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Victory in Avdeevka: How Russia finally forced Ukraine to retreat from the most fortified city in Donbass

russia victory avdeevka ukraine graphic
© RTRussia's victory in Avdeevka
The area was the scene of heavy fighting back in 2014, but Kiev managed to hold it against local rebels

On Saturday, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that Avdeevka - long an important stronghold of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) northwest of Donetsk city - had been liberated. The area had been seen as strategically vital as far back as 2014, when Kiev's troops fought local Donbass separatists.

After the start of Russia's military operation, in 2022, the situation near Avdeevka escalated again and, for the past two years, battles in the surrounds were ongoing.

The most recent encounter, which began on October 10, last year, and ended with the defeat of the Ukrainian garrison, involved additional Russian troops transferred from the Liman direction and commanded by Colonel-General Andrey Mordvichev.


What's at stake for Julian Assange - and the rest of us

protest march
© UnknownLondon march in support of Julian Assange
On February 20 and 21, the High Court of Justice in London will conduct a hearing to decide whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal the court's earlier decision to extradite him to the U.S. to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act and one for computer crime, with a Methuselan prison sentence of 175 years. This, even though Julian is not an American citizen (he's Australian), and he was not under U.S. jurisdiction when the "crimes" were allegedly committed.
At the end of the two-day hearing the court could grant Julian permission to appeal, it could deny it, or it could postpone its decision to a later date. Or the two judges might have some other ruling up their puffy sleeves.

In the first instance, if permission to appeal is granted, whilst awaiting another hearing, Julian would most likely be returned to high-security Belmarsh Prison where he has been held for nearly five years under arbitrary detention in near-total solitary confinement, though he has been convicted of no crime. Belmarsh is known as Britain's Guantanamo because of its torturous conditions as well as for its population of mostly alleged murderers and terrorists.

Julian, an award-winning journalist and publisher, a life-long promoter of peace, a nine-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, is quite obviously not in that category, though there are those who think he is. Most notable among these is former CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who pronounced Julian "a darling of terrorist groups", and defined WikiLeaks as a "nonstate, hostile intelligence service".

The crime that Julian is essentially "guilty" of is revealing truths most uncomfortable to the ruling powers — practicing journalism as it should be practiced.

The second possible outcome of the upcoming hearing, denial of permission to appeal, could mean that within hours Julian would be shackled and placed on a U.S. military jet headed for Alexandria, Virginia. There his case will be heard by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where many residents work in national security (CIA, FBI, Department of Defense) or have a family member who does. The jury pool comes from this group and, not surprisingly, no one brought before this court under the Espionage Act has ever been exonerated.

Comment: Happening now.

See also: How British intelligence framed Julian Assange as a Russian agent


Biden staffer who mishandled China, Iran secrets retains high-security Pentagon job

© Marco Polo501c3org/RealClearInvestigationsUS President Joe Biden • Staffer Kathy Chung
While Special Counsel Robert Kyoung Hur has raised the issue of mental deterioration in explaining why he declined to prosecute 81-year-old Joe Biden for illegal retention and sharing of classified documents, the president chose another rationale to declare himself not culpable: He shifted the blame to the staffers who boxed up his records as he left the vice president's office in 2017.

At a press conference hastily assembled after the report's release, Biden said he assumed his aides had shipped "all" the documents to the National Archives in College Park, Md. He said:
"I wish I had paid more attention to how the documents were being moved and where. I thought they were being moved to the Archives. I thought all of it was being moved [there]."
The president's explanation does not address how and why he shared classified material with a ghostwriter, but it shines a light on the longtime assistant who was in charge of packing his papers, Kathy Sang-ok Chung.


Julian Assange judge previously acted for MI6

© Peter Summers/Getty ImagesBritain's judiciary
The judge set to rule on the Assange extradition case was previously paid to represent the interests of MI6 and the Ministry of Defence - whose activities WikiLeaks has exposed.

One of the two High Court judges who will rule on Julian Assange's bid to stop his extradition to the US represented the UK's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and the Ministry of Defence, Declassified has found.

Justice Jeremy Johnson has also been a specially vetted barrister, cleared by the UK authorities to access top secret information.

Johnson will sit with Dame Victoria Sharp, his senior judge, to decide the fate of the WikiLeaks co-founder. If extradited, Assange faces a maximum sentence of 175 years.

His persecution by the US authorities has been at the behest of Washington's intelligence and security services, with whom the UK has deep relations.

Assange's journalistic career has been marked by exposing the dirty secrets of the US and UK national security establishments. He now faces a judge who has acted for, and received security clearance from, some of those same state agencies.

Star of David

Rafah massacre exposes Israel's brutal strategy of ethnic cleansing

israel bomb rafah
© Atia Mohammed/Flash90Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes on the southern Gazan city of Rafah, which had been designated a "safe zone", October 8, 2023.
Recent attacks in Rafah are showing Israeli practices to Western public opinion and making the Zionist state even more isolated internationally.

