🗺🌐👀 Global Eyes
A quick trip around the world
Efforts were underway Tuesday to evacuate the last of the Ukrainian forces who spent weeks holed-up inside the Azovstal steel plant in the ruined port city of Mariupol. Ukrainian officials said the fighters had “completed their mission” and there was no way the country’s forces could free the plant from Russia’s grasp by military means.
Russia called it a surrender, and there was no doubt that Moscow and its proxy forces in Ukraine were in full control of the strategic southern port city—even if much of it has been razed to the ground.
A group of Ukrainian members of parliament and advocates who came to Washington this week led by Oleksandra Ustinova, a Ukrainian lawmaker, is pushing members of Congress and the Biden administration to provide Ukraine with American-made F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, multiple rocket launch systems, and advanced air defenses.
Representatives of the International Criminal Court have arrived in Ukraine to investigate Russia’s war crimes. It’s the largest group of ICC staff sent since the establishment of the ICC Prosecutor’s Office.
Macron told Zelensky that arms supplies from Paris would “increase in intensity.”
Russia’s latest missile strike on Odessa in southern Ukraine has killed a 15-year-old boy.
The city council said a girl was hospitalized.
Russia has been lobbing missiles at the port city, trying to damage infrastructure and intimidate civilians. It also has damaged two vital bridges connecting Odesa with the rest of Ukraine.
The Lysychansk Gymnasium school in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine has been destroyed by Russian shelling.
The director of the UN’s World Food Programme in Germany, Martin Frick, says about 4.5 million tons of grain at Ukrainian ports cannot be moved because of unsafe or occupied sea routes and inaccessible ports.
The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right said more than 3,000 civilians have been killed, with the toll reaching 3,154 after an increase of 254 over the weekend. The real toll is likely to be far higher.
The UN High Commission for Refugees said more than 5.5 million people have now left Ukraine.
Russia forces have again struck an important bridge in the Odessa region in southern Ukraine. The attack targeted the bridge across the Dniester estuary, which has already been hit twice. It’s the only road and rail link on Ukrainian territory to much of the southern Odessa region. The bridge is the second near Odessa to be targeted in recent days.
An aide to Mariupol’s mayor, said more civilians have departed on buses on Monday morning. The evacuees were not from the Azovstal steel works.
A Ukrainian commander inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol says Russian forces continue to shell the complex, even as about 200 civilians remain and await evacuation. There about twenty children among the civilians still sheltering underground.
A Ukrainian Bayraktar drone destroyed two Russian Raptor-class patrol ships in the Black Sea at dawn on Monday near Zmiinyi (Snake) Island.
Ukraine’s ombudswoman for human rights says Ukrainian prisoners of war taken to Russia were beaten and tortured. Some had limbs amputated because Russians forced them to wear water-filled boots for days in the freezing conditions.
Russian forces have stolen farm equipment worth almost US$5 million, but can’t use it because the machinery is locked.
The chief of the general staff of the Russian military, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the country’s highest ranking uniformed officer, made a visit to front-line positions in eastern Ukraine late last week in an effort to “change the course” of Russia’s offensive there.
⚕️The World Health Organization has verified 226 attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine, including on hospitals and ambulances, nearly three per day since the war started.
There is grave concern about the potential for a cholera outbreak in Mariupol, according to World Health Organization officials. Sewage water and drinking water are mixing and there are swamps in the streets.
🕊⛔️ Kyiv said peace talks with Russia have been suspended. “The negotiation process is on hold,” said Mykhaylo Podolyak, a presidential aide.
Podolyak, who is also Kyiv’s lead negotiator in talks with Russia’s delegation, said Moscow was blind to its “extremely negative” role in the world. “The strategic objective of the Russians is: all or nothing.” He said Russian failed to understand that the war is “no longer taking place according to its rules, its timetable, or its plans.”
The Kremlin embraces and deploys a nationalistic, top-down strategy that transcends typical Russian malign influence operations—some ideologues in its orbit even defend a messianic vision for these actions. Their most extreme theological narrative stems from 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2, verses 6–7 in the New Testament of the Bible and speaks to the role of the “katechon” or “the restrainer” who holds back chaos and the Antichrist during the end times. In this modern retelling, Russia’s leader, President Vladimir Putin, is the katechon, and the decadence of the West (as exhibited in the United States and an anti-Russia Europe) is the embodiment of the Antichrist. Subscribers to this theory, particularly in the Russian Orthodox clergy, believe the Antichrist has visited in various forms throughout history (for example, Hitler in World War II). Now, an expansive West embodied by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, with its secularism and decadence, must again be defeated by the katechon. While the Kremlin itself may not defend such an apocalyptic vision, it can play on these themes when convenient.
There are many within and outside Russia who are inspired by the narrative that only Moscow can truly defend the faithful and protect traditional values against an endless assault of secularism. This narrative reaffirms that Moscow represents the Third Rome—the true successor of the Roman Empire after the fall of Rome and Constantinople was brought about by the heretical beliefs of both, according to this particular Russian narrative. To support this mission and vision, individuals within Russia financially support and propel the effort, often called the “Orthodox oligarchs.” There are also those who seek to apply the vision’s principles—the ideational entrepreneurs—more broadly to Russia’s foreign and security policy. This narrative helps justify, for example, the use of nuclear weapons or the development of a more cohesive national identity as Russian standards of living steadily decline.
“The main problem with our military-political position is that we are a in a state of complete geopolitical isolation,” says a Russian military commentator live on the main Russian state television channel:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would probably make “not much difference” as the two countries had long participated in the alliance’s military drills.
🇪🇺 EU defense ministers meet today to figure out new ways to finance joint arms purchases. Ministers are set to greenlight another €500 million to reimburse the EU countries arming Ukraine.