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Open newsletter – 6 marzo 2022 p.m.

Al Jazeera

(Russia – Ucraina) “Si stanno preparando a bombardare Odessa”, ha detto Zelenskyy in un discorso televisivo domenica (Russia planning to bomb port city of Odesa, claims Zelenskyy)

(Russia – Ucraina) Secondo un osservatore indipendente con sede in Russia, più di 2.500 persone sono state detenute in 49 città del Paese durante le proteste contro l’invasione dell’Ucraina da parte del presidente Vladimir Putin. Il gruppo di monitoraggio delle proteste OVD-Info ha affermato domenica che gli arresti sono avvenuti in città tra cui la città portuale di Vladivostok nel Pacifico e la città siberiana di Irkutsk. Gli attivisti dell’opposizione hanno pubblicato video che mostrano proteste in altre città (Over 2,500 detained across Russia at anti-war protests: Monitor

(Russia – Ucraina – USA – Polonia) Il segretario di Stato Blinken ha affermato che gli USA stanno lavorando a un accordo con la Polonia per fornire jet all’Ucraina jet durante l’invasione russa (US says working ‘actively’ with Poland to send jets to Ukraine)

(Russia – Ucraina) Migliaia di auto sono allineate lungo le strade dell’Ucraina orientale, piene di famiglie che cercano di raggiungere i valichi di frontiera a centinaia di chilometri di distanza, per trovare rifugio. Ma c’è chi ha scelto di restare (‘Our country, we have to protect it’: Ukrainians who stay behind)

(Russia – Ucraina – Moldova) Il primo ministro della Moldova Natalia Gavrilita ha invitato gli Stati Uniti ad aumentare la loro assistenza umanitaria al Paese, poiché il numero di rifugiati in arrivo dall’Ucraina colpita dalla guerra ha raggiunto i 120.000 (Moldova seeks US support over Ukraine war refugees)

(Israele) Le forze israeliane hanno ucciso a colpi di arma da fuoco un palestinese, identificato dai media locali come un adolescente, dopo che avrebbe accoltellato due ufficiali nella Città Vecchia, nella Gerusalemme est occupata. L’incidente è avvenuto a Bab Hutta, uno dei cancelli del complesso della Moschea di Al-Aqsa, intorno alle 4:30 ora locale (02:30 GMT) di domenica. Israeli forces kill Palestinian in alleged stabbing attack

Global Times

(Cina – Europa) I gruppi di imprese europee generalmente nutrono maggiori aspettative sulle opportunità di mercato e sui legami commerciali in Cina poiché guardano a un’ampia gamma di temi: la riduzione delle emissioni di carbonio, l’innovazione, gli sforzi contro l’epidemia e lo stimolo economico (European businesses hold high expectations for Chinese market)

(Cina) Dopo il successo delle Olimpiadi, le prestazioni dei robot di fabbricazione cinese hanno attratto clienti in tutto il mondo, rappresentando la capacità di innovazione del Paese. Con il rapido sviluppo dell’industria della robotica cinese, la nuova tecnologia apparirà sempre più nella vita delle persone, hanno affermato gli analisti (Liu Yang – China’s robotics industry witnesses a boom at Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics)

(Cina – UK – Ucraina – Taiwan) Sabato l’ambasciata cinese nel Regno Unito ha condannato fermamente il confronto tra Taiwan e Ucraina fatto da alcuni membri della Camera dei Lord del Regno Unito (Chinese Embassy in UK condemns wrong remarks on Taiwan by members of House of Lords)

Haaretz

(Russia – Ucraina – Israele)

