Zelensky backs Israel

The Ukrainian president has likened Iran’s tactics to those of Russia, accusing Tehran of threatening the Middle East

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has condemned Iran’s missile and drone strikes against Israel on Saturday, drawing parallels between Tehran’s actions and Russia’s tactics in Ukraine.

Iran said the barrage was in retaliation for the “Zionist regime’s numerous crimes, including the attack on the consular section of Iran’s Embassy in Damascus.”

A presumed Israeli airstrike destroyed Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria on April 1, killing seven officers of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, including two high-ranking generals.

According to Iranian state media, Saturday’s strikes hit a number of Israeli military facilities. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that its air defenses intercepted nearly all of the incoming projectiles.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday, President Zelensky wrote that “Ukraine condemns Iran’s attack on Israel.” The Ukrainian head of state added that his compatriots “know very well the horror of similar attacks by Russia, which uses the same Shahed drones and Russian missiles, the same tactics of mass air strikes.”

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Netanyahu called off retaliation strikes after speaking to Biden – NYT

Kiev and its Western backers have repeatedly claimed that Iran has been providing Russia with its kamikaze UAVs, and that Moscow has begun producing them under license. Russia has never confirmed these allegations.

Iran, however, did acknowledge in November 2022 that it had supplied Moscow with a “small number” of drones a few months before Russia began its operation in Ukraine.

In his latest statement, Zelensky accused Iran of posing a threat to the Middle East, claiming that there is “obvious collaboration” between Tehran and Moscow.

According to the Ukrainian leader, Iranian strikes on Israel on Saturday should serve as a “wake-up call to the free world,” which needs to deliver a “resolute and united response.”

In a thinly veiled reference to the political deadlock in the US that has seen Republican lawmakers block President Joe Biden’s foreign defense aid package for months now, Zelensky urged the US Congress to “make the necessary decisions to strengthen America’s allies at this critical time.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed concern over “another dangerous escalation in the region” and urged “all parties involved to exercise restraint.”

Responding to a call by Israel’s ambassador in Russia, Simona Halperin, to condemn Tehran’s actions, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed out that Israel has never once denounced Ukrainian strikes targeting Russian civilians.

On the contrary, Israeli officials have repeatedly expressed support for Kiev, the diplomat noted, suggesting that Moscow therefore has no reason to stick up for Israel.

Maxim Suchkov: America has a problem with love and fear

Uncle Sam doesn’t know whether to look for affection or to coerce other states into towing the line. The elites need to make up their mind

The US presidential campaign is not only a central event in the country’s social and political life, but also a time for reflection on the big issues: where America is going, what is its place in the world. And what it should be. 

In this sense, this year’s candidates’ rhetoric towards each other is quite revealing. Biden and the Democrats never miss an opportunity to tell voters that under Trump, Americans will be ashamed that their great country is represented by a psychopath, and allies will shun the US like lepers. Trump and the Republicans, for their part, insist that their country is being led by an old senile man whom no one in the world respects.

Old-timers in the foreign policy establishment are watching all this with concern and trying to speak out. Usually cautiously, albeit clearly. The leading journal Foreign Affairs recently published an interview with former CIA director and defence secretary Robert Gates, headlined “Is Anyone Still Afraid of the United States?” On the one hand, the 80-year-old tried to cheer up his fellow citizens by saying that the US navy is of higher quality than China’s, that Russia is not as strong as it likes to appear, and that Moscow and Beijing have never had – and will never have – an alliance. But on the other hand, Gates calls the United States a “dysfunctional power”, complains about partisan divisions, “uncertainty” within the US domestically and allies’ anxiety about a possible Trump victory. It’s all a mess.

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Death of empires: History tells us what will follow the collapse of US hegemony

An accomplished Sovietologist who served as the nation’s top intelligence officer under Bush senior and top military officer under Bush junior, and in between was president of one of America’s leading universities, Texas A&M, Gates has long been an outsider among his own. But he has always stood up for the interests of the establishment at difficult moments for the country. And now, as American politics has descended into unbridled buffoonery, Gates is trying to impress upon politicians what he sees as the most important message: “We are no longer feared, so we are no longer respected.”

