An Informative Timeline

In the Western industrialized world, at least, the condemnation of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has been nearly unanimous.

Witnessing such things as Russia celebrating International Women's Day by postponing the shelling of a maternity hospital until the following day certainly contributes to such a climate of opinion.

However, there have been dissenting voices, even so. One of the chief arguments has been that the United States in particular, and Western nations in general, especially those in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have been behaving in a needlessly provocative manner towards Russia, which ultimately led up to this tragedy.

And so some people have said that up until 2008, Vladimir Putin tried to create friendly relations with the West, but was unjustly spurned.

Is this true? Also, does Russia have a legitimate security interest in not having countries on its borders joining NATO?

It is difficult for me to approach that question without derision. I remember well what Hungary suffered in 1956, or what Czechoslovakia suffered in 1968. I remember the long agony of both the satellite nations of the Warsaw Pact, and of the captive nations within the Soviet Union itself, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.

And, of course, we must never forget the Holodomor, Stalin's artificial famine that cost the lives of about four million Ukrainians.

Also, Stalin's Russia trained Mao Tse-Tung, who imposed a particularly brutal Communist regime on China, leading to massive starvation in the Great Leap Forward and brutal repression in the Cultural Revolution, and which also contributed to the Korean War in which many people from both the United States and its Western allies, including Canada, perished.

Russia under Communism was an evil aggressor nation, in precisely the same sense as Germany under Nazism was an evil aggressor nation. That is a very basic and obvious fact, and attempting to deny or minimize it only destroys the credibility of the rest of an argument.

But after democracy dawned in Russia under Boris Yeltsin, what was the role of the West? And who is Vladimir Putin?

September 21, 1658: the Moscow State starts a war against the Hetmanate, leading to Ukraine becoming once again a protectorate of Moscow.

November 2, 1708: During a war between Russia and Sweden, Russian forces find time to capture and destroy the Ukrainian city of Baturyn, killing from 9,000 to 15,000 people.

1720: A decree of Peter I forbade the printing of religious literature in the Ukrainian language.

May 1775: The Zaporozhzhian Sich, home to a relatively democratic Cossack nation, is destroyed and razed to the ground by the forces of Catherine the Great so as to provide an unobstructed corridor by means of which Russia could obtain control of the Crimea.

1863: The Valuev Circular, a secret decree severely limiting the types of works that could be printed in the Ukrainian language was promulgated, it included the claim that "a separate Little Russian language never existed, does not exist, and will not exist". (Little Russia is an alternative name for Ukraine. Since the Russian word for "white" is "byelo", to continue "as White Russia is an alternative name for Belarus" would seem disingenuous, although in researching the subject, I have learned that the "Rus" in "Belarus" actually refers to Ukraine and not Russia.)

March 13, 1881: Tsar Alexander II of Russia is assassinated. Although he maintained a tight grip on Poland and Lithuania, he did institute a number of reforms in Russia, including the emancipation of the serfs. After his assassination, his successors began imposing policies of repression to better ensure their own safety. Thus, this can be seen as an important turning point in Russian history.

March 16, 1917: The Provisional Government of Russia was announced after the February Revolution, which overthrew the Tsar and established a democratic government in Russia.

Russia, still reeling from the damage of the strife of this revolution, had difficulty in bearing the strain of its role as one of the nations allied against Germany in World War I. Because of strong pressure from Britain and France, however, the Provisional Government felt unable to take Russia out of that war, leading to discontent with it by the Russian people.

April 1917: Germany, in a plot to ease pressure on its Eastern front, provides Lenin with transportation from exile in Switzerland back to Russia.

November 7, 1917: Lenin overthrows the Provisional Government, ultimately establishing Communist tyranny in Russia. Hostilities between Russia and Ukraine begin shortly thereafter, and continue until November 17, 1921.

Spring 1932 and 1933: The Holodomor, a mass famine in the Ukraine, was caused by the seizure of food from the Ukraine under Stalin, leading to the death of four million or more Ukrainians.

Areas in the Eastern Ukraine that were depopulated by the famine were later settled by Russians; this occured in the Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Thus, Donetsk and Luhansk were not areas inhabited by ethnic Russians since time immemorial, but instead are land stolen from the Ukrainian people.

1933: A new orthography was imposed by Stalin on the Ukrainian language in the Soviet Union, aimed at reducing the differences between Ukrainian and Russian. Among the changes was the elimination of the Ukrainian letter for "g"; the letter that is used in Russian for "g" is used for "h" in Ukrainian.

September 5, 1945: Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk at the Russian Embassy in Canada, defects, exposing extensive Soviet espionage activities in North America, including espionage activities aimed at obtaining secrets related to the development of nuclear weapons.

Fall 1946 - Fall 1947: Ukraine is affected by another famine, due to the compound effects of several factors: Communist agricultural policies, a failed harvest, and the destruction wrought by World War II. Nikita Khruschev, later to become General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, is in charge of Ukraine during this time.

March 11, 1985: Mikhail Gorbachev is appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

April 26, 1986: The Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster took place. This led to Gorbachev putting an increased emphasis on the policy of glasnost which he had already begun some time previously, as attempts to cover up the seriousness of the event by some Russian officials only produced rumors that were worse than the truth.

March 11, 1990: Lithuania declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

July 16, 1990: The Ukrainian parliament votes on a declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.

January 11, 1991: The Soviet Union sends troops into Lithuania. This leads to a confrontation around a television station on January 13th, claiming several lives. After international condemnation of Russia's intervention in Lithuania, a peace treaty is signed on January 31st.

February 9, 1991: A referendum held in Lithuania results in overwhelming approval for independence.

June 12, 1991: In Russia's first presidential election, won by Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Zhirinovsky places third. He recieves some attention in the Western press as representing extreme nationalist views within Russia.

August 18, 1991: A coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev by Communist hardliners begins; popular resistance causes it to fail within days.

August 24, 1991: This was the day on which the Ukrainian Declaration of Independence was issued, the anniversary of which is now celebrated as Ukrainian Independence Day.

August 29, 1991: The Supreme Soviet suspends activities of the Communist Party. Gorbachev remains its General Secretary until December 25.

November 6, 1991: Boris Yeltsin bans Communist Party activity in the Soviet Union.

December 1, 1991: A referendum in Ukraine confirms its declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.

December 8, 1991: The Commonwealth of Independent States is created as the successor to the Soviet Union.

September 21, 1993: Boris Yeltsin proclaimed the Russian parliament dissolved, despite not having the constitutional authority to do so. This was because it was refusing to pass legislation to progress further with market reforms in the economy, after past steps had produced serious issues with unemployment. Parliament responded by impeaching Putin.

October 4, 1993: The Russian military, in response to orders from Yeltsin, surrounded the parliamentary buildings, and suppressed demonstrations supporting the parliament. As the West saw Yeltsin as the savior of Russian democracy, and in general supported Russia adopting the free-enterprise system, the media in general accepted Yeltsin's characterization of events as an attempt of hold-overs from the Soviet era attempting to go back to Communism, and did not present the event as a coup d'état by Yeltsin - which, in hindsight, may have been in error.

On the other hand, according the the October 18, 1993 edition of TIME, this was a battle between Yeltsin and Alexander Rutskoi, who had formed a "ragtag army of Communists, neo-Nazis and just plain hooligans dedicated to restoring the old Soviet Union", and I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of such a reputable news magazine. I will have to probe much deeper into the events of those days to find out for certain what is the real truth about them.

December 5, 1994: The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation signed the Budapest Memorandum with Ukraine, in which they agreed, in return for Ukraine destroying the portion of the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal that lay within Ukraine borders, and for Ukraine joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear power,

Russia, of course, is currently in violation of this agreement by virtue of its invasion of Ukraine. The agreement did not contain any pledge on the part of the United States to oppose aggression against Ukraine by direct military force, as an act of collective self-defence, pending a determination by the UN Security Council.

At the time, France offered the first three of these assurances to Ukraine. The People's Republic of China, for its part, noted that it does not threaten the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, and urges other nations to do the same, and it also urges that differences between nations be settled through peaceful negotiations.

December 11, 1994: Russia begins open military aggression against Chechnya, which was marked by indiscriminate bombardment of the civilian population, ultimately leadilng to the defeat of the Chechen people on August 31, 1996.

This aggression against Checnya, of course, contributed significantly to the murders of several Americans on April 15, 2013 at the Boston Marathon, since their killers were people affectected by the Russian aggression who, as a result, harbored an unreasonable resentment at the failure of the United States to intervene and prevent it.

However, Russian participation in the Boston Marathon has only been restricted now, in 2022, as the result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rather than in 2014, given Russia's share in the responsibility for this attack.

April 2, 1996: Belarus and Russia formed the Union of Belarus and Russia.

March 25, 1999: Despite a campaign by Serbia against Kosovo which involved the murder of civililans, and the destruction of housing, similar to what is happening now in Ukraine, Boris Yeltsin issued a statement condemning NATO airstrikes against Serbia in response as aggression.

At the end of the conflict, Kosovo is not immediately rebuilt; the United States asks Europe to take the lead in rebuilding Kosovo, given that it had contributed its share by contributing to the defeat of Serbia. The idea of making Serbia, and Serbia alone, pay for the entire cost of immediately rebuilding Kosovo in every possible respect to its previous condition does not appear to have been even considered, which sets a distressing precedent for the current struggle in Ukraine.

December 31, 1999: Boris Yeltsin resigns as Premier of Russia.

March 26, 2000: Vladimir Putin is elected President of the Russian Federation.

