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Putin pledges to carve up Ukraine as EU mulls sanctions

Russian president Vladimir Putin pledged to sign an order recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) in a TV address on Monday (21 February), escalating a crisis that could lead to the biggest war in Europe since 1945.

Putin made the announcement in a rambling and belligerent speech about history in which he claimed Ukraine was not a real country, but one “created” by Russia in the 1920s on “ancient Russian lands”.

  • EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

“So you [Ukraine] want de-communisation?” Putin asked. “That suits us. But let’s not stop half way. We are prepared to show you what real de-communisation looks like,” he said in what appeared to be a direct and hostile threat in light of the more than 150,000 soldiers already massed on Ukraine’s borders.

He also took a swipe at Nato, claiming that the Western alliance was an “aggressor” that was “commanding” Ukrainian troops.

Earlier in the day, Putin had warned the French and German leaders that he was going ahead with recognition of the republics.

The Europeans “expressed their disappointment with this development of the situation” but “indicated their readiness to continue contacts,” the Kremlin said.

Putin’s move, at the least, ended the so-called Minsk peace process for east Ukraine.

For its part, Ukraine called for emergency UN talks amid the prospect that Russia’s regular troops and weapons systems would now pour into the DPR and LPR, which have been held by Russia-controlled paramilitaries since 2014.

And in Brussels, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell promised that if Putin signed the DPR and LPR recognition order, he would convene EU foreign ministers to discuss imposing a new wave of punitive measures.

“Certainly, if there is annexation, there will be sanctions, and if there is recognition, I will put the sanctions on the table and the ministers will decide,” Borrell said.

EU “unanimity on the issue is guaranteed,” he said.

The EU and US crafted a sanctions package last April when Russia began its troop build up.

That package includes stopping a Russian pipeline to Germany called Nord Stream 2; it also would put curbs on Russian banks and impose asset-freezes and visa-bans on Russian oligarchs.

So far, Western allies have suggested that the full force of the sanctions would be felt only if Russia were to launch a large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Borrell said the sanctions could be implemented tranche-by-tranche if Putin’s invasion proceeded step-by-step. The EU-US package “has certain elements which can be implemented with certain degrees, depending on the level of aggression,” Borrell said.

Russian attack ‘already started’

But for some in Europe, the aggression is already well under way and they say sanctions should already be in place.

On Monday, Russian forces in east Ukraine continued heavy artillery fire on Ukrainian positions, Kyiv said.

Air France joined the list of international airlines no longer flying to Ukraine in a sign of the economic havoc the Russian threat was causing.

And Russia kept up propaganda attacks, saying Ukrainian armoured vehicles tried to cross the Russian border on Monday and that a Ukrainian artillery shell hit a Russian border post.

The US warned in its latest intelligence assessment on Sunday that Russia has hundreds of intelligence operatives inside Ukraine, whose job would be to assassinate prominent pro-Western Ukrainians, in what could be another step ahead of an invasion.

“I really do fear for Zelensky’s life,” an EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told EUobserver, referring to the president of Ukraine.

“President Putin’s plan has already begun,” a British government spokesman was reported by Reuters as saying on Monday. “We’re seeing elements of the Russian playbook that we would expect to see in certain situations, starting to play out in real time,” he added.

For his part, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, speaking in Brussels prior to Putin’s DPR and LPR announcement, urged the rollout of the sanctions without delay.

“There are good reasons, good and legitimate reasons, to impose at least some of the sanctions now to demonstrate that the European Union is not only talking the talk about sanctions but also is walking the walk,” said Kuleba.

“The attack [on Ukraine] has already started,” said Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

Baltics also threatened

Putin said on TV that the USSR made a mistake to also let go of other former Soviet Republics.

That “means that not only Ukraine, but also Belarus, Moldova, and the Baltic States, members of Nato and the EU, are potential targets,” Polish former foreign minister Radek Sikorski warned on Twitter.

Latvia’s top leadership called for “robust economic sanctions against the Russian Federation and persons responsible for encroachment on Ukraine’s statehood.”

There were “no lows too low, no lies too blatant, no red lines too red to cross” for Putin, Lithuania’s prime minister said.

The leaders of France, Ireland, and Poland also called for immediate sanctions.

French president Emmanuel Macron “is demanding an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council as well as the adoption of targeted European sanctions,” the Élysée said.

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The US, Japan and the Philippines close ranks against Beijing’s pressure in the South China Sea | U.S.

