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Peskov condemned the statement of Borrell, who called Russia and China authoritarian regimes

Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin does not agree with the statement of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell, who named Russia and China by authoritarian regimes.

“The joint statement of China and Russia, which the West did not particularly notice in the situation in Ukraine, could become the basis for a powerful alliance of two authoritarian regimes,” Borrell said.

“Absolutely disagree that we are talking about authoritarian regimes,” Peskov said, stressing that, according to the Kremlin, the EU representative has no right to give such assessments to “large countries with their own political system.”

“We respect the structure of other states and consider ourselves entitled to expect the same respect for us,” the presidential press secretary noted.

He added that “such statements » Borrell does not fit into this logic.


FT reported the details of the deal between Putin and Macron on Ukraine


Russian and French Presidents Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron agreed on a deal to reduce tensions in the situation around Ukraine. This is due to the withdrawal of Russian troops from Belarus at the end of joint exercises with Minsk.

Thus, Russia will withdraw from Belarus up to 30,000 Russian troops who are involved in the Allied Resolve-2022 exercises. This issue will be discussed at further meetings, at which an agreement on dialogue on collective security issues should be concluded.

According to The Financial Times, both leaders allegedly reached a deal according to which the Russian Federation will not undertake new “military initiatives” , as told by French officials. The Russian side also agreed to participate in the dialogue regarding the deployment of its armed forces.

At the same time, Moscow has not yet confirmed the conclusion of the agreements. As the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov clarified, all these issues require the consent of France's allies in the European Union and NATO. First of all, we are talking about the United States, RBC writes.

In general, the newspaper assessed the negotiations between the presidents of the Russian Federation and France as a step towards resolving tensions around Ukraine. The publication also recalled that Putin and Macron did not talk about this deal during a joint press conference.

Meanwhile, after a conversation with Putin, Macron made a statement about ensuring stability in Europe. According to him, it is necessary to build new mechanisms that would ensure stability in the region. However, these new provisions cannot be built by “revising the treaties of the last 30 years and revising fundamental principles or restricting fundamental European rights,” the French leader believes.


Kedmi explained the logic of the Kremlin in the negotiations on security guarantees

Why did they postpone the training of nuclear forces

All the talk about the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops is the fruit of Western propaganda. This topic is invented to get away from the main questions posed by Russia to the US and NATO about security guarantees. And Moscow has a ready answer in case these questions are ignored. Yakov Kedmi, an Israeli diplomat and political scientist, former head of the Nativ intelligence service, thinks so.

Photo: Mark Nakoykher.

“There is a clear, thoughtful and clear program. I think that what will happen now, the next stage –  it will be a response (of Moscow. – "MK"), clearly well-formulated, which will be transmitted to both the Americans and NATO, – Kedmi said on February 9 on the air YouTube channel «Soloviev Live». – This will be the penultimate step before operational decisions are made. Russia will demand and wait for a quick response to this step.

According to the expert, “time is running out, time has gone since December” when Russia announced its requirements for security guarantees.

“If someone didn’t understand this, and tried to play, outplay, talk, take away, divert attention to some conversations, some kind of tantrums with Zelensky, or with Kiev, this does not affect, the time has gone,” repeated Kedmi. – Russian maneuvers that have been postponed to the end of February – the beginning of March with a strategic triad, time is running out for it. And the Olympics are coming to an end. …This is the period of time that is being counted.

The nuclear triad includes the Strategic Missile Forces, the nuclear forces of the Navy and strategic long-range missile carriers. On the training of nuclear forces “Grom-2022” announced at the end of last year. Usually, during these trainings, intercontinental missiles are launched from aboard submarine missile carriers, as well as ground-based missiles and cruise missiles from aboard the Tu-95MS and Tu-160. It is also possible that the Kinzhal missiles will be launched. and “Zircon”.

According to Kedmi, in the West they “shuddered” even from the fact that one or two divisions of S-400 anti-aircraft systems were transferred to Belarus for announced maneuvers with Belarusian troops. 

“These are children's toys. The maneuvers of the strategic nuclear triad are a completely different thing. In the same proportion, they should understand what is happening,” the expert said.

He called all the talk about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine and that Russia is waiting for “the earth to freeze” to be stupid. “I hope that at least the military did not say such nonsense,” he remarked.

According to him, those who repeat this nonsense do not know not only the Russian army, but also army folklore – well-known the expression “tanks are not afraid of dirt.”

“Putin didn’t talk about invading Ukraine. The invasion that these propagandists invented for their own purposes will not happen, because that is not what we are talking about. Putin did not talk about Ukraine. It's about Europe. Anyone who talks about an invasion – there won't be, wondering if there will be an invasion of Ukraine, he unconsciously or consciously leads everyone away from the main problem. And the main problem is not Ukraine,” the political scientist said.

Kedmi explained why Putin, after negotiations with Macron, first uttered the word “war” with Europe.

“Probably all the attempts so far to explain that the situation is serious and Russia is not joking, she really is waiting for them to start seriously discussing Russian proposals. If this does not happen, Russia, as he explained before… Russia itself will establish the situation that it needs, ensuring its security with its military-technical methods.

“The situation is serious not because someone said something in Ukraine or some other idiot determined the combat readiness of the Russian troops. Time really goes by. Every second brings us closer to the moment when Russia will say: okay, now everything is clear, we are moving on to real, practical actions,” Kedmi concluded.


For whom will public services become more accessible?

Weekly “Argumenty i Fakty” № 6. Dogs: heroes or outcasts? 09/02/2022 Expert's answer 0 + –

Gosuslugi Portal will lower the age limit for users.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin spoke about this on Monday at a meeting with his deputies.

“The government is constantly expanding the functionality of the public services portal, improving electronic services . In including for children, — reminded the head of the Cabinet. — But for the time being, they can only use them through their parents' account. It's not  always convenient. According to him, the new government decree allows teenagers from 14 years of age to register themselves in the system. And for those who are younger, their parents will do it. “And” the guys will use the services through a personal account. For example, to go into  your electronic diary and look at grades, find out homework or information about enrolling in university. If a young person wants to earn extra money during the holidays, he will also be able to apply himself.

This innovation will save children and their parents from visiting authorities and collecting documents, Mishustin added.


Fast and informative. Patients about the convenience of telemedicine consultations

There is a telemedicine consultation service in the capital, which can be used by patients with symptoms of SARS and coronavirus infection. More than 30 thousand Muscovites have already used the opportunity to get an appointment with a doctor without leaving their homes.

At the end of January, the polyclinics of the capital launched telemedicine consultations for patients with symptoms of SARS and coronavirus infection. Now Muscovites can get an appointment with a doctor without leaving home. Since the end of January, more than 30,000 citizens have already used the service.

In addition to consultation, patients with SARS can remotely receive a prescription for medicines, open and close a sick leave.

One of the patients who used telemedicine consultations and who are being treated at home is Olga Katkova. She told why she used this service, whether it turned out to be convenient for her and how she would close the sick leave.

— Are you being treated at home? How do you feel?

— Much better now, thanks. Yes, I am recovering at home.

— Have you taken the opportunity to get a telemedicine consultation with a doctor? How did it go?

— Yes, I had a few questions regarding medication. And I contacted the doctor of the telemedicine center. I first registered, left a request for a consultation, and literally within five minutes the doctor contacted me. The communication was good, the doctor talked to me very kindly. It was a video consultation. The doctor asked about my health, what medications I take, answered all my questions. I got exactly the information I wanted to get.

— Is this method convenient for you?

— Yes, it was very convenient, because, firstly, I did not leave the house, I observed isolation. Secondly, it saved time. Therefore, it was very convenient. Moreover, it was not an emergency, so it was quite convenient.

— Have you opened or plan to close the sick leave remotely? Please describe the whole process.

— I did not open the sick leave remotely, since I went to the clinic for the initial appointment. But I will close it remotely. I was told that on the day when I need to close the sick leave, a specialist will call. A doctor from the clinic will contact me, find out about my well-being, and this sheet will be closed for me remotely.


First Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Gerasimov arrived for exercises in Belarus

First Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Valery Gerasimov arrived in Belarus to monitor the readiness of formations and military units to participate in the joint Russian-Belarusian exercise “Allied Resolve”, the Russian Ministry of Defense reports.

This exercise is the final stage of the inspection of the troops, which started in January of this year in accordance with the decision of the presidents of the two countries.

During the exercise, it is planned to work out the tasks of repelling external aggression, as well as countering terrorism and protecting the interests of the Union State .

