Russia orders troops into Ukraine
February 22, 2022 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Russia states that Luhansk and Donetsk are independent of Ukraine, and orders troops into those territories. Transcript of Putin's speech. War appears imminent. Ukraine is calling up reservists. The EU is imposing sanctions on Russia, including halting the Nordstream 2 natural-gas pipeline, with additional measures once Russian troops move past the contact line in eastern Ukraine. The US is imposing sanctions as well.

Deployment of Russian forces around Ukraine.

Michael Kofman suggests that Russia will occupy large parts of Ukraine for an extended time, using the occupation as leverage.

International Crisis Group on Ukraine.
What are the repercussions?

Ukraine would certainly suffer most grievously and immediately.

Russia, however, also faces big risks. Besides the fight against the smaller Ukrainian military and civilian resistance to a prolonged occupation, Russia will also suffer costs as a result of the economic and military measures Western states have indicated they will take in response to an escalation, which go far beyond past sanctions.

U.S. sanctions on Russian energy exports, if imposed in spite of the hefty cost Europe would have to bear, would hit hardest.

A protracted Ukraine crisis could also create risks for the Kremlin on the domestic front. In the near term, it has little to worry about. In a December poll, half of Russians blamed the U.S. and NATO for escalating tensions and 16 per cent blamed Ukraine. Only 4 per cent blamed Moscow. But if conflict is protracted, Russian forces take casualties and economic costs keep mounting, people could change their minds.

Meanwhile, EU and NATO member states would also take an economic hit. In an interconnected global economic system, any economic steps that will truly hurt Russia will also hurt the states that impose them.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, an escalation in Ukraine now will doubtless mean an uptick in tension elsewhere in Europe, making an already shaky security environment that much less stable. The military build-ups NATO is already beginning to implement will be answered by Russia.
The Economist, Vladimir Putin orders troops to two breakaway “republics” in Ukraine:
In his speech recognising the puppet statelets, Mr Putin called upon Ukraine to “stop fighting”. If it didn’t, he said, its leaders would bear “full responsibility” for what comes next. Most of what Mr Putin said was utter nonsense, but the implication that something terrible is soon to happen may not be.
posted by russilwvong (1047 comments total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Kenyan ambassador to the UN gave what I thought was a brilliant statement on Russia's invasion.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:00 PM on February 22 [84 favorites]


The humanitarian cost of Russia invading Ukraine is going to be staggering. I feel for the people of Ukraine and hope beyond hope that Russia can be stopped peacefully (but without appeasement).
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:08 PM on February 22 [14 favorites]


They got away with it 8 years ago when they annexed Crimea. The world didn't call their bluff then, so they're trying it once more. If things go according to their plan, they meet little resistance since people don't really want a full-on war, and relations and trade normalize in a year or two.
posted by explosion at 4:10 PM on February 22 [37 favorites]


Russia isn't invading Ukraine. They are invading Ukraine MORE than they already had.
posted by nestor_makhno at 4:21 PM on February 22 [71 favorites]


It's been interesting following all the double-talk. News agencies repeat the Russian claim that troops are moving away from the border - while others claim the exact opposite (which clearly was the case). Specific news articles pop up about shelling in the breakaway republics as an excuse to invade - even though it's been happening for years. Putin claiming he's "defending" regions that he invaded years ago and has installed puppet governments.
posted by meowzilla at 4:23 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


It's been interesting watching the American's right's response to the Biden Administration's moves in the past few days. Basically: Trump has admired Putin's "genius" and linked it (inevitably) to the "rigged election" of 2020; the Congressional GOP and "mainstream" FOXNews talking heads have criticized Biden for not slapping sanctions and export controls on Russia weeks or months ago (and for not immediately calling yesterday's announcements by the Kremlin an "invasion"). Pompeo and others trying to straddle the Trump right and the traditional GOP have argued Putin would never have dared do such a thing under Trump's strong leadership. Conversely, Candace Owens has blamed NATO and the West for "breaking a commitment" not to expand eastwards, and thinks Putin makes a good case. Mike Cernovich declared himself moved by what he saw as the bold, leaderly language of Putin's speech. And so on.
posted by senor biggles at 4:25 PM on February 22 [14 favorites]


I find it interesting that several conservative spokespersons in the US are taking Putin's side, specifically Candace Owens, who literally said "it's our fault" Putin's going.

Meanwhile, Trump is claiming credit for postponing the Ukraine situation, calls Putin "genius" and "savvy", predicts China will be invading Taiwan next.
posted by kschang at 4:28 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


>They are invading Ukraine MORE than they already had.

Putin's rather nasty rhetoric aside, ISTM they are formalizing the facts on the ground now?

The breakaway regions of the two oblasts are already gone AFAICT. If the (uniformed) Russian troops stop with that, it almost looks like a concession at this point (which would be the intent if they are presenting this more aggressive threat intentionally)
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 4:31 PM on February 22


It's my understanding that the Ukraine gave up it's cache of soviet nuclear weapons in exchange for solid reassurances that NATO would defend the Ukraine against Russian invasion. After the Crimean annexation in 2014 Russia was able to see that Europe was not going to defend the Ukraine.

The big thing that's changed since 2014 is the massive amount of disinfo around Russia's Crimean activities. If you want to keep on top of that subject I recommend the East Stratcom Disinfo Review (link goes to about page) an EU/NATO counter-propaganda unit set up in 2015.
posted by The River Ivel at 4:32 PM on February 22 [22 favorites]


Putin's rather nasty rhetoric aside, ISTM they are formalizing the facts on the ground now?

Unfortunately, it goes further than that. Russia also is making territorial claims beyond the bounds of the separatist republics they have just recognized.
posted by billjings at 4:34 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


So I mentioned on the other thread that I was listening to this panel debate on the situation today, and at some point, the journalist/moderator asked the experts about the claim that Putin would never have dared do such a thing under Trump's strong leadership. If it hadn't been such a serious situation it would have been funny to hear one of the experts twist themselves into knots in order to not say directly that it was a ridiculous proposition. Somehow, the journalist got the point, and that line of questioning ended there.
posted by mumimor at 4:37 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


I find it interesting that several conservative spokespersons in the US are taking Putin's side, specifically Candace Owens, who literally said "it's our fault" Putin's going.

I initially thought it was kind of shitty for the US and Europe to not provide a diplomatic offramp but when Putin made his speech it was plainly obvious that this was an Austria giving demands to Serbia situation.

The breakaway regions of the two oblasts are already gone AFAICT. If the (uniformed) Russian troops stop with that, it almost looks like a concession at this point (which would be the intent if they are presenting this more aggressive threat intentionally)

Keep in mind that only half of Luhansk and Donetsk are held by separatists. That's not stopping Putin though. They definitely want Mariupol and I wouldn't be surprised if he wants the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts to complete the land bridge to Crimea.

It's my understanding that the Ukraine gave up it's cache of soviet nuclear weapons in exchange for solid reassurances that NATO would defend the Ukraine against Russian invasion. After the Crimean annexation in 2014 Russia was able to see that Europe was not going to defend the Ukraine.

This. We need to honor the Budapest Memorandum or any other potential nuclear state will never give up nuclear weapons ever again.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:38 PM on February 22 [57 favorites]


It's kinda true that Putin might not be making this move with Trump in office, because he was already getting a bigger prize out of Trump wrecking NATO. Putin was content to sit back and watch. He might've kept doing that. Or he might've made this move knowing Trump would do nothing about it.

Lots of people don't like having that pointed out, btw.

Anyway my favorite disinfo/bullshit line I keep seeing on social media is how this is in response to "NATO expansion," as if this situation right here isn't exactly why we need NATO.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:39 PM on February 22 [32 favorites]


A friend with extensive experience in Russia wrote this a month ago and, he says, "filed it away...hoping it would be wrong."
posted by Conceptual Nomad at 4:41 PM on February 22 [18 favorites]


Reading through Putin’s speech, a lot of it was spent detailing why the Ukraine is not, and has never been a real country, and that everything the modern nation claims to be is only how Russia has allowed it to be. He denies the legitimacy of the government, or even the concept of non-Russian Ukrainians as a people.

And then, at the end, he announces that Russia is recognizing two brand new countries pulled out of chunks of Ukraine that he’s essentially carved out.

I mean, it’s very obvious that the intended lifespan of those “independent countries” is probably intended to be, at most, weeks or months until they are annexed, but it’s fascinating to see him denying the right of Ukraine to exist based on the idea that everything the Ukraine has, it owes to Russia, and in literally the next breath, announce that Russia is giving two new states the right to exist. It’s batshit insane, and also, according to its own concept of logic, ensuring Russia’s right to take back everything it gave.

Not excited to live in these times.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:44 PM on February 22 [50 favorites]


A friend with extensive experience in Russia wrote this a month ago and, he says "filed it away...hoping it would be wrong."

Oh god it reminds me that barring Russia from SWIFT will just galvanize the country behind Putin. Right now the war is Putin's war. If the West attacks regular Russians by economic means it'll become Russia's war.

If the West truly wants to hurt Putin financially they need to just straight up confiscate everything of his and his cronies that lies outside Russian borders. Dictators live by the distribution of treasure as keys to the kingdom. If there's no treasure, there's nothing for Putin to buy loyalty with.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:45 PM on February 22 [20 favorites]


If anything, this bullshit has made it much more natural to refer to Ukraine and not *the* Ukraine which just sounds silly now
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 4:46 PM on February 22 [29 favorites]


Style note: please leave out the definite article in front of Ukraine. To include it indicates that it is a colony
posted by scruss at 4:48 PM on February 22 [80 favorites]


We need to honor the Budapest Memorandum or any other potential nuclear state will never give up nuclear weapons ever again.

About that: South Koreans overwhelmingly want nuclear weapons to confront China and North Korea, poll finds (WaPo, 21 Feb '22). Funny, I can't imagine why they would have a sudden desire for nukes, while facing down a nuclear-armed state with only the flimsy security guarantees of the US and its other allies to stop them.

A friend with extensive experience in Russia wrote this a month ago

An interesting read, although it seems to hew rather closely to current Russian talking points. In particular, it seems to treat Russian (and/or Russians') desire for some sort of close relationship with Ukraine as both valid and non-negotiable.

It doesn't matter that Ukraine and Russia have a long history, or that it was formerly part of the Empire, or the USSR. That's all very nice, but the people who made those things manifest are dead. Their votes don't count. What matters is what people in Ukraine today want. And if the desire of the Ukrainian people is to move closer to Europe and the West, perhaps including joining NATO, it should be absolutely anathema for the US to negotiate away this possibility for them.

If Russia is troubled by all the former-Soviet states who seem to have a sudden and keen interest in joining NATO, perhaps they should find a mirror (I hear there are some nice ones in the Catherine Palace) and do a little introspection. They might discover there is something those post-Soviet states have in common... like being uncomfortably close to Russia, and not desiring to get any closer.

The US has an unfortunate history of ignoring other states desire for self-determination, and it has almost always been to our detriment when we have done so. But if we are not willing to stand up for the rights of other people to determine their own destiny on the global stage, than we are no better than Putin's Russia.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:57 PM on February 22 [53 favorites]


The weaknesses of Miller's analysis, Conceptual Nomad, include the fact that what Putin outlined (at angry length) in his speech of Monday was not based primarily around NATO's supposed malfeasance in daring to accept new members who wanted to join, but rather on his peculiar reading of history. In the world according to Putin, whatever was once "Russia's" is forever Russia's; Ukraine isn't a real country and therefore the people living there are wrong to believe that they should have their own borders; the USSR should never have split up, and so on. Very little of what Putin is arguing actually requires NATO to exist.
posted by senor biggles at 5:12 PM on February 22 [15 favorites]


posted by nestor_makhno

you do seem like you’d know
posted by atoxyl at 5:15 PM on February 22 [13 favorites]


They got away with it 8 years ago when they annexed Crimea. The world didn't call their bluff then

Ukraine is just one more victim. The world didn't do anything when Putin launched chemical and radiological (nuclear) weapons in the UK. We longer we do nothing about this modern-day Hitler, the worse it has and will continue to get.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:16 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Moscow’s ‘Fortress Russia’ strategy

How the country has built up its economy to protect itself from sanctions

posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:19 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


It doesn't matter that Ukraine and Russia have a long history, or that it was formerly part of the Empire, or the USSR. That's all very nice, but the people who made those things manifest are dead. Their votes don't count. What matters is what people in Ukraine today want. And if the desire of the Ukrainian people is to move closer to Europe and the West, perhaps including joining NATO, it should be absolutely anathema for the US to negotiate away this possibility for them.

