Category Archives: Uncategorized

military summary

Military Summary And Analysis
Military Summary, Nov 30 2022

This video describes the military situation in Ukraine on Nov 30.

colonel cassad

Unknown volunteer at the front
Colonel Cassad, Nov 30 2022 19:00

Suddenly. An unknown volunteer somewhere at the front. (It’s Igor Strelkov – RB)

Irrecoverable losses of the AFU more than 100k
Colonel Cassad, Nov 30 2022 15:26

Ursula von der Leyen said that the losses of the AFU killed since the beginning of the war amounted to more than 100k people. A little later, the recording of the speech with this statement was deleted and published again, but without a fragment about the loss of the AFU. Apparently, they realized that in this way von der Leyen actually accuses Zelensky’s gang of brazen lies when they talk about losses of 10k to 15k killed since the beginning of the war. From my point of view, 100k+ is an understated figure. According to my estimates, irretrievable losses of the AFU (killed, prisoners, missing, non-combat) range from 130k to 155k or 160k (AFU, PMC, NATO regulars mimicking the AFU or PMC, National Guard, Interior Ministry, Border Service, SBU). As I understand it, the wounded since the beginning of the war, it’s good for 200k to 250k. Nevertheless, the EC actually independently set the lower bar for the losses of the AFU at 100k+ killed since the beginning of the SMO, not counting civilians. It is worth noting that in the first half of autumn there were calculations of irretrievable losses of the AFU up to 190k people. I think we’ll learn the real figures up to thousands after the war.

south front

Turkey Continues Strikes On Syria, Suffers Losses In Iraq
South Front, Nov 30 2022

Turkey’s military operations against Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq continue with full force despite several recent setbacks. In northern Syria, the Turkish military continues its attacks in the framework of Operation Claw-Sword which was launched on Nov 20 in response to the Nov 13 Istanbul bombing. The Turkish military and its proxies carried out a series of artillery and rocket strikes on positions of the Kurdish-led SDF early on Nov 26. The strikes targeted the villages Zour Maghar, Zurafa, Bayadi, Ziyarah, Jarqali, to the west of the town of Kobane, in the northeastern Aleppo countryside. Kobane is a key stronghold of the SDF. Some positions of the SAA were also hit. A soldier was reportedly wounded. The army has been deployed around Kobane since 2019 to maintain peace and security under a Russian-brokered agreement.

The SAA deployed large reinforcements in the western outskirts of Kobane just a few hours before the strikes. The reinforcements included more than 20 battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, truck-mounted heavy machine guns and howitzers. Late on Nov 26, a series of Turkish airstrikes targeted positions of the SDF and the SAA in the outskirts of the towns of al-Malikiyah, Sewarxa and Maraanaz as well as within the Menagh Military Airbase in the northern countryside of Aleppo. Following the airstrikes, the Turkish military carried out a series of artillery strikes on the same areas. Heavy material losses were reported after the Turkish strikes. However, there were no casualties. The response of the SDF was limited to a few mortar and rocket strikes.

Meanwhile in northern Iraq, the Turkish military continue to suffer losses within Operation Claw-Lock zone in the Kurdistan Region on the hands of the PKK. On Nov 25, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense acknowledged that soldiers were killed in clashes with PKK fighters in Kurdistan. A day later, on Nov 26, three more soldiers were killed in a daring raid by the Kurdish guerilla group near the border. The attack was not without losses for the PKK. The group lost three of its fighters. A fourth one, a female fighter, was captured. The Turkish military received yet another blow on Nov 27, when the seventh soldier was killed in an attack by the PKK in the Operation Claw-Lock zone. Turkey is reportedly preparing to escalate its operations against Kurdish forces even further, especially in Syria. Ankara appears to be determined to launch a new ground invasion into northern Syria to weaken the SDF, despite objections from Russia and the US. Such a move will certainly start a dangerous confrontation that could spread into northern Iraq.

Russia Deploys Heavy Howitzers On Frontline With Turkish Forces In Northern Syria
South Front, Nov 30 2022

The Russian military grouping in Syria has deployed heavy howitzer near an important frontline with Turkish forces in the northern countryside of Aleppo. A video that surfaced online on Nov 30 shows a Russian battery of Msta-B towed 152 mm howitzers moving in the direction of the town of Tell Rifaat. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the battery was deployed at a newly-established position in the nearby village of Tell Jijan. The Msta-B has a maximum firing range of 25 km with base bleed rounds and up to 29 km with rocket-assisted rounds. It can also fire the laser-guided 2K25 Krasnopol round, which has a range of 20-25 km. The howitzer can fire up to six rounds per minute.

Tell Rifaat is jointly held by the SDF and the Syrian Arab Army. The Russian military has been present around the town since the 2018 Turkish invasion of the nearby area of Afrin. Turkey launched a large-scale operation against Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, codenamed Claw-Sword, on Nov 20, in response to the Nov 13 deadly bombing in Istanbul. So far, the operation has been limited to air and artillery strikes. However, Erdogan and other senior Turkish officials have already warned of a near ground phase. Tell Rifaat was one of three towns which were recently named by Erdogan as main targets of any new ground operation in northern Syria, with the other two being the nearby towns of Manbij and Kobane.

The Russian military move near Tell Rifaat came just a day after a Turkish official told Al Jazeera that Ankara completed all military and logistic preparations needed to launch a ground operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The unnamed official said that Turkey had informed Russia of its rejection of the presence of the SAA in SDF territory in northern Syria. The Russian military is not moving on Tell Rifaat frontline alone. Late on November 29, the SAA and Iranian-backed armed formations from the Shiite towns of Zahraa and Nubl deployed large reinforcement on the frontline, including several battle tanks and armored personnel carriers. The deployment of Russian and Syrian reinforcements on Tell Rifaat frontline could force Turkey to reconsider its military plans, or at least delay them.

