April 3, 2022 Newsletter #19.0

Good morning everyone,

Hello everyone. Just wanted o start off by apologizing for the lack of consistent posting the past week and a half. I had been tied up with several personal matters outside of the page. Everything is looking clear for the foreseeable future so its time to go full force again.

So with that, let's dive in:



Ukrainian officials have declared that the entirety of Kyiv Oblast has been retaken from Russian forces, pushing the frontline away from the country’s capital. While it is still unconfirmed that the entirety of the Oblast is free of Russians, Ukrainian forces have been quickly pushing into cities and towns north of Kyiv that had been locked in constant fighting since the start of the invasion. The city of Irpin was recaptured early last week, but the past two days have seen Ukrainian forces move around Hostomel and Bucha. The airport, which saw a full scale airborne assault by Russian VDV during the first day of the invasion, has now been fully secured. The withdrawals are still het with skepticism, as Ukraine says they are just smoke screens to regroup, rearm, and reposition. It has become quite evident that the Kyiv frontline had failed due to weeks of stagnation, so forces will likely be re-routed to the eastern and southern fronts, which have been more successful, in what will be a likely be an increased focus on fully securing Donbas.


Table of Contents

  • Ukraine Invasion

    • Update on Russia-Ukraine Negotiations

    • Belgorod Has Become a Target of Apparent Ukrainian Strikes

    • Russians Leave Chernobyl

  • Conflict

    • Taliban and National Resistance Front Fighters Clash in Baghlan

  • Politics

    • Tensions Flare in Tunisia as President Dissolves Parliament

    • Russia and China Pledge a "Just, Democratic World Order"


Update on Russia-Ukraine Negotiations

Sunday, April 3, 2022: Negotiations in Istanbul have reached a point where President Zelensky and President Putin can sit down in person to make agreements.

The head of Ukraine's delegation David Arahamiya had this earlier today ago:

“The Russian Federation has given an official response to all positions, which is that they accept this position (Ukrainian - IF-U) except for the issue of Crimea. Kuleba (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine - IF-U) said that there is no official confirmation in writing , but orally as of yesterday in a video conference we heard that the Russian side does not object to such positions and we continue to move from a legal point of view more, "

According to him, "they (the Russian side) also confirmed our thesis that the draft documents are sufficiently developed to conduct direct consultations between the two leaders."

"Our task is to prepare the final stage not of the document itself, but of the issues we touched upon, and to prepare for the next meeting of the presidents," he said.



The city of Belgorod, which sits right on the border with Ukraine, has been a key location for the Russian invasion. The city started off as one of the main rally points for Russian ground forces, where armor, light vehicles, and troops arrived on trains before they eventually crossed over the border. Belgorod continues to be a logistical hub for Russian operations on the eastern front targeting the cities of Sumy and Kharkiv. Reserve forces, fuel, ammunition, and other supplies are stored in Belgorod, which essentially servers as the last supply chain node before things are sent via train or convoy into Ukraine.

On Tuesday, an ammunition depot exploded in the city. Russian media sources, such as Tass, were quick to call the incident an attack by Ukraine, suggesting a missile was to blame. Russian media later walked back on the statements, with Interfax suggesting an accidental fire was to blame, citing local officials. Ukraine denied any involvement in the incident, calling the explosion a result of Russian negligence. It has been speculated that the recent withdrawals of Russian forces from Ukraine have resulted in an increased amount of ammunition and explosives that need to be stored as ground forces regroup, which could have resulted in the accident.

Later this week, a large scale fire broke out at a fuel depot in the city. Initially, there was no indication that there was an attack, but soon footage began to emerge of what appears to be two MI-24 attack helicopters launching rockets at the fuel facility and then high tailing it back to the Ukraine border. Russian officials then accused Ukraine of being involved in the attack. After initially saying they could neither confirm nor deny involvement, Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov flat out denied involvement. He was quoted by Reuters as saying "For some reason they say that we did it, but according to our information this does not correspond to reality," adding that "Ukraine is currently conducting a defensive operation against Russian aggression on the territory of Ukraine, and this does not mean that Ukraine is responsible for every catastrophe on Russia's territory."


March 31, 2022: Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear energy enterprise Energoatom has reported today that Russian military forces have transferred control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant back to Ukrainian operators and have fully left the area.

There have also been increasing reports of radioactive contamination and illness amongst Russian forces due to a lack of situational awareness in the area they are in and a general lack of personal protective equipment suited for contaminated dust. On Monday, Reuters reported that Russian forces were seen traversing the highly radioactive “Red Forest” when they took over the plant on Febuary 24 without any radiation protection equipment, citing plant workers who called the move “suicidal.” Valery Seida, acting general director of the Chernobyl plant, told Reuters that Russian forces were unaware of dangers posed by the area or just straight up disregarded warnings and that none used protective equipment while at the plant. As I had reported on previously, the increase in troop and vehicle movements around the exclusion zone kicked up a significant amount of contaminated dust, resulting in a spike in radiation levels for the area to about 50-100 microsieverts per hour. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that the spike did not pose any danger to the general public in surrounding areas and levels have since returned to normal.

