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Vladimir Putin’s invasion is crumbling

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Vladimir Putin‘s forces are desperate and ‘doubling down on brutality’ to try to break heroic resistance, Ben Wallace warned yesterday.

With Ukrainian forces repelling Russian offensives against major cities for a 13th day, the Defence Secretary warned of further indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

Kremlin officials were last night said to have privately denounced the invasion as a ‘clusterf***’ – ‘mourning’ the death of the Russian economy and the loss of up to 12,000 troops.

A convoy advancing toward Kyiv from the north is said to have become stuck in mud as snow has thawed, while demoralised Russian troops are braced for battle in temperatures set to drop to minus 20C later this week.

The Russians have also suffered heavy losses on the ground and in the air with Ukrainian soldiers blowing up tanks and jets with the help of rockets given to them by Britain and Western allies.

Here we look at how the war has so far unfolded for Putin:

Vladimir Putin’s forces are desperate and ‘doubling down on brutality’ to try to break heroic resistance, Ben Wallace warned yesterday

Blown out of the skies

Every day brings footage of Russian fighter jets and helicopter gunships being blown out of the sky – as many as eight in 24 hours recently. Such losses seem to defy logic given the scale and apparent sophistication of Moscow’s forces.

Putin assumed he could achieve air supremacy on day one. A fortnight later, Ukraine’s S-300 ground-to-air missile system remains operational and effective.

Consequently, Russia’s aircraft are vulnerable to ground-to-air fire – not something they experienced while carpet-bombing cities in Syria. Experts also suggest Russia’s air force could be experiencing ammunition shortages after that campaign.

Russia’s reliance on artillery is problematic. Combining artillery and aircraft in the same battlespace requires cohesion, communication and most importantly practice. Yet Russia has not practised this. So we see aircraft in small numbers and only when there’s no ground fire. Is Putin perhaps holding back his best aircraft to attack the Baltic states?

Unlikely. Defeat in Ukraine would be terminal for Russia as a military superpower and terminal for Putin personally. He cannot afford to be distracted by ‘the next campaign’ – in particular when his army is also misfiring so badly, with its heavy losses of tanks, armoured vehicles, air defence systems and thousands of soldiers.

Russia's reliance on artillery is problematic. Combining artillery and aircraft in the same battlespace requires cohesion, communication and most importantly practice

Russia’s reliance on artillery is problematic. Combining artillery and aircraft in the same battlespace requires cohesion, communication and most importantly practice

The doomed convoy

The convoy of 15,000 troops, tanks, missile batteries and armoured personnel carriers deployed from Belarus was supposed to encircle Kyiv and quickly pound its citizens into submission, forcing President Volodmyr Zelensky to surrender.

But it has never reached the capital and for several days has made no progress. This vast force is vulnerable to aerial attack. Yet besides strategic strikes on some sections, it has been left untouched. Why?

Few of the Russian assets pose an immediate threat – and Ukraine must be efficient with its use of pilots, aircraft and munitions. Also, due to spare parts shortages and resupply problems, the convoy is going nowhere. Better to bomb the bridges nearby further reducing the invading enemy’s mobility.

There’s a psychological ploy here too. As long as the column is there, it is Putin’s problem, a reminder of all that has gone wrong. Destruction on a major scale and the deaths of hundreds of soldiers could be painted as vindictive, providing propaganda for the Kremlin. It might also be counter-productive.

Ukrainians calculate that the more Russians that are stuck in the mud – with scant rations – the better. The hope is they will become discouraged and surrender.

Ukrainians calculate that the more Russians that are stuck in the mud – with scant rations – the better. The hope is they will become discouraged and surrender

Ukrainians calculate that the more Russians that are stuck in the mud – with scant rations – the better. The hope is they will become discouraged and surrender

Britain takes a hand

One SAS squadron has been deployed ‘to the region’. But it would be highly risky for any troops to enter Ukraine, given the UK Government’s insistence that it would not put ‘boots on the ground’. 