Stoltenberg Admits Impact Of Russian Strikes, Contradicting Western media
Lucas Leiroz, South Front, Nov 30 2022

On Nov 29, the foreign ministers of NATO member countries met in Bucharest for a conference about the current issues involving the organization. One of the points commented on the occasion, including by the head of NATO, was the military impact of the air attacks that have been recently promoted by AFRF against AFU. In practice, the assertions at the summit contradicted many narratives previously spread by media and NATO itself about a possible “Ukrainian victory.” Stoltenberg said in a press conference after the alliance ministers’ summit that the latest high-intensity Russian air strikes caused immense damage to Ukrainian forces. According to him, this meeting between representatives of NATO states was necessary and timely to discuss new forms of aid to Kiev and to advance new counter-measures in view of the losses that Ukraine has suffered on the battlefield. He said to journalists:

We need to realize that there are enormous effects of the attacks. These attacks have caused significant damage. I think we all have seen these pictures taken from satellites, where you see Europe in light, and then you see Ukraine dark, and that reflects the enormous consequences. So there’s a huge task to rebuild all of this. One of the important reasons why this meeting today is so important and timely, is that this provides us with the platform to mobilize further support to step up even more, and also for Minister Kuleba to meet all his colleagues in NATO and then to address those urgent needs. And I’m confident that Minister Kuleba will raise also the need for stepping up further when it comes to rebuilding their power infrastructure.

The secretary also stated that new efforts are needed on the part of the Atlantic alliance to continue helping Kiev and strengthening its defense capacity, since the recent maneuvers have enormously harmed the Ukrainian side. The first measure in response to Russian attacks would be to send new air defense systems to Ukraine. The objective is to increase the Ukrainian ability to neutralize Russian missiles and drones, preventing them from reaching their targets, mainly those related to critical infrastructure. In this sense, he also emphasized that Western countries need to help Ukraine rebuild its damaged infrastructure. Stoltenberg added:

Here in Bucharest, at this foreign ministerial meeting, the message from all Allies will be that we need to do more, both to help Ukraine repair the destroyed critical infrastructure, including the power and gas grid, but also of course to address the attacks themselves, partly by providing more air-defense weapons systems, but also of course ensuring that those systems that we have already provided are functioning, and many of them are actually modern NATO-standard air-defense systems including NASAMS and others, meaning that we need to provide spare parts and we need to provide ammunition.

It is curious how often Westerners contradict themselves in their narratives. According to western media outlets, Ukraine is winning the conflict and inflicting a lot of damage on the Russian side. On the other hand, Moscow would be launching heavy attacks against civilian targets, without success on the battlefield. However, the NATO meeting admitted the irrefutable fact that Russian attacks are strategically aimed at military and infrastructure targets, destroying the combat logistics of enemy troops. Therefore Kiev is losing, although they have not yet clearly admitted this. The media spreads lies about the conflict with only one aim: to make the public believe in the possibility of a Ukrainian victory and to encourage its leaders to send more aid. Now that it has been proven that even with Western assistance, Kiev is not succeeding on the battlefield, the right thing to do instead of expanding would be reducing aid, considering Ukraine militarily a lost battle and seeking a peaceful solution. However, NATO proposes precisely the opposite: to boost military interventionism by sending new defense systems. In other words, the alliance once again stresses that it wants to prolong the conflict as much as possible and that it will fight until the last Ukrainian or foreign mercenary. With this, NATO makes it clear that it is at war with Russia. It is not a question of mere “aid” to Kiev, but of active participation in a large-scale military confrontation against an enemy country. In this relationship between NATO and Russia, the Ukrainian neo-Nazi regime is just a proxy, without any sovereignty, willing to obey all Western commands and unable to decide when to stop fighting.

uk column

UK Column News
UK Column, Nov 30 2022

Brian Gerrish, Mike Robinson, Alex Thomson and Debi Evans with today’s UK Column News.

caitlin johnstone

The Guardian Could Help Assange By Retracting All The Lies It Published About Him
Caitlin Johnstone, Nov 30 2022

The Guardian has joined the NYT, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País in signing a letter from the five papers which collaborated with WikiLeaks twelve years ago in the publication of the Chelsea Manning leaks to call for the Biden administration to drop all charges against Julian Assange. This sudden jolt of mainstream support comes as news breaks that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been personally pushing the US government to bring the Assange case to a close. The Guardian’s participation in this letter is particularly noteworthy, given the leading role that publication has played in manufacturing public support for his persecution in the first place. If The Guardian really wants to help end the persecution of the heroic WikiLeaks founder, the best way to do that would be to retract those many smears, spin jobs and outright lies, and to formally apologize for publishing them.

This is after all the same Guardian which published the transparently ridiculous and completely invalidated 2018 report that Trump lackey Paul Manafort had met secretly with Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy, not once but multiple times. Not one shred of evidence has ever been produced to substantiate this claim despite the embassy being one of the most heavily surveilled buildings on the planet at the time, and the Robert Mueller investigation, whose expansive scope would obviously have included such meetings, reported absolutely nothing to corroborate it. It was a bogus story which all accused parties have forcefully denied and no serious person believes is true, yet to this day it still sits on The Guardian’s website without retraction of any kind.

This is the same Guardian which ran an article in 2018 titled “The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride,” arguing that Assange looked ridiculous for continuing his political asylum in the embassy because “The WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the US.” The article was authored by the odious James Ball, whose article begins: “According to Debrett’s, the arbiters of etiquette since 1769: ‘Visitors, like fish, stink in three days.’ Given this, it’s difficult to imagine what Ecuador’s London embassy smells like, more than five-and-a-half years after Julian Assange moved himself into the confines of the small flat in Knightsbridge, just across the road from Harrods.” This is the same Guardian which published an article titled “Definition of paranoia: supporters of Julian Assange,” arguing that Assange defenders are crazy conspiracy theorists for believing the US would try to extradite Assange because “Britain has a notoriously lax extradition treaty with the US,” because “why would they bother to imprison him when he is making such a good job of discrediting himself?” and “because there is no extradition request.”

