Hostomel Airport located on the outskirts of Kyiv and home to the iconic Antonov Design Bureau, was considered a strategic goal by Russia to occupy and sustain the planned occupation of Kyiv. The failure by elite Russian air assault forces to successfully capture and defend the airport against a more superior Ukrainian counter-attack symbolized Russia's inability to occupy Kyiv and eventual defeat, which also became the turning point in the war to prove to the world that Russia had already lost the war one week after the invasion.
2022, February 24: The Ukrainian Parliament approves a Presidential decree implementing a State of Emergency starting at 00:00 applicable throughout Ukraine for a period of 30 days. The Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises all Ukrainians resident in Russia to leave immediately. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy records an early morning address to the people of Ukraine and Russia in Russian stating that there are no neo-Nazi’s serving in the government of Ukraine (in response to Russian disinformation), and that Ukraine has no intentions of invading the Donbas region, requesting the citizens of Russia to force its government not to continue with its planned invasion of Ukraine. At 04:00 Moscow time, Russia President Vladimir Putin announces the beginning of a “Special Military Operation”, and invades Ukraine along multiple fronts with an emphasis to reduce Ukrainian military defensive capabilities. Putin also announces a general mobilization of forces in Russia. The main objective by Russia is to capture Kyiv within 3 days. The US announces that it would not send in combat troops into Ukraine to support Ukraine against Russia. The common opinion outside Ukraine is that Ukraine would be seized by Russia within a few days. The Ukraine government cuts all formal ties with Russia. Pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk escapes from house arrest.
According to a televised address to the public, Russian President Vladimir Putin explains the following reasons why he gave instruction for Russian military forces to invade Ukraine:
Unite Russians and Ukrainians as a single nation;
De-Nazification of Ukraine;
De-militarization of Ukraine;
Occupy Kyiv, Kharkiv, and then all of Ukraine; and
Stop NATO expansion.
These were the reasons Putin used to justify Russian aggression against Ukraine. However, based on these reasons, we need to understand the facts:
Ukrainians and Russians are not the same people. They do not share the same heritage, and they also do not share the same culture. In fact, Ukrainian culture has a longer line of heritage than what Russians consider to be traditional Russian culture.
Since the independence of Ukraine, Russia was responsible for promoting neo-Nazi ideology amongst the ethnic Russians residents in eastern Ukraine. At present, Russia remains the primary source for the promotion of so-called 'neo-Nazism' ideology globally. They do that to promote Russian information narratives to support strategic objectives. With reference to Ukraine, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was a first language Russian speaker of Jewish heritage.
Since Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union, Russia has done everything in its power to demilitarize Ukraine, why Ukraine was not prepared for the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea. In fact, Russia is the only nation in this world who in fact stole an aircraft carrier from a sovereign nation (Admiral Kuznetsov, December 01, 1991).
The only reason why Vladimir Putin wanted to occupy Kyiv was to humiliate Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and then to install his own pro-Russian government who would have reported directly to the Kremlin. Ukraine wanted democracy, but Vladimir Putin opposes democracy which would have challenged his autocratic (and kleptocratic) leadership system.
At the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO was not in the process of expanding anywhere, and it was also not in the process of expanding NATO membership to Ukraine thanks to both French and German which were blocking Ukraine's acceptance into NATO. However, what Putin wanted to achieve in Ukraine was to stop democratic expansion. In fact, as a direct result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both Finland and Sweden gained NATO membership.
2022, February 25: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issues a press release that although he is aware of instruction to Russian military forces to occupy Kyiv and capture him, he would remain in Kyiv. He also confirms his dissatisfaction with Russian forces targeting civilians during its assault towards Kyiv. Also, Russian business executive, Alexander Tyulakov, is found dead in his home in the elite Leninsky housing development. He was found hanging dead from a noose in his garage, with severe blunt trauma injury to his body. Tyulakov was a senior financial and security official at Gazprom and died at the age of 61.
2022, February 26: (1) During the most significant assault by Russian forces attempting to occupy Kyiv, both the US and Turkey requests Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to evacuate Ukraine for his own safety. Zelenskyy refuses to evacuate, responding “The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride”. At this stage, more than 90% of the Ukraine population supported Zelenskyy’s decisions, which included 80% of the populations of the Russian speaking regions. 72% of Americans had confidence in Zelenskyy’s handling of international affairs. (2) The Head of the Chechen Republic in Russia, Ramzan Kadyrov, announces the deployment of around 12,000 Chechen military forces to Ukraine in support of the Russian invasion.
