Hostomel Airport located on the outskirts of Kyiv and home to the iconic Antonov Design Bureau, was considered a strategic goal by Russia to occupy and sustain the planned occupation of Kyiv. The failure by elite Russian air assault forces to successfully capture and defend the airport against a more superior Ukrainian counter-attack symbolized Russia's inability to occupy Kyiv and eventual defeat, which also became the turning point in the war to prove to the world that Russia had already lost the war one week after the invasion.
In this section we continue to connect global activities with Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine to make sense of both Russia and China's [collective] strategy to counter the current Western dominated global order. Passing the 1-year anniversary of Russia's invasion, we start to see a grand strategy at play indicating the following:
1. The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine was initially [incorrectly] assessed to be a simple operation comparative to the resistance levels experienced by Russian forces during its invasion of Georgia in 2008. For the Russian soldiers on the ground, the general idea when the crossed the border into Ukraine was a reunification of past Soviet territories, and a 'liberation' of Ukraine from "Western control'. Little did they know;
Russian armor convoy displaying the flag of the Soviet Union (USSR) shortly after entering Ukraine territory on the morning of February 24, 2022.
2. When both Moscow and Beijing realized that the full-scale invasion of Ukraine was a major strategic failure, the objectives relating to the intended occupation and government overthrow in Kyiv was changed to act as a diversion by keeping the West (NATO) occupied with supporting Ukraine to resist Russian military aggression, while continuing with the global expansion agenda to expand both Russian- and Chinese strategic interests;
3. The main focus of expansionism for both Russia and China as a collective is Africa, having secured the influence over the political governments of at least 36 African countries by Q1 2023;
4. Contrary to initial expectations, both Russia and China expanded its military presence and defense cooperation pacts in Africa. This was at first surprising in terms of Russia who is struggling to replace the high numbers of combat casualties sustained in Ukraine;
5. For the most part of the Russian war in Ukraine, Russia has maintained most of its strategic air capabilities and the majority of its blue water naval forces out of the war in Ukraine. While the majority of Russia's Army is engaged in Ukraine, Russian land forces capabilities were expanded in Africa by way of the pseudo-PMC Wagner Group, who reports directly to the Kremlin, but supported by the Russian Ministry of Defence and Russian intelligence services;
6. In the first year of Russia's war in Ukraine, the Republic of South Africa emerged as one of the primary strategic partner nations to both Russia and China in its global expansionism agenda. South Africa is of great strategic importance to both Russia and China for the following reasons:
Access to sub-Sahara Africa. South Africa is considered the gateway to Africa, why control over its government makes sense from a strategic perspective. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) political party has been a Soviet Russia ally since the Cold War era, and after gaining political power in South Africa in 1994, the ANC government has gradually gravitated towards strengthening its political partnership (not necessarily national partnership), with the east (Russia, China) away from historical Western allies as a means of retaining political power with less foreign oversight as the ANC became more aware of its failed political governance caused by excessively high occurrence of [uncontrollable] political corruption with increased public scrutiny and dissatisfaction;
Control over the Cape Sea Route. Russia is well aware of the impact the closure of the Suez Canal (for whatever reason) would have on Europe and its NATO members in the event of a great powers conflict. However, this eventuality is quite realistic since it would benefit Russia and its ally Iran the most, and consequently cut Europe off from its Middle East energy suppliers. This contingency is also foreseen by both Israel and Saudi Arabia (KSA), why both countries have partnered to enable GCC access to the Mediterranean Sea via Israel utilizing the KSA railroad network. However, in the event of a Suez Canal closure, the Cape Sea Route remains the only option to transport goods by ship between Europe and the pro-West Asian nations (especially heavy military hardware), why both Russia and China wishes to gain influence over the government responsible for safeguarding the sea route.
Military control over the Southern Ocean. The Southern Ocean is of great strategic importance to both Russia and China for two specific reasons, namely, (1) access to Antarctica to enable expanded Antarctic 'exploration' activities (since all other territories bordering the Antarctic Region are Western aligned nations such as Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, France); and (2) Implement an encirclement strategy to establish a 'Tierra del Fuego' port with the aim of securing an Antarctic Region Global Link capability required to enable satellite operations. This requirement is overlooked by the majority military planners, why both China and Russia has gained much success in establishing its presence in Southern Africa without much Western scrutiny or resistance. The world is currently undergoing a major global power shift towards Earth's polar axis, meaning, Space Superpowers are realigning their Earth surface strategies North-South, away from the traditional East-West parallels where global strategic concepts are historically situated. The new North-South alignment will enable dominance over key Polar Orbital Slots for Communications & ISR Satellites Mega-Clusters, and the significance of acquiring this capability will enable potential strategic shift to the Moon by a Space Superpower seeking the ultimate high ground for global domination with first rights to Greater Solar System economic exploitation. This strategy also explains why Russia effectively motivated the ANC-led government in South Africa to abandon any support to emerging (Western aligned) South African space technologies in favor of a strategic government partnership with Russia's NPO Mashinostroenia, Roscosmos, and the Russian GRU since 2006 when South Africa procured a Kondor-E military surveillance satellite for defense intelligence utilization. This concept was also successfully applied by Russia in at least 13 other African nations who have/are in process of acquiring Russian space hardware to establish an Africa-wide clustered space surveillance capability. In 2021, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), via the South African government as controlling authority, agreed to the installation of a panEOS facility at Hartebeeshoek, South Africa (the same location where the Kondor-E 'surveillance' satellite ground station is located). The declared purpose of the panEOS facility to the little knowing public is to 'track space debris', although the same technology also enables tracking of all man-made space objects, including active satellites belonging to other nations. The major concern now is that the South African political leadership may consider allowing both Russia and China to establish a strategic military presence in South Africa in the very near future in return for their [intelligence services] assistance to remain in political power.
7. Russia was much more prepared for the effects of Western sanctions than what the West anticipated the effects to be. One year into Russia's full-time war in Ukraine exposed how the BRICS alliance was prepared well in advance before the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine. This fact was exposed by the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and South Africa (which coincidently used to be a colony of both these nations in the past), who declared their respective independence of Russian fuel imports in favor of refined petroleum products imports from India effective Q1 2023. However, upon further investigation it was determined that India was refining Russian crude since the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, receiving 800,000 barrels of crude from Russia per day (in addition to its normal imports from the UAE and Saudi Arabia), which increased to 1 million barrels a day effective December 2022. Historically India never purchased crude from Russia due to delivery distance factors affecting end-price profitability, but now India purchases Russian crude at around 30% discount compared to global spot prices. In terms of refining capacity, India had to build (with the assistance of Russia), additional refineries capable of refining Russian crude, which was completed before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
8. Russia and China's biggest fears going forward is reaching the point of global irrelevance in terms of global policy development. However, both countries are aware of their respective mistakes and technical limitations compared to the future outlook for the technologically superior West, and therefore the only options available to Russia and China as a collective to remain relevant approaching 2030 is to gain as much control over the territories and resources that the West, and specifically the United States, will require to advance its capabilities and influence into space. Basically, the 'new global order' is in fact 'Space Race 2.0' and its associated enablement technologies which is a big deal from the perspective of power projection relating to military-, economic-, and political power at the geopolitical level. However, as simple as this may be perceived, it is not for there are various escalating complications at play (not to be discussed in this article), which may fuel a margin of strategic desperation approaching 2030. This is the reason why both Russia and China will most likely escalate their current levels of hostility and strategic interferences as a means of [political] self-preservation instead of considering the more logical option of implementing political reforms to enable friendly foreign relations based on technological cooperation instead of adversarialism.
The following timeline highlights major events with escalating global implications.
2022, February 24: The Ukrainian Parliament approves a Presidential decree implementing a State of Emergency starting at 00:00 applicable throughout Ukraine for a period of 30 days. The Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises all Ukrainians resident in Russia to leave immediately. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy records an early morning address to the people of Ukraine and Russia in Russian stating that there are no neo-Nazi’s serving in the government of Ukraine (in response to Russian disinformation), and that Ukraine has no intentions of invading the Donbas region, requesting the citizens of Russia to force its government not to continue with its planned invasion of Ukraine. At 04:00 Moscow time, Russia President Vladimir Putin announces the beginning of a “Special Military Operation”, and invades Ukraine along multiple fronts with an emphasis to reduce Ukrainian military defensive capabilities. Putin also announces a general mobilization of forces in Russia. The main objective by Russia is to capture Kyiv within 3 days. The US announces that it would not send in combat troops into Ukraine to support Ukraine against Russia. The common opinion outside Ukraine is that Ukraine would be seized by Russia within a few days. The Ukraine government cuts all formal ties with Russia. Pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk escapes from house arrest.
Russian armor displaying the Soviet flag shortly after entering Ukraine territory.
According to a televised address to the public, Russian President Vladimir Putin explains the following reasons why he gave instruction for Russian military forces to invade Ukraine:
Unite Russians and Ukrainians as a single nation;
De-Nazification of Ukraine;
De-militarization of Ukraine;
Occupy Kyiv, Kharkiv, and then all of Ukraine; and
Stop NATO expansion.
These were the reasons Putin used to justify Russian aggression against Ukraine. However, based on these reasons, we need to understand the facts:
Ukrainians and Russians are not the same people. They do not share the same heritage, and they also do not share the same culture. In fact, Ukrainian culture has a longer line of heritage than what Russians consider to be traditional Russian culture.
Since the independence of Ukraine, Russia was responsible for promoting neo-Nazi ideology amongst the ethnic Russians residents in eastern Ukraine. At present, Russia remains the primary source for the promotion of so-called 'neo-Nazism' ideology globally. They do that to promote Russian information narratives to support strategic objectives. With reference to Ukraine, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was a first language Russian speaker of Jewish heritage.
Since Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union, Russia has done everything in its power to demilitarize Ukraine, why Ukraine was not prepared for the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea. In fact, Russia is the only nation in this world who in fact stole an aircraft carrier from a sovereign nation (Admiral Kuznetsov, December 01, 1991).
The only reason why Vladimir Putin wanted to occupy Kyiv was to humiliate Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and then to install his own pro-Russian government who would have reported directly to the Kremlin. Ukraine wanted democracy, but Vladimir Putin opposes democracy which would have challenged his autocratic (and kleptocratic) leadership system.
At the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO was not in the process of expanding anywhere, and it was also not in the process of expanding NATO membership to Ukraine thanks to both French and German which were blocking Ukraine's acceptance into NATO. However, what Putin wanted to achieve in Ukraine was to stop democratic expansion. In fact, as a direct result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both Finland and Sweden gained NATO membership.
2022, February 25: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issues a press release that although he is aware of instruction to Russian military forces to occupy Kyiv and capture him, he would remain in Kyiv. He also confirms his dissatisfaction with Russian forces targeting civilians during its assault towards Kyiv. Also, Russian business executive, Alexander Tyulakov, is found dead in his home in the elite Leninsky housing development. He was found hanging dead from a noose in his garage, with severe blunt trauma injury to his body. Tyulakov was a senior financial and security official at Gazprom and died at the age of 61.
2022, February 26: (1) During the most significant assault by Russian forces attempting to occupy Kyiv, both the US and Turkey requests Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to evacuate Ukraine for his own safety. Zelenskyy refuses to evacuate, responding “The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride”. At this stage, more than 90% of the Ukraine population supported Zelenskyy’s decisions, which included 80% of the populations of the Russian speaking regions. 72% of Americans had confidence in Zelenskyy’s handling of international affairs. (2) The Head of the Chechen Republic in Russia, Ramzan Kadyrov, announces the deployment of around 12,000 Chechen military forces to Ukraine in support of the Russian invasion.
