Tag Archives: sri lanka

Tom Arms’ World Review

The Russians have changed generals as well as shifting the focus of their attack from the north to the east and south. The new man is Lt. General Alexander Dvornikov, aka “the butcher”, a title he earned for his merciless bombardments in the Second Chechen War and Syria. In the first he levelled Grozny and the second left Aleppo a smouldering ruin whose streets were littered with the bodies of civilians. General Dvornikov is wanted for alleged war crimes in Syria and has been blacklisted by the EU.  Vladimir Putin has awarded him with the Hero of Russia medal.

Dvornikov’s appointment also signals a change in strategy. Previously, daily operations were directed from military headquarters in Moscow. Dvornikov, who has been in Eastern Ukraine for the past two years, is expected to have much more control. His experience is with mechanised artillery units and the terrain of Eastern Ukraine is more suited to his tactics. The north and west of the country is heavily-forested. The south and east is the breadbasket of Europe with wide open plains resembling the American Midwest. His problem is that the Ukrainian military have prepared for his attack with trenches and anti-tank traps. He should also bear in mind that being a general in the Russian army is a dangerous job. The Ukrainians have killed eight so far.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, Vladimir Putin is resorting to the tactics of the man whom he has repeatedly said he admires – Joseph Stalin. The Soviet dictator used a combination of fear, the media, the police and repression to ensure adherence to his policies. Putin is doing the same. The enemy, according to Putin and Russian television, is no longer Neo-Nazis in Kyiv. It is the West “attempting to destroy Mother Russia.” Ukrainians are no longer fellow Slavs awaiting liberation, they are “traitors who deserve only to be ground into the dust.”

Also guilty of treason, is anyone who disseminates “fake news” about the “special military operation” in Ukraine (“fake news” is defined as anything other than news that originates in the Kremlin). So far 15,000 people have been arrested for refusing to toe the Putin line. They face up to 15 years in prison.  To further keep the lid on the dissidents, authorities are encouraging family, neighbours and friends to inform on each other – another Stalinist tactic.

For the moment the strategy is working. Vladimir Putin appears to have the overwhelming support of the Russian public. This may change with a worsening of the economic situation. When Western sanctions were initially imposed the rouble nose-dived and overnight the savings of millions of Russians were wiped out. Since then the central bank has intervened, buying roubles from its reserves. This has blunted the effect of the sanctions and stabilised the currency, but the head of the central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, has warned that this policy is unsustainable beyond the short term. But no matter, President Putin, has decided he wants a result by the 9th of May, the anniversary of the end of World War Two, which means that eastern Ukraine can expect a rough next few weeks.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments

Sending thoughts of sympathy and support to all those affected by the Sri Lankan horrors


The photo above shows the view from the Sri Lankan Independence Memorial Hall in Colombo. The flag flying is the Buddhist flag. I took the photo last November. The Memorial Hall is very much a centre of national events in Sri Lanka. Annual Independence celebrations are held there. It is a very peaceful place. When I visited, children played in the hall while families sat admiring the sunset.

That peacefulness is very much a keynote of Sri Lanka. The majority Buddhist religion is pervasive in its emphasis on meditation and spiritual development. The people of Sri Lanka are generally very peaceful, easy-going and welcoming to strangers. While I was there, there was a full blown constitutional crisis ongoing, with the President and Prime Minister involved in a stand-off which was eventually settled (in the Prime Minister’s favour) by the Supreme Court. If you weren’t reading the news, you wouldn’t have known that anything was awry – life went on peacefully and cheerfully as usual across the country.

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In an historic decision, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court rules that the President’s dissolution of parliament was illegal

Embed from Getty Images

This follows on from my post on November 29th.

The Sri Lankan Supreme Court has just ruled unanimously that President Sirisena acted illegally when he dissolved Parliament and called early elections.

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Sri Lanka: A presidential attempt to subvert parliamentary democracy

My photo of the entrance to the Sri Lankan President’s House in Colombo last week

I’m just back from a glorious holiday in Sri Lanka. Going around this beautiful island, one could have been forgiven for not realising that there was a national constitutional crisis going on. Every where was peaceful and there was no sign of even the odd protest placard, even in the capital of Colombo. The Sri Lankan people are extremely friendly and peaceful. I did notice some particularly passionate TV debates, as I flicked around the channels to find the cricket, and the papers were full of the latest machinations in Parliament.

I hesitate to summarise the details of the Sri Lankan constitutional crisis. Wikipedia provides an excellent narrative.

In the words of the BBC:

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Daily View 2×2: 22 November 2009

It’s Sunday. It’s 7am and we’ve got some coffee art to wake you up this morning. But first, the blogs and then the news.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here’s are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

Sri Lanka vows to free 130,000 Tamil refugees

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  • Jane Ann Liston
    John, I think you are quite right....
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    Layla does well here. And it's such a fantastic campaign issue: real community politics, with a national angle - and we can make it our own. It was good to see ...
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    @Brad Barrows "we get more periods of really heavy rain that could overwhelm sewerage systems in urban areas, leading to sewage backing up in peoples’ homes....
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    I guess the question I would ask LD's is can the politics of Westminster ever get bad enough that, if you could, you would vote to become independent of it? ...
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    Struggling to disagree with much of that Lorenzo....