China was not present, but it was the main protagonist. The first trilateral meeting between the leaders of the United States, Japan and the Philippines on Thursday at the White House sought to provide a show of unity in the face of China’s increasingly intense pressure on Manila in the South China Sea, where the Asian giant claims sovereignty over almost all of the area and maintains a bitter territorial dispute with the archipelago. Washington has described Beijing’s tactics as “intimidation.”

The Philippine and Chinese vessels have engaged in increasingly frequent and hostile skirmishes in an area of the South China Sea that the United States calls the Second Thomas Atoll, and which the Philippines know as the Ayungin Shoal. There, Manila maintains a military garrison in an old, rusty warship — which it intentionally ran aground in the reef — to reinforce its territorial claims in the reef. Chinese ships patrol the area and try to stop the vessels that come to supply it with water cannons and lasers.

The most serious incident in recent weeks took place at the end of March, when Chinese ships fired a water cannon at a Philippine logistics ship that was trying to bring supplies to the military personnel stationed in the shoal, which is located within 200 miles of the Philippines exclusive economic zone. That episode sparked loud protests in Manila, which were backed by Washington. For the United States, Beijing’s tactics amount to coercion and violate international law in waters that are considered one of the most volatile areas on the planet. U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the issue during his telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 2.

At the start of the trilateral meeting on Thursday, Biden warned that any attack against Philippine forces in the South China Sea would be grounds to apply the mutual defense treaty between Washington and Manila, which was signed in 1951. He said that U.S. forces would come to support its ally.

“I want to be clear, the United States’ defense commitments to Japan and to the Philippines are ironclad. They’re ironclad. Any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels or armed forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defense treaty,” said Biden.

The president met separately with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. shortly before the trilateral meeting. The previous day, he received Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was on a semi-official visit to the White House. The three countries share deep distrust over China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia Pacific and the Asian giant’s territorial claims, which an international court deemed baseless in 2016.

The Philippines and China are in dispute over the South China Sea, while Japan and China have conflicting claims in the East China Sea over islands Japan knows as Senkaku and China identifies as Diaoyu. Manila — which during Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate tried to get closer to Beijing — has resolutely aligned itself with Washington since Marcos’ election. The Philippine president is completing his second official visit to Washington in just over a year.

Tokyo, meanwhile, is investing rapidly in building up its defense in a bid to transform its army into the third most powerful in the world. In their bilateral meeting on Wednesday, Kishida and Biden announced the biggest upgrade to the Japan-U.S. security alliance in more than 60 years. The plan includes greater coordination between their commands and the joint development of cutting-edge military technologies.

“The United States, Japan, and the Philippines are three closely-aligned maritime democracies with increasingly convergent strategic objectives and interests,” White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday.

At the end of the meeting, the leaders said they will announce a Coast Guard patrol in the Indo-Pacific region. The U.S. Coast Guard will also admit members of the Philippine and Japanese corps on these patrols for training, according to senior U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Biden also announced the establishment of a new economic corridor in the Philippines for infrastructure development and agricultural projects, among other investments.

This week’s bilateral and trilateral meetings are part of the Biden administration’s efforts to develop a network of economic and security alliances in the Indo-Pacific to respond to China.

“Today’s summit is an opportunity to define the future that we want, and how we intend to achieve it together,” Marcos told the press on Thursday. “This meeting can be just a beginning. Facing the complex challenges of our time requires concerted efforts on everyone’s part, a dedication to a common purpose and an unwavering commitment to the rules-based international order.”

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The worst version of Nicaragua against the best version of Germany | International

It may be a noble cause, but its champion couldn’t be worse. The Nicaraguan dictatorship, recently censured by the United Nations for severe human rights abuses akin to crimes against humanity, has criticized Germany for arming Israel, and especially for elevating Israel’s security and right to exist to a “matter of state,” as defined by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her historic 2008 address to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament).

Nicaragua and Germany signed the 1948 Genocide Convention, which commits both nations to preventing and punishing genocide, as well as arbitration by the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ). Much like an earlier ICJ case brought by South Africa against Israel, Nicaragua is accusing Germany of facilitating breaches of the Genocide Convention by providing arms and other support to Israel. Nicaragua wants Berlin to stop weapon supplies and prevent weapons already given from being used in Gaza, and resume financing UNRWA, the U.N. relief agency in Gaza that has been accused of infiltration by Hamas.

Nicaragua filed the case against Germany because it was unable to do so against the United States, a long-time adversary of the Sandinista regime. Forty years ago, Nicaragua filed an ICJ case against the U.S. over its support of guerrillas fighting the Sandinista regime. Washington is a key weapons supplier to Israel and a signatory of the Convention. However, the U.S. took 40 years to ratify it, and only after significant amendments that gave the U.S. power of approval over any charges against the nation. Samantha Power, the current chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and former ambassador to the U.N., once likened this scenario to granting an accused murderer the authority to approve any charges brought against him.