The deployment of Chechen forces in Ukraine has caused much debate and confusion. The reason why it is confusing is because Russian nationals originating from the Russian Republic of Chechnya are fighting on both sides of the war. To clarify some of the confusion and associated disinformation, the simple explanation is as follows:
Pro-Russian: The pro-Russian Chechen forces are regular military units belonging to the regular military forces of the Chechen Republic under the leadership of Ramzan Kadyrov. Technically these forces are part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, but with a certain degree of autonomy. What this means is that Moscow cannot effectively force any Chechen military units to participate in foreign Russian military operations, and therefore requires the approval of the official Head of the Chechen Republic. In this instance, Ramzan Kadyrov is a close ally to Vladimir Putin, and is well rewarded financially for managing Chechnya to support Putin and his government. However, Chechnya in general is still very much anti-Russian in ideology, with large factions still seeking total independence from the Russian Federation as the Republic of Ichkheria. The pro-Russian factions, however, identify themselves as ‘Kadyrovites’. Early upon arrival in Ukraine during the initial days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, pro-Russian Chechen forces sustained high casualties when their static convoys were targeted by Ukrainian forces. The ’Kadyrovite’ Chechens were initially assigned the responsibility to seize and assassinate Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy but failed when the Chechen Special Forces unit assigned to the mission was compromised by anti-war sympathizers within the Russian FSB who leaked the planned operation to Ukrainian intelligence services as a warning. Two weeks into the Russian invasion, Ramzan Kadyrov criticized the efficiency of the Russian military, stating that they were operating too slow. In July 2022, Kadyrov committed an additional four battalions consisting only of ethnic Chechens to bolster the war effort and make up for battlefield losses sustained amongst the initial deployment. These units were named:
During September 2022, Kadyrov committed two additional battalions to the Russian side while Russian forces were withdrawing from Kharkiv Oblast following a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive. Approaching the 1-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, observations by Ukrainian military intelligence confirmed that Chechen forces generally operate 20 km behind the Russian frontlines as rear-guard forces, not engaged in direct contact with Ukrainian forces. To limit any further casualties, Chechen forces are predominantly engaged in the production of propaganda videos for viewing in Chechnya to affirm the military power of their leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. Their presence in Ukraine was also for psychological effect to make outside observers believe that their conduct in Ukraine towards any resistance within temporary occupied territories would be similar to what happened in Chechnya during the two Chechen Wars relating to looting, rape, killing, and rampaging of towns. The Chechen presence has also caused much dissatisfaction amongst ethnic Russian forces who reported being violated by Chechen forces who only engaged in alcohol abuse, and regularly engaged in assault and rape of Russian military personnel.
However, the most significant characteristic why military forces belonging to the Chechen Republic are fighting in Ukraine on the side of their historical rival, Russia, is not because of a sense of national pride, duty or military obligation, but rather purely financial. What Vladimir Putin created to compensate for the failures of the regular Russian Armed Forces and its internal struggles with low morale and general incompetence, was the privatization of warfare as a means of motivating combatants through financial reward. The arrangement with Kadyrov and the Chechen forces loyal to him is solely financial since Kadyrov is paid vast amounts of money by the Kremlin to motivate his forces to support the Russian strategic objectives, the Chechen soldiers themselves are also paid higher salaries than the regular Russian military personnel, and in addition to that, Kadyrov has first access to any economic opportunities that exist within territories held under the control of his forces (such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing, retail and distribution, construction and infrastructure development, etc). In other words, the arrangement with the pro-Russian Chenchen forces is nothing different to the arrangements involving the Wagner Group. The current Russian strategy entering 2023 in Ukraine is what we consider 5th Generation Warfare: the evolution of Warfare beyond the controls of the Nation State.
Pro-Ukrainian: The pro-Ukrainian Chechen forces are exiled Chechen factions who do not support the pro-Russian Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, and who do not accept Russian rule over Chechnya. These forces generally identify themselves as supporters of the Chechen Republic of Ichkheria in exile, which they some-day envision as an independent Chechen Republic from the Russian Federation. The members of these forces volunteered their services to Ukraine as a means of continuing the fight for independence from Russia, and pre-dominantly originate from the North Caucasus region of Russia. These forces are grouped into two factions of volunteers, namely the Chechen volunteer forces who joined the Ukrainian resistance against Russia during 2014, and the Chechen volunteer forces who joined the Ukrainian Foreign Legion after the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine. All these groups predominantly consist of veterans of the Second Chechen War, and the pro-Ukrainian Chechen units are organized as follows:
Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion (DDB)
Sheikh Mansur Battalion (SMB)
Khamzat Gelayev Joint Task Detachment (KGJTD)
Separate Special Purpose Battalion (SSPB)
The KGJTD and SSPB were both formed during mid-2022 in direct response to the Russian invasion as part of the Ukrainian Foreign Legion forces. The DDB and SMB both originate back to the War in the Donbas, having fought the Russians in Ukraine since 2014. The latter two Chechen volunteer units are often reported by both Western intelligence services and mainstream media as being linked to global Islamist groups, especially in Syria. The Sheikh Mansur Battalion (SMB) is known for having assisted 25 members of the Chechen-led Syrian Islamist group Ajnad al-Kavkaz, including its commander Abdul Hakim al-Shishani, to join the fight in Ukraine against Russian occupation forces on the side of Ukraine. The members of both SMB and Ajnad al-Kavkaz originate mainly from the North Caucasus region of Russia, and their mission in Syria was to oppose the forces of Russia, Syria, and Iran. Russia often capitalizes on this fact by inserting the information narrative within Western society that “Ukraine recruits Islamist forces to fight in Ukraine”. However, what Russia conveniently fails to mention is that these forces exist to resist Russian influence within their territories, especially with regards to the creation of an independent Republic of Ichkheria in Chechnya. However, Russian opportunism capitalizes on the common Western assumption that all Islamist forces, especially those that operate in Syria, most probably belong to the “Islamic State” in Syria (ISIL) which is incorrect. Although ISIL had a large contingent of Chechen fighters within its ranks numbering around 5,000 at one time, not all Islamist groups in Syria followed the Islamic State (ISIL) ideology which was inherited from the ISIL predecessor Al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, due to lazy intelligence work in the West, many of these Islamist groups also opposed the Islamic State just as much as the West opposed the Islamic State, resulting in the incorrect labeling of many militant groups opposing ISIL within their own territories as “terrorists” due to a general state of ignorance amongst Western observers (because it is complicated, and therefore difficult to comprehend). The Islamist fighters who volunteered their services to Ukraine, who also associates with Ajnad al-Kavkaz, obtained their incorrect ‘ISIL’ label from Russian propaganda disseminated against them by the Russian pro-government news outlet LifeNews starting May 2015. This is also the reason why Western media outlets maintain the false narrative that “Ukraine recruits Islamist forces to fight in Ukraine” mainly due to lazy/opportunistic/paid promotion journalism and incorrect fact-checking.
The bottom-line regarding the Chechen volunteers in support of the Ukrainian war effort should be acknowledged by the West for their current professional conduct in the field, along with their support to NATO efforts resisting the escalating belligerence of Russia within the region (including Syria). The simple understanding about ISIL, and the differentiation between Islamic State affiliates and other opposing Islamist groups, is that the global ‘Islamic State’ phenomenon represents Russian expansionism interests (thanks to Syrian government ‘match-making’) as simple 'terrorists for hire' on Russian GRU payroll, and non-Islamic State Islamist groups are resisting Russian expansionism (what Russia commonly refers to as "terrorists"). However, for those that still refuse to accept which side to support, just refer to individual conduct on the ground, and how each of these forces differ in their treatment of innocent civilians within their respective areas of operation. That is where acts of good and evil are clearly visible, with the pro-Russian ‘Kadyrovites’ being well placed within the spectrum of evil based on their general misconduct and abuses against innocent civilians. Finally, we also need to take into consideration (and appreciate) that the Chechen volunteer forces supporting the Ukrainian Armed Forces are not fighting for reward as is the case with the ‘Kadyrovite’ Chechens fighting on the side of Russia. Where the ‘Kadyrovites’ fight for financial gain, the pro-Ukrainian Chechens fight for ideology.
2022, February 27: Ukrainian forces destroy a large convoy of Chechen Special Forces gathered near Hostomel while advancing to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Amongst the deceased is General Magomed Tushayev, commander of the 141st Motorized Regiment of the Kadyrov Guard. His death came a day after threatening Ukraine via a video released on social media. Tushayev also served as an advisor to Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic.
2022, March 03: Marking one week since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russia effectively lost the ability to occupy Kyiv after suffering irreplaceable losses against the superior Ukrainian defenders.
At this point, Russian President Vladimir Putin effectively realized that his military invasion of Ukraine was a mistake, and that he (and basically everyone else, including NATO), overestimated Russian military capabilities. For this reason he amends his objectives for the occupation of Ukraine as follows:
Annexation of four regions in Ukraine: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia.
Liberate the aforementioned regions completely from any Ukrainian control.
[Temporarily] suspend the war.
Attempt to influence the West to pressure Zelenskyy to swap the annexed territories for peace.
Fortunately, NATO is unified in supporting Ukraine, and the Ukrainian objective is to evict the last Russian from its pre-2014 territory. During the early stage of the war, when Russia still exercised some influence within the political systems of both France and Germany, soft attempts were made to influence Ukraine to accept a peace deal with Russia, which was fortunately immediately refused by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
2022, March 14: The Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, posts a video on social media claiming that he is in Hostomel as part of the Russian advance on Kyiv. Through a targeted online exploit, Kadyrov’s IP address reveals the geolocation of his phone in Grozny, Chechnya, and not in Hostomel.
2022, April 05: The Head of the Chechen Republic and close supporter of Vladimir Putin, Ramzan Kadyrov, posts a video on social media depicting the supposed surrender of around 267 members belonging to the Ukrainian Navy 503rd Battalion to Russian forces.
The post was determined to be a staged video by Russian forces as an attempt to trick the Ukrainian soldiers in surrendering to the Russian occupation forces. The false media attempt was unsuccessful when confirmed to be faked based on various inconsistencies, to include incorrect uniforms and insignia not belonging to any Ukrainian military units.
2022, April 18: Russian oligarch, Vladislav Avayev, a 51-year-old ex-Vice President of Gazprombank, is found dead alongside the bodies of his wife and daughter in their Moscow apartment. Moscow police concluded that Avayev killed his wife and daughter, and then killed himself. However, confidential sources claimed that Avayev had access to all the financial dealings of the Kremlin elite, and he was considered a threat to the Putin and his high-level supporters.
2022, April 19: Russian senior business executive, Sergei Protosenya, is found dead alongside his deceased wife and daughter at their villa in the Catalonian region of Spain. Protosenya, was a senior executive with Russia’s largest liquified natural gas producer, Novatek. The Catalan regional police investigation concluded that Protosenya killed his wife and daughter, and then he killed himself. He was 55 years old at the time of his death.
Confidential sources believe that Protosenya was assassinated in a manner to give the appearance of a family suicide. The reasons why he was assassinated is believed to be linked to his knowledge relating to the Russian enablement of the Catalonian independence movement, as well as financial activities relating to the Kremlin elite and their links with Russian organized crime.
2022, March 02: Former President and pro-Russia supporter, Viktor Yanukovych, awaits in Minsk, Belarus, for Russian forces to capture Kyiv to be reinstated as President of Ukraine (By April 02, 2022, Russia abandons plans to occupy Kyiv after suffering heavy losses against a well-organized Ukrainian resistance).
2022, March 03: After one week since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had already survived twelve assassination attempts against his life. Three of the assassination attempts were prevented after receiving tips from sympathetic Russian FSB operatives who opposed the invasion. Two of these failed attempts were carried out by the Russian PMC Wagner Group, and one attempt by the Kadyrovites, the personal guard of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
2022, April 12: Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) capture Viktor Medvedchuk who escaped house arrest on February 24, 2022: The operation was conducted with support from Ukrainian Special Forces just in time before Medvedchuk was supposed to be extracted to safety by Russian forces. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy releases an image to the public confirming Medvedchuk’s arrest, while dressed in a Ukrainian military uniform. Zelenskyy offered to exchange Medvedchuk to Russia in exchange for Ukrainian POW’s, but Russia refused the offer.
2022, April 22: Marine Le Pen, the right-wing Rassemblement National candidate for the French Presidential elections, is exposed for receiving multi-millions of EUR campaign funding from Kremlin linked institutions in Russia.
