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Are Green Foreign Agents Bankrolling Shapiro Campaign?

Climate change activists opposed to energy production in Pennsylvania like what they see in Josh Shapiro, the attorney general now running for governor. 

Campaign finance records show the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund (NRDC) is contributing to the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Action Fund, which in turn is contributing to Shapiro’s gubernatorial bid. 

That is significant because both political action committees are tied in with well-endowed environmental groups that have been the subject of congressional probes into Russian-funded efforts aimed at disrupting America’s energy sector.

The NRDC, which has more than $460 million in assets, according its most recent tax filing, incessantly lobbies in favor of regulations restricting energy use in Pennsylvania. The New York-based nonprofit has also published reports designed to undermine public support for innovative drilling techniques like hydraulic fracturing that make it possible to access oil and gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale, a geological formation of sedimentary rock that cuts across parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Action Fund is affiliated with the League of Conservation Voters, which tax records show has more than $20 million in assets.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, a group that supports energy companies and their employees, has a blog post detailing the harm that could be done to America’s economic, environmental, and national security interests in the event of a ban on hydraulic fracturing. That seems to be the overriding goal of the NRDC, and other environmental activist groups, that figure into a money trail allegedly leading back to Russia. 

In 2017, U.S. House members sent a letter to then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, calling attention to the role played by the Sea Change Foundation, a private entity based in San Francisco, that received funding from an overseas source. 

The foundation received $23 million from a Bermuda-based shell company between 2010 and 2011, which was then funneled into groups like the NRDC, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund in the form of grants, according to the letter. 

For the record, the NRDC has also been called out for maintaining close relations with China that suggest it may be operating in violation of foreign agent registration requirements.  In 2018, members of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee sent a letter to NRDC inquiring about its collaborative efforts with Chinese government officials. 

The group has denied operating as a foreign agent. But thanks to its well-heeled benefactors, it has ample funds to put Pennsylvania residents who rely on affordable, reliable energy at a great disadvantage. 

Big Green Inc., a project of the Institute for Energy Research, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, has tracked hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing from left-leaning foundations into the coffers of green activist groups that target Pennsylvania. That database shows the Sea Change Foundation has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the state since 2010. 

What are the implications for the governor’s race in Pennsylvania and the future of energy policy for the state?

Although Shapiro postures as an ally of trade unions on the campaign trail, he is also accepting funds from environmental activist groups that target the industries supporting union workers. Even so, those same trade unions have contributed almost $3 million to Shapiro’s run for governor since 2021, according to campaign finance records. But is the attorney general really devoted to protecting union jobs associated with coal, oil, and gas companies? 

A spokesman for Shapiro said the Democrat wants to keep Pennsylvania’s energy sector strong.

“Josh Shapiro rejects the false choice between protecting jobs and protecting our plants – he believes we must do both, and he will support Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry, invest in clean energy, and protect Pennsylvanians’ constitutional right to clean air and pure water. He will protect the jobs we have while creating thousands more, and that’s why workers in the energy industry and environmental advocates have endorsed his campaign,” said Shapiro campaign spokesman Will Simons.

NRDC Action Votes and the Conservation Voters of PA Victory Fund recently announced they would spend $500,000 in independent expenditure campaign funds on behalf of Shapiro. Apparently, environmental activists expect Shapiro to cut a path toward their preferred regulatory policies if elected. 

That’s a problem not just for Pennsylvania, but for the American people as a whole. The U.S. Energy Information Administration identifies Pennsylvania as the nation’s number two natural gas producer after only Texas and the number three coal-producing state after Wyoming and West Virginia. It’s not hard to understand why a Russian propaganda campaign would attempt to take down Pennsylvania’s energy industry. 

Even if the green groups don’t view themselves as foreign agents, they clearly view Shapiro as a conduit for anti-energy initiatives that benefit America’s foreign adversaries. 

 

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OPINION: American Natural Gas-Driven Energy Security

Amid returning to post-pandemic normalcy, a horrific war and an energy supply crunch have had devastating effects on consumers across the globe, all against the backdrop of historical inflation.

It’s essential to understand American natural gas’s critical role in ensuring the world has access to affordable, reliable, clean energy and underpinning our national security.

Europe’s economic and energy policies fostered an environment that resulted in deep and dangerous reliance on Russian energy. The continent is now faced with soaring energy prices and significant reliability concerns. As our strategic allies desperately seek solutions, America’s energy producers are focused on safely increasing supplies to loosen Russia’s chokehold, including routing liquefied natural gas to Europe and signing strategic long-term LNG supply contracts.