November 23, 2003: Mikheil Sakashvili comes to power, ousting Soviet-era leader Eduard Shevardnadze, as the result of the Rose Revolution in Georgia, one of the "Color Revolutions" along with the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.

November 22, 2004: Massive protests in cities across the Ukraine in response to election fraud by Viktor Yanukovych mark the beginning of the Orange Revolution, which leads to genuinely democratic government there.

December 12, 2007: Gary Kasparov withdraws his bid for the Russian Presidency, because a law was enacted requiring a candidate to obtain 500 signatures at a nominating convention, for which no one in Moscow was willing to rent him a meeting venue. This was widely regarded as a contrived scheme to prevent Putin from facing opposition from any candidate with popular appeal.

August 1, 2008: South Ossetian rebels shell Georgian villages, in violation of a 1992 ceasefire agreement.

August 3, 2008: Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago, The First Circle, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and other works, passes away.

August 7, 2008: The Georgian military responds to these attacks by entering the breakaway province.

August 8, 2008: Russia invades Georgia, using the Georgian response to their engineered provocation as a pretext for their aggression. This was done while President George W. Bush was attending the Beijing Olympics, thus potentially complicating the ability of the United States to respond to the situation.

August 4, 2009: Russian President Dimitri Medvedev sends an open letter to Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko in which he expresses concern about Ukraine providing arms to Georgia, characterizing the Holodomor as a genocide, suppressing the Russian language, and obstructing the activities of the Russian Black Sea fleet.

He also expresses hope that ties between Russia and Ukraine will return, and improve further to a strategic partnership between the two countries.

January 17, 2010: Victor Yanukovych is elected President of Ukraine.

January 3, 2013: Vladimir Putin signs a decree granting Russian citizenship to French actor Gérard Depardieu, who had formed a friendship with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

November 21, 2013: The Ukrainian government, under Viktor Yanukovych, who did originally come to power in a democratic election in Ukraine, issued a decree cancelling preparations for signing an agreement to move towards membership in the European Union. Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Yuri Andreev called for people to protest this decision, and protests began.

November 30, 2013: Ukrainian police dispersed the protesters, also attacking bystanders and reporters, beating people with their batons as well as using stun grenades and tear gas.

December 1, 2013: Protests in reaction to the police activity began, and continued to grow. Thus, the Revolution of Dignity was not something that happened because a minority imposed a pro-Western direction on Ukraine, but because the Ukrainian people reacted to Yanukovych showing his true colors as a tyrant determined to brutally suppress all dissent.

December 8, 2013: Protesters toppled a statue of Lenin in Kyiv, after previous attempts on earlier days were blocked by police.

February 21, 2014: After agreeing to return the country to the 2004 consitution, and withdraw security forces from central Kyiv, Yanukovych leaves Kyiv, heading for Kharkiv, then Donetsk, and then Russia.

February 27, 2014: Russia begins its seizure of the Crimea from Ukraine.

March 18, 2014: In a speech justifying his annexation of Crimea, Vladmir Putin states: "Do not believe those who want you to fear Russia, shouting that other regions will follow Crimea. We do not want to divide Ukraine; we do not need that." As the world sees on August 22, 2014, this had as much truth to it as Adolph Hitler's statement of September 26, 1938 at the Berlin Sportspalast: "The Sudetenland is the last territorial demand I have to make in Europe, but it is a demand on which I shall not yield. I am thankful to Mr. Chamberlain for all his trouble, and I assured him that the German people want nothing but peace, but I also declared that I cannot go beyond the limits of our patience".

March 24, 2014: Ukraine withdraws all its military forces from the Crimea. The United States fails to line the borders of Ukraine with U.S. troops so as to render any further Russian attacks on Ukraine as impossible as, say, Russian tanks rolling into Germany or France.

July 2, 2014: The day before Republic Day in Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko uses the Belarusian language, rather than Russian, as he usually does exclusively, in part of a major speech. In Ukraine, Russian had been in wide use, at least in the major cities, prior to the 2022 invasion, but the Ukrainian language was still widely known and used as well; in Belarus, use of Russian was so widespread as to leave the Belarusian language in desuetude.

August 22, 2014: Russian soldiers, not wearing their uniforms, and claimed by the Russian government to be volunteers, invade the Donetsk region, beginning the Russian conquest of portions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

May 21, 2015: Vladimir Putin awards Vladimir Zhirinovsky the Order of Aleksandr Nevsky.

July 6, 2017: The Moscow Times, an independent newspaper, publishes its last print issue, becoming a web site only.

July 25, 2019: Donald J. Trump, then President of the United States, has a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky in which he pressures Zelensky to engage in an "investigation" of totally fabricated accusations against Hunter Biden; absent Ukrainian aid in this scheme, Trump would block a $400 million military aid package to Ukraine legislated by the U.S. Congress. This phone conversation led to the first impeachment trial of Donald Trump, in which a conviction did not take place, due to Republican Senators voting along partisan lines instead of honestly executing their sworn duty on behalf of the American people.

January 24, 2020: In a speech, Aleksandr Lukashenko complains of pressure from Russia to integrate Belarus with Russia.

June 14, 2020: The Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces is consecrated in Moscow. This took place after Russia's conquest of Crimea, but before its invasion of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as its attempt to conquer Ukraine as a whole, which, I suppose, makes the edifice somewhat less blasphemous. Except, of course, no doubt Putin was aware of his future plans at the time. Honoring the ordinary Russians who gave their lives resisting Hitler is, in itself, right and proper, but when it is done with creating support for wars of aggression as its feal purpose, it is not.

July 29, 2020: 33 Russians are arrested in Belarus: it is claimed that several of them are employed with the Wagner Group, and were part of an attempt by Russia to destabilize the government of Belarus in advance of the forthcoming elections. It is possible that this could have been a contrivance to allow Lukashenko to put some distance between himself and Russia in the minds of voters before the election.

August 9, 2020: After election results were announced in Belarus, mass protests erupted across the country; these were brutally suppressed. More recently, a leak from Ukrainian intelligence services claims that Vladimir Putin drew up plans to invade Belarus if Aleksandr Lukashenko's control of Belarus was seriously threatened.

May 23, 2021: Ryanair flight 4978 from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania, was forced to land in Belarus, so that dissident Roman Protasevich could be seized along with Sofia Sapega. Subsequent to this event, Russia showed support for this action by the regime in Belarus, preventing immediate regime change for this violation of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and act of piracy and state terrorism.

July 12, 2021: An essay by Vladimir Putin, On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians is published, which denied the long history of the Ukrainian people as a nation suffering attempts at suppression by first the Russian Empire and then by Soviet Communism.

November 12, 2021: Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov informs reporters in a telephone conference call that "Russia doesn't threaten anyone. The movement of troops on our territory shouldn't be a cause for anyone's concern." This was in connection with the massing of Russian troops near the borders with Ukraine.

December 28, 2021: Memorial, a human-rights group in Russia that sought to bring to light the record of the human rights violations in Russia under Communism, is suppressed by the Russian government. The lawyer representing the Putin regime criticized Memorial for having the goal of "making us repent the Soviet past, instead of remembering glorious history", which is reason enough, from my perspective, to hold Russia once again responsible for the crimes of the Soviet Union in addition to those of the Putin regime.

January 31, 2022: At the United Nations, in response to Western concerns that the movement of more than 100,000 troops to the vicinity of Ukraine's border indicated that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine, Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya responded "Not a single Russian politician, not a single public figure, not a single person said that we are planning to attack Ukraine".

Perhaps that statement was entirely factual; subsequent historical events, though, have demonstrated that the reason for that was not a lack of intention, on the part of the Russian government, to invade Ukraine, but instead was similar to the reason why, prior to December 7, 1941, no Japanese politicians or public figures had stated Japan planned to bomb Pearl Harbor. That is, for reasons of operational security. Even though, in the case of Russia, unlike Japan, they weren't fooling anyone.

February 12, 2022: A one-hour telephone conversation between U. S. President Joseph R. Biden and Vladimir Putin fails to resolve the apprehension of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. neither gives Putin the security guarantees he wants, or supplies the Ukraine with U.S. troops so as to send a clear message to Russia that an invasion of Ukraine would have catastrophic consequences.

February 20, 2022: Vladimir Putin states that a failure on the part of NATO to take Russia's demands for security guarantees seriously could result in conflict. The United States and NATO, being notified of the possibility of aggressive military acts by Russia towards Ukraine, again fail to take the necessary steps to render such aggression impossible, by lining the borders of Ukraine with areas under hostile control with U.S. and/or NATO troops.

February 24, 2022: Russia invades the entirety of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin threatens any country that would come directly to Ukraine's aid by sending in troops against the Russian forces with nuclear attack. This has meant that while the world has come to Ukraine's aid in a number of limited ways, it has been unable to prevent Russian forces from killing people on Ukrainian soil, including direct attacks on civilians.

March 4, 2022: A law is passed in Russia providing jail terms of up to 15 years for those who refer to Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine as a "war" or an "invasion", or for making other statements which the authorities view as "fake news". Within days, the Moscow Times, once an independent newspaper in Russia, but which ceased print publication, becoming only a web site, in 2017, relocates from Moscow to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, following these restrictions on the press in Russia.

March 16, 2022: The International Court of Justice calls for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine. While this, in itself, is likely to have no practical consequence, it is indicative of a new phase in Russia's internatiional isolation.