A proud Marine Le Pen posing with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017
Le Pen, a French attorney and career politician, was an open admirer of Vladimir Putin, and often praised Russian foreign policy in public. During her 2017 failed Presidential campaign she personally met with Vladimir Putin to gain his support, and she often repeated common Russian information narratives during public events such as blaming the US and its control over NATO for tensions in Europe. During her 2017 campaign, she also quoted the following: “The big political lines that I stand up for are the big lines which Mr Trump stands up for, which Mr Putin stands up for”. The exposure of Le Pen’s relationship with Russia in 2022 again highlighted the depth of Russian influence in European right-wing politics. There were credible fears that if Le Pen won the 2022 French Presidential elections, France would most likely have started its exit from the European Union under her leadership in favor of Russian demands to weaken the economic power and political influence of the European Union. However, to better understand Le Pen (an how the European far-right functions), we will briefly discuss her political career as follows:
Le Pen's political career started in 1986 when she became a member of the 'National Front' (later renamed to 'National Rally' / RN), a political party founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. In 2011, Marine Le Pen assumed the role as leader of the 'National Rally', and then launched a cleansing campaign to improve the party's image away from its anti-globalist, racist, and anti-semitic image. The rebranded 'National Rally' party then became part of the European 'far-right' bloc which included Matteo Salvini of Italy, and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands. Le Pen was known for promoting strict anti-immigration policies, as well as nationalism and protectionism. For this reason, Le Pen was a major supporter of US Presidential candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 US Presidential campaign, and in return Donald Trump endorsed Marine Le Pen as future President of France. As a result of her controversial reputation within the French private sector, including the banks, she failed to acquire sufficient party funding by 2014 to contest the 2017 Presidential elections. In response to the banks' refusal to allow the party a line of credit, she accused the banks of discrimination (without explaining on what grounds). The solution was presented in the form of a 'loan' received from a Russian-owned bank registered in the Czech Republic (the now defunct 'First Czech-Russian Bank'), to the amount of EUR 9 million despite EU sanctions imposed on the bank following the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea. The 'First-Check-Russian Bank' was owned by Russian financier (and close Putin ally), Roman Popov, who was eventually sanctioned by the US Treasury for his activities in Iran, and for being an 'overseer' in Russian organized crime. The loan was signed (with terms and conditions) sometime in September 2014 between 'National Rally' representative Wallerand de Saint Just and Roman Popov in Moscow at a rate of 6% interest per year, with the loan to be repaid by no later than September 23, 2019. Le Pen failed to disclose the load from the Russians to the public, but started with a public information campaign promoting strengthened Russian relations in Europe. Two and a half months later the Russian loan to Le Pen became public with much political fall-out, which includes details about the EUR 140,000 (USD 181,000) 'kick-back' that National Rally party member Jean-Luc Schaffhauser received for facilitating the loan agreement with the Russians. At the time, Schaffhauser was campaigning against European sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea in the European Parliament, also involving other European far-right movements. In 2016, European regulators started closing down Russian assets, especially banks, which were abused by their Russian stakeholders for engaging in illicit financial activities, including money laundering on behalf of Russian organized crime syndicates in Europe. This however exposed the Russian economy too, forcing the Russian Central Bank to follow suit by closing down nearly 100 banks in Russia owned by politicians and organized crime figures implicated in illicit financial activities with questionable bank assets. During all of these activities, the Le Pen loan started to move around, exposing the following series of events:
Marine Le Pen (National Rally party leader): Searches for a loan for her political campaign;
Jean-Luc Schaffhauser (Member of European Parliament): Engages with a 'contact' in Russia;
Alexander Babakov (Russian MP, Kremlin Special Envoy): Recommends 'First Czech-Russian Bank';
Roman Popov (Chairman of First Czech-Russian Bank): Extends EUR 9,4 million loan;
Wallerand de Saint Just (Le Pen's Party Treasurer): Signs loan agreement with Popov in Moscow;
Elvira Nabiullina (Head of Russian Central Bank): Withdraws First Czech-Russian Bank license;
Konti (Equipment rental company in Moscow): Acquires Le Pen loan days before bank closure;
Aviazapchast (Aircraft Supplies Company in Moscow): Acquires Le Pen loan from Konti;
Russian Deposit Insurance Agency: Claims Le Pen loan belongs to Russian government;
Russian Criminal Investigation: Russian authorities charge First Czech-Russian Bank executives for financial crimes.
During the Russian criminal investigations into 'illicit financial activities' involving First Czech-Russian Bank, the Le Pen loan 'disappears' from the bank's loans register. In reality, the loan was now owned by Aviazapchast, an aircraft maintenance organization specialized in maintaining aircraft supplied by the Soviet Union to foreign customers. Present day customers of Aviazapchast includes the Syrian Air Force. Aviazapchast has deep links with the Russian armed forces, and even holds a Secret clearance issued by the Russian FSB. Three of the four executives of the company are senior veterans of the Soviet- and Russian Armed Forces, although the most prominent figure is Yevgeny Barmyantsev, a retired military officer who served as the military attache at the Soviet Embassy in Washington during 1983, after which he was expelled by the United States when he was caught spying in Maryland. The reason why Aviazapchast now owned the Le Pen loan is still unclear, although the owner, Valery Zakharenkov, owns an apartment close to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. Le Pen, however, was not satisfied with the unfolding of events, and claimed during the Russian criminal investigations that the Fist Czech-Russian Bank was the true owner of the loan, not Aviazapchast who tried to collect on interest payments on the loan from Wallerand De Saint Just. However, in 2018 a Russian court ruled that Aviazapchast was the rightful owner of the Le Pen loan, and the only justifiable reason for this ruling is due to the Russian FSB's influence in Aviazapchast. This loan gave the Russian FSB a means to exercise control over Le Pen in the event of her being successful in the next  French Presidential elections.
However, in between all the Russian loan drama, Le Pen personally met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow during 2017, where he wished her "good luck" for the upcoming elections. In her interview she also committed to ensure that EU sanctions against Russia would be lifted if she was elected as President of France. In France, Le Pen started her pro-Russian narrative before the 2016 US elections by accusing the United States and NATO of arming the EU states along the Russian border, and echoing John J. Mearsheimer by stating that "Ukraine is part of Russia's sphere of influence". In 2017, after the conclusion of 2016 US elections, she denied any wrongdoing by Russia saying that: "it hasn't led any campaigns European countries, or against the US", and further added that Russia's intervention in Syria was "a good thing and improved overall global security". In February 2022, Le Pen still believed and promoted the idea that Russia would not invade Ukraine. When Russia finally invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Le Pen immediately condemned the invasion harshly, stating that it is "a clear violation of international law and absolutely indefensible". Since being exposed as a Putin supporter, she tried to deny her relationship with Russia. Unfortunately, the damage caused by the extent of her campaigns and influence in Europe's far-right thinking minds cannot be reversed, for most of her followers still believe in the false pro-Russian narratives still being kept alive today, one year after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Also, although Le Pen and her party members got exposed, there are still other influential French political figures who remain Russian sympathetic. Not only in France, but also in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Serbia, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Norway, Finland, and Hungary.
2022, May 08: Russian billionaire, Alexander Subbotin, dies from a heart attack after being administered with toad venom in Mytishchi, Russia. The circumstances described by the police conclude that he was administered toad venom by a local shaman as a treatment for a hang-over. Subbotin was a senior executive with Lukoil and operated his own shipping company. He died at the age of 43 years.
2022, July 04: Russian oligarch, Yuri Voronov, is found dead in his swimming pool with a gunshot wound to his head. Voronov was the CEO and founder of Astra Shipping which had lucrative Arctic contracts with Russian state oil company, Gazprom. He died at his home located in a gated community in St Petersburg at the age of 61. Voronov lived in the same gated community where Leonid Shulman died on January 30, 2022.
2022, July 08: A Bell 427 helicopter and a Gulfstream G650 private jet belonging to Viktor Medvedchuk are seized by the Ukraine government, and handed over to the Armed Forces of Ukraine for re-appropriation towards the war effort.
2022, July 22: The Israeli Defence Force carries out multiple airstrikes on targets near Damascus, Syria, successfully destroying an Iranian drone factory.
This incident is quite significant for it impacted the Russian war effort in Ukraine. At this point Vladimir Putin realized that the Russian armed forces required advanced precision strike weapons, and Iran was the only country that could offer Russia what it required in the form of the Shahed 191 and Shahed 192 strike drones. The Iranian drone factory was initially developed to produce strike drones to target Israel via its allies Hezbollah (Lebanon) and Hamas (Palestine). As the Russian invasion of Ukraine failed to meet objectives, Iran offered to supply Russia with strike drones from its Syrian factory. Unfortunately for Russia, Israeli intelligence (with the assistance of US intelligence services), obtained the details of the factory and Iran’s intentions, and ordered an airstrike on the facilities. The United States warned Ukraine of Russia’s intentions, and consequently threatened Iran with further sanctions if it proceeded with supplying Russia with military aid. Eventually, Russia and Iran concluded a deal which involved Iran supplying Russia with advanced military hardware in exchange for the 24x Sukhoi Su-35 fighters originally ordered by Egypt, but which remained undelivered due to the Russo-Ukraine War. Iranian Shahed strike drones did eventually enter Russian service in Ukraine but supplied form Iran.
2022, July 23: Former Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk states after the signing of the Black Sea Grain Initiative between Ukraine and Russia, that “I don’t trust any kind of deal signed with the Russian Federation. We had dozens of different deals, and they [Russia] always violate them.” Within hours after Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu signed the UN-brokered deal to resume Ukraine’s Back Sea grain exports, Russia bombed the Port of Odessa.
2022, September 01: Russian oligarch, Ravil Maganov, dies after falling from a 6th floor window in a Moscow hospital. He was initially hospitalized after a sudden illness. Leaked medical reports indicate that Maganov’s body had signs of blunt trauma inflicted to him moments before exiting the window. Maganov was the Chairman of Russia’s second largest oil company, LUKoil, and was 67 years old when he died.
LUKoil, a privately owned oil company, initially opposed the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Maganov’s death followed shortly after Vladimir Putin visited the hospital a few days earlier to pay last respects to the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, who died in the same hospital a few days prior. LUKoil has various oil refineries in Europe, and it is in process of venturing into Africa. The main challenge with LUKoil from a Russian government perspective is that as a product of the 1st generation Russian oligarchs pre-Putin era, it was in direct competition with the Putin connected 2nd generation oligarchs which controlled much of the Russian ‘state’ enterprises. LUKoil was considered the greatest competition to Rosneft which had attempted to acquire LUKoil for many years without success. LUKoil, which is also heavily invested in the southern Iraq oil and gas industry, has a large global footprint developed independently from the Russian state and therefore it is considered beneficial to the Russian regime if it was willing to cooperate in the greater Russian government scheme of global operations to which it was mostly resistant to avoid sanction. However, after the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, LUKoil was sanctioned by the US and its Western allies.
2022, September 10: Russian energy executive, Ivan Pechorin, dies after falling off a speedboat at Cape Ignatyev close to the city of Vladivostok, Russia. At the time of his death, he managed the Corporation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic (KRDV). The corporation is responsible for the development of Russia’s oil and gas resources in the Arctic. Pechorin was also responsible for the development of the air industry in the Russian east, an area that was severely affected by Western sanctions after the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine. He was 39 years old at the time of his death.
2022, September 21: (1) As part of an official prisoners exchange, Ukraine swaps Viktor Medvedchuk and 55 Russian POW’s for 215 Ukrainian POW’s (including 188 members of the Azov Regiment). The people of Ukraine are freed from the burden of dealing with Viktor Medvedchuk any further. Medvedchuk first met Vladimir Putin during 2003, and in 2004 Vladimir Putin became the godfather to Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter Darya. In Ukraine, Medvedchuk is considered a “Putin-man”. (2) Russian professor, Anatoly Gerashchenko, and head of the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI), dies after falling down a flight of stairs at the institute headquarters. He was 73 years old at the time of his death. MAI is a leading scientific research university for the development of aerospace technology with close links to the Russian defense industry. (3) Russian oligarch, Dmitry Zelenov, dies in Antibes in the French Riviera. His death was caused by a head injury sustained after falling over a railing from a flight of stairs. He was reported feeling unwell while having dinner with friends. A few weeks prior to his death he had heart surgery after a sudden heart related illness. He was 50 years old at the time of his death and invested in real estate in Europe.