Israel's attacks against the Gaza Strip are increasingly violent and disproportionate. In recent days, the Zionist State has launched a series of brutal strikes against the city of Rafah, in south of the Strip, close to the border with Egypt's Sinai. The region has served as a refuge for thousands of Palestinians who have fled their homes in the northern areas of Gaza since the start of the conflict. By bombing Rafah, Tel Aviv makes it clear that there will be no security for Palestinians anywhere in Gaza.

On February 11, Israel launched a military campaign against Rafah, killing dozens and injuring hundreds of Palestinians. In the following days, some similar bombings continued to occur, generating more victims. In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly promised a ground invasion on Rafah, generating fear among the local population about the consequences of such a measure.

Comment: From February 14th:

Light switch

Biden again stumbles trying to walk up stairs to Air Force One

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
US President Joe Biden tripped twice on Tuesday as he boarded Air Force One for a flight to California. Although the White House has insisted he is in excellent health, the 81-year-old Democrat has persistently refused to take a cognitive test during his annual health exams.

Cameras at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland captured Biden stumbling while going up the steps to the presidential jet, barely avoiding a fall. The latest incident comes as the president faces public demands to have his mental acuity checked.

Biden "should come out and debate and to show the American public that he has the cognitive capacity to do this very, very difficult job," his former challenger for the Democratic nomination Robert F. Kennedy Jr., now an independent candidate, said last week.


Russia captured up to 1,000 Ukrainian POWs in Avdeevka - NYT

Russian forces may have captured up to 1,000 Ukrainian troops during the chaotic retreat from Avdeevka over the weekend, the New York Times has reported, citing anonymous Ukrainian and Western sources. The newspaper described the withdrawal from the former Ukrainian stronghold in Donbass as a "devastating loss" for Kiev that "could deal a blow to already weakening morale."

On Friday, Ukraine's newly appointed top military commander, General Aleksandr Syrsky, revealed that his forces had retreated from the strategic town located less than 10km from the outskirts of Donetsk. The following day, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the capture of Avdeevka, claiming to have inflicted massive casualties on Kiev's military in the process.

Reporting on Tuesday, the NYT quoted two unnamed Ukrainian service members as putting the number of POWs and missing soldiers at anywhere between 850 to 1,000. Anonymous Western officials have characterized this range as accurate, the newspaper claimed.

Comment: The number is probably much larger than a 1,000, considering this is the NYT.


Best of the Web: 'Live as you want, just don't touch the kids,' Putin tells gays

© Sputnik/Kristina Kormilitsyna
Russia is actually tolerant of people with non-traditional sexual orientations, so long as they don't target children or flaunt their preferences, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

The president made the remarks while addressing visitors to the 'Strong Ideas for a New Time' forum, a yearly event organized by Russia's state-backed Agency of Strategic Initiatives.

"We are quite tolerant towards people with non-traditional sexual orientations. We just don't flaunt it, and we don't believe it's right to flaunt it. Let everyone live - the adults - as they want. Nobody limits them in anything," Putin stated, explaining that, basically, there are only a handful of rules which limit the LGBTQ community in the country.
As for children, I have already said many times: 'Don't touch the children.' That's it. This is the first one. And the second one is, we are, first and foremost, a state that is guided by traditional values.

Comment: It's pretty simple for Putin and most rational-minded people around the world: Keep your sexual preferences to yourself and keep the acts private. Don't throw any of that into the public's face.


Maduro: Israel has the same Western support as Hitler

© Getty Images / Carlos Becerra
Modern Israel enjoys "the same encouragement, the same funding, and the same support" of the collective West like Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany before the World War II, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said.

The president made the remarks on his own TV program With Maduro Plus, backing the assessment of the situation in the Middle East provided recently by his Brazilian counterpart Lula da Silva.

"Powerful family names in the US, Europe and London supported and celebrated Hitler's arrival to power in 1933. They encouraged him and allowed him to persecute my Jewish ancestors," Maduro stated. The president made public his Jewish ancestry back in early 2010s, revealing his grandparents were Sephardic Jews who converted to Catholicism.

The Western elites "kept quiet because they were preparing Hitler for him to launch his military power against the Soviet Union," Maduro explained, stressing that, ultimately, Hitler was "a construct, a monster" created by the collective West.

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Russia denounces Israel's 'inhumane plans' for Gaza

security council
The US is shamefully covering for Israel's plan to make Gaza uninhabitable, Russia's envoy to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said on Tuesday. he made the comments after the US delegation wielded its third veto of a resolution calling for a truce in the Palestinian enclave since October last year.

Proposed by Algeria, the resolution called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid. It was backed by 13 Security Council members, with the UK abstaining, but failed because the US voted no.

"Today we have witnessed another black page in the history of the UN Security Council," Nebenzia said after the vote. "It was again written by the US delegation, which pursues the same goal - to cover for its closest Middle Eastern ally and play for time as much as possible, so that [Israel] can complete its inhumane plans for Gaza, namely to squeeze the Palestinians out of the sector and completely 'cleanse' the enclave, and directly sense, turning it into an uninhabited area."