Also, Vladimir Putin issued a statement harshly critical of those Russians who think in a Western fashion instead of a Russian fashion, calling on the real Russian people to "spit them out". This has been described as "chilling", and indeed it is, on a number of levels. Certainly, if one is a "rootless cosmopolite" (that is, if one is of Jewish origin, this being Stalin's way of making veiled references to them), the time to leave Russia was yesterday. One can look on the bright side, and note that it is a sign of increasing desperation under the fierce Ukrainian defense and Western sanctions, but rather than entertaining possibly unrealistic hopes about Putin being deposed, I will wait to rejoice in it when it actually happens.

March 9, 2022: A maternity hospital in Mariupol was hit by an air strike, causing several deaths and injuries. This attack came the day after International Women's Day for an extra touch of irony.

March 18, 2022: As one consequence of Vladimir Putin's "special military operation", of which one avowed goal is to "de-Nazify" Ukraine, Boris Romanchenko, a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, died as a result of a rocket hitting the apartment building in which he lived during the bombardment of Kharkiv by Russian forces.

April 3, 2022: RIA Novosti published an opinion piece by Timofey Sergaytsev claiming that the majority of Ukrainians are passive accomplices of Nazism, that history has shown that Ukraine is impossible as a nation-state, and that Ukraine will have to be thoroughly cleansed of Nazism through harsh measures by Russia.

Of course, the Russian government only allows the ideas it wishes to see expressed to appear in the mass media, but this does not mean that this is necessarily the official intent of the Russian government; it could just as easily be only a threat meant to demoralize the people and government of Ukraine.

April 4, 2022: Russia begins its occupation of Bucha, which ends on April 10. When the town north of Kiev is regained by Ukrainian forces, evidence of mass slaughter, torture, and rape by Russian forces is found.

April 10, 2022: United States officials confirm that Russia has appointed Aleksandr Dvornikov to head its invasion of Ukraine. Dvornikov, in Syria, was responsible for indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including children.

May 17, 2022: Finland and Sweden officially request admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Turkey expresses its intention to deny them the unanimous consent they require for admission, citing several issues on which those countries had taken positions against Turkey.

May 18, 2022: The Ukrainian troops holding out at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol end their fight, but are unable to escape, and thus surrender to Russian forces. As many of them belong to the Azov Regiment, which Russia claims harbors "Nazis" among its members, there have been calls in Russia's news media to try them for "war crimes". As such charges would be utterly baseless, this would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions by Russia.

May 25, 2022: Russia offered to allow ships to leave Ukraine to export food if the West would lift some of the sanctions against Russia.

June 9, 2022: While paying tribute to Tsar Peter the Great on the 350th anniversary of his birth, Putin said it was "impossible to build a fence around a country like Russia", in the sense that Russia could not be delimited to exclude Ukraine - or Estonia - from its territory.

June 25, 2022: Aleksandr Dvornikov is dismissed from his role in the invasion of Ukraine, apparently because of drunkenness, according to some reports.

August 21, 2022: Darya Dugina, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, is killed in a car bomb explosion. As news reports identified Alexander Dugin as "Putin's Brain", and thus someone whose influence encouraged Putin to invade Ukraine, it was not only in the Russian press that there was speculation that agents from the Ukraine had attempted to assassinate Alexander Dugin, killing her by accident.

Ukraine denied responsibility for the attack, suggesting that it may have been due to internal Russian opponents of Putin.

However, I have now seen a YouTube video claiming that Alexander Dugin was actually an opponent of Putin, and so it was Putin's secret police that were behind this death. While I certainly would find it congenial to believe that, and useful to claim that, at present this theory is not more than an interesting possibility as far as I know.

August 30, 2022: After a long illness, Mikhail Gorbachev passes away in Russia.

September 1, 2022: Ravil Maganov, chairman of the board of Lukoil, Russia's largest private oil company, was clearly and obviously murdered on the orders of Vladimir Putin, because he had called for Russia to cease its "special military operation" in Ukraine. The Russian news media, however, claims that his fall from a sixth-story hospital window may have been a suicide (presumably, instead of an accident).

September 5, 2022: Russia formally adopts a foreign policy doctrine which claims that Russia has a legitimate interest in supporting the rights of persons of Russian origin living abroad; of course, what is of concern is not that the legitimate rights of ethnic Russians would be defended, but that it means that as with the Germans of the Sudetenland, or the Russians in Georgia and Ukraine, it means more use of Russians living in other places as a false pretext for invasions. The Baltic countries, having both sizable Russian populations, descended from people enabled to enter without permission due to their Soviet conquest, and being NATO members, are of particular concern, as this legislation could be viewed as indicating a willingness on the part of the Putin regime to start World War III.

September 7, 2022: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, claimed that from 900,000 to 1.6 million Ukrainians had been forcibly moved to Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ilze Brands Kehris, a Swedish national, stated that U.N. human rights officials had verified the process of "filtration" had indeed been taking place, at least to some extent.

September 14, 2022: A Twitter posting claims that a "loud bang" was heard near Putin's limousine as the result of an attempt to assassinate Putin. This is reported in some Western tabloid newspapers as fact. However, not only has the claim been officially denied by Russia, there seems to be no evidence of it. Some have speculated that the item was planted by Russia for whatever reason; the only one I can think of would be to distract people from an automobile accident in which Volodomyr Zelensky was involved which could perhaps have been an assassination attempt by Russian agents. But it could also have just been an automobile accident, in which case I cannot shed light on this mystery.

September 21, 2022: After Ukrainian forces make significant advances in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Vladimir Putin announces a "partial mobilization" that will move 300,000 men with some form of previous combat training or experience to the conflict with Ukraine. This leads to protests, and to a panicked exodus from Russia by many men believing a general mobilization is imminent.

Also, on this day, Ravil Maganov died, supposedly from jumping out of the sixth-floor window of his hospital room, having been admitted to hospital for heart problems. This is one of a long list of mysterious deaths of Russian oligarchs since the war in Ukraine began.

September 23, 2022: Russia begins sending armed troops door to door in occupied areas of Ukraine, asking residents to vote on whether or not they wish their regions to be annexed by Russia. The intent is to present the Ukraine and the West with a fait accompli so that the West would not dare to assist Ukraine in the reconquest of these areas for fear of nuclear retaliation. Due to the form of this referendum, however, Western nations have indicated they are taking the threats no more seriously than the referendum.

September 24, 2022: Reports from Russia indicate that instead of a partial mobilization of 300,000 men, Russia is actually engaging in large-scale conscription to mobilize from 1 to 1.2 million men.

September 25, 2022: Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has told his Russian faithful that those who are killed fighting in Vladimir Putin's "special military operation" against Ukraine will recieve absolution from their sins.

September 26, 2022: Three of the four pipelines within Nord Stream 2 are rendered inoperable by an explosion. This explosion appeared to be a deliberate act. While it would appear that Ukraine would stand to gain the most from such an attack, reports in the wake of the explosion noted that evidence was found that it was carried out by Russia, the motive assumed to be to make it easier for Russia to halt gas supplies to Europe without being held responsible.

September 30, 2022: Despite losses on the ground, Vladimir Putin gives a speech where he announces his intent to annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, making them an "eternal" part of Russia. This drew broad international condemnation as being contrary to international law (hopefully, among other things).

Also, a popular youthful former Orthodox priest by the name of Ivan Ivanovich Okhlobystin tells a crowd in Red Square, as part of a concert celebrating the annexation of these regions at which Vladimir Putin also gave a speech, that those countries that oppose Russia in Ukraine should be afraid, because they're run by Satanists and perverts. According to Wikipedia, he has advocated burning homosexuals alive, so we can see he has strong views on this sort of thing. Another notable feature of his speech is that he uses the rallying cry "Gojda!". As the commentator Jonasz Rewiński on TVP World, an English-language Internet service of Telewizja Polska noted, this was not Gouda, despite his speech being cheesy: rather, this was the cry used by the secret police of Ivan the Terrible. Surprisingly, since they both share strong support for Vladimir Putin's "special military operation", it was Patriarch Kirill himself that defrocked Okhlobystin. Perhaps a reconciliation is forthcoming?

October 5, 2022: Putin signs the annexations into law.

Also, OPEC+ agrees to cut oil production by two million barrels per day, despite the crisis created in Europe by the unavailability of fossil fuel supplies from Russia due to the Ukraine conflict. This decision is sharply criticized by U. S. President Joseph R. Biden.

The current members of OPEC are Algeria, Angola, the Republic of the Congo (not Zaire), Equatorial Guniea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Sa'udi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

The term OPEC+ has been coined to include nations which co-ordinate their oil production with OPEC; nations in this group are said to be Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, the Philippines, Russia, Sudan, and South Sudan.

October 8, 2022: The Kerch Bridge, a 12-mile bridge spanning the strait linking the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, which connects Crimea directly to Russia, was seriously damaged by an explosion. Russian officials claimed the explosion was likely to have been caused by a bomb carried by a truck travelling from Crimea to Russia along the bridge, but some Western analysts have claimed that this was unlikely. While glee over the event was expressed by Ukrainian officials, no claim of responsibility was made.

October 9, 2022: Russian missiles hit apartment blocks in the city of Zaporizhzhia, in a direct attack on civilians, which, of course, is a war crime, in apparent retaliation for the damage to the Kerch Bridge, which, as a major supply route for Russian forces defending their occupation of Crimea, was a legitimate military target, although this did not stop Russian authorities from referring to the attack on the Kerch Bridge as an "act of terrorism".