But what about the Russian soldiers? I have started to see reports (like herehere, and here) that claim that highly irradiated Russian soldiers experiencing acute radiation syndrome have started arriving in hospitals in Belarus. As I stated, radiation levels recorded around the plant were at 50-100 microsieverts per hour, which is some 10 to 20 times the normal rate. The IAEA considers a yearly exposure of 1 millisievert (1,000 microsieverts) to be safe, so at this rate a person within the radiation spike would experience a year's worth of radiation in 10 to 20 hours without any protective equipment. Acute radiation syndrome typically occurs at exposures around 0.7 gray, which is 700,000 microsieverts. This means a person would have to be exposed for 7,000 to 14,000 hours at 50-100 microsieverts per hour, meaning this claim is most likely false. Nonetheless, Russian troops were exposed to radiation to some degree.

The origin of the acute radiation syndrome claim started on several Telegram channels without much evidence and was further promoted citing a Facebook post by a Chernobyl tour guide, who said “Have you [Russians] dug trenches in the Red Forest, bitches? Now live the rest of your life short.” While Russian soldiers who were in and around Chernobyl have been sent to hospitals in Belarus, it is most likely not for radiation sickness, but rather check ups and decontamination. Looking at the numbers, which have been echoed by several nuclear experts, these Russian soldiers almost certainly do not have acute radiation sickness. We cannot ignore the fact that these soldiers had radiation exposures that would be considered unsafe. Likewise, if the plant workers' claims that they had no protective equipment is true, then they also likely inhaled irradiated particles. Those two together increase the risk of health complications down the road in life, but not enough to cause ARS as claimed.




March 29, 2020: About a dozen Taliban militants have reportedly been killed, with 17 more wounded, during clashes with National Resistance Front (NRF) fighters in the mountains of Baghlan Province, Afghanistan. NRF spokesman Sibghatullah Ahmadi, stated that T-ban “Red Unit” commandos attempted to attack NRF positions in a pre-dawn raid, but were repelled. Ahmadi added that Red Unit Commander Sayyid Shah was among the dead, but also confirmed that NRF Commander Abdul Matin was also killed in the clashes. The NRF was also said to have had at least two other fighters killed, with an unknown amount wounded.




March 30, 2022: Tensions have further escalated in Tunisia after President Kais Saied dissolved the country’s Parliament, which was done in retaliation after lawmakers voted in favor of passing a law that, on paper, would invalidate Saied’s rule over the country.

Last July, President Saied suspended the country’s parliament, dismissed Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi, lifted immunity of all lawmakers, and seized judicial and legislative powers following mass civil unrest across the country that were against economic turmoil and a plaguing political crisis. The protests largely targeted offices of the Enahada party, the largest in the Parliament that was a driving force during the Arab Spring back in 2011. Saied has maintained that his actions were needed to save the country, however, he faces widespread criticisms throughout Tunisian politics for the move. Enahada party co-founder and Parliamentary speaker Rached Ghannouchi called the move a “coup” and vowed a “peaceful struggle” to restore the government. The aftermath of the powergrab saw a crackdown on opposition leaders as elections were suspended.

On Wednesday, 123 Parliament members held an online session to vote on a measure that would negate Saied’s one-man rule over the country, which passed with 116 votes (109 minimum needed). The vote, however, is more symbolic than anything as it won’t change Saied’s ruling since there is nothing that will enforce the measure, but it showed defiance by the Parliament nonetheless. President Saied dismissed the vote as being illegal and called it an attempted “coup,” as well as dissolving the Parliament in retaliation. Meanwhile, Tunisia’s Ministry of Justice has launched investigations into the parliament members, accusing them of “conspiring against state security.”



March 30, 2022: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Wednesday in Tunxi, China, marking his first trip to the country since the start of the invasion of Ukraine. In a video posted by the Russian Foreign Ministry ahead of the meeting, Lavrov stated that “We, together with you [China], and with our sympathizers will move towards a multipolar, just, democratic world order." Wang was later quoted by Reuters saying "China is willing to work with Russia to take China-Russian ties to a higher level in a new era under the guidance of the consensus reached by the heads of state," adding that the two countries are “more determined to develop bilateral ties, and are more confident in promoting cooperation in various fields."

The comment comes as both Russia and China voice greater support for each other and the need to expand bilateral ties. Back on February 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Beijing, announcing a strategic partnership that has “no 'forbidden' areas of cooperation” while also jointly calling for an end to NATO expansion and opposition to the AUKUS alliance between Australia, Britain and the United States. Putin also voiced support for China and its stance on Taiwan and declared opposition to any independence movements from the Taiwanese government.

Lavrov was also in China for bilateral meetings over Afghanistan with other foreign ministers and representatives of Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the T-ban. The #UnitedStates’ special representative for Afghanistan, Tom West, is in China to attend a separate meeting about Afghanistan with Chinese, Russian, and Pakistani officials, called the “Extended Troika.”


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