Tom Arms’ World Review

Ukraine

Good news/bad news on the Ukraine front.

Good news is that Ukrainian military are now making progress. It is also good news that Vladimir Putin has declared martial law in the parts of Ukraine he recently annexed and imposed lesser but still severe restrictions on other parts of Russia. The crackdown is a sure sign of lack of public support.

Bad news that the Russians have started bombing Ukrainian power generating and water pumping stations. So far about a third of the country has lost power. It will be a dark, cold winter for Ukrainians who may also lose water supplies.

Good news on the economic front. The Ukrainian economy is actually growing. This is mainly due to a stable banking system backed up by $23 billion in Western loans to secure currency reserves. But the loans would have been ineffective if the Ukrainians had not cleaned up their banking system which a few years ago was one of the most corrupt in Europe.

European Union

Good and Bad News also on the EU front. They are having another summit as I write this and at the top of the agenda will be how Europe can weather the energy crisis. The bad news is that the European Council has to discuss this issue because the richer countries are bowing to domestic demands to outbid the poorer EU countries for gas and oil supplies. The good news is that they are at least discussing the problem.

Other bad news is that it appears that Iran is involving itself in Ukraine on the Russian side. The drones attacking Ukrainian power stations were made in Iran and there are reports that Tehran is also supplying Russia with trainers and surface to air missiles. The Iranians publicly disapprove of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but, more importantly, they hate America.

France

President Emmanuel Macron had developed a reputation for being more interested in locating Putin’s golden exit ramp than prosecuting the war. As such he was not Volodomyr Zelensky’s most popular Western leader. That perception is changing. This week France announced that they were sending a quarter of their high-tech Caesar cannon to Ukraine. They also announced training facilities for 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers and the dispatch of French anti-aircraft systems and radar. The French still lag well behind the British and Germans, but they are now committing themselves to increased military backing for Ukraine.

Italy

Giorgia Meloni is finding it more difficult than anticipated to form Italy’s first far-right Italian government since Benito Mussolini. The reason is the bad man of Italian politics – 86-year-old former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Meloni and would-be coalition partner Berlusconi have spent the weeks since the election trading insults, falling out, making up and then falling out again.

The main cause appears to be Berlusconi’s legal problems. He is in court again, this time for allegedly bribing witnesses. To help him with his personal difficulty, Berlusconi is insisting that his Forza Italia Party be assigned the Justice Portfolio. Ms Meloni, not surprisingly, wants someone else. Berlusconi is also causing trouble on the Ukraine front. Ms Meloni has been working overtime to repair relations with NATO allies after her previous pro-Putin statements.

Berlusconi is undermining her by saying he wants to revive his friendship with the Russian leader and may back the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Brazil

As Brazil’s election day approaches (30 October) and as the polls narrow, the campaign is slipping further and further into the political gutter. Most observers would have expected dirty tricks from incumbent Jair Bolsonaro who has been dubbed the “Tropical Trump”. But no, the filth is coming from his opponent Ignacio Lulu da Silva (aka Lulu). His latest advertisements have accused Bolsonaro of the three no-noes of cannibalism, paedophilia and devil worship. The claims indicate that the Lulu campaign is seriously worried. It is not surprising. Polls last week showed his lead narrowing to just three points.

This week, after the claims were made, Lulu went back to seven points ahead of Bolsonaro. So filth appears to work in Brazilian politics. Of course, Lulu’s lead could prove totally inconsequential if Bolsonaro carries through with his threat to declare the vote invalid if he loses.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and the author of “The Encyclopedia of the Cold War” and the recently published “America Made in Britain” that has sold out in the US after six weeks but is still available in the UK.

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4 Comments

  • I am not sure what to make of Putin’s declaration of martial law in the four Ukrainian oblasts he recently announced Russia had annexed. It does look as if Russian forces are digging in for a defence of the Ukrainian territory they hold over the winter after retreating to the left bank of the river in Kherson.
    The spectre of totalitarianism is once again on the rise in Russia, China, Iran, and perhaps even democracies like Brazil, Turkey, India and Italy.
    The Normandy format group of Ukraine. Russia, France and Germany that negotiated the Minsk protocols still looks like the only feasible channel for some form of dialogue, if not actual negotiations; perhaps with the involvement of the guarantors of the Budapest Memorandum signed in 1994 i.e. the US and UK ensuring that Ukraine has the training and weaponry to continue to defend itself for however long it takes.
    The alternative appears to be a long war of attrition that destroys much of the civilian infrastructure of Ukraine, leaves Russia in a chaotic and belligerent state and condemns tens of millions in the developing world to widespread famine.
    Negotiation with totalitarian regimes is only possible from a position of strength. That means isolation of these regimes and military confrontation where necessary. History has taught us that a lack of resolve on confronting totalitarianism can only lead to even worse outcomes such as the use of Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine.

  • Surely Lula, not Lulu!

  • I think my neighbour was loudly playing some oldie Lulu albums when I wrote my blog this week. Can’t think of any other explanation.

  • Peter Hirst 24th Oct '22 - 1:09pm

    Let’s just hope Lula wins. If not then bar invading Brazil I’m not very hopeful. The Amazon is the world’s lungs so perhaps the UN needs to look at declaring it not owned by any state.

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