Well, of course today's horrendous missile attack on Ukraine, from a state currently presiding over the UN Security Council (sic), is the main headline. At the time of writing, Friday afternoon, 22 people are reported to have been killed in the attacks on several cities, including Uman and Dnipro and the sirens are sounding again in Kyiv.

The barbarism from Russia continues and its allies and opportunistic sycophants also persist with their myopia or self-serving bias. Such crimes, latter-day ‘Guernicas’ on a more routine and massive scale, cannot be forgiven or forgotten.

For those whose cries reiterate Moscow's narrative about the need for a cease-fire to be negotiated sitting round a table, the response remains the same: Russia stop your aggression, cease your criminal activity which shows your contempt for the norms of international law and civilized behavior. Withdraw your troops from Ukrainian territory, and face up to the consequences of the crimes committed by your autocratic, warmongering, regime.

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Without that, there can be no dialogue while killers are on the loose and their victims are forced to fight to protect their lives and the very existence of their loved ones and their country, as well as the security of the neighbors and supporters who share common values.

And at this very point, we see the Pope on a supposedly peacemaking mission to Hungary, whose Prime Minister has been an apologist for the Putin regime, Russia's expansionism and become a bone in the throat, not only of Ukraine, but of Europe generally.

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Kyiv’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, told CNN in an interview with renowned journalist Christiane Amanpour that “we cannot wait another 75 years to celebrate Ukraine’s accession.”

Pope Francis would be better advised to get his sense of morality and wrongdoing sorted out - his understanding of just what levels of contrition and penance are needed for atonement, before repeating his embarrassing statements equating the aggressor with the victim. One cannot cry for the victims and at the same time embrace and placate the torturers and executioners.

The visit to Hungary is ill-timed and sends the wrong signal.  In my view so is the invitation issued this week, by Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to the Pope to visit Ukraine. No thanks, we can do without the views of such a seemingly confused visitor, who ends up only muddying waters that are already bloodied by Russia’s barbarism.

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As for Hungary’s leader, Viktor Orban, there is no excuse for the obstinate, self-serving policies he espouses, that only trash the reputation of this, once proud, central European nation and associate it with the very imperial power that, in 1956, so brutally crushed the aspirations of his predecessors to be free and independent with its tanks.

As a Hungarian, Orban seems to have a limited historical memory in another sense. Has he forgotten that that the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-49, led by the great freedom fighter Lajos Kossuth, was also crushed by the Russians? Or is it, perhaps, that at heart he is simply a crude chauvinist and autocrat, modelling himself on Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial and imperialist designs, in the hope of reclaiming “Hungarian” territories in Ukraine and Romania and by standing against most of democratic Europe creating a misguided semblance of his country's significance?

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In other directions, there continue to be positive developments. The UN Secretary General spoke out firmly and unequivocally in the Security Council at the beginning of the week,  putting Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in his place. Russia has violated the UN Charter and unleashed an unforgivable cruel war against Ukraine, he stressed.

Most states represented there seem to have heard his message. Only China, currently threatening Taiwan, with its occupation of Tibet virtually forgotten, persisted in backing Russia’s war criminals.  While it is true that President Zelensky spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping by phone on Wednesday, a call that had huge political significance and embarrassed Moscow, the question remains: will anything tangible emerge from it?

In the US, the pro-Russian Tucker Carlson, host of the most popular television show on Foxnews, was fired on Monday - a big blow to his friends in the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, the arms so needed by Ukraine to enable it, not only to defend itself, but to launch a counter offensive, continue to arrive.  On Friday, April 28, the leaders of the Czech and Slovak states were in Kiev to display their solidarity and demonstrate the new unity that has been created within central and eastern Europe as a result of Russia's aggression along with the realization of the need to support Ukraine and, thereby, to safeguard the future freedom and values of the entire region.

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Others have also continued to express their support; Italy, through the organization of a conference focusing on Ukraine's reconstruction; and, for example, Spain, admonishing the Russian ambassador because of continuing Russian disinformation.

And within Ukraine there were also encouraging developments.  The offensive against corruption continues to gather momentum. The notorious city administration of Odesa has once again been targeted. This time, the Higher Anti-Corruption Court has actually placed restrictions on the rights of the mayor of Odesa, Gennadiy Trukanov, while investigations into alleged embezzlement continue.

Time to retract and clean the periscope in anticipation of new developments and Ukraine's anticipated counter-offensive. Our crew remains on the alert.

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