This is the same Guardian which published a ludicrous report about Assange potentially receiving documents as part of a strange Nigel Farage/Donald Trump/Russia conspiracy, a claim based primarily on vague analysis by a single anonymous source described as a “highly placed contact with links to US intelligence.” The same Guardian which has flushed standard journalistic protocol down the toilet by reporting on Assange’s “ties to the Kremlin” (not a thing) without even bothering to use the word “alleged” on more than one occasion. The same Guardian which advanced many more virulent smears as documented in a 2018 article by The Canary titled “Guilty by innuendo: the Guardian campaign against Julian Assange that breaks all the rules.”

Even the wording of the joint letter itself is dishonest when coming from The Guardian. The letter reads:

This group of editors and publishers, all of whom had worked with Assange, felt the need to publicly criticise his conduct in 2011 when unredacted copies of the cables were released, and some of us are concerned about the allegations in the indictment that he attempted to aid in computer intrusion of a classified database,”. “But we come together now to express our grave concerns about the continued prosecution of Julian Assange for obtaining and publishing classified materials.

As we’ve discussed previously, the narrative that Assange recklessly published unredacted documents in 2011 is itself a dishonest smear, and the unredacted files were actually published elsewhere as the result of a real password being recklessly published in a book by Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding (the same Luke Harding who co-authored the bogus Manafort-Assange story). Assange took extraordinary measures to try and minimize the damage that was done by those Guardian reporters, but wound up getting thrown under the bus and blamed for their actions anyway. If The Guardian is sincere in its stated desire to see the end of the persecution of Julian Assange, the single most effective thing it could do to help advance that goal would be to publicly acknowledge that it helped to deceive the world about him, and work to correct the record.

The only reason Assange’s case doesn’t have more support currently is because so much of the public has been deceived into believing that what’s happening is not the unconscionable persecution of a journalist for telling the truth, but rather the righteous prosecution of a sinister Russian agent who has broken laws and endangered lives. The Guardian easily played a larger role in manufacturing that collective misconception than any other single news outlet in the world, and as such it could do tremendous good by retracting and apologizing for its publications which fed into it. This is the sort of thing a publication would do if it was really interested in truth, justice, and journalistic ethics. Is it what the people who run The Guardian will choose to do? I highly doubt it.

middle east eye

Thousands mourn two brothers killed in deadly Israeli West Bank raid
Leila Warah, Middle East Eye, Nov 30 2022 12:52 UTC

BEIT RIMA, occupied Palestine – Tens of thousands of Palestinians marched through the villages of Kafr Ein and Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah, on Tuesday carrying two caskets draped in bright Palestinian flags and covered in flowers. Inside the caskets are the bodies of Jawad Rimawi, 22, and Thafer Rimawi, 21, two brothers from the town of Beit Rima. Their bodies were carried on the shoulders of family and friends while the crowds chanted well-wishes and prayers for paradise for the new martyrs, who were shot dead early on Tuesday morning during an Israeli raid. In an unusual sight for the type of funeral, crowds of mostly young women joined the procession sending glad tidings to the young men as they make their way through their hometown to their final resting place. The unexpected death of the brothers led to a long and emotionally charged funeral. The air was filled with flags, cries of resistance against the occupation, and chants in honour of Palestine’s liberation. In solidarity with those killed, masked men shot bullets in the air. Family and friends, though, were still in shock from waking up to the news that Jawad and Thafer had been killed. Their uncle Bashar said:

Every day we wake up and Jawad goes to work. Today we woke up and saw that he and his brother were dead. This is very hard to process. We are still shocked. The Israeli soldiers killed them in the middle of a Palestinian village, a Palestinian area where there is no legal reason for the soldiers to be there. They came, killed the two brothers and left.

The funeral started at Birzeit University, the brothers’ alma mater and highest ranking university in the occupied territories, before ending in their hometown, Beit Rima. At the university, students walked alongside the bodies and said their goodbyes. Jawad, a recent business administration graduate, was shot in the pelvis and died on the way to the hospital. His younger brother Thafer, studying technology, was shot in the chest. Within the sea of people, photos of the young men stood out. Jawad is smiling in his graduation gown. Thafer stares ahead with his arms crossed and the shadow of a smile. They were two of six children. In Kafr Ein, the village neighbouring Beit Rima where the boys were shot, the crowd of mourners was even more prominent as they surrounded the brothers’ bodies, marching through the village. First to the mosque and then to their graves. The father of the men stood by their heads and led their way, with a hand on each of them for the last time.

Israeli forces raided the Palestinian town Kafr Ein on Tuesday around five in the morning. The neighbouring village, Beit Rima, is more accustomed to raids conducted by Israeli forces. So their youth went down to “help” and “defend” their neighbours, locals told MEE. With the Rimawi brothers among the youth, clashes broke out between them and the Israeli forces. According to witnesses, Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers, who were firing live bullets and other weapons as they invaded the neighborhood. According to eyewitnesses, Thafer was throwing a rock towards the convoy of armoured military jeeps when a soldier shot at him from the direction of the jeeps, striking him in the chest. As Thafer fell down on the ground, his brother Jawad, who was nearby, ran to his aid. In Jawad’s attempt to drag his brother off the street and out of harm’s way, the soldiers fired at him as well, striking him in the pelvis and stomach. Activist and resident of Beit Rima Jad al-Bargouthi, 46, told Middle East Eye:

The soldiers that killed them were in a military jeep. The soldiers lives were not in danger at the time, they could have just moved away. We were shocked at how many live bullets the soldiers shot. We were even more shocked that these live bullets needlessly killed two brothers.

According to locals, the two brothers were evacuated in private vehicles by residents of Kafr Ein and Beit Rima. Jawad was taken to a hospital in the nearby city of Salfit, while Thafer was taken to Ramallah. Jawad succumbed to his wounds on the way to the hospital, while Thafer died shortly after arriving. After the funeral, family and friends gathered over food. They listened intently to the impassioned voice of the boys’ paternal uncle Jawad Rimawi, young Jawad’s namesake. Rimawi was phoning in from Israeli prison, where he has been held as a political prisoner for the past 21 years. Rimawi said:

My entire life, I thought Jawad and Thafer were competing for the best grades, but without me knowing, they were also competing for Palestine, seeing who could do more to set it free. They were competing for their honour. I want to ask Thafer and Jawad if I am the one who is late, or are you the ones that died early? Why didn’t you wait until I was released? I wanted to meet you outside of this jail cell.