The phenomenon of Russian oligarchs dying shortly before the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, followed by more deaths under mysterious circumstances after the invasion, all follow a common trend by Moscow to target influential leaders in its society who were considered a threat to the Putin inner circles, especially select individuals who had access to sensitive and damaging information relating to the covert operation of the Russian government mechanisms. Since the recent Russian invasion, various Russian oligarchs and members of the Russian FSB criticized the Putin government for its actions in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the critics with known identities became targets for elimination, all accounted to death my natural causes or accidents, a common Russian GRU tactic. An interesting aspect about all these deaths involving high-profile Russian individuals is the absence of Russian disinformation campaigns capitalizing on these events to insinuate ‘Western’ interferences (which would have been false accusations). The reason why the GRU purposefully chose not to turn these events into propaganda is due to these events serving as warning to the other Russian oligarchs and influential members of society to not oppose the current Russian system of government. Another interesting trend that was identified in the current GRU methods of targeted individual elimination was the use of a specific poisonous toad venom instead of the [traceable] laboratory poisons initially used during its early years of assassinations. The toad venom has the advantage of being a natural venom with a much slower reaction, usually causing cardiac arrest in the victim, which is commonly misdiagnosed as a natural heart illness when the victim falls ill. This assassination method was most likely used on Zelenov, Gerashchenko, and Maganov prior to their deaths. Maganov was most probably recovering from his initial poisoning, why matters were escalated to his ejection from a hospital window by physical force.
Mechanisms of Action of toad poisoning: Toads (genus Bufo) naturally produce a potent toxin (Bufotoxin) in their parotid gland that is similar to cardiac glycosides such as digoxin. The bufotoxins are cardiac glycosides. They bind to and inhibit sodium-potassium ATPase in a manner similar to other cardiac glycosides such as digoxin and digitoxin. The inhibition of the sodium-potassium ATPase results in an increased extracellular concentration of potassium and an increased intracellular concentration of sodium. The increased sodium concentration is a powerful driving force to increase the influx of calcium into the cytosol. These changes alter the resting membrane potential of excitable cells resulting in a depressed electrical conduction, which leads to an inhibition of myocardial conduction and function.
2022, October 02: The President of Burkina Faso, Paul-Henri Damiba, resigns as President after a successful military coup by a rebellious faction within the Army under leadership of a character named Captain Ibrahim Traoré, took over the government of Burkina Faso. The coup is supported by a majority population who was mobilized to protest outside the Embassy of France in Ouagadougou, demanding both Damiba and France to leave the territory of Burkino Faso, while at the same time calling onto Russia to send its forces to Burkina Faso.
A protester waving a Russian flag in support of Russia establishing a military foothold in Burkina Faso.
Russian GRU enablement of this coup cannot be discounted for reasons that it resembles the exact same methods used in the coup that overthrew the government in neighboring Mali during August 2020 which enabled the Russian pseudo-PMC Wagner Group to establish a military presence in Mali and take over what French Forces left behind upon withdrawal from Mali. At the time of the latest coup in Burkina Faso, the death toll in Wagner Group’s military operations in Mali had already exceeded 600 people, mostly innocent civilians. The Army of Burkina Faso is also split into various factions, although the dominant faction responsible for the most recent government take-over being pro-Russian, and most probably Russian financed. The ousted President, Paul-Henri Damiba, was blamed by the Army for not doing anything about Burkina Faso becoming the center of the Al Qaeda/Islamic State insurgency that destabilized Mali since 2012, and then spread throughout the region south of the Sahara. According to the information narrative spread amongst the population, France was responsible for suppressing any military activities targeting the Islamists. However, the latest military coup indicated a complicated social media campaign to mobilize the local population against the French and its sponsored government in Burkina Faso. The complexity and effectiveness of the Burkina Faso tactics are not common in African coup d’état tactics, but more a trademark of the Russian GRU.
Former President Damiba, however, only served as President of Burkino Faso since January 31, 2022. Lt Col Damiba led a mutiny against the civilian government of Burkina Faso, and removed then President Roch Kaboré from power, blaming him for failing to effectively resolve the Islamist insurgency in Burkina Faso which has already caused the deaths of thousands, and millions of civilians displaced during the past decade. Damiba was a supporter of former colonial power France, although France chooses not to admit to it for reasons undeclared.
2022, October 22: A joint four-day naval exercise between Russia and Algeria starts in the Mediterranean Sea.
2022, November 04: The South African National Defence Force announces that plans have been set to hold a joint naval exercise involving vessels of the Russian Navy, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), and the South African Navy. Precise dates have not been finalized, but the exercise will be held early 2023. The announcement is met with much criticism from opposition parties opposing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, stating that South Africa’s cooperation with Russia confirms its support to Russia regarding its invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Frigate Admiral Gorshkov and the tanker Kama were first observed in the Bay of Biscay until the vessels split up. The Admiral Gorshkov departed its port of assignment in the Murmansk area on January 04, 2023. The Kama continued southwards while being shadowed by the Portuguese patrol vessel NRP Sines (P362) past the Azores islands. The Admiral Gorshkov headed west while being shadowed by the Portuguese frigate NRP Bartolomeu Dias (F333). On January 22, 2023, the Admiral Gorshkov was around 1300 km west of the island of Flores in the Atlantic. Both vessels will join up with the Chinese PLAN and South African Navy for a joint naval exercise (Exercise Mosi II) over the period February 17 – 27, 2023. The two vessels are then scheduled to continue to the Mediterranean to complete its expected 1-year deployment period via the Suez Canal. According to Russian sources the Admiral Gorshkov is armed with new Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles.
2022, November 17: A Dutch court found Russians Igor Girkin and Sergei Dubinsky guilty of murder and shooting down a plane relating to their roles in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Donetsk Oblast, 40 km from the Russian border, on July 17, 2014. Ukrainian separatist, Leonid Kharchenko, from Donetsk was also found guilty. All three men were sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia.
2022, December 06: A sanctioned Russian ship known for transporting Russian arms shipments, Lady R, docks at Simons Town Naval Base in Cape Town, South Africa, under the cover of darkness. The ship docked at the South African Navy facility while the city was undergoing a scheduled power outage. The South African government refuses to share any details pertaining the reasons for a sanctioned civilian registered Russian vessel to enter a national key point.
Sanctioned Russian cargo ship Lady R docked in Simons Town Naval Base engaged in loading operations (Image: Supplied).
The vessel’s AIS was switched off upon entering South African territorial waters, which is suspected to be purposefully executed upon South African Navy (SAN) liaison recommendations. Based on eyewitness accounts, the ship was observed offloading and loading containerized cargo in the naval base. To accommodate the vessel, special loading equipment were brought onto the military base which indicates that the SAN was well informed of the vessel’s planned arrival. During daylight hours, the forward crane was observed in a raised position indicating that it was in operation, and the #1 hatch cover was removed and stacked onto hatch #2 which indicates that lifting operations were in progress. Upon further investigation, the vessel's intended destination was Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with no records of any planned port visits to South Africa. The South African Navy refused to comment on the purpose of the vessel within a restricted military facility. The vessel departed from Cape Town during the early morning hours of December 09, 2022. Lady R was observed during early January 2023 moored off the coast of Beira, Mozambique.
South African Navy tugs positioning the Russian vessel Lady R for docking (Image: Supplied)
On May 11, 2023, the United States government informed the South African [ANC] government that it obtained credible intelligence that South Africa had transferred weapons components to Russia via the US-sanctioned Russian registered Lady R on December 06, 2022. This incident is taken with much seriousness by the US government who is currently South Africa's largest foreign trade partner since 2000 via the AGOA trade program which allows South Africa to export goods to the United States tariff-free. At present, members from both sides of the aisle in the US congress are seeking for the cancellation of the AGOA trade agreement with South Africa for being a supporter of Russia, especially taking into consideration that Russia is not even a major trade partner of South Africa which accounts for not more than 0.2% of total South African exports. However, South Africa (being traditionally NATO aligned) does not hold large stocks of Russian armaments, and it also does not manufacture any Russian munitions. Technologies that Russia require that South Africa does posses are components essential to the development of encrypted communications, day/night optics, AFV sub-systems, missile components, and UAV's. Russia's domestic armaments industry is severely restricted in terms of acquiring various advanced components required for specifically UAV and missile development as a result of current UN sanctions against Russia. The South African ANC government is also in a desperate situation to obtain funding to extend its political campaign leading up to the 2024 national elections. Coincidently at around December 06, 2022, when Lady R docked at Simons Town Naval Base, the ANC (African National Congress), was in arrears regarding salary payments to its full-time employees exceeding 3-months. Miraculously, and without any form of explanation on how it was achieved, the ANC was able to pay their employee their arrear salaries in December 2022, and has been keeping up with salary payments since then. In South Africa it is also no secret that Russia is funding the ANC in return for political support, and to ensure that the ANC remains in power after the 2024 national elections.
2022, December 07: Around 3,000 members of the German police, including the GSG9 counter-terrorism unit, arrest 25 suspects who were believed to be involved in a plot to overthrow the government of the German Federation. Amongst the suspects arrested were former members of the German Special Forces, Police, a former far-right Member of Parliament with connections to Moscow, and a Russian citizen responsible for supporting the group’s activities. The group operated under the banner of the Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) movement. Police forces from Italy and Austria also conducted similar operations within their respective territories to follow up on suspects connected to the plot. Based on evidence gathered during investigations, the group was in contact with Russia for support in establishing a new order in Germany once the government was overthrown. The plan also included assassinations of key opposition figures, and the establishment of around 240 armed cells throughout the country which would have become the foundation of the post-coup self-defense force.
This event has been in the making since 2016, and the verdict is still undecided whether this group had the resources and means to effectively overthrow the present German Federal Government. However, what this event does highlight is the legacy that remains since the unification of East Germany (GDR) and West Germany which formed the present German Federation on October 03, 1990. Although the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), which was effectively a Soviet state since the end of WW2, was dissolved prior to reunification, the process of reunification never effectively addressed the extent of involvement and eventual evolution of the prior GRP political elite, including the future utilization of the members that served in the Stasi (GDR Ministry of State Security). The problem that existed during the reunification process is that the East Germans, as a Soviet Republic, practices Socialist Conservatism as a remnant brought over from the German Third Reich, whereas the West German government was a capitalist liberal democracy which practiced pacifism as a by-product of post-WW2 reconstruction conditions imposed by its Western liberators. Up until reunification, the majority East German politicians and military commanders despised what had become of West Germany under Western influence. This was the starting point of German right-wing activism (referring to conservative political ideology, not capitalism) which found favor amongst most of the ex-German Democratic Republic (East German) citizens who found much favor in Vladimir Putin’s style of government during the past two decades. The strong German support base for Russia that exists now is a by-product of the dismantled German Democratic Republic, partly caused by the naivety of the majority West Germans who support pacifism and liberal democratic ideologies. Also, of equal concern is the high number of Serbian immigrants who are now naturalized German citizens, some having served with the Russian Armed Forces since 2014 in Ukraine, who are still strong supporters of a pro-Russia Europe, who live and work in Germany.
2022, December 11: The body of a 23-year-old Zambian student, Lemekhani Nyirenda, arrives in Zambia after the ‘student’ died on the frontlines of Ukraine while fighting for Russia. Nyirende served with Wagner Group after he volunteered his services to the Russian war effort in Ukraine for a reduced sentence after being imprisoned in Russia on a drug trafficking related conviction. According to the family of the deceased, he originally went to Russia as a student on a Russian government sponsored education program, but later got a job as a courier to support himself. He was arrested when Russian police searched him and found a package containing banned narcotics.
The significance of this incident highlights the disconnected relationship that exists between Russia and Africa. The reality now, approaching a year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is that the majority Africans still believe Russia is an ‘anti-imperial’ force, not knowing that Russia is in most cases the cause of most of Africa’s problems by following a common Bolshevik Code inspired Kremlin doctrine which implies that ‘if you wish to provide a solution, you sometimes need to create the problem’. With reference to this specific incident, in a November 29, 2022, post on the Russian [propaganda] social media platform VKontakte, Wagner founder Evgeny Prigozhin claimed he spoke to Nyirenda who allegedly told him he had volunteered because:
“You, Russian, helped us Africans gain independence. When it was difficult for us, you stretched out a hand to us and continue to do this now. Wagner is saving thousands of Africans; going to war with you is paying back for at least some of our debt to you.”
