Fri. Jul 12th, 2024
Ukrainian flag in blue and yellow, wrapped over sky and grain

While the Home Secretary lies about the provision for Ukrainian refugees who want to come the United Kingdom (an unmanned desk with a few leaflets in a hall in Calais is not “provision,” despite the damn Kitkats and bottles of water: moreover the provision she says she has also made in the town of Lille remains unfindable by even native French speaking people who have endeavoured to search it out,) and the Foreign Secretary claims it’s not her remit to organise while the doors of her embassy in Warsaw remain closed against the Ukrainians – elderly, and children, hammering on them in the snow, and a worthless and insignificant Tory MP expresses concern about Ireland – a sovereign nation in its own right – allowing in Ukrainian refugees because they might use the Common Travel Area to come to the UK (but why, in the name of all that’s on God’s green earth, would they want to come to a country so petty, so mean-minded, so small, so shamed and diminished) and the Prime Minister introduces clauses into a bill designed to stop Russian oligarchs laundering money through London, that will enable them to do just that and then tells his MPs to vote for them, all the while smirking and prevaricating and mopping and mowing like the petty, degenerate, vile little Russian stooge that he is, the President of the Ukraine – fighting a war against one of the world’s greatest powers, addresses a craven Parliament and a cowed electorate that will not rise up and run its corrupt overlords out.

Hansard records:

Volodymyr Zelensky (President of Ukraine) [Translation]: “Mr Speaker, Prime Minister, Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen, I am addressing all the people of the United Kingdom, a country with a big history. I am addressing you as a citizen and the President of another big country with a dream. I want to tell you about the 13 days of war—a war that we did not start and did not want. However, we have to conduct this war. We do not want to lose what is ours—our country—just as you once did not want to lose yours to the Nazis and you had to fight for Britain.

On day one, at four o’clock in the morning, we were attacked by cruise missiles. Everybody woke up—people, children, the whole of Ukraine—and we have not slept since. We have all been fighting for our country alongside our army.

On day two, we suffered airstrikes, and our heroic military servicemen on the island of Zmiinyi fought when Russian forces demanded that they lay down arms. However, we continued fighting, and they felt the force of our people, who will oppose the occupiers until the end.

The next day, artillery started firing at us. Our army showed us who we are, and we saw who are people and who are beasts.

On day four, we started taking people captive. We did not torture them, remaining humane even on day four of this terrible war.

On day five, the terror against us affected our children and cities, and constant shelling happened around the country, including on hospitals. That did not break us, but gave us a feeling of great certainty.

On day six, Russian rockets fell on Babyn Yar, where the Nazis killed thousands of people during the second world war. Eighty years later, the Russians hit them for the second time. Even churches are getting destroyed by shelling.

On day eight, we saw Russian tanks hitting the nuclear power station, and everybody got to understand that this is a terror against everyone.

On day nine, a meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly ended without the result we were looking for. We learned that, unfortunately, alliances do not always work properly, and the no-fly zone was not enforced.

On day 10, Ukrainians started protesting en masse, stopping armoured vehicles with their own hands.

On day 11, children, cities and hospitals were hit with rockets and constant shelling. On that day, we realised that Ukrainians have become heroes—entire cities, children and adults.

On day 12, the losses of the Russian army exceeded 10,000 people killed, including a general. We were given hope that there will be some kind of responsibility for these people in court.

On day 13, the city of Mariupol was attacked by the Russian forces, and a child was killed. The Russians did not allow any food or water, and people started panicking—they do not have water.

Over those 13 days, over 50 children have been killed. Those children could have lived, but these people have taken them away from us.

Ukraine was not looking for this war. Ukrainians have not been looking to become big, but they have become big over the 13 days of this war. We are saving people despite having to fight one of the biggest armies in the world, with its helicopters and rockets. The question for us now is, “To be, or not to be”. This Shakespearean question could have been asked over the past 13 days, but I can now give you a definitive answer: it is definitely, “To be”.

I remind you of the words that the United Kingdom has already heard because they are important again. We will not give up, and we will not lose. We will fight until the end at sea and in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores and in the streets. We will fight on the banks of our rivers, like the Dnieper.

We are looking for help from civilised countries, and we are thankful for this help. I am very grateful to you, Boris. Please increase the pressure of sanctions against Russia and please recognise that country as a terrorist state. Please ensure that our Ukrainian skies are safe. Please make sure that you do what needs to be done and what is required by the greatness of your country. I wish my best to Ukraine and to the United Kingdom.”

I, for one, have never been more thoroughly ashamed of this country. I understand in theory why to enforce a no-fly zone would be regarded by Putin as an escalation of the conflict, but faced with the suffering of Ukraine, it is hard to see not enforcing such a zone as anything other than inexcusable. We are not dealing with a sane man in Putin. Whatever we do, the conflict may escalate.

In other news on the conflict:

Poland is “ready” to hand its MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States, the foreign ministry says, under a scheme that would see the planes given to Ukraine. But Washington last night rejected the offer, saying any decision to transfer Polish-owned planes to Ukraine is “ultimately one for the Polish government”. Ukrainian fighter pilots train on MiGs. They are not trained on American fighter planes, hence the proposal to swap the MiGs for American planes which the Polish would then train on, while the MiGs went to Ukraine to bolster its defences. Unfortunately, and probably correctly, the US suspects that PUtin would see this as NATO intervening by proxy – he has already made noises about the money and arms pouring into Ukraine being an act of hostility – and would escalate the conflict. Unwilling to take the rap for the escalation that the provision of MiGs by Poland would be, the US has thrown the decision back to Poland. One can see why.