After the funeral Bir Zeit University, which has had 28 students killed by Israeli forces over the years, released a statement saying:

The university stresses that Palestinians will not be discouraged and will continue their resistance until they obtain their legitimate rights. We call on the international community and human rights organizations to take immediate measures to stop the absurd Israeli attacks that violate human and educational rights in Palestine.

Jawad and Thafer were two of five Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces in the span of 24 hours on Tuesday. Mufid al-Khalil, 44, was killed during an Israeli raid in the town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, the same night Jawad and Thafer were killed in Ramallah. Later on Tuesday morning, shortly before noon, a Palestinian was shot and killed after he carried out a car-ramming attack outside Ramallah, injuring one Israeli soldier. He was identified by Israeli media as Ghani Maamoun Faiz Abu Ali, 45, a married father of five. As funeral processions were on their way in Ramallah and Hebron for the Rimawi brothers and Khalil, a fifth Palestinian was shot and killed in Al-Mughayyir village, northeast Ramallah, as Israeli forces cracked down on local protesters. He was identified as Raed Ghazi al-Naasan. Barghouti said:

Every day, there is a martyr. Every day there are injuries. Every night there are raids and arrests and demolitions. This is our life as Palestinians.

The killing of the five Palestinians on Tuesday brings the death toll in the occupied Palestinian territory this year to 207 Palestinians, of whom 155 were killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, making it the deadliest year recorded for Palestinians since 2005. Israel’s “shoot-to-kill policy” has been widely criticised as the number of Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israeli forces increases. Even Barghouti was surprised that the two brothers were shot, saying:

There have been many attacks in this area, but the soldiers usually arrest the youth, not shoot them. They have never shot so many live bullets, and we think it is connected to the new orders the soldiers are getting.

Although Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy has been in place for years, many Palestinians are attributing the increase in Palestinian deaths and the lack of hesitation from soldiers to the victory of the right-wing government that recently won the elections in Israel. Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionism party, and members of the incoming government, have made their stance on anti-Arab racism very clear in their rhetoric over the years, going as far as advocating for the deportation of citizens of Israel that are ethnically Palestinian and calling for Palestinians throwing rocks to be shot. Barghouti said:

They started killing Palestinians before they sat in their new positions. But the effects of these people being in power are already being felt. I believe the situation will continue to get worse. The Israeli government doesn’t want peace with the Palestinians. Their attempts are fake. They don’t want to give us a state. The proof is that there are more illegal settlements, more martyrs and checkpoints every day.

Israeli forces arrest prominent Palestinian activist Issa Amro
Middle East Eye, Nov 30 2022 13:38 UTC

Israeli forces have arrested prominent Palestinian activist Issa Amro in the city of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank. Israeli authorities on Monday evening summoned Amro to Jabara police station, near Kiryat Arba settlement, where he was arrested and will face a trial at Ofra military court later in the week. It is unclear what charges Amro faces, but his arrest came after he filmed a soldier assaulting an Israeli activist near the Old City of Hebron. On Friday, a group of 15 Israeli anti-occupation activists were visiting Hebron to meet Palestinian residents when an Israeli soldier beat one of them.

Amro, an engineer by profession, is a well-known human rights defender in his hometown of Hebron. He is the founder of Youth Against Settlements, which aims to empower the Palestinian community in the face of Israeli settlers in Hebron’s Old City. The group has become the primary source of information about Israeli settler and military activities in the city and it regularly organises events to help the local community, such as harvesting olives. Amro’s house also serves as YAS’s community centre. The office was forced to close for 12 days in November as the Israeli army announced a military closure on parts of Hebron, including where Amro’s house is located, in a move condemned by UN experts. Earlier in November, an estimated 32k Israeli settlers marched through Hebron, assaulting Palestinians and vandalising some of the shops.

wsws

Former US Navy secretary calls Australia the “tip of the spear” against China
Oscar Grenfell, WSWS, Nov 30 2022

Australian Sea Hawk helicopter lands on guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins in the South China Sea

In comments to the Australian newspaper published yesterday, Richard Spencer, a former US Navy secretary, described Australia as the “tip of the spear” of the US-led confrontation with China. He called for greater integration of Australian personnel into the US navy’s key strike capabilities. These statements, which were prominently featured by the Murdoch-owned publication, form part of an increasingly feverish discussion on the need to accelerate Australia’s militarisation as the US intensifies plans for a war against China. Each week current and former political and military leaders insist on the need for northern Australia to be placed on a war footing, as they emphasise the critical role of the Pacific in the catastrophic conflict they are preparing. Spencer was US Navy secretary under Trump from 2017 to 2019. He undoubtedly retains connections to the military-intelligence apparatus and currently works for Bondi Partners, a strategic advisory firm founded by Joe Hockey, former Australian ambassador to the US. Spencer was speaking specifically on the plans for Australia to establish a fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines under last year’s AUKUS pact with Britain and the US. He decried the prospect of a delayed acquisition of the subs, which would not be ready until the 2040s if they were to be built from scratch in Australia. Spencer stated:

I believe it is difficult to say, we are your ally and we are here to support you, when you are sitting at the tip of the spear but it’s going to be 10 years until we deliver the critical piece of gear you need.

Spencer proposed placing Australian naval personnel on the US fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. The subs would be based or placed on an “extended deployment” in Australia and would be “patrolling specific Australian threat waters.” The former US official was not suggesting a token deployment of a handful of Australian personnel. Instead, according to the Australian:

Spencer said it was vital Australians started training soon on Virginia-class submarines with a view to reaching 50% Australian and 50% US crews as soon as possible.

