Olympic Spirit: Will Putin invade Ukraine during Winter Olympics in Beijing or at all?
While Russia has not got its demanded security guarantees from the USA and NATO, amasses troops at the border to Ukraine on its own territory and Belarus, announced navy drills in the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterean and the Arctic as well as joint navy drills with China and Iran in the Persian Gulf, German navy chief Schönbach’s dismissal is now also worth an article in the Tehran Times. And according Bloomsberg an Ukrainian military claims that Russia wants to invade Beijing during the Winter Olympics, which is why China had urged Russia not to do so. The Chinese Communist Party, in turn, calls this news fake news.
“German navy chief resigns after saying Putin “deserved respect”
January 23, 2022 – 21:30
The head of the German navy has resigned just one day after saying the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, deserved respect, amid growing allegations by the West of an invasion of Ukraine and tensions between Berlin and Kiev over weapons supplies.
Speaking at a think tank meeting in New Delhi, vice-admiral Kay-Achim Schonbach, who talked in English, said the notion that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine was “nonsense” and that President Putin “deserves respect”
„What he (Putin) really wants is respect,“ Schoenbach said. „And my God, giving someone respect is low cost, even no cost… It is easy to give him the respect he really demands – and probably also deserves“ Schoenbach said, calling Russia an old and important country.
Before Schoenbach’s handed in his resignation, the German defense ministry criticized his remarks in public.
Less than 24 hours later, Schonbach said he had submitted his resignation “to avoid any more damage being done to the German Navy and above all, to the German federal republic”.
A German defense ministry official said Schonbach would leave his post “with immediate effect”. A ministry statement made it clear the vice-admiral’s comments did not reflect Germany’s position.
the Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, had summoned Germany’s ambassador to Kiev to protest “the categorical unacceptability” of Schonbach’s comments.
Kuleba also criticized Germany for its refusal to supply weapons to Kiev, urging Berlin to stop “undermining unity”.
The German defence minister, Christine Lambrecht, says Berlin would send a field hospital to Ukraine but has once again rejected Kiev’s calls for weapons.
Lambrecht says “weapons deliveries would not be helpful at the moment – that is the consensus within the government”.
The United States and Britain have pressed ahead with arms sales to Ukraine including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
The ratcheting up of military sales comes at a time of increased tension as U.S.-led NATO forces have been expanding eastwards toward the Russian border.
The latest arms sale by the UK represents a step up from existing British military commitments. Until recently the UK has focused on selling ships and naval equipment to Ukraine, announcing a £1.7bn deal to supply two mine sweepers and jointly build eight ships for its small Black Sea fleet last year.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has told Congress that it gave approval to four fellow NATO members that had purchased U.S.-produced weapons systems to instead send that equipment to Ukraine.
The Biden administration will also hand over to the Ukrainian government five transport helicopters, among other weaponry.
Last year, the Pentagon announced a $125 million military aid package for Ukraine, including two armed patrol boats.
The Pentagon said another $150 million in military aid approved by Congress for the 2021 budget year will be provided when the departments of State and Defense are in a position to certify to Congress that Ukraine has made “sufficient progress on key defense reforms this year”.
Critics accuse the United States and its NATO allies off busily arming Ukraine and engaging in other actions in a reckless strategy that only served to encourage some leaders in Kiev to falsely believe that they have strong Western backing.
The U.S. Embassy in the Ukrainian capital posted photos on social media of large green-colored crates being unloaded from a cargo plane. The crates held almost 100 tons of “lethal aid”.
Some analysts have accused NATO of raising tensions to increase their own country’s weapons manufacturing amid a pandemic hit economy.
Russia has massed it’s own troops on its border with Ukraine for defensive purposes, demanding that it’s neighbor Ukraine never becomes a member of Nato and insisting on other security guarantees all in line with previous agreements struck between Moscow and Washington.
Last month, Russia sent proposals to the U.S. and NATO for treaties with security guarantees. However, those initiatives were rejected by the West last week following a series of diplomatic negotiations.
Moscow has consistently rebutted claims made by Western media and senior officials, according to which Russia is allegedly planning to invade its neighbor any day now. The Kremlin has called the idea “fake news,” while raising issues with the fact that some Western nations are sending weapons to Ukraine.
Elsewhere, Russia has called on the British Foreign Ministry to stop engaging in provocations.
According to a representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry who spoke to the country’s state news agency, the misinformation campaign by the British Foreign Office is further evidence that these are the NATO countries, led by the Anglo-Saxons, that are escalating tensions around Ukraine
Moscow has called on the UK’s Foreign Office to stop engaging in provocations. That is how the Russian Foreign Ministry reacted to a recent statement by its British counterparts about plans Moscow is allegedly making regarding Ukraine.