But while these international partnerships are a step in the right direction to strengthening Europe’s energy security, policymakers are faced with grim choices. Germany is one step away from rationing natural gas in response to Russia’s latest actions to curtail fuel delivery. “We are in a gas crisis,” said Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck. “From now on, gas is a scarce commodity.”

That’s starkly different compared to the United States, where, as the world’s top oil and natural gas producer, we are much more energy secure due to the abundance of resources beneath our feet.

Additionally, having a plentiful domestic energy supply means we can share the economic and environmental benefits of American energy worldwide. In fact, the United States recently surpassed Australia and Qatar to become the globe’s top LNG exporter.

This is great for American diplomacy, domestic job creation and the environment. Amid returning to post-pandemic normalcy, a horrific war and an energy supply crunch have had devastating effects on consumers across the globe, all against the backdrop of historic inflation.

It’s important to understand the critical role American natural gas plays in ensuring the world has access to affordable, reliable, clean energy and underpinning our national security.

Europe’s economic and energy policies fostered an environment that resulted in deep and dangerous reliance on Russian energy. The continent is now faced with soaring energy prices and significant reliability concerns. As our strategic allies desperately seek solutions, America’s energy producers are focused on safely increasing supplies to loosen Russia’s chokehold, including routing liquefied natural gas to Europe and signing strategic long-term LNG supply contracts.

But while these international partnerships are a step in the right direction to strengthening Europe’s energy security, policymakers there are faced with grim choices. Germany is one step away from rationing natural gas in response to Russia’s latest actions to curtail the delivery of fuel. “We are in a gas crisis,” said Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck. “From now on, gas is a scarce commodity.”

That’s starkly different compared to the United States, where, as the world’s top oil and natural gas producer, we are much more energy secure due to the abundance of resources beneath our feet.

Additionally, having a plentiful domestic energy supply means we are able to share the economic and environmental benefits of American energy worldwide. In fact, the United States recently surpassed Australia and Qatar to become the globe’s top LNG exporter.

A Pew Research poll found that voters want to see more natural gas production at home to increase exports to Europe.

As the largest natural gas-producing region with the greenest environmental profile in the country, our three states  — Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia —  have the tools to solve global energy woes.

Safety, integrity and a commitment to continuous improvement are values held deeply by the members who make up our respective organizations. We’re committed to being the driver of America’s clean energy future.

After all, technological breakthroughs in our industry brought America its long-sought net energy export status for the first time since the 1950s. Not to mention that the United States has reduced emissions faster than any country in the world, thanks to the increased use of natural gas.

However, policymakers must do more to enable this American energy progress to deliver even more benefits for our economy, our people, our allies and our environment by approving needed infrastructure, expanding export capacity and increasing domestic natural gas production.

Rather than turning to American ingenuity for support, our president would instead turn to cartel leaders to stabilize the market. “Before you visit Riyadh, we invite you to visit Reynoldsville, Pa. It’s the heart of the Marcellus Shale in the state where you were born, one of the most prolific natural gas-producing regions in the world,” the energy industry leaders wrote in a recent letter to President Biden.

“Join us in one of America’s major energy-producing areas which together launched the American energy revolution that ended decades of U.S. energy scarcity and growing dependence on foreign governments,” the letter said.

Never has it been more apparent that access to affordable, reliable and clean energy is directly tied to security and quality of life. America — led by Appalachian energy — has the opportunity to take the lead in reducing energy scarcity and helping our allies discover new energy and economic growth opportunities. That is something we as Americans should take great pride in.

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POTAPOVA: Letter From Ukraine as War Continues

Dear Friends,

A lot has changed from the last time we talked. What putin* planned to accomplish in less than a week turned into four months of an atrocious war with almost 1 million Ukrainians losing their homes, over 7 million refugees fleeing the country, and almost 3,000 missile strikes on different regions of Ukraine—what russians claimed to be attacks on military facilities, now turned into the blunt and vicious bombings of civilians, with hundreds of innocent people burned and killed, 344 of those – children.

Four months and counting.

They don’t give up on the idea of capturing the south of Ukraine and controlling both Azov and the Black Sea, and if all goes well, they move further. Meaning they want to capture the whole of Ukraine. At the same time, they spread the Ukraine fatigue rhetoric in Europe, lie about attacking “only military objects,” threaten with global hunger, call foreign politicians names, and leave all their dead on the battlefield. When it seems like they’ve reached the bottom, we see them reaching and breaking new limits again and again.

You asked what actions the U.S. could take to help. I will name a few not only for America but for the whole world.

