The end?

Well today it looks like the Saudis have joined the Russian war effort by artificially jacking up the price of oil, thereby adding billions to Russian coffers as a result. Also causing misery for those in the West.
Well today it looks like the Saudis have joined the Russian war effort by artificially jacking up the price of oil, thereby adding billions to Russian coffers as a result. Also causing misery for those in the West.

The transition from fossil fuels can't come soon enough.
Well today it looks like the Saudis have joined the Russian war effort by artificially jacking up the price of oil, thereby adding billions to Russian coffers as a result. Also causing misery for those in the West.
Not really no one is buying their oil. As I understand it China is taking none and neither is India. A few non aligned states are buying from them but they are shut out of all the main markets.
Not really no one is buying their oil. As I understand it China is taking none and neither is India. A few non aligned states are buying from them but they are shut out of all the main markets.
I think you underestimate how much Russian oil is being sold around the world. And yesterdays ctions by Saudi has very much been seen as a fillip for Putin. And only one day ago Japan broke away from the G7 60 dollar a barrel cap imposed on Russian oil.

Not really no one is buying their oil. As I understand it China is taking none and neither is India.
I think you may have to revise your understanding.

There's a lot going on with China right now. Will try to condense it all tomorrow morning. The upshot is that China has now banned Russia from trading in Yuan.
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Some snippets.

"A surprising little update here.

Today China cut Russia from trading both in dollars and in yuan.
Being able to trade in Yuan has been important for Russia since it gave them the ability to buy food, non-military electronics like phones, and buy cars... etcetera.
It is here good to remember that Russia does not produce anything.
You wan't a sauce pan?
You either bought a western sauce pan or a chinese sauce pan.
Lately you only had the latter option.

All of these little creature comforts will go away.
Most important are cars.
Russian car sales are down to 40 percent from January of 2022.
Nowadays 83 percent of all cars sold are chinese, the rest are either smuggled in, or built in Russia.
From today those 83 percent chinese cars went kapoof, leaving Russia with a market that can't be supplied.
This means that right now the car market is down to 8% from the 2021 figure.
Russian roads are basically a nightmare, so Russian cars live a hard life.
The lack of cars will be felt very fast, and the Russian industry will need at least a decade to be able to produce even half of the 2021 demand.
Except... they can't.
Ballbearings. Russia can't produce them, and chinese was the only supplier.

Secondly, by being able to borrow in Yuan Russia was able to prop up the Rouble.
Today the Rouble hit the alltime low against the EURO of 0.011, it is expected that it will be lower than 0.01 before Easter is over.
This means that even trying to smuggle will get exceedingly expensive very soon."

This was actually slightly before

I earlier reported that China had been in contact with the EU for some silent diplomacy.
In it among other things they assured the EU that they would not help Russia in any way, and that they would follow the sanctions on "the sly".
Something that they verifiably so far has done.

Then came the Xi to Russia debacle.
Before that China had been on the fence in regards of Russia, and seen itself as a possible moderator of things when the war is coming to an end.
I have stated why it went to **** after Russia insulted China again and again during the meeting.

How bad are relations between Russia and China?
This is how bad it is...
First of all, China openly states to the EU that the "boundless friendship" with Russia is bull****, and then it goes downhill from a Russian perspective.
And Russia is openly posting this in the newspapers. No attempt of hiding the Sinobearian divorce.
(2) Kevin (smooth) sovrednav on Twitter: "Tankies having a really bad day with this news🇨🇳🇷🇺👇😜😂🤣" / Twitter

I cross referenced this with the statement of the Ambassador of China to the European Union.
Yup, China just dropkicked Russia in the balls.

Now back to China opening up for talks with the EU months ago.
After Russia China looked around and discovered that they are in a rather unwanted position, and that they are fairly alone in the world.
US is not talking, India they just had a war with, Japan is per usual grumpy, Russia with Love just got a divorce... and the other parties are not really relevant.
Basically, only one party in the world is still talking to them... the EU.
But talking is not the same as being friends.

And China knows that no entity on the Globe can hurt them like the EU can.
A stroke of a pen and the Chinese economy is tumbling into freefall.
So, something needed to be done to shore up relations, almost at whatever the cost for China.

First, China knew that it would need to be the supplicant here, the EU is ready to leave things exactly as they are, one penstroke away.
China's Ambassador to the EU is the internally highest ranking party member sent out as an Ambassador, he is closely linked with Xi, and is generally seen as talking directly as Xi's voice.
From China's side this is seen as giving respect to the EU.
So, he ambled off to the EU President's Office to personally hand over a letter of invitation to President Ursula von der Layen, written by hand by Xi, asking her to visit Beijing for talks with a full entourage.
Writing by hand in chinese caligraphy is seen as a THE greatest sign of respect if it is done by the leader.
Note, Russia/Soviet has never gotten one from any Chinese leader.

Secondly, China officially and in the most viscious way blasted Russia in the statement from the Ambassador.

More diplomatic points.
As Invitee it will be Xi coming to Europe for any signing of documents and treaties.
Another subtle sign of Respect, the same sign that Russia ***ed on him for...

