Russia Abandons Annexed Ukrainian City, Putin Ally Wants Nuclear War: Revelation 16

Russia Abandons Annexed Ukrainian City, Putin Ally Wants Nuclear Response

Russia Abandons Annexed Ukrainian City, Putin Ally Wants Nuclear Response

Russia has used Lyman as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region. Its fall would be Ukraine’s biggest battlefield gain.

Kyiv: 

    
Russia said on Saturday its troops had abandoned their bastion of Lyman in Ukraine’s east for fear of encirclement and the leader of Chechnya, a close Kremlin ally, said Moscow should consider using a low-yield nuclear weapon in response.

The fall of the town is a major setback for Moscow after President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of the Donetsk region, along with three other regions, at a ceremony on Friday that was condemned by Kyiv and the West as a farce.

“Allied forces were withdrawn from the settlement of … Lyman to more advantageous lines because of the creation of the threat of encirclement,” Russia’s Ministry of Defence said.

The statement ended hours of official silence from Moscow after Kyiv first said it had surrounded thousands of Russian troops in the area and then that its forces were inside the town of Lyman.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya who describes himself as a footsoldier of President Putin, said he was unable to remain silent after Moscow abandoned the territory, which the Kremlin had proclaimed to be part of Russia just a day earlier.

“In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons,” Mr Kadyrov wrote on Telegram in a post in which he derided a Russian general.

The Russian defence ministry’s statement made no mention of its troops being encircled.

“The Russian grouping in the area of Lyman is surrounded,” Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern forces, said hours earlier.

He said that Russia had had 5,000 to 5,500 troops at Lyman but the number of encircled troops could be lower because of casualties.

“We’re already in Lyman, but there are battles,” the spokesperson said on television.

Two grinning Ukrainian soldiers taped the yellow-and-blue national flag on to the sign at the town’s entrance in Donetsk region’s north, a video posted by the president’s chief of staff showed.

“Oct. 1. We’re unfurling our state flag and establishing it on our land. Lyman will be Ukraine,” one of the soldiers said, standing on the bonnet of a military vehicle.

Neither side’s battlefield assertions could be independently verified.

Logistics Hub 

Russia has used Lyman as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region. Its fall would be Ukraine’s biggest battlefield gain since a lightning counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last month.

The Ukrainian military spokesperson said the capture of Lyman would allow Kyiv to advance into the Luhansk region, whose full capture Moscow announced at the beginning of July after weeks of slow, grinding advances.

“Lyman is important because it is the next step towards the liberation of the Ukrainian Donbas. It is an opportunity to go further to Kreminna and Sievierodonetsk, and it is psychologically very important,” he said.

Donetsk and Luhansk regions together make up the wider Donbas region that has been a major focus for Russia since soon after the start of Moscow’s invasion on Feb. 24 in what it called a “special military operation” to demilitarise its neighbour.

Vladimir Putin proclaimed the Donbas regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be Russian land in Friday’s ceremony – a swathe of territory equal to about 18% of Ukraine’s total surface land area.

Ukraine and its Western allies branded Russia’s move as illegal. Kyiv vowed to continue liberating its land of Russian forces and said it would not hold peace talks with Moscow while Vladimir Putin remained as president.

Retired U.S. General Ben Hodges, a former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, said a Russian defeat in Lyman after Putin’s declaration would be a major political and military embarrassment for the Russian leader.

“This puts in bright lights that his claim is illegitimate and cannot be enforced,” he said.

It remained to be seen how Ukrainian commanders would exploit the rout, he said, adding it likely would further erode the morale of Moscow’s troops holding other Ukrainian territory.

Mr Cherevatyi said the operation around Lyman was still under way and Russian troops were mounting unsuccessful attempts to break out of the encirclement.

“Some are surrendering, they have a lot of killed and wounded, but the operation is not yet over,” he said.

Ukraine’s exiled governor of Luhansk said Russian forces had asked for a safe exit out of the encirclement, but Ukraine rejected the request.

The Ukrainian General Staff told Reuters it had no such information.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Biden and Obama’s effort to secure a nuclear deal is weakening the Abraham Accords

Is Biden’s effort to secure a nuclear deal weakening the Abraham Accords?