Number one – boycott. You mentioned russian vodka. Well, their vodka is the easiest product the world can boycott. Oil and gas, other commodities, food, cars, arts, and literature – I could continue the list, but I guess you’ve got the idea. Boycotting literally everything of russian origin speeds up their complete isolation and turns the aggressor into a pariah. Governments across the world should accelerate action to make large businesses leave russia and impose stricter trade limitations (if not bans).

By the way, Belarus joined the club long ago and deserves serious response and sanctions too.

Number two – #ArmUkraineNow. We deeply appreciate the collective response of the West to the russian aggression in Ukraine. What we need now is the West holding the line. Continue standing with Ukraine and helping us resist. Ukraine fatigue is a sinister media narrative, especially considering the russian threats to Poland and the Baltics, which could unleash World War III. Weapons and financial aid that Ukraine already received or expects to receive have been unprecedented. However, we continue losing thousands of our men and women every day while the decisions in the cabinets are being made. Whenever possible, faster decision-making should be considered – it literally saves lives.

Number three – help us punish the killers for the thousands of their war crimes. I mean the international levers of influence enabling Ukraine to claim and recover damages done to our infrastructure, housing stock, people, and cultural heritage. Recently, Canada has become the first country to adopt legislation that allows seizing Russian assets and transferring them to Ukraine. Large global economies should do the same. We know it can take decades to make russia liable for its crimes, just as it was with the fascists in the Nuremberg process or with the genocide architects in the former Yugoslavia. To elaborate the mechanism for the liability of russia, the world has to start now.

Number four – russians came to exterminate us, to break our backbone. Please help us make the russian state liable for the thousands of forcible deportations for the way they treat Ukrainian captives. What they do is deliberate extermination. All our people must be returned home. Take five minutes to read the interview with Yuliya Payevska; a Ukrainian paramedic recently saved from russian captivity. Isn’t that genocide?

They came to break the backbones not only of the Ukrainian people but even of our pets. Yesterday I read the news about a dog named Lys (Fox in English) found in Kyiv region in a trash pit. Although alive, he had a vertebrae fracture, russian soldiers also broke his feet and then mined him. What kind of a creature is capable of that hatred? Would you sit to negotiate peace and then shake hands over the agreement with barbarians?

And number five –donate. Did you hear about Ukrainians donating around $ 20 million to buy Bayraktars (unmanned aerial vehicles) in 3 days? Be like us, stand with us, and help us prevail.

 

*EDITOR’S NOTE: putin and russia are not capitalized to show her disdain for the aggressors.

 

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Putin Bans Brian Fitzpatrick From Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin is known to have a long list of enemies. So long, it reaches all the way to Bucks County, Pa.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) is on Putin’s list of people banished from Russia’s borders, along with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The list is both lengthy and impressive. It features people from many walks of life: Politicians, business executives — even acclaimed actor Morgan Freeman made the list of 963 people who are now banned from entering Russia.

Perhaps the most unexpected name is Fitzpatrick’s brother Mike. A former congressman himself, Mike passed away in 2020 after a battle with cancer. Both Brian Fitzpatrick and his brother were outspoken supporters of Ukraine.

“The current landscape in Russia is one that is ruled by a murderous war criminal who denies its citizens basic human and civil rights, imprisons peaceful protesters, and indoctrinates its citizens with state-controlled propaganda,” Fitzpatrick told the Delaware Valley Journal.

Despite massive sanctions from the U.S., the E.U., and the West, Putin has continued waging war against Ukraine, an assault that has now lasted more than 100 days. His army is facing accusations of war crimes in its attempts to secure some of Ukraine’s cities. Buildings have been bombed, entire towns have been leveled and promises of safe passage have been violated. Children and the elderly have been among the civilian casualties. Fitzpatrick has been supportive of the measures that Biden has taken so far in its attempts to cripple the Russian economy, but argues America should do more.

“As long as Vladimir Putin is leading Russia, the entire world should boycott them and not contribute a single dime to their economy,” said Fitzpatrick.

While Putin is not making many friends in the U.S., a study conducted by Statista last month found 80 percent approved of Putin’s leadership. However, many critics have suspicions as to how accurate polls taken inside a state such as Russia can be.

Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick continues his fight against Russia and its treatment of Ukraine.

“I encourage everyone on Putin’s ‘ban list’ to join me in visiting Ukraine to meet a real leader like Volodymyr Zelenskyy, someone who shares our values and defends freedom and democracy in Ukraine and across the globe,” said Fitzpatrick.

 

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BROOKE: Ukraine War, Day 100: The Unimpressive Performance of Russia’s Military Thus Far

February 24, the day Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, is going down as a turning point in modern history.