OPINION

  • (Amos Harel) What Israel Stands to Gain – and Lose – From Bennett’s Russian Roulette – Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pulled a trick on Saturday of the sort his predecessor was fond of, surprising all and sundry with a rapid visit to Moscow – on the Sabbath, no less. He became the first world leader to be received for a tête-à-tête with Russian President Vladimir Putin since his invasion of Ukraine began, mere days after Israel joined the UN resolution to condemn Russia. Assuming Bennett’s office is accurate in saying that the visit was coordinated in advance with the U.S. administration, then the PM has accrued some points on the international stage – no doubt causing serious emotional distress in one Caesarea home. If, on the other hand, it will later turn out that the Americans had reservations (and that Israel took a yellow light for a wholehearted green) then Lord help us all. Throughout all of last week, the Prime Minister has evinced an eagerness to intervene in the crisis and mediate between the combatant nations. The separate phone calls he made with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy even drew criticism from the opposition, claiming that Bennett is shoving his nose into a conflict that does not concern him. What could Israel possibly achieve where FranceGermany, and the United States have failed? And yet, Bennett insisted, and he got an invitation to Moscow. One may assume that the old KGB agent recognized his younger guest’s yearning to ascend the world stage while the eyes of the world are fixed upon Moscow and Kyiv. The trip represents a considerable gamble, but it isn’t out of character for Bennett’s startup soul. After all, over the past ten days Europe has tumbled into its lowest low since the end of the Cold War, so a success at mediation, however minor, will stand to his credit. Also, Israel has myriad interests affected directly or indirectly by the war: Extraction of Jews from bombarded Ukraine, aid to Russian Jews who may want to make Aliyah (Moscow has slid back toward the totalitarian rule of the Soviet Union over the weekend), Russia’s position in the nuclear talks with Iran, and Israel’s desire to continue enjoying offensive freedom of action in Syria, which also depends on Putin’s goodwill. These are all important considerations, but even combined they cannot justify possible tensions with the U.S. Washington has expressed some dissatisfaction from Israel’s slow and contorted reaction to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Bennett must coordinate all his moves with U.S. President Joe Biden because Israel’s security and strategic dependence upon America is absolute, and because in the long run it is more important than any gesture or concession that may be wrangled from the Russians. We should wait for a detailed official reaction from the White House, to see if it contains any nuances of reservation toward the Israeli move. It will also be interesting to see the reaction from Congress and the media toward the Prime Minister’s unusual trip. After Moscow, Bennett flew to Berlin, to meet with Chancellor Olaf Schulz, whom he hosted in Jerusalem just last week. The trip to Germany may indicate what Putin is concerned with even in the midst of war: Renewing the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, which the Germans have suspended as an immediate sanction for invading Ukraine. Europe badly needs the Russian gas – and the Russian economy depends on the continued gas deals. In the background are the developments on the ground. The Russian army continues to advance slowly and cumbersomely, but make no mistake – as time goes by, the arrows penetrating into Ukraine grow deeper. Western media waxes poetic about the defenders’ bravery and gleefully tallies the invaders’ malfunctions. And yet, most military experts in Israel and abroad tend to estimate that the power differences between the sides are too large. Without direct military assistance from the west, and should diplomatic efforts fail, the Russian military will likely crush the Ukrainians. Israel is keeping one eye on the war and the other on another dramatic development, in Vienna, where a new nuclear agreement might be signed this week between Iran and world powers. Recent weeks have seen progress in the talks, whose possible conclusion is not to Jerusalem’s liking. But once again, there is a certain linkage here to events in Ukraine. Relations between Moscow and Washington haven’t been this tense since the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Can the U.S., China, and Russia even coordinate a unified position vis-à-vis Iran under these circumstances? Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that his country wants guarantees from the U.S. that the sanctions imposed on it due to the Ukraine affair will not compromise its economic relations with Iran. Moscow, like Tehran, is counting on a lot of money incoming following removal of sanctions on Iran, upon signing the new nuclear deal. But if the new sanctions replace the old and prohibit Iranian trade with Russia (this time from the other direction), Russia gains nothing. This position has thrown a wrench into the Vienna negotiations at the last moment. And still, Lavrov’s comment didn’t necessarily displease Bennett.

OsintItalia

(Russia – Ucraina) Presunta crocifissione di militare Russo da parte di soldati ucraini, datata 2015, usata come propaganda nel conflitto del 2022 (Falso: Crocifissione di un militare russo)

Reuters

(Ucraina) È stato confermato che almeno 364 civili sono stati uccisi in Ucraina da quando le truppe russe hanno invaso il 24 febbraio e altri 759 sono stati feriti, anche se i numeri reali sono probabilmente “notevolmente più alti”, ha affermato domenica una missione di monitoraggio delle Nazioni Unite (More than 360 civilians confirmed killed in Ukraine so far, U.N. says)

(Ucraina) L’operatore ferroviario statale ucraino è pronto a organizzare con urgenza le esportazioni agricole su rotaia, ha affermato domenica, dopo la chiusura dei porti del Mar Nero del Paese a causa dell’invasione militare della Russia (Ukrainian Railways ready boost grain exports by train)

(China) Il presidente cinese Xi Jinping ha affermato domenica che il Paese deve garantire la sicurezza del grano e fare affidamento sul mercato interno per mantenere la produzione, ha riferito l’emittente statale CCTV. La Cina dovrebbe garantire la capacità interna e importare cereali “in modo appropriato”, ha affermato Xi in un incontro con i delegati della Conferenza consultiva politica del popolo cinese (CCPPC), un organo consultivo del parlamento (China’s President Xi reiterates grain security, urges for domestic dominance)

(Russia – Ucraina – Turchia) Il presidente turco Tayyip Erdogan domenica ha esortato il suo omologo russo Vladimir Putin a dichiarare un cessate il fuoco in Ucraina, aprire corridoi umanitari e firmare un accordo di pace. La Turchia, membro della NATO, condivide un confine marittimo con la Russia e l’Ucraina nel Mar Nero e ha buoni legami con entrambe. Ankara ha definito inaccettabile l’invasione della Russia e si è offerta di ospitare colloqui, ma si è opposta alle sanzioni contro Mosca (Erdogan urges Putin to declare Ukraine ceasefire and make peace)