While Russia had recently officially annexed the province of Zaporizhzhia, and it had lost significant territory there, the capital, also named Zaporizhzhia, had remained under Ukrainian control from before the gunpoint referendum and the illegal claimed annexation. Thus, while there is still considerable irony in that Russia is retaliating for the attack on the Kerch Bridge by shooting a missile at civilians who are likely to mostly be the ethnic Russians that Russia claims it is fighting to rescue, it turns out that I am not able to accurately claim even more irony, as the people killed or injured by the missile did not actually have the opportunity to have voted to rejoin Mother Russia in the recent referendum.

Had that been the case, it would have thoroughly given the lie to Putin's rationale for his aggression against Ukraine in a particularly glaring manner. But even without that final touch, it still does so well enough.

October 10, 2022: Perhaps realizing their mistake of the previous day, Russian forces launched missiles at civilians in Kyiv, among other places in Ukraine. These attacks led to the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, announcing that he was "100% satisfied" with Russia's conduct of its "special military operation" in Ukraine, after previously being critical of it, due to setbacks.

Also, more than a dozen large airports in the United States were affected by cyberattacks apparently emanating from a Russian hacker group, Killnet. However, the impact appears to have been limited to the web sites of these airports.

October 11, 2022: Missile strikes against Ukraine continue, this time with more than 40 Ukrainian cities targeted. This appears to confirm an earlier report from the English-language service of Polish state television, TVP World, that Russia had been preparing its current missile attack on Ukraine in advance of the explosion on the Kerch Bridge, and thus these attacks are not actually retaliation for the explosion, but would have taken place in any case.

A statement by the deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council, Aleksander Venediktov, that Ukraine becoming a member of NATO would cause the current conflict with Ukraine to escalate into World War III was widely reported as a new nuclear threat from Russia. In fact, this has been acknowledged all along by Western nations, which is why the admission of Ukraine to NATO can only happen when, for whatever reason, it is no longer currently in the midst of a conflict. Then, the guarantee of escalation will be a good thing rather than a bad thing, as it would prevent any future conflict from starting.

October 18, 2022: Kevin McCarthy, House minority leader, states that if the Republicans obtain control of the House of Representatives (as they did), the Administration would not recieve a "blank check" when it came to money for Ukraine.

If all this meant was that there would be responsible oversight of assistance to Ukraine to ensure the American taxpayer's money was not wasted, who could argue with it? But because of the behavior of the Republican Party under Obama and under Trump, dark suspicions that this could mean, in practice, that Ukraine will be held hostage in order to force prosecutions of former President Donald Trump to be abandoned, are hard to avoid.

October 19, 2022: Damage to a number of Ukrainian power plants by Russian missile attacks and shelling raises concern that a "humanitarian catastrophe" could take place in Ukraine with people unable to heat their homes.

October 24, 2022: The Russian state-run broadcaster Russia Today suspended Anton Krasovsky for saying, on-air, that Ukrainian children ought to be "thrown in a river with a strong undercurrent" or burned alive. It was even stated that there will be an investigation to determine if a violation of Russia's hate speech laws took place. Given the nature of earlier statements by Russian nationalists during the course of this "special military operation", it is, if anything, surprising to learn that even Russia has its limits; however, this suspension took place as the result of a negative popular reaction to the statement, rather than at the initiative of the broadcaster, so the limits are those of the Russian people, not their government.

Also, Russian officials claim that Ukraine is planning to detonate a "dirty bomb" in a false-flag operation. This claim is not taken seriously in the West, but it raises fears that Russia is laying the groundwork for evading responsibility after it uses such a weapon against Ukraine.

As well, on that day, a statement signed by Pramila Jayapal, Alexandria Occasio-Cortez, and 28 other members of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party was released which called for the United States to immediately begin negotiations with Russia on the Ukraine conflict.

This statement was met with a shocked reaction, both in Ukraine and in the United States; but a quick correction was issued, to the effect that this was a draft document which was inadvertently released, and which no longer reflected the thinking of its signatories, due to changes in the situation in the conflict.

October 26, 2022: Anton Krasovsky may possibly face consequences for his over-enthusiasm in the Russian cause. Now, accusations are coming from Russia that either or both the U.S. and Ukraine instructed him to make his extreme remarks to serve their propaganda goals.

October 27, 2022: It is widely reported that Vladimir Putin gave a speech in which he accused the West of playing a "dangerous, bloody, and dirty game" related to the conflict in Ukraine.

This speech was given at the Valdai Discussion Club, which is claimed to be a "think tank" for the political forces in Russia sympathetic to Putin.

If one examines the full text of this speech, it contained a number of statements which would appear peculiar to many in the West.

The speech was given during a four-day session with the name "A Post-Hegemonic World: Justice and Security for Everyone".

Thus, he said that the West always seeks "to aggravate matters", listing "the stoking of war in Ukraine, the provocations around Taiwan, and the destabilization of global food and energy markets".

Provocations around Taiwan? But perhaps he finds Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan to be provocative, and the various military drills near Taiwan, which are generally seen in the West to be of an intimidating character, to be entirely legitimate.

Stoking of war in Ukraine? In the West, we think that the only cause of war in Ukraine is that Putin decided to wage one to satisfy his own ego. But the West did support a change of government in Ukraine that Putin wasn't happy with. So, if the war was the West's fault, then so would be the resultant "destabilization of global food and energy markets".

He went on to say "But this game is certainly dangerous, bloody and, I would say, dirty. It denies the sovereignty of countries and peoples, their identity and uniqueness, and tramples upon other statesí interests." Given Russian statements about how Ukraine is not a real nation distinct from Russia, given that Russian troops entered Ukraine to engage in hostilities, which is, of course, the most fundamental form of disrespect for a nation's sovereignty, it's hard to regard such a statement as anything but risible.

And he went on to note that the West was distracting the world from such important real concerns as global warming and biodiversity. That the war in Ukraine has distracted from these is, of course, quite true, but the argument is about who is responsible for there being a war in Ukraine.

But he claims that the West seeks absolute global dominance, and the differences the West is trying to wipe out other forms of genuinely representative government in terms of their own model:

"For many years, Western ideologists and politicians have been telling the world there was no alternative to democracy. Admittedly, they meant the Western-style, the so-called liberal model of democracy. They arrogantly rejected all other variants and forms of government by the people and, I want to emphasize this, did so contemptuously and disdainfully."

That Russia's government is an example of another form of government by the people, of course, does not seem plausible, with the events of December 12, 2007 noted above as just one example making it clear why, nor is it believable that the government of the People's Republic of China is an example of another form of government by the people. But Vladimir Putin, it must be admitted, is not the only person who says such things.

As an example of the point he was making, he said: "For example, the Hungarian MPsí July proposals to codify the commitment to European Christian values and culture in the Treaty on European Union were taken not even as an affront, but as an outright and hostile act of sabotage." Of course, given that it is the side of liberal democracy that reacted in this way, the reaction is not surprising. While Europe is indeed a predominantly Christian continent, and it should celebrate its values and culture, placing a direct reference to them in the laws would run the risk of promoting inequality and discrimination.

However, Putin went on, "There is no need to cancel anything, be it Christian values, Islamic values or Jewish values. We have other world religions as well. All you need to do is respect each other." Here, he was not contradicting himself, because his claim that the reaction to the proposal of the Hungarian members of the European Parliament was unjustified rests upon the premise that it was not in any way an open proclamation of Christian supremacism. And in this, he is correct: it was not. Where he is being disingenuous is in ignoring that this reaction was out of vigilance against even beginning movement in the direction of the "old days" where inequality was pervasive and accepted as inevitable.

And one example of how the West, unlike Russia, does not respect the rights of other nations to develop and represent their people in government according to their own cultures was outlined in this: "If the Western elites believe they can have their people and their societies embrace what I believe are strange and trendy ideas like dozens of genders or gay pride parades, so be it. Let them do as they please. But they certainly have no right to tell others to follow in their steps."

Such a statement may strike a responsive chord in some, as it is understandable that many will be uncomfortable with a recent change in our understanding of what equality should include. But since liberalism also tries to forbid, for example, the persecution of religious minorities (which Putin, elsewhere, seemed to be against) the notion that one can't really have democracy without having individual rights that protect everyone seems sound to me.

October 29, 2022: Russia suspends an agreement which allowed grain to be shipped from Ukraine so as to prevent the war from disrupting the world's food supply, citing a drone attack on their Black Sea Fleet in Crimea as the reason.

November 2, 2022: Russia returns to the grain deal.

November 11, 2022: Reports claim that Aleksandr Dugin called for Putin's ouster because of the withdrawal of Russian forces from Kherson in Ukraine. These reports were based on an anonymous letter on the Russian Tsargrad website, alleged to have been his work. Although it did not mention Putin by name, it did say that the military commanders involved were not to blame, but rather that autocracy is a natural response to the nation reaching a critical point; if the autocrat does harsh things, that may be unpleasant, but if the nation is saved, that is what is important. If it is not saved, then "the fate of the 'king of the rains' awaits [the autocrat]"; this was an allusion to Frazer's "The Golden Bough".

Not only did he say that anyone who wasn't deeply hurt by the loss of Kherson was not a Russian, but he concluded that this loss was "not [merely] a betrayal, [but] a step towards Armageddon" - because a Western victory in the conflict in Ukraine would be so unacceptable (he refers to the West as "this civilization of Satan") that the use of nuclear weapons by Russia would be inevitable.

This could be interpreted not as a call for people to overthrow and execute Putin now as a result of the fall of Kherson, but rather as a prediction of what would happen following a final Russian defeat.

