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Shoigu as worst military leader and terrible mistake of West: Foreign media digest as of March 15

Photo: collage The Page

Photo: collage The Page

Western media continue to cover the war in Ukraine: today, on March 15, the British media reported about the country's waiver from Russian oil, as well as energy sources negotiations with Saudi Arabia, Sergei Shoigu was proposed to be attributed to the worst military leaders in history, and former Prime Minister Tony Blair called NATO statements that they would not start an open war with Vladimir Putin, no matter what he did with Ukraine, strange.

Meanwhile, the anti-Russian bloc of countries has negotiated further sanctions against the Kremlin, which should finally stifle the Russian economy.

The Page offers an up-to-date review at what the European and American media are reporting, covering 20 days of active Russian invasion.


Wind and the agreement with Arabs are to compensate RF oil

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

The BBC quotes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as saying in an interview with The Telegraph that ending the West's dependence on Russian oil and gas is vital to end Kremlin "intimidation."

In addition, Mr. Johnson said the only way to stop the "continuous blackmail" of President Putin is to end the West's dependence on Russian fuel—a process that will be "painful."

The British Prime Minister is preparing to head to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf for talks about increasing production of oil and gas to compensate for reduced Russian supplies.

He also said his promised Energy Security Strategy for the UK would step up wind energy, exploit solar power and make a series of big new bets on nuclear energy. One of his suggestions includes further drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea.

The UK is to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022.

A decision by the government to talk to Saudi Arabia about measures to bring down the cost of energy has been criticised by many MPs after the country executed 81 people at the weekend. Downing Street says the UK "will continue to raise human rights abuses" in this country.

"The West made a terrible mistake"

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Boris Johnson hosted the Nordic Leaders' Summit in London on March 15.

The leaders of those countries, which form a security alliance called the Joint Expeditionary Force, will consider what steps they can take to help Ukraine and shore up their own resilience against Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told them that the Nato alliance had been "hypnotised by Russian aggression" and repeated his plea for western military intervention.

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While he welcomed the latest western sanctions, Zelenskyy said they are not enough to end the war and called for a full trade embargo on Russia.

In his interview to the Telegraph, Mr Johnson said:

Quote"When Putin invaded Ukraine the first time round, in 2014, the West made a terrible mistake. The Russian leader had committed an act of violent aggression and taken a huge chunk out of a sovereign country — and we let him get away with it."

New Sanctions: Art, luxury, and individuals

Britain announces new measures against more than 100 persons related to President Putin's regime.

On Tuesday, the country announced new sanctions that mirrored the EU's in several areas, including the export ban on luxury goods such as high-end fashion and works of art.

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The European Commission said that the sanctions co-ordinated with Western allies "will further contribute to ramping up economic pressure on the Kremlin and cripple its ability to finance its invasion of Ukraine."

As part of these measures, Russian vodka and hundreds of other goods worth £900m were hit with an additional 35% import tariff.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the new tariffs "will further isolate the Russian economy from global trade".

On top of this, the UK's new bill will automatically sanction those who have had their assets already frozen by the EU, US or Canada.

Senior Conservative and chair of the Defense Select Committee Tobias Ellwood said sanctions on Russia would lead members of the Russian elite and generals to "recognise there is no future for Russia" and Mr Putin would "eventually go".

Shoigu was attributed to the "worst" military leaders in history

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

The Times posted an opinion piece by columnist William Hague, Lord Hague of Richmond, who was a Conservative MP for 26 years and served as Secretary of State and Foreign Secretary.

According to him, on the night Russia invaded Ukraine, je was reading a new book, The Worst Military Leaders in History, edited by John M Jennings and Chuck Steele.

The monumental failings of leadership described range from the well-known death of General Custer and all his men to the less remembered Athenian leader, Nikias, whose disastrous attempt to capture Syracuse led to the collapse of the entire Athenian empire.

According to him, it seems like a second edition might have to include the Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoygu, and his top brass.

Some of Russia’s military underperformance reflects the fact that the huge modernisation of its forces is still work in progress. The much-vaunted T-14 tank is not yet in service and the Uran-9 unmanned combat ground vehicle performed badly in Syria.

But Russia is hardly unique in experiencing delays in defense procurement.

Greed, selfishness and corruption as reason RF’s defeat

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Much more seriously, the tactics chosen by commanders have been wasteful of resources and their soldiers’ lives, and Russian casualties probably exceed those suffered by the US in six years of war in Iraq.

These elementary failures of the military command are accompanied by evidence of poor maintenance of the equipment. Perhaps such failings of military culture and standards are the product of a system based heavily on greed, selfishness and corruption right up to the Kremlin itself.

But by far the most serious problems are on a strategic scale. Russia’s inability to establish command of the air over Ukraine has mystified most observers, considering the acquisition of hundreds of modern warplanes since 2010.

The best potential explanation has come from the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi):

Quote"the Russian air force lacks the practical experience of how to plan, brief and co-ordinate complex air operations involving tens or hundreds of assets in a high-threat environment".

Russian pilots have not been trained to fly in larger, sequenced, formations, except for fly-pasts at parades. They look impressive, but do not have the training hours or high-quality simulators that are standard for Nato pilots.

The nature of Putin's state and the generals' fears

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Quote"Suddenly, we begin to discern the nature of Putin’s state: a regime that has prized the hardware of power while neglecting the software," the author of the article stresses.

