© UnknownThe Pass-through
It comes to this now, again.

Call it a repeat of the SS ultimatum to the Warsaw Ghetto of April 1943 — evacuate and we'll give you a small chance of surviving, or stay and we'll kill you for certain.

Following the embrace of President Joseph Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US has endorsed the Israeli plan to force the evacuation of the Palestinians from Gaza City to designated camps in the south. There Israeli forces will allow convoys of humanitarian aid to enter from Egypt and unload after Israeli forces have inspected the cargoes. The new southern zone will be cordoned off by an Israeli ring of fire, and everything north of the line, including Gaza City will be destroyed, hospitals included.

This formula has been pressed on Egypt, the other Arab states, China, and Russia to accept by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, a Portuguese government retiree, and his deputy for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, a British government retiree. They have emphasized there is no alternative to the destruction of Gaza, and its full absorption into the state of Israel. Reinforcing them, the US has cast its veto of all resolutions proposed in the UN Security Council (UNSC) by Russia, China and the Arab states to create humanitarian corridors under a ceasefire.

China is preparing a new UNSC resolution to face the US veto shortly, according to a statement by Zhang Jun during Wednesday's UNSC debate in New York.

In Beijing, President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping discussed between themselves what they plan to do jointly and publicly. "Over a cup of tea", Putin told Russian reporters on Wednesday evening:
"We talked for another hour and a half, maybe two hours, and discussed some very confidential issues face to face. It was a very productive and informative part of our meeting."
"Informative" in Russian means they were unable to agree to make a public declaration of a Sino-Russian action plan.

Instead, Putin announced he is deploying supersonic Kinzhal missiles within range of the US naval and air forces positioned in the eastern Mediterranean and in Jordan.
"They have upped and dragged two carrier task forces to the Mediterranean. I want to say - what I am going to say and inform you about is not a threat - that I have instructed the Russian Aerospace Forces to start patrolling the neutral zone over the Black Sea on the permanent basis. Our MiG-31 aircraft carry the Kinzhal systems that, as is common knowledge, have a range of over 1,000 kilometres and can reach speeds of up to Mach 9.

"This is not a threat. But we will perform visual control, and weapons-based control over what is happening in the Mediterranean Sea."
In Russian, "this is not a threat" means this is exactly what it is.

Said twice, Putin was telling the US, Israel, Guterres, and Griffiths to consult the map of Russian missile strike ranges; and also to remember that the last US Navy aircraft carrier to be sunk by hostile fire was the USS Bismarck Sea which in February 1945 could not defend against waves of Japanese kamikaze aircraft.

This is the map of Russia's missile strike ranges in the eastern Mediterranean:
Map missile
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The Tartous based fleet was reduced last week with the exit of the submarine, Krasnodar.
Listen to Chris Cook broadcasting on Gorilla Radio in the 32-minute summary of the main pointers of the world war now looming over Palestine, beginning at Minute 27:55.
For the full story of what Russian officials are saying, and not saying; what they are doing, and not doing, read the backfile since the Hamas operation commenced on October 7.

The attempt of UN officials like Guterres and Griffiths, the US, and Israel to make their media case against Hamas is a misrepresentation of the history of Israeli operations against Gaza and its elected government over many years before October 7; for the record, read Jonathan Cook's reporting from Nazareth, and his latest pieces here.
© UnknownUN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Guterres speaking in Bejing on October 18:
"Immediately before departing for Beijing, I made two urgent humanitarian appeals: To Hamas, for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages. To Israel, to immediately allow unrestricted access of humanitarian aid to respond to the most basic needs of the people of Gaza - the overwhelming majority of whom are women and children. I am fully aware of the deep grievances of the Palestinian people after 56 years of occupation. But, as serious as these grievances are, they cannot justify the acts of terror against civilians committed by Hamas on October 7 that I immediately condemned. But those attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people."
International humanitarian law, comprising international conventions and treaties, as well as judgements and case argument from the International Court of Justice, has formulated the legal rights of self-defence to include armed measures provoked by and proportional to the violence of the armed attack; read more. This history and the law cast the operation of October 7, decided by the Gaza government's military wing, in a totally different legal light.

