UKRAINE UPDATE with JOHN MORAN.
ON THE FRONTLINES IN BAKHMUT…
Western countries are counting on a last-chance-saloon offensive by the Ukrainian army in Donbass to put a halt to recent Russian military successes, which are grinding down the huge Ukrainian garrison in Bakhmut and rasiing the question of whether or not Ukraine will be able to mount an offensive at all.
Ukraine has up to 60k troops massed in or around the general area of Bakhmut. These could be used to relieve the Bakhmut garrishon or for the long-awaited offensive in the Zaporhizhne front line, aiming to punch a route to the Azov Sea, split the Russian forces and launch attacks on Crimea.
We are rapidly approaching the period when the outcome of the war will be decided one way or another. Already in Chernihov, British Challenger tanks have been spotter. The more we see of there recently arrived military hardware and ordnance, the sooner the Ukrainian offensive will begin.
While the south Zaporhizhne front if very heavily defended, the northern front is, by comparison, very lightly defended. Dima from Military Summary channel is puzzled why this is so. He concludes that the reason for this light defence is that the Russians want the Ukrainianians to attack in that direction because they have organised a major ambush when large numbers of Ukrainians pour into the bulge created by the offensive.
None of which is to say that the Ukrainian offensive could take place elsewhere, perhaps further along the northern front in the Lugansk area.
With rain forecast until next week, it is unlikely the Ukrainian military leadershpp will begin any offensive until the ground conditions improve. However, it is possible to launch an offensive on Bakhmut using the roads.
This would be far more difficult as the roads can b3 easily targetd by Russian forces.
In Bakhmut, the Wagner Batallion are claiming technical victory after capturing the main administrative building in the city centre. It is highly technical claim, as fierce fighting rages on the streets of the city from alll sides , as Wagner try to capture Bakhmut before the Ukrainian offensive can begin.
Wagner forces are advancing steadily from the east where Ukraine appears to be abandoning the city up to the railway line that splits the city between east and west.
On the western side of the city, Ukrainian forces are very heavily dug in to a district that contains many ealily defended high-rise structures solidly-built during the Soviet era.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR…
My take is China will make a dramatic entrance into the Ukraine conflict – which may help end it.
DONBASS BLOGGER TARGETED…
An explosion in a St Petersburg cafe has killed a well-known Donbass blogger, Vladlen Tartarsky, who was on a visit to the city to give a talk on war reporting. While there, he was presented with a statuette as an awarad for his work.
However, shortly after he received the award, it blew up. He died – and up to 10 people were seriously injured.
This high-psrofile killing is reminiscent of the killing of academic and journalist Darina Dugina, whose car belw up as she returned from an event near Moscow. Ukrainian terrorists are believed to be behind thes killings.
In Donbass, attacks on jouralists are a regular featrue of daily life. Hotels where reporters stay are regularly targeted. At the start of the Russian evacuation from Kherson, some months age, a team from the local TV station were targeted as they waited for the evacuees.
The EU has a policy of not covering events in Donbass. Journalists who have gone there have been sanctioned. EU bosses still dont want the truth about Donbass to be known.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO BEIJING…
China’s astonishing arrival on the world political scene, 1/ embracing President Putin, and 2/ curating a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which may have started to unlock many of the intense conflicts in the region this past 20 years.
Syria is being welcomed back to the Arab Leagur soon. Syria has also h ad talks with the Egyptian govt, again opening up areas of cooperation.
Look in astonishment as President Macron of France and EC President Ursula von der Leyen of Germany, are today being received by the Chinese leadership in Beijing.
It is very interesting to see all the Europeans rushing off to China instead of Washington, to ensure they dont lose out in their affairs with this economic behemoth and new world leader.
What the pair will find to their shock is the days of gunboat diplomacy and European control of the Global South are finally over. Me? I cant wait to hear the written accounts of both sides of this historic moment.
Ireland should immediately request a high-level meeting with the Chinese leadership. It is in Ireland’s interests. PS Anyone but Leo.
“THE RUBLE WILL BE RUBBLE” – US President, Joe Biden…
One of the biggest issues exploding onto the consciousness of world leaders right now is the primacy of the dollar. The iconic US currency is rapidly losing its premier status as 90% of the world is outside of US and Nato countries and trade is now being made in local currencies.
The impetus for this change was the freezing of Russian funds in western banks following its “Special Military Operation”. Other countries will not want to find thamselves in the same position if subject to US/Nato sanctions.
French financial adviser Rene Girard said a ste0pp in “transforming the dollar into a weapon” was the freezing of Russian dollar reserves by the Central Bank.
India, China and Russia now all trade outside the dollar, India since April 1st. India is now carrying out business and trade in rupees with 18 countries in the region. Malasia is one of the countries that have agreed to trade with India in rupees.
The BRICS countries now trade in each others currencies, and soon they will have their own agreed currency. Petro-giant Saudi Arqbia has now begun the process of joining the BRICS.
This has enormous implications for the dollar, as it was tied to Saudi Oil wealth to make it the world’s reserve currency. Losing this status, together with its mountain of debt, will prove a very difficult problem for the US resolve.
Meanwhile, Opec and Russia have agreed to cut oil production . This decision will now raise the price of oil on world markets.
UNHOLY WAR IN KIEV MONASTERY…
The stand-off at the Percyerska-Lavra cave monastery is still not resolved. All week there have been confrontations between the Orthodox congregation and supporters of President Zelensky who want all Orthodox monks out ofg the monastery. Court moves have failed to resolve the matter.
An extraordinary image has emerged from the monastery of a brave, eloquent 11-year-old girl being confronted by far-right protesters – but she was more than able to hold her own against them. She gets my Person of the Week award
ON PLANET BIZARRO…
Washington Post reports that EU meetings these days the guiding principle is Dont Mention the War, or more specifically Dont Mention Nord Stream. Neither EU countries or EU officials not only dont mention Nord Stream, but they dont even want to know who carried out the act of international terrorism in the heart of Europe.
WaPo wants to see Nord Stream as a European issue rather than an American one. PS My take is it was the US, UK, Norway.
Finland has finally joined Nato after Turkey withdrew its objections. So now 22 of thd 28 EU members will also be members of Nato.
Today Nato secretary Jens Stolterberg announced all Nato countries will contribute €500 million each ANNUALLY towards the rebuilding and upkeep of Ukraine. The contributions will be for an indefinate duration. Unfortunately for Finnish PM who led Finland to Nato, she lost out in elections and is no longer PM. No doubt, as a member of the WEF, Sanna Marin will be looked after.
Finally, US vice-Prresident Kamala Harris recieved a scolding on her trip to Africa over the US history of stealing its resources and killing its leaders. Ms Harris is visiting Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia during her trip. Earlier, in Moscow, Presidedt Putin wrote off some $20bn in debt to Africa after talks with African leaders.
– JOHN MORAN