The deployment of Chechen forces in Ukraine has caused much debate and confusion. The reason why it is confusing is because Russian nationals originating from the Russian Republic of Chechnya are fighting on both sides of the war. To clarify some of the confusion and associated disinformation, the simple explanation is as follows:
Pro-Russian: The pro-Russian Chechen forces are regular military units belonging to the regular military forces of the Chechen Republic under the leadership of Ramzan Kadyrov. Technically these forces are part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, but with a certain degree of autonomy. What this means is that Moscow cannot effectively force any Chechen military units to participate in foreign Russian military operations, and therefore requires the approval of the official Head of the Chechen Republic. In this instance, Ramzan Kadyrov is a close ally to Vladimir Putin, and is well rewarded financially for managing Chechnya to support Putin and his government. However, Chechnya in general is still very much anti-Russian in ideology, with large factions still seeking total independence from the Russian Federation as the Republic of Ichkheria. The pro-Russian factions, however, identify themselves as ‘Kadyrovites’. Early upon arrival in Ukraine during the initial days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, pro-Russian Chechen forces sustained high casualties when their static convoys were targeted by Ukrainian forces. The ’Kadyrovite’ Chechens were initially assigned the responsibility to seize and assassinate Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy but failed when the Chechen Special Forces unit assigned to the mission was compromised by anti-war sympathizers within the Russian FSB who leaked the planned operation to Ukrainian intelligence services as a warning. Two weeks into the Russian invasion, Ramzan Kadyrov criticized the efficiency of the Russian military, stating that they were operating too slow. In July 2022, Kadyrov committed an additional four battalions consisting only of ethnic Chechens to bolster the war effort and make up for battlefield losses sustained amongst the initial deployment. These units were named:
During September 2022, Kadyrov committed two additional battalions to the Russian side while Russian forces were withdrawing from Kharkiv Oblast following a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive. Approaching the 1-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, observations by Ukrainian military intelligence confirmed that Chechen forces generally operate 20 km behind the Russian frontlines as rear-guard forces, not engaged in direct contact with Ukrainian forces. To limit any further casualties, Chechen forces are predominantly engaged in the production of propaganda videos for viewing in Chechnya to affirm the military power of their leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. Their presence in Ukraine was also for psychological effect to make outside observers believe that their conduct in Ukraine towards any resistance within temporary occupied territories would be similar to what happened in Chechnya during the two Chechen Wars relating to looting, rape, killing, and rampaging of towns. The Chechen presence has also caused much dissatisfaction amongst ethnic Russian forces who reported being violated by Chechen forces who only engaged in alcohol abuse, and regularly engaged in assault and rape of Russian military personnel.
However, the most significant characteristic why military forces belonging to the Chechen Republic are fighting in Ukraine on the side of their historical rival, Russia, is not because of a sense of national pride, duty or military obligation, but rather purely financial. What Vladimir Putin created to compensate for the failures of the regular Russian Armed Forces and its internal struggles with low morale and general incompetence, was the privatization of warfare as a means of motivating combatants through financial reward. The arrangement with Kadyrov and the Chechen forces loyal to him is solely financial since Kadyrov is paid vast amounts of money by the Kremlin to motivate his forces to support the Russian strategic objectives, the Chechen soldiers themselves are also paid higher salaries than the regular Russian military personnel, and in addition to that, Kadyrov has first access to any economic opportunities that exist within territories held under the control of his forces (such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing, retail and distribution, construction and infrastructure development, etc). In other words, the arrangement with the pro-Russian Chenchen forces is nothing different to the arrangements involving the Wagner Group. The current Russian strategy entering 2023 in Ukraine is what we consider 5th Generation Warfare: the evolution of Warfare beyond the controls of the Nation State.