Bingo.

Twitter thread, have copied some salient points below:

Greetings from a Finnish leftist! The international situation has apparently left many people in the English-speaking countries confused. I write this thread in the hopes of sharing a perspective I believe is widely if not unilaterally shared in Finland, most leftists included.

[...]

What we see happening in #Ukraine right now is, to put it bluntly, Russian (or more precisely, the Kremlin's) imperialism. If no other evidence convinces you, I beseech you to read a translation of Putin's speech yesterday.

This has very little if anything to do with NATO, and almost everything to do with Putin's desire to reinstate the Russian Empire. He has consistently maintained in public that it was a "mistake" to "allow" the former Soviet republics to become independent.

Now he said out loud that Lenin made an error in 1917 when he let the former Russian territories "go." One of the countries that gained independence from Russia in 1917, by the way, was Finland.

What Putin seems to fear the most, rightly so, is that democratic revolution reaches Moscow. Thus, democracy itself is a threat to him.

[...]

I could well write another thread this long about the various downsides of finlandization, but I spare you for now. Just consider this: yielding to the Kremlin means that parties and politicians who like the Kremlin gain in power.

Which politicians would those be?

Right now, the nationalistic-conservative far right is the favorite of the Kremlin. More European countries would end up like Hungary, dominated by the far right who proceed to sell off the country's assets, like public health services, to their cronies.

In Finland, our social democracy could effectively end. With it, the experiment to create a sustainable social democracy would suffer, and probably end as well. If the Nordic experiment then fails, what do the left has to offer to the world then?

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:21 PM on February 22 [86 favorites]


So apparently on this playthrough we're going to see what happens if we don't just let Hitler annex the Sudetenland.
posted by Slothrup at 5:42 PM on February 22 [10 favorites]


I wonder if anyone has tried suggesting to the russians that this could be a long and expensive war. Where do they get funds if it continues and funds start to dry up? China. I'd suggest that Jinping would love having the russian deeply in his debt, almost like having a new vassal state.
posted by sammyo at 5:52 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Style note: please leave out the definite article in front of Ukraine. To include it indicates that it is a colony

I hadn't ever thought of it like that. I'd always kind of liked the old-timey way of referring to things like that, but, on seeing this, and doing some thinking, I can see that quite a lot of the "the" places are called that way out of colonialism. Noted, and thanks for the gentle advice, I will be more careful in the future.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:21 PM on February 22 [39 favorites]


I wonder if anyone has tried suggesting to the russians that this could be a long and expensive war. Where do they get funds if it continues and funds start to dry up? China. I'd suggest that Jinping would love having the russian deeply in his debt, almost like having a new vassal state.

The number of soldiers mobilized means Russia thinks this will be a quick political capitulation with no extended occupation required. If Russia was planning an extended occupation we'd probably see three times as many soldiers, possibly even close to half a million. After Putin's finished walking into Donbas I reckon he's probably going to be demanding the land bridge to Crimea and changing Ukraine to a federation of autonomous republics which is most likely the ultimate goal of this little excursion. If he doesn't get it in Donbas he encircles Kharkiv. If he doesn't get it then he walks the Russian army to the Dnieper. If he still doesn't get it then the Russian army floods in from Belarus and puts Kyiv under siege. After that who knows how long Ukraine can last without assistance before capitulation.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:35 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


The number of soldiers mobilized means Russia thinks this will be a quick political capitulation with no extended occupation required. If Russia was planning an extended occupation we'd probably see three times as many soldiers, possibly even close to half a million.

a) Recall what Shinseki testitified about Iraq? And how that contrasted with Rumsfeld? In a way, a declaration of war is an optimistic declaration.
b) Does Putin even have half a million soldiers without calling in a national guard?
posted by pwnguin at 6:45 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


My fear about kicking Russia out of SWIFT is that they will turn their APT crews and gangs of ordinary hackers loose on it, Which Would Be Bad.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:53 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Recall what Shinseki testitified about Iraq? And how that contrasted with Rumsfeld?

*raises hand slowly* I don't recall, actually. What am I forgetting?
posted by wenestvedt at 6:57 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


The cost to Russia of a general invasion of Ukraine is why a lot of the heterodox foreign policy people I've read and listened to expressed a lot of skepticism towards the idea that Putin would order a general invasion. Recognizing Luhansk and Donetsk as independent countries and occupying them under the guise of peacekeeping achieves the goal of keeping Ukraine out of Nato without the risks and costs of a wholesale invasion and occupation. If Putin were to launch a full scale invasion of Ukraine, I don't see how Russia doesn't end up as basically a vassal state wholly dependent upon China given the international outrage and economic isolation that would result. It would amount to restarting the Cold War at a time when Russia doesn't have near the resources it did during the height of the Soviet Union. I would think the oligarchs and general Russian elite are too accustomed to the London nightlife and the luxury goods of the word to risk that.

I don't think the US wants that outcome either considering it also has security commitments in East Asia that it can barely manage. Quite bluntly, those security commitments are far more vital to US interests than what is happening in Ukraine considering the importance of Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea to the global economic system. Those considerations are probably why the US and Britain ruled out committing troops to defending Ukraine and are probably why western governments are calibrating their sanctions to the level of Russian aggression so as not to provoke Russia further and thereby force them to commit more resources than absolutely necessary.
posted by eagles123 at 7:12 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


I did a quick Google to remind myself- Shinseki testified that it would take several hundred thousand American troops to maintain order in Iraq post-invasion. This was significantly larger than the number of troops Rumsfeld said the US would need, and much larger than the invading force. Link.
posted by Braeburn at 7:13 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


My fear about kicking Russia out of SWIFT is that they will turn their APT crews and gangs of ordinary hackers loose on it, Which Would Be Bad.

This is already happening so what would the difference be?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:23 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]


This map is useful in illustrating just how big Ukraine is compared to the rest of Europe. Assuming NATO provides logistics, weapons systems, contractor, etc it will be a very difficult fight. It is also not inconceivable that Moldova and Georgia could decide to take advantage of Russia’s distraction to poke at their own separatist regions, especially if they are just going to be used by Russia for future re-conquests.
posted by interogative mood at 7:23 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


The first problem is that Putin does not know what he wants. The only "goal" is to turn the clock back to some mythical age when Russia was a mighty power, everybody loved Uncle Vlad, and people tied an onion to their belt as that was the style in those days. It's the same mix of fauxstalgia, greed and fear of "the other" that drives Trump supporters and similar movements around the world. *cough* Brexit.

The second problem is that war is essentially chaotic. No plan survives the first encounter. The consequences of that chaos in an age of nuclear powers are incalculable.

The third problem is that Russia long since recognised that using "Moscow gold" to fund useful idiots on the Left was pointless as they would never win power whereas the useful idiots on the Right just want money and will do whatever it takes to gain power to hold onto that money. Hence the utterly useless UK government "sanctions" announced this week. The weaker the civil responses the more pressure there will be to use military force.

The only rational responses for people like us is to support the people of Ukraine, push for tough sanctions, and to tell our children that we love them.
posted by fallingbadgers at 7:38 PM on February 22 [26 favorites]


Concerning Putins view on history, this interview with Roman Szporluk is Interesting.

"Dangerous. If Putin really wants to reunite Ukraine with Russia, he sends a signal to Russian citizens who are not ethnic Russians, and therefore people with Slavic roots ,that they are foreigners in Russia itself."
posted by clavdivs at 7:40 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]


Recall what Shinseki testified about Iraq? And how that contrasted with Rumsfeld?

*raises hand slowly* I don't recall, actually


Shinseki estimated it would take a lot more resources than the 'cakewalk' Rumsfeld was predicting.
posted by Rash at 7:53 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Right now if the Ukraine government can evacuate civilians from the portion of the front line within cannon/howitzer range of Russian positions in Donetsk, and then just let them keep on firing in full view of the cameras, and make Putin's narrative ridiculous.
posted by ocschwar at 7:53 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Pokey the Bear.
posted by clavdivs at 7:57 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this would likely end up being Russia’s Iraq. Ukrainian citizens don’t want Russian rule and while they can’t defeat Russia on the battlefield, they can still make life very miserable for Putin’s forces. US forces rolled to a quick military victory in Iraq, which the Russians would probably do in Ukraine. It was the occupation that extracted the heavy toll. How does Russia hold the territory? The only way is with lots and lots of troops, and that’s going to bog them down. The biggest losers are the people of Ukraine. They just want to be left alone and now they’re in the sights of a dictator. No matter how heavy a price they extract from the Russians, it will still be misery on a huge scale for the Ukrainians.
posted by azpenguin at 8:09 PM on February 22 [16 favorites]


germany bears a lot of fault. they were warned over and over for years not to rely on russian gas, but just handwaved it away. energy was cheap so why not? well, now the shit hits the fan and it turns out half their hydrocarbons come from a country that's about to start a land war in europe, and the richest country on the continent, in its own backyard, cant do or say shit because they are over a barrel on fuel. they send some helmets. and bar weapons from even shipping through their territory to ukraine.

maybe the germans couldve, i dont know, perhaps held off decommissioning all their nuclear plants for a while, until renewables could replace gas? who the shit thought it was wise to have to suck up to putin til he's 99 and anointing his horse as the next czar of eastern europe?
posted by wibari at 9:29 PM on February 22 [42 favorites]


This Adam Something video explains the situation quite well.
posted by Kosmob0t at 9:38 PM on February 22 [12 favorites]


I find it interesting that several conservative spokespersons in the US are taking Putin's side

Of all the fucking times for horseshoe theory. I am finding myself having to bite my lip a lot with leftists I know who are somehow all in on Russia invading Ukraine.
posted by corb at 9:46 PM on February 22 [18 favorites]


It isn’t just Germany. Look at US imports of Russian oil which are now about half of the amount we buy from OPEC producers. Look at the London’s finance industry getting tangled up with Russian oligarchs.
posted by interogative mood at 9:48 PM on February 22 [12 favorites]


Shineski was very right. And he was talking about a well-funded, well-run --at least in a logistical and operational way-- military made up of volunteers. One that could project almost unlimited force. And that military still ran into massive difficulties and a quagmire.

It's much worse for the Russians. Draftees in an army well known for its cruelty and hazing. Their logistics seem to be spotty at best. The stories coming out about the Russian Army encampments are not encouraging of any Russian success in the war to come.

Here's one such story about the Russians stationed in Belarus: a twitter thread with a condensed translation of an article from a Belorussian news outlet. I've seen some similar stories elsewhere. Heavy drinking by the troops. Allegations of food shipments being spotty. COVID running rampant in some units.

If this is true, or even half true, it's not going to go well for the Russians. I wonder if Putin realizes his army is in terrible shape and is just posturing. Or if he's so surrounded by yes-men that he has no idea.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 10:04 PM on February 22 [11 favorites]


I find it interesting that several conservative spokespersons in the US are taking Putin's side

Most of the US right-wing is bankrolled by Russia or Russia-controlled American kleptocrats, anyway.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:06 PM on February 22 [13 favorites]


To really get Janne's points made in the thread mandolin conspiracy links to and quotes from, you have to experience the quality of life in Finland, and the catastrophic transformation that his example scenario paints as a possibility. For the first time since Independence, the Finns are converting to seriously thinking about Nato. Everyone's rather aware of the irony.