„The misinformation spread by the British Foreign Office is another evidence that these are the NATO countries, led by the Anglo-Saxons, that are escalating tensions around Ukraine. We call on the British Foreign Office to stop provocative activities, stop spreading nonsense and focus on studying the history of the Tatar-Mongol yoke”, the Russian official said.
Earlier, Britain accused Russia of a shadowy plot to install a pro-Kremlin government in Kiev alleging that Moscow is weighing up a further invasion of Ukraine.
In a move that even Britain media described as “highly unusual” and claimed to be based on specially declassified intelligence, the UK Foreign Office alleged that a former Ukrainian MP (Yevgeny Murayev) was „being considered as a potential candidate“ as a new leader in what would be a significant escalation of the crisis.
The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office made the announcement in a brief statement, but it failed to elaborate further on how this plan would be achieved or where the information was obtained from.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is the current leader of Ukraine. He would like his country to join the European Union and become a member of the NATO alliance.
In an interview with British media, Alexander Pavlyuk, a lieutenant-general in the Ukrainian army, has claimed Russia could invade Ukraine on February 20, a day that coincides with the closing ceremony of 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Pavlyuk described it as a “date that concerns us”, the claim was made without any evidence to back it up.
A similar claim and date was reported by the American news outlet Bloomberg, which even alleged the Chinese President had told his Russian counterpart to put off any such plans.
The allegation is strange as it would essentially mean that Russia would be spoiling the largest global sporting event hosted by one of (if not the strongest) of Russian allies.
Should Kiev and its Western allies’ “invasion” claims ever materialize, the alleged invasion date would put a dampener on the whole Beijing Winter Olympics; something Chinese authorities have been working tirelessly on.
The Chinese Embassy in Russia has denounced the Bloomberg report, calling it “fake” news and also a “provocation.”
According to Russia, the West is to blame for the escalation in tensions along the border with neighboring Ukraine, as its weapons shipments to Kiev, and NATO’s continued eastward troop expansion along with military exercises only encourages Kiev to look for a military solution in Donetsk and Lugansk.
Analysts argue Russia has every right to amass troops along its own borders should it wish to do so and have drawn comparisons to a scenario if Russia or China beefs up its military presence in Mexico or Canada and what the U.S. response would be then?
While China prepares for the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, sends warplanes over Taiwan, the Global Times also rejects the Bloomberg report as an Anglosaxon disinformation campaign which aims to drive a wedge between China and Russia:
“Chinese FM debunks US media report claiming Beijing requested Moscow not to invade Ukraine during Winter Olympics
By Global Times Published: Jan 24, 2022 12:39 PM
Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday refuted a Bloomberg report which claimed that the Chinese leader allegedly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin not to invade Ukraine during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The ministry said that the news is fake, noting it’s not only a slander and provocation to China-Russia relations but also interference with and sabotage against the Olympics.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, said at a routine press conference on Monday that such a despicable trick will not deceive the international community.
„I want to stress that today’s China-Russia relations are mature, stable and resilient. The two sides have maintained close communication at all levels. Any attempt to drive a wedge between the two countries or challenge mutual trust is futile,“ Zhao said.
As supporters and practitioners of the Olympic spirit, the two countries have always opposed the politicization of sports and will not be influenced by certain international forces, Zhao noted.
„We are now in the final stage of preparations for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. We are confident of presenting a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic Games to the world, and ensure a smooth and successful visit to Beijing by all leaders, including President Putin,“ Zhao stressed.
Earlier, the Chinese Embassy in Russia refuted the Bloomberg report. The embassy said in a statement sent to Russian media outlet TASS on Saturday that the news „is a hoax and provocation.“ The embassy noted that China’s position on the Ukrainian issue is consistent and clear.
The embassy reiterated that China supports a proper settlement over the Ukraine issue through dialogue and consultation within the framework of the Minsk Agreement.
According to Russian media, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova debunked the fake news and called it „a special information operation by US respective agencies.“
The CCP mouthpiece Global Times citing the Chinese foreign minister also blames the Anglosaxons for the escalation of the conflict while Germany and most Europeans wanted good relations with Russia. And should Russia invade Ukraine this invasion would be the result of Anglosaxon provocations: Russia would be forced to act.
US media smearing China-Russia ties on Ukraine issue: foreign ministry
EU not on same page as US, unlikely to be ‘mediator’
By Chen Qingqing , Liu Xin and Xu Yelu Published: Jan 24, 2022 10:48 PM
With the US and UK ordering families of embassy employees in Kiev to depart Ukraine and authorizing non-emergency personnel to leave on Sunday, fears of war are mounting over Russia’s alleged „impending invasion“ of Ukraine.