Earlier, Dmitry Peskov said that Russian troops would leave Belarus after the exercises. According to him, there was never any talk that the Russian military could stay in the republic. Recall that the Russian-Belarusian exercises are taking place & nbsp; from February 2 to February 9. The troops of the Eastern Military District were transferred to a distance of up to 10 thousand kilometers to test the reaction forces of the Union State.


Until what date can I get sick leave remotely?

Plot The spread of a new strain of coronavirus “omicron”

Remote procedure for issuing sick leave will be valid until March 15. This was announced by the head of the Ministry of Health Mikhail Murashko during the presidium of the coordinating council under the government to combat COVID-19. 

According to the minister, during the spread of the strain “Omicron” the course of the disease has changed. In most patients, especially those who were vaccinated, the disease began to proceed in a mild form, with such typical symptoms of SARS as nasal congestion, sore throat. Moreover, in some patients the disease is asymptomatic. However, the total number of patients is growing, and polyclinics continue to provide assistance, including in a remote format. 

How to apply for sick leave remotely? 

According to the order of the Ministry of Health, if symptoms of SARS or COVID-19 appear, you can contact the hotline at number 122 or the call center of the polyclinic at the place of residence . After a remote consultation, patients who can be observed on an outpatient basis can be issued an electronic disability certificate for seven days. You do not need to take a PCR test for this.

After recovery or in the absence of SARS symptoms, after seven days the patient will also be able to remotely close the sick leave without taking a PCR test. 

What to do if you feel worse? 

If a person’s condition does not improve, he can call a doctor at home. The health worker will extend the sick leave, take a covid test and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

“If complaints persist after seven days — elevated body temperature, cough and other signs of the disease, a face-to-face consultation will be held, following which the health worker will extend the sick leave for another seven days or raise the issue of hospitalization of the patient, changing management tactics. In this case, if the course of the disease has stopped after seven days, a negative test is not required for discharge to work, and upon recovery, the sick leave will also be closed remotely, — Murashko said. 



Forecasters predict March weather in the European part of the country

Forecasters promise March weather to residents of the center of the European territory of the Russian Federation until the end of the working week, writes Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

So, weather is expected with positive temperatures during the day and slight frosts at night .

The head of the laboratory of the Hydrometeorological Center of Russia, Lyudmila Parshina, noted that the atmospheric fronts of the southern and Atlantic cyclones brought heat. Therefore, in the center everywhere there is a thaw and precipitation in the form of rain and sleet.

In Moscow, February 11 will be the warmest day of the week. The air temperature is expected to reach plus 3 degrees.

Earlier, the Hydrometeorological Center predicted cloudy weather in Moscow on February 9. The air temperature during the day will be from minus one degree to one degree Celsius.

Before that the scientific director of the Hydrometeorological Center of Russia Roman Vilfand said that the thaw in Moscow would last until the end of the week.


What will the weather be like in Moscow on Valentine’s Day?

On Monday, February 14, Valentine's Day, the temperature in the capital will be around 0 °C. Scientific Director of the Hydrometeorological Center Roman Vilfand.

According to the forecaster, at the beginning of next week the air in Moscow will be 6-7 °C warmer than the climatic norm.

“It will be warm, apparently, from an excess of feelings of lovers. The excess of the norm will be 6-7 ° C. Sunday will still somehow look like winter weather, and on Monday it will get a couple of degrees warmer, — Vilfand told RIA Novosti.

At the same time, the forecaster urged residents of the capital to be careful, as sleet and wet snow are expected to fall from roofs due to warming.

What is the reason for the warming in the capital region?

According to the scientific supervisor of the Hydrometeorological Center, warm weather in the Moscow region is 40-45 days ahead of February figures.

“Due to the fact that cyclones constantly move to European Russia (the capital region, the central black earth and non-black earth regions and the Volga Federal District, the north of European Russia), the temperature background is very high everywhere: seven to ten degrees above the norm,” & mdash ; he said.

The warming in the European part of Russia came earlier than usual due to the Atlantic cyclone. This was announced by the leading specialist of the weather center “Phobos” Evgeny Tishkovets on the air of the Russia 24 TV channel. He called this week the warmest period since the beginning of 2022.

“This is due to — a North Atlantic cyclone named “Roxana”, which in the coming week will establish a zonal transport in the sublatitudinal direction, thereby providing an uninterrupted influx of warm and humid air of Atlantic origin, heated by the Gulf Stream, — Tishovets said.



Johnson’s party members consider his departure from the post of British Prime Minister inevitable

Conservative party member Charles Walker: Boris Johnson's departure as prime minister is inevitable According to The Guardian, MPs from the Conservative Party are already sending letters calling for Johnson to be removed as party leader

Boris Johnson

Removal of the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson from his post as members of the Conservative Party “inevitably”. Party member Charles Walker told The Observer.

“It will inevitably end up with him leaving, so I just want him to have some leeway about it,”— he said.

Wimbledon Conservative MP Stephen Hammond also told the publication that for Johnson, the current situation “certainly looks like the beginning of the end.”

At the same time, former Conservative Party leader Duncan Smith told the BBC that potential Johnson's rivals need to “moderate” its ambitions, and the government should focus on supporting the country so as not to “plunge it into crisis.”

According to The Guardian, more than 15 Conservative MPs have already publicly called on Johnson to leave office, and another 40–45 letters have been sent to the 1922 committee. (a parliamentary group of conservatives who have not entered the government, left the government or recently joined the party) calling for the removal of Johnson from the post of party leader. If the total reaches 54— or 15% of deputies from the party, — this could lead to a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

Calls for Johnson's removal from power have been emerging since December last year due to the scandal with the prime minister's parties during the quarantine. Then The Guardian newspaper published photos of Johnson and his wife surrounded by several civil servants in the garden on Downing Street in May 2020. On the table in front of the politician and the — wine and cheese. According to the publication, a total of 19 people attended the event. At that time, there were strict anti-COVID restrictions in Britain: only two people who did not live together could communicate with each other in person.

Later, The Mirror also published a photo with Johnson during a quiz, which, according to the publication, took place on Downing Street on December 15, 2020. The photograph shows the prime minister sitting at a table next to two colleagues: on the right hand— a man with festive tinsel around his neck, on the left— woman in santa hat. In the quiz, according to the Mirror, he read out the questions.

Johnson initially said that there were no parties, but on December 8, speaking in the House of Commons, he promised to check. He also later issued a public apology.

After the scandal, polls in December saw Johnson's approval ratings drop to the lowest ever in his time in government. Two-thirds (66%) of Britons negatively assessed Johnson's activities, and only a quarter (24%)— on the contrary, it is positive. The rest of the respondents have not decided on their attitude to the prime minister.

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German chancellor warns of ‘far-reaching’ sanctions against Russia

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned of “far-reaching” sanctions against Russia Olaf Scholz never mentioned Nord Stream 2 during the interview, the gas pipeline was only mentioned in the journalist's questions

Olaf Scholz

V case of “aggression” Russia against Ukraine sanctions against Moscow will be “far-reaching” and tough, said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in an interview with the ARD television company before his first visit to the United States.

Scholz's answers and questions from the TV channel are provided by Focus Online.

The journalist asked several questions about the sanctions against Russia, highlighting the role of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Scholz himself did not mention the gas pipeline in his answers.

When asked why Berlin should not use the gas pipeline as “political leverage” to force Moscow to withdraw troops from the border with Ukraine, Scholz replied that he was discussing possible sanctions with the EU and USA.

“These will be very far-reaching, very tough sanctions, if the need arises. Although yes, at present all our efforts are aimed at preventing the need for sanctions and the need for their application, & mdash; Scholz assured.

The journalist returned to Nord Stream 2 again; and asked if the chancellor wanted to use it as a means of pressure. “Nothing is out of the question,” — assured the Chancellor.

At the same time, Scholz explained that such sanctions would be very expensive, so they are considering all these measures “individually.”

“There is nothing in them [in the sanctions proposals] that would be excluded. This must be understood exactly. And, of course, Russia also knows <…> what could it be»,— answered Scholz.

Earlier in November, Scholz also did not rule out imposing sanctions against Nord Stream 2. He said then that NATO and Germany expect Russia to take steps to de-escalate the situation around Ukraine, for example, reducing the number of troops near its border. The German Chancellor also said that Russia would face serious economic and political consequences in the event of an “invasion”; to Ukraine.