The questions asked in CNN's interview with Niinisto sheds light on how little people are aware of Finland, a member of the EU and ranked in the top 3 to 5 countries in the world for just about any human development indicator + the famous happiness index. The interviewer asks "Mr president, like Ukraine, you're not part of Nato either"... and in my DMs, guys are like 'dudeh, unlike anyone else currently involved we've kicked russian ass' and will do so again. Finland is != rest of the Russia bordering European and EU countries. Anyway, pedantic points aside, war with Russia is not going to be the cakewalk that is the middle east or west africa.

I bring up those rankings because they help explain what society will be fighting for if the worst comes to pass.
posted by infini at 10:16 PM on February 22 [23 favorites]


and in my DMs, guys are like 'dudeh, unlike anyone else currently involved we've kicked russian ass' and will do so again.

Well, there was quite some territory lost in the East. Which is sort of like .... Ukraine.
posted by UN at 10:38 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


i think about this article a lot :P #DPJ!
Why Are Finland's Schools Successful?
Finland’s schools were not always a wonder. Until the late 1960s, Finns were still emerging from the cocoon of Soviet influence. Most children left public school after six years. (The rest went to private schools, academic grammar schools or folk schools, which tended to be less rigorous.) Only the privileged or lucky got a quality education.

The landscape changed when Finland began trying to remold its bloody, fractured past into a unified future. For hundreds of years, these fiercely independent people had been wedged between two rival powers—the Swedish monarchy to the west and the Russian czar to the east. Neither Scandinavian nor Baltic, Finns were proud of their Nordic roots and a unique language only they could love (or pronounce). In 1809, Finland was ceded to Russia by the Swedes, who had ruled its people some 600 years. The czar created the Grand Duchy of Finland, a quasi-state with constitutional ties to the empire. He moved the capital from Turku, near Stockholm, to Helsinki, closer to St. Petersburg. After the czar fell to the Bolsheviks in 1917, Finland declared its independence, pitching the country into civil war. Three more wars between 1939 and 1945—two with the Soviets, one with Germany—left the country scarred by bitter divisions and a punishing debt owed to the Russians. “Still we managed to keep our freedom,” said Pasi Sahlberg, a director general in the Ministry of Education and Culture.

In 1963, the Finnish Parliament made the bold decision to choose public education as its best shot at economic recovery. “I call this the Big Dream of Finnish education,” said Sahlberg, whose upcoming book, Finnish Lessons, is scheduled for release in October. “It was simply the idea that every child would have a very good public school. If we want to be competitive, we need to educate everybody. It all came out of a need to survive."
posted by kliuless at 10:40 PM on February 22 [30 favorites]


UN, that kind of analogy is what leads to inaccurate analysis and assessment of Fi vs the former parts of the USSR, however that inaccuracy will only benefit Putin.
posted by infini at 10:46 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


The interviewer asks "Mr president, like Ukraine, you're not part of Nato either

A week or two back, I heard a former PM of Finland interviewed by BBC World. The thing that stuck with me was how he regretted that they didn't join NATO at the end of the Cold War (something he apparently wanted at the time), but they have always closely aligned with NATO on operational and organizational levels. He said if Finland put in an application for membership it would probably be ratified within 48 hours.

I am just another rando on the internet, but it's pretty clear the prospects of Finland and Sweden joining NATO only go up with an invasion of Ukraine, not down. That's also something Putin doesn't want.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:14 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


tamarisk's link on the Ukrainian anarchists' perspectives is well worth reading.
The ideological foundation maintaining a pro-Russian position among the left was the legacy of the USSR and its victory in World War II. Since Russia clams that the government in Kyiv was seized by Nazis and the junta, the opponents of the Maidan described themselves as fighters against fascism and the Kyiv junta. This branding induced sympathy among the authoritarian left—for example, in Ukraine, including the “Borotba” organization. During the most significant events of 2014, they first took a loyalist position and then later a pro-Russian position. In Odessa, on May 2, 2014, several of their activists were killed during street riots. Some people from this group also participated in the fighting in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and some of them died there.

“Borotba” described their motivation as wishing to fight against fascism. They urged the European left to stand in solidarity with the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic.” After the e-mail of Vladislav Surkov (Putin’s political strategist) was hacked, it was revealed that members of Borotba had received funding and were supervised by Surkov’s people.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:36 PM on February 22 [6 favorites]


re:[1,2] horseshoe theory, "A lot of these are accounts I'd suspect of being written by Russia..."
posted by kliuless at 11:56 PM on February 22 [6 favorites]




Living in a country bordering Russia, in my case Finland, is not very fun right now. It's considerably less fun in Ukraine, of course.

The recent speech by Putin freaked people out in Finland, and there was a lot of parsing what he said in regards to countries that were part of the former Russian Empire. The consensus, as far as I can make out, is that he's mainly talking about the former Soviet Republics, in which case he isn't saying that Russia reserves the right to invade Finland, just a bunch of other countries.

All that said, his justifications are bullshit. It's rhetoric without logic, just a bunch of words strung together, so trying to tease out any fine distinctions is like pulling bits of carrot out of a bucketful of vomit.

It's been difficult to find solid information. The English-language media is largely terrible, with a few exceptions, mostly journalists who worked in Kyiv at some point (Josh Kovensky of Talking Points Memo, for instance), and therefore have some training in sorting through propaganda, have contacts in Ukraine, and a more than basic familiarity with the country and its history.

On a rational level, I know that I won't be rushing to the airport anytime soon to get my wife and kids on the next plane to Iceland, but the fact that I've already worked out the logistics for that says something about my state of mind.

If Anglophone MeFites living very far away from Russia and Ukraine, and with no links to the region, could please refrain from treating this terrifying situation as spitball fodder, that would at least help keep my anxiety levels down, and of other MeFites living in this geopolitical neighborhood.
posted by Kattullus at 1:28 AM on February 23 [112 favorites]


Mod note: A few deleted to avoid a rather weird Finland derail. If you are speaking off the top of your head (and actually referring to your own remark as a "silly comment") without any real investment or expertise, I'll just ask that, instead, you engage with the people who actually live in the country or countries under discussion and are sharing much more informed outlooks. It's okay to ask questions! Our members are generally extremely helpful with adding info and background, and we are lucky to have their input.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:29 AM on February 23 [24 favorites]


he third problem is that Russia long since recognised that using "Moscow gold" to fund useful idiots on the Left was pointless as they would never win power whereas the useful idiots on the Right just want money and will do whatever it takes to gain power to hold onto that money

While Russia's useful idiots on thr Right are more visible recently, they still have some leftists (Die Linke, the German ex-Communist party, for example, has pro-Kremlin leanings). To be fair, they get them cheaply; between the old nostalgics who believe that Lenin's Beautiful Dream must somehow still be alive in the Kremlin and those for whom it is an axiom that all evil comes from Washington, and thus that anyone who stands against it is a comrade, it's a no-brainer to throw a few roubles and some handlers who can brush up on Marxist-Leninist jargon at them and get some extra disruptive capacity essentially for free.
posted by acb at 1:47 AM on February 23 [10 favorites]


Please feel free to disregard if this will derail the conversation too much, but.. English-language news media being nearly completely useless for coverage of many parts of the world, I'm rather curious about how other former Soviet republics are reacting to this crisis.

I can probably make a pretty good guess regarding Belarus, but I have to imagine the Baltic states would be pretty upset by Putin's apparent desire for a CCCP reunion tour. I've got less idea how this plays in the Caucusus and in the Central Asian former republics. Do the -stans stan for Putin? Or do they want no part of this?
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:00 AM on February 23 [6 favorites]


I remember the last major round of sanctions against the EU (Putin banned food products from the EU, causing food prices in Russia to go up and producing a nice little earner for a few people in Krasnodarsky Krai). People were upset, and said (literally to me) "the EU won't beat us with these sanctions!". It didn't matter that the sanctions were imposed by Putin, they were perceived as an attack by the perfidious Europeans.

Thinking about this now, where we have a muted response from the west, because they need to maintain the ability to escalate should Putin choose to escalate, I think they underestimate the Russian government's capacity to accept poor outcomes on behalf of the population. Maybe it would be better to respond to salami tactics with immediate, full-on, sanctions, where the new deal isn't "we'll escalate if you do", but "we'll stop when you do". I'm not a diplomat, but I think the understanding that the west will hold back as long as there's something worse up Putin's sleeve is a part of the game that almost guarantees escalation.

Of course, the question of how best to sanction Russia's government without hurting normal Russian people is a terrible one, as they'll always find a way to pass the pain down.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:03 AM on February 23 [7 favorites]


Ex Soviet republics are divided pretty much into dictatorships where the old Soviet leaders clung to power (e.g. Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Belarus etc) where they're pretty much on the same wave length as Putin, and the ones who went for democracy and independence. Putin props up the former as baby brothers, and is at odds with the latter because they're presenting the wrong example to the Russian people by indicating that there's a better social model. This is especially bad for him when they're successful enough to matter in European economics (the Baltics, Poland which Russia invaded in the 18th century and then made a vassal state 1945 to 1989).

But his greatest ire is saved for the countries that went the old-leader route but then kicked said leaders out with a successful popular revolution: Ukraine and Georgia. Guess who gets invaded and all their separatist movements propped up. Compare this to Kazakhstan last month, where a popular protest movement was literally quashed by the Russian army "invited" by the heir of the old Soviet leader.

The pro-Putin countries are generally members of the looser organisations that have replaced the USSR - the Eurasian Economic Community and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The membership of the latter is probably the best roll-call, with Georgia and Ukraine withdrawing after their armed conflicts with Russia, though Moldova's still a member despite both having an EU association agreement and a Transdnistria issue that mirrors Georgia's Osetia and Abkhazia.

Mind you, all those countries are over the barrel in one way: Russia is the biggest local market and source of industry product. This goes back to Imperial Russia, when industry investment was centered in the core lands rather than the freshly conquered colonies. Wars with Ukraine and Georgia were particularly focussed on destroying manufacturing potential, to the point Georgia has to export its fruit and veg to other countries for processing despite having fantastic agricultural conditions, and the constant risk of Putin throwing another fit means much higher costs of capital to get more foreign investment. This has been changing with globalisation, but running into its own conflicts - for example the Central Asian countries might have gravitated more to China except the Xingjiang oppression targets their close cousins the Uyghurs. China is of course targetting a lot of them with soft power and infrastructure investment as part of Belt And Road, so I'm wondering if that doesn't factor into Putin's saber rattling - look, your old dad isn't that senile after all, better fall in line.

(Aside on the manufacturing/ trade background: Ukraine has been doing quite well lately as an outsourcing target because their population is quite highly educated, IT especially, as well as manufacturing moving there because of low labour costs. A friend's kitchen renovation has just run into the issue of her preferred kitchen tiles being unavailable because they're Ukrainian-made. Which circles back to Putin not wanting what he regards as a rebel runaway to have too much success because wrong example for his own populace.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:45 AM on February 23 [35 favorites]


Putin addressing his security council was so scarily on the nose - it was exactly like the scene in The Death Of Stalin:

"All those in favour... Carried u-"

(guy who hesitates puts up his hand so he won't get shot)

"nanimously"
posted by kersplunk at 2:50 AM on February 23 [13 favorites]


I think Russia attempting a full-scale war of conquest is not really logistically possible, but they'll probably try to continue to carve off chunks out of Ukraine and to get a pro-Russia government in place by whatever means necessary.

On a personal note, I have no friends born in Ukraine, but I have ones from Kuban, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and they're all scared right now (Kuban is in Russia but right beside Ukraine and has a very high proportion of -enko surnames).
posted by kersplunk at 3:20 AM on February 23 [6 favorites]


Aside on the manufacturing/ trade background: Ukraine has been doing quite well lately as an outsourcing target because their population is quite highly educated, IT especially

Belarus was also a pretty big IT outsourcing hub (when I was in London, I worked at companies that had QAs there), though from what I understand, Lukashenko's crackdown on protests after the last election pretty much killed that.
posted by acb at 3:22 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


I'd suggest that Jinping would love having the russian deeply in his debt, almost like having a new vassal state.