Pro-Ukrainian: The pro-Ukrainian Chechen forces are exiled Chechen factions who do not support the pro-Russian Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, and who do not accept Russian rule over Chechnya. These forces generally identify themselves as supporters of the Chechen Republic of Ichkheria in exile, which they some-day envision as an independent Chechen Republic from the Russian Federation. The members of these forces volunteered their services to Ukraine as a means of continuing the fight for independence from Russia, and pre-dominantly originate from the North Caucasus region of Russia. These forces are grouped into two factions of volunteers, namely the Chechen volunteer forces who joined the Ukrainian resistance against Russia during 2014, and the Chechen volunteer forces who joined the Ukrainian Foreign Legion after the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine. All these groups predominantly consist of veterans of the Second Chechen War, and the pro-Ukrainian Chechen units are organized as follows:
Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion (DDB)
Sheikh Mansur Battalion (SMB)
Khamzat Gelayev Joint Task Detachment (KGJTD)
Separate Special Purpose Battalion (SSPB)
The KGJTD and SSPB were both formed during mid-2022 in direct response to the Russian invasion as part of the Ukrainian Foreign Legion forces. The DDB and SMB both originate back to the War in the Donbas, having fought the Russians in Ukraine since 2014. The latter two Chechen volunteer units are often reported by both Western intelligence services and mainstream media as being linked to global Islamist groups, especially in Syria. The Sheikh Mansur Battalion (SMB) is known for having assisted 25 members of the Chechen-led Syrian Islamist group Ajnad al-Kavkaz, including its commander Abdul Hakim al-Shishani, to join the fight in Ukraine against Russian occupation forces on the side of Ukraine. The members of both SMB and Ajnad al-Kavkaz originate mainly from the North Caucasus region of Russia, and their mission in Syria was to oppose the forces of Russia, Syria, and Iran. Russia often capitalizes on this fact by inserting the information narrative within Western society that “Ukraine recruits Islamist forces to fight in Ukraine”. However, what Russia conveniently fails to mention is that these forces exist to resist Russian influence within their territories, especially with regards to the creation of an independent Republic of Ichkheria in Chechnya. However, Russian opportunism capitalizes on the common Western assumption that all Islamist forces, especially those that operate in Syria, most probably belong to the “Islamic State” in Syria (ISIL) which is incorrect. Although ISIL had a large contingent of Chechen fighters within its ranks numbering around 5,000 at one time, not all Islamist groups in Syria followed the Islamic State (ISIL) ideology which was inherited from the ISIL predecessor Al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, due to lazy intelligence work in the West, many of these Islamist groups also opposed the Islamic State just as much as the West opposed the Islamic State, resulting in the incorrect labeling of many militant groups opposing ISIL within their own territories as “terrorists” due to a general state of ignorance amongst Western observers (because it is complicated, and therefore difficult to comprehend). The Islamist fighters who volunteered their services to Ukraine, who also associates with Ajnad al-Kavkaz, obtained their incorrect ‘ISIL’ label from Russian propaganda disseminated against them by the Russian pro-government news outlet LifeNews starting May 2015. This is also the reason why Western media outlets maintain the false narrative that “Ukraine recruits Islamist forces to fight in Ukraine” mainly due to lazy/opportunistic/paid promotion journalism and incorrect fact-checking.
The bottom-line regarding the Chechen volunteers in support of the Ukrainian war effort should be acknowledged by the West for their current professional conduct in the field, along with their support to NATO efforts resisting the escalating belligerence of Russia within the region (including Syria). The simple understanding about ISIL, and the differentiation between Islamic State affiliates and other opposing Islamist groups, is that the global ‘Islamic State’ phenomenon represents Russian expansionism interests (thanks to Syrian government ‘match-making’) as simple 'terrorists for hire' on Russian GRU payroll, and non-Islamic State Islamist groups are resisting Russian expansionism (what Russia commonly refers to as "terrorists"). However, for those that still refuse to accept which side to support, just refer to individual conduct on the ground, and how each of these forces differ in their treatment of innocent civilians within their respective areas of operation. That is where acts of good and evil are clearly visible, with the pro-Russian ‘Kadyrovites’ being well placed within the spectrum of evil based on their general misconduct and abuses against innocent civilians. Finally, we also need to take into consideration (and appreciate) that the Chechen volunteer forces supporting the Ukrainian Armed Forces are not fighting for reward as is the case with the ‘Kadyrovite’ Chechens fighting on the side of Russia. Where the ‘Kadyrovites’ fight for financial gain, the pro-Ukrainian Chechens fight for ideology.
2022, February 27: Ukrainian forces destroy a large convoy of Chechen Special Forces gathered near Hostomel while advancing to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Amongst the deceased is General Magomed Tushayev, commander of the 141st Motorized Regiment of the Kadyrov Guard. His death came a day after threatening Ukraine via a video released on social media. Tushayev also served as an advisor to Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic.
2022, March 03: Marking one week since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russia effectively lost the ability to occupy Kyiv after suffering irreplaceable losses against the superior Ukrainian defenders.
At this point, Russian President Vladimir Putin effectively realized that his military invasion of Ukraine was a mistake, and that he (and basically everyone else, including NATO), overestimated Russian military capabilities. For this reason he amends his objectives for the occupation of Ukraine as follows:
Annexation of four regions in Ukraine: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia.
Liberate the aforementioned regions completely from any Ukrainian control.
[Temporarily] suspend the war.
Attempt to influence the West to pressure Zelenskyy to swap the annexed territories for peace.
Fortunately, NATO is unified in supporting Ukraine, and the Ukrainian objective is to evict the last Russian from its pre-2014 territory. During the early stage of the war, when Russia still exercised some influence within the political systems of both France and Germany, soft attempts were made to influence Ukraine to accept a peace deal with Russia, which was fortunately immediately refused by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
2022, March 14: The Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, posts a video on social media claiming that he is in Hostomel as part of the Russian advance on Kyiv. Through a targeted online exploit, Kadyrov’s IP address reveals the geolocation of his phone in Grozny, Chechnya, and not in Hostomel.