In the public formulations of Russian policy, Hamas is treated as the lawfully elected government of the Gaza part of Palestine, and a "party to the hostilities", not as a terrorist organisation. There has been no public discussion of the official Russian interpretation of the international law applying to the October 7 operation or to the subsequent fighting. The Russian military establishment, the military bloggers reporting on the fighting in Palestine, as well Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, have called the bombardment of the Al-Alhi Hospital in Gaza an "air strike" from Israel, not an errant Hamas rocket. Nebenzya explained to the UNSC that in drafting the wording of the Russian resolution to implement a ceasefire and a stop to indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian targets, Moscow intended not to name either Hamas or Israel in order to avoid the political polarisation the terms are triggering.

The US, like Guterres, Griffiths and other UN officials have insisted on naming Hamas as a terrorist organisation which initiated the violence on October 7. The UN officials have also disclaimed knowing who was responsible for the hospital attack during Wednesday's session of the UNSC. According to Tor Wennesland, the Norwegian government retiree appointed by Guterres as his special Middle East mediator, "responsibilities [for the hospital attack] still need to be clarified..." Griffiths repeated the know-nothing line, and called for a "fact-based inquiry into what happened."
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Griffiths was reporting to the UNSC from Cairo. Guterres is scheduled to fly from Beijing to join Griffiths in Cairo on Thursday. On Monday, October 16, Griffiths had announced his terms for humanitarian relief of Gaza to have come from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who, Griffiths said, had been "hugely helpful". Blinken's terms came from Netanyahu: no aid without release of Hamas hostages; depopulation of Gaza City; creation of "places of deconfliction" (Griffiths's term) under Israeli military cordon with US military backup.

There were two Russian papers for the UNSC vote on Wednesday. The first proposed "an unambiguous call for a stop on indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian objects in the Gaza Strip [including the hospital attacked by "an airstrike"]" and an "immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire". — Min2-4:30.

The first proposal drew 6 votes; the second 7; the US vetoed them both. The abstainers included the UK. Nebenzya then responded by telling the Council session:
"Those delegations who either abstained or who voted against were essentially against a cessation of the bloodshed in the Middle East. There can be no other explanations of it. Of course, the colleagues here... you've made your choice, however. And you are going to have to bear responsibility for it" (Min 10).
© unknownVasily Nebenzya
Vasily Nebenzya speaking at Wednesday's session:
"Given the extremely tense situation, it was necessary to act without delay. That is why the draft we presented did not contain political elements and assessments, mentions of one or another side of the conflict, which could complicate the process of its approval. Almost 30 countries, including 17 states of the Arab world, have become co-sponsors of the Russian initiative."
In its statement the Foreign Ministry blamed the US by name but omitted to identify Israel:
"All this is happening with the inaction of the UN Security Council, paralysed...and in the narrow-minded interests of individual countries, whose unilateral actions not only ended in complete failure, but also led to a massive escalation of violence in the Middle East region."
In his briefing of Russian reporters after meeting Xi on Wednesday night, Putin also avoided naming or blaming Israel.
Putin talk
© en.kremlin.ruPutin addresses reporters
"With regard to the strike on the hospital - the tragedy that happened there, this is a horrible event, which killed hundreds and left hundreds more wounded. Of course, this is a disaster for such a thing to happen in this place, especially considering its humanitarian mission. I do hope that this will serve as a signal that this conflict must end as quickly as possible. In any case, there must be a push paving the way towards the launch of contacts and talks. This is my first point."

"Second, regarding the impressions I got during conversations with the five [actually seven - Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iran, Israel] regional leaders, these were important talks, and timely too. Let me tell you what matters the most here without going into details: I have an impression that no one wants this conflict to continue or expand, or the situation to escalate. In my opinion, regarding the main actors - there is virtually no one there who wants the conflict to expand while others are wary of something and are not ready to turn it into a full-scale war. This is the impression I got. This is very important."
Putin's engagement in the negotiations with Egypt, other Arab states, Turkey, and Iran to secure a ceasefire and the establishment of corridors for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza was first signalled at the Kremlin meeting on Monday, October 16. The Kremlin communiqué refers to this as a "meeting on current issues... to discuss the course of the special military operation and the situation in the zone of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."