You may have heard of the Belt and Road initiative? What China wants is the ability to send goods by truck and train to Europe. Long-term disruption across those trade routes messes up their plans. Conflict, disorder, closed borders are not in China's interest, a new Iron Curtain definitely isn't.

I wouldn't expect China to make any sweeping pro-democracy statements, of course. If there's any pressure from China to Russia behind the scenes, my guess is that it's more like "whatever you do, Vlad, get it done quickly and get it over with".
posted by gimonca at 3:34 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


(The name Vladimir is never shortened to Vlad in Russian. The informal version is Volodja.)
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:49 AM on February 23 [34 favorites]


OTOH, isn't part of the Belt and Road Initiative developing with an alternative to the Trans-Siberian Railway that's entirely outside Russia, travelling through the 'stans, Iran and Turkey (and also has no break of gauge)?
posted by acb at 4:02 AM on February 23


I remember hearing something about how China was unhappy with the incursion into Ukraine and recognizing breakaways as nations because, well, Taiwan, but I don’t know if that’s a real position or not.

What I am very nervous about is Russia jumping into Ukraine, pulling the US in, and China, with the US distracted, invading Taiwan. There’s been a lot of saber rattling, a lot of shows of force, and, living in the region, I’m terrified of what would follow. Do we end up with America trying to fight two wars at once again, except this time against China and Russia instead of Iraq and Afghanistan? And if we do, can we really rely on any of the three countries to maintain restraint on the use of nuclear weapons? I guess that’s just another level of optimism that I should have known better than to hold onto, that all those duck and cover drills would remain something from a bygone era that we all look back on with a shrug and nervous laughter, unable to explain how stupid the world was. But, hey, here we are again.

I have had more than enough of living through a global pandemic, I’d prefer WWIII wait until after I'm dead and gone, if it’s not so much trouble.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:05 AM on February 23 [13 favorites]


What I am very nervous about is Russia jumping into Ukraine, pulling the US in, and China, with the US distracted, invading Taiwan. There’s been a lot of saber rattling, a lot of shows of force, and, living in the region, I’m terrified of what would follow. Do we end up with America trying to fight two wars at once again, except this time against China and Russia instead of Iraq and Afghanistan?

Here in Europe, like in many places, we've been beating each other senseless over bits of land for thousands of years. Realistically, the US is not really a player in this one. I'm just hoping the European Union shows more unity.
posted by kersplunk at 4:18 AM on February 23 [13 favorites]


I spent a little time in Kyrgyzstan in 2018. What I picked up:

At the time of independence, there were quite a few Russians in Kyrgyzstan. Most of them left--the remaining ethnic Russian population is fairly small today. However, Russian influence is everywhere, economic, cultural, and a bit of military as well. You could make rough comparisons to the position of the French in West Africa or the U.S. in the Philippines today.

The flight from Moscow to Bishkek was full of Kyrgyz people who had jobs in the main Russian economy and sent money home. There were posters and advertisements in Bishkek offering things like cruise ship jobs overseas, one notable one was right across the street from the Parliament building. There are still bits and pieces of Russian investment from the Soviet era, but there seemed to be as many abandoned sites as operating ones. Still, Russian "soft power" was everywhere, from actual pictures of Lenin to Gazprom-funded sports arenas.

The "Great Game" of the late 1800s was between Britain and Russia for influence in the middle of Asia. Today's "Great Game" has four players: Russia, Turkey (based on language and ethnicity, Erdogan would like to have friends to influence), the Saudis and Gulf States (basically religious-inspired solidarity, visible donations and investments, the boundary between government and private influence may be hazy), and China, right over the mountains.

You could tell the difference between Turkish-donated mosques in towns (sturdy and stand out) versus Saudi-donated ones (pre-fab, ubiquitous, and frankly kind of cheap-looking). You got the impression that the powers that be might prefer Turkish "friendship" which could be more nationalistic and point to a legendary horse-riding common past, rather than Saudi-style religious influence. Islamic extremism has been pushed to the margins, and the people in charge would like to keep it that way.

China has built some very nice, smooth new roads across the country. I'd hear jokes like "We're leaving the Chinese road, we're going on the Kyrgyz road now" if we left the highway to go on a bumpy side route.

World War II memorials are easy to find, large and small. Kyrgyz soldiers marched into Berlin in 1945, people remember it. That bit of Kyrgyz history is tied to Russia, whatever else happens.

Anyway, the Russians still call the shots, even if they're not on the ground there every day. Russian ties and "soft power" are pretty strong. China is still important, and well over 100 times larger in population, they have cash, but they don't have the historic ties Russia has.
posted by gimonca at 4:29 AM on February 23 [28 favorites]


The name Vladimir is never shortened to Vlad in Russian.

No, but I was joking around, it's common enough in English, and the speaker wouldn't be Russian in that imaginary scene, would they?

posted by gimonca at 4:32 AM on February 23 [10 favorites]


If you are speaking off the top of your head (and actually referring to your own remark as a "silly comment") without any real investment or expertise, I'll just ask that, instead, you engage with the people who actually live in the country or countries under discussion and are sharing much more informed outlooks

I'm in a country affected by these events with tanks lined up across the border and I think my comments are influenced by these events a way that may be unconstructive. Apologies to all, I'm out.
posted by UN at 4:47 AM on February 23 [11 favorites]


wibari The person responsible for Germany's reliance on Russian gas was Gerhard_Schröder.

From the WaPo link the the Wikipedia article: In 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin's friend Schroeder hastily signed the deal just as he was departing the office from which he had been voted out days earlier. Within weeks, he started to oversee the project implementation himself, leading the Nord Stream AG's shareholder committee.

So, corruption it is.
posted by techSupp0rt at 5:48 AM on February 23 [30 favorites]


My fear about kicking Russia out of SWIFT is that they will turn their APT crews and gangs of ordinary hackers loose on it, Which Would Be Bad.

This is already happening so what would the difference be?


Being a cynic, I’m in team Things Can Always Get Worse’: If Putin’s hackers hit the US electrical grids, I’d reckon that the only light we would have is the fire of country as it gets burned to the ground.
posted by I will not be Heiled at 6:16 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Coincidentally, on the latest episode of Risky Business infosec podcast, Dmitri Alperovitch says (starting around the 4:56 mark) that the Russians "would have very little to lose," and "could do a lot of damage to us" because essentially, they don't fight fair but we do (in terms of targeting utilities, hospitals, et al.).

And that would be Bad.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:28 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


The recent speech by Putin freaked people out in Finland, and there was a lot of parsing what he said in regards to countries that were part of the former Russian Empire. The consensus, as far as I can make out, is that he's mainly talking about the former Soviet Republics, in which case he isn't saying that Russia reserves the right to invade Finland, just a bunch of other countries.

fwiw @BrankoMilan: "Putin's speech is super important b/c it gives us (I think for the first time) a very good insight into his view of the world. The revisionism does not concern only 1990s, but goes back to 1917-22. Putin presents himself as anti-Lenin." (Putin's Century of Betrayal speech)
posted by kliuless at 6:41 AM on February 23 [5 favorites]


Trump should take a strong moral stand and refuse, refuse to pay Russia all the money he owes them.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:52 AM on February 23 [11 favorites]


That would be a useful sanction to apply, come to think of it. If Trump couldn't use common financial systems to pay off his Russian creditors, he'd have to break several laws to do so, or suffer the usual consequences of failing to repay the mob. Something good could potentially come out of this war.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:00 AM on February 23 [12 favorites]


I can probably make a pretty good guess regarding Belarus, but I have to imagine the Baltic states would be pretty upset by Putin's apparent desire for a CCCP reunion tour.

The Baltics are protected by both Article 5 and being part of the EU. Finland is an EU member. There's no question that if Putin were doing the same clownfuckery that he's doing in Ukraine that he would be committing an act of war against someone who can and will respond. Defending Ukraine? That's a difficult thing to do politically because you're asking your people to die for someone else and even though Putin is a kleptocratic fascist it still stinks of imperialism. Defending the EU, their home, even if it's not that specific part of it? Much easier to swallow.

This is why Putin probably sees it as imperative to handle Ukraine and soon. If he can get the country shifted to a federation of autonomous republics it means he has time to carve the country up piecemeal. Flood the next region with propaganda, arm separatists and covert Russian military units, come in as a "peacekeeper", annex the next oblast.

Getting the Baltics out of the EU and back under Russian control would be a multigenerational project of propaganda and political influence building. It's just not going to happen in Putin's lifetime and is there anyone he can really trust with that project? It's kind of a catch-22 for him because if there was someone as ambitious as Putin they'd have pushed him out the proverbial window by now. Ukraine is effectively now or never. The Baltics are already off the table.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:01 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing that the city labelled on 2030s maps as “Putingrad” will be Mariupol or Odessa then?
posted by acb at 7:10 AM on February 23


Vladimir Pozner: How the United States Created Vladimir Putin (2018)

If you want to understand what happened yesterday, watch this video from 2018.
posted by - at 7:14 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


The part that's really disturbing is also Putin's claim that any place that people of Russian ancestry live is, morally, Russia.

That's going to put Russian immigrants in places bordering Russia in danger. Not that Putin actually gives a shit about Russian people, but still.

Clearly the US waging war on a nuclear armed state is a bad idea. But equally clearly letting Ukraine be invaded and taken apart by Russia, after the US and NATO explicitly promised to protect its borders if it gave up its nuclear weapons, is intolerable.

"Sanctions", especially of the sort that will be annoying for a couple of years than just sort of go away, are insufficient.

I'm not advocating for a war. I'm not sure what I'm advocating for. But something more than this milquetoast sanctions crap.

Maybe a public statement that the US will give away, for free, any weapons that Ukraine asks for?
posted by sotonohito at 7:14 AM on February 23 [8 favorites]


I think they underestimate the Russian government's capacity to accept poor outcomes on behalf of the population. Maybe it would be better to respond to salami tactics with immediate, full-on, sanctions, where the new deal isn't "we'll escalate if you do", but "we'll stop when you do". I'm not a diplomat, but I think the understanding that the west will hold back as long as there's something worse up Putin's sleeve is a part of the game that almost guarantees escalation.

The State Department is generally well aware of the willingness of autocrats to accept a lot of other people's pain to reach their goal. Sanctions don't get you major concessions. They just don't. We've had decades of sanctions against regimes to no effect. Diplomats no this; it's heavily discussed. There's also the problem that we have a poor record of lifting sanctions.

So the point of sanctions is to change the cost/benefit calculation. Let's say Putin's done this math, and is staying in eastern Ukraine indefinitely. So we're going to keep what we've imposed indefinitely. If you imposed everything you could do, you have no credible threat; moving more aggressively against the rest of Ukraine becomes a "why not?" question in terms of the west's response.

If you don't want a global war, it's really frustrating that the rest of the world doesn't have any great responses that can really help Ukraine. We can isolate Russia. But there's no magic trick people are missing. As Dan Drezner said before the invasion, sometimes you make all the right moves and everyone still loses.
posted by mark k at 7:27 AM on February 23 [12 favorites]


On the history of sanctions, just out:

The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War by Nicholas Mulder.

And also some background on the breakup of the USSR:

Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union by Vladislav M. Zubok.
posted by mfoight at 7:51 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Thank you for this post. I've been getting the gist of the situation secondhand via Twitter, and that mostly just resulted in a lot of anxiety. These links with straight-forward information and context are immensely helpful.
posted by thoughtful_ravioli at 7:51 AM on February 23 [6 favorites]


I'm not advocating for a war. I'm not sure what I'm advocating for. But something more than this milquetoast sanctions crap.