In the early 1990s, when Washington was celebrating victory over the USSR, proclaiming “the end of history” and believing that the whole world would now rise up under the banner of liberal democracy and the market economy, Gates became head of the CIA. The main task at the time was to make the most of the “unipolar moment” –  to widen the gap between the US and its competitors, to turn yesterday’s enemies into friends, friends into allies, and them make them all vassals. Another fashionable concept of the time – which still occupies the minds of many internationalists – was “soft power”. This justified America’s global dominance by virtue of the appeal of its culture (music, cinema, education). No one wanted to argue with this, especially when videotapes of action films like Rambo and Terminator, and later the queues at the first Moscow McDonald’s, clearly proved the validity of such an ideology. American pop culture made the world extremely permeable to American ideas and interests. The task of various structures, including the one headed by Gates, was to make as many ordinary people (and politicians, of course) around the world fall in love with America, believe in the myth of the “American Dream” and adopt it as their way of life.

As the “unipolar moment” faded and the international environment became more difficult for the US, it became more and more difficult to get others to feel the love. Especially after the bombing of Yugoslavia. A brief period of global sympathy for the Americans after the attacks of 11 September 2001 was replaced by outrage over the invasion of Iraq. Even some of the closest NATO allies did not approve of the illegal intervention. In the post-Soviet space, attempts at “colour revolutions” – to replace rulers who did not love America fervently enough – were somewhat effective in the short-term, but exacerbated disagreements with Moscow.

Vladimir Putin’s manifesto speech at the Munich Conference in 2007 signalled the end of the romance with the US, not only for Russia but for many other countries as well. Most states were still open to American cultural and educational products, but Washington’s policies were increasingly perceived critically. In acute situations, dissatisfaction with America as a power was projected onto cultural images associated with it – images of windows broken at McDonald’s, Stars and Stripes set on fire, etc. 

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Gradually, American soft power collided with its use of hard power. Washington used NGOs to invest billions in public diplomacy and educational exchange programmes, in the manipulation of “civil society” and the media. However, Washington’s coercive actions undermined efforts to win the sympathy of the world’s peoples.

Meanwhile, Gates returned to Washington as head of the Pentagon to rescue the Bush Jr. administration from the fiasco in Afghanistan and Iraq. Led by Vice President Dick Cheney, the team was less concerned with winning the love of the rest of the world than with Theodore Roosevelt’s principle: ‘If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

The term “neoconservatives” is associated more with Republicans. In fact, it is a large and influential bipartisan, ideologically charged, group in the establishment for whom the primacy of “make them afraid of us” over “encourage them to love us” is unquestioned.

Barack Obama’s 2008 election victory swung the ideological pendulum in the opposite direction, favouring love over fear. Administrators from the Clinton presidency returned to the White House, and Obama himself spoke of ‘inclusion’, a new globalisation and hopes for a democratic revival. Gates was the only secretary of state to retain his post under the new Democratic president. Even during the election campaign, Obama had promised to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, a pragmatic, cross-party Secretary of Defence seemed the best solution. The aforementioned Roosevelt had an apt saying for this case: “Speak softly, but carry a big stick”. Obama was responsible for the former, Gates for the latter. “However, the “big stick” did not help much: by the end of the 2010s, pro-Iranian forces were ruling a fragmented Iraq, and in Afghanistan, attempts to put an end to the Taliban (an organisation banned in the Russian Federation) by increasing the US contingent and allocating astronomical sums of money to the authorities in Kabul did not yield results. 

Gates was hardly personally to blame, but his belief that the measure of success was a fearful enemy did more harm than good. The final straw for this policy came in Libya in 2011, when Gates commanded an invasion of US troops to help rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. Two months later, on 1 July 2011, Obama awarded Robert Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US award. Since then, American policy has alternated several times between intimidating the rest of the world and trying to win back its “love”.

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How America’s top spymaster sees the world and why it’s so disappointing

Donald Trump, who replaced Obama, did not so much consciously try to scare the world as to frighten it with his eccentricity and unpredictability. Biden began by trying to restore, if not love, then at least sympathy for America – a number of his initiatives were designed to do just that. But the pile of international problems that had accumulated by the time he was elected, coupled with his cynical principle of “walking and chewing gum at the same time” (i.e. co-operating where it is profitable and maligning the rest), became a natural constraint on policy. After the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, America returned to the “fear-mongering” mode. Moscow’s offensive became a new excuse for the US establishment to mobilise, and use fear to keep other Western allies in line.

Interestingly, the US has stopped loving itself and is actively reaching for nostalgia in own identity and the recent past – especially in culture and politics. The resulting yearning for a time when America was “great” calls for efforts to regain that greatness by any means necessary.

Whether leadership should be based on fear or love is one of the key questions in the theory and practice of leadership. In his sixteenth-century treatise The Prince, the Florentine thinker and politician Niccolo Machiavelli argued: “The answer is that one would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far safer to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.” This maxim has been adopted by many rulers in different historical periods. But problems began for those who forgot that Machiavelli went on to warn:“a prince should make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he at any rate avoids hatred.”

