Most Western weapons are absolutely new to the Ukrainian soldiers, who do not know how to operate them correctly, often causing damages against their own side.

Furthermore, Ukrainians seem to prioritize territory over human lives, unlike Russians. While Moscow constantly promotes strategic retreats to save lives, Kiev keeps troops in the trenches even when the battles are virtually lost. The result is the death of thousands of soldiers in unnecessary combat. These soldiers are replaced by new fighters, with not enough training and no military experience, resulting in strategic errors and more deaths.

In addition, it is important to mention that since 2014 Kiev deliberately attacks civilians and this has been getting worse as heavy weapons from the West arrive in the country. Much of the equipment imported by Ukraine has been used in demilitarized areas in Donbass for the sole purpose of murdering ethnic Russian civilians, without any military gain, which makes it even more complicated for this Western aid to have any real impact in the conflict.

In fact, Milley’s words just confirm what has already become a constant conclusion among military experts: Kiev is not able to defeat Russia – both because Moscow is militarily stronger and because of the lack of organizational and administrative capacity on the part of the Ukrainians. The possibility of a real military reversal would only happen in a scenario of more direct NATO’s intervention, but in this case the war would certainly escalate to the nuclear level and end without winners.

On the near horizon, only the Russian victory looks like a real scenario. The best to do is to resume the talks, with Kiev fully accepting Russian ceasefire terms. As Milley suggested, Western politicians themselves believe this, but they prefer to continue funding the conflict just to try to destabilize Russia’s strategic environment as much as possible, even if it costs the lives of Ukrainian citizens.

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West hopes to drag Belarus into war with Ukraine

Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.

The joint exercises between the Belarusian and Russian Air Forces, which are currently being held in Belarus, are of a defensive nature and are a response to the collective threat the two countries face from NATO and neighbouring Ukraine. These exercises are being held at a time when the West is pushing Kiev to open a new front against Belarus, which is of particular importance because Poland is massing troops on its eastern border.

Western countries have significantly increased their provocations by conducting military exercises, concentrating its troops, and amassing heavy weapons near the Russian-Belarusian borders. Just as Russia was drawn into conflict with Ukraine because of the country’s unrelenting willingness to carryout Washington’s demands, even if its contrary to its own interests, the West hopes that Belarus can be drawn into the war in a much deeper way.

The joint air force exercises began on January 16 and will last until February 1. The main goal of the exercises is to increase operational compatibility in joint combat tasks, something of critical importance given the war waging in neighbouring Ukraine, and in which Kiev is being financed by the tens of billions of dollars. None-the-less, it must be noted that the deeper integration of the Russian and Belarusian militaries began long before Moscow launched its special military operation in Ukraine.

These military exercises also raise speculation on whether Belarus will enter the Ukrainian conflict. Belarus does not want to be drawn into the conflict if it can be avoided, but President Alexander Lukashenko will certainly not shy away either if it is necessary.

Kiev finds itself in a conundrum. On the one hand, Kiev hopes that a Belarusian military operation would force a direct Western intervention in the war. However, if Ukraine is to provoke Belarus, it also runs the risk of the Belarusian military pouring into Kiev, Zhitomir and Chernigov oblasts, thus forcing Ukrainian troops and resources from other fronts, and with no guarantee of a western intervention. The West is content with seeing Ukraine destroy itself in the attempt of weakening Russia, and hopes that Belarus can also be drawn into this mess.

It is recalled that Ukrainian Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin already told the BBC in December that Ukraine would be bolstering its border with Belarus by allocating further armed forces and ammunition, something which could be used more effectively on its battlefronts with Russia.

If Ukraine is to provoke Belarus into conflict in the hope that it will lead to Western intervention, and the West does not directly intervene, it would be a major disaster. It is this risk-reward factor that Kiev is still debating. Kiev already frequently complains about the West’s lacklustre support and it is highly unlikely that the West will begin directly intervening in Ukraine because Belarus also entered the conflict and in this case the main repercussion for Minsk will be more sanction packages.