The Iran nuclear agreement reached in 2015 played a role in bringing about the Abraham Accords—the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain—but there are question marks over whether the Biden administration’s overtures to Tehran are now encouraging the demise of the accords.

The Islamic Republic’s jingoism helped motivate the Sunni Gulf states to enter into normalized relations with Israel in 2020, Mideast experts say.

But now, the essential question for many experts is: Are Sunni Arab nations hedging their bets and engaging in a rapprochement with Tehran, leading to a deterioration of the normalization process? Take the example, in early September, of the United Arab Emirates’ decision to send an ambassador to the Islamic Republic after a six-year diplomatic downgrade in relations.

“There is no doubt that a sense of American inconsistency regarding Iran has fueled the desire of Gulf countries to ‘hedge’ [their positions] between the U.S. and its allies, and Iran. The apparently never-ending nuclear negotiations form an element of this,” Jonathan Spyer, a fellow at both the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) and the Middle East Forum (MEF), told JNS.

Spyer added, “The perceived failure to respond with sufficient and consistent force against such episodes as the attack on Saudi oil facilities in 2019 and the drone attack on Abu Dhabi in 2022 further fuel the sense that there is no clear and firm anti-Iran camp available to join. At the same time, this inconsistency may in fact make Israel a more attractive balancing partner, even alongside continued hedging, since Israel can provide hard power responses to the Iranian threat (in such fields as air defense) on a level beyond the capability of any other regional power.” 

The UAE’s close proximity to Iran, the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism according to the U.S. State Department, surely fills the tiny oil-rich nation with acute anxiety. The Iranian regime-backed Yemeni Houthi movement has attacked UAE oil facilities and tankers. 

Brian Katulis, a senior fellow and vice president of policy at the Middle East Institute in Washington, told JNS that “Arab Gulf countries are hedging on two main fronts, first on the global stage, trying to maintain good ties between their own countries and the United States, Russia and China at the same time.

Secondly, they are hedging within the region, with some countries like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar seeking to work closely with Israel, either overtly or behind the scenes, while maintaining ties with Iran. That’s mostly a function of their unique geographic position and relatively small size and how their leaders assess it is best to manage risks and threats while expanding opportunities for their countries,” Katulis said.

The UAE’s behavior towards Iran’s regime largely mirrors Washington’s negotiating posture. The U.S. strategy advocates powerful economic incentives to motivate the clerical regime to step back from its terrorism and its illicit nuclear program.

Critics of the 2015 JCOPA argued that the cash pumped into Tehran’s coffers before the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear accord in 2018 only served to intensify the clerical state’s terrorism.

A renewed U.S. atomic accord with the Islamic Republic could see Tehran receive as much as $275 billion in financial benefits during the first year, according to Foundation for Defense of Democracies Iran expert Saeed Ghasseminejad. 

The economic package for the theocratic state could total $1 trillion by 2030, said the FDD expert. The JCPOA would only impose temporary restrictions on Tehran’s capability to produce nuclear bombs. 

Iran’s regime remains the 800-pound gorilla in the Gulf room, helping to explain the region’s volatility.

Katulis said, “Talks on a new Iran nuclear deal have not achieved their goals, much in the same way that [President Donald] Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign on Iran did not achieve its objectives. The region remains a tinderbox in large part due to the Iranian regime’s destabilizing actions that undermine regional security and the stability of the state system in certain places like Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. The discontent Iran’s regime is experiencing at home will further complicate dynamics.”

Hayvi Bouzo, a Syrian-born Mideast expert and journalist who co-founded Yalla Productions, told JNS, “The trauma in many Sunni Arab countries caused by the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with the Iranian regime is triggered [once more] by the recent negotiations under the Biden administration.

“The nightmare scenario would be that a JCPOA 2.0 deal would be signed. This would translate to the Iranian regime receiving billions of dollars [and] embolden its terrorist proxy militias throughout the region, still without really addressing the fact that Iran has secret nuclear sites that are not being inspected. Also, the deal is only postponing and not really addressing the fact that Iran has all the needed capabilities to develop a nuclear bomb,” she said.

