Brave In Peril.
Constant in tribulation.
1. A Russian airstrike hit a maternity hospital in the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, local authorities said, as Moscow’s invasion has shifted to a new, more destructive phase aimed at civilian targets. Video footage released by the Mariupol mayor’s office showed wounded people being pulled out of the partially collapsed hospital complex. A wide, deep bomb crater was visible, with signs that the blast, which took place around 5 p.m. local time Wednesday, had knocked down trees and torched cars. Nobody was killed in the blast and 17 people were wounded, officials said. (Source: wsj.com)
2. Washington has abandoned efforts to help supply Ukraine with Polish MiG-29 fighter jets after concluding that sending the aircraft to Kyiv could spark a dangerous escalation and draw Nato into direct conflict with Russia. The US and Poland have held talks over a mechanism to send the Russian-made MiG fighters in Warsaw’s arsenal to Ukraine since the early days of the Russian invasion. But the Pentagon on Wednesday said it had concluded any transfer was unnecessary and risked triggering a broader conflict. Some say the Pentagon’s decision signals weakness. (Sources: ft.com, wsj.com)
3. The Russian army’s unexpected struggles in Ukraine are prompting calls for a fresh look at widely shared assumptions about the effectiveness of President Vladimir Putin’s military machine. Putin spent well over a decade modernizing a conscript-based military that proved wanting in Chechnya during the 1990s, and Georgia in 2008. Its first test in a large-scale conflict since the end of the Cold War has raised questions about what that boom in spending achieved. (Source: bloomberg.com)
4. Over the past week, as Russia has intensified its bombardment of urban areas, China’s President Xi Jinping has found himself facing the potential for two interlocking crises. As the biggest importer of oil and a big buyer of food from around the world, China’s economy is deeply exposed to the market turmoil that the war and subsequent sanctions have unleashed. It also risks a deep diplomatic backlash, especially in Europe, where many see it as little short of an accomplice to the invasion. Only last month, Xi and Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, signed a “no limits” partnership in Beijing, which one US senior official described as the “coming out party” for their growing allegiance. China’s president has proclaimed that the Sino-Russia relationship is “stronger than an alliance.” But that close relationship is coming with a much bigger cost than China ever imagined, as Putin conducts a bloody and poorly executed invasion of Ukraine that has tainted Beijing by association. Some politicians and government officials in the US, Europe, Australia and Japan now describe Beijing as the eastern anchor of an authoritarian axis stretching across the Eurasian continent. (Source: ft.com “Big Read”)
5. Eurointelligence: “We now hear warnings by western intelligence agencies that Putin is preparing to use chemical weapons. That, too, would be in line with what he did in the past, the chemical poisoning of the Skripals and of Alexander Litvinenko with the use of deadly chemical agents. Yesterday's attack on a hospital constitutes a war crime under international law. But once you breach this threshold, the prospect of a war crimes trial no longer constitutes a constraint to your actions. The odds in this war are still favoring Russia. Its stalling military campaign and operational errors mean that the war will last longer, and that rocket attacks on civilians will increase. One plausible scenario forward is for Russia to continue terrorizing the civilian population while it regroups militarily. Diplomatic efforts will continue in the meantime. Sergei Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, will meet in the Turkish city of Antalya today, for a first round of talks aimed to set the ground for a continued dialogue but that are not expected to bring a quick breakthrough. We expect that there will, eventually, be a deal in which Russian-speaking minorities will receive a special status in Ukraine, short of formal independence, and where Ukraine demilitarizes with constitutional guarantees that it shall not seek membership of either Nato or the EU, especially now that the EU is seeking to strengthen its role in security. The Russians are not yet in a position to get what they want. Having watched the interview with Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, yesterday, we don't think that Ukraine, too, is ready either. She is demanding Russia's capitulation. So this will get worse before it gets better. (Source: eurointelligence.com)
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