As we hit the war’s 100-day mark on Friday, one of the most significant lessons is Russia’s much-feared “modernized” army, the largest in Europe, is, well, not so impressive.

On Feb. 25, many Western pundits predicted that the Russian army, the successor to the Soviet Union’s Big Red Machine, would roll into Kyiv in days. Putin thought the same. Many elite units he sent south to Kyiv carried dress uniforms in their backpacks. They were preparing for a victory parade down Kreshchatyk, the main avenue of Ukraine’s capital.

Instead, the world watched as Ukrainians rallied to stop the Russians dead in their tracks. Partisan units used drones to blow up tanks. U.S.-supplied Stinger missiles shot down so many helicopters and bombers that Russia never controlled the air. Diesel supplies ran out. Soldiers deserted their units.

Blocked in Kyiv’s suburbs, Russian soldiers descended into looting, drinking, raping and shooting civilians. Before retreating north to Belarus, Russian occupiers in Kyiv Region killed at least 1,500 civilians and destroyed 5,000 houses and 161 high-rise apartment buildings.

According to a daily tally maintained by Robert Homans, an American Ukraine expert in Washington, Russia lost 30,700 soldiers in the first three months of the war — more than double the 14,453 Soviet soldiers killed during the Soviet Union’s 10-year occupation of Afghanistan.

According to this tally, which draws on seven Ukrainian sources, Russia has lost: 208 fixed-wing aircraft in Ukraine, almost double the losses in Afghanistan; 866 artillery pieces, double the losses in Afghanistan; 3,343 armored personnel carriers, 2.5 times the losses in Afghanistan; and 1,361 tanks, nine times the losses in Afghanistan.

Going into the war, Westerners were guided by past gee-whiz articles, such as this April 2, 2014, piece in The New York Times: “In Crimea, Russia Showcases a Rebooted Army.” Written by two veteran reporters, the article came out two weeks after Russia’s virtually bloodless annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, on the Black Sea. That surprise operation blindsided Ukraine’s unprepared and demoralized military. In that overwhelmingly Russia-speaking area, 9,268 soldiers and sailors — half of Ukraine’s military — defected. Only two Ukrainian soldiers died defending Crimea.

Virtually untested in a police action, Russia’s army looked sharp.

“Their uniforms were crisp and neat, and their new helmets were bedecked with tinted safety goggles,” reported the Times. “They were sober.”

Aleksandr Golts, an independent military analyst in Moscow, praised Putin’s massive military spending in the early 2000s, saying: “As a result of these reforms, Russia now has absolute superiority over any country in the post-Soviet space.”

The last word went to Mikhail Khodaryonok, a reserve Russian army colonel who was then editor in chief of Moscow’s Military-Industrial Courier. He told the Times: “Everything is in order. There is no more such shame as broken tanks and A.P.C.’s on the road, and outdated weaponry. … The epoch of decay has been fully overcome, and the armed forces of the country are on the rise.”

Fast forward to two weeks ago.

The same Mikhail Khodaryonok shocked viewers of “60 Minutes,” the main talk show on Russia’s state-owned Rossiya 1 TV channel.

“The situation (for Russia) will clearly get worse,” he warned on May 16. Citing the massive Western aid in the pipeline for Ukraine this summer, he said: “The Ukrainian army can arm a million people.”

Referring to Ukrainian soldiers, he noted: “The desire to defend their motherland very much exists. Ultimate victory on the battlefield is determined by the high morale of troops who are spilling blood for the ideas they are ready to fight for.”

Beyond the battlefield, the veteran Russian analyst said: “The biggest problem with (Russia’s) military and political situation is that we are in total political isolation and the whole world is against us. … The situation cannot be considered normal when against us, there is a coalition of 42 countries and when our resources, military-political and military-technical, are limited.”

Two days later, Khodaryonok reappeared on the same show. He reassured viewers of state-controlled TV that the outlook for Russian soldiers in Ukraine this summer is not so bad.

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SADLER: Ukraine War, Day 100: Raising the Cost for Russia’s Naval Blockade Can Avert a Prolonged War

As the ground war in Ukraine’s Donbas region likely bogs down into a contest of prolonged attrition, access to the Black Sea will be key to which belligerent outlasts the other. Before the invasion, over 70 percent of Ukraine’s exports left via its ports. So eventually lifting Russia’s blockade will be critical to securing its economic future and sovereignty.

In recent days, Russia completed its conquest of Mariupol, sweeping clear Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov. That leaves Odessa as the last major Ukrainian port with access to the Black Sea, but its sea approaches are blocked by Russia’s navy. Since the invasion began, the city has been the target of sustained missile attacks, and while the threat of invasion is lesser now, it is not zero.