US and UK ban Russian oil

President Joe Biden announced a ban on US imports of Russian oil, gas and coal, saying Ukraine will “never be a victory for Putin”. Unfortunately, again, it will if Russia completely destroys the country and its infrastructure. Credible reports indicate that Russia is shelling hospitals, as well as refugee corridors, people in Mariupol have died for want of water, and Kharkiv last night was dark. 

Britain also says it will phase out Russian oil imports by the end of this year, and the European Union says it will slash gas imports by two-thirds.The EU, particularly Germany, is much more dependent on Russia gas, with Germany itself taking 40% of its gas from Russia, as opposed to the UK’s 3%. Crude prices surged on the US move, with the benchmark Brent jumping 6.8 percent: this will have a knock-on effect on our fuel prices. We are coming into summer so that  the need for heating will, theoretically, be less, but next winter looks as if it will be uncomfortable. Norway – Europe’s largest gas supplier after Russia, and one of our main suppliers – says it cannot increase gas deliveries because its fields are already operating at full capacity.

IAEA concerns on Chernobyl

The UN’s nuclear watchdog warns that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is no longer transmitting data and voices concern for staff working under Russian guard at the Ukrainian site. More than 200 technical staff and guards remain trapped there and have worked 13 days straight since the Russian takeover. IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi reiterated an offer to travel to Chernobyl or elsewhere to ensure the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear sites.

At the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Russian forces say in a video carried by Russian media that they have full control of the site and it is functioning normally. They accuse Ukraine of storing weapons at the facility.

Evacuations

Ukraine evacuated 5,000 civilians from the northeastern city of Sumy under a deal with Moscow to hold fire and set up humanitarian corridors in cities besieged by Russian forces.

Convoys ferried the evacuees to the city of Lokhvytsia, around 150 kilometres (93 miles) to the southwest in Ukrainian-held territory. Ukrainian authorities say 21 people, including two children, were killed in air strikes on the town on Monday. Kyiv and its Western allies had rejected a previous proposal to evacuate Ukrainians to Russia and Belarus. Attempts to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol failedl again, with Ukraine accusing Russia of attacking a humanitarian corridor.

New ceasefire

Moscow announced a new humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine for Wednesday morning to allow civilians to flee. Russia proposed to agree the routes and start time with Ukraine “before 03:00 MSK on March 9”, Russian news agencies report. It seems unlikely that this ceasefire will hold: the Russians appear to be playing a horrible game of cat-and-mouse designed to induce despair and break resistance.So Ukraine will today try to evacuate civilians through six “humanitarian corridors”, including from the besieged southern port city of Mariupol. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a video statement that Ukrainian armed forces had agreed to stop firing in those areas from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. (0700-1900 GMT)and urged Russian forces to fulfil their commitment to local ceasefires.

She said the corridors that would open would go from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia; Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia; Sumy to Poltava; Izyum to Lozova; Volnovakha to Pokrovsk; and from severaltowns around Kyiv which she identified as Vorzel, Borodyanka, Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel to the capital.

“I appeal to the Russian Federation: You have undertaken official public commitments to cease fire from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. We have had negative experiences when the commitments that were undertaken did not work,” Vereshchuk said.

Is the UK really not helping Ukrainians get visas? 

They have to travel to Paris to speak to the embassy there, even if they have made their way to Calais. This morning, France was offering free return rail travel to Ukrainians so that they can get from Calais to Paris to get a UK Visa. If the UK opened a Visa centre in Calais this wouldn’t be necessary. Brexit has proved that the xenophobia and racism in this country is deeply engrained in the government, and in the shrivelled-raisin excuse for hearts of the people who backed it, and the government.

When will it end?

Ukraine must hold off Russia’s attack for the next seven to 10 days to deny Moscow claiming any sort of victory, a senior Ukrainian official quoted by Reuters said. There are various “ending scenarios” being discussed, but it’s impossible to tell which one will be the one that we see. Some reports say that Putin has now engaged 100% of the troops he had in position, but that doesn’t mean he can’t move more into place. Whether he can supply them with food that is not out of date, army vehicles with tyres that are functional, and soldiers who are more than raw recruits is debatable, however. 

Food report; important (very selfishly, I am afraid) for us.

RTE in Ireland has just reported, via Reuters, that Ukraine’s government has banned exports of rye, barley, buckwheat, millet, sugar, salt, and meat until the end of this year, according to a cabinet resolution published on Wednesday.

The action will put food security across Europe into sharp focus, leading to shortages of grain and price rises of staples including bread. Russia and Ukraine combined are responsible for about 30% of the world’s wheat and barley exports. There will also be a serious knock on effect for the Middle East and Africa, where the loss of Ukrainian wheat is likely to lead to widespread famine. An opinion piece in the FT which I read yesterday discussed the fact that now is exactly the time when Ukrainian farmers would be sowing their wheat: the season begins in the first week of March and sowing is expected to be concluded by the end of April. At the moment, many of the fields that are usually sown are within the theatres of war, and some of them are mined: farmers are also unable to work as they are fighting in defence of their homeland. Ukraine is doing an extremely sensible thing in keeping its reserves, since its production for domestic consumption is likely to be seriously diminished this year, but the effects on the rest of the world will be grave.

I am sorry the news is so grim.

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