Bouzo noted that “the massive protests that are taking place throughout Iran today—after the “morality police” killed Mahsa Amini for not wearing hijab ‘properly’—could have a major impact on the nuclear negotiations and make it harder for Arab countries to expand their relationships with the Iranian regime. 

“The massive protests in Iran today could result in the exact opposite, which is a closer relationship between Sunni Arab states and Israel, as they see the Iranian regime is in a much more weakened position today,” she said.

Backers of the Antichrist have tried to march towards the Iraqi parliament.

Demonstrators face off with security forces
Demonstrators face off with security forces during protests in to enter the Green Zone of Baghdad [Ahmed Jalil/EPA]

Al-Sadr’s supporters clash with Iraqi security forces in Baghdad

Backers of Shia religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr have tried to march towards the Iraqi parliament.

Supporters of Iraq’s influential Shia religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr have attempted to storm Baghdad’s Green Zone government area as the Iraqi parliament holds a session on the resignation of its speaker.

Sadr supporters attempted to advance past security forces guarding the parliament on Wednesday, before being confronted by riot police.

Iraqi state media also reported in the afternoon that three Katyusha rockets had fallen on the Green Zone.

Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem, reporting from the area earlier, said that the protesters threw stones at security forces, and added that they were trying to make their way to the parliament.

“The speaker of the parliament is leaving the alliance with Muqtada al-Sadr and joining the rival alliance. People here are trying to prevent the parliament session from convening,” he said.

“Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr feel betrayed right now because the rivals …. are trying to form a new coalition,” he also said. “A new prime minister will be named and this is what they do not want.”

Al Jazeera’s live footage showed intense clashes between the protesters and security forces as well as a few lightly wounded demonstrators.

Thirty killed in August

The confrontation between the security forces and al-Sadr’s supporters comes almost a month after fighting broke out between militias supporting al-Sadr and others supporting his Shia rivals on August 30. More than 30 people died in the worst violence Baghdad had seen for years, before al-Sadr ordered his supporters to withdraw.

Al-Sadr’s bloc won the most votes in the parliamentary elections last October but he was unable to form a majority government. He then ordered his bloc to resign en masse from parliament, which they duly did in June.

Al-Sadr’s followers stormed parliament in late July to prevent the rival Iran-backed Coordination Framework Alliance from forming a government.

With ensuing rallies, clashes with security forces, counter-rallies and a sit-in outside parliament, the government formation process has stalled.

Al-Sadr has now been calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections and has been in a power struggle with his Iran-backed rivals since the vote.

Iranian Horn ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

The two candidates viewed as favorites to replace Khamenei are his son Mojtaba and President Ebrahim Raisi, above. (AFP)

October 01, 2022

  • High-level jockeying for position over who will succeed Khamenei as supreme leader

JEDDAH: Iran’s clerical rulers are in disarray over how to crush mass anti-government protests amid rifts over security tactics and high-level maneuvering over who will succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, analysts say.
Nationwide unrest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody has coincided with new rumors about the 83-year-old supreme leader’s ailing health, posing a threat to Iran’s religious establishment.
Although in theory, the 86-member Assembly of Experts will choose the next leader, jockeying for influence has already begun, making it difficult for the ruling clerics to unite around a set of security tactics.
“This race has caused disarray inside the leadership. The deepening rift is the last thing we need when the country is in turmoil,” one hard-line official said. “The main issue right now is the Islamic Republic’s survival.”

FASTFACT

Nationwide unrest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody has coincided with new rumors about the 83-year-old supreme leader’s ailing health.

The two candidates viewed as favorites to replace Khamenei are his son Mojtaba and President Ebrahim Raisi. “Neither of them has popular support,” said Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But what keeps the Islamic Republic in power is not popular support, but repression — and both men are deeply experienced in repression.”
As the protests spread to 80 cities nationwide, Iran’s rulers have accused a coalition of “anarchists, terrorists and foreign foes” of orchestrating the troubles — a narrative few Iranians believe.
Alarmed by the depth of popular outrage, some senior clerics and politicians have appealed for restraint to avoid bloodshed that could galvanize and embolden protesters.
But that has not stopped hard-liners calling for tougher measures, despite the death of at least 75 protesters in the security crackdown. “A part of the establishment fears that this time using more lethal force can push the Islamic Republic to a no return point,” said a senior former Iranian official.