Putin can stage parades and drop random bombs on terrified civilians but would struggle against a powerful adversary, he believes.

Quote"A system ostensibly strong but hollow inside — the natural outcome of being mired in corruption and led by a bully, but only now so clearly revealed," Hague adds.

It is also telling that the Russian high command only informed tactical commanders on the ground that they were going to war, and what their objectives would be, the day before the invasion. This led to woeful co-ordination and planning.

Here again we can see the characteristics of Putin’s rule: the callous carelessness with life, even on his own side, and the need to fool even his own army about what was planned.

Quote"The lies go downwards, upwards and outwards. It is impossible for the soldier at the front or a general in Moscow to know the truth. That is the web that Putin has spun, and it has important implications for the future," the author adds.

Be clear, this does not mean the Russian armed forces are spent. They have been regrouping and will no doubt learn lessons. And Moscow’s possession of a vast nuclear arsenal remains a central factor in global politics, he warns.

The author also wonders: dare the Russian generals tell Putin how much has gone wrong, that multiple military failures have added to a political disaster for him? They probably won’t, and their place in the pantheon of the Worst Military Leaders in History awaits them.

"NATO statements about non-interference in the war look strange"

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Sky News quotes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who expressed his opinion on the conflict in Ukraine.

According to him, NATO's repeated reassurance that it will not engage with Russia militarily is a "strange tactic".

On his thinktank's website, the former Tony Blair stresses:

Quote"I understand and accept that there is not political support for any direct military engagement by NATO of Russia. But we should be clear-eyed about what Putin is doing."

The Kremlin's leader, according to the Briton, is using desire not to provoke escalation alongside his willingness to escalate as a bargaining chip against the West.

Quote"When he is threatening NATO, even stoking fears of nuclear conflict, there is something incongruous about our repeated reassurance to him that we will not react with force," Blair writes.

The former Prime Minister considers it unwise to say that NATO will not escalate the conflict, no matter what Putin does: use chemical, tactical nuclear weapons or even try to destroy Kyiv, as he did as he did Aleppo in Syria.

Quote"Continually signaling it, and removing doubt in his mind, is a strange tactic," said Tony Blair.

Biden’s painful choice of Biden and pressure from US Congress

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

CNN reports that as the war's horror mounts, the choice of US President Biden becomes more and more painful. Political pressure on the president is about to mount. Especially if the rest of the world is forced to watch the inhuman siege and bombing of Kyiv by the Russians.

On Wednesday, March 15, Zelenskyy will deliver a virtual address to Congress. If his recent speech to the UK parliament, which drew Churchillian comparisons, is any guide, it will be a searing and inspiring rallying cry for lawmakers.

If the Ukrainian President includes last-ditch pleas for fighter jets and a no-fly zone over his country, he will create extreme domestic pressure on the USA leader.

Biden's problem is that after unleashing full-bore economic warfare on Russia with extraordinarily tough sanctions, there are now limits to the steps he can take to significantly turn up pressure on Putin without risking a direct military or cyber conflict.

Some of the President's critics in Congress and in parts of the foreign policy establishment, including in his own party, argue that he's been too cautious.

Biden is persuaded to hand over aviation to Ukraine

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The Biden administration is determined to avoid giving Putin an excuse for the conflict to spill over Ukraine's borders. But he must also consider how he would respond if a Russian missile strayed onto NATO territory in eastern Europe -- a scenario that, in theory at least, could trigger the alliance's Article Five collective defense clause.

Senior officials believe the Ukraine crisis will largely define Biden's term. Sources also said that the President was considering a visit to Europe -- a trip to bolster NATO morale that would immediately become the most critical journey across the Atlantic by any American president in decades.

The leaders of NATO could meet in person in Brussels as soon as next week. Experts note that Putin is becoming increasingly tough, and diplomacy is not producing the desired results.

Quote"If Ukraine will not bend the knee to Russia, he will make sure that Ukraine is going to be a wasteland," Heather Conley, the president of the German Marshall Fund, warns.

Biden critics in Congress warn that Washington's opposition to Poland's offer to send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine amounted to the US bowing to a Russian bluff. Only a few members of Congress have called for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, underscoring reluctance to send US service personnel into harm's way and into an alarming head-to-head clash with Russia.

But Senate Republican Whip John Thune said Monday there is broad bipartisan support for including a provision approving the deployment of military aircraft to Ukraine.


Instead of an afterword. Russia continues to be strangled with sanctions, while US President Joe Biden has already announced that he will provide all the necessary assistance for the defense of Kyiv. Meanwhile, the capital of Ukraine is closed for 1.5 days of curfew and city residents are advised to spend the night in basements, bomb shelters, or at least corridors. There is a real threat that Putin, already unhesitatingly firing missiles at residential areas, will try to kill even more civilians, stopping at nothing.

Indeed, the constant assurances of the Alliance that NATO will in no case start an open war look ambiguous, and in many ways it is the inability of the Russian troops to fight and their ignorance during this invasion that save Ukraine from even greater destruction and victims. Of course, the courage of the Ukrainian people, who are ready to die, but not to let the "Russian world" of Vladimir Putin into our state, the plans for which we have already reported earlier, plays a big role. Ukraine continues to fight for its right to exist for 20 days.

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