The only uniformed participant was the director of the Federal Service of National Guard Troops, Viktor Zolotov. His presence at this session is unprecedented, Kremlin, military and other Moscow sources acknowledge while claiming not to know the reason.
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© unknownDeputy FM Sergei Ryabkov • Dir. Federal Service of National Guard Troops Victor Zolotov • Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
A working-class steelworker, martial arts devotee, and former member of the KGB border guards, Zolotov has risen from the role of personal bodyguard for Boris Yeltsin, St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, and Putin. In 2014 Putin appointed him head of Interior Ministry troops, and then upgraded this to the National Guard (Rosgvardiya) in 2016; with that post came a permanent seat in the Kremlin Security Council. In seven years, according to the Kremlin record, Zolotov has attended only one session of the Council.

The only Security Council meeting Zolotov attended until this week was on February 21, 2022, on the eve of the Special Military Operation; it was a session which Putin called to demonstrate publicly the support of all his officials for the operation. Zolotov made the shortest speech in the record of the meeting:
"... we do not border on Ukraine, we have no border with Ukraine. This is the Americans' border, because they are the masters in that country, while the Ukrainians are their vassals. And the fact that they are rushing weapons to Ukraine and are trying to create nuclear arsenals will backfire on us in the future. Recognising these republics is certainly a must. I would like to say that we should go ever further to defend our country. That is all I have to say. Thank you."
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© en.kremlin.ruKremlin session of the Security Council on February 21, 2022 – Zolotov with Shoigu; Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Central Federal District Igor Shchegolev: and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
In September 2020, Zolotov met Putin one-on-one, and discussed the Guard's performance "in joint tasks with the Combined Forces in the North Caucasus and the limited contingent in the Syrian Arab Republic."

On August 30, 2022, there was a telltale meeting with Putin, again one on one, in which Zolotov reported the National Guard operations in the Donbass, noting that in addition to military operations, he directed convoy protection.
"In addition, Russian National Guard patrols critical state property, infrastructure facilities and communications infrastructure. We facilitate humanitarian security, and we escort shipments and convoys. We also provide medical services to local population, and we treat civilians. This is the range of our tasks."
Zolotov also confirmed he was running specialised home, civilian, and infrastructure guard operations:
"Furthermore, we also provide extradepartmental security services and protect people's homes and property. We have over a million such facilities under our protection. We also continue to guard important state facilities - we have 72 such contracts, including facilities that are located in the Arctic and in the ports along the Northern Sea Route. In 2019, we were contracted to guard a floating nuclear power plant in Pevek."
In short, Zolotov was the only official at Monday's meeting with Putin with expertise and command responsibility for convoy operations in a combat zone, and for site security in Syria.

© unknownEgyptian Ambassador to Moscow Nazih Nagari
Russian FM Sergei Lavrov
That operations of this kind have also been in discussion with Egypt is indicated, sources believe, by a flurry of telephone communication and meetings between the Egyptian Ambassador to Moscow, Nazih Nagari, and Foreign Ministry officials during Wednesday, October 18. The Russian communiqués confirm that
"special attention is paid to the tasks of establishing the process of evacuation of civilians, including foreigners, from the enclave through the Rafah checkpoint and sending humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza"; and "the issues of interaction in the BRICS were considered, including in the light of Russia's upcoming chairmanship in this association. Some other issues of mutual interest were also discussed."
In parallel with Nagari's negotiations, the Foreign Ministry published a statement urging international coordination "towards an immediate ceasefire and to open humanitarian corridors in order to give badly needed support to people in Gaza, including deliveries of food, medicines and fuel, to evacuate everyone who wants to leave, and to prevent the looming humanitarian disaster."

Gorilla Radio discussion: Listen to the hour-long discussion with Chris Cook:
NOTE: Several hours after the broadcast, the first news was published that the Ministry of Emergencies has begun the first flights to El Arish of Russian humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. This first flight delivered 27 tonnes.
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