Nel's New Day

August 11, 2022

Wars on Two Fronts – DDT, Ukraine

On Thursday, AG Merrick Garland announced that the DOJ filed a court request to unseal the search warrant and property receipt for the Mar-a-Lago residence of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) because of massive DDT-engendered lies and violent threats by his allies. One man, who may have participated in the January 6 insurrection, was shot and killed after he tried to storm the Cincinnati FBI office. On Monday, a post on DDT’s Truth Social with the name Ricky Shiffer, the man killed, sent a “call to arms” message:

“People, this is it. Leave work tomorrow as soon as the gun shop/Army-Navy store/pawn shop opens, get whatever you need to be ready for combat. We must not tolerate this one. They have been conditioning us to accept tyranny and think we can’t do anything for 2 years. This time we must respond with force.”

Garland explained the reason for unsealing the search warrant was “the intense public interest” and called out the “unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors.”

“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked. The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated patriotic public servants. Every day, they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their safety while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves. I am honored to work alongside them.”

The government has until 3 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) on August 11 to notify the court whether DDT’s attorneys object to unsealing the warrant. The same judge appointed by DDT who signed the search warrant will hear the case.  

A few hours after Garland’s speech, breaking news revealed that the classified documents illegally stored at Mar-a-Lago concerned nuclear weapons. Mar-a-Lago has extremely lax security, and the documents would be classified at the highest levels, restricted to a small number of government officials because details about them allows adversaries to counter the systems.

Former senior intelligence officials said that DDT’s administration routinely mishandled highly classified intelligence about sensitive topics. Often it went to people who didn’t need to see it or weren’t authorized to read it. Among this information was signals intelligence, intercepted electronic communications such as emails and phone calls of foreign leaders. They needed to be closely guarded because they reveal how the U.S. penetrates foreign governments. This type of information was included in the 15 boxes removed from Mar-a-Lago last January.

Months later, the DOJ subpoenaed DDT for more documents and were given other materials. Officials suspected DDT’s team was not truthful and withheld additional documents. The current search warrant would describe what was being sought at Mar-a-Lago as well as their related crimes. Republicans who reveled in the search because of political benefits now worry about new damaging discoveries.  

In 2019, whistleblowers expressed concern that DDT wanted to provide U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia as his former national security adviser Michael Flynn had suggested. 

While DDT plays his games trying to return to the White House, the Russian war against Ukraine grinds on for almost six months since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Earlier this week, a Ukrainian attack on a Russian air base in coastal Crimea took out a dozen or more Russian planes used for missile strikes against Ukrainian-controlled territory. The losses would be the largest in a single day for the Russian air force, further reducing its ability to launch missile strikes against Ukraine. The Russian losses would also curtail its long-term ability to control southern Ukraine, especially the nearby province of Kherson, where Ukraine attempts a counteroffensive to retake its territory. Crimea is a Russian transit point for troops, equipment, and ammunition to supply the Kherson area.

Before the loss, Russia assumed it would be unimpeded in its operation instead of being forced to guard another part of Ukraine. At least three explosions at the base also demonstrated to Russia that it’s not invincible. Special forces fighters caused the destruction because HIMARS couldn’t cross the 150 miles from Ukrainian-controlled area to the air base. Russia only admitted damage to civilian structures and denied any destroyed planes, but satellite images showed the extent of the damage.

Russia continues to endanger the world with more shelling of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which Ukraine lost in early March. An administrative office near the welding area has been hit and several radiation sensors damaged. Russia turned the facility and the surrounding area in southeastern Ukraine along the Dnieper River into a military base and launches attacks from there.

Russia launched an Iranian satellite from southern Kazakhstan after Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pledged to work together against the West. Tehran claims Russia will not use the satellite, named Omar Khayyam after the 11th century Persian poet and philosopher, for intelligence in Ukraine. U.S. officials are concerned that Russia will use the satellite to monitor military in Israel and other parts of the Middle East.  