Its task is to deliver lethal aid supplies to Ukrainian units and further training on these weapons systems. Western nations are also assisting with identifying and prioritising targets.

The Ministry of Defence has invested significantly in recent years in military communications and interception techniques and technologies. Judging by the quality of the intelligence published by the UK ahead of the invasion, this was money well spent.

The MoD effectively published Russia’s battle plan the day before the invasion started.

One SAS squadron has been deployed 'to the region'. But it would be highly risky for any troops to enter Ukraine, given the UK Government's insistence that it would not put 'boots on the ground'

One SAS squadron has been deployed ‘to the region’. But it would be highly risky for any troops to enter Ukraine, given the UK Government’s insistence that it would not put ‘boots on the ground’

Lost commanders

A peculiar aspect has been the unprecedented numbers of senior Russian officers being killed in action, not just middle and junior ranking officers, but generals.

Western officials say these commanders have been forced to abandon the safety of their headquarters and head to the ‘furthest line of friendly troops’ to ‘impose their personality on their men’.

This suggests desperation, a last resort when a battle is being lost. 

Once a senior officer positions himself in a trench alongside his soldiers, as bullets whizz overhead, they can no longer command the battle – they have opted to sacrifice their situational awareness.

A peculiar aspect has been the unprecedented numbers of senior Russian officers being killed in action, not just middle and junior ranking officers, but generals

A peculiar aspect has been the unprecedented numbers of senior Russian officers being killed in action, not just middle and junior ranking officers, but generals

Putin the blunderer

All roads lead back to Putin’s planning assumptions, from which the strategy was derived.

If you assume Ukrainian grandmothers are going to decorate your tanks with garlands of flowers, your army doesn’t give the requisite consideration to basic requirements such as rations.

If you believe your army will roll into Kyiv on the first day of the military campaign and your enemy will lay down its weapons, you overlook the logistical challenges of moving large numbers of soldiers over vast distances. A fortnight ago, Putin was considered a master strategist.

His sabre-rattling – and the positioning of tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s borders – was surely convincing enough to persuade many Nato members that Ukrainian membership of the alliance was too risky.

All roads lead back to Putin's planning assumptions, from which the strategy was derived

All roads lead back to Putin’s planning assumptions, from which the strategy was derived

So having achieved this, why then invade? The task Putin has set his armed forces, of demilitarising Ukraine, appears beyond their capability. It is also beyond their power to overwhelm the Ukrainian people.

Regardless of how many blocks of flats he flattens, how many hospitals and schools he destroys, he will not pacify Ukraine. The country is too big, too populous, too advanced and too well supported by the West.

Ukraine is also led by a truly remarkable president, who appears to be growing in confidence by the day. Its people are too motivated.

Putin is bombing them into even more impassioned resistance, not into submission, with every rocket or artillery attack.

Desperate days

Mr Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday that Russia was not getting its way despite its overwhelming forces. He added: ‘It is getting more desperate, which is why we see huge amounts of indiscriminate shelling, damage to civilian areas – which is outrageous – and the UK would call on Putin to stop that immediately.

‘We are seeing the Russians just double down on brutality and we are seeing reports about humanitarian corridors being shelled. 

This will be Putin’s end, this country [Ukraine], and so it should be, because of not only their spirit and their moral component that they have on their side, the Ukrainians, but also because it will be an impossible task to occupy such a people and a country.

Mr Wallace told BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday that Russia was not getting its way despite its overwhelming forces

Mr Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday that Russia was not getting its way despite its overwhelming forces

‘He has exhausted his army, he is responsible for thousands of Russian soldiers being killed, responsible for innocent people being killed, civilians being killed in Ukraine.

‘He is reducing his economy to zero because the international community has decided it is absolutely unacceptable what he does and so he is a spent force in the world. I don’t know whether he thinks that’s a clever thing to be, but that diminishes his own country in the world and he has to take responsibility.’

