Not Yet WWIII
WAR IN UKRAINE
The war in Ukraine is over a month old. According to the UN, at least 6.5 million Ukrainians have been displaced because of the war. Some analysts have said that pushing refugees into Europe and thus putting pressure on Europe’s economy is part of Putin’s strategy to weaken Europe and NATO. These analysts also say that this is the same strategy Putin used when he involved Russia in the Syrian civil war that resulted in millions of homeless Syrians streaming across Europe.
The UN says 977 Ukrainian civilians have been killed so far in the fighting, among them 81 children. (The Ukrainians put the number at 131 children.) 1,594 Ukrainians have been reported injured. But the UNCHR (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), said the real numbers could be higher.
Street in Mariupol, Ukraine after Russian bombardment
The war in Ukraine has taken a heavy toll not only on the Ukrainians but also the Russian army, according to intelligence reports from the USA and Britain. NATO estimates that between 7,000 -15,000 Russian soldiers have died so far during the fighting. 4 Russian generals were reportedly killed. Russian army morale is reportedly low.
Ukrainian officials say that the Russian army has stalled just outside of Kiev. Military analysts say that Russia miscalculated the resistance the army would face in Ukraine expected a fairly easy time as they had in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea.
There are media reports of Russian soldiers even dying from frostbite, since they were not given the proper clothing and equipment to fight in Ukraine’s harsh winters. Russia’s supplies are, according to Ukrainian analysts, running short.
Putin has apparently replaced those who were responsible for the miscalculation. The USAHerald reported on March 12 that “…Sergey Beseda, a Russian spy chief was placed under house arrest in Moscow. Beseda, head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency the FSB was arrested with his deputy Anatoly Bolukh.” The investigative website Anatoly also confirmed that 8 Russian generals were fired.
Ukrainian media reported that Russia has been calling up reservists and conscripts and sending them to Ukraine to replace those killed and wounded, even though Putin has said only “professional soldiers” are fighting in Ukraine.
CNN reports that the Ukrainian air force has been brave and effective in fighting the superior Russian air force, succeeding in shooting down scores of Russian planes even when flying aging Jet planes. Ukrainian troops have also reportedly destroyed 270 tanks, about 10% of the Russian tanks deployed in Ukraine.
According to Military.com, many tanks are destroyed with “…a Stugna-P, a less sophisticated anti-tank warhead made by Ukraine. A small group of soldiers can set up the missile on a tripod and wait for tanks to come into range. Using a remote control panel that looks like a hard camera case, an operator can paint the target with a laser until the missile strikes or allow its own laser-guidance to self-direct into the target.
“Cheap, low-flying drones are striking tanks from above. Soldiers are using charred suburban landscape to ambush tanks with a new generation of fire-and-forget weapons that makes tank-killing unsettlingly simple, even in the hands of a volunteer.”
Recently the US has sent 100 light-weight Switchblade suicide drones that can be carried by one soldier to attack tanks and Russian army positions. These are meant to augment the Turkish TB2, a drone that can “ loiter more than a day, fire up to four missiles or bombs, then return to base to be reloaded,… and the shoulder fired Javalin and other anti-tank weapons,” according to Military .com.
Western military analysts say that Russia has shown an inability to use “combined arms-where, for example, air power and artillery work in tandem to support the movement of tanks.” There have also been reports that Russian troops simply abandon their tanks rather than risk being hit by Ukrainian anti-tank weapons.
The Russian T-72 tanks get about 1 mile to the gallon and have moved much faster than the ground troops who could defend them.
Israel has taken a mediator’s role in the conflict. Prime Minister Bennett has been communicating with both Ukraine’s Prime Minister Zelensky and Russian President Putin. Recently, Zelensky asked Bennett to ask US President Biden to remove Jewish Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich from the sanctions list to enable Abramovich to participate in the cease-fire talks.
The Kremlin has reportedly used Abramovich in early mediation efforts. Abramovich is now reportedly in Moscow having left Israel on his private business jet within 24-hours after arriving. His $80 million super-yacht is apparently docked in Turkey with his Boeing 767 somewhere safe.
However, according to some experts, this war is not between Zalensky and Putin but between Putin and Biden and only when Biden gets involved in the negotiations will there be any progress. Biden has called Putin a ‘war criminal.’ Not an accusation likely to endear him to Putin, said one observer.