This article was first published by Profile.ru translated and edited by the RT team

Republicans trust Trump over the Pentagon – poll

The party’s voters see the former US president as a more reliable source of information about the Russia-Ukraine conflict

America’s Republican voters believe former President Donald Trump is a more reliable source of information about the Russia-Ukraine conflict than either their government or the media, a new poll has shown.

The CBS News/YouGov survey, released on Sunday, found that 79% of Republicans trust Trump for information on the Ukraine crisis. That compares with 60% trust for the US military, 56% for conservative media outlets, 33% for “journalists in the war zone,” and just 27% for the US State Department.

The poll, which was conducted earlier this week, also showed waning public support for continuing to send weapons to Kiev. Just 53% of US adults believe their government should give military aid to Ukraine, down from 72% two years ago. While 74% of Democrats favor continued weapons shipments, independents are evenly divided (50%-50%), and 61% of Republicans are opposed.

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Biden prolongs Ukraine crisis to avoid admitting failure – US lawmaker

Opposition to Ukraine aid is even higher among Trump supporters, 69% of whom say the US should not send more munitions to Kiev. Among other Republicans, 55% hold the same view, and 45% say Washington should continue to arm Ukrainian forces.

Republicans also are less likely to view Russia as an adversary. Just 29% of Republican voters say Moscow is an “enemy,” compared with 47% of Democrats and 36% of independents. More than three in ten (31%) of Republicans see Russia as an “ally,” the poll found, while 40% say it’s “unfriendly.”

Views of Russia vary not only by political party, but also by age. Americans aged 50 and above – old enough to have been an adult during the Cold War – are about 50% more likely than younger respondents to see Russia as an “enemy.” However, only one-third of US adults realize that their country won the Cold War. Other responses were that the US lost (5%), neither won nor lost (32%) or “don’t remember” (30%).


READ MORE: Trump offers conditions for Ukraine aid renewal

Support for Ukraine aid is highest (72%) among Americans who believe the US has a “responsibility to promote democracy” across the world, the poll showed. Among those who see no such obligation for their country, only 28% believe Washington should give military aid to Ukraine.

Just 39% of US adults approve of how President Joe Biden is handling the Ukraine crisis. Similarly, 33% approve of Biden’s response to the Israel-Hamas war. Six in ten Americans say their president should urge Israel to either scale back or halt its military operations in Gaza.


READ MORE: Ukraine at ‘serious risk’ of collapse, ex-British general warns

 

Iran is ‘greatest threat’ to world order – Israel

West Jerusalem has called for “painful sanctions” in response to Saturday’s drone and missile barrages

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has responded to Saturday’s Iranian attack by condemning Tehran as the “greatest threat” to regional and world peace.

Iran should be hit with “painful sanctions,” as well as designation of its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, following the overnight attack, the ministry said on Sunday in a statement. Tehran launched hundreds of suicide drones and missiles at Israel in retaliation for an April 1 airstrike that killed seven IRGC officers at the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

“Iran launched a large-scale and unprecedented attack against the state of Israel, which included hundreds of drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles,” the Foreign Ministry said. “This attack once again proves what Israel has been saying for years: Iran is behind terrorist attacks in the region and is also the greatest threat to regional stability and world order, which is why Iran should never acquire nuclear weapons.”

New sanctions against Iran should not be limited to the country’s missile industry, the ministry said. “Iran must pay the price for its aggression, and the first step in this direction must be immediate recognition of the Iranian IRGC – which carried out this large-scale terrorist attack against Israel – as a terrorist organization.”

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Netanyahu called off retaliation strikes after speaking to Biden – NYT

Foreign Minister Israel Katz resuscitated an old phrase coined by former US President George W. Bush to express his outrage, saying, “The entire free world must stand with Israel against the axis of Iranian evil.”

Israel may be trying to use a diplomatic offensive to punish Iran after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reportedly urged by US President Joe Biden to cancel retaliatory strikes against Tehran. At Biden’s request, Netanyahu chose to reject calls from some members of his war cabinet for an immediate military response, the New York Times reported, citing two unidentified Israeli officials.

Iran’s diplomatic mission to the UN justified Saturday’s attack by citing its legitimate right of self-defense under Article 51 of the global body’s charter. “The matter can be deemed concluded,” the mission said in a statement, referring to the retribution for Israel’s strike against its Damascus consulate.

Tehran has no intention of taking further action, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff for Iran’s military, said on Sunday. However, he warned that if Israel strikes again in response to Saturday’s attack, “the next operation will be much more extensive.”


