Ukraine, “The warmest front is now in Donetsk”. Zelensky after the G7, “Meloni is with us but in Italy too many pro-Putin”


By John

There is no doubt that Giorgia Meloni is “on Ukraine’s side”. But in Italy “there are many pro-Putin, and first of all you should cancel their visas” and “send them away”: in the aftermath of the Italian-led G7 in Kiev, Volodymyr Zelensky sounds the alarm on the pitfalls of Russian propaganda in Italy and asks Rome to do more. “This too is a weapon” to help Ukraine, underlines the president in the press conference for the second anniversary of the war, while the Italian political debate is struggling to find a unanimous condemnation of the Kremlin for the death of Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Putin makes it known that he “feels at home” in our country.

Zelensky does not name names. However, “we are preparing a list – not only regarding Italy – on Russian propagandists. It is a long list and we want to present it to the European Commission, the European Parliament, the leaders of the EU and the United States”, explains the Ukrainian leader .

But if the war is also fought through information, the number one priority remains weapons for Kiev which now more than ever returns to insist on the need for support from partners. Why at the front the war rages: according to Zelensky 31 thousand Ukrainian soldiers have died in battle in two years, while 180 thousand invaders have been killed in the war. No numbers on the wounded, “Russia would understand how many people left the front”, explains Zelensky in giving the first figures on Ukrainian losses since the beginning of the invasion. The numbers try to give a measure of the war that has not offered good news to Ukrainians for weeks, while supplies are running low: half of the weapons promised by the West are being delivered late, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov revealed. Kiev, however, does not give up and tries to show optimism: after 2022 “of survival” and 2023 “of resilience”, Zelensky sees a “turning point” in 2024 for Ukraine. And to do so, Kiev is preparing a new and “powerful” counteroffensive on which “there is a clear plan”, the president said without giving further details. The hope is that it will go better than last year’s campaign, which failed – Zelensky’s justification – because “the plans for our counteroffensive were on the Kremlin’s table before it began”. In turn, Russia, he predicts, will launch a new offensive in May or spring.

At the moment the heaviest clashes between Russian and Ukrainian troops are taking place in the Marinka area of ​​Donetsk, reports the Kiev General Staff on Facebook. “In the last 24 hours, 95 battles occurred in the area: the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled 40 attacks.” «The enemy launched 11 missile attacks and 98 air strikes, 129 attacks with multiple launch missile systems on our troop positions and populated areas. Following the attacks there were injuries and deaths among civilians. Residential buildings and infrastructure were destroyed or damaged,” the General Staff wrote.

“Ukraine’s victory depends on you,” Zelensky then insists, addressing the West. Even in Italy there are “different types of armaments with which it could help us. But not everything depends on Italy, we are also talking about the G7 and EU countries, they have a lot that they can give”. While the impasse remains in the American Congress over aid to Kiev, the Ukrainian government says it is “deeply convinced that the United States will not abandon” the invaded country. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal also expects the arrival of 12 billion dollars in US financial aid this year. In parallel, he continues the Western debate regarding the use of Russian assets to finance the Ukrainian resistance: “We must be bolder”, is the encouragement of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. “Together with the G7, we must find legal ways to confiscate the assets and send the funds to Ukraine.” Everything is played on the ground, therefore. Because you cannot negotiate with “a deaf man and a man who kills his opponents” like Putin, reiterates Zelensky who is working on his peace summit with the hope of holding it in Switzerland in the spring. The summit will produce a document which will then be delivered to Russia, explains the leader. But the text will be based on Kiev’s “peace formula” which sees as its cornerstone the complete withdrawal of Russia from the occupied territories and the restoration of the 1991 borders. Unacceptable conditions for Moscow, which in the meantime is bombing – 263 attacks in 24 hours on Zaporizhzhia -, arms himself and ignores Western criticism for the death of Alexei Navalny. On the matter, Putin received an unexpected Ukrainian response: the head of Kiev’s military intelligence Kirilo Budanov stated that based on his information the Russian opponent died of a natural death, killed by a blood clot. “That’s more or less confirmed.” Words that depart partly from the very harsh line of condemnation of “Putin the murderer” espoused by Zelensky.

Nyt, ‘bases and training, this is how the CIA helps Ukraine’

A network of CIA-backed spy bases, including 12 near the Russian border, have been built over the past eight years in Ukraine. Bases which – reports the New York Times – are part of the close collaboration between the American agency and Kiev. A crucial partnership in the battle against Russia, which dates back more than ten years, and which also includes the CIA’s training of an elite Ukrainian commando unit – Unit 2245 – to capture Russian drones and communications equipment for allow the US intelligence agency to study and encode Moscow’s encrypted systems.

The war in Ukraine enters its third year and the collaboration between the CIA and Kiev is one of the cornerstones that allow Ukraine to defend itself. The partnership – which also includes bases entirely financed by the CIA on Ukrainian territory – did not begin with the war but has its roots back at least 10 years ago and has been able to transform Ukraine into one of Washington’s most important partners against the Russia. The New York Times writes. In the last eight years – underlines the American newspaper – the CIA has built 12 secret locations in the Ukrainian forest on the border with Russia. In 2016, the CIA began training an elite Ukrainian commando unit, Unit 2245, to capture Russian drones and communications equipment to allow the U.S. intelligence agency to study and code Moscow’s encrypted systems. The CIA has also helped train a new generation of Ukrainian spies who operate in Russia, Europe, Cuba and other areas where there is a strong Russian presence. These intelligence networks are more important than ever right now with Ukraine struggling on the battlefield, the New York Times continues, but on the horizon there is the risk of a lack of funding to continue operating at current levels in the should Republicans in Congress stop or end aid to Kiev. To reassure Ukrainian leaders, CIA director Williams Burns secretly flew to Kiev in recent days, in what was his tenth visit since the start of the invasion, the newspaper notes.

007 Kiev, ‘Russians expect new surprises in Crimea’

The head of Ukrainian military intelligence Kyrylo Budanov announced on Telegram new “surprises for the Russian occupiers in Crimea” and recommended the civilian population not to use the so-called Kerch bridge connecting Russia to the peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2024.” Russia’s war against Ukraine began not two years ago, but ten years ago, with the occupation of Ukrainian Crimea. However, neither the Ukrainian state nor Ukrainians agreed to recognize the aggressor’s right to Crimean land “, he said, emphasizing that “the resistance of the local Ukrainian population against the occupiers has not diminished even for a moment, despite the repressions.”