According to him, Germany, among other things, may consider stopping the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Prior to this, German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock, who held a meeting in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, stated that Germany was concerned about the concentration of more than 100,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine. The decision to deploy so many troops “for no apparent reason” it's hard not to perceive it as a threat, she noted.

The Kremlin, in turn, emphasized that the movement of troops across Russia is an internal matter. According to Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, there is a “gradual NATO invasion of Ukraine,” in connection with which Moscow is “forced to take precautionary measures.”

Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations of preparing an invasion of Ukraine.

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Experts appreciate NATO’s idea to reduce EU’s dependence on Russian gas

Experts called the idea of ​​a gas pipeline between Catalonia and Germany “exotic” These schemes were already worked out, but they were abandoned

Experts interviewed by RBC assessed the viability of the gas pipeline project that would connect Spanish Catalonia with Germany and reduce Central Europe's dependence on Russian gas. The fact that NATO is exploring such a possibility was previously reported by the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia (Vanguard), citing sources in the Spanish government.

Alexei Grivach, Deputy Director General of the National Energy Security Fund, told RBC that due to the sharp rise in gas prices in Europe, “more and more exotic options are now being offered.”

“In general, Spain has a surplus of LNG terminals through which it would be possible to increase LNG imports. At one time there was a project to increase the corridor, but not through Catalonia, but through more northern territories— Pyrenees. It was abandoned because this project turned out to be quite complicated and costly. In any case, this is not a quick story, and under normal conditions this topic is not very viable, — the expert thinks.

In addition, due to the reduction in pipeline gas supplies from Algeria, Spain itself will need more liquefied natural gas after the country did not renew the transit contract through Morocco. “One of the gas pipelines through which Algerian gas went to Spain has been closed. And the second one is working at the limit of its capabilities, and its expansion will require time and significant investments, — he explained.

“The Spanish market does not appear to be in surplus and able to meet the additional gas needs of neighboring countries,”— summed up Grivach.

Deputy General Director of the National Energy Institute Alexander Frolov told RBC that he regards this idea as ridiculous. According to him, the materials voiced in the article are divided into two large parts.

«The first part— a practically unrealizable gas pipeline from Algeria. Unrealizable, because Algeria does not have additional capacities with which it could fill this gas pipeline. And the second option— regasification of LNG entering Spain so that this LNG is transferred further through the territory of France, Germany to the countries of Central Europe— this option is funny, but already buried a long time ago,— noted Frolov.

He explained that Spain now has the largest number of regasification terminals in Europe and their average load is about 50%. Half of the capacities are underutilized. “Globally, the underutilization problem has not been solved. The rest of the countries of the European Union reacted with bewilderment to this proposal, because they also have terminals: France, Portugal. They were not interested in solving the problems of Spain at their expense. It will not be interesting even now,»,— the expert thinks.

Now in Europe, the capacity of regasification terminals is about 220 billion cubic meters. m per year, but only half of this volume passes through them, the interlocutor of RBC reminded

“This means that it can theoretically receive about 110 billion cubic meters. m. Spain is not needed for this at all. You can get this gas through Greece, Croatia, Poland, Lithuania, France and so on. The Central European countries are experiencing problems not with gas supplies, but with the price of this gas. The construction of a new pipe will not solve problems with the price, — Frolov summed up.

According to La Vanguardia, to reduce dependence on Russian gas, NATO is considering, in particular, the restoration of the Midcat Mediterranean gas corridor project, which was not implemented at the time. Three years ago, it was abandoned, recognizing it as unprofitable in the context of the rapid replacement of gas with windmills and solar panels.

The new gas pipeline should ensure the delivery of regasified liquefied gas, which is supplied to Spanish terminals, to the center of Europe.

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Driving a Land Rover and with a Corgi: The Passions of Queen Elizabeth II

It has been 70 years since Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne. For decades on the throne, she was fond of many things: she drove cars, was engaged in horse riding, corgis. What is known about the monarch's hobbies – in the RBC video =”Driving a Land Rover and with a Corgi: Queen Elizabeth II's hobbies” />


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Borrell said about Russia’s resistance to possible sanctions

Head of EU diplomacy: Russia is better prepared for sanctions than the EU is for reducing gas supplies The head of EU diplomacy noted that Europe needs to reduce dependence on Russian gas .ru/v6_top_pics/media/img/0/65/756441807541650.jpg” alt=”Borrell declared Russia's resistance to possible sanctions” />

Head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell

Russia has done more to prepare for possible Western sanctions than the European Union— to prepare for cuts in gas supplies, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell said in a blog post. this is more than we have done to increase our readiness for potential cuts in gas supplies,” — he wrote.

Borrell noted that gas prices in Europe have increased 6-10 times over the past year.

“The severe crisis that we are now going through [relations] with Russia has made it a matter not only of prices, but also of securing supplies,” — stressed the head of diplomacy of the European Union. According to Borrell, more than 40% of EU gas imports come from Russia. He pointed to the need to reduce dependence on Russian gas.

“Russia has previously used energy supplies for political purposes,”— he said.

Borrell noted that the EU and the US are working to strengthen cooperation on the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG). “In addition to the United States, we are also negotiating with Norway, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Algeria and others to expand the supply of LNG,” listed by the representative of the European Union. He pointed out the need to develop long-term strategic relations with various states in this area.

At the same time, the EU continues to develop alternative energy sources, such as hydrogen and solar energy.

February 4, the press secretary White House Jen Psaki said that the United States is discussing the diversification of natural gas supplies to Europe in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and the suspension of Russian gas supplies. Western countries fear that Moscow could shut off gas to Europe if sanctions are imposed against it due to military aggression. The Russian side has repeatedly stated that the country is not going to attack Ukraine.

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Macron phoned Biden before meeting with Putin

Macron discussed the situation around Ukraine with Biden before his trip to Russia The US and French presidents talked about the situation around Ukraine. On Monday, Macron will travel to Moscow and then to Kiev. He will discuss the current tensions with Putin and Zelensky

A sniper killed a DPR soldier on the line of contact in Donbass


A sniper of the Ukrainian 26th Separate Airborne Brigade opened aimed fire near the village of Verkhnetoretskoye at the positions of the defenders self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic (DNR). One serviceman was killed.

This was reported on Telegram by the People's Militia Department of the DPR.

The department also informed about the arrival of 40 conscripts of the 25th Airborne Brigade in the region. Earlier, Kiev promised that there would be no conscripts in the conflict zone.

“According to preliminary data, the recruits who arrived were seconded to the rear support and protection units, where military personnel were previously involved under the contract,” the department said. Thus, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are trying to release as many people involved in rear work as possible.

The People's Militia Department of the DPR admitted that Kiev would officially allow the command to send conscripts to Donbass. Defenders of the region urged Ukrainians to evade participation in criminal orders in the “punitive operation zone”.

It was reported the day before that the Ukrainian Armed Forces began a massive artillery shelling of several districts of Donetsk at once.


EU diplomacy chief says Russia has increased resilience to sanctions

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EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell spoke about Russia's ability to adapt to sanctions pressure West.

As the head of EU diplomacy noted in his personal blog, in recent years the Russian side has managed to increase its resistance to restrictive measures, including European ones. While Europe itself is much less prepared for possible reductions in gas supplies from the Russian Federation.

“In recent years, Russia has increased its resistance to economic sanctions by increasing its foreign exchange reserves, to a greater extent, what the EU has done to improve its ability to deal with possible gas supply disruptions. We need to consider in the near future the possibility of developing strategic gas reserves in the European Union and the possibility of joint gas purchases,” Borrell said on the eve of the meeting of the EU-US Energy Council.

He also recalled that currently more than 40% EU gas imports come from Russia. At the same time, Moscow has allegedly already used energy carriers for political purposes in the past. And in recent weeks, despite Moscow's strict compliance with its contractual obligations, Gazprom refused to send additional volumes of gas to replenish European storage facilities. This, according to Borrell, further increased the nervousness in the market.

“In the context of the severe crisis that we are currently experiencing with Russia, not only the issue of energy prices is relevant, but also the issue of security of supply,” – added the head of EU diplomacy.



An American officer told what a military clash with Russia would lead to

According to retired officer Scott Ritter, who served in the intelligence of the US Marine Corps, the participation of the American army in a military conflict against Russia over Ukraine would be suicide for the Pentagon.

The ex-intelligence officer explained that the entry of Ukraine into NATO in accordance with Article 5 of the charter of the alliance would oblige the countries of the military bloc to take the side of Kiev in the event of hostilities with Moscow. He added that in this case, NATO air defense forces, combat units and aviation will be deployed on the territory of the post-Soviet republic.