Ground Zero Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

 RELIGIOUS JEWS visit the Temple Mount, in 2020. (photo credit: SLIMAN KHADER/FLASH90)

Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is Israel’s ground zero – opinion

It is time to assert our sovereignty over our holiest site, to send a clear message to the world that the Temple Mount will indeed be a place for free worship.

By DOUGLAS ALTABEF

Published: SEPTEMBER 30, 2022 09:52

RELIGIOUS JEWS visit the Temple Mount, in 2020.

(photo credit: SLIMAN KHADER/FLASH90)

The expression “ground zero” connotes the place of essence, of origin, of fundamental significance. In Israel, Har Habayit, The Temple Mount, has come to be seen as that essential, irreplaceable, and defining place of the Jewish people and of the State of Israel.

This clarity of understanding, is, like many realities here, perceived more clearly by our citizenry than by our leadership. It is our citizens who increasingly understand and embody the wisdom that “he who controls Jerusalem controls Israel, and he who controls the Temple Mount controls Jerusalem.”

“He who controls Jerusalem controls Israel, and he who controls the Temple Mount controls Jerusalem.”

In this sense the Temple Mount represents an important geopolitical reality for Israel to recognize and to address. The all too predictable dog-whistle-like cries that “al-Aqsa Mosque is under attack” are a manipulative effort to prevent Israeli control over the mount.

Iraqis gather in Baghdad to mark anniversary of 2019 anti-government protest

So too is the posture of King Abdullah of Jordan, whose foreign policy approach is by and large to put a gun to his own head, threatening to pull the trigger if he doesn’t get his way. However, with the Temple Mount, he acts, and Israeli leadership react, as if Abdullah has compromising pictures of our leaders in his drawer, which he threatens to reveal if Israel gets too “proprietary” and overly “Judaizing” with the Temple Mount.

The result has been a long-term absurdity, where Israeli leaders tolerate a true desecration of Judaism’s holiest site, and the nauseating humiliation of Jewish visitors, all in the name of some mythical “status quo.”

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)The Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

The status quo is just Israel denying its own connection to the Temple Mount

The “status quo” is merely the self-abasing willingness of Israel to deny its connection to the Temple Mount, all in the ever important, but always elusive dream of keeping a lid on things.

Thankfully, in the past couple of years, the embarrassing situation is starting to change. Change has been driven by us, the citizens of Israel, in classic grassroots manner. Brave individuals, and committed organizations such as B’yadenu (“In our Hands,” a reference to General Motta Gur’s famous pronouncement after the Temple Mount was liberated during the Six Day War) have consistently challenged absurd, humiliating and completely arbitrary protocols that, whatever the thinking behind them was, only serve to enrage and inspire Jewish visitors to contemplate acts of civil disobedience.

The Temple Mount has become its own human rights issue, its own civil rights campaign. Here the strivers, the excluded, yes, the oppressed, are us, Jews, denied a natural and ennobling connection with our holiest site.

There are 10 entry points to the Temple Mount, but only one accessible for Jews. It happens to be on a ramp that has all the structural integrity of what collapsed on Mt. Meron. Hours are limited, days are restricted, and the slightest inclination of possible unrest results in Jews, never Muslims, from being barred.

WHILE MUSLIMS play soccer and desecrate antiquities, Jews have been prosecuted for reciting the Shema.

As I said, the winds of change are beginning to blow, and the only reason they are is because there have been consistent challenges to protocols that have been upheld in court.

Increasingly, prayer is being heard, both individually and even in minyans. Israeli flags have been known to appear, and even the “Hatikvah” has been sung. Most recently, intrepid members of B’yadenu, including our CEO and a Board Member, along with former MK Yehuda Glick, blew shofarot outside the Eastern wall of the Mount, prompting their knee-jerk detention, but ultimately – after legal intervention – their release.