Putin’s goal, according to experts, is to curtail any NATO expansion. Another expert said the only way to stop Putin is to cut off any and all funding by any means possible so that Putin cannot afford to pay for the war. As of now, many companies on the Russian stock exchange have dropped over 90%. The ruble has devalued by over 30%. Some expect Putin to turn to China for costly loans to bail out the Russian economy.
President Biden has met with NATO and EU leaders to discuss the war in Ukraine. Discussions were of Russia’s references over the past month of their nuclear capabilities. However, most experts see a slim chance of a nuclear war unless Putin marches into NATO territory playing chicken with the US and NATO who will have to decide if Ukraine’s independence is worth a nuclear war.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has also warned Russia of “severe consequences” should chemical weapons be used in Ukraine. Other analysts point out that Russia okayed the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, but can’t do the same in Ukraine if Russia plans to occupy the country.
Meanwhile, Israel has sent in 100 health workers to the the war zone, among them 80 doctors and nurses, to set up. a field hospital on the Polish/Ukranian border to treat the chronically ill and children.
Israeli Field Hospital Ukraine/Poland border
Israel has taken in nearly 20,000 Ukrainian refugees, among them 8,000 Jews seeking citizenship under the Right of Return. Israel has announced the purchase of caravans to house the refugees. One of the recent Jewish immigrants was 97-year-old Jenya Bronstein, a holocaust survivor .
Four Israelis were murdered in Beer Sheva and two injured when Mohammad Abu al-Kian, 35, an Israeli Arab from the Bedouin village of Hura, near Beer Sheva, began a killing spree. Al-Kiam, father of five and a teacher, had been released from prison in 2019 after expressing regret for wanting to reach the then Islamic state in Syria and fight with ISIS. Al-Kaim had been in prison for 4 years.
On Wednesday, Al-Kian first drove to a gas station in Beer Sheva where he attacked a woman, stabbing her multiple times. He then got in his car and ran over a man driving his bicycle near the gas station, proceeded to a nearby shopping mall where he stabbed two other Israeli shoppers before being shot by both a bus driver and a passer-by.
The bus driver, who was pointing a loaded gun at the terrorist, tried to talk al-Kian into dropping the knife but the terrorist said no, according to an interview with the bus driver broadcast on Israel TV channel 12. One observer said this was “Suicide by cop, or in this case, civilians.”
The four Israelis were buried on Wednesday, March 23rd. The victims were Doris Yahbas,49, Menachem Yehezkel, 67, Laura Yitzhak, 43, and Chabad Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, 50.
Police later arrested two of al-Kian’s brothers for knowing of his intention and not stopping him. This was the sixth stabbing attack in Israel in recent weeks. Police have beefed up protection in Jerusalem and other hot spots as the Moslem holiday of Ramadan approaches.
Israel has seen a sharp upswing in COVID cases. But health expert Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizman Institute says that Israel will not reach the high numbers seen in the past and expects the rate of infection to taper off within two weeks. Cases in Israel have risen since March 14 from 3,471 cases to 13,603 cases on March 24th. Israel has recorded 3,818,065 cases since the outbreak of the virus two years ago, with 10,455 deaths. At present there are 301 serious cases with 119 of those on ventilators. The latest cases are said to be the BA.2 variant.
Worldwide there have been 476,559,378 cases, with 6,128,460 deaths and 69,669,998 active cases. The USA still leads the world with the most cases at 81,527,329 infections, 1,001,175 deaths, and 16,902,988 active cases.
Shlomo Filber, ex-Communications Minister under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, began his long-anticipated testimony on Wednesday in the corruption trial against Netanyahu. Filber, now a state’s witness, is considered to be a key witness in the trial. Netanyahu, now the opposition’s leader in the Knesset, is charged with bribery, fraud and/or breach of trust in three different cases.
Israel has constructed its first quantum computer at the Weizman Institute of Science in Rehovot 67 years after the first computer in Israel was built at the Weizman Institute. There are only about 30 quantum computers in the world. The five qubit computer can, according to the MIT Technology Review, crunch through a vast number of outcomes simultaneously. “Quantum computers can tackle problems that are today unsolvable,” said Prof. Roee Ozeri of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Ozeri said the project, led by Dr. Tom Manovitz, has been under development for the last several years. The project was published in the PRX Quantum, a peer-reviewed journal, part of the American Physical Society (APS).