This article originally appeared at The Vineyard of the Saker
What I want to share with you today is a promo movie by Zvezda TV, the semi-official TV channel of the Russian Ministry of Defense, at the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the Russian Airborne Forces. So don’t expect a hard-hitting documentary asking the tough questions and making critical comments.
However, this is nonetheless ainteresting video and when I saw it, I begged Alena Scarecrow and Tatzhit to translate and subtitle it, which they very kindly did. Before letting you watch the video, I would like to share with you a few thoughts about the Russian Airborne Forces (called ‘VDV’ in Russian) and about their military, social, political and even spiritual role in modern Russia.
The Russian Airborne Forces
The Russian VDV are truly an absolutely unique phenomenon and they should not be confused with any other airborne force.
Second, the VDV are a numerically huge force which currently totals 50’000 men and includes 5 Airborne Divisions and 6 Airborne Brigades (including the 45th Special Forces of the VDV Brigade). All of them air-deployable and on a top-level or readiness.
Thirdly, the VDV truly are the embodiment of military valor and tactical skills and they have played an absolutely crucial role in many Soviet and Russian battles, but probably never more so than during the worst tragedy in their long history: the battle for Ulus-Kert in which the entire 6th Airborne company perished.
I don’t have the space and time to recount in detail what happened on that day of early 2000 but to those interested by this amazing event I would recommend the article “ULUS-KERT: An Airborne Company’s Last Stand” by Sergeant Michael D. Wilmoth, US Army Reserve, and Lieutenant Colonel Peter G. Tsouras, US Army Reserve, Retired, in the Military Review of July-August 1991, pp 91-96 (click here for this article reposted on this blog). Keep in mind that this article was not written by the promotions department of Zvezda TV, but by two US military experts who are very critical of many aspects of what took place that day (and rightly so).
What is absolutely crucial for the understanding of the importance of this battle for Hill 776 in Ulus-Kert is that the year 2000 marked the absolute rock-bottom of the “democratic experiment” (aka the American colonization) of Russia. Yes, Putin has just come to power, but the country was absolutely devastated by a decade of Soviet stagnation followed by another decade of “democratic reforms” and Putin was just making his very first steps as a new head of state.
What the 6th company achieved on Hill 776 was an immense wake-up call to the entire Russian nation saying “enough is enough” and “not one single step back”. The article by Wilmoth and Tsouras accurately describes all the failures in command and execution which resulted in the tragedy of the 6th company, but it isthese failures which made the sacrifice of these men so amazing: the country had essentially abandoned its own military, but the young men of the VDV did not hesitate to die, all of them, to resist the face of evil (and, in those days, nothing embodied absolute evil as much as the Chechen Wahabis and their reign of terror and medieval atrocities).
It is hard to over-estimate the contribution which the Russian Airborne Forces have made to the rebirth of Russia. But this goes even further.
I strongly believe that it is not a coincidence that the Russian Airborne Forces have even produced an Orthodox martyr and saint: Evgenii Aleksandrovich Rodionov. You can read a short summary of the life and death of Rodionov in the Wikipedia article under his name.
What is so important about the case of Rodionov is that died as a martyr because he refused to abandon his Orthodox faith and that his podvig (spiritual feat) happened away from everybody at a time when, as the sad expression went, “every boy wanted to become a criminal thug and every girl a prostitute” as people used to say in 1996, in the midst of the “democratic hell” Russia had become.
Though I cannot prove it, I am personally deeply convinced that the fact that Rodionov was a solider of the Airborne Forces is not a coincidence. I have met enough Airborne officers and soldiers myself and I know that their level of patriotism and spiritual awareness is exceptionally high because they live by an honor code, an ideal, which has it roots in the most ancient Russian military traditions which have always been immersed in spiritual and moral values far beyond just winning a battle.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me, I amsaying that all the soldiers of the VDV are some kind of invincible saints or anything like that. Far from it. It is enough to see the footage of the kind of silly drunken nonsense these guys display each August 2nd (the day of the Holy Prophet Elijah, Patron of the Russian Airborne Forces) to lose any such illusions:
But on the same day, this also takes place:
And one reality should not overshadow the other one: they are both equally Russian and equally typical of the VDV.
What I am trying to illustrate by all of the above is that the Russian Airborne Forces are an absolutely unique, and uniquely Russian, phenomenon and that they are a truly formidable force by any measure. Now for a more US-style promo movie, with lot’s of high-tech hardware and “cool” shots, please see the following video.
It will show you that the Russian VDV are also very modern and forward looking military forces with over 85 years of development behind their back. And, having watched that video, ask yourself this simple question: how impressed to you think these guys are with the new multi-national NATO “spearhead” and “rapid reaction” forces?