Well, since Nyirenda is deceased now, it is difficult to verify the accuracy of this statement. However, even if we choose to entertain this statement as being ‘truthful’, we need to understand the history of Russian interference in Africa dating back to when the majority African states became independent around the early 1960’s (thanks to the demands enforced by the United States upon implementation of the Marshall Plan in Europe post-WW2 which came into effect on April 03, 1948). When the USSR entered Africa, most of the African nations were subjected to internal instability caused by power struggles between internal factions since most African states lacked the institutional knowledge to establish and maintain good governance. Some of the colonial powers (such as France and Belgium), also failed to facilitate proper governance to the benefit of nation building. However, when the United States became engaged in the Vietnam War, Russia utilized the opportunity (while the US was distracted), to arm select allies within strategic locations throughout Africa to expand its ‘anti-imperial’ agenda. This is the primary reason why most African nations remained in conflict with itself since independence around 60 years ago. The historical British colonies emerged as the most stable of all African nations mainly due to the reason that the British developed most of its colonies with basic infrastructure and remained invested in all their previous colonies through the mechanism of the Commonwealth of Nations to oversee the maintenance of state administration and good governance as safeguards for its colonial investments. However, these nations were considered more advanced compared to the former Portuguese, French, and Belgium colonies, which created opportunities for the US to enter Africa and consequently challenge the historical British influence within its former territories. By this time, Soviet influence was already well established throughout Africa as an ‘anti-imperial’ force resisting the so-called ‘neo-colonialism’ idea devised by Soviet propaganda in response to expanding US influence on the continent, and most of those relations remain to this day. Since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, this rhetoric has been prominently featured in Russian media strategies and official social media accounts. On December 02, 2022, for example, the English-language Twitter account of the Russian foreign ministry tweeted:
“#Russia was among the few world powers that neither had colonies in #Africa or elsewhere nor participated in slave trade throughout its history. Russia helped, in every possible way, the peoples of the African continent to attain their freedom and sovereignty #EndSlavery.”
This tweet was not repeated in Russian language for the simple reason that it continues building on the slavery narrative which Russia maintains within its information operation in the United States, specifically for a US based audience still disillusioned by other Russian enabled campaigns such as the BLM movement which also focusses on invoking domestic political instability based on manipulated facts relating to the slave heritage of the United States (while selectively omitting the anti-slavery efforts by the United States government at the time leading up to the American Civil War of 1861 which effectively ended slavery). Now, all these Russian disinformation campaigns feed back into Africa to support Russian disinformation campaigns targeting the youth who still fails to understand the real reasons why in 2023, their countries remain in a poorer state than it was pre-independence six decades ago. With reference to the Russian foreign ministry tweet, a Soviet propaganda poster dating back to 1971 was included to reflect the Russian government’s claim that it maintains Soviet anti-imperialist policies towards the Global South. While engaging in an ideological conflict against the United States during the Cold War, the Soviet Union focused its resources on building a sphere of influence in Africa. That ideological conflict has now been escalated into a kinetic conflict, with Ukraine being the starting point of a global war if Ukraine is not provided with the support it requires to effectively evict the last Russian from pre-2014 Ukrainian territory. It is also unfortunate that the majority Africans do not realize the extent of their current levels of inappropriate education to realize the truth about their ‘friend’ Russia, for soon they will all realize what true enslavement and authoritarian oppression means.
"Africa is Fighting, Africa Will Win!" Soviet poster, 1971, used by the Russian foreign ministry in a Tweet on December 02, 2022, to promote its 'anti-imperialist' image in Africa. Do these old Soviet propaganda posters support 21st Century Russian [dis]information operations? The reality is that it is now more effective than it was five decades ago. However, looking back at 1971, maybe Africa should come to realize Russian propaganda for what it actually is, namely, empty promises supported by a history of unfulfillment. The root cause for Africa's problems is government corruption, and Africans dislike being prosecuted why it sees Russia as its perfect partner.
2022, December 22: A member of the German foreign intelligence service, BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst), is arrested after being caught sending classified information to Russian handlers. The suspect, a German national named Carsten L, was revealed as the source of various intelligence leaks after an internal investigation.
This was the first arrest of a German BND member since 2014 when another member named Markus R was arrested and convicted in 2016 and sentenced to 8 years in prison after selling sensitive information to both the US and Russian intelligence services. However, this time the German intelligence services, and the German Federal Government, is taking the threats from Russia as an aggressor more seriously after the exposure of the Russian supported coup attempt on its government. Gut gemacht Deutschland.
2022, December 23: Four Airbus A340-300 passenger aircraft (ex-Turkish Airlines) departs from Johannesburg (JNB), South Africa, O.R. Tambo International Airport to Uzbekistan as per flight plans filed. The aircraft were originally kept in storage at Johannesburg, South Africa, until its unannounced departure on December 23. According to the flight plans, the final destination was Uzbekistan, but when the aircraft arrived in Iranian airspace, all four aircraft disappeared from radar. Iranian authorities confirmed that the aircraft landed at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA), and that international search and rescue was not necessary.
The major concern here is that the Iranians knew the final destination was Tehran, and not Uzbekistan, and basically manipulated the international civil aviation system to its benefit to sideline international sanctions. The aircraft were owned by a Hong Kong registered company, Avro Global, and all four aircraft were registered in Guernsey. Just before the departure of the aircraft from South Africa, all four aircraft were re-registered in Burkina Faso with new registration codes XT-AKA, XT-AKB, XT-AKK and XT-ALM. The United States and Europe currently enforces sanctions against Iran, to include the sale of passenger aircraft, as a measure against Iran ‘militarizing’ the respective aircraft and/or its components. However, our major concern with this specific event is the intended application of the four A340-300 aircraft since it is the most suitable passenger liner to be converted to long-range military freighters (Read: Airbus A340-300: A feasible option as a low-cost strategic transport aircraft for the SAAF?). In this article we discussed the feasibility of converting and utilizing the A340-300 as a low-cost military freighter, the reason why we are concerned that the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) might just have found a solution to enhancing its long-range military freighter / in-flight refueling / AEW&C capabilities to support its new fleet of Sukhoi Su-35 fighters arriving Q2 2023 from Russia. Did Western intelligence services drop the ball on this?
2022, December 24: The head of Admiralty Shipyards in Russia, Alexander Sergeevich Buzakov, suddenly dies without any cause of death provided at the age of 66. Russian authorities also remain silent on the circumstances leading to his death.
Admiralty Shipyards, a subsidiary of United Shipbuilding Corporation located in St Petersburg, is one of the oldest shipyards in Russia dating back to 1704 when it was founded. The company specialized in the development of the newest range of diesel-electric submarines for the Russian Navy, as well as a large variety of vessels adapted to Arctic operations. Buzakov died a day after launching a modern Lada-Class (Project 677) submarine for the Russian Navy. Other projects at the shipyard include the improved Kilo-Class diesel-electric submarine capable of launching Kalibr cruise missiles, with improved stealth technologies and enhanced multi-mission capabilities in shallow waters. The major concern amongst NATO members is the likelihood that Russia would supply its close ally Iran with the improved Kilo-Class submarine since much of the improvements on the newer design fulfills Iranian requirements to operate submarines in the shallow water Persian Gulf and extending to the Gulf of Aden in support of its allies in Yemen, which would destabilize oil and gas supplies by sea originating from its Arabian Gulf neighbors destined for European customers. Iran currently operates older Kilo-Class submarines purchased in 1996, but based on experience using the vessels in the Persian Gulf, the older Kilos are difficult to control in the stronger currents in the Strait of Hormuz, and the older vessels have a minimum operational depth of 150 feet which is lower than the current depth of the strait. In addition, Iran also requires a submarine mine-laying capability. The improved Kilo-Class submarines being built by Admiralty Shipyards are expected to meet Iranian requirements as a replacement (instead of modernization) of its current Kilo-Class fleet of submarines.
2023, January 10: During a UN Security Council meeting on West Africa and the Sahel, the United States accuses Russia of interfering in the internal affairs of African countries and “increasing the likelihood that violent extremism will grow”. The comment was specifically directed towards Moscow’s inappropriate use of its pseudo-PMC mechanism, Wagner Group, to interfere in African security under the guise of military assistance. The French political counsellor, Isis Jaraud-Darnault, supported US Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills’ statement, further adding that the Wagner Group has proven “totally ineffective in combatting terrorism”.
Based on our own knowledge regarding the escalating security situation in Africa through our own network of resources, the US is 100% correct in its judgement, and it is just unfortunate that the US failed to explain the exact reasons why Russia is one of the main enablers of the current escalation in hostilities and political destabilization in Africa. However, we do respect the US timing and reasons for doing what it does at the diplomatic level, which we support. Regarding the French, we congratulate them for realigning their focus to the situation in Africa, although we shall for now reserve our comments relating to the reasons why Russia was initially allowed unopposed entry into traditional French areas of interest. The main message here which we will emphasize again is that it is not within the interests of Moscow to achieve any form of peace in Africa. Russia is only interested in expanding its strategic footprint by whatever means, at whatever cost, and in return gain control over as much scarce resources required by the West to enable the development of its green energy economies, an industrial evolutionary event which Russia considers a major threat to its future existence and relevance. For the 36 African nations currently aligning their foreign policies in favor of strategic partnership with Russia, we challenge all those governments to find a single nation in this world that exists as a true example of Russian enabled prosperity reflecting the extensive list of Russian false promises. That example does not exist.
2023, January 11: The President of Poland commits to supply a company (14 units) of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine.
2023, January 15: An Iranian national, Aryan Assad, dies in a light aircraft accident while giving instruction as a pilot instructor while flying along the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. The incident was confirmed by the Iranian Ambassador to South Africa, Mehdi Agha Jafari, via Instagram.
What this incident exposed through further investigation was that the deceased in this incident was not the only Iranian pilot employed as a pilot in South Africa, but that he was part of a larger group of Iranian students that obtain their commercial pilot licenses in South Africa. Iran is using South Africa to sideline various international sanctions against its regime, in this case pilot training.
2023, January 16: An Iranian MP, Shahriar Heidari, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Iranian Parliament, confirms that Iran will receive a batch of new Sukhoi Su-35 fighters from Russia by Q2 2023.
The quantity of aircraft was not confirmed, but it is suspected to be the full order of 24 Sukhoi Su-35 originally ordered by Egypt which remained undelivered for reasons unspecified. During December 2022, US intelligence services confirmed that Russia had commenced training of IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) pilots to fly the Su-35. Payment for the new fleet of 4.5 Gen fighters are expected to be in the form of an exchange for Iranian made loitering munitions, ballistic missiles, and possibly GBADS for deployment against Ukraine. The Sukhoi Su-35 is currently one of Russia’s most modern fighters, with only a few used in combat operations against Ukraine. The addition of the Sukhoi Su-35 to the IRIAF fleet will add advanced capabilities to an air force still equipped with obsolete Cold War era 3rd gen fighters. This, along with the possible acquisition of the improved Kilo-Class submarines from Russia for use by the Iranian naval forces, would greatly enhance Iran’s strategic dominance within the region. What also remains unclear is what Iran plans to do with the four Airbus A340-300's it received on December 23, 2022.
2023, January 19: Sweden offers to Ukraine 50x CV90 IFVs and 12x Archer self-propelled howitzers. This contribution is significant to enhance Ukraine’s mechanized infantry capabilities when the Ukrainian counter-offensive commences upon arrival of fresh NATO trained troops during the coming summer offensive.
As valuable as this contribution is to the Ukrainian armed forces capabilities, it is just a pity that it took the Swedish leadership a year to make this contribution. Well-done Sweden.
2023, January 20: A meeting between the US Secretary for Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, and his German government counterpart, Boris Pistorius, fails to commit German approval for the delivery of German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. The German Leopard 2 is available in large quantities in Europe, with German industry having committed its readiness to start with mechanical preparation of the tanks upon approval by the German government.