2022, April 05: The Head of the Chechen Republic and close supporter of Vladimir Putin, Ramzan Kadyrov, posts a video on social media depicting the supposed surrender of around 267 members belonging to the Ukrainian Navy 503rd Battalion to Russian forces.
The post was determined to be a staged video by Russian forces as an attempt to trick the Ukrainian soldiers in surrendering to the Russian occupation forces. The false media attempt was unsuccessful when confirmed to be faked based on various inconsistencies, to include incorrect uniforms and insignia not belonging to any Ukrainian military units.
2022, April 18: Russian oligarch, Vladislav Avayev, a 51-year-old ex-Vice President of Gazprombank, is found dead alongside the bodies of his wife and daughter in their Moscow apartment. Moscow police concluded that Avayev killed his wife and daughter, and then killed himself. However, confidential sources claimed that Avayev had access to all the financial dealings of the Kremlin elite, and he was considered a threat to the Putin and his high-level supporters.
2022, April 19: Russian senior business executive, Sergei Protosenya, is found dead alongside his deceased wife and daughter at their villa in the Catalonian region of Spain. Protosenya, was a senior executive with Russia’s largest liquified natural gas producer, Novatek. The Catalan regional police investigation concluded that Protosenya killed his wife and daughter, and then he killed himself. He was 55 years old at the time of his death.
Confidential sources believe that Protosenya was assassinated in a manner to give the appearance of a family suicide. The reasons why he was assassinated is believed to be linked to his knowledge relating to the Russian enablement of the Catalonian independence movement, as well as financial activities relating to the Kremlin elite and their links with Russian organized crime.
2022, March 02: Former President and pro-Russia supporter, Viktor Yanukovych, awaits in Minsk, Belarus, for Russian forces to capture Kyiv to be reinstated as President of Ukraine (By April 02, 2022, Russia abandons plans to occupy Kyiv after suffering heavy losses against a well-organized Ukrainian resistance).
2022, March 03: After one week since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had already survived twelve assassination attempts against his life. Three of the assassination attempts were prevented after receiving tips from sympathetic Russian FSB operatives who opposed the invasion. Two of these failed attempts were carried out by the Russian PMC Wagner Group, and one attempt by the Kadyrovites, the personal guard of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
2022, April 12: Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) capture Viktor Medvedchuk who escaped house arrest on February 24, 2022: The operation was conducted with support from Ukrainian Special Forces just in time before Medvedchuk was supposed to be extracted to safety by Russian forces. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy releases an image to the public confirming Medvedchuk’s arrest, while dressed in a Ukrainian military uniform. Zelenskyy offered to exchange Medvedchuk to Russia in exchange for Ukrainian POW’s, but Russia refused the offer.
2022, April 22: Marine Le Pen, the right-wing Rassemblement National candidate for the French Presidential elections, is exposed for receiving multi-millions of EUR campaign funding from Kremlin linked institutions in Russia.
Le Pen was an open admirer of Vladimir Putin, and often praised Russian foreign policy in public. During her 2017 failed Presidential bid, she also met with Vladimir Putin during her campaign rally. She also repeated common Russian information narratives which blamed the US and its control over NATO for tensions in Europe, and during her 2017 campaign, she also quoted: “The big political lines that I stand up for are the big lines which Mr Trump stands up for, which Mr Putin stands up for”. The exposure of Le Pen’s relations with Russia in 2022 again highlighted the depth of Russian influence in European right-wing politics. There were credible fears that if Le Pen won the 2002 French Presidential elections, France would most likely have started its exit from the European Union under her leadership in favor of Russian demands to weaken the economic power and political influence of the European Union.
2022, May 08: Russian billionaire, Alexander Subbotin, dies from a heart attack after being administered with toad venom in Mytishchi, Russia. The circumstances described by the police conclude that he was administered toad venom by a local shaman as a treatment for a hang-over. Subbotin was a senior executive with Lukoil and operated his own shipping company. He died at the age of 43 years.
2022, July 04: Russian oligarch, Yuri Voronov, is found dead in his swimming pool with a gunshot wound to his head. Voronov was the CEO and founder of Astra Shipping which had lucrative Arctic contracts with Russian state oil company, Gazprom. He died at his home located in a gated community in St Petersburg at the age of 61. Voronov lived in the same gated community where Leonid Shulman died on January 30, 2022.
2022, July 08: A Bell 427 helicopter and a Gulfstream G650 private jet belonging to Viktor Medvedchuk are seized by the Ukraine government, and handed over to the Armed Forces of Ukraine for re-appropriation towards the war effort.