(Russia – Ukraine – Israel) Israele continuerà a cercare di mediare tra Russia e Ucraina anche se il successo sembra improbabile, ha affermato domenica il primo ministro Naftali Bennett dopo essere tornato dai colloqui con il presidente russo Vladimir Putin (Dan Williams – Bennett says Israel will try to mediate on Ukraine even if prospects poor)

(Russia – Ucraina – Albania) Albania will rename a street in its capital Tirana where the Russian and Ukrainian embassies are located as Free Ukraine to honour Ukraine’s resistance to war, the mayor said on Sunday (Albania renames street in capital Tirana as Free Ukraine)

(Russia – Ucraina) Papa Francesco domenica ha respinto l’affermazione della Russia secondo cui si sta effettuando una “operazione militare speciale” in Ucraina. Si tratta di guerra (Pope Francis says Ukraine conflict is “not a military operation but a war”)

(Russia – Ucraina – Moldova) Il segretario di Stato americano Antony Blinken domenica ha rassicurato i leader della Moldova che gli Stati Uniti avrebbero radunato l’opposizione internazionale all’aggressione russa “quando e ovunque” si verificasse. Parlando al fianco della presidente moldava Maia Sandu, Blinken ha anche affermato che gli Stati Uniti sostengono le aspirazioni della Moldova di aderire all’Unione europea (Simon Lewis – U.S. top diplomat Blinken reassures Moldova amid refugee influx from Ukraine)

(Russia – Ucraina) Con l’assalto della Russia all’Ucraina nel suo undicesimo giorno, il consiglio comunale di Mariupol ha affermato che il suo piano di evacuazione dura fino alle 21:00. (19:00 GMT) (, – Besieged Ukrainian city plans evacuation again, refugee total hits 1.5 million)

(Amazon) Ventiquattro investitori Amazon chiedono al gigante tecnologico di aumentare la trasparenza nelle dichiarazioni fiscali e adottare un nuovo standard di rendicontazione, ha riportato domenica il Financial Times (Amazon shareholders call for tax transparency)

(Israele – USA) Leumi, una delle due maggiori banche israeliane, a settembre ha dichiarato che avrebbe fuso Leumi USA nella Valley National Bancorp in un accordo che valuta Leumi USA a circa $ 1,2 miliardi e crea la 29a banca statunitense quotata in borsa (Merger between Valley National, Israel’s Bank Leumi set for April 1)

(Russia – Cina) Diverse banche russe hanno dichiarato domenica che avrebbero presto iniziato a emettere carte utilizzando il sistema dell’operatore cinese UnionPay insieme alla rete russa Mir, dopo che Visa e MasterCard hanno dichiarato che avrebbero sospeso le operazioni in Russia (Russian banks rush to switch to Chinese card system)

(Russia – Ucraina – Moldova) Il Segretario di Stato USA, Antony Blinken, ha elogiato domenica i leader della Moldova per aver accolto i rifugiati dall’Ucraina. Più di 230.000 persone sono entrate in Moldova dall’inizio della guerra il 24 febbraio e 120.000 di loro sono rimaste nel Paese, ha detto il primo ministro Natalia Gavrilita in un incontro con Blinken nella capitale Chisinau (Simon Lewis – U.S. top diplomat praises Moldova for taking in refugees from neighbor Ukraine)

(Russia – Ucraina) La Russia ha colpito e disabilitato la base aerea militare ucraina di Starokostiantyniv con armi di alta precisione a lungo raggio, ha detto domenica il ministero della Difesa russo (Russia strikes Ukrainian military air base with long-range weapons)

(Russia – Ucraina) Più di 64 persone sono state arrestate durante le proteste contro la guerra nell’Estremo Oriente russo e nella Siberia orientale, ha affermato OVD-Info (More than 64 people detained at anti-war protests in Russia -protest monitor)

(Russia – Ucraina) WHO ha confermato che diversi centri sanitari in Ucraina sono stati attaccati (Ukraine health centres have been attacked, WHO chief says)

Security Affairs

(Russia – Ucraina) This post provides a timeline of the events related to the Russia invasion of Ukraine from the cyber security perspective (Pierluigi Paganini – Feb 27- Mar 05 Ukraine – Russia the silent cyber conflict – Security Affairs)

(Russia – Ucraina) Gli enti di beneficenza e le organizzazioni non governative (ONG) che in queste settimane stanno fornendo supporto in Ucraina sono presi di mira da attacchi malware volti a interromperne le operazioni(Pierluigi Paganini – Charities and NGOs providing support in Ukraine hit by malware)

The New York Times

(Russia – Ucraina – Cina) 

LIVE

  • Nick Cumming-Bruce

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Sunday that its vehicles had attempted to use the evacuation route in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol that had been agreed upon by Russian and Ukrainian forces but were forced to turn around amid the resumption of fighting.