Since the February 22, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, the German government has been observed as the most hesitant of NATO suppliers in support of Ukraine’s resistance against a belligerent Russia, using the excuse that “it does not want to provoke Russia in escalating the war beyond Ukraine”. Well, about that. However, to understand the German Federal Government mindset in terms of its extremely hesitant support to Ukraine, we need to understand the primary causes for its ‘lesser-than-willing’ attitude towards Ukraine by taking into consideration the following primary factors, namely:
Political: The most influential factor in current German decision making is its compromised political environment. In terms of supply, German industry (predominantly Rheinmetall) is ready, but frustrated with the government’s [persistent] indecisiveness. To understand this better, we need to take into consideration the unresolved heritage that the German Federation inherited upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR), and how the political system that controlled the former Russian dominated Soviet Republic of East Germany (German Democratic Republic) evolved into remaining relevant in present-day German politics. Fact is, there are still many supporters of Russia’s expansionism ideology amongst all levels of German society dating back to the Cold War era. With the fall of the Berlin wall, [Western Bloc] West Germany and [Eastern Bloc] East Germany were reunified into the present-day German Federation. Looking at political ideologies, the majority liberals today associate with the pacifist West German heritage, whereas the conservatives are predominantly supportive of the East German heritage. At present the Germans are experiencing political disagreements between liberalism vs conservatism, and Russia has a major hand in maintaining that political divide to its benefit to ensure that German conservatives remain supportive of Russian ideologies while enforcing the ‘pacification’ ideology amongst the liberals (by constantly reminding them of German atrocities during WW2), which in turn affects German Federation foreign policy. This is the primary reason why the German government is conveniently acting ‘indecisive’ instead of committedly supporting Ukraine. However, selective German indecision has been applied since the Russo-Georgia War of 2008, and then continued throughout the Russian annexation of Crimea and the resulting War in Donbas, and now still applied a year following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We think it is now time for the Germans to put their history to rest and accept what is required to evolve into the future by resisting a hostile Russia which has a history of belligerence dating back more than two centuries. What the German society needs to understand is that mistakes were made during WW2, and nothing can be done to change that. What they also need to realize is that much of the German-led war escalation after the invasion of Poland (with the assistance of Russia), was caused by a belligerent Russia who (upon orders from Stalin), was preparing an invasion of Germany with around 11 million soldiers. Instead, the Germans attacked its old-ally Russia first with around 3 million men after learning about Stalin’s plan. The German invasion of Russia was not planned but had to be done due to necessity, which is by no means similar to the situation facing Ukraine as the victim of unjustified Russian hostility.
Economic: This is one of the major factors causing the German government’s hesitation to support Ukraine with the advanced weapons systems it requires to combat the Russians. What we need to take into consideration is how the Germans observes themselves as the leading (most influential) economy in the European Union. The current German economic situation is of great relevance for it is a product in the making since the end of WW2. When the Marshall Plan commenced during 1948 which constituted the United States reconstruction aid package that [Western Europe] required to rebuild itself after the damages sustained because of WW2, the Germans were subject to a situation where most of its heavy industries were designed for armaments manufacturing. As per US requirements, the Germans were prohibited to manufacture armaments (until the start of the Cold War at least), which resulted in all the major German manufacturers to redesign their business models to target the expanding global consumer market. This resulted in German industry entering foreign strategic territories such as Argentina, Mexico, and South Africa to target post-WW2 emerging markets with German quality products in the form of cars, trucks, electronic consumer goods, etc. The German timing was right, and their foreign post-war investments paid off which enabled the Germans (Western Bloc) to develop itself into a global power through economic means instead of military means (based on lessons learnt during WW1 and WW2). As German global influence quietly expanded, it effectively reached a point where it could influence governments, establishing a version of neo-colonialism within the economies it influenced. In Europe, however, the German Federation gained much influence over smaller EU member states through government-to-government financing, why the German Federation dominates EU foreign policy. However, the German terms were not always welcomed by its beneficiaries which resulted in many EU member states seeking direct alliance with the United States instead. The Germans did not appreciate the United States dominating favor amongst European nations simply because the Germans still believe it’s an entitled German right as the dominant authority in Europe. So, how does this relate to German-Ukrainian relations? Again, the problem from a German Federation perspective is the extent of US influence in Ukrainian affairs, especially post-2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, further exaggerated by the pro-Russian conservative sentiment exercised via the political system (again, the unresolved reintegration of East Germany with West Germany at the end of the Cold War). To understand this better, the Germans are already considering an eventuality of a victorious Ukraine having defeated Russia from its temporary occupied territories. The German Federation has been practicing pacification since the reintegration of both East- and West Germany, consequently neglecting its military capabilities in exchange for economic development (because the United States is already heavily invested in safeguarding NATO). Therefore, a victorious Ukraine with the largest combat hardened military capability in Europe entering the EU and NATO is a major threat to the German [self-determined] right to leading the EU political discourse, and with the guaranteed assistance from the United States, Ukraine will be enabled with the means to challenge the current German authority with added benefit of having energy- and natural resources which the Germans do not possess. For the German Federation, dealing with Russia in terms of energy supply is just a financial transaction, but if Ukraine emerges victorious from the current Russo-Ukraine War and becomes both an EU and NATO member state, then the Germans believe that the current EU status quo will become more polarized between a United States strong influence in eastern Europe vs a [rapidly declining] German dominated western Europe which is struggling with sustainable energy resources. Poland is already evolving into a powerful authority amongst the ex-Soviet eastern European states with the intention of challenging the German influence within the EU economically, and adding Ukraine with its economic diversity, industrial capacity, and intellectual wealth would drastically shift the power balance in Europe. Unfortunately, the Germans consider this as a negative outlook to its future economic stability, why its government is so hesitant to support the Ukraine government to achieve victory over the Russians. What the German political leadership fails to realize is the opportunities that they will enable by supporting Ukraine now. However, it is also of critical importance that the current Ukraine government under the competent leadership of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy establishes all the political safeguards now to ensure that Ukraine is never politically ‘captured’ again as it was by Russia over the period spanning from Ukrainian independence to the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Industrial: Since the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany proved to be a slow and minor contributor of military aid to Ukraine comparative to its role as a supposedly leading NATO member state in Europe. However, the Germans did provide some hardware, the most modern of military equipment being the PzH 2000 self-propelled tracked howitzers. On June 21, 2022, seven German PzH 2000’s entered operational service with the Ukrainian armed forces after completion of Ukrainian crew induction training in Germany. An additional five PzH 2000’s were donated by the Dutch to Ukraine. By end of July 2022, the majority PzH 2000’s were NMC (not mission capable) due to faulty ammunition loading mechanisms. According to the OEM, the PzH 2000 is designed to fire a maximum of 100 rounds per day, and due to the high intensity of the current war between Russia and Ukraine, the original design parameters were most probably exceeded under realistic combat conditions. Some of the units only lasted 4 - 6 weeks under combat conditions which should be a major eye-opener to the German Bundeswehr as primary operator of the PzH 2000. However, the Germans did provide replacement parts to repair the units which highlighted the second major problem with modern German weapon systems. To repair the NMC PzH 2000’s in Ukrainian service, the vehicles were required to be backloaded from the frontlines to a factory in Poland. This erupted into a dispute when the German technicians demanded that the Polish factory workers vacate the Polish owned and operated factory for the duration of the German technicians repairing the Ukrainian PzH 2000’s, a request considered unfeasible for the simple reason that the factory was in operation with an active assembly line for various other armored military combat systems of Polish design. Eventually Slovakia offered to establish a dedicated repair center for the Germans to repair the Ukrainian hardware, a process still in the making. The main lesson learnt from this experience is the exact same mistakes the Germans made during WW2 in terms of arms development and production. German systems are designed too complicated which necessitates backloading over long distances to foreign countries for simple repairs to be made mainly caused by design failures resulting from unrealistic and untested design specifications not tested in combat. According to the Ukrainian armed forces, the most reliable systems were the Polish AHS Krab, along with the American M777 and M109, all which are designed for in-field repair without backloading to factory-like repair centers. Now, looking at the Leopard 2 main battle tanks, operational performance is also questionable taking into consideration the number of combat losses sustained by the Turkish Army in Syria while fighting Islamist. However, the Turkish losses are mostly accountable to poor TTP’s by the Turkish Army, but it did highlight some flaws in the German designed systems. However, if the Germans were to provide even older version Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukrainians and these units failed against lesser capable Russian hardware, then future sales of German designed primary equipment will decline due to prospective customers losing faith in German armaments capabilities. Also, being German designed, the Leopard 2 tanks require more advanced repair facilities to be maintained as per German design specifications to remain mission capable. The main point of consideration here is that the German Leopard 2 MBTs still remain unproven in high-intensity combat conditions currently experienced in Ukraine, and this is a major concern for the German government from a reputation point of view, knowing that the Russians would exploit every opportunity to showcase any losses of German designed hardware.
2023, January 22: The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, travels from Moscow, Russia, to Waterkloof Air Force Base, South Africa on Russian Special Flight Squadron Ilyushin Il-96-300 with tail number RA-96023. The reason for his visit to South Africa is not disclosed by either the governments of Russia or South Africa, and the aircraft travelled to South Africa with transponder switched off. The same aircraft was observed on a flight to Minsk, Belarus, a few days prior.
According to open source information extracted from Russian government social media communications, Lavrov arrived in South Africa for a working visit with the governments of South Africa, Eswatini (ex Swaziland), Angola and Botswana. On January 23rd, the planned visit to Botswana was cancelled without providing reasons, but a visit to Eritrea was announced on the return back to Russia. The agenda items for this working visit includes:
1. Planning arrangements for the 2nd Russo-African summit scheduled for July 26 - 29, 2023, in St Petersburg, Russia.
2. Lavrov, and his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, are expected to exchange views regarding BRICS and engagement on other international platforms, bilateral issues, and key international events. South Africa currently holds presidency for 2023. One of the primary activities for BRICS is the expansion of its current membership to include Argentina, Algeria and Iran, all who have already filed official applications to join. Other countries that filed their interest to join BRICS include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkiye. [The major significance of this expanding BRICS membership reflects two things, namely (1) The rapidly expanding divide between Saudi Arabia and the West; and (2) Argentina pursuing strategic alliance with an international group of economies who wish to challenge the West. The 'Islas Malvinas' agenda has gained much momentum of late amongst Argentinians, which signals Argentinian plans to eventually challenge the British through military means to regain control over the Falklands. This eventually is bound to happen, but this time round with the expected assistance from both China and Russia who requires closer strategic access to Antarctica, and Argentina is the perfect partner for enabling such requirements. When will this happen? When current restricted British military resources are over-committed to the point where it cannot deploy a capable task force to maintain control over the Falklands through military means.]
3. Further negotiations for South Africa to commit to Russia as the supplier of a second nuclear power plant (in light of South Africa's current politically orchestrated electricity crisis). At present, 15 African nations are involved in Russian-financed nuclear power deals, and many more are locked into Russian "security" (military assistance) contracts.
4. The establishment of extended military relations between the Southern African nations to be visited. This was already confirmed with the arrival of around 50 Russian soldiers (most probably Wagner Group or Russian GRU Spetsnaz), in Sikhuphe, Eswatini, for a mission to "improve the security of the King". [The arrival of Russian military personnel in Eswatini follows an event which occurred in the week following the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the time of the Russian invasion, the Armed Forces of Eswatini had soldiers conducting military training in Russia. A week after the failed occupation of Ukraine by Russia, the Russians gave their foreign students the option to accompany the Russian forces in Ukraine to gain "practical experience in combat", or return home. The Eswatini soldiers all chose to return home, but were refused government paid flights, and had to make arrangements via family members back home to purchase flight tickets out of Russia. This incident caused a divide amongst Eswatini military personnel, why the King of Eswatini acquired the assistance of Russian soldiers for "protection"]
5. Planning to avoid any "scandals" relating to the joint Naval exercise between Russia, China and South Africa scheduled for February 17 - 27. 2023, of the coast of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
This event again highlights the effects of 'Cause Blindness' and how simple it is to lose focus on the wide spanning effects of smaller events if misunderstood. While the majority Western analysts are focussed on Russia's activities in Ukraine, they are blinded by the actual grand strategy at play at the strategic level. The Russo-Ukraine War is a distraction, and actually quite appropriately named a "Special Military Operation". While the West is focussed on the 'Russian occupation of Ukraine', Russia is occupying the world around it.