Washington’s director of national intelligence Avril Haines said: ‘We assess Moscow underestimated the strength of Ukraine’s resistance and the degree of internal military challenges we are observing, which include an ill-constructed plan, morale issues, and considerable logistical issues. 

‘Our analysts assess that Putin is unlikely to be deterred by such setbacks and instead may escalate, essentially doubling down to achieve Ukrainian disarmament.’

Here’s how YOU can help: Donate here to the Mail Force Ukraine Appeal 

Readers of Mail Newspapers and MailOnline have always shown immense generosity at times of crisis.

Calling upon that human spirit, we are supporting a huge push to raise money for refugees from Ukraine.

For, surely, no one can fail to be moved by the heartbreaking images and stories of families – mostly women, children, the infirm and elderly – fleeing from Russia’s invading armed forces.

As this tally of misery increases over the coming days and months, these innocent victims of a tyrant will require accommodation, schools and medical support.

Donations to the Mail Force Ukraine Appeal will be used to help charities and aid organisations providing such essential services.

In the name of charity and compassion, we urge all our readers to give swiftly and generously.

TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE

Donate at www.mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate

To add Gift Aid to a donation – even one already made – complete an online form found here: mymail.co.uk/ukraine

Via bank transfer, please use these details:

Account name: Mail Force Charity

Account number: 48867365

Sort code: 60-00-01

TO MAKE A DONATION VIA CHEQUE

Make your cheque payable to ‘Mail Force’ and post it to: Mail Newspapers Ukraine Appeal, GFM, 42 Phoenix Court, Hawkins Road, Colchester, Essex CO2 8JY

TO MAKE A DONATION FROM THE US

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Hailey Bieber Details Terrifying ‘Life-Altering’ Mini-Stroke She Suffered And Procedure To Close Hole In Her Heart

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Hailey Bieber has spoken out in her “own words” about the “life-altering,” “scariest moment” of her life she had after suffering what she called a mini-stroke, and later underwent a procedure to close a hole in her heart.

The 25-year-old supermodel and wife of superstar singer Justin Bieber took to her YouTube channel Wednesday and opened up about the terrifying experience of being hospitalized last month after she suffered a blood clot to her brain that traveled through a hole in her heart between 12 and 13 millimeters, reported People magazine.

“I had, like, a very scary incident on March 10, basically,” Bieber shared. “I was sitting at breakfast with my husband, having a normal day … and all of the sudden, I felt this really weird sensation that kind of like traveled down my arm from my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips. And it made my fingertips feel really numb and weird.”

“Justin [her husband] was like, ‘Are you okay?’” she added, as she explained that she tried to respond to him, but she “couldn’t speak.” “The right side of my face started drooping; I couldn’t get a sentence out.”

“Obviously, immediately, I thought I was having a stroke,” the supermodel continued. “He thought I was having a stroke. Right away, he asked for somebody to please call 911 and get a doctor.”

Hailey said that where they were, there happened to be a medic who started asking her lots of questions and testing her arms, calling it definitely the “scariest moment” of her life. The model talked about how the “facial drooping lasted for probably like thirty seconds.” Her speech did came back, but her “anxiety” about what was happening just made “everything worse.”

“By the time I got to the emergency room, I was pretty much back to normal – [I] could talk, [I] wasn’t having any issues with my face or my arm,” Bieber explained.

She said scans revealed she had, in fact, suffered a “small blood clot” to her brain which was labeled a “TIA” [Transient Ischemic Attack]. Hailey told her followers it was basically like having a “mini-stroke.”

Doctors still weren’t sure what caused it, but she said it was widely believed it was a combination of birth-control issues, recently having COVID-19, and having just traveled “to Paris and back in a very short amount of time,” calling it a “perfect storm.”

Further testing at the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed Bieber had a Grade 5 PFO [a small opening in the heart that usually closes after birth]. The outlet said the hold measured between 12 and 13 millimeters. She later underwent a procedure to close the hole, and said it went “very smoothly” and she’s recovering.