That’s called diplomacy. The sanctions right now basically stop Putin’s state owned banks from settling transactions in USD and EUR which makes trade and acquisition of things by the Russian governments a lot harder. It also makes the hard currency reserves that Putin has been squirreling away for the past two years in preparation for this conflict next to useless.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:53 AM on February 23 [7 favorites]


i've been following steve lookner's agenda-free-tv open-source stream (on youtube though i understand he streams on all? the platforms) for days. and twitter. this thread will (already has) ground what had been somewhat excitable and occasionally short on context. glad you're here.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:59 AM on February 23


> I'm not advocating for a war. I'm not sure what I'm advocating for. But something more than this milquetoast sanctions crap.

making the rounds...
From my wife, who was born in Russia: "NATO should just offer European citizenship to any Russian soldier who wants to defect. Within an hour Russia will have no army."
posted by kliuless at 8:08 AM on February 23 [49 favorites]


Possibly quite true, though that would run into the same problems as offering pro-European Britons EU citizenship after Brexit: that there is no form of individual EU citizenship, only citizenship of EU member states (which have to be Treaty of Westphalia nation-states with territory and a permanently resident population, so making one named "European Britons" or "European Russians" and giving it a notional square centimetre of land somewhere would not fly).
posted by acb at 8:13 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


Poland just announced a volunteer-draft for all able bodied people who want to spend a year as salaried recruits and have an option to stay as professional soldiers afterwards, which would nicely solve the problem of what to do with said defecting Russians. Our military has a long tradition of cursing in Russian anyway and the equipment is barely better, they'd get along.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 8:24 AM on February 23 [22 favorites]


Within an hour Russia will have no army

Sure they will, it will just be evenly distributed across every square kilometer of the EU.

Общий приказ шестьдесят шесть!
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:41 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


I remember hearing something about how China was unhappy with the incursion into Ukraine and recognizing breakaways as nations because, well, Taiwan, but I don’t know if that’s a real position or not.

Presumably China recognizes Russia's stand in favor of breakaway independence as the hypocritical pretext it is. Ask a Chechen how supportive Russia is of breakaway self-governance as a fundamental principle.
posted by jackbishop at 9:05 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


The US is not a signatory to the Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law. Congress could issue a few Letters of Marque to go take custody of the superyachts of the Russian super-rich.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:30 AM on February 23 [29 favorites]


In all of my wildest imagination I never thought I'd see a day where not just one registered Republican was rooting for Russia, much less many and including a previously sitting President.

Reagan must be rolling over in his grave with enough rotational velocity to power the entire US electrical grid.

Say, has anyone felt any earthquakes in Ventura lately?

This timeline is so fucked up. This is insanity and nonsense.
posted by loquacious at 9:57 AM on February 23 [38 favorites]


I never thought I'd see a day

Only the Bolton types are xenophobic hawks. The Manifest Destiny fanboys only oppose annexation when communists do it.

That's why I continue to fear a future unbridled Republican administration invading Canada and Mexico.
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:03 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


I am finding myself having to bite my lip a lot with leftists I know who are somehow all in on Russia invading Ukraine.

At least the elements of the left who were (and, I guess, are) into Stalin have some supposed ideological commonality. The anti-anti-Putin left is just based on... vibes? Russia rolling tanks into Ukraine sort of has Budapest in 1956 vibes I guess, so let's cheer it on? I guess, as that anarchist article pointed out, you can be a leftist without actually having any ideological positions, but it's hard to wrap my head around.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:05 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


And on the flip side, at least the MAGA types have a lot of ideological commonality and fellow-feeling with Putin, and he's cultivated those associations: "Putin is actually a great guy and the ultimate anti-woke Christian nationalist, just like us; Russia and the US should team up and pull the decadent EU apart for scrap" is a coherent position, whereas anti-anti-Putin leftists are just cruising on anti-American (anti-anti-anti-American?) vibes.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:10 AM on February 23 [6 favorites]


For many of us living comfortable lives in the West, the crisis in Ukraine remains a strange war whose scale is difficult to comprehend. From the get-go, our leaders have made clear that not a single Western soldier will fight to defend Ukrainian independence. To a large extent, then, you could argue that Vladimir Putin has invaded territory we have already ceded. The obvious danger is that we make ourselves feel better by demanding that our governments fight to the very last dead Ukrainian, arming Kyiv just enough to prolong the conflict but never enough to materially affect its outcome.

Given the refusal to fight for Ukraine, or provide it with anything beyond “defensive” arms to bloody the nose of its opponent, the only significant weapon left is economic. You can take Ukraine, Western leaders say to Russia, but we will make you pay a price for it that you cannot afford. They are, however, entering an economic war with an adversary that has its own arsenal.

The test for the Western world is thus to prove that it has not become all of those things Putin has long believed it to be: shallow, effete, decadent, and lazy, no longer able to act with the kind of strength and purpose required to defeat a determined opponent.
How Much Will the West Sacrifice for Ukraine?
posted by y2karl at 10:18 AM on February 23 [5 favorites]


AFAICT, the US has two real cards to play, that it can use more or less unilaterally:

One is sanctions, particularly disconnecting Russia from SWIFT, which is sort of the "nuclear option" of sanctions. It's never been done on that scale, to my knowledge, and nobody is really sure how it would play out. I think there is some concern that it could lead the Russians and the Chinese (and the Iranians, and a bunch of others) into setting up a parallel financial settlement system, which would diminish US power. In other words, it may be a weapon the US can only use once. But maybe not!

Yes, the Russian response will probably be cyber attacks on the US. I don't think we should let this be a deterrent: first, because it's an asymmetric threat that effectively paralyzes the US at very low cost if we allow it to, and second, US cyber security absolutely fucking sucks and it is never going to get better without a credible, no-shit, enemy-at-the-gates threat. If we are going to have a large-scale cyber attack on the US, it'd be better to do it right now than at any point in the future. Every day we connect more crap up to the Internet, and forget / destroy more of the low-tech processes that we used to use. The best time to have a cyber war would have been 1999, back when everyone carried cash, cell phones were mostly expensive toys for the rich, and most industrial machinery was run by people pushing buttons or from computers with floppy disks. But the second-best time to have a cyber war would be right now, before everyone has forgotten what cash is and the Fed has stopped printing it, and American Airlines is flying all of its planes over sat-phone connections from Hyderabad to cut costs. Not to sound too much like Buck Turgidson here... but I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But we could survive an attack today. In 10 or 20 years, the costs only go up, and I absolutely do not believe for a second that we will put together a reasonable cyber defense until we get attacked, as a country, by another country.

Two is to offer weapons to Ukraine that would be useful in a protracted insurgency. We've just gotten finished fighting the other side of the COIN fight for almost 20 years, so we have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't against a modern army. It's probably a lot of stuff like Stinger MANPADS, Javelin anti-tank weapons, and probably anti-vehicle landmines (although Ukraine may have lots of those domestically, depending on what the Soviets left sitting around). What would be really nice are self-contained precision munitions and "smart" warheads for Ukrainian artillery (designed to seek out and destroy vehicles), but unfortunately I don't think the US has ever made any provision for using our ordnance out of Russian-standard guns (maybe something we should put the military-industrial brain trust on). Ukraine probably also would like to get EW tools, but my guess is the US will be more reluctant to hand those over, because of the substantial risk of them falling directly into the hands of the Russians.

The Europeans have a few other levers they can pull, more or less independently of the US. The biggest one is oil and gas imports. Germany still has time to reverse course on its (disastrous, IMO) decision to shut down its nuclear power plants in favor of imported Russian gas. This is more of a threat than just cancelling NordStream, because it potentially changes the energy balance for the next decade or two. The US can assist by offering price/capacity guarantees of LNG imports, although I don't know if tankered LNG can really credibly threaten Russian gas imports. (There's a pretty hard limit to how much gas you can move around in the short term via tankers, based on excess tanker capacity and liquefaction facilities.)

A European commitment—particularly by non-NATO European countries and France (which is sort of "NATO Light")—to refuse to participate in any Russian-backed alternative to SWIFT, should they develop one in response to US sanctions, would probably also be helpful.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:48 AM on February 23 [21 favorites]


Good background video from Johnny Harris.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:06 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Right now, the nationalistic-conservative far right is the favorite of the Kremlin. More European countries would end up like Hungary, dominated by the far right who proceed to sell off the country's assets, like public health services, to their cronies.


Hungary? The member of both NATO and the EU? Are we blaming their shift to the right on Putin as well?
posted by drstrangelove at 12:30 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


"Coincidentally, on the latest episode of Risky Business infosec podcast, Dmitri Alperovitch says (starting around the 4:56 mark) that the Russians "would have very little to lose," and "could do a lot of damage to us" because essentially, they don't fight fair but we do (in terms of targeting utilities, hospitals, et al.)

And that would be Bad.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:28 AM on February 23"


LOL - added some links for you.

Yeah, us good guys in the US and NATO would NEVER do anything like attack a hospital or a utility or a wedding party or a school. The leftist skepticism to this has less to do with an affinity for Putin (?!?!?) and a lot more to do with the fact that the US and NATO ARE ALSO FUCKING BAD GUYS. Libya has fucking SLAVE MARKETS after our no boots on the ground regime change operation, Turkey is hell bent on wiping the kurds off the face of the earth and protects/collaborates with ISIS in Syria. We fucking created al qaeda in the 80's. How is getting involved in Ukraine, a country with an army full of ACTUAL NAZIS, going to turn out positively? Has everybody forgotten the build up to the Iraq war, when ever fucking military/industrial/think tank pig was SCREAMING about how imminent a threat that Saddam was (another guy we CREATED)? Why would you trust these EXACT SAME FREAKS, doing the EXACT SAME THING 20 years later?! Why aren't they hyperventilating about the Saudi's genociding the Yemeni's...?

I can't wait for the aggrieved Azov Battalion to pull a 9/11 style move in 2035 after the US/NATO deep state builds it up just enough to fuck with Putin and then abandons it...
posted by youthenrage at 12:35 PM on February 23 [19 favorites]


"Coincidentally, on the latest episode of Risky Business infosec podcast, Dmitri Alperovitch says (starting around the 4:56 mark) that the Russians "would have very little to lose," and "could do a lot of damage to us" because essentially, they don't fight fair but we do (in terms of targeting utilities, hospitals, et al.)

And that would be Bad.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:28 AM on February 23"


I'll just leave this here too...

The transition to the market economy and democracy in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union countries in the 1990s caused a dramatic increase in mortality, shortened life expectancy, and led to depopulation. In Eastern European countries (including East Germany), in most cases life expectancy fell by 2-3 years at the beginning of the 1990s; the most pronounced decline was observed for men in their 40s and 50s. In Russia, the steep upsurge in mortality and the decline in life expectancy were the biggest ever recorded anywhere in peacetime and in the absence of physical catastrophes, such as wars, plague, or famine.

In Russia, the steep upsurge in mortality and the decline in life expectancy were the biggest ever recorded anywhere in peacetime and in the absence of physical catastrophes, such as wars, plague, or famine.

posted by youthenrage at 12:54 PM on February 23 [6 favorites]


How is getting involved in Ukraine, a country with an army full of ACTUAL NAZIS, going to turn out positively?

One in five applicants to white supremacist group tied to US military.

We don't have enough fingers nor thumbs to point at "who is the NAZIs in the room" any longer.
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 1:22 PM on February 23 [18 favorites]


The thing that's getting me down the most is how quickly Ukraine itself, and the people living there, get lost in the mix. Conversations inevitably turn to Russia, the US, and China, but their civilians' lives aren't on the line. Over 3,000 civilians have died since Russia blithely sauntered into Ukraine in 2014. Homes collapsed from shelling or were left pockmarked by large rounds. Yet the people who have the most at stake disappear behind the grandstanding of imperialists.

