Russians Defy Putin; Chinese Reportedly Poach American Nuclear Secrets

In Italy, all sides react strongly to comments by the European Commission president about the upcoming election.

AP/file
A billboard reads, ‘With Russia forever, September 27,’ prior to a Kremlin-engineered referendum at Luhansk, Ukraine. AP/file

In a week of momentous events from London to New York City to the newly liberated villages of northeastern Ukraine, arguably what lingers and stings the most are images from the streets of Moscow. 

Ordinary Russians who are repulsed by Vladimir Putin’s grinding war machine and who do not want to be shipped off as cannon fodder to Ukraine — and those who were unable to snap up last-minute plane tickets out of Russia to dodge a new “partial” draft — are protesting, and being arrested for doing so. The Moscow Times bravely published photos of the Kremlin’s ongoing crackdown on those saying nyet to Mr. Putin’s unsavory schemes. 

Those unable to avoid the Kremlin’s orders could conceivably find safe harbor, of a kind, in Ukraine. A top adviser to President Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, went on Twitter to implore “forcibly conscripted Russians who do not wish to die ignominiously in a foreign country” to “surrender when there is a first opportunity,” adding that Ukraine “guarantees your life and dignified treatment.” 

Citing the Geneva Convention, Mr. Podolyak said that Russian conscripts would not be extradited to Russia unless they so choose.

This drama is unfolding at the same time that the Kremlin plans to annex occupied Ukrainian regions via sham referendums, even though the Kyiv Independent reminds that Russia doesn’t have full control over any of the four regions concerned, “with only about 60 percent of Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts” occupied. The on-again, off-again process of attempted annexation has previously been stymied by successful Ukrainian counterattacks. Expect those to continue. 

The Kyiv Independent also reported that a Russian missile struck a telecommunications facility in Ukrainian-held Zaporizhzhia, which Governor Oleksandr Starukh called part of “Russia’s preparations.” According to Mr. Starukh, Russia “is trying to shut our mouth so [our] signals don’t reach” Russian-occupied territories. The AP reported that at Kherson, “which is almost fully controlled by Moscow, the balloting was expected to get underway on Friday morning.” 

The balloting takes place over the course of five days and for safety reasons, according to Russian-installed officials in the occupied regions cited by the AP, during the first four days election officials will be bringing ballots to people’s homes. Only on Tuesday will voters be able to go to so-called regular polls, the AP reports. If the entire process seems rigged, that is because there is no doubt that it is. 

China, unsurprisingly, also is up to no good. As the Sun reports, President Xi is moving to consolidate even greater control over the Chinese in the name of “comprehensive national security” as he gears up for a third term in office. Beijing is also doing what it can to chip away at America’s national security. NBC news cited a private intelligence report that says at least 154 Chinese scientists who worked on government-funded research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory were recruited to do “scientific work” in China. 

There was a systematic effort by the government of China to place Chinese scientists at Los Alamos lab, the report said. The New Mexico facility is, of course, where nuclear weapons were first developed, as part of the Manhattan Project in the early 1940s. NBC said the report claimed that “many of the scientists were later lured back to China to help make advances in such technologies as deep-earth-penetrating warheads, hypersonic missiles, quiet submarines and drones.”

Scientists were apparently “paid as much as $1 million through participation in Chinese government ‘talent programs,’ which are designed to recruit Chinese scientists to return to China,” and the report’s lead author said the talent transfer “poses a direct threat to U.S. national security.” A bipartisan Senate report from 2019 said that “American taxpayer funded research has contributed to China’s global rise over the last 20 years.” It was not immediately clear if President Biden or anyone in his administration had read that report. 

***

Italians will go to the polls — real ones, in this case — on Sunday to cast their votes for a new prime minister. Giorgia Meloni of the right-leaning Brothers of Italy party was leading in the polls by a large margin before the country’s traditional polling embargo kicked in two weeks ahead of election day. A victory would make her Italy’s first-ever female prime minister, which would be somewhat revolutionary for a country more renowned for macho male swagger and where there are still more leading ladies on opera stages than political ones.

Do not expect much enthusiasm for a Meloni win from European Union headquarters, even though the European Commission president, Ursula Von der Leyen, is a woman. La Repubblica reported that Ms. Von der Leyen, speaking at Princeton University, said in reference to Sunday’s election that “if the vote goes wrong in Italy, Brussels has the tools to intervene.” At Rome, those remarks touched off the equivalent of a kitchen fire. Matteo Salvini of the Northern League, one of Ms. Meloni’s coalition partners, said, “That sounds like a threat — disgusting words.”

Italians of all political stripes were taking vocal offense at Von der Leyen’s effrontery. Even Enrico Letta, a former prime minister and Ms. Meloni’s chief rival on the left, weighed in: “No blackmail from the EU,” Mr. Letta said. “The vote will be free.”


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