In any case, there has been no news of any immediate consequences for Aleksandr Dugin in the following days.

November 15, 2022: An explosion in Przewodów, Poland, killed two people. It is believed to have been caused by a missile involved in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia that went the wrong way. A statement by President Biden noted that NATO surveillance aircraft in the area had tracked the missile's trajectory, and the information from this seemed to indicate that it was unlikely the missile came from Russia. As well, analysis of images of the wreckage of the missile indicated that some of the fragments were from the 48D6 motor of the FV55-series missile of the S-300 air defense system, which would make it a Ukrainian missile.

As well, a news report surfaced that the Zambian government had been notified of the death of one of their citizens in September, Lemekhani Nyirenda.

He had been working as a courier, and as he had been given a parcel containing drugs, and the police could not find the person who gave them to him, he was convicted and jailed without any proof that he knew what was in the parcel.

From a Russian jail, he was conscripted to serve in the war against Ukraine, where he died.

November 16, 2022: In a disaster for humanity, the Republican Party achieved control of the House of Representatives in the United States after the November 8th mid-term elections. As it is the House of Representatives that has the spending power within the U.S. government, this is expected to interfere with continued U.S. aid to Ukraine in its heroic struggle to survive.

Colonel Vadim Boyko, deputy head of the Vladivostok Pacific Naval College, involved in the Russian mobilization for that country's invasion of Ukraine, was found dead in the morning; official news accounts in Russia claim that he committed suicide, but these accounts are being met with skepticism.

November 17, 2022: Several Republicans from the House of Representatives, including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, held a news conference in which they made statements expressing an intent to halt, or severely limit, American assistance to Ukraine in the current conflict.

December 15, 2022: In response to messages by the Government of Canada on Twitter about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the mobilization of additional soldiers to that end, Oleg Stepanov, Russia's ambassador to Canada, made this statement:

We live in a free country. There are no travel restrictions for individuals. Hoever, all jokes aside, I can state only one thing in this context: I pity them. Cowards can neither be Russians nor citizens of our country. To be Russian is to stay with your country in the face of challenges. Regardless of one's political views. When your national army is fighting, you have no moral alternative but to stand by it. Those who have left are just a dried-up husk of a man, dust in the wind. It is that very case when the history separates the wheat from the chaff.

Of course, while such words would be fine words if Russia were indeed defending itself from aggression, when the reality is that Russia is conducting a cruel and completely unprovoked aggression against a peaceful neighbor, they are so divorced from reality as to deserve nothing but mockery.

History has all the time needed in so obvious a situation to separate the wheat - Zelensky, and the heroic Ukrainian people - from the chaff - Putin, and his accomplices in aggression.

December 17, 2022: In an interview, John Bolton says what most of us ought to have suspected all along: if Donald Trump had been re-elected in 2020, Russia's forces would be in Kiev by now.

December 21, 2022: Volodymyr Zelensky visits the United States to address a joint session of Congress.

Representative Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, did not attend the address, and explained his reasons on Twitter: he did not choose to listen to a lobbyist for Ukraine.

A presentation involving both Vladimir Putin and Sergei Shoigu announced plans to increase the size of Russia's armed forces to 1.5 million soldiers, to place emphasis on enhancing Russia's nuclear capabilities, and to include placing more forces on the border with Finland.

December 22, 2022: Fox News host Tucker Carlson weighed in on Volodomyr Zelensky's appearance before Congress. As Zelensky was in casual wear instead of formal wear, Carlson opined that he should have been "thrown out" of Congress, and that he had the appearance of "the manager of a strip club, demanding money".

As the freedom, not just of Ukraine, but of the Baltic states, of Finland, and indeed, all of Europe is hanging in the balance, it will be remembered which side Tucker Carlson and Thomas Massie, among others, chose to take.

January 13, 2023: A natural gas pipeline between Lithuania and Latvia is damaged by an explosion. This occurred on the day when Lithuania remembers the casualties of the confrontation with Soviet troops after its independence in 1991. The possibility of deliberate sabotage is under investigation.

Also on that date, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused the chief of staff of the Ukrainian President of falsifying history, by referring to Sergei Korolev, the "Chief Designer" of the Soviet space program, as Ukrainian, claiming that the only Ukrainian thing about him was where he was born. In fact, he was ethnically Ukrainian, he lived and worked in the Ukraine until he was 19, and used the Ukrainian language into his old age in addition to Russian, which he certainly did know well.

Interestingly enough, on December 19 of the preceding year, a pop music video celebrating the destructive power of the new Sarmat missile being prepared for deployment ended with a shot of a monument to Sergei Korolev, thanking him for making it possible.

January 14, 2023: Dimitri Medvedev, the man who filled in for Vladimir Putin much the same way as Lurleen Wallace filled in for George Wallace, in response to a joint statement from U. S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, stating the firmness of their opposition against any use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine by Russia, accused the Japanese Prime Minister of a shameful subservience to the United States, and suggested that such shame could only be dealt with through the Japanese Prime Minister performing seppuku, the Japanese ritual suicide by disembowlment also known in the West as hara-kiri.

January 23, 2023: South Africa hosted an official visit from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and as well defended the decision to host a joint naval exercise with Russia and the People's Republic of China in February.

January 25, 2023: After some delays, Germany has agreed to supply its Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

February 20, 2023: The President of the United States of America, Joseph Robinette Biden, visited war-torn Ukraine. While there, he gave a speech in which an additional $500 million of American assistance to Ukraine was announced, and he also pledged that the United States would stand with Ukraine for "as long as it takes". Of course, some might criticize the accuracy of that statement, as it may take longer than the United States has until its next electiion, and the position of the Republican Party appears less steadfast.

Earlier that same day, Vladimir Putin gave his annual address to the Russian nation, in which he claimed that Russia was fighting for its own survival, and had no designs against the Ukranian people whatever; instead, it was the West that was holding Ukraine hostage.

It is difficult to categorize such remarks. In the beginning, I could make the joke that Putin was trying to prove himself a greater comedian than Zelensky. Of course, though, it is really Josef Goebbels who came to mind.

It is necessary to remember that these remarks are aimed at the Russian people, who have been deprived of access to outside sources of information. Even so, this appears to be a shift in Russian propaganda from the merely mendacious to the openly surreal.

February 28, 2023: Since Russia is struggling for its survival against a "degenerate West" that seeks to destroy it, according to Vladimir Putin, he has enacted a law requiring Russian civil servants, when on the job, to avoid using unnecessary foreign words.

March 9, 2023: Russia made use of its Klinzhai hypersonic missiles in a missile attack on Ukraine on this day. This was considered wasteful, but it did dramatize that even the United States and its allies in NATO would find it difficult to intercept these missiles. And here I thought that Klinzhai was the homeworld of the Klingons, while Russia had Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles. Perhaps the story I read was distorted by a spellchecker.

March 10, 2023: Poland has adopted legislation to use the name "Krolewiec" to refer to the portion of East Prussia that currently belongs to Russia, instead of the name Kaliningrad. This area contains the city of Königsberg, famous for a topological problem solved by Euler. The Russian name honors Mikhail Kalinin, who was one of those responsible for the infamous Katyn massacre.

Personally, I would prefer the name Sudovia for the region, to identify it as (part of) the national homeland of the speakers of the Old Prussian language. However, Sudovian is a language related to Old Prussian, and so there may be a more accurate toponym available, even if I have not yet found it.

March 12, 2023: Protests against Moldova's new government appear to have been influenced by Russia, with a view to causing instability in that country, as its new government favors the West. At least, arrests have been made of purported Russian agents. Transnistria, one of the few countries that, like Belarus, is an ally of Russia, is a breakaway region of Moldova. And Moldova is a part of Romania that was seized by the Soviet Union; only recently have there been moves to acknowledge that the language spoken in Moldoava is Romanian rather than a different one to be called Moldovan.

March 13, 2023: A petition has been submitted to the Ukrainian government to henceforth refer to Russia as "Muscovy", on the basis that the name "Russia" falsely appropriates to that country continuity with the history of Kievan Rus'.

March 25, 2023: Vladimir Putin announces plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

April 2, 2023: Maxim Fomin, who operated a blog praising the Russian aggression in Ukraine under the name Vladlen Tatarsky, was killed, apparently by a bomb inside a bust of himself presented as a gift. Others inside the Street Food Bar Number 1 café at the time were also injured; however, they were attending a "patriotic discussion" event at which Fomin was the featured speaker, this targeted assassination does not seem to be a terrorist act, as initially it appeared to be from initial news accounts.

April 21, 2023: Lu Shaye, Chinese ambassador to France, stated in a television interview "Even these ex-Soviet Union countries do not have effective status, as we say, under international law, because there's no international accord to concretise their status as a sovereign country."

This remark aroused considerable criticism, as at least in the Western world, the status of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Moldova, and even Belarus as sovereign and independent states had not been seen as questionable in any way.

All those countries are members of the United Nations, and thus they are protected from aggression by the terms of the UN Charter.

Although Ukraine and Belarus had been historically part of the Russian Empire before the Soviet Union was formed, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were independent nations that were annexed by the Soviet Union in June 1940 in an act of aggression, which was not recognized as legitimate by the United States.

Prior to 1918, Moldova was part of the Russian Empire. It was part of Romania from then until it was invaded by the Soviet Union on June 28, 1940.

China subsequently, without directly criticizing the ambassador, stated that he was expressing a personal opinion, and that China recognizes the sovereignity of those countries.