2022, July 22: The Israeli Defence Force carries out multiple airstrikes on targets near Damascus, Syria, successfully destroying an Iranian drone factory.
This incident is quite significant for it impacted the Russian war effort in Ukraine. At this point Vladimir Putin realized that the Russian armed forces required advanced precision strike weapons, and Iran was the only country that could offer Russia what it required in the form of the Shahed 191 and Shahed 192 strike drones. The Iranian drone factory was initially developed to produce strike drones to target Israel via its allies Hezbollah (Lebanon) and Hamas (Palestine). As the Russian invasion of Ukraine failed to meet objectives, Iran offered to supply Russia with strike drones from its Syrian factory. Unfortunately for Russia, Israeli intelligence (with the assistance of US intelligence services), obtained the details of the factory and Iran’s intentions, and ordered an airstrike on the facilities. The United States warned Ukraine of Russia’s intentions, and consequently threatened Iran with further sanctions if it proceeded with supplying Russia with military aid. Eventually, Russia and Iran concluded a deal which involved Iran supplying Russia with advanced military hardware in exchange for the 24x Sukhoi Su-35 fighters originally ordered by Egypt, but which remained undelivered due to the Russo-Ukraine War. Iranian Shahed strike drones did eventually enter Russian service in Ukraine but supplied form Iran.
2022, July 23: Former Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk states after the signing of the Black Sea Grain Initiative between Ukraine and Russia, that “I don’t trust any kind of deal signed with the Russian Federation. We had dozens of different deals, and they [Russia] always violate them.” Within hours after Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu signed the UN-brokered deal to resume Ukraine’s Back Sea grain exports, Russia bombed the Port of Odessa.
2022, September 01: Russian oligarch, Ravil Maganov, dies after falling from a 6th floor window in a Moscow hospital. He was initially hospitalized after a sudden illness. Leaked medical reports indicate that Maganov’s body had signs of blunt trauma inflicted to him moments before exiting the window. Maganov was the Chairman of Russia’s second largest oil company, LUKoil, and was 67 years old when he died.
LUKoil, a privately owned oil company, initially opposed the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Maganov’s death followed shortly after Vladimir Putin visited the hospital a few days earlier to pay last respects to the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, who died in the same hospital a few days prior. LUKoil has various oil refineries in Europe, and it is in process of venturing into Africa. The main challenge with LUKoil from a Russian government perspective is that as a product of the 1st generation Russian oligarchs pre-Putin era, it was in direct competition with the Putin connected 2nd generation oligarchs which controlled much of the Russian ‘state’ enterprises. LUKoil was considered the greatest competition to Rosneft which had attempted to acquire LUKoil for many years without success. LUKoil, which is also heavily invested in the southern Iraq oil and gas industry, has a large global footprint developed independently from the Russian state and therefore it is considered beneficial to the Russian regime if it was willing to cooperate in the greater Russian government scheme of global operations to which it was mostly resistant to avoid sanction. However, after the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, LUKoil was sanctioned by the US and its Western allies.
2022, September 10: Russian energy executive, Ivan Pechorin, dies after falling off a speedboat at Cape Ignatyev close to the city of Vladivostok, Russia. At the time of his death, he managed the Corporation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic (KRDV). The corporation is responsible for the development of Russia’s oil and gas resources in the Arctic. Pechorin was also responsible for the development of the air industry in the Russian east, an area that was severely affected by Western sanctions after the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine. He was 39 years old at the time of his death.
2022, September 21: (1) As part of an official prisoners exchange, Ukraine swaps Viktor Medvedchuk and 55 Russian POW’s for 215 Ukrainian POW’s (including 188 members of the Azov Regiment). The people of Ukraine are freed from the burden of dealing with Viktor Medvedchuk any further. Medvedchuk first met Vladimir Putin during 2003, and in 2004 Vladimir Putin became the godfather to Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter Darya. In Ukraine, Medvedchuk is considered a “Putin-man”. (2) Russian professor, Anatoly Gerashchenko, and head of the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI), dies after falling down a flight of stairs at the institute headquarters. He was 73 years old at the time of his death. MAI is a leading scientific research university for the development of aerospace technology with close links to the Russian defense industry. (3) Russian oligarch, Dmitry Zelenov, dies in Antibes in the French Riviera. His death was caused by a head injury sustained after falling over a railing from a flight of stairs. He was reported feeling unwell while having dinner with friends. A few weeks prior to his death he had heart surgery after a sudden heart related illness. He was 50 years old at the time of his death and invested in real estate in Europe.