“The biggest thing I feel is I just feel really relieved that we were able to figure everything out, that we were able to get it closed, that I will be able to just move on from this really scary situation and just live my life,” Hailey shared.

“If there’s anybody that watches this that has gone through the same thing or something similar, I definitely really empathize with you,” she concluded. “And I understand how life-altering and scary it is.”

Bieber, who’s the daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin and Kennya Baldwin, married her husband Justin in 2018.

Related: Hailey Baldwin Credits Christian Faith For Marriage To Justin Bieber

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Wikipedia’s Left-Wing Bias

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I love Wikipedia. I donated thousands of dollars to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Before Wikipedia, all we had were printed encyclopedias—out of date by the time we bought them.

Then libertarian Jimmy Wales came up with a web-based, crowd-sourced encyclopedia.

Crowd-sourced? A Britannica editor called Wikipedia “a public restroom.” But Wales won the battle. Britannica’s encyclopedias are no longer printed.

Congratulations to Wales.

But recently, I learned that Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger now says Wikipedia’s political pages have turned into leftist “propaganda.”

That’s upsetting. Leftists took over the editing?

Sadly, yes. I checked it out.

All editing is done by volunteers. Wales hoped there would be enough diverse political persuasions that biases would be countered by others.

But that’s not what’s happening.

Leftists just like to write. Conservatives build things: companies, homes, farms.

You see the pattern comparing political donations from different professions: Surgeons, oil workers, truck drivers, loggers, and pilots lean right; artists, bartenders, librarians, reporters, and teachers lean left.

Conservatives don’t have as much time to tweet or argue on the web. Leftists do. And they love doing it. This helps them take over the media, universities, and now, Wikipedia.

Jonathan Weiss is what Wikipedia calls a “Top 100” Wikipedian because he’s made almost half a million edits. He says he’s noticed new bias: “Wikipedia does a great job on things like science and sports, but you see a lot of political bias come into play when you’re talking current events.”

Weiss is no conservative. In presidential races, he voted for Al Gore, Ralph Nader, and Barack Obama. Never for a Republican. “I’ve really never identified strongly with either political party,” he says.

Maybe that’s why he notices the new Wikipedia bias.

“People on the left far outweigh people on the center and the right … a lot [are] openly socialist and Marxist.” Some even post pictures of Che Guevara and Lenin on their own profiles.

These are the people who decide which news sources Wikipedia writers may cite. Wikipedia’s approved “Reliable sources” page rejects political reporting from Fox but calls CNN and MSNBC “reliable.”

Good conservative outlets like The Federalist, the Daily Caller, and The Daily Wire are all deemed “unreliable.” Same with the New York Post (That’s probably why Wikipedia called Hunter Biden’s emails a conspiracy theory even after other liberal media finally acknowledged that they were real).

While it excludes Fox, Wikipedia approves even hard left media like Vox, Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, and Jacobin, a socialist publication.

Until recently, Wikipedia’s “socialism” and “communism” pages made no mention of the millions of people killed by socialism and communism. Even now, deaths are “deep in the article,” says Weiss, “treated as an arcane academic debate. But we’re talking about mass murder!”

The communism page even adds that we cannot ignore the “lives saved by communist modernization”! This is nuts.

Look up “concentration and internment camps” and you’ll find, along with the Holocaust, “Mexico-United States border,” and under that, “Trump administration family separation policy.”

What? Former President Donald Trump’s border controls, no matter how harsh, are very different from the Nazi’s mass murder.

Wikipedia does say “anyone can edit.” So, I made a small addition for political balance, mentioning that President Barack Obama built those cages.

My edit was taken down.

I wrote Wikipedia founder Wales to say that if his creation now uses only progressive sources, I would no longer donate.

He replied, “I totally respect the decision not to give us more money. I’m such a fan and have great respect for you and your work.” But then he said it is “just 100% false … that ‘only globalist, progressive mainstream sources’ are permitted.”