April 24, 2023: Rieaz Shaik, South African envoy to Canada, in an interview stated that he found it shocking that Canada was not engaging in dialogue about peace negotiations for the Russia-Ukraine war. While he emphasized that he opposed Russia's violation of the territory of Ukraine, his position was that war is never the answer, and Russia's security concerns need to be understood.

I, and many others, find such a position bewildering, since Russia's behavior has proven that its goal in Ukraine is to impose a puppet government on the Ukrainian people, and so Russia's "security concerns" are simply another lie from Vladimir Putin, who lied about not intending to invade Ukraine.

May 9, 2023: In Moscow, the Victory Day parade was held. The parade itself included less military equipment than usual, because much of Russia's military equipment was in use for what its government refers to as its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin gave a speech. In it, he claimed that the West was waging a "real war" against Russia, and so the world was at a "decisive turning point" as a result, which he compared to the way the result of World War II was decisive for the world's history.

This is, of course, a continuation of what he has said in many previous statements, essentially that his unprovoked aggression against peaceful Ukraine constituted a defense of Russia.

But in addition, by claiming that a victory for the freedom and independence of Ukraine would be equivalent to the victory of Nazi tyranny, it dramatically demonstrated the extent to which Putin was willing to make statements which were the polar opposite of the truth, recalling the motto "Freedom is Slavery" from the steps of the Ministry of Truth in 1984.

Recognition of that aggression for what it actually is, and stalwart opposition to it, and solidarity with the people of Ukraine, was characterized by him as "Russophobia", that is, a form of bigotry against the Russian people, which, again, should come as no surprise.

May 23, 2023: A 17th Century map by Guillaume Sanson was presented to Vladimir Putin by Valery Zorkin, who claimed that this map did not depict Ukraine, which was confirmation of the Russian notion that the Ukrainian nation did not exist prior to the creation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic by the Soviet Union.

In fact, though, that particular map had an area on it clearly labelled "Ukraine, ou Pays des Cosaques", Ukraine, or the land of the Cossacks.

May 24, 2023: In an interview, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group of mercenaries which is considered to be the most effective Russian fighting force in Ukraine, stated that the conflict in Ukraine could "end just as it did in 1917, with a revolution", if Russia failed to achieve victory.

May 28, 2023: Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, criticized American plans to permit allies to supply F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, to permit it to more effectively defend its airspace, as an "unacceptable escalation" of the conflict, also criticizing the West's "reckless" support for the Ukrainian government, which he claimed was a "neo-Nazi" regime.

Also, Yevgeny Prigozhin expressed surprise that Russian media no longer reports on the statements he makes, when, of course, it is a long-standing Russian tradition not to permit public discussion of a future without the current leader, one that goes back to the Tsars.

June 2, 2023: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Ukraine was ready to begin its counter-offensive, but warned that casualties could be high. Earlier, on May 27, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine announced Ukrainian readiness for the counter-offensive.

June 4, 2023: Shortly after the Ukrainian announcement, Russia announced it had thwarted the Ukrainian counter-offensive, although it was unclear that one had begun.

June 5, 2023: The Nova Kakhova dam in Kherson was breached, leading to the danger of widespread flooding. Ukraine has claimed this was due to an attack by Russia, and this attack has been characterized as a war crime by others outside Ukraine. (Russia has blamed Ukraine, but has also claimed the extent of the damage was limited.) The dam is one of the possible crossings of the Dnipro, along with bridges that are known to have been destroyed by Russia to impede any Ukrainian advance. In addition to interfering with supplies of water to farmers from the dam's reservoir, it may also interfere with the supply of water for the cooling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, and the supply of water to the Russian-occupied Crimea.

June 6, 2023: A report in the Washington Post claimed that the CIA was aware of a Ukrainian plan to sabotage the Nord Stream 2 pipeline some three months prior to the explosion that put it out of operation. Since such a report could damage relations between Ukraine and Germany, it may be felt that disclosing such matters is irresponsible in a time of war.

June 23, 2023: There are reports of a failed attempt by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group, to overthrow Putin in Russia. Since his motive was presumably to cause Russia to become more committed to victory in the war against Ukraine, had he succeeded, this would not be an improvement. Since the Wagner Group was one of the more effective components of the forces attacking Ukraine, that this failed coup will lead to Russia losing this component of its forces would seem to be one positive result, as is any indication that the Putin regime is weak or vulnerable. It is, of course, too much to hope for that Putin would take advantage of the face-saving way of leaving Ukraine with which this provides him: he could now claim that the whole invasion of Ukraine was Prigozhin's idea!

I have seen a report that before this coup attempt, Prigozhin claimed that many of his soldiers were killed by a strike from the regular Russian military, which is why his forces attacked Rostov, where the headquarters of the army are located. If so, it is possible this coup attempt was an act of desperation rather than one of suicidal madness. And, also, in that case, Shoigu as well as Prigozhin is not loyal to Putin, and so he will need to fill two vacancies soon.

June 24, 2023: A report now claims that Yevgeny Prigozhin has ordered his forces to retreat to their field camps in Ukraine to "avoid shedding Russian blood", and a statement from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's office states he has negotiated a deal with Prigozhin. Thus, the crisis may have been defused, although current reports do not take this as certain yet.

Now that this indeed seems to be what has happened, it appears that however brief his remaining life in Belarus may be, and despite being a wanted war criminal in the rest of the world, in Russia, Prigozhin has secured for himself the status of a... folk hero, given both the manner of his exit, and his reception in Rostov-on-Don when his forces arrived.

Many commentators are saying that the events of these two days, as they indicate weakness on the part of Vladimir Putin, mean that his days as ruler of Russia are numbered. While that is an understandable conclusion, it may still be premature. While the dozens of mysterious deaths of oligarchs, being cowardly murders, are also, in a different way, a sign of weakness, it does mean that rather than being surrounded by hungry sharks, Putin may have few opponents to worry about.

Of course, his real worry may not be that kind of opponent, but rather being openly dismissed through the normal Russian political process, on the basis of his failure in the "special military operation". As he is the President of Russia, and not its Prime Minister, however, it is not as if he could be dismissed through a simple non-confidence motion; he would have to be impeached, presumably, which would be a far more difficult process.

And I am quite sure that anyone contemplating a rebellion against Vladimir Putin realizes that Prigozhin being apparently allowed to go off to Belarus was a very unique circumstance, and it in no way indicates that Putin is going to be merciful to the next rebel who fails. Thus, that doesn't indicate an exploitable weakness. Particularly as no one having an army with which to advance on Moscow seems at all likely to be among Putin's opponents.

Yes, the fact that this happened at all has exposed that Putin is not, perhaps, as strong or invincible as he seemed to be. But we don't know what kind of consequences this will have, if any. Certainly, we can hope that it is indeed the beginning of the end for his regime. But our optimism should be guarded.

July 5, 2023: Viktor Lukashenko announced that Yevgeny Prigozhin had paid a visit to Russia. On this visit, according to reports, he retrieved weapons and money for Wagner forces in Belarus, and also retrieved a personal item, a Glock pistol given to him as an award by Russia's military.

Commentators have noted this as evidence that Putin is even weaker than they thought, while at least one other instead advanced the notion that Putin, by allowing this, was showing he no longer had anything to fear from Prigozhin.

I am hesitant to read anything into this development, as to me it seems so bizarre as to border on the impossible.

July 10, 2023: And now the Kremlin tells us that, after the rebellion, there was a meeting between Putin and Prigozhin. At this point, I think we are being prepared for Wagner, including Prigozhin, to return to the fight against Ukraine, but from Belarus.

July 16, 2023: Am attack on the Kerch bridge from Russia to occupied Crimea led to the closure of one of the lanes on that bridge in one direction. Eventually, it was officially acknowledged that this attack on the bridge was performed by Ukraine's navy.

July 17, 2023: Russia announces it will not renew the deal allowing for Ukraine to export grain by sea. This has been criticized as likely to create serious food shortages in many countries.

July 29, 2023: At a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, Donald J. Trump asserted that the Biden Administration, through the FBI, Department of Justice, and IRS were witholding information with respect to the charges President Biden's son Hunter is facing, and stated that further aid to Ukraine should be withheld until this obstruction ends.

And, furthermore, he advocated that any Republicans who were unwilling to withhold military aid to Ukraine for this reason should face a challenge in the primaries.

To hold the freedom of the people of Ukraine hostage, based on an impossible demand for the Biden administration to stop doing somethint that it is not doing in the first place, and to use threats to bludgeon Republicans in Congress to join in this effort, is, of course, reprehensible and contemptible.

August 6, 2023: Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, referred to a peace conference being held in Sa'udi Arabia as being part of "futile, doomed efforts" to win over at least some of the nations of the Global South to support of Volodomyr Zelensky's conditions for an end to the conflict in Ukraine.

August 17, 2023: Aleksandr Lukashenko, President of Belarus, as part of an interview by a journalist made available on YouTube, pleaded with Ukraine not to continue the war with Russia, but instead accept its terms for peace, as failing to do so could lead to the country losing all its territory, and thus ceasing to exist, being absorbed by Russia (although the possibility of a part of Western Ukraine being grabbed by Poland was also mentioned).

August 23, 2023: A private plane crashed in Russia, killing ten people, one of whom was Yevgeny Prigozhin. Even if this was a tragic accident, given past events in Russia involving people falling out of windows, it will be understandable if no one believes that it was anything else but an assassination carried out on the orders of Vladimir Putin. That others also died, while useful to provide an appearance of deniability, cannot really be said to matter to his sort.

Of course, there is also the alternative of his having faked his own death, in order to escape from the certain vengeance of Vladimir Putin...