Just as the Abraham Accords succeeded in bursting the bubble of received wisdom as to how peace could be advanced in the Middle East, so too, it is high time for Israel’s leaders to recognize that they must break out of the failed assumptions and approach that have characterized Israel’s control, or lack thereof, of the Temple Mount.

It is time to assert our sovereignty over our holiest site, to send a clear, unambiguous message to the world, friends and adversaries alike, that the Temple Mount will indeed be a place for free worship and association by respectful people of all faiths, including Jews.

At a time when Hamas chooses to project itself as the “Guardians of Jerusalem” and when segments of the Arab community see the opportunity to exploit Israeli reasonableness and compromise for the weakness that is ultimately perceived, it is absolutely critical that we assert ourselves on the Temple Mount.

Al-Aqsa has never been nor will ever be under attack, except if the mere presence of Jews on the Temple Mount is perceived as a threat in the ethnically cleansed mentality of some Muslim visitors. To that perception, we need to invoke timeless kindergarten wisdom: “well, we’re sorry you feel that way, but you are going to have to learn to share.”

I am very proud of the individuals and the organizations who, with great clarity, and even greater determination, have made the reclamation of the Temple Mount into a new Jewish imperative. The proof of that determination is the dramatic rise in Jewish ascendance to the Temple Mount. More than 50,000 Jews ascended this past year, a number greater than any time since the destruction of the Second Temple.

In this new year, may we redouble our efforts to extend our rights, presence and our connection with the Temple Mount. It is not a zero-sum game. Asserting our rights comes with no derogation to anyone else.

When King Solomon inaugurated the First Temple, he invited the nations of the world to come to pray there. We are similarly welcoming. It’s just that it is long overdue for the Temple Mount to be beckoning and welcoming to Jews.

Next year on the Temple Mount!

The writer is a director of B’yadenu. He is also the chairman of the board of Im Tirtzu and a director of the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at dougaltabef@gmail.com.

Basra: An Undeclared War Between The Antichrist And Khazali Factions

Basra: An Undeclared War Between The Sadr And Khazali Factions

MIDDLE EAST

By David Sadler Last Updated Sep 30, 2022

Hundreds of militiamen of the “Saraya al-Salam” militia affiliated with the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, paraded last night in the main streets of Basra, amid contradictory information about the goal of the sudden move on the eve of a popular protest in Baghdad and other cities today.

Video clips, circulated by activists on the communication sites, showed hundreds of “brigades” parading with light and medium weapons, and roaming the streets of Basra with pickup wheels.

The parade paralyzed the normal traffic in the streets, until late at night, before the Saraya withdrew automatically, according to what a local source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Activists and various field sources refer by name to the “Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq” militia led by Qais al-Khazali in Basra, as it is pursuing activists in the civil movement and leaders of the Sadrist movement in the context of an undeclared war between the two sides.

A field source said that Asa’ib gunmen paraded their weapons near the presidential palaces in Basra, which prompted the “brigades” to respond in kind, “and more.”

According to leaders in Saraya al-Salam, the exercise was carried out in coordination with the security forces to protect the city from “external strife.”

The science behind the sixth seal: Revelation 6:12

The science behind the earthquake that shook Southern New England

Did you feel it? At 9:10 am EST Sunday morning, a Magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck just south of Bliss Corner, Massachusetts, which is a census-designated place in Dartmouth. If you felt it, report it!

While minor earthquakes do happen from time to time in New England, tremors that are felt by a large number of people and that cause damage are rare.

Earthquake Report

The earthquake was originally measured as a magnitude 4.2 on the Richter scale by the United States Geological Surgey (USGS) before changing to a 3.6.

Earthquakes in New England and most places east of the Rocky Mountains are much different than the ones that occur along well-known fault lines in California and along the West Coast.

Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts fall nearly in the center of the North American Plate, one of 15 (seven primary, eight secondary) that cover the Earth.

Earth’s tectonic plates

Tectonic plates move ever-so-slowly, and as they either push into each other, pull apart, or slide side-by-side, earthquakes are possible within the bedrock, usually miles deep.

Most of New England’s and Long Island’s bedrock was assembled as continents collided to form a supercontinent 500-300 million years ago, raising the northern Appalachian Mountains.