Xi has received internal criticism in China for the Divorce with Russia.
Very subtle, but still there.
So, Xi needs a Win.
The Chinese press is not mentioning the Russian debacle, but they are elevating the upcoming visit from the EU to the skies and beyond.
Unashamedly the phrase "Most precious and prosperous European Empire" has been used... Ursula is elevated to Mother-God status.
Much is made out of her being so powerful that she has 7 children.

The Chinese have left a list of things open for discussions:
-Trade agreements
-Environment agreements
-Peace for Ukraine
-Patents Agreement
-Rebuilding Ukraine
-Spheres of Influence
-Sanctions on Russia
-Joint cooperations in Africa
-Silk Road becoming a mutual peace project
-The list just goes on and on...
One point was sealed... a suggested agreement on Taiwan and deescalation there with an opening for a peace treaty.

One thing is though clear.
It will be one of the most impressive shows in the history of diplomacy.
China also want to rub Russias nose on how to do diplomacy, expect every single bit and bob to be done exactly to specifications, or way beyond.
There will be China's no 2 on the Runway
There will be a benevolently beaming Xi waiting for Ursula on the stairs as the car drives up.
There will be soldiers to inspect.
There will be state dinners, no going back to the hotel for some Russian copy of KFC.
There will be no laughing at her behind her back.

China comes for economy and friendship.
Europe comes for peace and return to rules based international relations."
This is from a couple of days ago. Not much more forthcoming about Ukraine. The bad weather pausing the push.

While Prigozhin is happy about having taken the city mayors office and done some small gains inside the city, the Ukrainians are attacking the flanks for all they are worth.
Prior to the snowstorm the main attack was to the North, but Ukraine seem to have flipped to the southern flanks southern side.
It seems like Ukraine broke through some 30km south of Bakhmut, and are now pushing the Russians out of position.
This are comes with a lot of manouvering space, so a flanking manouver is comparatively easy if they break through, and that would become very costly for Russia.
It would also put pressure down towards Donetsk City.

Ukraine is also pushing near Avdiivka and the other Opytne near Avdiivka.

After having fired the incompetent general (no 2) over at Vuhledar Russia is now trying their wings on something unexpected, a flanking manouvre performed 5km southwest of Vuhledar.
Ukraine looked a bit amused, retrained their artillery and continued the usual boomfest on the hapless Russians.

Zhaporizhzhia is for now at a standstill in the directions of Tokmak and Robotyne.
This is where I have the big question mark.
Here I suspect that a big push will be launched, the previous mentioned places are in the inconsequential.

Kherson is the other spot I suspect there will be a big push.
Here Ukraine never really stopped pushing, prodding, firing, doing naughty stuff...
We do know there are Ukrainian forces on the southern bank in places, but how much and how many is anyones guess, all we know is that Russian soldiers are not to impressed with being here.
Kinburn is still devoid of Russians, it seems like they have given up on it completely, but what is not known is if Ukraine is placing forces there again.
Heck, we do not even know if they ever left during the winter from the last time they took it.

Last week I mentioned that there are 106 attack brigades in reserve and that 18 of them went to Bakhmut area.
I also mentioned that there was 25 Brigades holding the lines.
This gave a total of 131 brigades.
That figure was 2 weeks old, Ukraine somehow increased the total number to 163, an increase with a whopping 32 additional full strength Brigades.

Here is something that has been very little talked about, the 42 billion USD Lend/Lease, and the 15+10 EU equivalent.
These are not the same as the individual packages that countries have sent, among them US, UK, Netherlands, Sweden and so on and on.

The US Lend/Lease gives Ukraine the right to borrow/lease up to that amount from existing US equipment.
US goes by the First In/First Out principle, so this is good but older stuff that they can spare.
But 42 billion in used stuff is a hell of a lot of equipment not accounted for.
The EU is cash coverage of weapons contracts.
Ukraine can order anything that is produced in Europe, up to that amount."

And none of this has been disclosed what it is, and how much it is.
The other weapons packages have tided over Ukraine on the frontlines and for the previous offensives.
These two mega-packages are for the upcoming offensives, these packages are all for those mysteriously appearing and equipped new Brigades.
This is one hell of a sledgehammer...
Have Ukraine gotten everything yet?
No, not at all, more is coming.
Only thing we know is that 32 Brigades worth of gear rolled in over the last few weeks.
So much ammunition has been sent that the US is down to refurbishing old cold war stocks of 155mm, there is nothing newer in the warehouses any longer.

Remember, just fragments of the sledgehammer had gotten into positions when after 3 days the Snowstorm hit, and Russia was buckling already...

Anyway, a little officially released film from Bakhmut for you to tide you over until more epic stuff is on the menu.
This is further reinforcements arriving at Bakhmut, it is old soviet gear but in good nick, T72Bs and better sort of BMPs, there is even a breaching charge throwing vehicle..."

АЗОВ South on Twitter: "Bakhmut reinforcements🔥👊🏻 📽24hrs old" / Twitter