Three Cork publicans prepare to begin trade again
Pensioners who like to read the paper as they enjoy a few leisurely pints are the cohort most excited by the resumption of indoor service in pubs, according to a Cork city publican who has only traded for two weeks since March 2020.
Michael O’Donovan, who owns the Castle Inn, says his regulars have been phoning to check what time he is opening on Monday, with some saying they have not had a social outing since the start of the pandemic.
“We know all our regulars on a first-name basis. We have a man who comes in and has two or three pints on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He will read the paper but he will watch the world go by at the same time,” he said.
“He will chat when he wants to chat. He is in his late 70s and he wouldn’t have been out [socially] in 15 months.”
Mr O’Donovan said it has been a surreal time but was hopeful that better days were coming.
“We will adapt and get on with all the changes we have to make with how we do business,” he said. “It is difficult in that we never wanted to be asking people about their health status. We have to be cautious but it is another step in getting life back to the way we knew it.”
‘It has been a struggle’
Danny Collins was looking forward to reopening the Boston Bar in Bantry, west Cork after a year of many sleepless nights due to worries about keeping the business afloat.
“I have been going through my savings to pay the mortgage as we were only open for a couple of weeks last year,” the independent councillor said.
“It has been a struggle. Of course there were other bills as well. To have your pub cameras, you had to pay the internet bill. I was also advised to keep my cooler system running. In the winter, I had to put on the heating.”
Mr Collins said he was apprehensive about all the different regulations that will have to be complied with as indoor service returns, such as staffing all entrances, and that finding employees had been a struggle for those in the sector.
“I think the PUP [Pandemic Unemployment Payment] should be reviewed at this point,” he said.
‘We can’t wait to open’
In Cork city, publican Ernest Cantillon will be opening Electric bar/restaurant and Sober Lane bar this week.
During the pandemic, he set up an online cocktail sales business and sold takeaway food, allowing him to keep a core team of about 15 people employed despite his business only opening as a traditional pub for a couple of weeks last year.
“We have also shifted to a new model of opening four evenings a week,” he said. “We are opening next Wednesday through Saturday and then staff will have three days off. That has been a key factor in staff retention and recruitment. We are going to give it a go. We can’t wait to open.”
Germany’s flood zones spared severe storms on Saturday
In the west of the country, the fire brigade reported a quiet night in the flood areas in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine Westphalia.
The situation remains tense, however, with local thunderstorms forecast in some parts of Germany from midday on Sunday — most likely south of the Danube.
Further heavy rain and hail were also possible again, according to the German Weather Service (DWD), which publishes storm warnings.
The latest storms came just days after parts of the country were hit by devastating floods after torrential rains that ravaged entire villages and left 180 people dead, hundreds injured and with many still missing.
The flooding also caused damage in Belgium, where 37 people died, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Prosecutors allege R Kelly had sexual contact with under-age boy
US prosecutors in R Kelly’s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an under-age boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming sex-trafficking trial to hear those claims.
Federal prosecutors aired a wide-ranging raft of additional allegations – but not new charges – against the R&B singer in a court filing on Friday.
Jury selection is due to start August 9th in a New York federal court for Kelly, who denies ever abusing anyone.
The Grammy Award-winning singer is charged with leading what prosecutors call a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who allegedly helped him to recruit women and girls for sex and pornography and to exercise control over them.
The charges involve six different women and girls, who are not named in court filings.
Now, prosecutors would also like jurors to hear about more than a dozen other people whom the government alleges that Kelly sexually or physically abused, threatened or otherwise mistreated.
Among them, the government says, was a 17-year-old boy and aspiring musician whom Kelly met at a McDonald’s in December 2006 and later invited to his Chicago studio.
According to the prosecutors’ court filing, after asking the boy what he would do to make it in the music business, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with him while he was still under-age.
And when Kelly was about to go on trial on child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the same youth told the singer he had access to a juror, and Kelly asked him to contact the juror and vouch he was a “good guy”, prosecutors wrote.
The filing does not say whether the youth did so. Kelly was acquitted in that case.
The boy also introduced Kelly to a 16- or 17-year-old male friend, with whom prosecutors say the singer began a sexual relationship several years later.
Kelly also filmed the two youths in sexual encounters with other people, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, according to the filing.
Prosecutors wrote that the accounts of the boys and others would help show that the actual charges “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern”.
The multiplatinum-selling singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is known for work including the 1996 hit I Believe I Can Fly and the cult classic Trapped In The Closet, a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.
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