Plate tectonics (Courtesy: Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Fault lines left over from the creation of the Appalachian Mountains can still lead to earthquakes locally, and many faults remain undetected. According to the USGS, few, if any, earthquakes in New England can be linked to named faults.

While earthquakes in New England are generally much weaker compared to those on defined fault lines, their reach is still impressive. Sunday’s 3.6 was felt in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire.

USGS Community Internet Intensity Map

While M 3.6 earthquakes rarely cause damage, some minor cracks were reported on social media from the shaking.

According to the USGS, moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the region every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly twice a year.

The largest known New England earthquakes occurred in 1638 (magnitude 6.5) in Vermont or New Hampshire, and in 1755 (magnitude 5.8) offshore from Cape Ann northeast of Boston.

The most recent New England earthquake to cause moderate damage occurred in 1940 (magnitude 5.6) in central New Hampshire.

The Russian Horn Will Use Nukes: Revelation 16

Vadym Skibitsky

Probability of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons is ‘very high’, says Ukraine intel chief as Putin raises the stakes with annexation

BYSOPHIE MELLOR

September 30, 2022 at 6:43 AM MDT

Representative of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Defense Ministry of Ukraine Vadym Skibitsky says Ukraine’s military intelligence has put the threat of nuclear weapons from Russia at “very high.”

Fears of nuclear war are mounting across the West as Russia mobilizes hundreds of thousands of troops and prepares to annex four regions in southeastern Ukraine.

FROM ALCON

Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to sign treaties to take 15% of Ukrainian territory and make a speech at a ceremony in the Kremlin today, after Moscow-installed administrations staged referendum votes in Ukraine’s regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.

The Kremlin claimed that all of the regions overwhelmingly voted to back annexation (by 99%, 98%, 93%, and 87% respectively).

Western condemnation

Countries across the world have condemned the vote, with U.S. President Joe Biden saying today that the U.S. will “never, never, never” recognize Russia’s attempt to annex the regions of Ukraine.

The EU similarly denounced the vote last week. The bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell Fontelles called the vote “illegal” and “another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, amidst systemic abuses of human rights.”

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday said Russian forces would be met with a “tough” military response, telling outgoing Italian prime minister Mario Draghi on the phone that “the territorial integrity of Ukraine will be restored. And our reaction to Russia’s recognition of their results will be very harsh.”

Nuclear threat rising

But as Ukraine arms itself once again to fight against the incoming troops, the threat of nuclear war is increasing too.

And an embittered Putin, losing on the battlefield, may look to strike the region he claims to be liberating with tactical nuclear weapons, according to a Ukrainian defense official.  

Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy intelligence chief told the Guardian that Ukraine’s military intelligence has put the threat of nuclear weapons from Russia at “very high.”

“[Russian military] will likely target places along the frontlines with lots of [army] personal and equipment, key command centers, and critical infrastructure,” Skibitsky said regarding Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.

“Everything will depend on how the situation develops on the battlefield,” he said.

The nuclear weapon Russia may be planning to use is about 100 times more powerful than the type of rockets it has used against Ukraine so far, Skibitsky added.

How would the world respond?

Russia has lost as many as 80,000 troops to death or injury, by Western estimates, and has been forced to scrap its upper age limit of 40 for contractual service in the army.

As protests erupted across Moscow and St Petersburg last week and military-aged men fled to the border to avoid mobilization, Putin ramped up his rhetoric on nuclear war.

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” Putin said in a recorded note, in reference to Moscow’s sizable nuclear arsenal.

“It’s not a bluff,” he added.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS on Sunday that the nuclear warnings are “a matter that we have to take deadly seriously.”

He noted that the U.S. has communicated directly with the Kremlin “that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia, that the United States and our allies will respond decisively, and we have been clear and specific about what that will entail,” he said.

The move would also attract an immense retaliation from NATO.

Russia’s annexation puts world ‘two or three steps away’ from nuclear war

By Liz Sly

October 1, 2022 at 3:00 a.m. EDT

LONDON — President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of the annexation of four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine signals the onset of a new and highly dangerous phase in the seven-month old war, one that Western officials and analysts fear could escalate to the use of nuclear weapons for the first time in 77 years.

