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Canada is not a serious country… Danielle Smith

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14 minute read

From Danielle Smith

I read an infographic that said Canada has bought $13 billion worth of petroleum products from Russia since 2000 – we buy from them at a rate of $550 million  a year. What the hell are we doing?

The situation for Ukraine looks very grave indeed. Most commentators thought Vladimir Putin was going to “liberate” the two Russia friendly break off republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. What a surprise to the world to find Russian soldiers in Kyiv among other incursions.

It is pretty clear the Russian leader intends to take all of Ukraine.

But we also must not be naïve about Putin’s aspirations. A Polish friend of mine – who remembers watching Russian tanks roll into her town outside her street when she was seven years old – is under no illusions about how far Putin intends to go.

She fully expects Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan and possibly Moldova to be next. She believes Putin wants to assemble the Soviet Union 2.0, with the ultimate aim of controlling the energy supply to the rest of the world.

So how does this play out?

Just like you I’ve been trying to sort through the conflicting media coverage to find out what is really going on. If indeed there are Ukraine substates that genuinely want to be independent, I don’t have a particular problem with that. As I said in a Locals post, post WWII the powers that be made a lot of blunders redrawing the map of Europe and the Middle East, cramming people together under a national flag even if they hated each other, so perhaps some aspirations for independence are legitimate. But it’s clear that Putin’s aspiration goes far beyond Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk. It appears now that he wants the whole thing. But why?

First off, though it’s sad to say, there hasn’t been much honest reporting about Ukraine and Russia starting in the Trump years so almost everything you read will be through the lens of people who hate Trump (who clearly understood Putin’s strength and saw no need to antagonize him) and Biden (whose family had strange dealings in Ukraine no one wants to talk about).

In addition there is so much propaganda floating around the web I’d be reluctant to retweet any stories of “bravery” unless they’ve been verified. Here’s a good summary of the lies so far: The Ghost of Kiev, the woman with the sunflower seeds, footage of things being shot down or blown up – so far most of these stories are outright falsehoods or images from video games or prior conflicts. The “Russian Warship Go Fuck Yourself” holdouts was partly true: yes they said it, but they didn’t die in a missile attack. They were all apprehended and taken alive.

So know that you have to read everything knowing that the writer is trying to manipulate you. I’m just trying to figure out what is actually going on. It’s not easy.

To that end…

The mainstream view as reported on BBC, is that Russia feels threatened by a modern Ukraine and irrationally believes it has been taken over by extremists and Nazis. I guess calling one’s political opponents “Nazis” is the new all-purpose smear being used by Russian Presidents and Canadian Prime Ministers alike to justify war measures. In any case, this analysis left me unsatisfied as it seemed a bit shallow and one-sided like so much of MSM these days.

Social media isn’t doing much better, and the commentariat seems to think this is the time to practice their best pop culture zingers. It’s kind of humiliating to read this piece that calls out the Harry Potter references, the self-care links and the demands to “deplatform” Russia: “If the West saw Ukraine and its cause as truly important, something worth paying a price to assist, they would sanction Russia’s energy sector. But they do not (even the Globalist American Empire must sometimes face reality). So instead, we get a parade of symbolic sanctions, passive-aggressive gestures of anger and hostility. In fact, the tactics the GAE uses against Russia — social ostracisim, deplatforming, and performative public condemnation — are the same feminine tools that it uses domestically to ruins the lives of people who use a politically incorrect word or donate to the wrong protest.” Ouch.

Here’s a video from a podcaster imbedded in Kyiv who says openly, “you’ll probably think I’m a Russian stooge” so he may indeed be a Russian stooge, but he explains why he thinks Russia (so far) has been restrained in its attack. He believes Ukrainians are fleeing because Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is endangering them, by putting Kalashnikovs in the hands of untrained civilians who are going to be killed when confronted by professional Russian soldiers, and mandating military service for every man aged 18 to 60. He does not believe the Russians intend to cause mass casualties or destruction, but that they will kill if someone is pointing a gun at them, which will allow more reports depicting Putin’s viciousness.

He also explains how important Kyiv is to the Russian foundational story. As far as Putin is concerned, Ukraine is Russia, and he expected to be treated as a liberator when he arrived. He also outlined the different military tactics of Russia to explain why the West is saying that Russia is losing. When the US enters a country they do scorched earth and blow everything up – roads, bridges, electrical grids, water plants and so on. The fact that Putin is not doing that is being perceived as weakness. But if Putin wants Ukraine to be part of Russia permanently, it would make no sense to destroy everything. That doesn’t engender good feelings. Putin wants a puppet regime in Ukraine friendly to Russia’s interests – he doesn’t want to raze the joint or blow it smithereens.

