Permalink US Troops Are Combat Ready on Russian Border – Lithuanian Commander

American forces are now ready to “fight immediately,” the NATO member’s top general says | The US forces stationed in Lithuania have switched their stance from deterrence of Russia to combat readiness, Lithuanian Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupsys has said. The country shares a border with Russia's Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea, as well as with Belarus and Latvia.  The chief of defense said on Wednesday that he had been assured by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley that American troops would have “a persistent presence in Lithuania.”  Battalion-sized US units with around 500 troops, Abrams tanks and Bradley armored vehicles have been stationed on a rotation basis in the eastern Lithuanian city of Pabrade since 2019. NATO also maintains a German-led multinational unit in the country.

Permalink Italy to seize Russian oil refinery – media

Rome has imposed state supervision on a Lukoil-owned processing plant ahead of an EU embargo, according to AFP news agency | The Italian government has placed a refinery in Sicily owned by Russia’s largest private oil company Lukoil under state trusteeship, days ahead of an EU embargo on Russian crude oil imports, AFP reported on Thursday, citing government sources.  The ISAB facility near Syracuse is one of the biggest in Europe and refines a fifth of Italy’s crude. The plant has relied solely on Russian Urals oil and now risks stopping production and being closed once the ban comes into force on December 5.  The Italian government is working on a “temporary solution” to keep the refinery operational in order to save jobs and secure energy supplies, and does not rule out nationalization, La Republica reported, citing the president of the Sicily region, Renato Schifani.

Permalink Kiev to crack down on Russian Orthodox Church

Ukraine’s domestic security agency has launched a series of raids at several religious sites | Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has announced new measures seeking to ban religious institutions deemed to have "links with Russia." He said the move is intended to safeguard the nation’s “spiritual independence” amid Kiev’s conflict with Moscow.  The statement comes as the SBU, Ukraine’s domestic security agency, launched what it called a “counter intelligence” action at several Ukrainian Orthodox Church sites in three regions. The raids targeted at least eight religious sites on Friday, aiming to identify individuals suspected of undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty.  Writing on Telegram, Zelensky said on Thursday that the National Security and Defense Council had held a meeting, which focused on “numerous facts of ties of certain religious circles in Ukraine with the aggressor state.” The Council has instructed Ukraine’s government to introduce a law to make it impossible for “religious organizations affiliated with centers of influence” in Russia to operate in the country, Zelensky said.

BREAKING: Zelensky Announces he is Banning the Orthodox Church in Ukraine
In three regions at once, the Ukrainian Gestapo SBU conducts searches of Orthodox churches
Attack on Russian Orthodox Churches in Ukraine
Ukrainian "Security Forces" Storm Historic Orthodox Church in ‘Counterintelligence’ Raid
EU proposes sanctions on head of Russian Orthodox Church
A globalist war against Christianity: EU Demands Sanctions Against Leader of Russian Orthodox Church
The West is Intentionally Seeking to Destroy the Orthodox Church, Says Russian Foreign Minister

Permalink US wants to redeploy weapons from Middle East to Ukraine – Raytheon

NASAMS batteries could be taken from the Middle East, the American arms manufacturer says | The US is working to move some National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) batteries from Middle Eastern countries to Ukraine, Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes has said. The Virginia-based arms manufacturer developed the weapons in collaboration with Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. 💬 “There are NASAMS deployed across the Middle East, and some of our NATO allies and we [the US] are actually working with a couple of Middle Eastern countries that currently employ NASAMS and trying to direct those back up to Ukraine,” Hayes told Politico magazine on Thursday, adding that redeploying existing weapons would be faster than manufacturing new ones. “Just because it takes 24 months to build, it doesn’t mean it’s going to take 24 months to get [to the] country,” he said. He added that the goal is to send NASAMS to Ukraine in the next three to six months, with the US backfilling for the weapon in the Middle East over the next two years.

Israel and US hold drills targeted at Iran (RT.com)

Permalink EU Commission Under Fire After Tweeting (Then Deleting) Massive Ukrainian Military Losses

The deletion and re-uploading of a speech by the European Commission president spawned a serious Streisand Effect this week. And it looks like it’s only getting started. | As European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen comes under fire for announcing “100,000 Ukrainian military officers” have been killed so far amid NATO’s proxy war on Russia, Deputy Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant told reporters Thursday that there’s “no need to apologize.” Under questioning during a press conference Thursday, Spinant refused to provide any explanation as to how the number of casualties was generated but insisted “there are many figures regarding casualties out there in open sources,” claiming “such figures are given by many military experts.”  On Wednesday, von der Leyen was widely criticized after publishing – then quickly removing – a video from social media in which she revealed the alarming level of Ukrainian casualties, before publishing a hastily-edited version of the same video from which Kiev’s losses had been cropped.

EU refuses to apologize for deleted post about Ukrainian casualties
EC confirms removal of information about Ukrainian army death toll
Von der Leyen’s statement on Kiev’s losses is neither an oversight nor a slip of the tongue – but a signal

Permalink Fifty Russian soldiers return from Ukrainian captivity in prisoner swap

The previous prisoner swap with the Ukrainian side was held on November 26 when nine Russian soldiers were returned from Kiev-held territory | Fifty Russian soldiers facing mortal danger in captivity have returned from Kiev-controlled areas as a result of negotiations, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Thursday. 💬 "On December 1 this year, 50 Russian servicemen who faced mortal danger in captivity have been brought back from the territory controlled by the Kiev regime as a result of the negotiating process," the ministry said in a statement.  Military transport planes from the Russian Aerospace Forces will deliver all the released servicemen to Moscow for medical treatment and recovery at the Defense Ministry’s medical institutions. All the released servicemen are receiving required medical and psychological assistance, the ministry assured.

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