At the same time, considering the deterioration of the situation on the western borders of Russia and Belarus in October last year, Lukashenko approved the deployment of a joint regional military group. With the aim of strengthening border defences, the total contingent of the Russian military in the joint group is about 9,000 soldiers. According to earlier announcements, the group will include about 170 tanks, about 200 armoured fighting vehicles, and 100 artillery pieces and mortars.

Lukashenko previously warned that the West is pushing Ukraine to open a front against Belarus. It cannot be discounted that NATO and some European countries are considering options for aggression against Belarus.

Apart from bordering Russia, Belarus (with an etymology meaning “White Rus”) is sandwiched between the Russophobic countries – Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Poland is amassing an army on the eastern border with Belarus, while NATO troops are stationed in the Baltic countries. The latest tanks and planes have arrived in the Baltics, suggesting that there are enough weapons to open another front against Belarus.

It is for this reason that joint air force exercises between Belarus and Russia is critical, especially as the Russian Air Force has a high-level of combat readiness and recent experience (when considering the war in Ukraine, Syria since 2015 and Georgia in 2008), something that the pilots of Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics do not have. For this reason, transferring this combat experience to the Belarusians through joint exercises will also improve the defence and security of Russia.

For now, it is unclear whether Kiev will push ahead in forcing Belarus into conflict. It is highly likely that Washington wants Belarus to be dragged into the war but at the same time it seems to be reluctant to directly intervene if Lukashenko gives the order to attack Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been a useful puppet for the US thus far, however, even he must surely know that forcing Belarus to intervene in the war will only create more problems for the struggling Ukrainian military. At the same time, the Kiev regime since 2014 has been in the habit of serving foreign interests rather than their own, and for this reason, as Ukraine is unpredictable, Belarus must also have high combat readiness in case the Ukrainians do instigate provocations.

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Orthodox bishop denounces Ukrainian crimes at UNSC

Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

The Russian Orthodox Church went to the UN to denounce Ukrainian crimes. At a meeting of the Security Council on January 17, invited by the Russian diplomatic representation at the UN, an Orthodox bishop linked to the Moscow Patriarchate commented on the situation of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine in the face of the persecutions imposed by the Kiev’s neo-Nazi regime. This was the first time that a representative of the Orthodox clergy has addressed to the UNSC.

The bishop chosen for the interaction was Chairman of the Department of External Relations of the Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Anthony. He made it clear to all diplomats of the UNSC that the Orthodox Church is currently experiencing serious political and religious oppression under the Ukrainian government. Metropolitan Anthony said that the Russians are “extremely concerned about the blatant violations of the universal and constitutional rights of Orthodox believers in Ukraine”.

The bishop exposed some shocking data about the Ukrainian reality. Due to the ban on Orthodoxy recently imposed by the Zelensky regime, thirteen Ukrainian bishops were actually deprived of their own Ukrainian citizenship. With this measure, the neo-Nazis intend to coerce the clergy to stop disobeying the dictatorial norms aimed at banning the Church. Currently, Ukrainian clerics are trying to resist the regime’s impositions, continuing to offer liturgical services and protecting local traditions.

However, if bishops continue to lose their nationality, they will certainly be forced into exile, which will further complicate the situation for Orthodox believers in Ukraine. The bishop also highlighted that these revocations of citizenship are decreed irregularly, without any legal procedure that legitimizes them, thus violating the country’s constitution.

Another data informed by him concerns the process of expropriation of the Russian Church. Metropolitan Anthony reported in his speech that last year alone 129 churches belonging to the Patriarchate of Moscow were captured by the Ukrainian regime’s agents. Part of these expropriated churches are then used for non-religious purposes, while others are given to the ultranationalist and non-canonical sect called “Patriarchate of Kiev”, which is widely supported by the Maidan Junta, as it adopts the anti-Russian neo-Nazi ideology of the Ukrainian state. It is important to remember that the Ukrainian Orthodox believers are canonically linked to the Patriarchate of Moscow, therefore these acts of the  Kiev regime is an attack against the religion of the Ukrainian people itself.