Finally, this piece helped put a lot into perspective for me. “Ukraine’s Deadly Gamble” by Lee Smith has the ring of truth about it. He depicts it thus: “…(T)he Ukrainians made a geopolitical blunder that statesmen will study for years to come: A buffer state had staked its future on a distant power that had simply seen it as an instrument to annoy its powerful neighbor with no attachment to any larger strategic concept that it was willing to support.” They were a pawn in the game to help discredit Trump with the Russian collusion story, then when Trump started poking around to find out what the Bidens were up to in Ukraine, they played a willing role to aid his impeachment. Now they find out the Americans just aren’t that into them after all.

In the end, mid-size powers sleeping next to giants have to realize that their continued ability to remain independent is measured by whether they are perceived as antagonistic to the giant’s interests. If the situation was reversed – if Canada started cozying up to Russia and helping to sabotage US presidents to curry favour with Russia – I don’t think it would go well for us either. Maybe not full scale invasion, but the Americans hold life or death power over our economy so it wouldn’t be a wise move. Sad that regular citizens become the collateral damage in the decisions of their elected leaders. But that’s why elections matter.

If Canada was a serious grown-up country with a serious grown-up leader we’d be able to say “we can help” without being laughed off the world stage. We can help, in a very practical way. We can help wean the world off Russian oil and natural gas. We could ask Quebec to stop thinking only about itself for a change and reverse its announced ban on oil and natural gas extraction. Trudeau could declare multiple projects in the global interest and work with First Nations partners to complete Transmountain Pipeline and build Northern Gateway, work with Biden to build Keystone XL and with the provinces of QB and NB to build Energy East. He would use his powers under the Constitution to tell Quebec they can not block LNG Export from Saguenay, and he’d post a sentry of protectors for Coastal Gas Link to make sure it gets completed too.But look at this silliness: “despite the fact that 18 LNG export terminals have been proposed in Canada over the years, and 24 long-term LNG export licenses have been granted since 2011, a grand total of zero have been built.” We have failed the world with Trudeau’s anti-carbon-dioxide obsession. Let’s not forget it.

Canada is key to energy security and affordability for North America and our European allies, and we could hit Russia where it hurts. If we wanted to be a meaningful player on the international stage we would embrace it.

Instead we have a federal Environment Minister who made his name scaling the CN Tower and Ralph Klein’s house to oppose fossil fuels, and we’ve joined the Build Back Better brigade pretending the world can survive on wind turbines and solar panels alone.

Canada is not a serious place and our friends in Eastern Europe are now paying the price for it. Such a tragedy.

 

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armed conflict

Putin claims Mariupol win but won’t storm Ukrainian holdout

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the strategic city of Mariupol on Thursday, even as he ordered his troops not to risk more losses by storming the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the war’s iconic battleground.

Russian troops have besieged the southeastern port city since the early days of the conflict and largely reduced it to ruins. Top officials have repeatedly claimed it was about to fall, but Ukrainian forces have stubbornly held on in the face of overwhelming odds. In recent weeks, they holed up in a sprawling steel plant, as Russian forces pounded the industrial site and repeatedly issued ultimatums ordering their surrender.

But on Thursday, as he has done before, Putin seemed to shift the narrative and declared victory without taking the plant.

“The completion of combat work to liberate Mariupol is a success,” he said in a joint appearance with his defense minister. “Congratulations.”

Ukraine scoffed at the idea that a Russian victory in Mariupol was already achieved.

“This situation means the following — they cannot physically capture Azovstal. They have understood this. They suffered huge losses there,” said Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

By painting the mission as a success even without a head-on storming of the plant, Putin may be seeking to take the focus off the site, which has become a global symbol of defiance. Even without the plant, the Russians appear to have control of the rest of the city and its vital port, though that facility seems to have suffered extensive damage.

The Russian leader said that, for now, he would not risk sending troops into the warren of tunnels under the giant Azovstal plant, instead preferring to isolate the holdouts “so that not even a fly comes through.” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the plant was blocked off, while giving yet another prediction that the site could be taken in days.

Shoigu said about 2,000 Ukrainian troops remained in the site, which has a 24 kilometers (15 miles) of tunnels and bunkers that spread out across about 11 square kilometers (4 square miles). Ukrainian officials said that about 1,000 civilians were also trapped there along with 500 wounded soldier and demanded their release.

Putin’s order may mean that Russian forces are hoping they can wait for the defenders to surrender after running out of food or ammunition. Bombings of the plant could well continue.