2023, January 23: A USAF C-40 Clipper (USAF version of Boeing BBJ) carrying United States Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, is inbound to Waterkloof Air Force Base, South Africa. No details of the US Government visit to South Africa provided. The aircraft is scheduled to land at the same base where Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, arrived a day prior. The arrival of both Russian and US diplomats in South Africa have no relation whatsoever.
2023, January 27: Ilyushin Il-18, TL-KBR (RA-75713) operated by pseudo-PMC Wagner Group (Russia), is destroyed under unexplained circumstances while on the ground at Al Khadim Airbase, Libya. This specific aircraft was utilized for Wagner personnel rotations throughout Africa (and Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine) from Russia, and was a common sight in Bangui, Central African Republic. No details were published by any Russian media outlets indicating the incident.
Ilyushin Il-20, TL-KBR, Al Khadim Airfield, Libya
Why is Wagner's presence in Libya such a significant event? Wagner Group arrived in Libya during 2018 in support of the Libyan National Army (LNA) under the command of Gen. Khalifa Haftar who opposed the UN recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli. Since then, around 2,000 Wagner combatants settled in Libya, mainly within the South continuing with training of LNA affiliated forces. In 2020, a ceasefire was declared between all warring factions, and one of the demands for peace was the departure of all foreign forces, the majority belonging to Wagner Group. However, in 2020, Wagner Group, along with fighters from Sudan, took control over Libya's main oil terminal in Sirte. In 2021, satellite imagery exposed a 70 km fortified trench system running North to South to protect their position at an airfield near Al Jufra. This trench ran through Libya's primary oil drilling region as a means of maintaining Wagner (Russian) control over a large portion of Libya's oil resources in alignment with Russia's plan to maintain a permanent presence in Libya and elsewhere in Africa. Now, even though Wagner's founder Yevgeny Prigozhin gains much personal wealth from Wagner activities globally, Wagner Group is in fact a pseudo-PMC, and acts solely in accordance with Moscow (Vladimir Putin's) global expansionism agenda, which of course includes great personal wealth generation activities to the benefit of the Russian oligarchs who control Russia's system of government. Therefore, the problem facing Libya's peace aspirations is the persistent presence of Russia in Libya (by means of their influence over Gen. Khalifa Haftar), who risk losing much in the event of a peaceful Libya. Russia's presence in Libya by way of Wagner Group posing as a 'private' military company is only an attempt to enable plausible deniability, although the purpose of Wagner Group is solely to expand Russian foreign policy in line with Russian strategic military- and economic objectives. Since the 2022 full invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Wagner only extracted around 400 of its members from Libya for redeployment to Ukraine, although at present (Q1 2023), Wagner still maintains a force strength of around 2,000 combatants in Libya, with control over three airbases and various military outposts to guarantee Gen. Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army control over eastern Libya via Al Khadim Airfield (where Wagner's Il-18 was recently destroyed). Reflecting back on Russian activities in Ukraine over the past 12 months we find a situation totally different to what is witnessed about Russian military competence in Ukraine. The concerning aspects about the Russian war in Ukraine is that Russia is still holding back on full mobilization, and while the world was focussed on the war in Ukraine, Russia was expanding its military influence (by means of Wagner), throughout Africa, now influencing the governments of at least 36 of the 54 UN recognized countries in Africa. This possibly implies that the war in Ukraine by Russia is in fact a distraction for a greater strategy at play.
2023, February 15: Ukrainian intelligence reports claiming that Russian oil and gas giant, Gazprom, was launching its own PMC (Private Military Company), is confirmed. The 'official' reason given by Gazprom for creating its own private army is to safeguard its global infrastructure.
The real reasons why Gazprom is establishing its own PMC are as follows:
Vladimir Putin is slowly realizing that Wagner Group PMC founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is gradually becoming a threat to his [Putin's] future rule over Russia and its institutions as Prigozhin's power, popularity and influence is expanding globally at a rapid rate. Even though Wagner Group PMC exists solely through the approval of Vladimir Putin, Putin knows that Prigozhin is becoming more aware about his own rise in power and influence in Russian political policies, why he is also acting more boldly in criticizing [Putin] foreign policies to gain more political attention amongst the Russian population who already considers Prigozhin a powerful figure within the Russian system of government. Due to these factors, Putin is hedging against Prigozhin through his personal relationship with Alexei Miller (an old associate of Putin dating back to the St. Petersburg government), to establish a 'competitor' PMC to Wagner Group PMC (although none of these PMC's actually being 'private' as their names imply, but rather 'innovative' instruments of the Russian system of government);
Gazprom will be enabled with the [military] means to expand its own operations independent from [unreliable and poorly trained and equipped] local- and foreign security providers within underdeveloped frontier territories in Africa without utilizing Wagner Group PMC who is more costly and demanding in terms of profit sharing;
Putin wishes to diversify the resources commitment to the Russian war in Ukraine by allowing other stakeholders to contribute alternative ideas and concepts not subject to Prigozhin's approval and interference. Wagner Group PMC has alienated many war veterans from joining its ranks based on the bad reputation it gained resulting from its controversial prisoners program and abuse on the frontlines in Ukraine.
2023, February 24: The United States, by means of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force), grey lists South Africa for not meeting the requirements to effectively reduce international money laundering activities. The grey listing implication results in greater scrutiny of USD international transactions in and out of the country.
The US is concerned with the increased implication of South African based belligerent actors involved with international organized crime and global terrorism funding since the US global war on terror (GWOT) more than a decade back. At present, the South African [political] government's expanding relationship with the belligerent governments of Russia and China, including political connections with organized criminal groups belonging to both nations with financial- and intelligence services links to their respective governments, has forced the US to take more stringent actions against the South African government who failed to (1) implement the necessary reforms to enable improved financial transparency relating to USD transactions, and (2) prosecute implicated members of the South African society with ruling party political affiliation involved in illicit financial activities. Since the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, various South African entities have enabled Russia to circumvent sanctions via South African based proxies. Some of the examples relate to proceeds gained from intentional sabotage of critical infrastructure (national power utility, national railway network) through the coordinated application of crime, wildlife terrorism, and the purchasing of Russian commodities and products via India as a means of circumventing international sanctions against Russia, and dealings relating to Iran and the circumvention of US sanctions against the Iranian regime. In response to the FATC announcement, the South African government published a statement on its FB page on February 28, 2023, that it would utilize the grey listing to implement 'necessary' reforms which would benefit the public without explaining its plans. The post was removed in response to the extent of negative public commentary. However, the major concern now is that the ruling party may use FATC 'reforms' as a mechanism to justify its phasing in of the national mass surveillance program under development by Vumacam in partnership with the Chinese [civil-military fusion] company Hikvision and the partially state-owned Telkom, utilizing Huawei 5G technologies. The current ruling party ANC is well aware of the fact that it is losing control over the political control of the government and that it risks being abandoned by its traditional support base, why the ANC has partnered with China post-CoV-2 pandemic to develop a digitally aided authoritarian government model underpinned by cyber controls, social monitoring, and surveillance prior to the 2024 national government elections.
2023, March 06: A Russian-owned and operated Volga-Dnepr Airlines Ilyushin Il-76TD-90VD, tail number RA-76503, departs from Cape Town International Airport in South Africa to Maputo, Mozambique, after being grounded without fuel for 5 months resulting from a refusal by BP (South Africa), the then fuel supplier at Cape Town International Airport, to supply fuel to the Russian aircraft in line with international sanctions.
The refusal by BP to refuel Russian aircraft at South African airports since the Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in the eventual termination of BP South Africa's supplier agreement at South African airports. This, however, was a convenient event for the ruling-party since they desired the termination of the high-volume fuel supply contracts at South African airports to enable the appointment of politically connected service providers to enable [political party] profiteering via fuel imports from India refined from discounted Russian crude oil with high profit margins. Consequently, with effect from March 2023, the removal of BP as fuel supplier at South African airports enables the South African ANC-government to implement its 'Russia-friendly' policies by allowing all Russian aircraft to be refueled at South African airports without restrictions or fear from foreign [Western] sanctions.
Another interesting find relating to the aircraft operator, Volga-Dnepr Airlines (VDA), is its history serving the US DoD Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) until the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, when Volga-Dnept Airlines was removed from both US DoD and NATO approved vendor lists in response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine. The removal of VDA as an approved vendor to the US DoD exposed its [Russian] relationship with Michael T. Flynn, a retired US Army Lieutenant-General, who also served as Donald Trump's National Security Advisor during the first 22 days of Trump's term as President of the United States. Michael T. Flynn was forced to resign from his position when he was exposed for intentionally misleading Vice-President Mike Pence about his relationship with then Russian Ambassador to the United States (dating back to 2013), Sergey Kislyak. Flynn was also registered on March 2017 as a foreign agent when he was lobbying on behalf of the Government of Turkiye, but only after he had already represented the interests of a foreign government. Flynn was also a military analyst for Russian state broadcaster, RT, and on December 10, 2015, he was observed seated alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin during a gala dinner in honor of RT. During the 2016 US Presidential campaign, Flynn was a registered Democrat, but offered his availability to the Trump campaign as Vice-President. However, the Trump transition team chaired by Chris Christie opposed Flynn's appointment as National Security Advisor for being a "loose cannon". Flynn was also partnered with Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to promote IP3 International's plan to transfer nuclear technology from the US to Saudi Arabia. Flynn's relationship with Russia was initially exposed in 2014 when he served as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency since July 2012, when he became the first US intelligence officer to be allowed within the head quarters of the Russian GRU in June 2013. However, in February 2014, an associate of Republican presidential advisor, Stefan Halper, reported Flynn's inappropriate relationship with a Russian woman (suspected intelligence operative), during an intelligence conference in London. Flynn was terminated later that year from his position as Director DIA. In August 2015, Flynn appeared as a speaker at a Volga-Dnept Airlines co-sponsored event relating to economic security in the Middle East, along with Danny Yatom, a former Director of the Israeli Mossad.
Michael T. Flynn seated to the right of Russian President Vladimir Putin (left of Putin on photo). The significance of this event highlights all previous 'Trump-connected' individuals already mentioned before with proven Russian links which in fact raises an alternative theory that former President Donald Trump is just as much a victim of these characters, and not necessarily Russian sympathetic as implied by various narratives promoted by mainstream media. The common trend we are observing is that all the Russian compromised characters who served under Donald Trump in some manner were all 'referred' (deployed) to serve Donald Trump without him [Trump] actually knowing these individuals personally. What the Russian intelligence services figured out about Trump is his weakness to accept without doubt any recommendations and referrals made to him by people he trusted. It is for this reason why we believe that former US President Donald Trump was compromised through the incompetence and opportunism of his advisors, which includes members of his family. Disclaimer: The purpose of this comment is not to discredit any political parties or its representatives, but rather to highlight how Russian intelligence services exploit opportunists to their advantage to discredit adversary politicians. The intention of this summary relates to Russian modus operandi, not US state of politics. US politics is in its current state as a result of Russian interference.
This somewhat irrelevant event again exposed the complexities relating to anything connected to the Russian system of government. The most important lesson to be learnt from the Russian utilization of Michael T. Flynn (and other already mentioned), is the manner in which Russia recruits and utilizes foreign assets to neutralize foreign political adversaries. We have mentioned this before, but it is important enough to be mentioned again. The reason why Donald Trump and the so-called 'MAGA' faction in the Republican Party are so commonly portrayed as pro-Russian is because a Republican Party led US Government is considered the biggest threat to Russian global expansionism (with no offence to Democratic Party policies). To counter the US in the absence of military means, Russia exploited the vulnerabilities of the US society via its [volatile] political mechanism based on how the Soviet KGB used to manipulate the US public opinion during the Vietnam War. Approaching the Trump presidential campaign, the Russians applied the following basic formula:
Step 1: Identify and recruit influential [and corruptible] assets with access to the Republican Party (through money and coercion). Create innocent looking events to compromise [at a later date] the professional images of assets for future disposal (such as Michael T. Flynn being seated alongside Vladimir Putin at an RT event);
Step 2: Enable the deployment of influential assets within the inner circle of the target (Presidential candidate - Donald Trump), and build trust by providing various means of assistance to promote the election campaign in his favor without him knowing the true origin (via party funding, technical assistance, damaging information to discredit political opponents, etc);
Step 3: Provide foreign policy advice to the Presidential candidate to promote Russian objectives, but developed to be perceived within the best interests of the American public;
Step 4: Utilize Russian state intelligence services to discredit political opposition through information leaks (via hacking & WikiLeaks), disinformation, public opinion manipulation, and funding extreme far-left political campaigns to discredit the Democratic Party reputation amongst its traditional voters base;
Step 5: Promote pro-Russian narratives via compromised Presidential advisors as 'America First' policies to the newly elected President (Donald Trump);
Step 6: Dispose of Russian political assets when the Republican Party wins the Presidential election by leaking their 'Russian association' to degrade public opinion, and to fuel opposition political campaigns to disrupt government processes and consequently destabilize the Republican Party through political in-fighting;
Step 7: Ensure Republican Party fails to gain a second Presidential term during the period of a major [Russian] military event (full-scale invasion of Ukraine), by facilitating an election of a passive Democratic Party candidate to stabilize US foreign policy. It was an essential requirement for Russia to facilitate a Democrat-led US government during its planned invasion of Ukraine. The reason for this is due to Russian [Putin] belief that a liberal Democratic Party government (post-Trump administration viewed as an era of political instability), would be less inclined to engage in direct conflict with Russia when Russia invades Ukraine.