The phenomenon of Russian oligarchs dying shortly before the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, followed by more deaths under mysterious circumstances after the invasion, all follow a common trend by Moscow to target influential leaders in its society who were considered a threat to the Putin inner circles, especially select individuals who had access to sensitive and damaging information relating to the covert operation of the Russian government mechanisms. Since the recent Russian invasion, various Russian oligarchs and members of the Russian FSB criticized the Putin government for its actions in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the critics with known identities became targets for elimination, all accounted to death my natural causes or accidents, a common Russian GRU tactic. An interesting aspect about all these deaths involving high-profile Russian individuals is the absence of Russian disinformation campaigns capitalizing on these events to insinuate ‘Western’ interferences (which would have been false accusations). The reason why the GRU purposefully chose not to turn these events into propaganda is due to these events serving as warning to the other Russian oligarchs and influential members of society to not oppose the current Russian system of government. Another interesting trend that was identified in the current GRU methods of targeted individual elimination was the use of a specific poisonous toad venom instead of the [traceable] laboratory poisons initially used during its early years of assassinations. The toad venom has the advantage of being a natural venom with a much slower reaction, usually causing cardiac arrest in the victim, which is commonly misdiagnosed as a natural heart illness when the victim falls ill. This assassination method was most likely used on Zelenov, Gerashchenko, and Maganov prior to their deaths. Maganov was most probably recovering from his initial poisoning, why matters were escalated to his ejection from a hospital window by physical force.
Mechanisms of Action of toad poisoning: Toads (genus Bufo) naturally produce a potent toxin (Bufotoxin) in their parotid gland that is similar to cardiac glycosides such as digoxin. The bufotoxins are cardiac glycosides. They bind to and inhibit sodium-potassium ATPase in a manner similar to other cardiac glycosides such as digoxin and digitoxin. The inhibition of the sodium-potassium ATPase results in an increased extracellular concentration of potassium and an increased intracellular concentration of sodium. The increased sodium concentration is a powerful driving force to increase the influx of calcium into the cytosol. These changes alter the resting membrane potential of excitable cells resulting in a depressed electrical conduction, which leads to an inhibition of myocardial conduction and function.
2022, October 02: The President of Burkina Faso, Paul-Henri Damiba, resigns as President after a successful military coup by a rebellious faction within the Army under leadership of a character named Captain Ibrahim Traoré, took over the government of Burkina Faso. The coup is supported by a majority population who was mobilized to protest outside the Embassy of France in Ouagadougou, demanding both Damiba and France to leave the territory of Burkino Faso, while at the same time calling onto Russia to send its forces to Burkina Faso.
A protester waving a Russian flag in support of Russia establishing a military foothold in Burkina Faso.
Russian GRU enablement of this coup cannot be discounted for reasons that it resembles the exact same methods used in the coup that overthrew the government in neighboring Mali during August 2020 which enabled the Russian pseudo-PMC Wagner Group to establish a military presence in Mali and take over what French Forces left behind upon withdrawal from Mali. At the time of the latest coup in Burkina Faso, the death toll in Wagner Group’s military operations in Mali had already exceeded 600 people, mostly innocent civilians. The Army of Burkina Faso is also split into various factions, although the dominant faction responsible for the most recent government take-over being pro-Russian, and most probably Russian financed. The ousted President, Paul-Henri Damiba, was blamed by the Army for not doing anything about Burkina Faso becoming the center of the Al Qaeda/Islamic State insurgency that destabilized Mali since 2012, and then spread throughout the region south of the Sahara. According to the information narrative spread amongst the population, France was responsible for suppressing any military activities targeting the Islamists. However, the latest military coup indicated a complicated social media campaign to mobilize the local population against the French and its sponsored government in Burkina Faso. The complexity and effectiveness of the Burkina Faso tactics are not common in African coup d’état tactics, but more a trademark of the Russian GRU.
Former President Damiba, however, only served as President of Burkino Faso since January 31, 2022. Lt Col Damiba led a mutiny against the civilian government of Burkina Faso, and removed then President Roch Kaboré from power, blaming him for failing to effectively resolve the Islamist insurgency in Burkina Faso which has already caused the deaths of thousands, and millions of civilians displaced during the past decade. Damiba was a supporter of former colonial power France, although France chooses not to admit to it for reasons undeclared.
2022, October 22: A joint four-day naval exercise between Russia and Algeria starts in the Mediterranean Sea.