Disinformation about the Ukraine crisis widely circulating among some Western media including Bloomberg could affect China-Russia mutual trust, and this reflects the „ill intention“ of the Western forces trying to instigate divergences between Beijing and Moscow, analysts said.
On Monday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry refuted a Bloomberg report which claimed that the Chinese leader had allegedly „asked Russian President Vladimir Putin not to invade Ukraine during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.“
„The report was purely made out of thin air. It seeks not only to smear and drive a wedge in China-Russia relations, but also to deliberately disrupt and undermine the Beijing Winter Olympics. Such a despicable trick cannot fool the international community,“ Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a routine press conference.
The Chinese Embassy in Russia also refuted the report, saying in a statement sent to Russian news agency TASS on Saturday that the news „is a hoax and provocation.“ The embassy noted that China’s position on the Ukrainian issue is consistent and clear.
In addition to the Bloomberg disinformation aimed at disrupting China-Russia relations, Russia’s foreign ministry Sunday rejected what it described as „disinformation“ from Britain, as the AFP reported, after London accused Moscow of working to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine as tensions soar.
Disinformation circulated by the British government is yet another indication that it is the NATO members led by the Anglo-Saxon nations that are escalating tensions around Ukraine, the Russian foreign ministry said in a tweet.
‚Forced to react‘
The military standoff on the Ukrainian border has reached a very dangerous point, Yang Jin, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.
„No one wants to escalate the crisis into a war, but conflicts could be sparked easily by accidents, and it’s hard to fully prevent accidents in the intense stand-off,“ Yang noted.
„China has always hoped that Russia and the US could solve the problem over Ukraine through dialogue, and this position will not change,“ Yang said.
Even if some conflicts occur in the coming days, Russia is unlikely to be the one to initiate provocations, since Moscow has previously supported the UN-adopted Olympic Truce during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, while some countries like the US, the UK and Australia refused to sign it, said experts. They stressed that the US and its followers are more likely to launch conflicts and Russia is more likely to be the one who is forced to react if the conflicts escalate, similar to what happened in Georgia during the Beijing Olympics 2008.
While some Western media outlets are trying to disrupt China-Russia ties, unity within the West, or between the US and EU members, is in trouble as the EU stance and actions are quite different from those of the US in recent days on the crisis. Experts said the deep-seated divisions inside Europe are making it difficult for the EU to act as a mediator on the current tensions.
EU foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday calling for a „de-escalation“ of the situation around Ukraine, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was scheduled to join the meeting via a video link after the US government had ordered families of US diplomats to leave Ukraine. The order came after some US media reported that Russia had deployed 100,000 troops and heavy weapons along the Ukrainian border, sounding alarm bells over its perceived aims in Ukraine, but Moscow insisted that it has no such plans, according to media reports.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday that the EU will not follow the US move to withdraw embassy personnel and families in Ukraine, but „all members of the EU are united,“ and are showing unprecedented unity over the situation in Ukraine, the AP reported.
Amid growing tensions, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said his country had received a second consignment of weapons from the US as part of defense aid totaling $200 million, Reuters reported on Sunday, noting that the US government will continue supporting Ukraine amid concerns over the Russian buildup of military defenses on the border.
Also, Blinken appeared on CNN on Sunday rebuffing calls to immediately impose economic sanctions on Russia, saying that „when it comes to sanctions, the purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression. And so if they’re triggered now, you lose the deterrent effect.“
Tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine showed that both sides are imposing extreme pressure to test each other’s bottom lines. The essence of the current Ukraine issue concerns „security guarantees“ which both sides want to negotiate but have always failed to reach agreement on, Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday.
Europe ’not an iron plate‘
The lack of unity within the EU is also obvious on the Ukraine crisis, and the recent resignation of German navy chief Kay-Achim Schonbach for his „pro-Russia“ comments exposed the deep-seated divergences within the West over regional security issues, Chinese analysts noted.
Schonbach stepped down after he told a think tank panel during his visit to India on Friday that Putin „probably“ deserved respect, and Crimea was „gone“ and would „never come back“ to Ukraine, arguing in favor of cooperating with Russia to contain China’s rise.
Some media reports described the comments as an unprecedented diplomatic incident, and the German government distanced itself from Schonbach’s comments, according to German media outlet Deutsche Welle.
On the issues of Ukraine, the traditional EU powers differ with the new members of the block which are usually not as big as the former. „The latter do not want to make trade with Russia at the cost of any country as they worry their own country would also be sacrificed by the US and EU powers in the future, and this is why they keep pushing the US to take tougher tones,“ Cui noted.
Position within Europe on Russia is clearly at odds with that of the US, some experts said. „Europe is not an iron plate, some countries may have less prejudice against Russia, and the German commander may have no hostility toward the Russian regime,“ Yang said.