Putin has previously threatened to resort to nuclear weapons if Russia’s goals in Ukraine continue to be thwarted. The annexation brings the use of a nuclear weapon a step closer by giving Putin a potential justification on the grounds that “the territorial integrity of our country is threatened,” as he put it in his speech last week.

He renewed the threat on Friday with an ominous comment that the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki created a “precedent” for the use of nuclear weapons, echoing references he has made in the past to the U.S. invasion of Iraq as setting a precedent for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. and Western officials say they still think it unlikely that Putin will carry out his threats. Most probably, they say, he is hoping to deter the West from providing ever more sophisticated military assistance to Ukraine while the mobilization of an additional 300,000 troops allows Russia to reverse or at least halt its military setbacks on the battlefield.

But the threats appear only to have strengthened Western resolve to continue sending weapons to Ukraine and the Ukrainian military is continuing to advance into Russian-occupied territory. Even as Putin was announcing the annexation in Moscow on Friday and newly conscripted Russian troops were arriving in Ukraine, Ukrainian troops were in the process of encircling Russian soldiers in the eastern city of Lyman, extending their reach from their recent advances in Kharkiv into the newly annexed region of Donetsk.

In all four regions that Putin said he was annexing — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — Russia only controls part of the territory.

Now that the areas being fought over are regarded by Moscow as Russian, it is possible to chart a course of events toward the first use of a nuclear weapon since the 1945 atomic bombing of Japan.

“It’s a low probability event, but it is the most serious case of nuclear brinkmanship since the 1980s” when the Cold War ended, said Franz-Stefan Gady, a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “It is a very dangerous situation and it needs to be taken seriously by Western policymakers.”

U.S. and European officials say they are taking the threats seriously. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that there would be “catastrophic consequences” if Russia resorts to the use of nuclear weapons. He refused to specify what those would be but said the precise consequences had been spelled out privately to Russian officials “at very high levels.”

“They well understand what they would face if they went down that dark road,” he said.

European officials say the threats have only strengthened their resolve to support Ukraine.

“No one knows what Putin will decide to do, no one,” said a European Union official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject. “But he’s totally in a corner, he’s crazy … and for himy there is no way out. The only way out for him is total victory or total defeat and we are working on the latter one. We need Ukraine to win and so we are working to prevent worst case scenarios by helping Ukraine win.”

The goal, the official said, is to give Ukraine the military support it needs to continue to push Russia out of Ukrainian territory, while pressuring Russia politically to agree to a cease-fire and withdrawal, the official said.

And the pressure is working, “slowly,” the official said, to spread awareness in Russia and internationally that the invasion was a mistake. India, which had seemed to side with Russia in the earliest days of the war, has expressed alarm at Putin’s talk of nuclear war and China, ostensibly Russia’s most important ally, has signaled that it is growing uneasy with Putin’s continuing escalations.

But the annexation and the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of extra troops have also served as a reminder that the Western strategy hasn’t yet worked enough to convince Putin that he can’t win, said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who was based in Moscow until earlier this year.

The West had been hoping that Ukrainian successes would force Putin to back down, but instead he is doubling down. “Time and again we are seeing that Vladimir Putin sees this as a big existential war and he’s ready to up the stakes if he is losing on the battlefield,” Gabuev said.

“At the same time I don’t think the West will back down, so it’s a very hard challenge now. We are two or three steps away” from Russia failing to achieve its goals and resorting to what was once unthinkable.

Those steps to secure its positions include Russia pushing hundreds of thousands more men onto the battlefield; escalating attacks on civilian targets and infrastructure in Ukraine; and perhaps also embarking on covert attacks on Western infrastructure.

Although the United States and its European allies have refrained from making direct accusations, few doubt that Russia was behind the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, said the E.U. official.

“I don’t think anyone has doubts. It’s the handwriting of the Kremlin,” he said. “It’s an indication of, ‘look what is coming, look what we are able to do.’ ”

Nuclear weapons would only likely be used after mobilization, sabotage and other measures have failed to turn the tide, and it’s unclear what Putin would achieve by using them, Gady said.