Once such forces are formed, the Ukrainian authorities will feel the courage to start a hybrid conflict against what they call Russian occupation of Crimea, Ritter believes.

In this case, Russia will be forced to respond, which will lead to full-scale hostilities, that is, Ukraine will drag the alliance into the conflict, the officer stressed. “As a soldier who was once trained to fight the Soviet army, I will make it clear that a war with Russia will be unlike anything the Pentagon has ever faced,” he said in an interview with RT.

According to him, now the American army is poorly organized, the military is poorly prepared for a hypothetical war with Russia. He is confident that such a conventional war will lead to an unprecedented defeat for American troops. “In short, it will be a rout,” he said.

At the same time, the American officer referred to a study of the US Armed Forces, which was conducted in 2017. This document emphasized that the American military units are poorly organized and under-equipped. In addition, the US military is highly dependent on satellite communications, so when confronted with Russian electronic warfare, the US military can suffer serious losses.


Biden refuses to ‘speculate’ about sending new US forces to Europe

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U.S. President Joe Bizhen, speaking to reporters, did not give a direct answer to the question of whether the The possibility of sending additional US troops to Europe against the backdrop of an alleged increased escalation of the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

According to the American leader, he would like to avoid loud, unfounded statements.

&quot “I will not speculate,” the President of the United States briefly answered the relevant question.

After that, the head of state was asked about the American contingent in Poland and military families. In response, Biden raised his fist in the air and said something, but the journalists did not hear him.


Named the consequences of the reform of local self-government: they will finally finish

The vertical of power will stick into the ground

Our authorities do not like the word “reform” very much, because the Russians, taught by the bitter experience of unsuccessful, incomplete or ill-conceived reforms, do not like it very much. But the same authorities from time to time still start something grandiose.

Get ready, fellow citizens! From 2023, a radical reorganization of Russian local self-government will begin in the country. Of the 20,000 municipalities currently in existence, at least half will disappear within five years. Among the doomed are urban and rural settlements, the lowest and closest level of power to the population. The corresponding bill has already been adopted by the State Duma in the first reading and is being prepared for the second.

How economically justified is this reform? Why is she needed at all? We know that our local self-government is weak, poorly functioning, it has no money. We know that communication with municipal officials can put even a person with strong nerves into a stupor, and an overwhelming minority of voters go to municipal elections. But will it be better after the cadres are shuffled, the municipalities redraw and merge? Are we, ordinary Russians, better off?

MK talked about the possible consequences of the transformations with a well-known specialist in the field of socio-economic development of regions and political geography, professor of the Faculty of Geography of Moscow State University Natalia ZUBAREVICH.

Photo: Alexey Merinov

– The Kozak reform (Dmitry, in 2003 – the first deputy head of the Presidential Administration, oversaw the development and implementation of the previous local government reform. – “MK”) was originally aimed at bringing local government closer to the population, so that in villages, villages, towns and small towns had their own deputies, their own local governments. “Closer to the people” was the key message, and it was right. From the end of the 19th century and in pre-Soviet times, and in Soviet and early post-Soviet times, there was always a grassroots level in Russia, no matter what it was called – zemstvo council, community, village council – to which one could reach, reach out …

But the reform in 2003 was carried out according to uniform patterns for regions with different settlement systems. There was a single standard for how many people should have one rural settlement, and those who are engaged in regional studies fought mainly with this treasury, with the unification of the approach to the formation of rural and urban settlements. The country is very large and diverse, it cannot be organized under a single format.

At first, several regions even tried to resist innovation. For example, in Sakhalin, in the Sverdlovsk region, all territorial units were called urban districts – in order not to introduce a two-level system and avoid unnecessary fragmentation.

– Yes, it was funny – well, what urban districts? Then, of course, they were forced to comply with the law, and then, for the sake of appearances, they created one urban or rural settlement each – they say, get rid of it, but basically continued to work in the system of urban districts. In general, not everyone was satisfied with the two-tier system, because the additional costs of maintaining it fell on the budgets of the subjects of the Federation. And the load on them has really increased. According to my colleagues from the Institute of Urban Economics, made in the first half of the 2000s, about 260 thousand grassroots municipal officials were added in the country.

Natalya Zubarevich. Photo:

In 2003, Dmitry Kozak, the first deputy head of the Presidential Administration of Putin, explained why it was decided to stop at the two-tier system of LSG. First of all, they studied “our pre-revolutionary experience” – the zemstvo reform of Alexander II, who in 1864 “had courage” and introduced “the model of local self-government that we are trying to restore today and which has proved its worth,” said Mr. Kozak. Zemstvos, as elected bodies that dealt with the urgent problems of the life of the territories, could impose taxes and fees for various purposes, such as the construction of schools or hospitals, first existed at the level of provinces and counties, and after the February Revolution appeared in volosts; communal self-government was maintained in the villages. Also, Mr. Kozak said, the experience of France (with regard to the organization of local self-government in cities and villages) and Germany (with regard to interaction between various local self-government bodies) was studied.

– Usually. But before returning to money, we must remember that the constituent entities of the Russian Federation during the crisis, when they had to comply with presidential decrees and raise salaries for state employees to the level of the average for the region, from the end of 2012, they themselves began the process of enlargement, primarily rural settlements, on the sly. This was done in order to somehow save money, because in 2013-2014, 77-79 of the then 83 subjects of the Russian Federation were in short supply. There was no money. So the process of reducing the number of grass-roots employees of local self-government has been going on for several years, and it is going quite actively. And in 2019, the concept of “municipal districts” was introduced, in which, as it were, it was possible to cancel the two-tier system of local self-government. This was another step towards reducing the number of municipalities, representative offices and municipal officials.

— Many regions have chosen this path, and here the question was not only about money, but also about the concentration of power and what is beneficial for regional authorities simplifying the management system.

Now about employment in local government. We do not have separate figures for the grassroots level, that is, for rural and urban settlements. But municipalities at all levels, including municipal districts and urban districts, employ less than 300,000 people. 264 thousand of them are executive power, as we have already said, municipal officials. Most of them, approximately 200 thousand people, are municipal workers in rural and urban settlements, although there are 3-4 employees in each …

But after all, no one said that with the destruction of grassroots municipalities, all those working there would be reduced! On the ground, the authorities are now telling us, representatives of higher-level municipal governments will still remain. That is, people will be there, they will receive a salary, from which we can draw a quite clear conclusion that this reform will not bring big monetary savings.

In addition, the budgets of all rural settlements in 2020 (for 2021 there are no complete open data yet) are 234 billion rubles. The budgets of all urban settlements are 159 billion rubles. A total of slightly less than 400 billion rubles per country. You can, of course, say that 400 billion rubles is “money too”. But consolidated, that is, taking into account the budgets of local government, the budgets of the regions – 14 trillion rubles! All municipal budgets are only 3% of the consolidated regional budgets. Very little.

For rural settlements, the level of subsidies, that is, the share of transfers, gratuitous assistance in all incomes of their budgets, is 68%. Urban settlements, which are a little stronger, have 52%. That is, local self-government is highly subsidized, which gives the authorities another trump card – “why keep them?”.

– Exactly. In addition, if we take all the country's urban districts (this higher level of local self-government will continue), they are 61% subsidized. And all municipal districts (this is also a higher level of LSG, which will remain after being transformed into municipal districts) are subsidized by 74% … It turns out that this trump card is knocked out of hands immediately, because a higher level of municipal government is even more subsidized.

“There is no money, but you are holding on”

– If you look at the cost structure of rural settlements, which should now disappear, the numbers they seem to confirm the correctness of the authorities, because 28% of all expenses of rural settlements, almost a third, go to the maintenance of the workers themselves. For urban settlements, the percentage is lower – 13%.

And how much does the lower level of LSG spend on the exercise of its powers? For housing and communal services in rural settlements – 30% of all expenses: in villages and villages there is often no central water supply and heating, and we are talking about subsidies for heating schools, administrative buildings, etc. etc. For urban settlements, 44%, that is, almost half of the costs, is subsidized housing and communal services. By the way, in the costs of housing and communal services, the costs of landscaping and garbage disposal are also “protected” …

17% of the budget of rural settlements and 23% of urban ones go to the maintenance of the intra-settlement road network, to our famous patching … Rural settlements spend 17% of all expenses on culture (clubs, libraries), smaller urban ones – 10%.