Step 8: Utilize (via financial and coercive means) the pro-Trump 'MAGA' faction to promote pro-Russian policies and narratives after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Continue to dedicate Russian intelligence assets to instigate political differences to maintain political instability in US politics.
2023, April 15: Violent military clashes erupt throughout Sudan, but mainly concentrated in the capital city Khartoum. The attacks were initiated by the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in an attempt to overthrow the military government controlled by Sudanese Army General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. The RSF initially raided various Sudanese Defence Force (SDF) military bases, the most significant being Merowe Air Base which accommodated the Egyptian military contingent in Sudan. After the attack on Merowe Air Base, the RSF seized control over 11x Egyptian Air Force Mig-29M/M2 fighter aircraft, including its pilots, ground support crew, and the Egyptian El-Sa'ka Special Forces commando attached to the squadron for protection. 1x Egyptian soldier was confirmed killed by the RSF.
Merowe Airport, Sudan. Egypt had a Mig-29M/M2 equipped squadron based at Merowe Airport as a contingency deployment in response to the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project on the Nile River, although official Egyptian reasons were stated as "training the Air Force of Sudan". By late April 16, 2023, the RSF withdrew from Merowe Airport after killing one of the Egyptian hostages, and taking the remaining hostages with them. The majority of the 11x Mig-29's were damaged beyond economical repair, with one aircraft totally destroyed.
Analysis of damages sustained by the Air Forces of Egypt and Sudan after the RSF captured the airport. Based on reports by sources in Sudan, in addition to visually confirmed aircraft destroyed, all aircraft supposedly sustained damage after the RSF militants randomly fired their small arms at all aircraft prior to withdrawal from the airport to purposefully disable all combat aircraft. Therefore, it is much likely that all aircraft based at Merowe Airport are damaged beyond local repair.
How is this incident relevant to the War in Ukraine? Other than the fact that one Ukrainian registered Boeing 737-800, registration UR-SQH, belonging to SkyUp was destroyed by the RSF at Khartoum Airport, Sudan, the important aspect about this failed government overthrow in Sudan relates to the involvement of Russia, and how the belligerent forces of the RSF are trained and supported by Russia by means of Wagner Group PMC, the Russian GRU, and the Russian FSB. The RSF originally started as the Janjaweed Militia in Darfur and eastern Chad, also with a presence in Yemen (as contracted mercenaries in support of Saudi Arabia), and mainly known for their involvement in war crimes and genocide against civilians during the War in Darfur which started in February 2003. The RSF also provided [contracted] 'soldiers' to Wagner Group PMC in Libya in support of the Libyan National Army (LNA) faction of General Khalifa Haftar who was opposing the UN recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). The Janjaweed Militia (pre-RSF) was established by former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who also served as its Commander-in-Chief, but then later transformed into a more 'professional' paramilitary force under the leadership of Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo following the 2019 overthrow of the Omar al-Bashir government in coalition with the Head of the Sudanese Armed Forces and current President, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Following the successful 2019 coup, the RSF engaged in a rapid accumulation of wealth by gaining control over the majority gold mines in Sudan. This was the main reason why the RSF had to improve its capabilities to protect the resources now under its direct control, and how the Russian Wagner Group PMC was engaged to provide advanced military capabilities assistance in return for payments in [unrefined] gold. The significance of this agreement is that [discounted] Sudanese gold is currently one of the primary tools for financing Wagner Group PMC operations in Ukraine, and why it is essential for Russia to retain control over the Sudanese government. However, what also needs to be taken into account is how the Sudanese gold is exchanged for currency via Dubai, UAE. Dubai is currently the preferred destination for money laundering, illicit gold trading, and sanctions circumvention for the Russians. Basically, unrefined gold from Africa (Sudan, Ghana, CAR, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, South Africa, Madagascar, etc) are flown to Dubai, UAE, where various gold smelting companies 'legitimize' the gold into registered gold bars to enter the regulated [legal] gold trading industry, especially the Swiss financial system. In return, [dirty] USD currency is laundered into the financial system by international criminal groups disguised as 'gold trading', currently the primary means for Wagner Group PMC to acquire USD [preferred] currency to sustain its international operations. This also illustrates why sustained conflict in Africa benefits Russia the most, and NOT the West as commonly believed by the majority Africans that are disillusioned by anti-Western Russian propaganda. However, the story does not end here. The total capture of the Egyptian military contingent also exposed a dark side relating to how Egypt serves as a facilitator for Russian resources exploitation in Sudan in return for both personal financial rewards to senior Egyptian leadership, including Russian armaments technology transfers to Egypt's military industrial complex, while also playing the West for military aid funding (exposed in greater details in what is now referred to as 'The Discord Leaks'). What we need to understand about Egypt is that it is a dictatorship with a history of human rights abuses, and it requires a strong military capability to remain in power through the application of force, and the suppression of opposition to the dictatorship. This is also the primary reason why the current Egyptian leadership is so much committed to ensuring that Sudan remains under the control of a [controllable] military dictatorship. Basically, keeping current Sudanese President Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in power is beneficial to both Russia and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi simply because he can be controlled by both nations. However, an interesting observation during this unfolding event is how poorly prepared [and incompetent] even the best equipped militaries in Africa are, with specific reference to the Egyptian Armed Forces, and how African militaries still fail to provide the necessary support to its foreign deployed contingents. The RSF, which numbers around 100,000 militants dispersed within an area of around 1,886,068 km2 (ratio of 1 RSF militant for every 18 km2), initially targeted the combat support bases of the Sudanese Defence Force. This strategy [of course with the technical assistance from Wagner Group], is effective simply because combat support bases are generally 'soft' targets in Africa as a result of endemic institutional complacency and incompetence. By capturing specialized combat support capabilities first (tactical signals and communications, medical, electronic warfare, logistics/supply depots, air bases, etc), the initial Sudanese Defence Force response effectiveness were sufficiently incapacitated for the RSF to expand its operations country-wide. May this be a lesson to other African nations in terms of the value of pro-active force protection preparedness. Now, this sounds even more confusing since both Russia and Egypt actually supports both sides of this conflict. The reason why these two nations support opposing belligerents is simply to ensure that Sudan remains in a state of conflict for as long as possible. The original idea was for the SDF and the RSF to be integrated into a single national armed forces, with the leadership of both groups sharing control over the national government (why these two groups partnered during the overthrow of the Omar al-Bashir regime in 2019). However, if the RSF and the SDF unified, it would threaten both Russian and Egyptian interests within the region, why it is of great importance to both nations to keep Sudan destabilized. On April 18, 2023, Egypt haphazardly attempted to save face by promoting a false information narrative claiming that "an Egyptian air strike at Merowe Airport" damaged/destroyed all the Egyptian Air Force and Sudanese Air Force aircraft on the ground to deny the RSF from taking control over the fighter aircraft. This is unfortunately [for Egypt] false since the RSF successfully gained control over all Egyptian and Sudanese military personnel and equipment [in tact and undamaged with an abundance of video evidence confirming the fact], at the airport prior to [the RSF] destroying the aircraft while withdrawing from Merowe Airport late April 17, 2023.
Four Sukhoi Su-25K/KUB aircraft belonging to the Sudanese Air Force destroyed at El Obeid Airport, Sudan. This is basically a similar outcome to the majority of Sudanese Airports and Sudanese Air Force aircraft destroyed by the RSF after successfully occupying these 'soft targets' with the guidance from Wagner Group PMC who provided SIGINT support to the RSF immediately prior to, and during, the initial attacks phase. We refer to these as 'soft targets' simply due to the fact that in 2023, the NATO concept of Force Protection is still relatively a foreign concept in the majority of African militaries.
2023, April 24: A Russian Ilyushin Il-76TD, registration RA-76502, belonging to Aviacon Zitotrans (AZS) lands at AFB Waterkloof in Pretoria, South Africa, just after 22:00PM under the cover of darkness. The aircraft arrived from Luanda, Angola, and departed to Harare, Zimbabwe, on the morning of April 25, 2023.
The significance of this event is that the aircraft operator forms part of the Russian Wagner Group PMC, and serves as one of its air components. Both Aviacon Zitotrans (AZS) and Wagner Group PMC were sanctioned by the US government as "significant transnational criminal organizations" on January 23, 2023. A week later US authorities confronted the South African government for allowing sanctioned international criminal groups to operate freely without any consequences, especially while these organizations and its founders are involved in much of the current scale of hostilities in Africa and Ukraine. The South African ANC-led government took offense to the US accusations of siding with Russia in its current war on the West.
2023, May 15: The South African government confirms that the Chief of the South African Army, Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha, was in Moscow, Russia, engaged in bilateral military talks. The South African senior military visit to Russia was initially obscured from the public by the South African government, but was exposed when Russian state media reported on the official visit in Russia. According to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), the visit is considered normal.
What this event exposed was the extent of pro-Russian sentiment amongst the general South African public, and especially within the ranks of the South African National Defence Force. Based on the information obtained from our own sources serving within the SANDF, the majority opinion amongst SANDF soldiers are pro-Russian for no justifiable reasons other than opinion based in uninformed beliefs. This is somewhat understandable since the majority senior leadership structures of the SANDF are ex-MK (ANC paramilitary wing uMkhonto we Sizwe) veterans who were trained in Russia prior to integration into the SANDF in 1994. However, this also indicates the extent of degraded institutional knowledge that exists within the ranks of the SANDF, especially taking into consideration the total disregard and understanding of Russia's grand strategy, its means of achieving strategic objectives, and its continuous operational and tactical failures in Ukraine.
The official media statement released by the SANDF confirming its senior military visit to Russia (Source: @SA National Defence Force on Facebook)
To be continued / ...
Last Updated: 31 1200Z May 2023
Disclaimer: The ADF/FDA brands [full names withheld for security reasons] are privately managed and funded not-for-profit companies established with the purpose of supporting legitimate and approved governments and their respective defense- and security departments to bridge current national security challenges and limitations. ADF/FDA is not funded by any government, and the organization has no means of influencing any government policy directives. ADF/FDA provides an advisory service to its beneficiaries, and where operational assets are deployed, such services are provided at sole ADF/FDA discretion only, striving to remain impartial and objective, and free from any external influencers and/or influences. Although some discussions are considered controversial, ADF/FDA will not accept any responsibility, nor acknowledge, how ADF/FDA published resources may be perceived by its readers within any manner applicable to the reader’s own opinion, motives, level of subject matter experience, and education. ADF/FDA articles are only opinions intended to be informative for the purpose of thought provocation, and it does not represent any form of official policy whatsoever. The reader is free to conclude his/her own opinion based on his/her own understanding of the contents of any ADF/FDA published articles. ADF/FDA does not guarantee the accuracy of the information contained within this article simply because it is published within the public domain, and therefore vulnerable to remote, unauthorized, and unintended digital manipulation beyond the controls of ADF/FDA. All readers are advised to do their own research prior to developing any conclusions. Some information may be subject to copyright, and where ADF/FDA privileged copyright has been infringed, ADF/FDA does not accept any responsibility for any consequences resulting from the unauthorized use of ADF/FDA privileged information.