Also aboard the plane were:

Dmitry Utkin, a major figure in the Wagner Group, believed to have come up with its name, and to have neo-Nazi leanings.

Valery Chekalov, a close business associate of Evgeny Prigozhin.

Yevgeny Makaryan, Nikolai Matusyev, Sergei Propustin, and Alexander Totmin: apparently, these men are Wagner fighters, possibly bodyguards for Prigozhin.

Alexei Levshin, 51, pilot; married with two children.

Rustam Karimov, 29, co-pilot: had celebrated his fourth wedding anniversary earlier this August.

Kristina Raspopova, 39, flight attendant. An internet posting by her is said to have stated that the airplane which would later crash was unexpectedly delayed prior to its takeoff, leading to speculation that this delay was to place an explosive device in the plane.

August 24, 2023: Vladimir Putin expressed apparent dismay at the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a "talented man" who "made serious mistakes".

August 25, 2023: Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov informed the world that an investigation is being carried out concerning the plane crash that killed Yevgeny Prigozhin and nine others, and that Western speculations that Putin had anything to do with it were, of course, all lies.

Also, on this date Pope Francis addressed a conference of Catholic youth in St. Petersburg within Russia by a video link. Given that the conference was organized and attended by people in Russia, he sought to present a message through inoccuous remarks, and thus he told the attendees that they could still be proud of being Russian, as the country had accomplishments to point to from the time of the Tsars. As the Russian Empire of old was guilty of aggression against the same neighbors that the Soviet Union was, and that Putin has either committed aggression against or threatened, these remarks were strongly criticized by some. The obvious subtext, that Russia's current activities in Ukraine are not something to be proud of, earned no credit with these critics.

August 30, 2023: A remark by Dimitry Peskov that one version of the events of the plane crash that killed Prigozhin was that it was a "deliberate crime", as reported by Russian news outlet RBC, is treated in some Western news reports as an admission of the Investigative Committe that the plane was downed by a missile.

It would be startling if that did turn out to be the official conclusion, as then the explanation for where the missile came from would be difficult to imagine. Fired by a Ukrainian spy? Or is Sergei Shoigu going to leave a note behind after he falls out of an open window?

It would be so much simpler if the version of events that has the plane suffering an accidental mechanical failure is found to be the true one, even if it is claimed that other versions of events were given due consideration, and that, I believe, is how the statement should be treated: as a claim that the possibility of a "deliberate atrocity" is being considered, not as an admission that one is what happened.

September 7, 2023: North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced the launch of its first submarine capable of launching nuclear missiles. These missiles were described as "tactical" in nature; the submarine appears to have four launch tubes for one type of missile, and six for another type. The submarine is diesel powered, not nuclear powered.

The submarine is named the Hero Kim Kun Ok. Kim Kun-Ok, along with Chae Jong-Bo, are two naval officers from the first generation of North Korea's naval forces who commanded ships and died in the line of duty. I have not been able to find further information about Kim Kun-Ok online as of this time, but this suggests that if a second companion ship is made to join the Hero Kim Kun Ok, it may well be called the Hero Chae Jong Bo.

September 11, 2023: At the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Vladimir Putin acknowledged that the invasions of Hungary on October 23, 1956, and of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968 by the Soviet Union were mistakes. He went on, however, to compare Western support of Ukraine to these Soviet crimes.

It is certainly true that these two Soviet invasions were vicious crimes against humanity, but by claiming to acknowledge that they were mistakes, while actively engaged in an even worse intrusion into Ukraine, clearly this is merely an attempt to claim the invasion of Ukraine is somehow different and somehow justified.

September 12, 2023: At the Eastern Economic Forum, held in Vladivostok, Vladimir Putin declares that the legal difficulties Donald Trump is facing are the "political persecution of a political rival". The motives of his remark, are however, transparent, as he continued: "As for the persecution of Trump, I believe that everything happening at the moment is good. Because it demonstrates the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy."

Since Russia pretends to be a democracy, but is really a one-party state ruled by Putin, these remarks are simply part of propaganda aimed to distract from that, and help to allow people to be fooled into thinking that Russia is the real democracy.

September 13, 2023: On a visit to Russia, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un referred to Russia's brutal and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine as follows:

"Russia is waging a sacred fight to defend its sovereignity, security interests and justice."

Some sources gave "just" instead of "sacred". Either way, of course, it seems startlingly removed from the truth.

There are concerns that North Korea might usefully supply Russia with such things as artillery shells, at least in the short term. This would be in violation of UN sanctions; as Russia and North Korea are both under fairly broad sanctions regimes, it is unclear if any further action that could be taken would have a serious impact.

News reports of Kim Jong-Un's journey note that he travelled to, and in, Russia on his luxurious armored train - referred to in the singular, as opposed to there being one train he uses to visit Russia, and a different train for travels within Korea and visits to China. Given that the railroads of North Korea, like those of the People's Republic of China, use standard gauge (4 feet and 8 1/2 inches, or 1435 mm) while those of Russia use a wider gauge (originally 5 feet, 1524 mm, but changed to 1520 mm in 1970), it may be wondered how this was achieved.

However, in the North Korean city of Tumangan, there is a bogie exchange facility which is used to allow a regular passenger train with sleeper cars to make trips, twice a month, between Moscow and Pyongyang. Bogie exchange is the practice of swapping the undercarriage platforms of cars on a train, which include the wheels, for another set for use on a different rail gauge. A different locomotive, built for the different rail gauge, is then used to pull the train along the rest of its journey.

September 15, 2023: Ukraine's military intelligence has claimed to have learned from multiple sources that Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, and more recently, of the Chechen forces in Ukraine, which, like the Wagner group forces, have been more effective than the regular Russian army, is critically ill, and in a coma. Rumors about him being in poor health have been circulating for some time, however, only to be contradicted by later public appearances by Kadyrov, and so there remains uncertainty about this.

Since he has been consistently loyal to Putin, and now the loss of Prigozhin has reduced the effectiveness of Wagner forces in Ukraine, it appears very unlikely that his illness is due, say, to a poisoning instigated by Putin, even if this is a thought that naturally comes to mind, given his apparent involvement in Evgeny Prigozhin's fate. Destroying one's only remaining effective force in Ukraine is hardly the way to win the war being fought there, which, however unrealistic a goal it may be, appears to remain Putin's goal, given that he continues to fight that war.

September 22, 2023: During a visit by Volodomyr Zelensky to Canada, the Speaker of the House introduced, from the visitor gallery, Yaroslav Hunka, as a Canadian who had previously fought on behalf of Ukraine.

Later, it was noted that he was part of the First Ukrainian Division, also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division or the SS 14th Waffen Division, and, as a result, Speaker Anthony Rota apologized for his error, following a request from the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.

However, the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in Edmonton has a statue of Roman Shukhevych, who was also part of this division; so it is not certain that an actual error was made; it could be that Yaroslav Hunka is regarded as a hero by Canada's Ukrainian community. Of course Nazism was a terrible evil, but one must remember the desperate position of the Ukrainian nation, caught between the Nazis on the one hand, and Stalin's Communist regime on the other, which had only recently inflicted the Holodomor on Ukraine. That Ukrainian patriots would desperately grasp at any hope for escaping from Russian rule is not to be wondered at.

September 23, 2023: Sergey Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, said in a speech at the United Nations: "The U.S. and its subordinate Western collective are continuing to fuel conflicts which divide humanity into hostile blocs and hamper the achievement of overall aims. They're doing everything they can to prevent the formatiion of a genuine multipolar world order."

Ah, yes, like the conflict going on in Ukraine, which was ignited by Russia choosing to invade it and bomb its civilians because they had the temerity to overthrow a puppet government that revealed it was heading towards tyranny. By helping Ukraine prevent Russia from succeding in its aim of conquest, the United States is fuelling the conflict in the view he presents.

October 4, 2023: The fallout from the standing ovation that Yaroslav Hunka recieved in the House of Commons continues. The Governor-General's office has now issued a statement of regret for the Order of Canada having been awarded, in 1987, to Peter Savaryn. He was chancellor of the University of Alberta from 1982 to 1987, and the president of the Ukrainian World Congress, then known as the World Congress of Free Ukrainians from 1983 to 1988. Like Yaroslav Hunka, he was a member of the Waffen-SS Galician Division before coming to Canada. As membership in the Order of Canada expires when the recipient is deceased, no administrative action has been taken.

October 5, 2023: Well, we can all breathe easier now. Vladimir Putin has just told us that the mystery of the airplane disaster in which Yevgeny Prigozhin lost his life has been solved: someone on board the airplane apparently was handling hand grenades in a careless manner, and one went off, since hand grenade fragments have been found in some of the bodies.

October 7, 2023: Another fiendish force of evil, the terrorist organization Hamas, launched an attack on Israel in which hundreds of civilians were murdered, and other Israeli civilian and military personnel were taken hostage. Not only is this distracting the world from Ukraine, but it is happening while the U.S. House of Representatives is without a Speaker, which interferes with the ability of the U.S. government to authorize expenditures.

October 15, 2023: Opposition parties in Poland appear to be headed to form the next government, as the former governing party, although having a plurality, does not have allied parties with enough votes to form a majority coalition.

Under the former government in Poland, the state television network, TVP, was noted as providing biased coverage of domestic political issues. This is particularly unfortunate since videos by TVP on YouTube in English have provided what seemed to me to be very good coverage of the Ukraine conflict, and so anything that compromises their reputation as a source is unfortunate.