It turns out that the lower level of LSG has only three main powers: roads, something for housing and communal services, landscaping and garbage collection, and culture. Everything. Here you seem to be another argument in favor of reducing the number of municipalities: “why are they, they have powers for three kopecks.” But even here we won’t get any big savings. Boiler houses and clubs will still have to be maintained, and roads repaired, it's just that these powers will now crawl to a higher level.

– Let's take urban districts, they are better off. 20% of their income is deductions from personal income tax. 5% is taxes from small businesses, they have 6-7 percent from the land tax. A little more gives a tax on the property of individuals. But the level of their subsidization, as we have already said, is 60%! They have very little income of their own.

– Regional authorities can introduce their own regional personal income tax splitting rates in order not to drive money back and forth in the form of transfers, this is sometimes done. But the basic design of the tax system is set by federal laws.

– The design has changed. Initially, until 2012, municipalities were left with 30% of personal income tax, their tax base was higher. Then in 2015 the share dropped to 20%, and in 2018 to 15%. Why? The main powers were taken away from the local level to the regional level, and the regions demanded to increase their revenue base. After all, all social protection in our country is already at the regional level (municipalities, at best, only receive transfers and distribute them), all healthcare is under the jurisdiction of the regions and the Mandatory Health Insurance Funds, in education, the municipalities have only the maintenance of buildings – heating, lighting … Since the authorities stubbornly centralized, the tax base was also centralized. Local self-government at all levels has been completely emasculated, and now its lower level will simply be destroyed.

But the essence of this reform, as we see, is not economic. The main reason it is being held is political. They began to elect the wrong deputies at the bottom. Sometimes these deputies or even elected heads of grassroots settlements lead the protests. Shies (a railway station in the Arkhangelsk region, became famous after lengthy mass protests against the construction of a landfill in 2018-2019. — MK) turned out, and conclusions were drawn from this. People elected from below are not afraid to ask questions why so little money is allocated for roads, why and how funds for the exercise of powers are distributed among municipal structures. They are not afraid to defend the interests of the local population.

After landfill protests were led by local leaders, the 2003 local government reform experience was deemed a failure. Photo:

“There are women in Russian villages”

— There is a problem, I can't argue here. Since the cat has wept for authority and there is little money, the place is unenviable, and the human capital on the periphery is so-so, the quality of management is certainly not high. It is definitely not necessary to wait for great managers to be born there. But even at the level of municipal districts, there are many questions about the quality of managers. On the other hand, rural settlements (in the Arkhangelsk region, for example) gave us an interesting phenomenon: there are a lot of women managers, elected heads of settlements who try to spend this penny money as efficiently as possible, rouse people to solve local problems … We had a system that formulated managerial skills, skills of self-organization. Now, an official appointed from above will sit in these settlements.

– Yes, but if you are appointed by the upper boss and report only to him, then you will follow the instructions issued from above. If you were elected by the population, then you still try to take into account what is important for people, to listen to them. The breakdown of the feedback system and representation of the interests of the local population through their elected heads is the most terrible consequence of this kind of reform, but in fact anti-reform, let's call a spade a spade. These heads are often not very competent, but they still tried to represent the interests of the local community.

The number of elected bodies and elections in Russia will be significantly reduced – because the number of local self-government bodies formed through elections will be reduced. It follows from the text of the bill that from 2023, municipal elections will no longer be called and held in urban and rural settlements, municipal districts doomed to disappear. Local deputies already elected by that time, heads of settlements and municipal districts will be finalized before the end of their term of office. The current LSG system should be completely replaced with a new, single-level system by 2028.

– What new shots will it be, where from? Will they flow from grassroots self-government to municipalities and change qualitatively? This is demagogy. The personnel are those that are, there will be no others. No one will come from Moscow to raise local self-government, and even if they did, they would not be able to cope in these financial conditions and under our legislation, where one law contradicts another, and the seat of the mayor is the standard of the Russian system of government. Housing and communal services will not work better after the liquidation of the grassroots level of local self-government. Nothing will essentially change.

– I would put it a little differently. The reduction of control centers will bring additional discomfort, but to say that it will predetermine the growth of the outflow… The outflow is going on. The optimization of the network of social services caused much more damage to the village. When an ungraded school, a feldsher-obstetric station or a district hospital closes, families with children make certain decisions and move to larger settlements, while the elderly simply endure and die quietly.

– For the winter, as a rule, while the legs are walking … But I can tell you that in the North, in Siberia and the Far East, they still did not cut schools, FAPs and district hospitals, like the Red Army soldiers with a saber, they did everything more carefully, because there you can’t get to the next settlement. The felling champions were just Central Russia and the North-West. And a decrease in the function of grassroots administration is not only bad for the already depopulated villages in this part of the country, it is even worse – and here I agree with the Duma Committee – for territories where the age structure of the population is not so old, where there is a working population. When you don’t have authority in the territory with which you can personally interact, this will generate additional discontent, additional managerial chaos. Deterioration of feedback will not allow people to defend their requests for normal social services. To ensure that there are roads, that housing and communal services somehow work. This is where the problem is. People, even when they just complain, have a certain feeling that they have spoken and it will go where it needs to. There is hope.

And now, probably, many kilometers of queues will line up for the “direct line” with the president… This is a sad joke, of course.

Is the simpler the better?

– Complex systems adapted to the specifics of the territories are more stable, you cannot do exactly the same thing in the Krasnodar Territory, in Chukotka and in the Murmansk Region, this is clear even to a schoolboy studying the economic geography of Russia. The government is striving to remove any political turbulences, as it understands them, and to simplify the management system. But, simplifying in one place, it sharply complicates in another. For example, in connection with the implementation of national projects adopted after the election of Vladimir Putin for the next term in 2018, the number of types of subsidies received by the constituent entities of the Russian Federation has grown from a little over a hundred to more than 300. And for each of them, the region must co-finance and report.

So this is not a simplification – this is the growth of the bureaucratic system, which, like a gas, fills the entire space. The main thing is that nothing interferes below. And at the top, we will do it in such a way as to control everything to the maximum. This is one of the key political goals of the current local government reform: increased control. No representation means no one to organize a protest. No representation – no one will spoil the picture and raise questions about why the wrong person was elected …

The scale of the upcoming simplification of the local self-government system as a result of the current reform can be assessed using the example of one of the territories of the Tver region. Now the city of Kimry (population about 42 thousand people) is an urban district with its own representative body, the Kimry City Duma, and its own city head. For several years, in accordance with the regional law, the head of the city has not been elected in direct elections.

But at the same time, in the city of Kimry, there are separate governing bodies of the “matryoshka” Kimrsky municipal district, which unites one urban settlement (Bely Gorodok) and 13 rural settlements. Each of the lower settlements has its own council of deputies and a head elected from among these deputies. For example, in the Neklyudovsky rural settlement there are 7 local deputies and the head of the administration, also a deputy. Now the authorities of the Tver region have already launched the process of merging the urban district of Kimry and the Kimrsky municipal district into a municipal district. And by 2028, not a single urban and rural settlement should remain on its territory.

– Certainly. As a result, Russia quite quickly, in 10–15 years, buried the system of local self-government. Forever? No. When the political and economic cycle changes, there will still be a shift towards the development of local self-government, for the simple reason that it is important for people to represent their interests. We will return to restoration, but, unfortunately, we will lose at least 20 years.

— It is impossible to talk about all countries, but in developed countries, grassroots local self-government is an integral element of the organization of public authority, and it does not matter whether it is a unitary state or a federation. To varying degrees, but this representation exists, because people must have feedback and the opportunity to present their interests. This is a normal grassroots democracy, without which there is no democracy in general.

— I have no experience of researching the grassroots level, only the human experience of a researcher who traveled a lot around Russia. And this experience shows that when active people appear at the very bottom and start to fiddle… For example, self-taxation (one-time voluntary payments of citizens permitted by law to solve local problems. – “MK” ) – This is also an initiative from below. Although the entire municipal system is built in such a way that there are neither resources nor powers, there is still someone who is trying to do something.


The war games of Ukrainians were ridiculed on the Web: this is a diagnosis

“With cardboard machine guns in the Kingdom of the absurd”

War psychosis in Ukraine is intensifying. The authorities are doing their best to support this trend, including the formation of forces of the so-called territorial defense. The web is full of photo and video evidence of how Ukrainians, young and old, run around snow-covered grounds with wooden machine guns, preparing to repel the mythical offensive of the “hordes from the east.” Political scientists rated the militaristic frenzy as “square”.

Photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

According to the military plans of Kiev, in one of the poorest countries in Europe, forces of territorial defense and resistance are being assembled. The total number is 130 thousand people, 150 battalions. The formation and preparation of these parts began.

On the Web you can find photos from these classes, where Ukrainians and Ukrainians of different ages learn to fight in urban conditions, run around with wooden machine guns in the porches and on the street.

“We have a unique opportunity to observe how whole and pretty a large country has gone mad: they are running around with wooden and rubber machine guns, jumping around, shouting various nonsense and obscenities. If I were in the place of the UN, I would create an emergency psychiatric commission to study this phenomenon, ”the well-known political scientist and journalist Vitaly Tretyakov commented on these tactical exercises on Twitter.

Senator Alexei Pushkov left such a caption in the Telegram channel under a photo with paramilitaries Ukrainians: “With cardboard machine guns in the Kingdom of the absurd.”

Publicist Yulia Vityazeva left the following comment on her Telegram channel: “It is unlikely that all these people will read Remarque and his “All Quiet on the Western Front.” But let them at least revise Gone with the Wind, where, in my opinion, all the horrors of the war that Ukrainians literally invite into their hut are shown (and described in the book) in a very understandable way.


The absence of a meeting of the leaders of Central Asia with Putin in China was explained

The post-Soviet space is dying away

The heads of all the former Soviet republics in Central Asia flocked to China for the opening of the Olympics. They have either already held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, or are about to do so. Russian President Vladimir Putin also visited Beijing and met with his Chinese counterpart. But he did not see his allies in the CSTO and the EAEU, but he called Central Asia a common region with China. MK found out from experts whether this means that Russia is abandoning its ambitions for part of the post-Soviet space.

The heads of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (from left to right) took advantage of the Olympics to lobby their interests in China. Photo: Press Secretary of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic

In Russia, Ukraine is often referred to as its “zone of vital interests”, recalling the common history and especially its Soviet period. The countries of Central Asia (CA), as a rule, are not honored with such epithets. On the contrary, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping called Central Asia a “common contiguous region,” which clearly proves not only the absence of Moscow’s monopoly rights in the region, but also the desire to impose these rights. “Russia and China decided to emphasize their good neighborly relations. Firstly, they have a common border with a length of about 4 thousand kilometers. Secondly, Russia and China are interested in the stability of Central Asia,” Stanislav Pritchin, senior researcher at the Center for Post-Soviet Studies at IMEMO RAS, told MK.

In turn, the leaders of Central Asia Sadyr Japarov, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Emomali Rahmon and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov also came to the Olympic Games, took a lot of pictures with each other, but never met with Putin. But everyone, except Zhaparov (he, apparently, has yet to do this), spoke with Xi Jinping. Each of them was promised to strengthen cooperation in the field of investment, exchange of experience in public administration, and so on.

“There are a number of issues between the Central Asian countries that require regulation, the search for effective solutions. In addition, the region is located between two large states, with which you need to build relations without creating problems for yourself. Individually, it is difficult for the Central Asian countries to defend their political and economic interests in the international arena. In this regard, the understanding comes that you can get dividends by moving together,” Kazakh political scientist Tolganai Umbetaliyeva told MK.

At the same time, she noted that today in the Central Asian countries there is a lot of talk about the need to abandon the term “post-Soviet space.” According to Tolganai Umbetaliyeva, today the goals and path of the Central Asian space are too different from those of other former Soviet republics to continue to be associated with them. Tolganai believes that one of the manifestations of the desire of the leaders of the Central Asian states to emphasize their identity was the absence of their meeting with Putin in Beijing. At the same time, the political scientist is confident that the countries of the region are interested in the equal representation of Russia and China without the serious dominance of one of these states.

In turn, an expert on the countries of Central Asia, Arkady Dubnov, told MK that with their joint photographs, the leaders of the Central Asian countries are trying to demonstrate to the world their ability to overcome the differences and discrepancies between them. In addition, in this way they can demonstrate their support for Tokayev after the dramatic January events in Kazakhstan.

“All this is very similar to regional courtesy aimed at creating a Central Asian community. The leaders of the countries of the region are trying to turn Central Asia into a subject of international politics,” Dubnov notes.

As for why they did not meet with Putin, the expert identifies two possible reasons. Firstly, the schedule of delegations in China was predetermined by severe restrictions associated with the coronavirus. Secondly, Putin has other opportunities to meet with Central Asian leaders. For example, a virtual CSTO summit on Kazakhstani events was recently held. “Besides, he needs to hurry – a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron is coming soon, and the person can’t get enough sleep…” Dubnov concluded.

Denis Berdakov, a political scientist from Kyrgyzstan, spoke out with the opposite opinion. “There is a huge misunderstanding between the states of the Central Asian countries. However, it is more convenient for all international players to work with the 5+1 format. At the same time, the level of internal integration between the states of the region is extremely low. This applies to the economy, investment, technology, and even more so the humanitarian sphere,” Berdakov explained to MK.

The expert noted that the idea to act together in the international arena belongs to Uzbekistan, and it is this country that is more active than others in favor of Central Asian integration. “Individually, the countries of the region are not very interesting for major players, including China. But together we can promote big investment projects. For example, it is beneficial for Kyrgyzstan to seek the construction of a railway from China, so it is sold under the brand name of half of Central Asia,” the expert said.

Assessing the negotiations in China, Berdakov told MK that he considers them a kind of “anti-Biden” forum. “All those who are ready to politically support Beijing in the confrontation with the United States have arrived. Accordingly, the program of the forum was approved by China, for which Russia is not Central Asia. And, of course, Beijing does not perceive Moscow as an equal. In turn, the Central Asian states have very close ties with Russia on migrants, security, trade and investment, but these are bilateral relations, and the world is wider, ”the political scientist argues.

Analyzing the consequences of negotiations in China, Berdakov said that in the short term they will not affect integration within the EAEU. However, in the future, if Eurasian integration reaches a new level and decides to create its own value-added technological chains, relations with China will become a problem. “The fact is that Putin agreed with Xi Jinping on the absence of a territorial protectorate and the compliance of his activities with the requirements of the WTO. Under these conditions, there can be no talk of any development of the EAEU in 10–15 years. And in the current situation, this organization is convenient for China, because it is an organized economic platform without internal borders, the main thing is to go to it, and then you will only have to pump in your goods,” Berdakov stated.


Paper tank killed thousands of Ukrainians: West comes up with new war scenarios

Putin's closed eyes and other news of the week

By the way, the modern world is arranged in such a way that if Bloomberg did not withdraw its message that Russia invaded Ukraine on Saturday night , then it would be so in the mass consciousness. Within a few hours, the press would have been talking about tank columns advancing towards Kiev (which can only be seen from American satellites, but not from the ground), a collapse with refugees at the borders, and Zelensky’s jet that flew to Vilnius. And the denials of our Foreign Ministry and the silence of the Ministry of Defense would only add fuel to the fire. The tail has been wagging the dog for a long time.

On the helmet of the Ukrainian fighter is a stylized portrait of the American pornographic actress Sasha Grey. Photo: AP

Our General Staff is generally well settled (with one small caveat, but more on that below) – everything is invented and developed by Western “partners” for it. There was a good plan of American intelligence this week: they say that the Russian special services will shoot a fake – a film about the attack of Ukrainian troops on Russian territory, and this will become a justification for the Russian invasion. Okay, so what to do next? Here came to the aid of the publication “Bild” with details. It will be, then, like this: large Ukrainian cities will be besieged, pro-Russian “sleeping” agents will “wake up” in these cities. After all the major cities of the country capitulate and fall under Russian control, the Putin regime will create a fictitious parliament, the People's Rada. It will abolish the Verkhovna Rada. A pro-Russian puppet government will emerge that will declare a state of emergency and deploy a network of concentration camps for Ukrainians who resist Russian occupation (the “Bild” claims that even lists of such persons have already been compiled). Well, in the end, Ukraine will enter the union state of Russia and Belarus. What it will cost was explained by The New York Times and Reuters on Saturday. Citing unnamed officials from the Biden administration, they wrote that there would be 25,000-50,000 casualties among civilians and another 5,000-25,000 among the Ukrainian military. The losses of Russian soldiers are planned to be much more modest – 3-10 thousand. Well, there will still be 5 million refugees who will flood into Poland. Russia is already 70% ready for an invasion – in the past two weeks, the number of battalion tactical groups in the border region has risen from 60 to 83 as of Friday, with 14 more on the way. The window for the invasion will open around February 15, when the ground reaches the peak of freezing, allowing Russian military units to carry out mechanized off-road transit. These conditions will continue until the end of March. Kiev in the event of an invasion will not stand for even a few days. Cool, isn't it?

