Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been in Moscow meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and laying out Beijing's 12-point peace plan to end Russia's war in Ukraine since Monday. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made it known that he is also willing to meet with Xi to discuss Kyiv's peace formula for a possible end to the war that entered its second year last month.
"We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when they are ready for that in the West and in Kyiv," Putin told Xi.
"However, so far we see no such readiness from their side," Putin added, assigning blame for the lack of peace talks on Ukraine.
Zelensky, however, said Tuesday that the Ukrainian government has already reached out to China and invited officials in Beijing to engage in talks regarding how to implement Kyiv's peace plan and that he is waiting to hear back from the Chinese.
"We offered China to become a partner in the implementation of the peace formula across all channels. We invite you to dialogue. We are waiting for your answer," Zelensky said during a Tuesday press conference and added, "We are receiving some signals, but there are no specifics yet."
Last month, Zelensky surprised many when he responded positively to Xi offering Beijing's 12-point peace plan as a starting place for negotiations.
"I think the fact that China started talking about Ukraine is not bad. But the question is what follows the words," Zelensky said last month.
"I think some of the Chinese proposals respect international law, and I think we can work on it with China. Why not? Our goal is to gather many around us to isolate one [Russia]," Zelensky concluded.
After China released its peace plan a few weeks ago, Beijing has begun to emerge as a mediator between the two countries, but not everyone is happy about the possibility of China-led peace negotiations. Washington has been forced to take a backseat amid unprecedented Russian and Chinese cooperation.
There is also likely mounting pressure being put on Zelensky to reject any friendly approaches from China, as many in the West see Beijing's attempt at mediating negotiations as a way to keep Russia strong and on the offensive in Ukraine. It will be interesting to see if China and Ukraine are able to materialize talks that bring in Moscow, although Washington is sure to be quite displeased.
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According to 2 unnamed U.S. officials, it is believed that Russia conducted a test launch of an extremely provocative intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) while President Biden was visiting Kyiv Monday.
The sources said that the U.S. believes the test “failed,” but no details of the failed launch were given, other than Putin leaving the test out of his speech Tuesday in Moscow.
According to one official, Russia notified the U.S. of the launch prior to it taking place through deconfliction lines. A second official noted that the test did not pose a risk to the U.S., nor did Washington view the test as something out of the ordinary or as an escalation.
The test reportedly was of the SARMAT missile, which is nuclear-capable and known in the West as the ‘Satan II.’
The reason U.S. officials believe the test was a failure is that, had it been successful, Putin would have most likely touted the country’s nuclear capabilities and the test in his State of the Nation address on Tuesday.
However, Putin made no mention of the launch in his remarks, which lasted almost 2 hours. Although Putin never mentioned the Satan II test, he did announce that Moscow will be unilaterally suspending Russia’s involvement in the New START nuclear treaty, which is meant to limit the development of nuclear capabilities for both the U.S. and Russia.
Assuming that the test launch did occur, there is still the possibility that Russia will release menacing footage of it later this week, should Putin choose to send a threatening message to the U.S. and its Western allies, given the increasing provocations between Russia and the West.
The Kremlin has been known to widely publicize its major weapons test launches by releasing official videos of the events, some of which are released well after the tests.
Should Putin decide to release footage of the Satan II ICBM test launch while Biden is still on his tour of Eastern Europe, it would, without a doubt, be taken as a direct threat to the West and seen as a massive escalation of the conflict between Russia, Ukraine, and its Western allies. Hopefully, no such occurrence takes place.
Hate to say it, because I believe Vladimir Putin is a nasty dictator who had no business invading Ukraine ... but he's correct in his remarks about the West and moral decadence. Putin said at Valdai this week:
It is notable that the West proclaims the universal value of its culture and worldview. Even if they do not say so openly, which they actually often do, they behave as if this is so, that it is a fact of life, and the policy they pursue is designed to show that these values must be unconditionally accepted by all other members of the international community.
I would like to quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s famous Harvard Commencement Address delivered in 1978. He said that typical of the West is “a continuous blindness of superiority”– and it continues to this day – which “upholds the belief that vast regions everywhere on our planet should develop and mature to the level of present-day Western systems.” He said this in 1978. Nothing has changed.