The head of foreign affairs of the Russian Church also emphasized the importance of understanding the current situation of the Church as a kind of mass political repression. He told the UNSC delegates that since last year the SBU (Ukrainian intelligence agency) agents constantly carry out violent operations in Orthodox churches, during which the clergy are publicly humiliated, and the temples desecrated. He compared the oppression suffered today with that of the early years of the Soviet Union.

These recent attacks have taken place officially, as the Ukrainian state has started a banning campaign against all institutions linked to Russia. However, illegally, since 2014 there has been strong persecution against the Orthodox Church in regions with an ethnic Russian majority. Neo-Nazi militias destroyed temples and killed clergy and believers in Donbass during hostilities against resistance forces. There are several photos and videos circulating on the internet showing the oppression to which the Orthodox Church has been subjected in Ukraine.

According to Metropolitan Anthony, since the Orthodox Church is the majority faith of both Russians and Ukrainians, it can serve as a basis for peaceful dialogue towards the end of hostilities. The recent Russian initiative, rejected by Kiev, to establish a temporary ceasefire during the Orthodox Christmas is an example of this. However, from the moment that one of the sides begins to deliberately oppress the Church, the possibility of dialogue ceases. Therefore, the international society must pay attention to the situation of the Church in Ukraine and demand changes in Kiev’s position.

Furthermore, the reports made by the bishop should also generate discussions in the western world, since it is unacceptable that the regime which promotes ethnic and religious persecution continues to receive money and weapons from the West. Although NATO has already made it clear several times that it has no humanitarian concern and that it is willing to do anything to “defeat” Russia, it is important that the costs of this war are known by Western public opinion.

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WikiLeaks cables reveal NATO intended to cross all Russian red lines

Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst

For nearly a year, the massive Western propaganda machine has been manipulating its audience into believing the “Russia’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine” narrative. The “reporting” can be crudely boiled down to the following: “On February 24, bloodthirsty Kremlin dictator Putin got up on the wrong side of the bed and decided to attack the nascent beacon of freedom and democracy in Kiev.” This is mandatory in virtually all Western mainstream media and any attempt to even think of questioning it results in immediate “cancellation”. Propagandists posing as “pundits” flooded political talk shows with the task of presenting decades of unrelenting NATO expansion as irrelevant to Russia’s reaction.

However, WikiLeaks, an organization the United States has been trying to shut down for well over a decade, including through the horrendous treatment of its founder Julian Assange, published secret cables showing this narrative couldn’t possibly be further from reality. Data indicates that American officials weren’t only aware of the frustration NATO expansion caused in Moscow, but were even directly told it would result in Russia’s response. And while the US often insists that the current crisis is a result of Vladimir Putin’s alleged desire to “rebuild the Russian Empire”, WikiLeaks reveals that even his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, infamous for his suicidal subservience to Washington DC, warned against NATO expansion.

For approximately three decades, consecutive US administrations were explicitly warned that Ukraine’s NATO membership would be the last straw for Moscow. Numerous Russian officials kept cautioning this would destabilize the deeply divided post-Soviet country. These warnings were made both in public and private, and were reiterated by other NATO members, geopolitical experts, Russian opposition leaders and even some American diplomats, including a US ambassador in Moscow. Yeltsin once told former president Bill Clinton that NATO expansion was “nothing but humiliation for Russia if you proceed”. Clinton, infamous for his aggression on Yugoslavia, ignored the warning and by 1999, less than a decade after the “not an inch to the east” promise was made, most of Eastern Europe was in NATO.

Despite this encroachment, Vladimir Putin still tried to establish closer ties with the political West, ratified START II and even offered to join NATO. America responded with unilateral withdrawal from key arms control treaties and color revolutions in Moscow’s geopolitical backyard. By the mid-2000s, Russia was flanked by two hostile US-backed regimes on its southern and western borders (Georgia and Ukraine). Major NATO members, such as Germany and France, warned this would lead to an inevitable response from Moscow. A WikiLeaks cable dated September 2005 reads:

“[French presidential advisor Maurice] Gourdault-Montagne warned that the question of Ukrainian accession to NATO remained extremely sensitive for Moscow, and concluded that if there remained one potential cause for war in Europe, it was Ukraine. Some in the Russian administration felt we were doing too much in their core zone of interest, and one could wonder whether the Russians might launch a move similar to Prague in 1968, to see what the West would do.”