  • Aurelien Breeden

President Emmanuel Macron urged President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to cease the country’s military operations in Ukraine, protect Ukrainian nuclear power plants and safeguard civilians and access to humanitarian aid, the French presidency said after a phone call between the two leaders on Sunday. Mr. Putin denied that Russian forces were targeting civilians and vowed to reach all of his goals “through negotiation or war,” the French presidency added.

President Vladimir V. Putin remained defiant in phone calls on Sunday with his French and Turkish counterparts. “An end to the special operation is only possible if Kyiv stops its military action and fulfills Russia’s well known demands,” the Kremlin said, describing Mr. Putin’s call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

ON THE BORDER BETWEEN UKRAINE AND MOLDOVA — For 11 days, the Palanca border crossing in southeast Moldova has been one of the main escape hatches for those fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But on Sunday afternoon, there was also a steady trickle of people returning to the war zone — just days after reaching safety.

LVIV, Ukraine — Frantic efforts to rescue civilians from the worsening violence in Ukraine came under direct attack by Russian forces on Sunday as at least three people were killed in shelling outside Kyiv. Russian forces were struggling to advance on multiple fronts. The Ukrainian military said it was successfully defending its position in fierce fighting north of Kyiv, the capital, and holding back Russians from the east, where President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces bogged down in clashes around an airport. Here are the latest developments:

  1. A planned evacuation of Mariupol — a port city of a half-million people that has become a key battleground in Russia’s objective to capture Ukraine’s entire southern coast — was halted for a second consecutive day amid “intense shelling” by Russian forces that have encircled the city, the mayor’s office said. Residents are facing increasingly dire conditions in the city, which has been cut off from food, heat and electricity for days.
  2. A Russian force advancing on Kyiv fired mortar shells at a battered bridge used by people fleeing the fighting, killing at least three members of a family.
  3. Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian attack at Mykolaiv, slowing their advance toward the key southern port city of Odessa. The chief of regional military administration, Vitaly Kim, said that an undetermined number of civilians had been killed in the clashes and that the Russians withdrew in chaos.
  • Marc Santora

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine warned the residents of Odessa to be ready for an aerial bombardment. “They are preparing to bomb Odessa,” he said. “Russians have always come to Odessa, always felt in Odessa only warmth, only sincerity. And now what? Bombs against Odessa, artillery against Odessa, missiles against Odessa. It will be a war crime, it will be a historical crime.” Odessa is vital port city and critical to the nation’s economy.

Russia said on Saturday that it had detained an American basketball player — later identified as the Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner — on drug charges, entangling a U.S. citizen’s fate in the dangerous confrontation between Russia and the West over Ukraine. The Russian Federal Customs Service said its officials had detained the player after finding vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow, though those claims could not be independently verified. It released a video of a traveler going through airport security who appeared to be Ms. Griner.

  • Marc Santora

Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, said that Ukrainian forces had struck the Russian army “in the teeth” on Sunday as they repelled an assault in the southern city of Mykolaiv, which slowed the Russian advance on Odessa, and held their defensive positions around Kharkiv and Kyiv. He said that as the war grinds on, Russian forces will be increasingly stretched. “Replenishment of enemy forces will become more and more difficult,” he said in a statement.

LVIV, Ukraine — After Western nations rejected his appeal to impose a no-fly zone over the country, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Sunday called on the entire nation to resist the Russian invasion. He cheered the courage of protesters who filled the streets of occupied cities and towns, saying that “every meter of our Ukrainian land won by protest and humiliation of the invaders is a step forward, a step toward victory.”. Russian forces appeared to be struggling in their primary objective of encircling and capturing Kyiv, the capital. There has been fierce fighting just north of the city, where the Ukrainian military says it is successfully defending its position. The Ukrainians say they are also halting the Russian advance from the east, with the Russians bogged down in clashes around an airport.

  • The United Nations refugee agency has updated the count of people who have fled Ukraine since the war began. It’s now a staggering 1.5 million, making this “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey will speak by phone with President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, Turkish officials said. Ibrahim Kalin, Mr. Erdogan’s spokesman, said on Saturday that Turkey had no plans to impose sanctions against Moscow, but Turkish officials have expressed a willingness to mediate talks between Russia and Ukraine. “Turkey is one of the rare countries who can speak to Russia and Ukraine at the same time.” Mr. Kalin told the state broadcaster TRT.

