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World at War

Putin Hails “Positive” Momentum In Ukraine, “Stable” Economy In Surprisingly Upbeat Remarks

Despite the prior months of setbacks.

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Fresh off the Russian armed forces declaring victory in the strategic Donetsk town of Soledar days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised officials in the West bytouting the ‘positive dynamic’ of the Ukraine operation overall, despite the prior months of setbacks and a slower-going operation than Moscow expected. 

He said in fresh weekend comments to Rossiya 1 state television when asked about the successful Soledar operation that “The dynamic is positive.” He described that “Everything is developing within the framework of the plan of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff.” Putin followed with, “And I hope that our fighters will please us even more with the results of their combat.”

He also made comments on the state of the economy while confirming that Russia will turn for trade to Asian powers, China and India in particular. 

“The situation in the economy is stable,” Putin said. “Much better than not only what our opponents predicted but also what we forecast.” For this he cited low unemployment, saying: “Unemployment is at a historic low. Inflation is lower than expected and has, importantly, a downward trend.”

Despite his county finding itself more isolated than ever before in its modern history, and despite unprecedented Western-led sanctions, Putin showed no signs of backing down from objectives previously set in Ukraine, as Reuters summarizes of the new remarks

“Putin now casts the war in Ukraine as an existential battle with an aggressive and arrogant West, and has said that Russia will use all available means to protect itself and its people against any aggressor.”

Further the report characterized the Western stance in the following: “The United States and its allies have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an imperial land grab, while Ukraine has vowed to fight until the last Russian soldier is ejected from its territory.”

Meanwhile, as we previewed recently, there are reasons to believe Russia is readying an escalation in response to the West sending tanks and deepening its military involvement in support of Ukraine forces. 

But for now, the defense ministry is continuing its strategy of pummeling Ukraine’s energy grid and civilian and military infrastructure through major air strikes. Attacks on Sunday and Saturday marked about the 12th large wave to come in recent months. Air alert sirens have been sounding across the country on Sunday. 

Russia’s army described that it targeted “the military command and related energy facilities,” and said that “all targets were reached.”

Ukraine’s national energy operator Ukrenergo said it’s again working to quickly restore power in impacted places but acknowledged this latest attack has “increased the energy deficit.”

“The period of outages may increase,” it acknowledged, already after the national grid having been severely degraded for months, and as emergency blackouts continue for most of the country, with more severely impacted areas with permanent blackouts.

The weekend airstrikes may have included high civilian casualties, compared to prior waves, given the Ukrainian government says a large residential tower was directly hit in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro.

The New York Times details of the Saturday afternoon strike at a moment a rescue operation is still underway, “Rescuers on Sunday continued to comb the rubble of a nine-story apartment building that was cut in half by a Russian strike, as the death toll from the attack in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro a day earlier climbed to 30,” and noted: “It was one of the largest losses of civilian lives far from the front line since the beginning of the war.”

“By Sunday evening, 30 people had been confirmed dead, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service,” the Times continued. “At least 75 people were injured, and more than 30 people were still believed to be missing, local officials said.”

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World at War

Croatian President Calls Germany’s ‘We Are at War With Russia’ Comment “Madness”

Wishes Germany better luck in war against Russia than they had 70 years ago.

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Croatian President Zoran Milanovic responded to the German foreign minister saying “we are fighting a war against Russia” by calling the remark “madness” and wishing Germany better luck than with the last war they had with Russia 70 years ago.

Oof, burn.

Milanovic was responding to the bizarre and inflammatory statement made by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Tuesday.

“Yes, we have to do more also on tanks but the most important and the crucial part is that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe because we are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other,” said Baerbock.

Milanovic ridiculed the comments, saying that such a development was news to him.

“Now the German foreign minister says we must be united, because I quote, we are at war with Russia. I didn’t know that,” Milanovic said. “Maybe Germany is at war with Russia, but then, good luck, maybe this time it turns out better than 70-odd years ago.”

“Do you want us to enter the war?” asked Milanovic during a visit to the port city of Split, adding that Croatia “should in no way help” Ukraine militarily.

The Croatian president expressed his amazement that such aggressive rhetoric was being spouted by a representative of the usually pacifist German Greens.