WikiLeaks further reveals that German officials reiterated similar concerns about Russia’s reaction to NATO expansion into Georgia and Ukraine, particularly the latter, with diplomat Rolf Nikel stating: “While Georgia was ‘just a bug on the skin of the bear,’ Ukraine was inseparably identified with Russia, going back to Vladimir of Kiev in 988.” Another cable dated January 2008 says that “Italy is a strong advocate” for NATO enlargement, “but is concerned about provoking Russia through hurried Georgian integration.” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere made similar remarks, an April 2008 cable indicates. Despite believing Russia shouldn’t have a saying in NATO, he said that “he understands Russia’s objections to NATO enlargement and that the alliance needs to work to normalize the relationship with Russia.”

In the US, even some high-level government officials made nearly identical assessments. WikiLeaks reveals that these warnings were presented to Washington DC by none other than William Burns himself, former US Ambassador to Russia and the current CIA chief. According to a cable dated March 2007, Burns said: “NATO enlargement and US missile defense deployments in Europe play to the classic Russian fear of encirclement.” Months later, he stated: “Ukraine’s and Georgia’s entry represents an ‘unthinkable’ predicament for Russia and Moscow would cause enough trouble in Georgia and continued political disarray in Ukraine to halt it.” Interestingly, Burns also assessed that closer ties between Russia and China were largely the “by-product of ‘bad’ US policies” and were unsustainable “unless continued NATO enlargement pushed Russia and China even closer together.”

In February 2008, Burns wrote: “Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. Russia would then have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.”

Another cable dated March 2008 stated that “opposing NATO’s enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia, was one of the few security areas where there is almost complete consensus among Russian policymakers, experts and the informed population.” One defense expert stated that “Ukraine was the line of last resort that would complete Russia’s encirclement” and that “its entry into NATO was universally viewed by the Russian political elite as an unfriendly act.” Dozens of other cables make nearly identical assessments of radical changes in Russia’s foreign policy if NATO encroachment were to continue.

However, the vast majority of US officials, regardless of the administration, simply dismissed all warnings, repeatedly describing them as “oft-heard, old, nothing new, largely predictable, familiar litany and rehashing that provided little new substance.” Astonishingly, even the aforementioned Norway’s understanding of Moscow’s objections was labeled as “parroting Russia’s line”. While many German officials warned that the east-west split within Ukraine made the idea of NATO membership “risky” and that it could “break up the country”, US officials insisted this was only temporary and that it would change over time.

And indeed, the political West invested hundreds of billions of dollars in turning Ukraine into a fervently Russophobic country, effectively becoming a giant military springboard aimed against Moscow. NATO regularly conducted exercises, maintained an extensive presence, and even planned to make it permanent with at least several land and naval bases under construction in the country at the time when Russia launched its counteroffensive. In 2019, RAND Corporation, a well-known think tank funded by the Pentagon, published a report which focused on devising strategies for overextending Russia. Part of it reads:

“The Kremlin’s anxieties over a direct military attack on Russia were very real and could drive its leaders to make rash, self-defeating decisions… …Providing more US military equipment and advice to Ukraine could lead Moscow to respond by mounting a new offensive and seizing more Ukrainian territory.”

It’s quite hard to dismiss Moscow’s claims that the Ukrainian crisis is a segment of the comprehensive aggression against Russia when the very institutions funded by the political West itself openly admit that the current events were planned years or even decades ago. And even if the impossible happened and the Eurasian giant decided to surrender and succumb to Western pressure, where does the US-led aggression against the world stop? Or worse yet, how long before a disaster of cataclysmic proportions puts an end to it?

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