The Australian article was timed to coincide with a week-long visit to Western Australia by the USS Mississippi, part of the US nuclear submarine fleet. Its stopover, purportedly to provide the crew with rest, has been used to intensify discussion on the urgency of Australia acquiring its own fleet. The Australian cited other possible “solutions” to the submarine time-lag, stating:

The most likely interim options would be acquisition of several US Virginia-Class nuclear submarines off the production lines in the US as soon as possible.

“Another option” was “to provide a home base for several US Navy Virginia-class submarines in Perth, a move that would anger China and represent a quantum leap in naval co-operation between Australia and the US. The government is building a dry dock facility in Henderson, near Perth, which will be able to service large naval vessels including nuclear submarines. The paper observed:

China last week elevated its opposition to the AUKUS pact, calling it a threat to Australia’s relationship with China and a danger to world peace.

Next month, the Labor government’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles will travel to Washington for annual AUSMIN talks with the Biden administration. The question of the nuclear submarines will clearly be a key item on the agenda. A task force examining the options for acquiring nuclear submarines is due to report to the Labor government in March. In the same month, the government is due to receive a report from a review into military capabilities being conducted by former Defence Minister Stephen Smith and ex-Defence Force chief Angus Houston. Officially, the review is being undertaken in response to “deteriorating regional security.” Marles and other government leaders have declared the need to vastly expand Australian military capabilities. An interim report from the review was provided to the government last week. It was not publicly released, but the Australian’s foreign editor, Greg Sheridan, who has extensive ties to the military-intelligence establishment, indicated some of its content. Sheridan wrote:

The review will call for a significant expansion, and perhaps hardening, of our northern air force bases. It will also call for the development of missile defences around some of them. This will be accompanied by a recommendation for a big investment in missiles and drones. In the event of a clash between the US and China, Australia will furnish a dozen high-priority targets for Chinese attack. These targets will include airforce and other military bases in northern Australia and the US Pine Gap spying and military coordination facility in the centre of the country.

The US and its allies frequently establish missile systems described as “defensive” when in fact their purpose is to conduct offensive operations. Missile systems in northern Australia, for instance, would be able to strike far into the Pacific. This would be in line with the role that Australia is to play in a war with China as the staging ground for a naval blockade of key shipping lanes upon which Beijing heavily relies and as a “southern anchor” for offensive operations throughout the region. Sheridan said:

The review will also advocate a fourth combat squadron of Joint Strike Fighter F-35s. If we get this extra squadron, and maybe some extra training F-35s, and keep our Super Hornets and Growlers in service as we should, this would take us over the magic 100 fast-jet figure.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed last month that US B-52 bombers are to be stationed in northern Australia. The plans, not publicly announced, are well underway, with a major expansion of airforce infrastructure and fuelling facilities. The B-52s are nuclear-capable. It is US policy not to reveal which of its nuclear-capable assets are carrying a nuclear payload at any given time. That means that Australia’s status as a nuclear-free power effectively has been overturned.

In a further indication of the lockstep march of the Labor government behind the US confrontation with China, the Australian reported today that it is considering measures to block Chinese investment from the country’s critical minerals sector. Such actions, already undertaken by Canada, would be carried out on the basis of “national security,” not economic considerations, the newspaper stated. This aligns with US and allied fears over China’s dominance of the processing of rare earths and critical minerals, which are crucial to nearly all modern technologies. As in the period before WW1 & WW2, steps are being taken to “decouple” supply chains and establish control over key economic areas in preparation for conflict. The vast expenditure on the military build-up occurs amid the greatest cost-of-living crisis in decades. The Labor government abandoned its May election campaign lies about a “better future” and has since declared the need for working people to make “sacrifices,” including through real wage cuts and austerity measures that further cut health and other essential social services. As always, the drive to war abroad goes hand-in-hand with war against the working class at home.

NATO summit vows to continue troop surge to Russia’s borders
Andre Damon, WSWS, Nov 30 2022

A graphic created by NATO showing the military alliance’s “eastern flank.”

NATO foreign ministers met in Bucharest on Tuesday with representatives of the prospective NATO members Ukraine, Finland and Sweden to discuss a further expansion of the NATO war with Russia in Ukraine and the stationing of more troops on Russia’s Western borders. Stoltenberg said at the start of the meeting:

In response to Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, we are raising the readiness of our troops, and we have doubled the number of NATO battlegroups from four to eight. Including one here in Romania, led by France. We have increased our presence on the ground. We have more presence in the air. Just last week, NATO Allies conducted an exercise to test air and missile defenses in Romania. Involving Spanish, Turkish and US aircraft, as well as French jets flying from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. Demonstrating how NATO Allies operate together and are ready to defend every inch, but also the airspace above NATO Allies.

The “airspace above NATO Allies” is rapidly expanding, with Stoltenberg all but treating Finland and Sweden as members of NATO. Stoltenberg doubled down on NATO’s involvement in the war with Russia, saying:

Their membership of NATO is a game-changer for the European security architecture. It will make them safer, our Alliance stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. So our message from Bucharest is that NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will not back down.

Behind the scenes, these general pledges of expanded NATO involvement in the war are being filled out with concrete discussions to send US fighter jets, long-range missiles, and attack drones into the warzone. In an article that appeared in Bloomberg, former SACEUR Adm (Retd) Stavridis declared:

The West’s best option will be to significantly increase its assistance to Ukraine on the air war side of the conflict. Leaders in NATO capitals are also revisiting an idea that was discarded in the early days of the war: providing either MiG-29 Soviet-era fighters (the Poles have offered to transfer them to the Ukrainians) or even US surplus F-16s, a simple-to-learn multi-role fighter.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Latvian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that NATO should “allow” Ukraine to strike targets inside of Russia, saying:

We should allow Ukrainians to use weapons to target missile sites or air fields from where those operations are being launched. We should not fear the response from Russia.

Ahead of the meeting, Landsbergis tweeted:

My message to fellow foreign ministers at today’s NATO meeting is simple: Keep calm and give tanks.

Such calls were closely coordinated with demands by Ukrainian officials. Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted:

No eloquent speech will say more than concrete action. ‘Patriot’, ‘F-16’, or ‘Leopard’ (German main battle tank) for Ukraine.