“If we are at war with Russia, then let’s see what we need to do. But we won’t ask Germany for its opinion,” Milanovic asserted. “Let them figure out who is the actual chancellor over there. I’ve been in politics for a long time, and our country has been through a lot, but I’ve never seen this kind of madness before.”

Milanovic condemned NATO powers for flooding the region with tanks and other weaponry in order to prolong the war.

“Those tanks may burn, or they may reach Crimea, but Croatia will have nothing to do with it,” he insisted.

As we previously highlighted, US weapons sales to other countries rose from $103.4 billion in 2021 to $153.7 billion in 2022, with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon all making a killing out of the Ukraine conflict.

In a related development, the French Foreign Ministry claimed that the US, Germany and other countries sending battle tanks to Ukraine did not mean that NATO was at war with Russia.

“We are not at war with Russia and none of our partners are,” ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said.

Really? It sure feels that way.

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US Weapons Manufacturers Enjoy Soaring Profits Thanks to War in Ukraine

War is a racket.

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The US military-industrial complex is making massive gains as a result of the war in Ukraine and other global conflicts, with weapons manufacturers enjoying soaring profits.

Data released by the State Department shows that US weapons sales to other countries rose from $103.4 billion in 2021 to $153.7 billion in 2022.

The leap was largely thanks to US support for prolonging the war in Ukraine.

Germany’s order of 35 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter airplanes for $8.4 billion and Poland’s $6 billion spend on 250 M1 Abrams tanks also bumped up the numbers.

$3 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, a country which the Biden administration promised to stop arming due to its war in Yemen, also inflated the figure, as did $2.2 billion to the United Arab Emirates and a $1.1 billion weapons package for Taiwan.

Lockheed Martin, which develops the F-16, F-22, and F-35 fighter jets, saw its profits jump 7.13% to $19 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Northrop Grumman is also expected to report 11.8% revenue growth for fourth quarter earnings, thanks in part to its manufacture and sale of F-35 fighter jets.

Raytheon, the maker of the Patriot Air Defense System which the Biden administration is set to supply Ukraine with, enjoyed a Q4 profit rise of nearly 18% compared to last year.

News of the profits has served as a reminder of a 1935 essay written by United States Marine Corps Major General Smedley D. Butler, who famously said “war is a racket,” pointing out how gunpowder manufacturer the DuPont Company saw their profits increase by more than 950% during The Great War.

Meanwhile, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s comments to Sky News will be music to the ears of the permanent war industry.

In an interview with Kay Burley, Zelenskyy said he was “not interested” in meeting with Putin or anyone else from Russia for peace talks.

Yesterday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock basically declared war on Russia during a debate at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

“We are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other,” said Baerbock.

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German Foreign Minister Just Said The Quiet Part Out Loud On Ukraine

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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock bluntly stated in fresh remarks that Western allies are fighting a war against Russia. The remarks came during a debate at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Tuesday amid discussions over sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

While Baerbock’s words were largely ignored in mainstream media, a number of pundits on social media noted with alarm that the German foreign minister just essentially declared war on Russia.

Ironically other German officials have long sought to emphasize their country is not a party to the conflict, fearing uncontrollable escalation.

Ukraine Rocked By Corruption Scandal, Wave Of Top Officials Resign: Sports Cars, Mansions & Luxury Vacations As People Suffered

Contradicting this official stance, Baerbock said the quiet part out loud, and introduced the comments with: “And therefore I’ve said already in the last days – yes, we have to do more to defend Ukraine. Yes, we have to do more also on tanks.”

And that’s when she asserted: “But the most important and the crucial part is that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe, because we are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.”

Interestingly, both Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his former defense minister who recently resigned, Christine Lambrecht, have been seen as weak on arming Ukraine – repeatedly declaring an unwillingness to get pulled deeper into the proxy war aspect to the conflict. But now it seems the more hawkish Baerbock is willing to at this point be much more open with the reality of what’s happening.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova seized on the comments, saying this is yet more proof that the Western allies were planning a war on Russia all along…

“If we add this to Merkel’s revelations that they were strengthening Ukraine and did not count on the Minsk agreements, then we are talking about a war against Russia that was planned in advance. Don’t say later that we didn’t warn you,” Zakharova said.

One thing is for sure, things are moving fast…

This post was originally published at Zero Hedge

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