Over the nearly 50 years since then, the blindness about which Solzhenitsyn spoke and which is openly racist and neocolonial, has acquired especially distorted forms, in particular, after the emergence of the so-called unipolar world. What am I referring to? Belief in one’s infallibility is very dangerous; it is only one step away from the desire of the infallible to destroy those they do not like, or as they say, to cancel them. Just think about the meaning of this word...
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Democrats and NeoCons are rushing toward nuclear war with Russia, and even President Biden seems resigned to that possibility. Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis has the nuclear clock ticked closer to midnight. The federal government is so concerned they have purchased $290 million in drugs to combat radiation sickness. New York city has run public service ads for what to do in the event of a nuclear war. And former and current military leaders talk openly about winning such a war. They seem to believe that a nuclear exchange would be limited to the Ukraine, therefore acceptable. What they do not know is the mind of Putin and his generals.
From the first days of the war, it was clear that on paper, Russia should easily have beaten the Ukrainian army, but Western intervention has evened the odds. Russians have lost territory over the past few months due to their own military weaknesses in combination with NATO weapons deliveries. The US has supplied Ukraine with tens of billions in aid, irrespective of the disposition of those arms and money. Reports have been that much of the equipment is not reaching frontline units, rather sold.
During Russia-Ukraine negotiations for a ceasefire in March 2022, where Russian’s main demand was permanent Ukrainian neutrality, failed when Western nations pushed for a military victory for Ukraine, along with regime change in Russia. As a result, the war continued, and thousands more were killed, wounded or made homeless.
Now, more than seven months later, Western intervention has convinced the Ukrainians and NATO nations that the war is winnable. Media and the political class continue to fan the flames of war. Worse, they provide an endless parade of former generals to explain how Putin’s threat to use tactical nuclear weapons, while possible, would only lead to a NATO response that would destroy the Russian army. Foreign affairs experts explain to us how Putin is a desperate, isolated madman who needs to be removed. How can they not see that cornering the proverbial wounded animal is not a good idea. This is the same madman whose army we threaten to destroy should he use tactical nuclear weapons, without mentioning that might possibly result in his use of thermonuclear weapons on the US and Western Europe. They forget that Saddam Hussein expected the Gulf War to be limited to Kuwait, only to find the US strategy was to eliminate “centers of gravity”. It is a core principle of US military strategy.
Gen. Sergey Surovikin has now been named the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine. Surovikin is a veteran of brutal wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, and most recently Syria, where he earned the nickname “General Armageddon”, for his indiscriminate destruction of Aleppo. In Syria, Surovikin bombed civilian targets, using everything from conventional to chemical weapons. It is clear with his appointment that Putin is willing to do anything to avoid defeat, including tactical nuclear weapons. In his first week as commander, Suroviken authorized the launching of missile and drone attacks on Kiev. It seems Western leaders did not contemplate his actions based on months of reporting an imminent Ukrainian victory.
Western leaders have forgotten the shocking information we gathered in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. For five decades, NATO operated under the assumption that neither side in a European war would resort to first use of nuclear weapons. The treasure trove of documents we obtained after the collapse indicated that not only were the use of nuclear weapons possible, but they were integral to Soviet war plans to defeat the airpower advantage NATO had over the Warsaw Pact. Their day one plans were to strike our airfields with chemical and nuclear weapons to disable our air forces, and deny the use of those bases by reinforcements.
If the generation now leading the Russian Federation, both politically and militarily, were trained in a system that used nuclear and chemical weapons as just one tool in their arsenal, it is also reasonable to assume the war in Ukraine could result in a tactical nuclear war, then escalate to nuclear Armageddon. Western leaders possess two of the most dangerous attributes -- naïveté and overconfidence. The American political leadership was 'selected' not for their experience, but their gender pronoun and ethnicity. Our military leadership has been promoted despite military failures in Afghanistan and Iraq for similar qualities as their civilian counterparts. We stand on the precipice of a nuclear war, with ideologs at the helm. Only time will tell, but our best hope may lie with the man they have declared a madman, and his willingness to exercise restraint.
A USAFA grad, Brent flew F-15 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. After completing his service, Brent immigrated to Israel, where he was drafted into IAF active service.