A group of US senators have meanwhile issued a letter calling for the United States to provide lethal armed attack drones to Ukraine, the so-called “Grey Eagle,” which they praised for its “lethality.” They note most importantly that armed Unmanned Aerial Systems could find and attack Russian warships in the Black Sea. They declare:

The MQ-1C, along with already provided long-range fires capabilities, provides Ukraine additional lethality needed to eject Russian forces and regain occupied territory.

The signatories include Joe Manchin, a key Biden ally in the Senate, and Trump ally Lindsay Graham. In an indication of the degree of tension surrounding the conflict, this week Russia canceled nuclear talks with the US at the last minute. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said:

We are sending signals to the Americans that their line of escalation and ever deeper involvement in this conflict is fraught with dire consequences. The risks are growing.

As the US intervenes ever more directly in the conflict, its military strategists are expressing their aims all the more bluntly. In an essay entitled “US Aid to Ukraine: An Investment Whose Benefits Greatly Exceed its Cost,” veteran US geostrategist Anthony Cordesman acknowledges:

The war in Ukraine has become the equivalent of a proxy war with Russia. The US has already obtained major strategic benefits from aiding the Ukraine. Russia is already paying far more of its GNP and economy to fight the war in the Ukraine than the US and its partners, and has suffered massive losses of weapons, war reserves, and military personnel.

While Cordesman’s essay treats the deaths of Russian troops and the devastation of the Russian economy as a benefit, it does not anywhere factor in the cost in Ukrainian lives or the suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian population by the war. Even as the US and NATO continue to pour weapons in to Eastern Europe, Russia has responded with weeks of strikes on Ukraine’s power and water infrastructure, leaving millions of people, including much of the capital of Kiev, without power in the freezing temperatures.

rt.com

US considering Patriot missiles for Ukraine
RT.com, Nov 30 2022

The US Army test-fires a Patriot surface-to-air missile.

The US government is mulling over whether to provide Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine’s armed forces, the DoD said, weeks after Kiev explicitly requested the pricey weapon system. Speaking during a Tuesday press briefing, an unnamed senior Pentagon official was asked if Washington had plans to ship Patriots to Ukraine, but simply replied:

I’m just going to say that all capabilities are on the table.

Pressed on whether that would include Patriot missiles, the official acknowledged the weapon is “one of the air defense capabilities that is being considered.” USAF Brig-Gen ‘Pat’ Ryder later elaborated on those remarks at a separate press conference, saying that while air defense is a “priority” for Ukraine and that Washington is now discussing a “wide variety of capabilities,” there are no immediate plans to transfer Patriot batteries. He suggested that could later change, adding that such weapons are not “plug-and-play” and would require significant training and maintenance support.

Stoltenberg also highlighted the possibility of shipping Patriots to Ukraine during an alliance meeting in Bucharest on Tuesday, but likewise pointed to complications related to maintenance and training. Moscow has vocally opposed the deployment of Patriots and any supporting NATO personnel to Ukraine, with deputy head of Russia’s Security Council Medvedev warning that such shipments would become “legitimate targets” for Russian forces. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba first floated a request for the air defense system earlier this month, saying:

I am convinced that the time for ‘Patriots’ has come.

Blinken later confirmed the discussions, but made no mention of Patriot missiles. While several allies have supplied Kiev with large numbers of MANPAD systems such as US-made Stingers and Polish Thunderbolts, Ukraine has repeatedly called for heavier air defenses. To date, only a handful of countries have met those requests, with Washington recently providing National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), while Slovakia previously transferred its lone S-300 platform on the condition the Pentagon would replace it with a Patriot battery.

NATO affirms ‘open door policy’ for Ukraine and Georgia
RT.com, Nov 29 2022

Stoltenberg at a press conference in Bucharest, Nov 29 2022

NATO has reiterated its 2008 pledge to admit Ukraine and Georgia, both neighbors to Russia, into the Western alliance, insisting NATO will continue to expand its presence across Eastern Europe in response to Moscow’s ongoing military offensive. Following meetings in the Romanian capital of Bucharest on Tuesday, NATO foreign ministers issued a statement reaffirming the 14-year-old promise to someday grant membership to Kiev and Tbilisi, first made at an alliance summit in the very same city back in 2008. Joined by counterparts from the two NATO aspirants, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Moldova, the foreign ministers said:

We firmly stand behind our commitment to the alliance’s Open Door Policy, and we reaffirm the decisions we took at the 2008 Bucharest Summit and all subsequent decisions with respect to Georgia and Ukraine.

The officials went on to condemn Russia’s military action in Ukraine as “the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades” and vowed to continue aiding Kiev “for as long as necessary.” The statement also announced that NATO will create a “new baseline for our deterrence and defense posture by significantly strengthening it and further developing the full range of robust, combat-ready forces and capabilities” in Europe. In remarks at the opening of Tuesday’s summit, Stoltenberg outlined how the alliance would bolster its military presence, saying it had “doubled the number of NATO battlegroups from four to eight” and is now working on ways to quickly scale up those units and deploy “prepositioned equipment.”

While Stoltenberg stressed that NATO is “not a party to the conflict in Ukraine,” he said the bloc is providing “unprecedented support” to Kiev to ensure it “prevails as an independent sovereign state.” He noted that Western assistance long predates the start of Russia’s offensive in February, pointing out that NATO forces have trained “tens of thousands of troops” since 2014, helping to make Ukraine’s military “much bigger, much better equipped and much better led.” The NATO chief also declared that the alliance’s “door is open” to new members, citing the latest admissions of Montenegro and North Macedonia, as well as recent applications by Finland and Sweden. However, when pressed on when Ukraine might be finally granted membership, Stoltenberg suggested the issue would not be settled for some time. However, he provided no details on the progress of Kiev’s formal membership application, filed in September, saying merely:

The main focus now is on supporting Ukraine, ensuring that (Russia) doesn’t win, but that Ukraine prevails.