Meanwhile, an avoidable global food crisis has been brewing for months as critical exports of grains and fertilizers have been cut off. Together, Russia and Ukraine supply 30 percent of the world’s wheat, 60 percent of its sunflower oil, and 20 percent of its corn via the Black Sea. The potential for famine in poorer nations reliant on these exports is spurring new urgency to end the war.

While the potential for a food crisis was predictable and noted months before, it has only recently gained serious attention. In the past week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pursued a deal to open grain shipments from the Black Sea. However, Russia has other options for getting its exports to market and has not been in any hurry to relent in its blockade—yet.

Barring some diplomatic agreement to allow shipping to resume from Odessa in order to end Russia’s naval blockade, the cost for Russia to sustain it must be raised. Already Ukraine’s navy has demonstrated its ability to sink Russian naval vessels, most notably with the use of Neptune land-based anti-ship cruise missiles to sink the Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea flagship. That success has led to calls for supplying Ukraine with similar modern Western weapons.

To that end, allies United Kingdom and Denmark have signaled they have or will deliver the Harpoon anti-ship missile to Ukraine. While such weapons help to raise the cost for Russia, they don’t remove the threat. Russian submarines are increasingly launching cruise missile attacks and can easily shift to attacking shipping in the Black Sea without being threatened by these missiles. Something else is needed for this sort of threat.

Should attacking Russia’s surface warships not raise the costs high enough, neutralizing its Black Sea submarines might be required. Given Russia’s primary control of the airspace and the fact that Ukraine does not have a capable anti-submarine force, this will be a tall order.

That said, the time may be right to dust off past recommendations to modify the Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) for shore launch with extended ranges. The missile’s current range is too short making its utility in that role limited but familiar to numerous allied nations that operate them. Such an idea is not new; in a November 2020 article, the commandant of the Marine Corps argued for a similar capability in a war with China. For Ukraine it could be viable in the long term, assuming adequate targeting and weapon range.

While there is a valid sense of urgency in ending the war and averting a food crisis, it must not be done on Russia’s terms. But even if the war ended tomorrow, until sea mines are removed, shipping in the north Black Sea will not resume.

Here allies with minesweepers and access to the Black Sea—like Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and even Germany via the Danube River—can play an important role in supporting Ukraine. While hostilities are ongoing, having those countries engaged in minesweeping is high risk; more prudent is to provide such capabilities for Ukraine to use in its waters as Black Sea nations clear and patrol their own.

In the meantime, nations should look at ways to alleviate the loss of Ukrainian and Russian grains and fertilizer and pursue diplomatic solutions to allow Ukrainian shipping of food, while at the same time helping Ukraine raise the cost of Russia’s blockade.

As long as Russia can damage Ukraine’s economy by preventing its ability to export many of its agricultural products, Kyiv will face challenges. Raising the costs for Russia is one way to bring the blockade and the war to an earlier end.

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KING: The Threat of Nuclear War and the License It Has Given Putin

History isn’t short of people to blame. You could say of the present world crisis that it was former president Barack Obama’s fault for not getting tougher with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Syria. You could blame former president Donald Trump for giving Putin a sense of entitlement and for undermining NATO, seeing it as a financial play. You could blame former German chancellor Angela Merkel for encouraging Russian gas imports, shutting out the nuclear energy option.

You could, of course, blame President Biden for explicitly telling Putin, and the world, what the United States wouldn’t do if he invaded Ukraine. And you could blame Biden and NATO for dribbling vital military aid to Ukraine over the first devastating months of the Russian invasion.

If you want to continue, you could blame the world’s military strategists for believing that Russia, after the fall of communism, had changed. You could, perhaps, blame NATO itself, for expanding its reach to the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Putin is unequivocally the one to blame. He is the one who wants to remake Russia in the image of the imperial tsars. It is a flawed scheme but a real one.

As the world grapples with the reality of Putin, the past informs but it doesn’t instruct. If NATO were to engage Russia with conventional forces, it would triumph. That is one lesson of Ukraine. Russian military forces are woefully inefficient, even incompetent.

Would it were that simple.

The beast in the room, the feared monster, the threat that hangs over the whole world is nuclear war. It is the clear-and-present danger. It shapes our handling of Russia and will shape our response to China, if and when it invades Taiwan.

Nuclear war avoidance is again dominating the world in ways we had nearly forgotten. Will Russia — a caged, fierce bear — resort to nuclear, and how much nuclear to what effect against which targets?