And now the disclaimer promised above. Indeed, the General Staff would not have had to invent anything if they needed a picture, and not efficiency. That's all: tanks raced, raising the wind, formidable armor advanced, it is written solely because a tank is scary. It makes an impression, it is a palpable brute force, a symbol of war. But has anyone seen at least one American tank in Yugoslavia? And yet the country was gone. Here's another question – did American intelligence or the Western press see at least one battalion tactical group of the Russian Army before the return of Crimea? No. And in the Pentagon and the American intelligence community, heads flew after that. And now they see, which means, with an accuracy of up to units. But that is why the options described above are nothing more than entertaining reading. Paper tanks. With Russia's total superiority in electronic warfare (electronic warfare), overwhelming superiority in the air and high-precision weapons, Ukraine's lack of any intelligible air defense system (and the downed Boeing is proof of this) … In general, draw the scenarios yourself.

Entertaining reading takes much more than real events. Here comes the Olympics. But the main news at the same time was that Putin allegedly covered his eyes while the Ukrainian team was walking through the stadium. And sucking with experts – what does that mean? At the same time, the simplest option – yes, it just happened that way – is not even considered. Because it's not interesting. There must be a deep political subtext, a sign, a signal. And whoever comes up with the coolest one has a larger audience, which means a win in the competition. Reached out, damned capitalism.

In fact, of course, a long time ago he reached out and strangles. Last week, the “Big Mac index” was calculated again. In the US, a Big Mac costs 5.81 dollars (about 444 rubles), and in Russia it costs 135 rubles (1.77 dollars). It turns out that the fair exchange rate of the ruble should be 23.24 per dollar. And it would be, for example, in the presence of its own developed industry, not Potemkin's “import substitution”, but real. And so … Dairy producers have already warned about price increases. Following the producers of baby food, cereals, soda, coffee, meat… In terms of inflation in the Eurozone (according to Eurostat), only Lithuania and Estonia are slightly ahead of us (and they also don’t have gas with oil).

Of course, not everything is lost: 30 years have passed, and this week the experts of the Security Council of the Russian Federation issued a conclusion: the dependence of Russian companies on the foreign IT sector threatens national security. And the first flight was made by the Baikal aircraft. It should replace the An-2 on regional routes. This is good? Certainly. If you don’t know that ten years ago the Rysachok made its first flight – a full-fledged replacement for the corncob, cheap, reliable and modern. But then, in 2016, its production for the domestic market (bought abroad) was curtailed – there is, they say, no need. On the other hand, 1.25 billion state rubles were pumped into the development of Baikal. And another 36 billion from the budget will be directed to production. Because “Baikal” is made by those who need it, but “Rysachok” (created virtually without budget injections) is not.

There is some good news. A dramatic increase in the incidence has led to the fact that the quarantine period has been reduced to a week, contacts are not quarantined, and the sick leave can be closed remotely – I got sick for a week, and that's it, I'm healthy. By the way, the global practice is that European countries, one after another, remove restrictions. Just a week ago, the American Johns Hopkins University published a conclusion: the introduction of lockdowns as a measure to reduce mortality from coronavirus in the spring of 2020 had a minimal effect and actually demonstrated the ineffectiveness of such a measure. Lockdowns in the US and Europe have reduced COVID-19 deaths by 0.2%. At the same time, the restrictions themselves led to huge negative economic and social consequences. Scientists of the old school (both ours and foreign) immediately spoke about this. But common sense is so boring…

The tail has been wagging the dog for a long time.


The Russians were promised March warmth next week

In the coming week, the cyclone “Roxana” will bring March heat to Central Russia, said a leading employee of the Phobos weather center Evgeny Tishkovets.

According to him, the average daily air temperature will be 7-9 degrees higher than the long-term norm, RIA Novosti reports.

During the day, it is expected from minus 2 to plus 3. This temperature corresponds to climate indicators in mid-March.

More up to 9-10 millimeters of precipitation, which is one-fourth of the total February moisture, the forecaster added.

Earlier, the scientific director of the Hydrometeorological Center Roman Vilfand told when in Russia we can expect the arrival of a climatic spring, which, as a rule, comes not March 1, but much later.


Pope Francis says he wanted to be a butcher

Pope Francis said that as a child he wanted to become a butcher, TASS reports.

According to him, he saw a butcher's counter in the market, who had an apron with a pocket on his belt , in which he put money.

Then a native of a family of Italian emigrants in Argentina decided that representatives of this profession live richly.

In December 2021, Pope Francis turned 85 years old, so much the same age as his predecessor, Benedict XVI, at the time of his abdication.

Francis was elected to the Apostolic throne in March 2013. Since that time, despite his advanced age, he rarely sought serious medical assistance.


Babysitter robot. Artificial intelligence monitors the development of embryos in China

Scientists are rapidly approaching the future described by Aldous Huxleyin  the novel  Brave New World” and "Raised by Wolves". In a future like this, women no longer have babies — they are grown in special incubators. And if Huxley behind development of embryos in bottles” while the Hatchery staff is watching, the filmmakers have gone even further: they their health status of the embryos is controlled by artificial intelligence.

Now it has become a reality. In  China, a neural network has been created that grows embryos and takes care of them, tracking all the necessary parameters. While the experiment is carried out on mice. But what happens next?

It can even rank embryos

The system was developed at Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology. An artificial uterus is a structure with containers filled with nutrient fluid. A mouse embryo is placed in each container. And if earlier their development was observed by scientists, then now it is done by artificial intelligence.

The AI monitors the state of health of the embryos around the clock, supplies them with the necessary amount of air and nutrients, measures and regulates the temperature. Moreover, it is able to rank growing organisms according to their viability and development potential. If the fetus is formed incorrectly and some defect occurs in it, the neural network sends a signal to the machine or laboratory assistants, and they remove the embryo from the incubator.

The system tracks its wards non-stop, including ultra-clear images, quickly switching between lenses. At the same time, she learns from the nuances of the development of the embryos, which can go unnoticed by people. This means that soon the “robot-nanny” will more effectively cope with the duties assigned to him than a person. This will bring the technology of culturing “in vitro” embryos to perfection. Theoretically, the researchers emphasize, it can generally save a woman from the need to bear a fetus, allowing it to grow outside of her body “more safely and effectively.” This will reduce the risks to her health.

But such a future will not come soon, if at all. The thing is that international legal norms forbid experiments on human embryos after two weeks of their development.

 Nevertheless, research into the later stages is important, because there are still many unsolved mysteries of the physiology of a typical human embryonic development, — says experiment leader, Professor Sun Haixuan. — This technology will not only help to better understand the origin of life and human embryonic development, but will also provide a theoretical basis for congenital defects and solving other reproductive health problems».

Replacing surrogate motherhood

The prospect of mass rearing of children in incubators, and even under the supervision of robots, frightens and shocks. Most people and surrogate motherhood are, to put it mildly, without enthusiasm (in China, by the way, it is prohibited), but here — artificial womb and artificial intelligence. The whole process, from fertilization to birth, — without human intervention. Without touching and stroking the stomach, without singing songs and talking with a growing child. Why do scientists even do this?

Unfortunately, the joy of motherhood is not available to every woman. And if mankind has learned to overcome difficulties with fertilization (the IVF procedure has long become routine), then with contraindications to pregnancy, the situation is more complicated. And because there a lot — this is both age, and the presence of severe chronic diseases (non-treatable hypertension, heart defects, diseases of the genitourinary system, and much more). Just to help such women, surrogate motherhood was introduced into the practice. But to he has many complaints of a moral and ethical nature — even to the point that it is considered a form of human trafficking and compared to pimping or prostitution.

Artificial uterus technology, according to scientists, will be the way out. Women who have pregnancy with complications will have the opportunity to transfer the fetus into an artificial womb and thereby reduce the risks for themselves and the unborn child. Someone also reminds of such a threat to the baby as the possible use of alcohol and drugs by a pregnant woman. It is better to place the fetus in an incubator than to expose it to the threat of contact with dangerous psychoactive substances and their decay products in the mother's body.