2022, November 04: The South African National Defence Force announces that plans have been set to hold a joint naval exercise involving vessels of the Russian Navy, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), and the South African Navy. Precise dates have not been finalized, but the exercise will be held early 2023. The announcement is met with much criticism from opposition parties opposing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, stating that South Africa’s cooperation with Russia confirms its support to Russia regarding its invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Frigate Admiral Gorshkov and the tanker Kama were first observed in the Bay of Biscay until the vessels split up. The Admiral Gorshkov departed its port of assignment in the Murmansk area on January 04, 2023. The Kama continued southwards while being shadowed by the Portuguese patrol vessel NRP Sines (P362) past the Azores islands. The Admiral Gorshkov headed west while being shadowed by the Portuguese frigate NRP Bartolomeu Dias (F333). On January 22, 2023, the Admiral Gorshkov was around 1300 km west of the island of Flores in the Atlantic. Both vessels will join up with the Chinese PLAN and South African Navy for a joint naval exercise (Exercise Mosi II) over the period February 17 – 27, 2023. The two vessels are then scheduled to continue to the Mediterranean to complete its expected 1-year deployment period via the Suez Canal. According to Russian sources the Admiral Gorshkov is armed with new Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles.
2022, November 17: A Dutch court found Russians Igor Girkin and Sergei Dubinsky guilty of murder and shooting down a plane relating to their roles in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Donetsk Oblast, 40 km from the Russian border, on July 17, 2014. Ukrainian separatist, Leonid Kharchenko, from Donetsk was also found guilty. All three men were sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia.
2022, December 06: A sanctioned Russian ship known for transporting Russian arms shipments, Lady R, docks at Simons Town Naval Base in Cape Town, South Africa, under the cover of darkness. The ship docked at the South African Navy facility while the city was undergoing a scheduled power outage. The South African government refuses to share any details pertaining the reasons for a sanctioned civilian registered Russian vessel to enter a national key point.
Sanctioned Russian cargo ship Lady R docked in Simons Town Naval Base engaged in loading operations (Image: Supplied).
The vessel’s AIS was switched off upon entering South African territorial waters, which is suspected to be purposefully executed upon South African Navy (SAN) liaison recommendations. Based on eyewitness accounts, the ship was observed offloading and loading containerized cargo in the naval base. To accommodate the vessel, special loading equipment were brought onto the military base which indicates that the SAN was well informed of the vessel’s planned arrival. During daylight hours, the forward crane was observed in a raised position indicating that it was in operation, and the #1 hatch cover was removed and stacked onto hatch #2 which indicates that lifting operations were in progress. Upon further investigation, the vessel's intended destination was Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with no records of any planned port visits to South Africa. The South African Navy refused to comment on the purpose of the vessel within a restricted military facility. The vessel departed from Cape Town during the early morning hours of December 09, 2022. Lady R was observed during early January 2023 moored off the coast of Beira, Mozambique.
South African Navy tugs positioning the Russian vessel Lady R for docking (Image: Supplied)
2022, December 07: Around 3,000 members of the German police, including the GSG9 counter-terrorism unit, arrest 25 suspects who were believed to be involved in a plot to overthrow the government of the German Federation. Amongst the suspects arrested were former members of the German Special Forces, Police, a former far-right Member of Parliament with connections to Moscow, and a Russian citizen responsible for supporting the group’s activities. The group operated under the banner of the Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) movement. Police forces from Italy and Austria also conducted similar operations within their respective territories to follow up on suspects connected to the plot. Based on evidence gathered during investigations, the group was in contact with Russia for support in establishing a new order in Germany once the government was overthrown. The plan also included assassinations of key opposition figures, and the establishment of around 240 armed cells throughout the country which would have become the foundation of the post-coup self-defense force.
This event has been in the making since 2016, and the verdict is still undecided whether this group had the resources and means to effectively overthrow the present German Federal Government. However, what this event does highlight is the legacy that remains since the unification of East Germany (GDR) and West Germany which formed the present German Federation on October 03, 1990. Although the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), which was effectively a Soviet state since the end of WW2, was dissolved prior to reunification, the process of reunification never effectively addressed the extent of involvement and eventual evolution of the prior GRP political elite, including the future utilization of the members that served in the Stasi (GDR Ministry of State Security). The problem that existed during the reunification process is that the East Germans, as a Soviet Republic, practices Socialist Conservatism as a remnant brought over from the German Third Reich, whereas the West German government was a capitalist liberal democracy which practiced pacifism as a by-product of post-WW2 reconstruction conditions imposed by its Western liberators. Up until reunification, the majority East German politicians and military commanders despised what had become of West Germany under Western influence. This was the starting point of German right-wing activism (referring to conservative political ideology, not capitalism) which found favor amongst most of the ex-German Democratic Republic (East German) citizens who found much favor in Vladimir Putin’s style of government during the past two decades. The strong German support base for Russia that exists now is a by-product of the dismantled German Democratic Republic, partly caused by the naivety of the majority West Germans who support pacifism and liberal democratic ideologies. Also, of equal concern is the high number of Serbian immigrants who are now naturalized German citizens, some having served with the Russian Armed Forces since 2014 in Ukraine, who are still strong supporters of a pro-Russia Europe, who live and work in Germany.