The United States and the Soviet Union reached a modus vivendi: mutual assured destruction (MAD), which kept the peace even as nuclear armaments proliferated and stockpiles grew exponentially. Is that still the option? Is MAD — so long after the collapse of the Soviet Union — still the underlying realpolitik, the restraining factor between nuclear powers?

Does that mean that anyone with nuclear weapons can wage conventional warfare in the belief that they won’t face NATO or any other serious restraining military action because they can unleash terrifying global destruction?

Or is there, as some believe, the prospect of limited nuclear engagement, using area tactical nuclear weapons? This has never been tested. There hasn’t been a limited nuclear ground war. Could it be contained? Should it be contemplated outside the deeper reaches of the defense establishment?

But it is what keeps the leaders of Europe, the United States and Canada awake nights. If you favor limited nuclear war, just look to the effects of a nuclear disaster, Chernobyl, and start multiplying.

It is the unthinkable scenario that must be thought about. It is the reality that holds back NATO and makes the West a spectator to the carnage in Ukraine.

Russia isn’t a rich country. It has a large, poorly trained and equipped military. But it bristles with nuclear weapons aimed at North American and European cities. Its ability to threaten us with nuclear horror changes the balance between nations: an indelible change to future foreign policy.

In the short term, when contemplating the return of MAD in international relations, the question is: How mad — as in insane — is Putin, and how ready is Biden?

The pieces on the world chess board have moved and they won’t be moved back. The intelligentsia has yet to grasp the extent to which Ukraine has changed the world — and made it a more dangerous place. They need to catch up fast.

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Despite War Worries, Hundreds Show Ukrainian Pride

Hundreds attended the two-day Easter bazaar at the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center (UECC) in Abington last weekend.

And many came with heavy hearts and worries about the war in Ukraine.

Stories of horrors perpetrated by the Russian invaders dominate the news. For those with family members and friends still in Ukraine, the worry about their safety is nearly unbearable.

Andriy Kulynin stirring kulish or millet porridge.

“I’m from Ukraine, so for me, it’s a disaster,” said Nadya Shakirova of Montgomery Township, who was at the bazaar with her children. “It’s unbelievably sad. There are no words to describe how painful it is.”

She came from Lviv in western Ukraine in 1999 and still has cousins there.

Lauren Hulayew brought her 2-year-old daughter, Kira, who clutched a Ukrainian flag, to the bazaar on Saturday.

“We’re Ukrainian,” said Hulayew, a Huntingdon Valley resident. “I think it’s horrible. We’ve endured a lot. It’s so sad to see (what’s happening). I can’t even imagine.”

Vendors at the bazaar sold Ukrainian flags, T-shirts, and other clothing emblazed with Ukrainian mottos, like “Free Ukraine,” along with the traditional embroidered clothing Ukraine is known for. There was art, including the pysanky, decorated Ukrainian Easter eggs.

And Ukrainian delicacies were served including borscht, pierogis, kielbasa, and potato pancakes, along with tables full of desserts. Everywhere, one could hear conversations in Ukrainian.

Christine Shwed said the Ukrainian National Women’s League has raised nearly $1 million for medical equipment for Ukrainians. She was manning a booth to sell books of Ukrainian fairy tales for the cause.

“We had to do something,” she said. “We couldn’t just stand by.”

Vera Bej, the former principal at the Saturday school at the UECC, said, “Everybody is doing something.”

Bej, who came to the U.S. as a child, said she still remembers what it was like under communism and the Soviet Union.

“I watched the old Soviet Union crumble and fall,” said Bej, a Shippensburg resident. As for the Russian invasion, she said, “I am shocked and astounded.”

Many people have been dropping off donations at the UECC, helping to box items to send to Ukraine, and for the 4 million refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. “People who don’t have a drop of Ukrainian blood” are helping, said Bej.

Larisa Kril, of North Wales, came to the U.S. when she was 30. The war actually began in 2014, “when Russia came and occupied Crimea,” she said. But Russians have been killing Ukrainians for 300 years, she noted.

Her son, Christopher Kril, 27, was also at the bazaar.

Christopher Kril and Larisa Kril

Christopher, who lives in Philadelphia and works at a credit union, said he would go to Ukraine every summer to visit his late grandmother, who lived in a small town in the western part of the country.

“It’s unbelievable, devastating, inhumane,” he said. “To imagine the streets that I walked in being blown up, dead bodies. That’s just really hard to imagine. I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back. So much beautiful architecture, so many years of history, lost. I hope the West and the U.S. help to rebuild Ukraine without Big Brother Russia.”

Bej said, “I feel guilty when I pray for my own family. I feel I shouldn’t ask for anything for them with what’s happening there.”

Thomas Stephanson, 16, of Swarthmore, spoke to the Delaware Valley Journal about Ukraine’s long history with neighboring Russia.