Despite NATO’s professed ‘Open Door Policy,’ the alliance requires aspiring members to meet certain criteria before joining, including upholding a democratic political system and market-based economy, fair treatment of minority groups, civilian control of the military and some level of compatibility with existing NATO forces, among other things. Whether Ukraine has met those requirements remains unclear, as Western officials have been reluctant to discuss any exact timeframe for when NATO will make good on its 2008 pledge.

US may declare ‘Putin ally’ a terrorist – Bloomberg
RT.com, Nov 29 2022

PMC Wagner headquarters in St Petersburg, Nov 2 2022

The Biden administration is considering labeling the Wagner Group a foreign terrorist organization as a way to put more pressure on Russia, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing anonymous insider sources. Wagner, a private military company that has been active in several African countries as well as in the Ukraine conflict, has been under US sanctions for years. Designating Wagner as terrorists could “handicap” the group’s operations by allowing the US to criminally prosecute its members and go after their assets around the world, according to Bloomberg. Bloomberg’s sources, who were described as “two people familiar with the matter,” said the final decision had not been made yet. The designation could be a way for the White House to appease domestic critics clamoring to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, the outlet said, adding that the US government has resisted calls over concerns of potentially endangering “humanitarian transactions” with Moscow.

The proposal appears to have originated at Lawfare, a Democrat-leaning “national security” blog, specifically a June article authored by two former CIA officers, James Petrila and Phil Wasielewski. They argued:

The US goal should be to deny the organization’s members the ability to travel internationally, destroy the group’s financing, derail its recruitment efforts, and discourage foreign governments from employing it, thereby ending Wagner Group’s utility to the Kremlin and, therefore, its existence.

The Russian government has consistently denied any formal links to the group, established by Yevgeny Prigozhin in 2014. Western intelligence and political activists have declared Prigozhin a key “ally” of Putin and accused him of “meddling” in US presidential elections in 2016 and ever since. Prigozhin’s satirical “admission”in response to such claims was taken at face value by major news agencies earlier this month. Petrila and Wasielewski claim that the Wagner Group’s activities “align with the Kremlin’s covert and overt foreign policy goals,” pointing to their alleged deployment since 2014 in places like Syria, Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic. The group emerged from the shadows earlier this year, getting involved in Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. Its fighters are reportedly playing a major role in the current fighting around Bakhmut/Artyomovsk, a key stronghold of Ukrainian government forces in Donbass.

EU country urges Ukraine to strike Russia
RT.com, Nov 29 2022

Edgars Rinkevics, Foreign Minister of Latvia

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics urged NATO to “allow” Ukraine to use its Western-supplied weaponry for strikes deep into Russian territory. The top diplomat made the remarks in an interview with Bloomberg on the sidelines of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Bucharest on Tuesday. In particular, the weaponry should be used to attack sites used by Moscow to stage missile strikes against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, Rinkevics suggested. He said:

We should allow Ukrainians to use weapons to target missile sites or air fields from where those operations are being launched.

While Moscow has repeatedly warned the West against “pumping” Ukraine with assorted weaponry, suggesting such behavior could ultimately result in a direct conflict between the US-led NATO alliance and Russia, Rinkevics brushed off such concerns. The bloc “should not fear” escalation, he said. Latvia, along with other Baltic states, has been among the most vocal supporters of Kiev in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The country’s top officials have repeatedly toured Kiev to show their support, with the latest visit coming over the weekend when Rinkevics, alongside his colleagues from Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland met Zelensky.

colonel cassad

A cry for freedom
Colonel Cassad, Nov 29 2022 20:40

Features of CNN coverage of protests against coronavirus restrictions in Germany and China. It’s different…

Fundamental difference
Colonel Cassad, Nov 29 2022 17:40

From a briefing by NATO spokesman Jamie Shea, Brussels, May 25 1999:

Q: We were able to see yesterday in several television reports doctors and Yugoslavs confronted with enormous difficulties linked to their generators in their hospitals and who therefore ultimately accused the Alliance of taking the civilian population hostage, therefore of taking hosting innocent people by the very fact of bombing power stations, transformers or drinking water pipes.

A: Let us not lose sight of proportions in this debate. President Milosevic has got plenty of back-up generators. His armed forces have hundreds of them. He can either use these back-up generators to supply his hospitals, his schools, or he can use them to supply his military. His choice. If he has a big headache over this, then that is exactly what we want him to have and I am not going to make any apology for that. Secondly, I don’t know if anybody realises this. It’s not often remembered but over 50% of the refugees in Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are under 18 years of age. Children, or at least adolescents. 40% are under 14 years of age. 20k are under one year old and at least 100k babies have been born since this crisis in March in those refugee camps, without incubators, without electricity, without medical support, without water, without a roof over their heads, with absolutely nothing. And therefore they are still considerably less fortunate than those babies in Belgrade. NATO doesn’t wish any harm to any baby but let’s make it clear here, the suffering, the real suffering, not the TV images, but the real suffering is in this business overwhelmingly on the side of the Kosovar Albanians who don’t have the choice, unfortunately, between an incubator with electricity supplied by President Milosevic or an incubator without electricity. They simply have no incubator because they have been forced out of their homes and into fields. I also could tell you that there are 60k children under the age of six in the camps in Albania alone being cared for at the moment by the International Relief organisations. This is not a few babies, no matter how precious, this is an entire lost generation. We are dealing with the Pied Piper of Hamlin here. In other words the government which has literally taken away from their homes a whole community of children, enormous numbers depriving them of their health, causing great psychological harm, you have seen this in terms of the pictures that they have painted which have been exposed at Segrabe, depriving them of their schooling, depriving them of their families in terms of separation and I think that this again is what we should focus on. Otherwise I just acknowledge that perhaps we have lost all sense of proportion in this matter.

Q I am sorry Jamie but if you say that the Army has a lot of back-up generators, why are you depriving 70% of the country of not only electricity, but also water supply, if he has so much back-up electricity that he can use because you say you are only targeting military targets?

