1. US expects Russia to invade Ukraine next week: report
US officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine and an attack could take place as soon as next week, according to a report out Friday.
PBS foreign affairs correspondent Nick Schifrin tweeted that US officials believe Putin has communicated an invasion order to members of the Russian military and that Washington expects a “horrific, bloody” campaign.
According to the report, a Russian attack would be preceded by two days of aerial bombardment and electronic warfare, followed by a ground assault with the potential goal of overthrowing the Kiev government.
2. Will the West Heed Poland’s Warnings on Russian Aggression?
(Commentary) (Text & Audio)
Some consider Warsaw alarmist, but the Poles have frequently been right about their large neighbor.
“We are here to express our full solidarity with you,” Poland’s then-President Lech Kaczyński declared in an August 2008 speech in Tbilisi, Georgia. He called on the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization to meet Russia’s recent invasion of the former Soviet republic with resolute opposition. “We know perfectly well that while today is time for Georgia, tomorrow it may be time for Ukraine, then for the Baltic States, and later, perhaps, for my own country, Poland!”
3. Russia Says Its New A-100 Jet Has Flown With Its Radar Turned On For The First Time
Russia’s prototype A-100 Premier next-generation airborne early warning and control plane has flown for the first time with its radar turned on, according to the state-owned companies responsible for the design. The announcement comes just under two weeks after a Russian newspaper published a story asserting that Western sanctions on the country were hampering the development of this aircraft.
4. Russian President warns that escalation over Ukraine could lead to nuclear war
It appears that British and American hawks would like to drive Europe into a hot war with Russia. In a statement by the permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE, Alexander Lukashevich, NATO’s intentions were made clear.
Lukashevich, reminded the OSCE that NATO’s expansion violated the various OSCE Security Treaties that promise indivisible security because it poses a threat to Russian security. At a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday, French President Macron as well as his host President Vladimir Putin also reminded the audience that NATO was not a defensive organization. Especially Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan could testify to this.
5. Fully Armed Grim Reaper F-15 Eagles Arrive In Poland In Response To Russian Build-Up
Arriving from England, the F-15C/Ds from the famous Grim Reaper squadron may be making their final operational deployment.
U.S. Air Force F-15C and F-15D Eagle fighter jets arrived today at Łask Air Base in Poland to take part in a mission designed to “enhance NATO’s collective defense posture,” as well as support the permanent Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission in the region. The deployment comes as the F-15C/D comes to the end of its successful tenure in Europe and amid continued East-West tensions as Russian forces in Belarus prepare to start a series of large-scale maneuvers. With ongoing fears of a potential new Russian invasion of Ukraine, some have suggested that these forward-deployed forces could take part in such an operation, or otherwise serve as a distraction.
6. Are The Baltic States Defensible?
[…] As Russia has thoroughly infiltrated the government and military of Belarus and now seems prepared to invade Ukraine, the United States has largely reiterated its commitment to the defense of its NATO allies on the front line with Russia without specifying what action it would take when faced with an actual invasion.
The geography of Europe also makes the defense of the Baltics more complicated than any promise to defend them may convey. Firstly, all Baltic countries are bordered by Russia—Estonia and Latvia by Russia proper and Lithuania by Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave packed with nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles.
Secondly, the Baltics are relatively isolated from formal NATO allies. […]
In short, whether the Russians go further into Ukraine or not, the exposed geostrategic position of the Baltics makes them obvious targets in the future. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are vulnerable in a way Poland, located on the front line with Russia and Belarus and in close proximity to other NATO countries, will never be.
7. Controversial US-Slovak defense agreement approved
The Slovak parliament approved on Wednesday a defense cooperation treaty with the United States, based on which American soldiers will be able to use two military airbases in the country.
The agreement, which served a major source of political conflict in the country, was subsequently ratified by President Zuzana Čaputová, thus fulfilling all the conditions for Slovakia to allow the agreement to enter into force. Opposition parties and the Attorney General opposed the agreement in Slovakia and, according to an earlier survey, the agreement does not have the support of the majority of the country’s population.
The agreement with the U.S. was supported in the vote by 79 out of 140 deputies present. Several legislators were against the agreement or did not vote. The votes of at least 76 deputies were required for approval.
The representatives of the Slovak government called the intergovernmental agreement with the U.S. on defense a step towards increasing the security of Slovakia and a confirmation of its foreign policy orientation. According to Defense Minister Jaroslav Naď, most NATO member states, including Hungary and Poland, have concluded a similar agreement with the U.S. government
8. Hungarian MP wars of refugee wave if Russia invades Ukraine
Hungary’s nationalist prime minister warned Saturday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could send hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing across the border into his country.
Right-wing populist leader Viktor Orban, speaking in an annual address that this year kicked off his political campaign for Hungary’s parliamentary election on April 3, urged a peaceful resolution to the rising tensions in Europe that have stemmed from fears of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Orban — a firm opponent of any types of immigration — said it was in Hungary’s best interest to “avoid war,” which he said would cause a wave of Ukrainian refugees and a disruption of the economy.
9. Free speech in the UK?
- “It isn’t hate to speak the truth.” — J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, Twitter, June 6, 2020.
- “An entire generation are puzzled by the idea that anyone has the right to say things they don’t agree with…for most people, true free speech has ceased to exist…. On some issues, such as the transgender controversy, it is virtually impossible to say anything without attracting the attention of the Thought Police.” — Peter Hitchens, author and journalist, Daily Mail, December 11, 2021.
- “Among millions, the idea that you can defend someone’s right to say something you disagree with is now puzzling. They have no idea why anyone would do that. For them, the debate is over, they have won, and those who oppose them are stupid and wrong.” — Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail, December 11, 2021.
- “They also view my doubts about the theory of man-made global warming as ‘denial’ of a fact which they regard as proven. To them, this is little short of sabotage of efforts to combat this peril.” — Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail, December 11, 2021.
- “All of them believed that they owned the truth, that they were profoundly good and that those who got in their way were therefore evil as well as wrong.” — Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail, December 11, 2021.
10. Norway lifts almost all remaining COVID restrictions
As of Saturday, Norwegians are no longer required to wear masks in crowded places and the one-meter (3-foot) distancing rule is abolished.
Norway says it is lifting almost all remaining COVID restrictions as it doesn’t see a major health threat to citizens any more, even though the omicron variant is still spreading in the Nordic nation.
“This is the day we have been waiting for,” said Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere during a news conference in Oslo on Saturday. “We are removing almost all coronavirus measures.”
11. Denmark officials see no reason to give more COVID vaccines
Health authorities in Denmark said Friday that they are considering “winding down” the country’s coronavirus vaccination program in the spring and see no reason now to administer a booster dose to children or a fourth shot to any more residents at risk of severe COVID-19.
The Danish Health Authority said in a statement outlining its reasoning that the third infection wave in the European nation was waning “due to the large population immunity.“
12. EU investigates reports of menstrual disorders after mRNA Covid shots
- The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee said on Friday it was reviewing reports of heavy menstrual bleeding and absence of menstruation from women who had received Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
- The assessment was in view of reports of menstrual disorders after receiving either of the two vaccines, both based on messenger RNA technology, and it was not yet clear whether there was a causal link, the agency said.