“It’s hard to tell Putin’s motives,” said the Strath Haven High School student. “It’s impossible to say what he will do with what’s happening now (with Ukrainian forces fighting and winning back some territory). It’s brutal.”

 

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POTAPOVA: A Letter From Ukraine

Dear Friend:

I’m sorry for the delay with the answer, just couldn’t collect myself and my thoughts after seeing the atrocious footage and death tolls from Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv that have been liberated by Ukrainian forces. The whole country is utterly shocked. We all are mourning the killed civilians up there and praying for the people in Mariupol and Donbas where they have heavy battles right now.

Despite the pain, I want to use every opportunity to talk to a foreign audience about the war crimes the russians (yes, that is correct, since the war started we here write the names of the aggressor country and its president in lowercase letters) commit on our land. I will try to share my thoughts on what it’s like to be in a country that is at war. For security reasons I don’t go into much detail when it comes to locations.

The picture that I’m attaching to this email was made by my daughter three months before the war. That day we saw a theatre show, ate some street food, and enjoyed the sun in the center of Kyiv. That day Kyiv was a peaceful place, probably the best one on Earth, I love this city so much. And I believe peace will be restored to it soon.

So, let’s do it. Sorry if the text comes unstructured, it is more of a free writing thing.

My name is Tanya, I’m 38, happily married, mother of two. Currently, I’m the communications lead in one of the top law firms in Ukraine. I live in Kyiv but a few days after russia invaded we made a decision to flee to a safer region. It has remained relatively safe up until now and I hope it will stay safe.

On Feb. 24 we woke up from a phone call. It was 7 a.m. The babysitter of our younger son called to ask whether she should come that day. I said yes and she asked, “Are you sure? Have you heard the news?” I immediately went online and the first headline was saying: “putin started a war.” Of course, there was fear then. There is fear now but it goes with an overwhelming feeling of the people’s unity, rage, and determination.

We have air sirens every day and especially at night. That is why we spend the nights in a shelter. It seems we took other things for luxury before, our new luxury is to have food and water, electricity and internet, to take a shower, go for a walk, play with kids. At least it is a luxury for now because every new day might change everything.

I was lucky not to experience shelling, rocket attacks, not to lose loved ones, to remain alive. But I know people who lost their homes because of bombs, their loved ones died in the shelling or were shot during evacuation.

Mariupol, Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel, Borodyanka, Kharkiv, Sumy – it’s heartbreaking to think of people there. Handcuffed, tortured, raped, burnt, starved, strangled, humiliated, blocked, deprived of their homes, killed by the obedient herd to satisfy the monstrous reincarnation of Stalin and Hitler in one.

What the russian troops have been doing are war crimes. And war criminals who gave and executed orders, crafted and promoted the propagandistic agenda for decades, and then publicly denied the atrocities done by their army, should and will be punished. This is why Ukraine will fight no matter how much time and effort it takes.

You know, I think Ukraine reinvents itself right now. We literally see the country shaking off the rudiments of the Soviet past–pro-russian political parties and propagandistic media, the language issue (many people I know who spoke russian before the war started using Ukrainian in their everyday life). It’s great to see a dignified and resilient nation in the making. The nation that undoubtedly will prevail.

Every single person I know contributes to the victory by helping the army, refugees, neighbors, animals, anyone in trouble. I stayed in Ukraine and decided to spend as much time with my kids as I can. Having an incredibly supportive employer, I continue working remotely, and this was another commitment – to get myself together and continue doing my job because a stable economy helps Ukraine to get closer to victory. I use every chance to spread the truth about the war across the world. And I donate: to the Ukrainian armed forces, to the widows of the killed, to refugee centers, to free Ukrainian media.

Growing up, making friends, falling in love, giving birth to kids, living, working, and traveling in Ukraine was fantastic before the russians came to try and take it all away. Since 1991, our country has been paving its way to the EU and NATO. We struggled with reforms. We voted in democratic elections. We fought for the right to choose our own path. It’s not that we haven’t made mistakes. We did, but who doesn’t when trying to emerge out of a communist past as a democracy?

Obviously, Ukraine became a pain in the ass for russia – no dictatorship likes free-minded neighboring countries. We didn’t obey and give up as they planned. We fight for our freedom and shield the freedom of Europe. The cost is tremendously high though: devastated land in place of beautiful modern towns and cities, mass graves in the backyards of residential areas, kids becoming orphans, and infrastructure being destroyed. War crimes and genocide–this is what it is, and there can be no redemption.