November 8, 2023: Vivek Ramaswamy, a contender for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2024, said, during a televised debate involving the major contenders for that post other than Donald J. Trump (who is so far ahead that he, quite reasonably, felt that to take part would only confer more credibility on his competitors) that Ukraine "has celebrated a Nazi in its ranks, a comedian in cargo pants - a man called Zelensky".

As far as I know, Zelensky (who is, of course, Jewish) is not, and never has been, a member of the OUN, the militant Ukrainian patriotic organization with unfortunate historic links to the Waffen SS, which is what I can most charitably presume him to have meant in his confusion. And, for that matter, he also has been kept too busy by his duties in Ukraine to have gone off to bomb any civilians in Gaza... but given that the Republican Party has been cooperative in providing aid to Israel in responding to terroism, while dragging its feet on aid to Ukraine, this could not have possibly been what he meant. Such sentiments are instead found in certain quarters of the Democratic party which Republicans are wont to censure.

November 24, 2023: The German newspaper BILD published a report claiming that Germany and the United States are reducing arms supplies to Ukraine, with the aim of pressuring it into entering into negotiations with Russia. Other news outlets have given publicity to this report.

While there is pressure on United States arms supplies to Ukraine as a result of internal politics, due to opposition to them by a faction within the Republican Party, I am disposed to doubt this report, simply because I believe that it is clearly understood by the present government of the U.S. that negotiations with the Vladimir Putin regime in Russia have little prospect of being productive. That it may correctly reflect the thinking of the German government is, as far as I know, at least a possibility, but I am skeptical even of that.

December 14, 2023: In a news conference in Russia, Vladimir Putin stated that there will be no peace in Ukraine until Russia's goals are achieved there.

December 18, 2023: Imprisoned Putin critic Aleksei Navalny is located in a prison camp north of the Arctic Circle after his whereabouts had become unknown for several weeks; he had formerly been imprisoned in Moscow, and had been able to make statements to the press. This accompanied increased controls over the Internet access of ordinary Russians, and other measures, intended to ensure that in the upcoming Russian election, voices that Putin claims to be unpatriotic would not distract voters.

December 23, 2023: In a move that surprised no one, the Central Electoral Commission of Russia found errors in the documents submitted by Yekaterina Duntsova, who was attempting to become a candidate in Russia's upcoming Presidential election next year, running against Vladimir Putin on a platform supporting peace with Ukraine. This prevents her from continuing with the steps needed to become a candidate, such as collecting 300,000 signatures.

January 14, 2024: North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui arrives in Russia for talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov concerning closer ties between the two countries. To the rest of the world, this only underscores the depravity of both of these states.

January 17, 2024: Protests break out in Bashkhortostan after the sentencing of Bashkir activist Fail Alsynov for a speech he made in an unsanctioned rally criticizing the impact of gold mining operations on people in the area.

January 22, 2024: A news story about a Russian decree, signed by Putin late in the previous week, directing the Foreign Property Management Enterprise of Russia's Foreign Ministry to engage in searching for, registering, and providing legal protection to Russian claims of property owned by Russians in lands which were formerly under Russian control surfaces. It is noted that some Russian editorialists commented that Russia should start with Russian property in the state of Alaska. As background, some versions of the story noted that Putin had previously questioned the validity of the Russian sale of Alaska to the United States.

I should think, though, that it is clear that Putin is not planning any military adventures that would lead swiftly to World War III; he is simply making a gesture towards the United States because he is unhappy with its support for Ukraine. Thus, we cannot expect vindication for Sarah Palin.

February 8, 2024: Boris Nadezhdin, another independent candidate for President of Russia who opposed the war, became unable to run because a large number of signatures on his required petition were found to be invalid by Russia's chief electoral body... surprising no one. Also, Vladimir Putin gives a rare interview to disgraced American... journalist does not seem like the right word... Tucker Carlson. Television personality?

February 14, 2024: The United States government gave briefings both to politicians in Congress and to its allies concerning a serious national security threat posed by Russia. While the nature of that threat was not officially disclosed, news reports identified it as a nuclear anti-satellite weapon.

February 15, 2024: Alexei Navalny has passed away, and reaction around the world shows that there is no doubt but that the manner in which Putin chose to have him imprisoned is responsible.

February 20, 2024: North Korean state media acknowledged the gift of a Russian-made car to Kim Jong-Un as a sign of the close relations between the two countries. However, Kim Jong-Un already has a Rolls-Royce and other Western luxury cars that were smuggled into North Korea. Still, it may prove useful as technology that is closer to what North Korea is able to duplicate. (As this was said to have been announced "on Tuesday", and I first heard of it on February 19, I originally thought that this meant it happened on February 13. In fact, it was just that due to time zones, it was February 19 where I am, in Edmonton, Alberta, but it was already Tuesday, February 20, in Korea.)

March 10, 2024: A transcript of an interview with Pope Francis on Italy's public broadcasting network RSI was released, in which he called for Ukraine to have the courage to negotiate with Russia under a flag of truce. This resulted in sharp criticism, perhaps partly because he referred to the flag of truce as a "white flag", usually thought of as the flag of surrender.

March 15, 2024: Elections, which will run for three days, have begun in Russia. EU President Charles Michel congratulated Vladimir Putin in advance on his landslide victory, as these elections began, to underscore the point that these elections are neither fair nor free, but instead have a predetermined outcome.

March 22, 2024: About 40 people have been killed, and about 145 people were wounded in an attack on a concert by Picnic in the Moscow area for which the terrorist organization ISIS has claimed responsibility. The attack consisted of several armed men shooting into the crowd with automatic weapons, as well as the use of at least one grenade or incendiary device.

The United States had intelligence that some sort of attack was to take place in Russia which it shared with Russian officials; one report claims that it was dismissed by Vladimir Putin.

Presumably, ISIS did not do this out of solidarity with Ukraine. The attacks on civilians in Chechnya by Russia would be a possible motive for such an attack, but news reports did not include any rationale. The group responsible for the attack was the chapter of ISIS in Afghanistan, which suggests the Russian invasion of Afghanistan might have been a motivation, but their statement simply said that the operation killed some Christians, which implies they might attack again somewhere else entirely, such as in Western Europe.

I have since learned that the most likely motivation was Russia's role in supporting the Assad regime in Syria against its various opponents, one of which was ISIS. Also, Putin has continued trying to place blame on Ukraine for the attack, leading to speculation that Russia will use it as an excuse for further atrocities in Ukraine.

March 28, 2024: Russia uses its veto at the UN Security Council to end the monitoring of UN sanctions against North Korea by the UN.

April 12, 2024: The United States is now claiming that the People's Republic of China is providing direct aid to Russia in its war against Ukraine. The U.S. government is so far warning only of sanctions against individual Chinese firms, including banks, if they become involved in this, not of subjecting the entire country to comprehensive sanctions.

April 13, 2024: General Oleksandr Syrski noted that the military situation on Ukraine's eastern front with Russian forces has deteriorated in recent days, partly due to a new Russian offensive. Ukrainian forces are also experiencing shortages of ammunition due to Republican forces in the United States obstructing aid to Ukraine.

April 20, 2024: The obstruction to aid for Ukraine in the U. S. House of Representatives was finally overcome, with the bill authorizing such aid, along with aid to Taiwan and Israel, still to go to the Senate, where it is expected to encounter no difficulties in its passage.

May 14, 2024: Anthony Blinken, on a visit to Ukraine, stated: "There is one more crucial step we can take: Making Russia pay for Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction. What Putin destroyed, Russia should and must pay to rebuild. It's what international alw demands. It's what the Ukrainian people deserve."

I agree that for Russia, rather than the people of Ukraine, or Ukraine's allies, to bear the cost of rebuilding the destruction caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine is what justice demands.

However, I cannot take seriously the notion that this is what will happen, for two reasons.

Russia, in case anyone has forgotten, is a nuclear-armed superpower, having a credible second-strike capability (that is, submarines armed with nuclear missiles). So no one is in a position to make Russia do anything.

If, somehow, that obstacle were overcome, the full cost of rebuilding all the damage inflicted on Ukraine would amount to a very large amount of money. If Russia has undergone regime change, the last thing the West would want to do would be to plunge a new democratic Russia into poverty, so that it's people would start to look on the days under Putin's rule as "the good old days". Germany did not pay the full cost of repaying the damage to other European countries after World War II, for example.

May 15, 2024: Robert Fico, the prime minister of Slovakia, was shot several times in the stomach in what was reasonably presumed to be an assassination attempt.

Multiple world leaders condemned the violent attack. Normally, this would be only to be expected.

But as background to this news item, it was noted that in addition to opposing aid to Ukraine, Robert Fico was pressing forward with legislation to give the government direct control over the nation's public broadcaster, and to remove the special prosecutor's office, which would make it less likely that criminal investigations against members of the governing party could take place.

If he was set on destroying democracy in Slovakia, were the world leaders being either hypocritically polite, when they really felt he got just what he deserved, or was cowardice - the fear that political violence from other directions could also take place if this was tolerated - trumping all other concerns?

Actually, however, a much more reasonable grounds for condemning the attack does exist. An old saying, whose source I could not find, advises: if you shoot at the King, you had better not miss. But if you shoot at a democratically-elected Prime Minister, you will always miss. Even if your target perishes, what about his party, and what about the people who voted for it?

Indeed, in the aftermath of the assassination attempt, opposition forces in Slovakia cancelled protests, and supporters of Fico blamed those who dared to oppose his policies for creating the climate that led to the violent act.