News from the war front, suggesting the imminent danger of a wider war.

    Below is an article about recent drone attacks deep inside of Russia, presaging an expansion of the war…

    And, below that, a news analysis from Italy critical of Pope Francis‘ efforts to try by whatever means possible to reach some sort of “peace process.

    The piece is by veteran Italian journalist Marco Politi.

    Politi begins by saying that Francis seems “out of step” with all the other leaders in the West.

    Francis, and the Vatican’s diplomacy, has never been this isolated, Politi says.

    Politi is right.

    Francis is out of step with the rest of them.

    Politi then argues that despite his evident isolation, despite walking completely alone among the West’s leaders, Francis should praise, not ridiculed, for this.

    And Marco is right.

    Francis is the one voice in the West speaking out, with near desperation, for some sort of “peace process” to begin in this terrible war, and this is the most courageous and prophetic thing he has done during his pontificate.

    The soldiers fighting this war — often boys 18 or 20 years old — dying in their thousands (really tens of thousands, boys and men burnt and crushed and pierced and cut into pieces) as all sorts of “cool” weapons are very carefully tested, and re-calibrated, like the many Ukrainian civilians, who have died over the past year, have been killed in a war that never should have begun.

    A war that should be ended yesterday, before it gets more bloody.

    Yes, I send out Viganò’s controversial letters, very critical of Pope Francis, nor will censor him, as I wrote yesterday…

    And yes, I am praising Francis for his prophetic witness, out of step with all the other leaders of the West, except perhaps Viktor Orban of Hungary, in his calls for peace, not war.

    In fact, Viganò and Francis agree on this point, on their opposition to this war.

    Perhaps it could be the beginning point for a further rapprochement?

    Who am I to say?

    But leaving that aside, for your position in favor of peace, Pope Francis, I thank you… for myself, my sons, my nephews and nieces, for all children everywhere, in Ukraine, and in Russia as well, for these “little ones” should grow up in a world at peace, as you have so often said, and prayed, publicly.

    Gratias Vobis ago (“My thanks to You — “Vobis” being my way of using in this case, here, a formal form of respect — I give.”) —Robert


    P.S. With all that is happening in the Universal Church and around the world, be sure to follow our digital platforms as I will periodically go live with breaking news and important interviews.

    P.P.S. If you would like, please support this letter.

    Mass Drone Attack Unleashes Chaos, Air Raid Sirens Inside Russia (link)

    Russia has come under attack by multiple drones on Tuesday, with one of those drones reportedly causing a fire at an oil depot in the southern part of the country, and another hitting outside Moscow.

    The attack on the oil facility happened in Tuapse, which lies about 150 miles southeast of the Crimean peninsula, with Reuters citing local media to report, “Emergency services put out a fire at an oil depot in southern Russia overnight after a drone was spotted flying overhead, the RIA news agency said on Tuesday.” Crucially, Tuapse is about 500 kilometers from the nearest Ukrainian-held territory, which exhibits significant reach assuming the UAV was launched by the Ukrainians.

    The fires which started at the facility at about 2:30 am were extinguished after they spread to an area of some 200 square meters. “The oil tanks were not affected. There was no spill of oil products. No injuries,” a local official, Sergei Boyko, described.

    Another drone crashed in the Moscow region on the same day, with Governor Andrei Vorobyov saying it was likely an operation to target civilian infrastructure.

    “This happened near the village of Gubastovo, the target was probably a civilian infrastructure facility, it was not damaged. There are no casualties or destruction on the ground,” Vorobyov said on his Telegram channel, as translated by the Moscow Times.

    “The FSB and other competent authorities are dealing with the situation, nothing threatens the safety of residents,” he added. The Moscow Times notes that unverified reports said the drone was a Ukrainian UJ-22 Airborne manufactured by Ukrjet.

    The Russian defense ministry in a statement made mention of another drone attack in southern Russia, close in time to the attack on the oil facility which it says was intercepted:

    The attacks — in the Krasnodar and Adygea regions — had been “suppressed” and failed to inflict any damage, it said.

    But it followed reports by Russian state news agencies of a fire at an oil depot in Krasnodar, around 240km south-east of the Crimean peninsula, after a drone was spotted flying overhead.

    The Russian defense ministry stated that “The Kyiv regime attempted to use unmanned aerial vehicles to attack civilian infrastructure in the Krasnodar region and the Adygea Republic.” It claimed further, “The UAVs were neutralized by electronic warfare units.”

    There may have additionally been a drone incident in the border area of the Belgorod region. The Daily Beast described it as a night of chaos for Russians:

    The strikes were part of what local media described as a “mass drone attack” that appears to have intensified in the last 24 hours.

    On Monday morning, residents of an apartment building in the Belgorod region, near the border with Ukraine, were forced to evacuate in the middle of the night after one of four drones crashed into the building, according to Baza. Another drone landed on the roof of a supermarket and exploded, scorching the premises.

    And possibly another attempted attack in St. Petersburg:

    Hours later, St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport came to a standstill as authorities shut down the surrounding airspace, reportedly in response to an “unidentified flying object” spotted in the area.

    Amid all the local reports coming out of Russia, there were in total possibly half-a-dozen to a dozen or more inbound drones which had been sent against various Russian cities overnight into Tuesday.

    This comes after a past year which witnessed a number of sporadic drone and alleged sabotage attacks on sensitive Russian facilities, including military bases, as Ukraine and its backers grow more emboldened.