When the war ends with our victory and russia gets stuck in the deadlock of the sanctions, military and economic losses, international isolation, and the eventual fall of putin and his regime, Ukraine will need financial, humanitarian, diplomatic help from the international community, just as it needs it now. Along with that, the world would need to deal with the aftermath of the war and do its homework. It should include efforts to redesign the international security framework and face the challenges of the global food crisis caused by the war. Basically, when the war ends helping Ukraine to come back to normal life will mean helping the world.

My Bosniak friend, Riada, a journalist who often writes about genocide in her country in the ‘90s, keeps supporting me during this time. The other day she sent me an open letter from a Sarajevo siege survivor to Ukrainians published on BBC. The letter was about the message on her 30-year-old teeshirt that sustained the woman during 1425 days of the siege. Modified for us, the message was “Ukraine will be, everything else will pass.” This is what we here think now.

Oh, and you asked whether I have pets. Well, our older daughter asked for a dog many times. My husband and I always thought two kids are enough to keep ourselves busy and our apartment a mess. Now we’ve had a deal that we would get a dog after the war is over – we want to see our apartment the happiest mess ever. Today it’s 40 days since we left it.

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While the Russian War in Ukraine Rages, What Is China’s Takeaway?

China has been warned by the Biden administration not to support Russia in that nation’s illegal war, but China has merely parried that jab and is looking hard at the realities of the war in Ukraine.

The Chinese have learned two things already.

President Biden is not strong at home, which is mildly interesting to China, but is significantly weak abroad, which interests China greatly. They saw in Afghanistan that this White House offers no foreign policy expertise.

They are mystified by a nation that at one moment was energy independent — in the thirstiest energy consuming country in the world — and in the next it became intentionally dependent on many of its competitors.

Biden’s decision-making is even worse.

China also understands that Russia is not nearly the fighting machine that many, including an angry President Vladimir Putin, thought they were.

As of this writing, the Russian army, unable to muster combined arms fighting skills, is slogging its way through Ukraine, having lost thousands of soldiers, including four generals killed in action (by contrast, the U.S. lost exactly zero generals in eight years in Iraq).

Putin’s decision-making is even worse.

Nuclear weapons continue to occupy the thoughts of all in the region and worldwide. Part of Russian warfighting doctrine allows use of tactical low-yield weapons, designed to allow quick takeover of affected areas.

The Chinese are not overly concerned about Biden’s comments or with Russia’s conduct of battle.

The Chinese Communist Party is dispassionately going about the business of achieving its own goals of their plan for the Great Rejuvenation of 2049.

The Defense Department views the Great Rejuvenation’s purpose is “to match or surpass U.S. global influence and power, displace U.S. alliances and security partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, and revise the international order to be more advantageous to Beijing’s authoritarian system and national interests.” It is not ambiguous.

It is worth looking at what China is doing, out of the spotlight.

China has threatened countries supplying Taiwan with military equipment. Their obvious aim is to intimidate countries, including the United States, to pull back on aid.

There have been indications that Russia has asked China for military support. It is not clear whether China has provided any equipment. For its part, China claims Russia has not asked for equipment and this is simply U.S. “disinformation.”

China is also projecting a neutral position in the war (which has a dubious basis given its brotherly relationship with Russia). The western nations must constantly point this out. China cannot have it both ways.

Militarily, China is likely assessing its own military readiness. Russia’s generals fooled Putin into believing their forces were ready to take Ukraine in days.

China’s untested generals, many selected for political connections, not military acumen, are likely feeding Chinese leaders with claims of supremacy. Look for major exercises in China in the next few months. Chinese leaders do not want the Russian experience.

China is also advising its fellow Asian leaders not to get too emboldened with their foreign policy.

For example, China issued a thinly veiled threat to Japan.

At a March 7 news conference, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi urged Japan not to take any actions that could be seen as interfering in things that are not their concern. In other words: Watch yourself, Japan.

The United States is not immune from efforts of intimidation.

On March 18, just before a scheduled phone call between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Chinese navy sailed an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait. The move was meant to be a reminder that Taiwan is in the Chinese’s collective minds.

During the call, according to a vague White House readout, Biden “described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia.”

The Chinese foreign ministry’s view of the situation was one in which “all-round and indiscriminate sanctions” would cause suffering to the “common people.” China merely changed the subject.

Naturally, the Chinese did not address the suffering caused by incessant bombing and missiles being hurled toward cities day and night.

China is not a friend of the west, especially the United States, or Ukraine, and the clarity of the country’s leaders is abundantly clear.

Now is the time to completely re-evaluate our multi-layered relationship with this giant and squash its dream of becoming the hegemon of the Pacific Rim.

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