OPINION

  • (Patrick Kingsley) – On Ukraine’s Border, Moldovans Wonder: Where Will Putin Stop? ON THE DNIESTER RIVER — Just eight miles from the Ukrainian border, the mayor of a village in Moldova watched rolling television coverage of the Russian invasion next door. He fiddled with a pen, removing and replacing its lid, staring at the screen as it showed the Russian advance toward Odessa, the nearest big city on the Ukrainian side. “I can’t stop watching,” Mayor Alexander Nikitenko said. “If they take Odessa, it’s clear they’ll come here next.”. And if the Russians do get this far, Mr. Nikitenko wondered, would they necessarily stop? Such questions are being asked all across Eastern Europe in former Communist republics like Moldova. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shattered assumptions about the post-Cold War order, providing clear evidence that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia sees Europe’s borders as open to being redrawn by force. A poor country of 2.6 million squeezed between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova is perhaps the most vulnerable. Unlike Poland and the Baltic States, Moldova is not a member of NATO. It is not a member of the European Union either, but submitted a hurried, long-shot application last week, something akin to sending up a flare. Most problematically, two decades before Russian-speaking separatists carved a chunk out of Ukraine, they did the same thing in Moldova. In 1992, Moscow-backed separatists took control of a thin 250-mile sliver of land, known as Transnistria, that runs along much of the eastern bank of the Dniester River as well as parts of the western bank. They also claim pockets of land still controlled by Moldova, including Mr. Nikitenko’s village, Varnita. Transnistria has never been recognized internationally — not even by Russia. But Russia keeps 1,500 soldiers there, nominally to keep the peace and guard a huge Soviet-era munitions cache. If Russian forces advance to the Moldovan border, some Moldovans fear that Russia will soon either recognize Transnistria, much as it did with Ukraine’s self-declared separatist republics — giving Moscow a similar pretext to officially occupy it — and perhaps even later absorb it into either a pro-Russian Ukraine or Russia itself. Arrows on a map of Ukraine presented at a televised briefing about the Russian invasion last Tuesday by the Belarusian president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, suggested that Russian troops in Ukraine planned to enter Transnistria after capturing Odessa. The Belarusian ambassador to Moldova later apologized for Mr. Lukashenko’s map, claiming it was a mistake. Within the Moldovan government, senior officials have discreetly discussed concerns that Russia might occupy Moldova entirely, two Moldovan officials said on condition of anonymity. “People are scared, literally scared,” said Alexandru Flenchea, an analyst and former deputy prime minister of Moldova, who oversaw efforts to reintegrate Transnistria. “Many are considering emigration, before they might themselves become refugees.”. No European can feel safe today, particularly after Mr. Putin instructed his army to ready Russia’s nuclear arsenal, Mr. Flenchea said. “But of all countries, except the aggressors themselves, Moldova is the country that is closest to the military action,” Mr. Flenchea added. Though small and impoverished, Moldova has historically been a bellwether for power dynamics in Eastern Europe. In little more than two centuries, the country has formed part of the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Romania and the Soviet Union. Along the Dniester River, that complex history, coupled with the combustive nature of the current moment, has prompted expectations of a coming power shift. The Dniester may now become the border between Russia and the West, said Sergei Shirokov, a Transnistria-based political analyst and former Transnistrian official. “Will that border be an iron curtain?” Mr. Shirokov asked. “Or will it be a flexible border?” Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s top diplomat, visited Moldova last Wednesday in a show of support, while Antony J. Blinken, the United States secretary of state, visited on Sunday. “We strongly support Moldova’s territorial integrity,” Mr. Blinken said in a joint press briefing with the Moldovan president, Maia Sandu. In the short term, some have speculated that either Transnistrian forces or the Russian troops in Transnistria may be sucked into the fighting themselves, to aid Russia’s campaign in southwest Ukraine. On Friday evening, a news agency run by the Transnistrian authorities said a missile had hit a Ukrainian railroad line close to Transnistria, highlighting the risk of military spillover. On Sunday a television channel run by the Ukrainian defense ministry claimed that recent Russian strikes on a Ukrainian airport had been fired from Transnistria. Both the Moldovan government and the Transnistrian authorities denied the report. As recently as Sunday morning, Moldovan officials and foreign diplomats said there was no evidence the Transnistrian leadership was seeking to involve itself in the fighting. Ms. Sandu, Moldova’s president, said on Sunday that the Russian invasion had left the country feeling unsafe. But she and other Moldovan officials have otherwise tried to avoid inflaming tensions. In parliamentary elections last year, about a third of Moldovans voted for parties supportive of Russia. In an interview, the Moldovan prime minister, Natalia Gavrilita, said her government faced more pressing challenges — such as the sudden influx of more than 230,000 refugees. There are almost no free hotel beds in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, and many refugees are staying in makeshift camps and the homes of ordinary Moldovans. “We are a neutral country, we have always acted through the prism of neutrality, and we fully expect others to do so,” said Ms. Gavrilita. “We don’t see an imminent danger” of Transnistria joining the war, she added. “This is, for now, a hypothetical question.”