    One December investigative report written by a US special forces veteran said the CIA was behind many of the covert sabotage operations happening with increasing frequency on Russian soil. President Putin has recently said he sees the conflict in Ukraine and West-backed proxy war there as a fight for the survival of the Russian people, alluding to it as an ‘existential threat’ in fresh comments.

    The timing of these fresh, brazen attacks on Russian appears significant, given that just within the last few days there’s been some actual international momentum toward getting serious about an eventual brokered peace – this after China unveiled its 12-point plan for negotiated ceasefire on Friday. Will efforts at peace be sabotaged before a process can ever hope to get off the ground? If Russian soil keeps getting attacked, it’s very unlikely the two sides will even come close to seriously contemplating negotiations.


    Ukraine, the Pope is isolated: no one in the EU agrees with his ceasefire proposal (link)

    By Marco Politi

    After a year of war in Ukraine, Pope Francis appears isolated.

    Never in the last 60 years has the Holy See — in the face of events of international importance — found itself in such a marginal situation.

    In the European Union, no one agrees with your proposal for a ceasefire, which opens the way for negotiations for a peace that takes account of the concerns of the parties involved.

    Britain ignores this.

    US President Biden does not want interference.

    Putin does not consider the Vatican an effective means of reaching negotiations.

    Xi Jinping, for reasons of internal politics, does not intend to give excessive prominence to the position of the Holy See.

    Zelensky, who even in the aftermath of the Russian invasion had mooted the possibility of mediation by the Vatican, now wants only one thing: a trip by the pontiff to Kyiv to corner Putin even further.

    The pope’s arrival, explains a Ukrainian diplomat, “would blow up the last bridge between the Russian terrorist state and the civilized world.”

    It is a situation never experienced by Vatican diplomacy.

    In European chancelleries, Francis’ voice is respected but marginalized, silenced.

    In some embassies there is a tendency to comment that basically the Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin and the Vatican Foreign Minister, Msgr. Gallagher, would feel uneasy about the intransigent line of the Argentine pontiff.

    Intransigent because, as L’Osservatore Romano declared last year, the pope of Rome “cannot be the chaplain of the West.”

    The isolation of the Vatican is an unprecedented phenomenon.

    It derives from the sudden change in the international context.

    Sixty years ago, during the Cuban crisis, both Kennedy and Khrushchev wanted to use Vatican mediation.

    Even during the Obama presidency, the Washington government found it convenient to settle relations with Havana through the Vatican.

    To make up for another major international crisis – the invasion of Iraq by the United States and Great Britain in 2003 – the clearly opposing position of John Paul II was able to benefit from the analogous and converging opposition of France and Germany (as well as than Russia and China).

    The World Council of Churches, the Anglican Church, the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Russia and the Council of Churches of the United States lined up around Wojtyla’s firm “no”.

    Now the Christian world is deeply torn apart in the face of war.

    And in Europe the “French-German engine” as an element of autonomous political elaboration has failed.

    In 2008, it was Paris and Berlin that blocked US President George W. Bush’s drive to further expand NATO space to the east, incorporating Ukraine.

    Today a European position does not exist.

    France, Germany, Italy, the historic nucleus of the EU, are silent.

    In 2022, the trip of Draghi, Macron and Scholz to Kyiv highlighted the renunciation of any European political role in discussing the ends and objectives of the war: the three leaders simply brought to President Zelensky the assent to Ukraine’s status as a candidate country for the European Union (which under the rules in force it could not have obtained).

    The keys to a possible solution to the conflict lie with Washington as well as with Moscow.

    There is no international policy expert or head of key institutional sectors (foreign and intelligence) of NATO countries who does not know that the dominus of the situation is Joe Biden.

    The president of the United States has moved so far in a calm and rational manner.

    He will decide how far to go.

    But the escalation of the conflict is by its nature unpredictable and no one can imagine what would happen if Russia were to consider the nuclear option viable, given that Putin agitates the concept of an “existential struggle” in his speeches.

    At the UN, the resolution for an “immediate, complete and unconditional” withdrawal of Russia had a clear majority (141 votes).

    Yet there remains a large part of the world population (China, India, Pakistan, South Africa but also states that voted “yes” to the resolution) who do not want to accept the “either with me or against me” approach of the Western front.

    Francis may seem like an unheard Cassandra if we limit ourselves to the “white band” of the West.

    But the global geopolitical line, which he has impressed (like Wojtyla) on Vatican politics, makes his cry of alarm more lucid and realistic every day. 

    There is no peace without a ceasefire.

    Peace cannot be built if one thinks only in terms of military blocs.

    A unipolar management of the world is not feasible.

    A new bipolar cold war (US-China) is not productive for the planet.

    Therefore — as Francis asks — it is urgent to think of a new Helsinki, a pact for a system of planetary relations signed by the main protagonists of the international scene.

    The recent Chinese memorandum, writes l’ Avvenire, can be criticized, but it is a “political” gesture that requires a political response.

    To expect it to be written as they would like in Washington makes no sense.

    Francis has behind him the growing unease of popular masses, who are not convinced by the proclamations that incite “war until victory”.

    Either you get to stop the weapons or risk slipping into general disaster.

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal has just declared that there will be no room for a reconciliation with Moscow for a hundred years.

    The goal to be achieved is for Russia to be “democratised, demilitarized and denuclearised”.

    In short, the fate of Germany in 1945 must be reserved for Russia.

    It is the opposite of what French President Macron once indicated: defense of Ukraine yes, but “no revenge and humiliation” for Moscow.

    Kyiv’s position pushes towards catastrophe.

    And the catastrophe is what Francis urges to avoid.

    [End, Politi article]

Facebook Comments