Despite some wild predictions on Russian news shows that the Kremlin would lash out at a Western capital, with London appearing to be a favored target, it is more likely that Moscow would seek to use one of its smaller, tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield to try to gain advantage over Ukrainian forces, said Gady.

The smallest nuclear weapon in the Russian arsenal delivers an explosion of around 1 kiloton, one fifteenth of the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, which would inflict massive destruction but on a more limited area.

Because the war is being fought along a vast, 1,500-mile front line, troops are too thinly spread out for there to be an obvious target whose obliteration would change the course of the war. To make a difference, Russia would have to use several nuclear weapons or alternatively strike a major population center such as Kyiv, either of which would represent a massive escalation, trigger almost certain Western retaliation and turn Russia into a pariah state even with its allies, Gady said.

“From a purely military perspective, nuclear weapons would not solve any of Vladimir Putin’s military problems,” he said. “To change the operational picture one single attack would not be enough and it would also not intimidate Ukraine into surrendering territory. It would cause the opposite, it would double down Western support and I do think there would be a U.S. response.”

That’s why many believe Putin won’t carry out his threats. “Even though Putin is dangerous, he is not suicidal, and those around him aren’t suicidal,” said Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. Army Europe.

Pentagon officials have said they have seen no actions by Russia that would lead the United States to adjust its nuclear posture.

New US Push On Iran Sanctions Signals End Of Obama Deal

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in March 2022

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in March 2022

New US Push On Iran Sanctions Signals End Of Nuclear Talks

Friday, 09/30/20223 minutes

Iran SanctionsIran Nuclear

Author: Mardo Soghom

After reports that nuclear talks with Iran have ended, Washington tightened the screws by sanctioning several foreign companies involved in oil trade with Tehran.

Critics have been accusing the Biden administration of not seriously implementing sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump, while negotiating with Tehran to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, the JCPOA. They argue that a substantial increase in Iranian oil exports to China occurred when President Joe Biden assumed office. This in turn made Iran more intransigent in nuclear talks that began in April 2021.

The latest warning came on September 23 from an advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), opposed to the revival of the JCPOA. In a report UANI argued that since President Joe Biden’s election, China has bought around $38 billion of crude oil from Iran in violation of US third-party sanctions.

The US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on September 28 evaded a question from Iran International during his daily briefing about the UANI report.

“I think what we can say with some confidence is that some of the open-source statistics have been inflated, and that is the case when it comes to certain reports of Iranian oil exports to the PRC,” Price said when he was asked about the administration’s response to the UANI report.

But the shipment of at least 750,000 barrels of crude per day to China has been reported by industry sources, news agencies and experts since early 2021, which triggered the warnings by critics of the administration’s Iran policy. Although prices Iran charges small Chinese refineries is a secret and it is reported that discounts are offered, Iran must have earned close to $30 billion in this period by shipping 350-400 million barrels of crude to China.

Although this is far below the heyday of Iran’s $100 billion annual oil export earnings around 2010, but it was sufficient to convince Tehran that it can weather the economic pressure while negotiating with the Biden administration.

Now, the Biden administration is left with no discernible Iran policy except tightening enforcement of sanctions, the same ‘maximum pressure’ strategy Trump was using when he lost the 2020 election.

In addition, a popular revolt against the clerical regime in Tehran has exposed the degree to which the rulers are willing to use violence against their own citizens, forcing the Biden team to impose new human rights sanctions.

The protests were triggered by the death in custody of a 22-year-old woman who received fatal blows to her head while being arrested for “inappropriate hijab”. Both her killing and the ensuing protests have generated a high level of international support for the people in Iran, which can be a double nail in the coffin of the JCPOA talks.

A renewed deal would have released tens of billion of dollars for the Islamic Republic and in the current atmosphere of human rights violations by Tehran, signing a nuclear agreement that would lift sanctions and enrich the government, seems improbable.

The Biden administration has apparently reached the conclusion that Iran does not want a nuclear agreement, which would mean that the way it tried to revive the JCPOA simply allowed Iran to sell more oil and greatly advance its nuclear program. It calculated that maybe it can reach the nuclear weapons threshold and have enough income to survive.