. The Transnistrian leader, Vadim Krasnoselsky, declined an interview request; the head of Transnistria’s external affairs department, Vitaly Ignatiev, declined to comment when reached by phone; and the Transnistrian authorities also denied entry permits to The New York Times. In recent public statements, however, the Transnistrian leadership has sought to downplay any tensions. Any reports of Transnistrian aggression were a “shameless lie,” Mr. Krasnoselsky said in a statement Sunday afternoon. Transnistria “does not pose a military threat, does not hatch plans of an aggressive nature,” he added. “We are focused on ensuring peace.”. Recent military exercises by the Transnistrian security forces have been defensive, also suggesting they are not training for a campaign in Ukraine, Mr. Flenchea said, citing recent statements by Transnistrian officials. While Transnistria seeks independence from Moldova, the two have established a functional if uneasy relationship. Transnistria has its own flag, complete with a Soviet-style hammer and sickle, and its own makeshift currency that partly consists of plastic coins reminiscent of a board game. At a local level, Moldovan and Transnistrian communities are often interdependent, and Transnistrians often use banks and medical centers in Moldovan-controlled towns. At the school in Mr. Nikitenko’s village, about a third of the students are from an adjacent Transnistrian municipality. During recent snowfall, Mr. Nikitenko shared snow plows with that neighboring municipality, and firefighters from both towns joined forces to put out a recent dumpster fire, Mr. Nikitenko said. Any disruption to the status quo would risk upsetting Transnistrian trade and food supply, much of which is reliant on Moldova, Ukraine and the European Union. It could also endanger one of Transnistria’s main revenue streams — the fees it collects from Moldova for the electricity that Transnistria supplies to Chisinau. Transnistrians lining up to withdraw cash in Varnita expressed little enthusiasm for a new armed conflict. “I want Transnistria to be independent,” said Anastasia Secretariova, a 31-year-old homemaker standing in line. “But what Putin did made everything worse.”. Ms. Secretariova’s heart sank at the thought of her 3-year-old twins growing up to fight in “a war without any purpose,” she said. Her friends enlisted in the local Russian-led forces also have little appetite for more fighting, Ms. Secretariova added. “They just want to live in peace.”. Ultimately, though, the residents of Transnistria will have little say over what happens here, said Mr. Shirokov, the Transnistrian analyst and former official. “The Eurasian continent is being reshaped,” Mr. Shirokov said. “Whether it’s Russia alone that reshapes our future, or both Russia and America, we don’t know. But what is clear is that it won’t be our own hands that will be influencing things.”. Regardless of what happens in Ukraine, Russia might still seek to preserve the status quo in Transnistria, a Moldovan official said. A Transnistria that remains part of Moldova might be more useful to Russia, since it would continue to complicate any Moldovan aspirations to integrate with the West, the official added. And whatever happens to Transnistria, the war in Ukraine will set off a host of challenges for Moldova, said the Moldovan foreign minister, Nicu Popescu. The conflict has already ruined Moldova’s eastern trade routes and presented it with a refugee crisis that would drain far more developed countries, Mr. Popescu said. In the longer term, it will cause a proliferation of weapons throughout Eastern Europe, aiding organized crime networks and undermining investor confidence, while the cost of reconstruction will also siphon off international funds. “The war will cause at least a lost decade,” said Mr. Popescu. “Not only in Moldova, but in the entire region.”. But in the office of Mr. Nikitenko, the village mayor, even the idea of an independent Moldova felt far too optimistic. Mr. Nikitenko still hoped the Russians would stop at the Dniester. But he feared they would push westward to the Prut River, on Moldova’s western border with Romania. “You can’t rule it out,” said Mr. Nikitenko, still fiddling with his pen. “If Putin wants to reinstate the Soviet Union, he’ll go all the way to the Prut.”
  • (Thomas L. Friedman) Dear China: Whose Side Are You on in Ukraine? – With every passing day, the war in Ukraine becomes a bigger tragedy for the Ukrainian people but also a bigger threat to the future of Europe and the world at large. There is only one country that might have the power to stop it now, and it’s not the United States. It’s China. If China announced that, rather than staying neutral, it was joining the economic boycott of Russia — or even just strongly condemning its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and demanding that it withdraw — it might shake Vladimir Putin enough to stop this vicious war. At a minimum, it would give him pause, because he has no other significant ally aside from India in the world now. Why would President Xi Jinping of China take such a stand, which would seemingly undermine his dream of seizing Taiwan the same way Putin is attempting to seize Ukraine? The short answer is that the past eight decades of relative peace among the great powers led to a rapidly globalizing world that has