2022, December 11: The body of a 23-year-old Zambian student, Lemekhani Nyirenda, arrives in Zambia after the ‘student’ died on the frontlines of Ukraine while fighting for Russia. Nyirende served with Wagner Group after he volunteered his services to the Russian war effort in Ukraine for a reduced sentence after being imprisoned in Russia on a drug trafficking related conviction. According to the family of the deceased, he originally went to Russia as a student on a Russian government sponsored education program, but later got a job as a courier to support himself. He was arrested when Russian police searched him and found a package containing banned narcotics.
The significance of this incident highlights the disconnected relationship that exists between Russia and Africa. The reality now, approaching a year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is that the majority Africans still believe Russia is an ‘anti-imperial’ force, not knowing that Russia is in most cases the cause of most of Africa’s problems by following a common Bolshevik Code inspired Kremlin doctrine which implies that ‘if you wish to provide a solution, you sometimes need to create the problem’. With reference to this specific incident, in a November 29, 2022, post on the Russian [propaganda] social media platform VKontakte, Wagner founder Evgeny Prigozhin claimed he spoke to Nyirenda who allegedly told him he had volunteered because:
“You, Russian, helped us Africans gain independence. When it was difficult for us, you stretched out a hand to us and continue to do this now. Wagner is saving thousands of Africans; going to war with you is paying back for at least some of our debt to you.”
Well, since Nyirenda is deceased now, it is difficult to verify the accuracy of this statement. However, even if we choose to entertain this statement as being ‘truthful’, we need to understand the history of Russian interference in Africa dating back to when the majority African states became independent around the early 1960’s (thanks to the demands enforced by the United States upon implementation of the Marshall Plan in Europe post-WW2 which came into effect on April 03, 1948). When the USSR entered Africa, most of the African nations were subjected to internal instability caused by power struggles between internal factions since most African states lacked the institutional knowledge to establish and maintain good governance. Some of the colonial powers (such as France and Belgium), also failed to facilitate proper governance to the benefit of nation building. However, when the United States became engaged in the Vietnam War, Russia utilized the opportunity (while the US was distracted), to arm select allies within strategic locations throughout Africa to expand its ‘anti-imperial’ agenda. This is the primary reason why most African nations remained in conflict with itself since independence around 60 years ago. The historical British colonies emerged as the most stable of all African nations mainly due to the reason that the British developed most of its colonies with basic infrastructure and remained invested in all their previous colonies through the mechanism of the Commonwealth of Nations to oversee the maintenance of state administration and good governance as safeguards for its colonial investments. However, these nations were considered more advanced compared to the former Portuguese, French, and Belgium colonies, which created opportunities for the US to enter Africa and consequently challenge the historical British influence within its former territories. By this time, Soviet influence was already well established throughout Africa as an ‘anti-imperial’ force resisting ‘neo-colonialism’ brought on by expanding US influence on the continent, and most of those relations remain to this day. Since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, this rhetoric has been prominently featured in Russian media strategies and official social media accounts. On December 02, 2022, for example, the English-language Twitter account of the Russian foreign ministry tweeted:
“#Russia was among the few world powers that neither had colonies in #Africa or elsewhere nor participated in slave trade throughout its history. Russia helped, in every possible way, the peoples of the African continent to attain their freedom and sovereignty #EndSlavery.”
This tweet was not repeated in Russian language for the simple reason that it continues building on the slavery narrative which Russia maintains within its information operation in the United States, specifically for a US based audience still disillusioned by other Russian enabled campaigns such as the BLM movement which also focusses on invoking domestic political instability based on manipulated facts relating to the slave heritage of the United States (while selectively omitting the anti-slavery efforts by the United States government at the time leading up to the American Civil War of 1861 which effectively ended slavery). Now, all these Russian disinformation campaigns feed back into Africa to support Russian disinformation campaigns targeting the youth who still fails to understand the real reasons why in 2023, their countries remain in a poorer state than it was pre-independence six decades ago. With reference to the Russian foreign ministry tweet, a Soviet propaganda poster dating back to 1971 was included to reflect the Russian government’s claim that it maintains Soviet anti-imperialist policies towards the Global South. While engaging in an ideological conflict against the United States during the Cold War, the Soviet Union focused its resources on building a sphere of influence in Africa. That ideological conflict has now been escalated into a kinetic conflict, with Ukraine being the starting point of a global war if Ukraine is not provided with the support it requires to effectively evict the last Russian from pre-2014 Ukrainian territory. It is also unfortunate that the majority Africans do not realize the extent of their