Therefore, research in this direction is ongoing. In 2017, American scientists published a paper in which they talked about the successful tests of an artificial uterus, which is essentially a plastic bag filled with nutrient fluid. Premature lambs were raised in for four weeks            — with working heart and brain. The embryos were kept in glass vials, they were supplied with an oxygen mixture under pressure through a ventilation apparatus. True, they have passed only half of their development and died from the fact that there was not enough blood supply. However, this was the first experience when scientists managed to grow mammalian embryos to such a state without a living uterus.

But besides the lack of blood supply, artificial uterus technology has another significant limitation — underdevelopment of the brain. And it is not yet clear how it can be overcome. Even if you entrust this procedure to artificial intelligence.


Poland will deploy US troops near the border with Ukraine

Polish Defense Minister Blashak: additional US troops will be deployed in the southeast of Poland The first group of US troops sent to Poland because of the situation around Ukraine arrived there the day before. The military personnel will operate in the south-east of Poland, said the Minister of Defense of the Republic alt=”Poland will deploy US troops near the border with Ukraine” />

Additional US troops sent to Poland due to rising tensions around Ukraine will be deployed in the southeast of the country, where it borders with Ukraine. This was announced by the Polish Minister of Defense Mariusz Blaszczak.

“1.7 thousand soldiers will be transferred to Poland. They will operate in the southeastern part of Poland, on the eastern flank of NATO, — the ministry quotes the ministry on Twitter.

The first additional military forces that the United States deployed to Poland due to the growing tension in the situation around Ukraine arrived in the country on February 5. This is the main contingent of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg. According to the representative of the 18th mechanized division, Przemysław Lipchinsky, the 82nd division— an elite unit with which the Polish military has collaborated more than once.

The Polish Foreign Ministry announced its intention to strive to further strengthen the presence of the US and NATO military in the country.

Earlier, the head of the National Security Bureau of Poland, Pavel Solokh, said that Washington would send about 2,000 troops to the country as part of support for NATO's eastern flank .

The United States announced the possibility of transferring military contingents to Eastern Europe back in mid-December 2021. On January 24, the Pentagon announced that some of the NATO troops in the United States and beyond were put on high alert. The military department said that they were ready to transfer up to 8.5 thousand military personnel to Europe in a short time.

On the same day, about the transfer of troops, ships and aircraft to the region in connection with NATO announced the situation around Ukraine. At the same time, Western countries continue to supply military equipment to Kiev. For example, Estonia will send Ukraine American anti-tank missile systems Javelin, Latvia and Lithuania— anti-aircraft missile systems Stinger.

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Zakharova suggested calling NATO members “Natists” because of fakes about Ukraine

Maria Zakharova urged to call NATO representatives “Natists” after fakes about Ukraine She recalled the “fakes about pseudo-aggression” of Russia against Ukraine, which were published by the Western media .jpg” alt=”Zakharova suggested calling NATO members “Natists” because of fakes about Ukraine” />

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova

Maria Zakharova suggested calling NATO representatives “Natists”.

“It is a great honor to call them “NATO members.” They are Natists after what they did with fakes about Russia's pseudo-aggression against Ukraine, — she wrote in her Telegram channel.

On the night of February 5, Bloomberg released the headline “Russia invades Ukraine”. The agency then deleted the publication, acknowledged the mistake and explained that it had preparations for many scenarios— the headline about the invasion was posted by accident.

On the same day, the German tabloid Bild, citing intelligence data, published a plan allegedly developed by the Russian authorities for the period after the alleged invasion. This scenario, according to the publication, includes the creation of a “people's” happy puppet government and camps for resisting the pro-Russian government.

Zakharova, commenting on both of these publications, announced a “global information and political shuffling of NATO desires.” According to her, the time when these materials were posted speaks of a desire to “spoil” hosting the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The representative of the Foreign Ministry then recalled another text by Bloomberg— about the request of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Russian President Vladimir Putin not to invade Ukraine during the Olympics. Both the Russian and Chinese authorities denied this information.

After the erroneous publication of the headline about the invasion by Bloomberg, the press secretary of the Russian president suggested calling the fakes “Bloomberg News”.


Later, The Washington Post, citing officials and US intelligence officials, reported that Russia was pulling to the borders of Ukraine about 70% of the forces and means necessary for a large-scale invasion. Similar materials were published by Reuters, The New York Times and the BBC.

Russian Deputy Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyansky called this data a fake and accused the United States of waging a “propaganda war”.

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The Foreign Ministry pointed to the “duplicity of Western countries” on the issue of nuclear weapons

Director of the Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yermakov announced the duplicity of the position of the West on nuclear weapons Director of the relevant department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Yermakov, in response to the concerns of the US State Department about the possible deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus, advised to worry about the deployment of such US weapons in NATO countries

The building of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow

Participation of non-nuclear European countries in “joint nuclear missions” NATO contradicts the obligations of these states under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), said in an interview with RIA Novosti Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Vladimir Ermakov.

“We categorically disagree with such duplicity of the Western countries,” he emphasized.

Earlier, a representative of the US State Department said that a change in the Constitution of Belarus could lead to the deployment of Russian nuclear forces in the country. “The proposed changes to the Constitution include words that could be interpreted as preparing the ground for the deployment of Russian forces on Belarusian territory. <…> These draft changes may mean that Belarus plans to allow Russia to host both conventional and nuclear forces on its territory,” — the diplomat said. He did not specify exactly what provisions of the draft amendments in the basic law of the republic are in question.

“I would like to ask a counter-question whether our European colleagues did not see a threat to their security not in the hypothetical Belarusian, but in the actual deployment on the territory of a number of NATO countries of American nuclear weapons capable of hitting targets on the territory of Russia,” — Ermakov said in response to the agency's request to comment on this position of the State Department.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at the end of last year that the republic would offer Russia to deploy nuclear weapons on its territory if they were deployed in Poland. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Lukashenka's statement a serious warning in response to the “reckless policy” The West.

Later, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei confirmed that the country was ready to host nuclear weapons under the threat from NATO.

In mid-December, Russia submitted proposals on security guarantees to the United States and NATO . Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Andrei Rudenko then warned that if the West refused to discuss these documents, Moscow would consider all possible options for retaliatory actions, including the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Belarus, after the collapse of the USSR, refused to deploy nuclear weapons and in 1993 joined the NPT as a non-nuclear state. By November 1996, nuclear weapons had been completely removed from the country. In 2010, Lukashenka said that he considered the withdrawal of nuclear weapons a mistake.

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Scholz said the need to maintain uncertainty on the issue of sanctions

Olaf Scholz: Germany is ready to take “all necessary steps” against Russia in an invasion According to the chancellor, Berlin is considering all possible measures, but will not disclose their details until Russia can assess the consequences of sanctions

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

Germany and its allies are ready to take “all necessary measures” if Russia invades Ukraine. Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated this in an interview with The Washington Post. He said he “would not go into details,” but assured the West's response would be “joint and decisive.” he noted.

He stressed that the FRG— “very good partner” for NATO countries and “the strongest economic support for Ukraine.” According to the chancellor, Berlin is actively discussing with the allies how to respond to the “Russian threat to Ukraine.”

In response to a request to comment on the possible imposition of sanctions against Nord Stream 2 United States in the event of military aggression by Russia, Scholz noted that “strategic uncertainty” is needed in this matter. “It's important to make it clear that this is going to cost Russia so much that they can't sit down at a computer and figure out if it's going to be too costly,” — the Chancellor explained.

Similarly, Washington's unwillingness to disclose the content of measures that could be taken against Russia in the event of its invasion of Ukraine, explained US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. She said that if you talk about the sanctions in detail, Moscow will be able to prepare for them.

Asked by a Washington Post journalist to comment on Germany's plan to reduce dependence on Russian gas, Scholz announced the start of a “modernization of energy production and supply.” in the country and recalled plans to abandon gas dependence in principle by 2045.

Earlier, Scholz said about “very far-reaching, very tough”; sanctions against Russia, which will be introduced if necessary, in an interview with ARD. He noted that now all the efforts of Berlin are aimed at preventing the need for new restrictive measures. In response to a question about whether he wants to use Nord Stream 2 as a lever of pressure, the Chancellor said, “Nothing is out of the question.” He added that Russia also knows what new sanctions might be.

In January, Scholz did not rule out imposing sanctions against Nord Stream 2.

On February 7, Scholz will discuss the situation around Ukraine with US President Joe Biden in Washington.

On February 14, he will visit Ukraine, and on February 15 he will go to Moscow, where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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