been the key to China’s rapid economic rise and the elevation out of poverty for some 800 million Chinese people since 1980. Peace has been very good for China. Its continued growth depends on China’s ability to export to and learn from that world of steadily integrating and modernizing free markets. The whole Faustian bargain between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese citizenry — the C.C.P. gets to rule while the people get to be steadily better off economically — depends to a significant degree on the stability of the global economy and trading system. To Chinese strategists caught up in old-think — that any war that weakens modern China’s two primary rivals, America and Russia, has to be a good thing — I would say the following: Every war brings with it innovations (new ways to fight, win and survive), and the war in Ukraine is no exception. We have already seen three “weapons” deployed in ways we’ve never seen before or not seen in a long time, and China would be wise to study them all. Because if China doesn’t help stop Russia now, these weapons will either ultimately hammer Putin into submission — which means they might be used against China one day, should it seize Taiwan — or damage Russia so badly that the economic effects will radiate everywhere. These weapons might even prompt Putin to do the unthinkable with his nuclear arms, which could destabilize and even destroy the global foundations on which China’s future rests. The most important innovation in this war is the use of the economic equivalent of a nuclear bomb, simultaneously deployed by a superpower and by superempowered people. The United States, along with the European Union and the United Kingdom, have imposed sanctions on Russia that are crippling its economy, critically threatening companies and shattering the savings of millions of Russians at an unprecedented speed and scope that bring to mind a nuclear blast. Putin has now figured that out — and said so explicitly on Saturday: The U.S.- and E.U.-led sanctions are “akin to a declaration of war.” (Vladimir, you haven’t felt the half of it yet.). Second, because the world is now so wired, superempowered individuals, companies and social activist groups can pile on their own sanctions and boycotts, without any government orders, amplifying the isolation and economic strangulation of Russia beyond what nation-states are likely to do. These new actors — a kind of global ad hoc pro-Ukraine-resistance-solidarity-movement — are collectively canceling Putin and Russia. Rarely, if ever, has a country this big and powerful been politically canceled and economically crippled so fast. The third weapon is both new and old, and it’s a spiritual and emotional one: The West has rediscovered its voice. Faced with the raw, primitive onslaught by Russia against a flawed but aspiring democracy like Ukraine, the free world has been aroused. America and liberal societies in general can often look and act dumb and divided — until they aren’t. Ask Adolf Hitler. These three weapons should be enough to get China’s attention. So let’s look closer at how they work in practice. The Biden administration, in an effort to deter Putin, assembled a powerful package of deep and broad economic sanctions and warned the Russian leader that if he invaded Ukraine, he’d be betting his whole farm — the economic viability of his country and regime. Tragically, Putin bet the farm, and the results have been swift and merciless. The Russian ruble-based stock market has been closed ever since Russia’s major financial institutions were either placed under sanctions or thrown off the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system, Barron’s reported, but “the dollar-denominated secondary listings of Russian companies in London are still trading. The destruction of market value is astonishing.” It added that shares in Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, “have collapsed more than 99 percent since mid-February, when its stock traded at around $14.” Last Wednesday in London trading, Barron’s noted, “the shares bottomed out at 1 cent.”. On Thursday the rating agencies Fitch and Moody’s “downgraded Russia by six notches to ‘junk’ status, saying Western sanctions threw into doubt its ability to service debt and would weaken the economy,” Reuters reported. Ever since Putin faced sanctions in 2014 for annexing Crimea and fomenting rebellion in eastern Ukraine, he has been amassing reserves of foreign currency and gold — some $630 billion worth — to try to insulate Russia from more global sanctions by giving his central bank all the ammo it needed to protect the value of the ruble. Or so he thought. “It turns out that Russia’s foreign reserves strategy had a major flaw: About half of the money was held overseas in foreign banks — and now Russia can’t get to it” because of the sanctions, noted Fortune. So the ruble savings of many Russians are being ravaged. Bloomberg quoted Marina Gretskaya, a 32-year-old Russian living in London who moved last year to work in communications. She kept a ruble savings account in an online Russian bank, Tinkoff. Two weeks ago, her assets there were worth $7,400. On Monday, the ruble plummeted more than 30 percent against the dollar. That evaporated more than $2,000 from her savings. “It’s a month’s salary,” she said. The same is almost certainly true for tens of millions of Russians — and it’s just starting. Oh, and by the way, in this wired world, guess who owns a significant portion of Russia’s commercial airline fleet. Not Russia. Roughly two-thirds of Russia’s commercial airliners were made by Boeing (334 jets) or Airbus (304), Reuters reported. A significant portion of those are owned by Irish leasing companies. The