Russian-backed separatists in the Mariupol area previously seemed bent on taking every last inch of the city, which holds both strategic and symbolic importance.

Its fall would represent the biggest victory of the war in Ukraine yet, and the scale of suffering in the city on the Azov Sea has made it a worldwide focal point. Its definitive capture would also complete a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014, and allow Putin’s forces to shift their attention to the larger battle for Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, where a more important measure of success may lie.

“The Russian agenda now is not to capture these really difficult places where the Ukrainians can hold out in the urban centers, but to try and capture territory and also to encircle the Ukrainian forces and declare a huge victory,” retired British Rear Admiral Chris Parry said.

Parry called it a change in “operational approach” as Russia tries to learn from its failures in the 8-week-old conflict, which began with expectations of a lightning offensive that would quickly crush Ukraine’s outgunned and outnumbered forces. Instead, Moscow’s forces became bogged down by a stiffer-than-expected resistance with ever mounting casualties and costs.

For weeks now, Russian officials have said capturing the Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, is the war’s main goal. Moscow’s forces opened a new phase of the war this week — a deadly drive along a front from the northeastern city of Kharkiv to the Azov Sea — to do just that. Detaching the region from the rest of Ukraine would give Putin a badly needed victory.

“They’ve realized if they get sort of held up in these sort of really sticky areas like Mariupol, they’re not going to cover the rest of the ground,” Parry said.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said that Russia likely wants to demonstrate significant successes ahead of Victory Day on May 9, the proudest moment on the annual calendar marking its critical role in winning World War II.

“This could affect how quickly and forcefully they attempt to conduct operations in the run-up to this date,” the ministry said.

In the meantime, Western powers are doubling down on their support of Ukraine, moving to push more military hardware in, heightening geopolitical stakes.

The latest in a long line of Western leaders venturing to Kyiv, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told broadcaster TV2 on Thursday: “One of the most important messages today is that Denmark is considering sending more weapons. That is what is needed.”

Several Western officials have promised similar in recent days.

With global tensions running high, Russia reported the first successful test launch of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, the Sarmat, on Wednesday. Putin boasted that it can overcome any missile defense system and make those who threaten Russia “think twice.” The head of the Russian state aerospace agency called the launch out of northern Russia “a present to NATO.”

The Pentagon described the test as “routine” and said it wasn’t considered a threat.

On the battlefield, Ukraine said Moscow continued to mount assaults across the east, probing for weak points in Ukrainian defensive lines. Russia said it launched hundreds of missile and air attacks on targets that included concentrations of troops and vehicles.

In a video address, Zelenskyy said the Russians were not “abandoning their attempts to score at least some victory by launching a new, large-scale offensive” to take the Donbas, the mostly Russian-speaking eastern region that is home to coal mines, metal plants and heavy-equipment factories.

The Luhansk governor said Russian forces control 80% of his region, which is one of two that make up the Donbas. Before Russia invaded on Feb. 24, the Kyiv government controlled 60% of the Luhansk region.

Analysts have said the offensive in the east could become a war of attrition as Russia faces Ukraine’s most experienced, battle-hardened troops, who have fought pro-Moscow separatists in the Donbas for eight years.

Russia said it presented Ukraine with a draft document outlining its demands for ending the conflict — days after Putin said the talks were at a “dead end.”

Moscow has long demanded Ukraine drop any bid to join NATO. Ukraine has said it would agree to that in return for security guarantees from other countries. Other sources of tension include the status of both the Crimean Peninsula and eastern Ukraine, where the separatists have declared independent republics recognized by Russia.

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Associated Press journalists Mstyslav Chernov and Felipe Dana in Kharkiv, Ukraine; Yesica Fisch in Kramatorsk, Ukraine; Danica Kirka in London; and Robert Burns and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report, as did other AP staff members around the world.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Adam Schreck, The Associated Press

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‘Days or hours left’: Russia tightens the noose in Mariupol

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By Adam Schreck in Kyiv

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces tightened the noose around the defenders holed up Wednesday in a mammoth steel plant that represented the last known Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol, as a fighter apparently on the inside warned in a video plea for help: “We may have only a few days or hours left.”

With the holdouts coming under punishing new bombing attacks, another attempt to evacuate civilians trapped in the pulverized port city failed because of continued fighting.

Meanwhile, the number of people fleeing the country topped 5 million, the Kremlin said it submitted a draft of its demands for ending the war, and the West raced to supply Ukraine with heavier weapons to counter the Russians’ new drive to seize the industrial east.