This is the third case brought to the ICJ during the Gaza war. The first one, initiated by South Africa, resulted in two warnings for Israel to ensure humanitarian aid and civilian security. The second case, focusing on the consequences of the occupation, highlighted international support for the Palestinian State. The ICJ is not expected to quickly rule on the genocide case, but it adds to increasing U.N. and global pressure on Netanyahu for a lasting ceasefire.

Germany today is at its finest, driven by its sense of responsibility stemming from a tragic history. It stands as a staunch advocate for multilateralism and the international rule of law. Germany’s defense against Nicaragua’s charges is solid and its legitimacy as a democratic state is unassailable. Unlike the United States, it fully acknowledges the ICJ’s jurisdiction and the binding nature of its rulings. And all it needs to reverse the increasing polarization between the global south and the liberal West is full recognition of the Palestinian State’s right to exist.

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How Entrepreneurial Mindset Is Necessary For Startup Triumph

Entrepreneurial Mindset & Startup Triumph

The Voice Of EU | In today’s dynamic world of startups, achieving exceptional growth isn’t a one-shot endeavor. It demands more than a stroke of luck or a hidden formula; it requires an unwavering entrepreneurial mindset, a steadfast commitment, and consistent, sustained effort.

How Entrepreneurial Mindset Is Necessary For Startup Triumph

Picture Credits: PS Vault

In the subsequent sections, I’ll dissect five crucial factors to high-performance growth psychology that can steer your startup towards unprecedented success.

1. The Primacy of Communication

In the quest for growth, it’s commonplace for companies to prioritize feature development over precise language. Yet, this approach is fundamentally misguided. Language should precede all else.

The words you choose to articulate your product and company not only define your identity but also establish user expectations. Your choice of language wields significant influence, shaping how users perceive and engage with your offering. For example, a ridesharing service becomes exponentially more appealing when it promises a ride in four minutes or less.

User-Centric Empathy

Successful Founders distinguish themselves by their ability to think beyond their product and focus on the users. It’s imperative to understand how users think and feel, considering the intricate web of their lives.

To truly stand out, you must ask, “What does my product mean to them, and how does it fit into their world?” Behind every thriving tech company lies a profound insight into human psychology, a key that resonates with users’ needs and desires.

Perpetual Motion

In a landscape dominated by industry giants, speed emerges as your greatest ally. Much like the ancient shrew that thrived through ceaseless motion, startups must embrace a similar philosophy, “be creative, be dynamic.”.

To navigate the whirlwind of rapid changes and outmaneuver larger competitors, you must be in perpetual motion. Swift experimentation, rapid iteration, and an unwavering forward momentum are the cornerstones of sustained growth.

The Embrace of Data

Commitment to measurement is the engine driving growth. Being truly data-driven is not merely a buzzword, but a fundamental philosophy. Devoting substantial engineering resources to measurement, up to half of your total, demonstrates a genuine love for data. It should be an integral part of your company culture, displayed prominently for all to see. Your daily stats should be a source of pride and a testament to your dedication to growth.

Resilience in the Face of Setbacks

Failure is a constant companion on the path to growth. Embracing a mindset that can endure these setbacks is crucial. Most initiatives will yield negative outcomes, and being able to move forward despite this is paramount.

It’s a psychology of resilience, encapsulated in the saying, ‘Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm‘. This grit and determination are the keys to achieving substantial growth.

Implementing Growth Psychology

To instill these growth-oriented mindsets in your team, consider the following steps:

1. Teach the mentality, particularly the willingness to endure repeated small failures.

2. Clarify that every member is directly responsible for growth, regardless of their official role.

3. Provide your team with the authority to drive product changes and allocate resources for growth.

4. Encourage your team to be more aggressive in pushing growth boundaries.

5. Keep taking big swings and be open to creative, high-risk strategies.

Ultimately, growth is a collective effort, but it hinges on the psychology of the CEO. Founders shape their startups through consistent actions and decisions.

Cultivating the right growth psychology can be the difference between sluggish progress and exponential success. It empowers your company with data-driven visibility, constant momentum, and the audacity to aim for 1000% growth.

If you’re in the latter camp, reach out to us to explore further opportunities for growth.


We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Raza Qadri | Business, Science & Technology Contributor “The Voice Of EU

— For more information: Info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous news submissions: Press@VoiceOfEU.com


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