Dublin-based AerCap, the world’s biggest airplane-leasing company, owns “152 aircraft across Russia and Ukraine valued at almost $2.4 billion,” The Irish Times reported. In addition, the Dublin-based companies SMBC Aviation Capital and Avolon own 48 aircraft between them that are leased to Russian airlines. E.U. sanctions require those companies to repossess all those planes on lease to Russian airlines by the end of March. And Boeing and Airbus announced that they will no longer service or provide spare parts for any of these planes. On Saturday, Russia’s state airline, Aeroflot, said that it would suspend all international flights because of “additional circumstances that prevent the performance of flights.” Domestic flights are sure to follow. Russia spans 11 time zones. If this persists, the grip of the Russian central government over the Russian landmass could begin to loosen. In the Russian Far East there are a lot of cities closer to Beijing than Moscow. Just saying … Now add the sanctions, boycotts and pressure points coming from the superempowered nonstate actors. My favorite is Jack Sweeney, a 19-year-old University of Central Florida student who created a Twitter account — @RUOligarchJets, or Russian Oligarch Jets — that tracks the private jets of Russian billionaires close to Putin. “While the 19-year-old is hardly the only person to offer such services,” noted Bloomberg, what makes his account different is its “easy accessibility and the enticing window” it offers on the lives of Putin’s cronies. The account garnered 53,000 followers in just a few days, and it now has almost 400,000; a single individual, Sweeney is making it more difficult for Putin’s pals to hide their often ill-gotten wealth. This is the globalization of moral outrage: It goes from watching a short video online showing Russian soldiers firing on a Ukrainian nuclear energy facility to an employee posting that video on his or her Facebook page to a group of employees emailing their bosses or going on Slack — not to ask their C.E.O.s to do something but to tell them they have to do something or they will lose workers and customers. It is happening in companies all over the world. Shortly after Putin invaded Ukraine, BP, on its own, said it was quitting its operations in Russia after working with an oil firm there for roughly 30 years. For Russia to lose the petroleum engineering talent of BP is a huge blow. Russia and Russians are now being canceled from every direction — from ballerinas to soccer teams to companies to orchestras — and it is being driven increasingly by superempowered individuals and small groups. And when the cancel juggernaut gets going globally, it acts without mercy. As The Times reported last week, “A day after organizers of the Paralympic Winter Games announced that they would allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in the competition, the board made a stunning reversal and barred athletes from both countries on the eve of the opening ceremony.”. There are two big dangers, though, with these innovations. If the economic nuclear bomb that the United States and its allies just detonated in Russia crushes its economy as quickly and deeply as I suspect it will, there is a danger, however remote, that Putin will go to greater, even unthinkable extremes, like launching a real nuclear weapon. The second danger — and China, in particular, should keep this in mind — is that while nation-states may choose to lift their sanctions at some point for hard-core realpolitik reasons, the nonstate actors may not. These are highly decentralized organizations. When Anonymous, the global hacker consortium, announced that it was attempting to take down Russian websites, that was not by government order; it just acted on its own. Who does Russia call to get Anonymous to accept a cease-fire? Putin was a total ignoramus about the world he was living in, and so he bet the farm in the 21st-century casino of globalization, where, in the end, the house always wins — or there is no house left. There are signs that China recognizes some of these new realities — that no country is too big to be canceled in the wired world. But its initial instinct seems to be to try to insulate itself from that reality, rather than step up to help reverse Putin’s aggression. To which I say: Good luck with that. China cannot be connected and disconnected at the same time. So I hope not only that China’s leaders don’t bet their farm on a quick grab of Taiwan. I hope Beijing joins instead with the West and so much of the rest of the world in opposing Putin. China would emerge as a true global leader if it did that. If it chooses instead to ride with the outlaws, the world will be less stable and less prosperous for as far as the eye can see — especially China. What will it be, Xi?

Valdai Discussion Club 

(Russia – Ucraina) Negli ultimi due giorni gli Stati Uniti e i loro alleati occidentali hanno già annunciato diverse ondate di sanzioni contro la Russia. Un’analisi vista da Mosca (Nelson Wong – Fear or Fearless: On the Current Crisis in Ukraine and the Sanctions Against Russia)

Voice of America

(Russia – Ucraina – Pakistan) Il ministro degli Esteri pakistano Shah Mehmood Qureshi ha respinto le accuse secondo cui la posizione “neutrale” del suo Paese nel conflitto Russia-Ucraina stia mettendo a dura prova le relazioni di Islamabad con gli Stati Uniti o l’Occidente in generale, in un’intervista domenica con VOA. Il Paese musulmano,  dotato di armi nucleari, ha resistito alle pressioni occidentali per condannare Mosca per la sua invasione dell’Ucraina, sostenendo invece il dialogo e la diplomazia per porre fine alla crisi (Ayaz Gul – Pakistan Vows Neutrality in Ukraine Crisis, Insists Ties with US on Track)