A: Yes, I’m afraid electricity also drives command and control systems. If President Milosevic really wants all of his population to have water and electricity all he has to do is accept NATO’s five conditions and we will stop this campaign. But as long as he doesn’t do so we will continue to attack those targets which provide the electricity for his armed forces. If that has civilian consequences, it’s for him to deal with but that water, that electricity is turned back on for the people of Serbia. Unfortunately it has been turned off for good or at least for a long, long time for all of those 1.6 million Kosovar Albanians who have been driven from their homes and who have suffered, not inconvenience, but suffered in many cases permanent damage to their lives. Now that may not be a distinction that everybody likes but for me that distinction is fundamental.

Bakhmut meat grinder
Colonel Cassad, Nov 29 2022 13:58

In the light of the successes of recent days in the “Bakhmut Meat Grinder,” it can be noted that the straightforward tactics of storming the city head-on from the east was not chosen to storm the city, especially since our forces entered the industrial zone of Artemovsk in the summer, where they fought near Patrice Lumumba Street. This has already led to the fact that our troops occupied Otradovka south of the city, and then not only started battles for the fortifications in Opitne and Ivangrad (the latter has already been taken), but also began to develop an offensive on Kurdyumovka, which violates the integrity of the enemy front between Artemovsk and Dzerzhinsk. With the loss of Kurdyumovka, as well as Andriivka, Zelenopolye and Ozaryanovka, the situation for the enemy in this area became sharply complicated, and our troops were able to both develop the offensive south of Artemovsk (including in the direction of the Hours of Yar), and to increase pressure on the enemy in the area of Dzerzhinsk, as well as expand the control zone in the direction of Konstantinovka.

An important role in achieving the results of the offensive is played by the overwhelming artillery fire (including competent work with drones and adjusted fire) and the skillful use of tactics of assault groups, which determine the bypassing actions of the advancing troops which pose a threat to the enemy’s flanks, allowing you to minimize your own losses. Hence the actual emergence of the term “Bakhmut meat grinder.” In fact, in this section of the front there is a methodical grinding of the Artemov group of the AFU and attached forces of foreign mercenaries, making the battle very costly for the AFU and forcing the command of the AFU to transfer more and more reserves in the area of Artemovsk and Hours Yar to replenish the units In fact, the enemy is faced with a choice: either to continue to tolerate the current level of losses while the assault groups of PMC Wagner cover the city from the south, or gradually leave Artemovsk, taking all the operational consequences of such a step.

south front

Russian Forces Back To Offensive Operations On Donbass Front Lines
South Front, Nov 29 2022

Russian troops went on the offensive in several directions on the Ukrainian front lines, and declared significant successes in some areas. To the southwest of Lisichansk, the village of Spornoe remains one of the heaviest areas of the Donbass front. The Ukrainian command did not abandon its attempts to break through the Russian defenses in order to block the crossing through the Seversky Donets River and surround the city of Severodonetsk from the south. However, all Ukrainian attacks near Spornoe were repelled by Russian-led forces and recently, Russian units have gone on the offensive. According to reports from the front, on Nov 28, as a result of a decisive assault, units of the People’s Militia of the LPR broke through the defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and entered the village of Spornoe. The breakthrough was made possible by the assault groups of the 4th Brigade of the 2nd Army Corps of the LPR and the Airborne Forces of Russia, with the support of Wagner fighters. Yesterday, a group of Ukrainian saboteurs comprised of 17 servicemen was destroyed during the Russian assault in the village. Now Russian assault groups are trying to seize the initiative and take key positions in the settlement.

In an attempt to stop the offensive of Russian forces, Ukrainian units launched a series of counter-attacks on the villages along the Soledar-Lisichansk highway. Russian forces repelled enemy offensive attempts in the Yakovlevka and Berestovoye areas. Russian units continue to storm Soledar. Fighting is ongoing in the southeastern part of the city and in the Yakovlevka area. The offensive of the Russian fighters of the Wagner Group continues in Bakhmut and on its outskirts, where the Ukrainian group risks being surrounded. On Nov 28, Russian forces claimed new gains in the area. Three settlements to the south of the city came under their control at once; they include Andriivka, Zelenopolye and Ozaryanovka. Thus, a section of the railway line was cut. The battles for Kurdyumovka and Kleshcheyevka continue.

In their turn, Ukrainian units again attempted a counter-offensive in the area of Opytnoe on the southern outskirts of Bakhmut. The Wagner fighters repelled the attack, forcing the enemy to retreat with losses. As a result of ongoing Russian attacks, Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut, which are a mixture of various units, including groups of foreign mercenaries, are suffering heavy losses. According to Ukrainian and Western sources, the Ukrainian Army is losing hundreds of fighters killed and wounded every day. Troops from other units are arriving to plug the holes in the defense lines. In Maryinka, Russian infantry continue to storm the city with the active support of tactical aviation. Heavy fighting is ongoing near the city administration building and Druzhby Avenue. On other Ukrainian front lines, the situation remains unchanged. In the Kupyansk region, Ukrainian forces continue their attempts to break through towards Svatovo but fail and retreat suffering heavy losses.

Russian Forces Storm Ukrainian Strongholds Near Avdiivka
South Front, Nov 29 2022

Russian military sources are sharing a lot of videos showing the destroyed Ukrainian positions on the Donbass front lines, where Russian troops are storming Ukrainian strongholds in different regions. Heavy battles are ongoing in the area of the town of Avdiivka on the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk. Russian-led forces are yet to repel Ukrainian units from the town. Instead of storming the heavily fortified Ukrainian strongholds in the town, Russian forces are surrounding Avdiivka in the south and in the north. South of Avdiivka, Russian forces have already taken control of the Donetsk ring road and the village of Opytnoe. Russian assault on Vodiane, Pervomaisky and fortified areas in the Nevelskoe area continues. North of Avdiivka, Russian troops are also storming Ukrainian positions near Novobakhmutovka. The newly published video from the outskirts of Avdiivka confirmed that the Ukrainian is suffering heavy losses in the area.

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