I have no solutions. I do not want the US to end up in another interminable and unwinnable land war. I also think it would be terrible for Ukraine to be abandoned by its ostensible allies as Russia shells and steamrolls it into a vassal state. I want people to be safe, but I have no idea what a solution for this looks like, or how it ends without suffering. I am having a hard time imagining the current crisis deescalating, let alone a future in which maybe, someday, Ukraine is left free of meddling and to its own devices.

Fuck all of the flaccid old men salivating over the return of Cold War-style great power politics, for whom this is a game, and who could care less about the destruction and death that their atrocious hobby entails.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:38 PM on February 23 [48 favorites]


Hungary? The member of both NATO and the EU? Are we blaming their shift to the right on Putin as well?

The quote you're responding to actually says that the orientation of Hungary's far right leadership makes for a more friendly relationship with Russia right now owing to a number of factors.

It's noting a correlation, not declaring causality.

And in relative terms it's a warm relationship:

Hungary has requested an increase in natural gas imports from Russia under a bilateral long-term contract, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on February 1 after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Orban said he requested an expansion of Hungary's 15-year gas contract with Russian energy company Gazprom to ensure larger-volume deliveries amid rising energy prices in Europe.

Orban spoke at a joint news conference with Putin, who signaled that he was ready increase gas supplies to Hungary from 4.5 billion to 5.5 billion cubic meters per year. Details were not provided, but Orban added that Hungary would be insulated from future energy price spikes in Europe under its long-term contract with Russia.

Hungary, a member of the European Union and NATO, signed the 15-year natural gas supply deal with Gazprom in September, under which the Russian state-run gas giant pledged to ship 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas to Hungary annually through lines that bypass Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have slammed the gas deal between Budapest and Russia, with the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv calling the move “a purely political, economically unreasonable decision taken in favor of the Kremlin while to the detriment of Ukraine’s national interests and Ukraine-Hungarian ties.”

Orban, who maintains friendly ties with Putin, told Hungarian public radio on January 28 that he will seek to strengthen cooperation with Russia in the food industry, tourism, and space research.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:58 PM on February 23 [6 favorites]


CNN: Biden moves ahead with sanctions on company behind Nord Stream pipeline
Sanctioning Nord Stream 2's parent company, Nord Stream 2 AG -- a registered Swiss firm whose parent company is the Russian gas giant Gazprom -- is effectively a death knell to the project, the [unnamed] official added.
[addition mine]
posted by glonous keming at 2:13 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


One is sanctions, particularly disconnecting Russia from SWIFT, which is sort of the "nuclear option" of sanctions.

My main worry about this tactic is that dingbats and knee-jerk Trumpoids and shameless sycophants and goldbugs are all very strongly for it.

Sometimes, before you set sail, you have to consider who else wants to ride the same boat.
posted by delfin at 2:31 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


"But like his bro, Matt Taibbi, Ames has gone around the bend entirely...The American left needs to think hard about"

What the fuck are you on about? Taibbi? Ames? The American Left? Is this the late 90s?

I'm a leftist academic and every leftist person I know, including yes the twitter left, is saying, wow this is bad, the US should not escalate, Russian invading Ukraine is imperialism, etc. Pointing out that expanding NATO played a role here is not bootlicking Putin. Jacobin is firmly against Putin. From their headline article on the subject right now: "The first thing to say about this is that it’s reckless and illegal."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:15 PM on February 23 [32 favorites]


after the US and NATO explicitly promised to protect its borders if it gave up its nuclear weapons

But, I mean, to Putin they were Russian nuclear weapons and so morally theirs to begin with.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 3:29 PM on February 23




For China to invade Taiwan, there would be a naval and marine buildup that will be spottable by satellite for months prior to them making a move. Very different situation. It's not Tom Clancy Day.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:45 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


UK Lib Dem MP Layla Moran uses Prlimentary privilege to name the 35 individuals who were identified by the Russian opposition leader, lawyer, and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny and his team as “key enablers” more than a year ago.
There is a problem, outside this Chamber, with naming those individuals, because many of them have very deep pockets and very expensive lawyers
posted by adamvasco at 3:52 PM on February 23 [10 favorites]


I wonder to what extent will NATO provide technical assistance to Ukraine especially in terms of bolstering their air defense and targeting vehicles. Was it an American drone or a Ukrainian drone that blew up the apc/tank, was it a Ukrainian pilot firing a missile from their plane to shoot down the enemy or an American drone. Russia could be in for a big surprise.
posted by interogative mood at 4:39 PM on February 23


to Putin they were Russian nuclear weapons and so morally theirs to begin with.

Ukraine was never gonna get to keep the nukes.

Ukraine never had the ability to launch those missiles or to use those warheads: "Ukraine did not have the technical infrastructure to maintain a nuclear arsenal. It would have had to spend billions to build that infrastructure."

The missiles are really just the most visible part of a nuclear deterrent. You need all the other infrastructure to support it too, which they didn't have.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:41 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]


Thank you, BungaDunga, for the additional info. It was a joke and I was aware of the historical context, but in world where sarcasm can be indistinguishable from fact, it's good to have that made explicit.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 4:47 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


Ukraine is where they built a lot of those warheads — suggesting that they didn’t have the expertise is not true. Furthermore the security are only a temporary lockout of days to weeks at the best case. Not having the codes when you have physical custody of the device is an annoyance; not a permanent block.
posted by interogative mood at 4:47 PM on February 23 [8 favorites]


But it's true NATO fucked up... it's not propaganda, it's facts.
posted by - at 5:15 PM on February 23


I dunno, Russia killed almost three hundred EU citizens on MH17 and basically nothing meaningful was done about it so I have a hard time believing that this time sanctions are actually gonna stick for more than a couple of weeks.

Give it a month, Russia will own the eastern part of Ukraine and everyone will have forgotten everything in favor of the latest celeb dustup and a “new” gas pipeline that is magically owned by someone that’s technically not Gazprom, honest it’s not, and just happens to be named Nord Stream 3. Germany declares this is totally a different pipeline, everyone is happy and moves on with their lives.

…except of course the Ukrainians, but since when have they mattered anyway?
posted by aramaic at 5:26 PM on February 23 [18 favorites]


I like Rofer's counterfactual in which NATO doesn't expand, leaving a hole that's filled by a Central European alliance backed by Swedish nukes.

Ukraine is where they built a lot of those warheads — suggesting that they didn’t have the expertise is not true. Furthermore the security are only a temporary lockout of days to weeks at the best case.

I'm no expert in this, but the article that Rofer linked is pretty convincing that they could not have kept the deterrent operational for long:
Many of the warheads would have reached the end of their service life within ten years, and the country had no ability to refurbish or modernise them. In particular, Ukraine did not have any source of tritium gas, which has a short half-life of approximately 12 years and thus must be replaced on a regular basis if warheads are to stay reliable. Because no member states of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) were likely to violate their treaty obligations by providing Ukraine with tritium, Kiev would then have been forced to rely on the nuclear black market for an essential part of its nuclear-weapons programme. Ukraine also did not have many other critical items required for an indigenous military nuclear programme, including a uranium-enrichment facility, a plutonium-reprocessing plant, a warhead-fabrication facility and nuclear-weapons design expertise.9 While the country could have eventually gained the technical expertise and materials needed to obtain these items, the price tag – both economic and diplomatic– would have been exorbitant, especially for a newly independent country. Ukraine also lacked a nuclear test site, so in the absence of Soviet test data and without the ability to conduct tests itself, it would not have been able to modernise its nuclear warheads. As Steven Pifer notes, ‘At enormous cost, Ukraine might have maintained a small number of weapons for a time, but their reliability and safety would have come under increasing doubt.’
And that's just the warheads.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:31 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


…except of course the Ukrainians, but since when have they mattered anyway?

I agree with your predictions. But I also want to point out, that a lot of people in eastern Ukraine are actually pro-Russian... because, well, they are Russian. Putin is not going to a Vietnam situation. He knows to have a lot of support (or non-opposition) on the ground.
posted by - at 5:33 PM on February 23


My understanding is that the pro-Russian sentiment in Eastern Ukraine has fallen dramatically since 2014. The initial occupation by Russia of Crimea and parts of Donbas and continued shelling and acts of aggression have been a real turn off for people living there.
posted by interogative mood at 5:40 PM on February 23 [10 favorites]


My understanding is instead that a lot of Russian from those regions already emigrated to Russia for a more peaceful life - joining the almost 3 million Ukrainians that live in Russia for economic or personal reasons.

One of my colleagues from Crimea told me the situation in Crimea got indeed bad after Russian occupation at the level of daily life (like, running water has been cut from the Ukrainian side, leaving people mostly dry for a long time) - and the general amount of corruption increased - but she also said that at the beginning a lot of people sympathized with Russia and didn't oppose any real resistance.
posted by - at 6:01 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Today at the U.N.
"Given the blatant genocide and the trampling on the most important human rights of all - the right to life - our country could not remain indifferent to the fate of the 4 million people of Donbass," Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the General Assembly, referring to eastern Ukraine"

Ukraine requests urgent meeting of UN Security Council
.

UN Security Council sets an emergency meeting on Ukraine.

"Our world is facing a moment of peril,” Guterres told the assembly.
posted by clavdivs at 6:24 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Apparently it's on :(

Reddit live collection of stuff: https://www.reddit.com/live/18hnzysb1elcs
posted by slater at 6:29 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Apparently it's on

Obviously this could change at any minute, but that link does not appear to indicate that "it" is "on", and neither does any major news source I can find, unless "it" is the Security Council and "on" is "viewable online". Some precision please?
posted by Not A Thing at 6:52 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


hence "apparently", vs. "absolutely definitely" 🙄
posted by slater at 6:54 PM on February 23


I have a genuine question about this, from the UN Secretary General.

"Offers direct appeal to President Putin - “If an operation is being prepared I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart. That is to stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died.”

What is the point of this, strategically or diplomatically?
posted by Mavri at 6:56 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]






Putin’s speech seems little doubt that he intends to conquer the whole country and install a puppet government. This is very bad.
posted by interogative mood at 7:00 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


Nolan Peterson, author, journalist, and war correspondent (and husband to a Ukrainian wife), tweets:
Something bad is in the air tonight. We're under a national emergency, airports are shutting down, military reserves have been called up. I lack the talent to express what it feels like to be in this European capital, home to millions...
and to feel a chill that has nothing to do with the cold as we brace for a distant madman's wrath. It's just unreal, and unbelievably tragic. I'm sitting here, waiting to hear the booms of the missiles and bombs.
I'm sitting here, waiting for the lights to go off and my links to the outside world to go dead. I'm sitting here, thinking about all my friends across this country, and on the front lines. I'm sitting here, wondering what a parent tells a child on a night like this.
I'm sitting here, wondering what our world is going to look like when the sun comes up a few hours from now. There's been a lot of false alarms, and I hope, hope beyond hope, that tonight is one too...
and we wake up tomorrow and laugh off our unnecessary anxieties and go on living like any other day.

Until the sun goes down, and the unthinkable looms possible once again.
posted by Kabanos at 7:07 PM on February 23 [34 favorites]


Ukraine interactive Livemap

(Tragically still operating since 2014)
posted by Kabanos at 7:16 PM on February 23


Explosions near Kharkiv and Kyiv. My Ukrainian social media is hyper active as folks try to enact plans. Scary as heck.
posted by larthegreat at 7:26 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


UN statements seem to be either non-specific calls for restraint or pro Ukraine. Has any nation announced it is in support of Russia?
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 7:26 PM on February 23


Has any nation announced it is in support of Russia?