He gave examples of left-wing media that Wikipedia rejects, like Raw Story and Occupy Democrats.

I’m glad he rejects them. Those sites are childishly far left.

I then wrote again to ask why “there’s not a single right-leaning media outlet Wiki labels ‘reliable’ about politics, [but] Vox, Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, CNN, MSNBC” get approval.

Wales then stopped responding to my emails.

Unless Wikipedia’s bias is fixed, I’ll be skeptical reading anything on the site.

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Public Health England to blame for sending patients to care homes without Covid tests

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Speaking on condition of anonymity, Whitehall officials alleged that Prof Duncan Selbie, the former PHE chief executive, was ultimately responsible for informing Mr Hancock of the risks.

Prof Selbie is working as a senior adviser to the DHSC. Neither he nor the department responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Mr Hancock, who was replaced by Sajid Javid last year, claimed the High Court ruling had exonerated him and the had been cleared “of any wrongdoing” because PHE “failed to tell ministers what they knew about asymptomatic transmission”.

The High Court judges concluded that care home policies in March and April 2020 were “irrational” because they failed to advise that those discharged from hospitals “should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for up to 14 days”.

“Since there is no evidence that this question was considered by the secretary of state, or that he was asked to consider it, it is not an example of a political judgment on a finely balanced issue,” they said. “Nor is it a point on which any of the expert committees had advised that no guidance was required.”

After the ruling, Boris Johnson said he wanted to “renew my apologies and sympathies” to relatives who lost loved ones, adding: “The thing we didn’t know in particular was that Covid could be transmitted asymptomatically in the way that it was.”

However, the risks of asymptomatic transmission had been highlighted by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser for England, who said it was “quite likely” as early as March 13 2020. Varying levels of risk had been outlined in papers from late January, the ruling said.

The judicial review was brought by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers, Michael Gibson and Donald Harris, died after testing positive for Covid.

‘Opens the floodgates for potential claims’

Paul Conrathe, a solicitor at Sinclairslaw who was instructed by both women, said: “It’s possible that care home providers and relatives who lost loved ones in the first wave could bring compensation claims. The Government was found to have acted ‘irrationally’ – that’s a very high legal hurdle.”

Nadra Ahmed, who chairs the National Care Association, said the ruling “opens the floodgates for potential claims to be brought against government policy”.

“This will be especially pertinent where the individual was not given a choice,” she said. “There will be a lot of people assimilating to the information as they consider if the loss of their loved one was premature, and holding the Government to account is the only way forward for them.”

Helen Wildbore, the director of the Relatives and Residents Association, said that the ruling proved “the protective ring around care homes was non-existent” and that older people were “abandoned at the outset of the pandemic”.

A government spokesman said it had been a “very difficult decision” to discharge hospital patients into care homes, taken when evidence on asymptomatic transmission was “extremely uncertain”.

The spokesman added: “We acknowledge the judge’s comments on assessing the risks of asymptomatic transmission and our guidance on isolation, and will respond in more detail in due course.”


‘He was in a home and should have been safe’

They stood outside the Royal Courts of Justice, two women unknown to each other before the Covid pandemic but brought together by tragedy, writes Tom Ough.

Cathy Gardner spoke first, delivering a steely reading of a statement. Matt Hancock’s boast of a “protective ring” encircling care homes, Dr Gardner said, was “a despicable lie of which he ought to be ashamed and for which he ought to apologise”.

Fay Harris, more downcast in demeanour but no less forthright, told journalists: “I have lost precious years with my wonderful Dad.”

Both women lost their fathers in early 2020, arguing that they might still be alive were it not for hospital patients having been discharged into care homes without having been tested for Covid.

Michael Gibson, born in 1931, had been a superintendent registrar of births and deaths. “He was in a home and should have been safe,” Dr Gardner told The Independent after his death.

Mr Gibson, who had advanced dementia, had fallen ill a couple of weeks before the first lockdown. Staff at his care home were unable to procure tests for Covid, but the virus is believed to have struck him down.

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