Ukraine braced for anniversary offensive as Putin’s folly nears second year

Image of the week: Anniversary manoeuvre

Appearing like a demented Thomas the Tank Engine, this satirical float of Vladimir Putin huffing at an umbrella-wielding Ursula von der Leyen will feature in next Monday’s Rose Parade in Mainz, Germany. It’s a benign cuddly toy compared with the real thing, still waging war in Ukraine almost one year on from his illegal invasion of the country, still “sowing death and destruction”, as the EU president put it this week.

Proposing further, more stringent export bans as well as fresh crackdowns on oligarchs and propagandists, von der Leyen did not specify in her statement why the EU’s 10th package of sanctions against Russia would deal the fatal blow to its war machine when the previous nine did not.

Still, despite a warning from Ukraine’s defence minister that an “anniversary” offensive is in the works, with Russia expected to “try something around February 24th”, Putin’s ultimate defeat seems a lot more likely than it did when his brutal folly began.

“The sower of the wind, as they say, will reap the storm,” the Russian president said in October. Here’s hoping.

In numbers: Chocolate violation


Workers who fell into a waist-deep vat of chocolate in a Mars Wrigley factory in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, in June 2022 and were unable to get out themselves. The batching tank in question is used to mix ingredients for US chocolate brand Dove, known in Ireland and elsewhere as Galaxy.


Some two dozen rescuers were involved in freeing the two workers, who were not seriously hurt, with a hole cut in the bottom of the tank in order to release them from their chocolate prison.


The sum that the Mars Wrigley factory has now been fined by a US occupational health authority. It said the workers, who had been contracted to clean the tank, had not been given proper safety training. The violation was described as “serious”.

Getting to know: Fanta Pineapple and Grapefruit

Fanta Pineapple and Grapefruit isn’t just any old extension of the Fanta brand. It’s the new Lilt.

In surprising news for people who have actually been inside a supermarket this century, the lesser-spotted Lilt brand had still been on sale – although, as the brand’s owner, Coca-Cola, said this week “keen Lilt fans may have spotted a gradual transition” in recent times as its packaging and logo morphed its way into “the Fanta family”.

So farewell, then, Lilt (1975-2023), and a big sugary hello to Fanta Pineapple and Grapefruit. Frankly, as long as they don’t touch Diet Coke, there’s no issue here.

The Fanta brand was created in Nazi Germany by Coca-Cola Deutschland after a wartime trade embargo rendered the production of Coca-Cola syrup in Germany impossible. Modern “orange” Fanta, however, was first produced in Italy in 1955.

The list: Potential chief twits

Twitter owner and optimist Elon Musk says he will “probably” stand down as chief executive of the social platform later this year, on the basis that the company should be in a “stable position” by the end of 2023. So who might be tempted by the “chief twit” offer? (Place your bets on the dog.)

1. Sheryl Sandberg: The former chief operating officer of Facebook, and subsequently Meta post-rename, has the clout to restore Twitter’s faltering advertising business. And, corporate-wise, she doesn’t seem to be doing much these days. But that might be exactly how she likes it.

2. Kevin Systrom: The Instagram co-founder is another veteran of the Facebook empire that Twitter would be lucky to have, and his @Kevin handle is perfect. Alas, Systrom seems busy with a new company called Artifact, an AI-driven news aggregation app.

3. Sriram Krishnan: The former Twitter and Snap executive turned venture capital firm founder and crypto fan tweeted in November that he was “helping out Mr Musk temporarily”. If he’s wise, the operative word here is “temporarily”.

4. A foolish person: Musk previously indicated he would step away when he found someone “foolish enough” to serve as his chief executive. But where would one find a total idiot in Silicon Valley?

5. Floki: The odds on Floki, Musk’s dog, taking over have slashed after Musk posted a series of mocked-up images of his Shiba Inu posing in glasses on the chief executive’s chair. Every dog has their day.


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