The Western media keep on writing about the war in Ukraine and the West’s confrontation with Russia. In particular, this week they focused on the ways Ukrainian authorities are mocking the enemy.
Meanwhile, the leader of the British Labor Party is planning to visit Kyiv, the likely successor of Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, insulted France’s President Emmanuel Macron with one phrase, and Russia started to burn enormous amounts of natural gas near the border with Finland.
How the Ukrainians are taunting the Russians
The Ukrainian parade of broken Russian equipment on the Independence Square on Independence Day, August 24, was aimed at irking the Kremlin, in addition to the serious strikes the Ukrainian army delivered at invaders’ bases in Crimea, previously considered unreachable, The New York Times writes.
Lest their actions go unnoticed, the Ukrainian government’s social media sites posted a flurry of taunting one-liners that mocked their adversary.
Some Western analysts believe that "poking the bear" is not the best idea. For example, Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group, a political risk assessment firm in Washington, says:
"There is an axiomatic policy — don’t poke the bear — that’s been around for decades. The Ukrainians are turning that policy on its head. And the bear has proven remarkably pokable."
At the same time, the newspaper notes, Ukrainians believe that Russia has inflicted so much damage on Ukraine that its options for further retaliation are limited.
The Ukrainian approach to psychological warfare can serve several aims, the authors write. One of them is to embolden Western donors of military aid, while another one is to enhance national unity and bolster the morale of Ukrainians.
"As old as warfare, taunting the enemy has been an element of many conflicts, including the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Ukrainians have refined the art," the author points out.
The leader of the British Labor Party is going to visit Zelenskyy
The Labor leader, Keir Starmer, is planning a trip to Ukraine in the late autumn as he moves to cement his relations with the Kyiv government, The Guardian writes.
The politician approached the government of Volodymyr Zelenskiy about the possibility of a visit as opposition leader, with the Labor Party writing a letter that affirms Starmer’s support for Ukraine in its struggle against Russia.
He also recently visited the Polish border and British troops in Estonia to affirm Labor’s "unshakeable" commitment to NATO.
Sources in the Ukrainian government said a date for Starmer’s trip has not yet been agreed. They suggest that the President’s Office doesn’t want to antagonize the Conservative party after having received strong support from Boris Johnson and his likely successor, Liz Truss.
However, the principle of the trip has been agreed upon, and Starmer will likely undertake the journey later this year.
It’s important that both Labor and the Conservatives support giving Ukraine more weapons. In particular, Starmer said in May:
"We support the provision of more military equipment to Ukraine … for all of those suffering in Ukraine, they need to see political parties in the UK standing together in support of Ukraine."
How Liz Truss insulted Emmanuel Macron
The Independent wrote an article about Liz Truss, the favorite to become the next British prime minister, having inadvertently insulted French President Emmanuel Macron.
Thus, at a leadership hustings on August 25, a journalist asked the candidates for prime minister:
"Emmanuel Macron, friend or foe?"
The foreign minister answered:
"The jury’s out. But if I become prime minister, I would judge him on deeds, not words."
Emmanuel Macron answered Truss by calling the U.K. an ally and said its people would always be friends of France, despite the occasional errors made by its leaders.
"If France and Britain cannot say whether they are friends or enemies... then we are headed for serious problems," the French President added.
For his part, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, Labor, said that Truss demonstrated a "woeful lack of judgment" by insulting a close ally when the West must stay united to oppose Russia.
The chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, defended Ms Truss, albeit admitting her comments were "light-hearted".
"It was clearly said as a light-hearted comment with a touch of humor. Liz and I both know that France is a strategic ally in defense, in cyber, in our war effort in helping Ukraine – on all these things we work very closely together."
Russia burns $10 million worth of gas a day
As Europe's energy costs skyrocket, Russia is burning off large amounts of natural gas, according to analysis shared with BBC News.
They say the plant, near the border with Finland, is burning an estimated $10 million worth of gas every day. Experts say the gas would previously have been exported to Germany.
The analysis by Rystad Energy indicates that around 4.34 million cubic meters of gas are being burned by the flare every day. It is coming from a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant at Portovaya, located close to a compressor station at the start of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which carries gas to Germany.
Supplies through the pipeline have been curtailed since mid-July, with the Russians blaming technical issues for the restriction.
Miguel Berger, the German ambassador to the UK, told BBC News that European efforts to reduce reliance on Russian gas were "having a strong effect on the Russian economy".
"They don't have other places where they can sell their gas, so they have to burn it," he suggested.
Others believe that there could be technical challenges in dealing with the large volumes of gas that were being supplied to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Scientists are also concerned about the environmental impact of the flare.