Silence will be enough
posted by nubs at 7:28 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]


Syria I guess.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:29 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]




It looks like they are hitting everywhere. This is awful.
posted by y2karl at 7:41 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Never thought I’d link to Marco Rubio’s twitter , but he’s on the senate security council and providing live updates.
posted by larthegreat at 7:42 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Russian special forces are trying to take the airport in Kyiv to land planes of troops to seize the capital. This is basically a replay of how Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan 40 years ago.
posted by fatbird at 7:49 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


The only thing I can think of doing is praying.... how weak one feels at times like these.
posted by storybored at 7:51 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


im, middle finger held high.
posted by clavdivs at 7:52 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Kyslytsya is pissed. He basically said he wants the UN to come in and do their job to help defend the country now that shit is hitting the fan. As they should.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:54 PM on February 23 [7 favorites]


We let Putin run over the world. The consequences come home to roost.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:56 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]


Kyslytsya : "There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, Ambassador [Nebenzya]"
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:03 PM on February 23 [6 favorites]


Awful, awful, awful.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:06 PM on February 23


Erin Mclaughlin and Jason Bellini look very nervous.
posted by clavdivs at 8:07 PM on February 23


God watch over the people of Ukraine.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 8:18 PM on February 23 [10 favorites]


You can't "demilitarize" a country without occupying it
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:23 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


I don't know that we let Putin do anything. Words like that don't have a lot of meaning when a country has 10,000 nuclear warheads. When you can destroy the world you do what you want.
posted by Justinian at 8:30 PM on February 23 [6 favorites]


Why is Rubio live-tweeting the war? Is he so detached from reality that this is just a Saturday night football game, and not the deaths of civilians and military in a country that could have been a US/NATO ally?
posted by meowzilla at 8:31 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


As an American, I’m reminded of the Boy Who Called Wolf. We’ve pissed away our military, diplomatic, and moral leadership on such stupid endeavors internationally (always in the name of Freedom™️, mind you) and now that a real, honest-to-god democracy is under attack, all we have are weak-ass sanctions to offer.

Putin is doing this because he knows nobody of consequence will actually fight back. Sanctions hurt the citizens of Russia. Yes, they limit his access to the loot he has stashed offshore but he’s wealthy and insulated enough that he’ll always live at the top.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:32 PM on February 23 [18 favorites]


Vladimir Putin has made an enormous and egomaniacal mistake in invading Ukraine, and it will not end well for him.
posted by orange swan at 8:41 PM on February 23 [7 favorites]


Goddamn it. Prayers for Ukraine.
posted by eagles123 at 8:41 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Why is Rubio live-tweeting the war?

He's on the Senate Security Committee, so is privy to intelligence briefings, and him live tweeting this fits in with Biden's strategy of constantly broadcasting to the world that we know exactly what Putin is doing, even before he does it. I assumed he was co-operating with the administration in this, in part to show some unity and perhaps confuse the Russians about whether the Republicans are all-in for Putin or split.
posted by fatbird at 8:42 PM on February 23 [21 favorites]


Just a reminder that most of the early reports are inaccurate. As interesting as doom scrolling can be, it really won’t change the outcome and we won’t have reliable information for some time.
posted by interogative mood at 8:43 PM on February 23 [7 favorites]


There are live photos of bombs.
posted by sammyo at 8:47 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


and him live tweeting this fits in with Biden's strategy of constantly broadcasting to the world that we know exactly what Putin is doing, even before he does it. I assumed he was co-operating with the administration in this, in part to show some unity and perhaps confuse the Russians about whether the Republicans are all-in for Putin or split.

Ha ha ha hah hahahaha. You've gotta be kidding with this, right?

Rubio just wants to seem relevant. He's important right now, and he can't stop himself. Let's call it Devin Nunes syndrome.
posted by valkane at 8:49 PM on February 23 [8 favorites]


I'd heard that limited sanctions were being considered back when it seemed like Russia would "merely" attack the separatist regions, but surely that's not the case now that they're launching a full-scale invasion on the flimsiest pretext? I'm talking SWIFT ban, asset seizures from the London oligarchs, the whole nine yards.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:53 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


This claimed American strategy of "we know everything that's going to happen, we're just not going to do anything about it" just seems to bolster Putin's claims that the West is weak and incapable of action.
posted by meowzilla at 8:53 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]


I'm talking SWIFT ban, asset seizures from the London oligarchs, the whole nine yards.

Taking rich guys second or third vacation home, that'll scare Putin...
posted by sammyo at 8:58 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Rubio, indeed none of the republicans will "cooperate" because they are too stupid, too cowardly, and too paid off with Putin money. Even look at making the world a better place and they will slap you silly, when a democrat is in office.

Putin is doing this now because he can. He knows no one else is gonna kill off their folks to stop him. He's the only one who's willing to kill people, because he knows it will probably put the republicans back in power in the US. It's strongman 101. Trump is all "He's a genius, it's so savvy. ONLY I CAN STOP HIM."

When they start running film of dead people in the street, watch Tucker Carlson change his story.

I do wish they'd take the money from the oligarchs, that's the only way I see to put pressure on Putin. But he's so fucking rich and powerful, I'm really wondering if he cares when those folks start whining. This is his big play as world-power figure, and I guess Ukraine will just have to suffer through it. I'm sorry about all the death and bloodshed. I know he's not.
posted by valkane at 9:04 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


Next week Putin declares the peace keeping mission complete, announces that a new buffer zone is needed for the new Russian boarder and enters Poland. WWIII.
posted by sammyo at 9:06 PM on February 23 [5 favorites]


sammyo: "Taking rich guys second or third vacation home, that'll scare Putin..."

It's pretty well-established at this point that the luxury real estate is less a place for them to vacation and more a financial instrument to invest their fortunes abroad.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:09 PM on February 23 [11 favorites]




We’ve pissed away our military, diplomatic, and moral leadership on such stupid endeavors internationally

What diplomatic solution, what military leadership do you think successfully deters a nuclear power? Is there a scenario where "fighting back" end materially differently without US troops on the ground? Hours ago people here were trying to convince me that it would be a costly mistake for Putin to invade, so he won't. Even if NATO has enough tanks, planes and soldiers to win WW2 round two, that is not how that confrontation ends.

What is the point of this, strategically or diplomatically?

Right now Crimea, a useful port location in the Black Sea is Russian territory but with no overland routes to it within Russian borders, so you better have good submarine defenses. Taking the eastern half of Ukraine gives a land bridge to fix that. Taking the western half would put them right up on the NATO border, so they might prefer a the other half of Ukraine to remain ambigously independent. I guess we find out soon whether Putin agrees.
posted by pwnguin at 9:13 PM on February 23 [10 favorites]


Thank god Jacobin has swooped in to save the day (within the last hour) with some chiding for "Western governments who chose to make war inevitable by refusing to compromise".

Since Jacobin is a Leftist group I'm pretty sure they're not merely chiding but making the rationalistic argument something like the West is hypocritical and doesn't seem to recognize its own power and complicity leading to these events; the idea is probably "The real bully is the U.S. all along". It's not just chiding, it is a line of argument consistent with Left theorizing ranging from American scholarship such as Judith Butler to Noam Chomsky and beyond including prominent scholars in Europe and India. But if you weren't already familiar with any of these Left analyses then without that context indeed it would just look like extreme left being the extreme left as usual.
posted by polymodus at 9:13 PM on February 23 [6 favorites]


and enters Poland. WWIII

Naw, he won't do that. He'll wait until the midterms and see what happens. I know you folks are all like "Don't make this about the US, but it is about the US. We are the enemy. Right now, it seems like those poor folks dying in the Ukraine is his enemy, but it's a puppet move. He's already got like, what, 30% of Americans all hung-ho to be fascists? That's the plan, Dan. Democracy is the enemy. He's just trying to finish up that FSB (or KGB) mission he was given as a kid: Kill Democracy. Without using nukes.

Speaking of which, isn't this just terrorism against a democratic (maybe a little corrupt) state? Why can't we just send in a drone like they do in those middle-east states? I'm joking I know why.
posted by valkane at 9:15 PM on February 23 [10 favorites]


now that a real, honest-to-god democracy is under attack, all we have are weak-ass sanctions to offer.

Thank the lord for that.

To channel some smart people: "Don't get involved in optional wars" is to foreign policy what index funds are to investment. Big brainy types keep thinking they can make better decisions than some blind rule, but history keeps proving them wrong.
posted by mark k at 9:20 PM on February 23 [9 favorites]


But they do poison people and throw them out of windows. Until we get like that, we're always gonna lose. But I mean, with maybe sanctions, and jail time. I'm not saying we should put them in a lake and drive high-speed boats at them. Arresting them would be enough. But I guess it's hard to arrest a rich guy.
posted by valkane at 9:21 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]




I do wish they'd take the money from the oligarchs, that's the only way I see to put pressure on Putin.

Putin doesn't depend on the oligarchs; they depend on him. It's one reason they all have so much money parked abroad; it's partial protection.

I'm all in favor of freezing their assets but, like sanctions, I think we need to be realistic in what we expect out of that.
posted by mark k at 9:28 PM on February 23 [6 favorites]


Multiple sources report that Russian forces invading Ukraine from Belarus have been joined by Belarusian troops.
posted by theory at 9:38 PM on February 23


von der Leyen: We will hold the Kremlin accountable

In other words, “Stop! Before I am forced to ask you to stop again!”
posted by aramaic at 9:40 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Talked to a couple of people on the streets of Kramatorsk. Some are panicking. ATMs not giving money. Some are just going to work.

"We have to live," said one man.— Stefan Weichert (@StefanWeichert) February 24, 2022
posted by Not A Thing at 9:41 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Zelensky's speech to the people of Russia earlier today is heartbreaking. Apologies for the longer text but it's worth reading in full (cleaned-up translation from Reddit; he was speaking in his native Russian):
I have initiated a call today with the president of the Russian Federation. The result: silence. Although the silence should be in Donbass. That is why today, I want to come with an appeal to all citizens of Russia. Not as President. I am appealing to the people of Russia as a citizen of Ukraine.

We share more than 2,000 kilometres of border. Around it, today, is your army: almost 200,000 soldiers; thousands of military units. Your leadership has approved their movement towards us. Towards the territory of another country. This step can become the start of a big war on the European continent. The whole world is talking about what can happen any day now. A reason can appear at any moment. Any provocation. Any spark. A spark that has the potential of burning everything down.

You are told that this flame will bring freedom to the people of Ukraine. But the people of Ukraine are free. They remember their past, and are building their own future. They are building it, not destroying it, as you are told everyday on TV. Ukraine in your news and Ukraine in reality are two completely different countries. The most important difference is that ours is real.

You are being told that we are Nazis. But how can a nation be called Nazist after sacrificing more than 8 million lives to eradicate Nazism? How can I be a Nazi, when my grandfather survived the whole war as part of the Soviet infantry, and died a colonel in an independent Ukraine? You are told that we hate Russian culture. But how can a culture be hated? Any culture. Neighbours are always enriching each other culturally. Yet, that does not make them one entity, and does not separate people into “us” and “them”. We are different, but that is not a reason to be enemies. We want to build our own history. Peacefully, calmly, and truthfully.

You are told that I am ordering to attack the Donbass. To shoot. To bomb without question. Although there are questions: To shoot at whom? To bomb what?

Donetsk? To which I have been dozens of times? I have seen their faces and eyes.

Artema street? On which I have been on many walks with my friends in the past?

Donbass Arena? Where I have been rooting with the locals for our boys during the Euros?

Shcherbakova Park? In which we were drinking together after our team lost?

Lugansk? The home of my best friend’s mom? The place where my best friend’s father is buried?

Note that I am now speaking in Russian, yet no one in Russia understands what these names, streets, and events mean. This is all foreign to you. Unknown. This is our land. This is our history. What are you going to fight for? And against whom?

Many of you have visited Ukraine in the past. Many of you have relatives here. Some of you studied in our universities. Befriended Ukrainian people. You’re familiar with our character, with our people, our principles. You know what we cherish the most. Look inside you, listen to the voice of reason, of common sense. Hear our voices. The people of Ukraine want peace. Ukrainian authorities want peace. We want it, and we make it. We do everything in our power.