READ MORE: Russia tells Israel to condemn Ukraine

The Israeli military claimed that 99% of the more than 300 drones and missiles launched from Iranian territory were successfully intercepted. The few that got through Israel’s defenses caused only minor infrastructure damage at the Nevatim Airbase. Only one person, a ten-year-old Bedouin Israeli girl, was injured.

German transport minister threatens public with ‘indefinite driving bans’

Volker Wissing was accused of “frightening people for no reason” with his draconian environmental proposal

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing has warned that he may forbid citizens from driving on weekends if reforms aren’t made to a controversial climate law. Even Germany’s Federal Environmental Agency considers such a move “unnecessary” and “frightening.”

In a letter to the chief lawmakers of Germany’s ruling coalition on Thursday, Wissing warned that the government may have to put in place a drastic “action program” if the 2019 Climate Protection Act is not amended by July.

Such a program could include “comprehensive and indefinite driving bans on Saturdays and Sundays,” Wissing said. 

Passed by former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, the Climate Protection Act mandates a 65% reduction in CO2 emissions across the entire German economy by 2030, and complete carbon neutrality by 2045. The act also sets maximum annual emissions levels for each sector of the economy – such as transportation – and requires the government to implement an “action program” if any sector exceeds this limit.

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Germany poised for worst downturn in two decades – survey

Some members of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition, such as Wissing, want to pass an amendment that would impose an overall emissions limit on the country and allow the government to decide which sectors to cut to achieve this goal. However, the Greens have blocked any attempt to amend the act thus far, as such a move would essentially dilute the power of the act.

Detlaf Muller, a senior lawmaker from Scholz’s Social Democrats, accused Wissing of needlessly stoking fear.

“Scaremongering with far-fetched proposals won’t help climate protection in the transport sector at all, quite the contrary,” he told the Rheinische Post on Friday. “The proposal does not further our common goal of reducing CO2 emissions, but [causes] unnecessary uncertainty for people in our country.” 

The Greens’ parliamentary group leader, Julia Verlinden, also downplayed Wissing’s warning, telling the German Press Agency that a driving ban would be unnecessary if the minister imposed a speed limit on Germany’s famously unrestricted Autobahn.

Germany’s Federal Environmental Agency is also in favor of speed limits. “Of course we don’t need driving bans. Nobody is even discussing such a ban; this is frightening people for no reason,” agency chief Dirk Messner told Zeit on Friday.

Israeli general pegs cost of defending against attack – media

It reportedly took upward of $1.3 billion worth of interceptor missiles and other materials to shoot down Iran’s aerial barrages

Israel has claimed success in defending itself against Saturday’s drone and missile barrages by Iran, but that effort reportedly came at a high price.

The interceptors, jet fuel and other materials expended in shooting down Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and missiles cost about 4 billion to 5 billion shekels ($1.06 billion to $1.33 billion), Israeli Brigadier General Reem Aminoach told local media outlet Ynet News on Sunday. The estimate included only Israel’s direct costs, not counting the considerable weaponry used by the US and other allies in helping to defend against the attack.

Aminoach, formerly the financial adviser to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff, said West Jerusalem used such munitions as Arrow and David’s Sling interceptor missiles, which have per-unit costs of about $3.5 million and $1 million, respectively. He also included sortie expenses for the fighter jets that did the bulk of the work in shooting down Iranian drones.

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Israeli military embellishes video of Iranian attack

The general lamented that it was far cheaper for Iran to launch the attack than for Israel to defend itself. “The attack cost Iran less than 10% of what it cost us to defend against it,” he told Ynet. “In the future – in a year, two years, or five years – they can carry out 50 such attacks. And let’s say that if the IDF’s net budget in 2023 was 60 billion shekels, with less than double that you have no chance of reaching a situation where we can maintain the required amounts.”

The IDF claimed that 99% of the more than 300 kamikaze drones and missiles launched from Iranian territory were successfully intercepted. All of the UAVs and cruise missiles were shot down, military spokesman Daniel Hagari said, while a few ballistic missiles got through Israel’s defenses.

Those projectiles fell at the Nevatim Airbase and caused “only minor damage to infrastructure,” the spokesman said. He added that the drones launched by Iranian-backed militants in Iraq and Yemen all failed to reach Israeli territory. The only casualty was a shrapnel wound to a 10-year-old Bedouin Israeli girl who was hit while sleeping at her home in southern Israel.


READ MORE: ‘Punishment’ of Israel completed – Tehran

Saturday’s attack came in response to an April 1 airstrike that killed seven Iranian military officers, including two senior commanders, at Tehran’s consulate in Damascus. Israel has vowed to “exact a price” from Iran for striking back.