As Russia and Germany enjoy special relationship in their history and their current cooperation extends to sectors such as energy, the attitude of the German navy chief also reflects the country’s practical view on foreign relations, which would be beneficial to the development of the national economy and to the stability and security of Europe, experts said.
„Many of the European countries want peace with Russia, unlike the US,“ Yang said. „Only the US wants chaos.“ Yang also believed that the Europe can’t be the meditator on the issue as it has no longer dominance in its own security affairs, since the US has much say in security affairs of Europe through NATO.
While preparing for the opening of the Winter Games in Beijing, the CCP also sends more warplanes over Taiwan to make sure that the DDP won´t disturb the Winter Olympics and claims that there is no Taiwanese airspace, but just a Chinese airspace.
“PLA warplanes tie noose around neck of ‘Taiwan secessionists’: Global Times editorial
By Global Times Published: Jan 25, 2022 12:00 AM
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sent warplanes near the island of Taiwan on Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, 39 aircraft flew, the largest daily number this year. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority appeared very nervous and upset. They should be. It has become normal for PLA warplanes to fly around Taiwan and approach the island for patrols. A sword of Damocles is hung over the head of „Taiwan secessionists,“ and at the same time, it concretizes and materializes the warning and deterrence of the Chinese mainland.
It should be emphasized that there is no essential difference between the PLA warplanes flying over Taiwan and US military warplanes over Hawaii. Taiwan is a part of China’s territory. There has never been the concept of „Taiwan airspace“ in the world, but only „China airspace.“ The DPP authority has no right to designate the so-called air defense identification zone. The „Taiwan secessionists“ and the forces supporting them have fabricated the rhetoric of „Taiwan airspace“ and „intrusion,“ which is nothing more than an attempt to hide their desire to undermine peace.
Since 2020, the PLA has stepped up activities of its warplanes flying around Taiwan. This is not only a solemn declaration of China’s sovereignty, but also a severe warning to „Taiwan secessionist“ forces. Over the past two years, the DPP authority and „Taiwan secessionist“ forces have made more moves seeking „independence,“ and the plot of external forces to „exploit Taiwan to contain Chinese mainland“ has become more explicit. The US has been playing the Taiwan card more frequently from the Trump to the Biden administration, playing edge balls and conducting salami slicing tactics on the one-China principle. It has encouraged the arrogance of „Taiwan secessionist“ forces, severely provoking the Chinese mainland.
In 2021, US large spy planes carried out about 1,200 aerial close-in reconnaissance sorties on China. US aircraft carriers and warships have many times intruded China’s maritime space. One day before Taiwan was panicked by the PLA’s 39 warplanes flying toward it, two US carrier groups and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force conducted a military drill in waters near Taiwan island. Who is the outsider coming here to stir up trouble? Who is creating tensions in the region? The answer is obvious.
The effect of PLA warplanes flying around Taiwan island is obvious. Imagine, if there is no strong anti-secessionist military deterrence from the PLA, will the DPP authority and „Taiwan secessionist“ forces be more arrogant and radical? Will they go further in the secessionist direction? Now they dare not promote „de jure independence“ of the Taiwan island, not because they grew a conscience, but because they dare not. They are fully aware that the PLA will definitely take decisive measures, so they do not have the nerve to do whatever they want. The pressure from the PLA has also begun to prompt some people on the island to think more profoundly about the future of the island, and to make a forceful critique on the separatist behavior of the DPP authority.
According to statistics from Taiwan, the PLA warplanes conducted nearly a thousand times patrols around the Taiwan island in 2021. In less than a month this year, the figure has reached 109. The 2022 total will only be more than last year’s. The outside world has noticed that among the 39 warplanes which flew around Taiwan last weekend, 34 were fighter jets, including J-16s and J-10s. It means the fighter group could turn to a specific mission once a special scenario occurs. On Monday, the PLA’s J-16D, which recently entered into service, showed up for the first time in a mission near Taiwan. The message is self-evident.
As analysts pointed out, in the future, the mainland will continue to strengthen capacity building and resources accumulation for unification with more practical actions. In addition to the PLA warplanes, warships will also continue regular patrols. PLA warplanes will not only fly around Taiwan island, they could also fly across the so-called „middle line“ at any time according to the situation, and will sooner or later fly over the island. In short, if the secessionists take one step forward, we will definitely increase corresponding military and comprehensive pressure on them.
China’s Defense Ministry and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council have repeatedly stated that the PLA sent more warplanes for regular patrols near Taiwan island than the figure claimed by the DPP authority. The flight routes have been like a noose tightening around the neck of „Taiwan secessionists,“ making them feel breathless. If these stubborn secessionists continue to challenge the bottom line of the „one-China“ principle, the noose will become tighter.“
Obviously a demonstration and performance of the much cited Olympic Spirit.