Assistant director for the Atlantic Council, Doug Klain, wrote that the attack on the Russian air base could be the turning point in the war. Russia has taken great pride in illegally taking Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, an act leading them to believe the Ukrainian invasion would finish within three days. Instead of grinding down a disheartened enemy, Russia faces an enemy achieving daring counteroffensives showing Ukraine able to precisely strike hundreds of miles behind Russian lines. Thanks to the West, Ukraine has up-to-date weapons; Russia is running out of equipment, even stripping commercial jetliners of parts after blocked from components from abroad. The EU has banned Russian coal imports, annually impacting about 8 billion euros worth of Russian exports.

In the Guardian, Nimo Omer writes that the war in Ukraine is entering a new decisive phase. Russia wants to hold out until winter, when Europe will be in an energy crisis and more likely to push for a negotiated agreement. The invaders may also be trying to connect the nuclear facility to the grid in Crimea, for the first time that one country steals a nuclear reactor from another country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin initially wanted to overturn the Ukrainian government and replace it with one of his own. Kyiv didn’t fall so he tried to take the eastern region of Donbas. The artillery onslaught led to Russia occupying the Luhansk province, and Russia wants Kherson as a transport hub with a key river crossing as a barrier from attacks. Russia has more ammunition than Ukraine, but the U.S.-supplied HIMARS partly equalized the battles with its precision-guided artillery aimed at Russian logistics centers, weapons depots, and command points. They also sever some supply lines, decreasing Russian shelling.

Hundreds of Russian soldiers refuse to fight and try to leave the military. Unable to replenish the 80,000 soldiers killed and untold numbers wounded, Russia is recruiting prisoners for replacements. St. Petersburg penal colony prisoners were offered amnesty in return for fighting in Ukraine. Of 11 volunteers, eight died in Ukraine. Russia’s major new ground force, the 3rd Army Corps of “volunteer battalions,” seeks men up to age 50 and requires only a middle-school education. Deployment to Ukraine promises “lucrative cash bonuses,” but complaints in the media indicate Russia isn’t paying off. The Soviet Union used the same tactic during World War II. Supposedly Russia’s shadowy private military force, the Wagner Group, is doing this recruiting.

Kurt Volker, expert in Ukrainian affairs, said that Putin has put himself into a “weak position” because of the widely-condemned war in Ukraine, that he can partner only with vulnerable countries needing financial assistance. These countries will also worry about global sanctions against them like Russia has. Belarus, for example, may suffer from the same sanctions as Russia because it allows Russian troops on and Russian air strikes from its territory while receiving $1.5 billion in return. Even before Russia’s invasion, the U.S., UK, Canada, and Europe sanctioned Belarus in late 2021 for alleged repression of its residents and human rights violations of migrants.

In another Russian difficulty, Finland and Sweden are on their way to becoming NATO’s 31st and 32nd member states following the acceptance of North Macedonia in March 2020. Bosnia, Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine are also interested in joining NATO. All senators except Josh Hawley (R-MO) agreed to the expansion of NATO, and President Joe Biden signed the NATO accession protocols for Finland and Sweden. Putin called the expansion of NATO an imperialistic threat, but it would not have happened if he hadn’t “shattered peace and security in Europe,” as Biden said when he signed the protocols.

Even conservative senators such as Ted Cruz (TX) and Marco Rubio (FL) criticized Hawley for his objection; both of them emphasized NATO’s importance in protection against China. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) pointed out that Hawley had voted to permit Montenegro and North Macedonia into NATO.

Hawley has been mocked since the July 12 House January 6 investigative committee showed him running away from the insurrectionists who he incited. The irony comes from his image of masculinity that he described in his new book. Jonathan Capeheart described Hawley’s message: “if you’re a man, you believe in these things”: patriarchy, opposition to female’s body choice, opposition to marriage equality, aversion to labor organizing. Hawley’s sense of exclusion, and intolerance leading him to vote against other countries joining NATO. To Hawley, masculinity is the prejudice manifested by conservatives in the U.S. who cling to a vision of White America, identical to the beliefs of DDT’s followers.

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