With global tensions running high, Russia reported the first successful test launch of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, the Sarmat. President Vladimir Putin boasted it can overcome any missile defense system and make those who threaten Russia “think twice,” and the head of the Russian state aerospace agency called the launch out of northern Russia “a present to NATO.”

The Pentagon described the test as “routine” and said it wasn’t considered a threat.

On the battlefield, Ukraine said Moscow continued to mount assaults across the east, probing for weak points in Ukrainian defensive lines. Russia said it launched hundreds of missile and air attacks on targets that included concentrations of troops and vehicles.

The Kremlin’s stated goal is the capture of the Donbas, the mostly Russian-speaking eastern region that is home to coal mines, metal plants and heavy-equipment factories. Detaching it would give Putin a badly needed victory two months into the war, after the botched attempt to storm the capital, Kyiv.

Analysts say the offensive in the east could devolve into a war of attrition as Russia runs up against Ukraine’s most experienced, battle-hardened troops, who have been fighting pro-Moscow separatists in the Donbas for the past eight years.

Russia said it presented Ukraine with a draft document outlining its demands for ending the conflict — days after Putin said the talks were at a “dead end.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “the ball is in their court, we’re waiting for a response.” He gave no details on the draft, and it was not clear when it was sent or if it offered anything new to the Ukrainians, who presented their own demands last month.

Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy said he had not seen or heard of the proposal, though one of his top advisers said the Ukrainian side was reviewing it.

Moscow has long demanded Ukraine drop any bid to join NATO. Ukraine has said it would agree to that in return for security guarantees from a number of other countries. Other sources of tension include the status of both the Crimean Peninsula, seized by Moscow in 2014, and eastern Ukraine, where the separatists have declared independent republics recognized by Russia.

In devastated Mariupol, Ukraine said the Russians dropped heavy bombs to flatten what was left of the sprawling Azvostal steel plant, believed to be the last pocket of resistance in the city.

A few thousand Ukrainian troops, by the Russians’ estimate, remained in the plant and its labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers spread out across about 11 square kilometers (4 square miles). Zelenskyy said about 1,000 civilians were also trapped there.

A Ukrainian posted a video plea on Facebook urging world leaders to help evacuate people from the plant, saying, “We have more than 500 wounded soldiers and hundreds of civilians with us, including women and children.”

The officer, who identified himself as Serhiy Volynskyy of the 36th Marine Brigade, said: “This may be our last appeal. We may have only a few days or hours left.” The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified.

The Russian side issued a new ultimatum to the defenders to surrender, but the Ukrainians have ignored all previous demands.

All told, more than 100,000 people were believed trapped with little if any food, water, medicine or heat in Mariupol, which had a pre-war population of over 400,000.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the latest effort to open a safe corridor for women, children and the elderly to escape failed because the Russians did not observe a cease-fire. Many previous such agreements have fallen apart because of continued fighting.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned of the horrors yet to be revealed in Mariupol, given the death and destruction left behind in Bucha, near Kyiv, after the Russians retreated.

“We can only anticipate that when this tide also recedes from Mariupol, we’re going to see far worse, if that’s possible to imagine,” he said.

Mariupol holds strategic and symbolic value for both sides. The scale of suffering there has made it a worldwide focal point of the war. Mariupol’s fall would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, complete a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, and free up Russian troops to move elsewhere in the Donbas.

As Russia continued to funnel troops and equipment into the Donbas, Western nations rushed to boost the flow of military supplies to Kyiv for this new phase of the war, which is likely to involve trench warfare, long-range artillery attacks and tank battles across relatively open terrain.

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to announce a new weapons package in the coming days that will include additional artillery, and Canada and the Netherlands also said they would send more heavy weaponry.

Also, a senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the Pentagon’s assessment of the war, said the training of Ukrainian personnel on American 155 mm howitzers has begun in a European country outside Ukraine, and the first of 18 promised such weapons began arriving on the continent.

Putin, meanwhile, boasted that the Sarmat missile has “no equivalents in the world.” The Sarmat is intended to eventually replace the Soviet-built missile code-named Satan by NATO as a major component of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

It will ”make those who, in the heat of frantic, aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country think twice,” the Russian leader said.

Looking for a path to peace, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres requested meetings with Putin and Zelenskyy in their capitals to discuss how to stop the fighting. The U.N. received no immediate response.

___

Associated Press journalists Mstyslav Chernov and Felipe Dana in Kharkiv, Ukraine; Yesica Fisch in Kramatorsk, Ukraine; and Robert Burns and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report, as did other AP staff members around the world.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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