We are not alone. It’s true, Ukraine is supported by many countries. Why? Because we are not talking about peace at any cost. We are talking about peace, and about principles, justice. About everyone’s right to define their own future, of safety, and everyone’s right to live without threat. All this is important to us. All this is important for peace. I know for sure that this is also important for you. We know for sure that we don’t want war. Neither cold, hot, or hybrid.

But, if we are threatened; If someone is trying to take away our country, our freedom, our lives. The lives of our children. We are going to defend ourselves. Not attack. Defend. By attacking us, you are going to see our faces. Not backs. Our faces.

War is a big distress, and it has a big price, in all meanings of this word. People lose their money, reputation, quality of life, freedom, and most importantly, people lose their loved ones. Lose themselves. A lot of things are always lacking in war. But what is in abundance is pain, dirt, blood, and death. Thousands, tens of thousands of deaths.

You are told that Ukraine is a threat to Russia. This was not true before, not now, and won’t be in the future. You are demanding security assurances from NATO. We are also demanding assurances of our security. The security of Ukraine from you. From Russia. And from other signatories of the Budapest memorandum. Today, we are not part of random security alliances. The security of Ukraine is tied to the security of our neighbours. That is why we are now talking about the security of all Europe. But our main goal is peace in Ukraine, and the safety of our citizens. Of Ukrainians. We are determined to let everyone know about this, including you. War is going to deprive everyone of any assurances. No one will have assurances of security.

Who is going to suffer from this the most? The people.

Who does not want this more than anyone? The people.

Who can prevent all this from happening? The people.

If these people are among you. I am sure they are. Public figures, journalists, musicians, actors, athletes, scientists, doctors, bloggers, stand-up comics, Tiktokers, and others. Ordinary people. Ordinary, simple people. Men, women, old, young, fathers, and most importantly - mothers. Just as much as the people in Ukraine, no matter how much they try to convince you of the opposite.

I know that my announcement will not be aired on Russian television. But the citizens of Russia have to see it. They need to know the truth. And the truth is, that this needs to stop, before it’s too late. And if the authorities of Russia don’t want to talk to us, for the sake of peace, maybe they will talk to you.

Do the people of Russia want war? I would’ve very much liked to be able to answer this, but the answer depends only on you - the citizens of the Russian Federation.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:47 PM on February 23 [121 favorites]


"CNN relays that the Ukrainian interior ministry is reporting that they've already experienced hundreds of casualties from Russia's first missile strikes." --Justin Baragona on twitter.
posted by valkane at 9:47 PM on February 23


Masha Gessen inThe New Yorker: “The Crushing Loss of Hope in Ukraine”
More than a hundred people died before the corrupt President fled to Russia. A willingness to die for freedom is now a part of not only Ukrainians’ mythology but their lived history.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:48 PM on February 23 [5 favorites]


"Just me but if I was one of the 4th of July in Moscow 8, I might go out of my way to clarify what side I’m on tonight." -- Schooley on twitter.
posted by valkane at 9:50 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


"Trump thought US troops are fighting Russians in Ukraine. Really." -- Aaron Rupar on titter.
posted by valkane at 9:57 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have a recommendation for how an individual private citizen can help? A group we should donate to, or what we should ask our leaders to do (in case they actually listen)?
posted by NotLost at 10:07 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Quote sourced from WaPo: In an interview with Fox News, former president Donald Trump said Putin had undertaken the military maneuver “because of a rigged election” in the United States. In the days leading up to Russia’s attack — amid escalating tensions — Trump had praised Putin, saying it was a “smart move” by the Russian president to send “the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen” to the Ukraine border.

Surely....
...this

[flop]
posted by desuetude at 10:08 PM on February 23 [6 favorites]


it's become impossible for me to even formulate a coherent post here - so another's poetry will have to suffice
We Lived Happily During the War
Ilya Kaminsky

And when they bombed other people’s houses, we

protested
but not enough, we opposed them but not

enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America

was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house.

I took a chair outside and watched the sun.

In the sixth month
of a disastrous reign in the house of money

in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)

lived happily during the war.
posted by zenon at 10:39 PM on February 23 [43 favorites]


Does anyone have a recommendation for how an individual private citizen can help? A group we should donate to -

ukrainewar.carrd.co - a list of ways to help, via Jane Lytvynenko (formerly at Buzzfeed).

or what we should ask our leaders to do (in case they actually listen)?

The International Crisis Group is usually pretty good at providing reports and recommendations, although I expect it'll take a while before they have a new report on how to respond to the invasion. (Their most recent report, which hadn't given up on diplomacy, was published February 2.) International Crisis Group on Ukraine.
posted by russilwvong at 11:01 PM on February 23 [7 favorites]


valkane: I know you folks are all like "Don't make this about the US, but it is about the US. We are the enemy.

I don't feel good about being seen as nothing but potential collateral damage. It's about Europe as much as it is about the US. Don't make this only about the US; it's not.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:44 PM on February 23 [27 favorites]


Yeah this is potential WWIII territory right now, it’s all of us.
posted by corb at 11:45 PM on February 23 [18 favorites]


Ha, Corb, I agree but, damn, I can't favorite that comment 😬
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 12:12 AM on February 24 [4 favorites]


My understanding is that the pro-Russian sentiment in Eastern Ukraine has fallen dramatically since 2014. The initial occupation by Russia of Crimea and parts of Donbas and continued shelling and acts of aggression have been a real turn off for people living there.

Most of Ireland's regions are predominantly English-speaking. Can we assume that their populations would welcome British rule as well?
posted by acb at 1:04 AM on February 24 [18 favorites]


https://www.reddit.com/r/ukraine/new/

Filter carefully, there's a full on disinfo campaign happening but there's already way too much going on.

You guys this is bad. There's reported airstrikes over the entire country.

If you dive into the links and comments there's live streams. I've already seen too much. This is moving so fast I can't even really pick or curate lins.
posted by loquacious at 1:09 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


There's definitely a full-court press on online disinformation.

The party lines seem to be:
  • it would be Imperialism for the US to intervene
  • Ukraine is/was a "troubled" and "corrupt" country where there were "no good guys"
  • Ukraine is a "divided country" and unstable on its own, and needs supervision to ensure fairness between East and West Ukraine
  • Neo-Nazis made Euromaidan violent
  • Neo-Nazis "fractured" Ukraine
  • Ukraine is run by Neo-Nazis / the Ukrainian Army is a Neo-Nazi organization
  • Any Ukrainian military who aren't Nazis should refuse to fight
That's just the bits that seem to be in common, scrolling through Twitter spam plus some lefty online spaces that I suspect are full of Russian trolls.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:37 AM on February 24 [21 favorites]


Infowar itself aside (ha!), I seem to have seen claims so far of:

Many Russian tanks destroyed.
"hundreds" of Ukrainian KIA.
5 Russian aeroplanes down.
1 Russian helicopter down.

Earlier there were claims of landings near Odessa, but I saw a Ukrainian govt source saying that was disinfo, so who knows?
posted by pompomtom at 1:56 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]




"Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way.

The world will hold Russia accountable". -- Joe Biden on twitter.
posted by valkane at 2:33 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Oh great. I have no wartime skills other than 'hiding'.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 2:35 AM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Well the world minus China, and so on and so on.
posted by polymodus at 2:39 AM on February 24


best tweet of the day: "REM really oversold the feeling fine in this kind of situation."

I've had a hard time listening to that song since 2016
posted by trig at 2:56 AM on February 24 [20 favorites]


The world will hold Russia accountable". -- Joe Biden on twitter.


Show me the money. 'Cause Putin is getting paid right now.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:19 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Oh great. I have no wartime skills other than 'hiding'.

I have a few wartime skills, but I tell you, 'hiding' is probably the best one to have if you have to pick only one.
posted by Harald74 at 3:20 AM on February 24 [32 favorites]


This is bad.
I don't think Putin is a genius mastermind, I think he is an isolated, maniacal, paranoid despot. But I can see a tiny bit of logic to why this is happening now. Scholz is new in his seat, there is a presidential election in France soon, gas prices are at an all-time high, and Brexit is beginning to show its face. And, Biden is a weak president (I'm sorry to say this), not least because a huge part of the American electorate and congress have gone insane, goaded on by Russian-led disinformation. (Both Brexit and the upcoming French election are also influenced by Russian disinformation).
From Putin's point of view, it may feel like the perfect time to press the button, and it may feel like he has been puppeteering the current fails in the west. I don't agree with that, but I can see how it could feel like that, and how that might make him feel smart and seem smart to his acolytes.

I am afraid it will be a while before the democratic nations find their bearings.
I can't help thinking of who was the genius to hold a peace conference in Munich, of all places, because this does feel a lot like the run-up to WWII.

As the eternal "optimist", I still feel this spells doom for the Putin regime. I think they are wildly miscalculating. Though now I have to acknowledge that many of us will suffer greatly until we get there. I wish we could somehow convince the Russian people that this is not in their interest.
posted by mumimor at 3:29 AM on February 24 [36 favorites]


That's just the bits that seem to be in common, scrolling through Twitter spam plus some lefty online spaces that I suspect are full of Russian trolls.

You can find it in this very thread:

How is getting involved in Ukraine, a country with an army full of ACTUAL NAZIS, going to turn out positively?
posted by Pendragon at 3:29 AM on February 24 [33 favorites]


And a Jewish President...
posted by sammyo at 3:36 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


There is and has been a massive dis-information campaign aimed at western nations for years. Go read the Dailymail comments or (100's of other place) and see the comments moderated up instantly to some insane level.
This matters...people read this stuff for years and think the majority think that way or a large chunk.

Is freedom of speech allowing a foreign adversary to install massive megaphones in every downtown square? Because that's how things have been running the last few years.


How is getting involved in Ukraine, a country with an army full of ACTUAL NAZIS, going to turn out positively?

I pray this isn't WWIII starting....
posted by sety at 4:12 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


The Ukrainian ambassador to the UN made a demand yesterday that the UN Security Council and General Assembly produce the documents required by Charter Article 4 and I'm finding it quite persuasive.

Article 4

Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.

The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

Particularly he demanded to see the Security Council recommendation that the Russian Federation "accept[s] the obligations contained in the present Charter and [...], are able and willing to carry out these obligations" and the GA decision. Since the UN is a body of International Law, they should be able to produce the paperwork without any issues, right?

Wouldn't a hypothetical Ukrainian claim to be the U.S.S.R's successor state be just as valid as Russia's?

What should be done if it's determined that -- as we see right now -- the Russian Federation is NOT accepting and carrying out the obligations contained in the present Charter? Losing their veto and permanent seat on the Security Council? Make them formally apply and convince everyone they'll follow the law? Nothing?
posted by mikelieman at 5:10 AM on February 24 [10 favorites]


Russia even if ejected from the Security Council would retain "friends" that would veto any significant UN decrees.
posted by sammyo at 5:26 AM on February 24


Okay, after a few hours spent getting as comprehensively up-to-date as possible, I have a few questions and observations:
  1. Almost all of the Russian activity has been airstrikes on military tagets.
  2. Tanks and troops are reportedly entering Ukraine from Belarus, but there is at present not much news of how many or how far they've gone.
  3. Russia has preceded this with an ongoing and comprehensive cyber-attack. How much has this degraded civil response, essential economic activity, and Ukrainian government function?
  4. Ukraine has announced some destroyed Russian aircraft and weaponry, and a few captured troops — but what exactly is the deployment of Ukrainian forces in response to Russian incursions and how successfully has it defended Ukrainian territory?
  5. What can we infer, if anything, from differences, if any, in Russian actions between Eastern Ukraine and the rest of the country?
  6. Russia almost certainly wants to cripple, eliminate, or otherwise replace critical people in the Ukrainian government. What is the Ukrainian senior leadership's disposition and is it visibly active?
  7. How much are the sanctions against Russian going to escalate and when will they come into effect?
  8. Are NATO providing the Ukrainian government any military intelligence? Are NATO willing to provide Ukraine with non-combat support?
  9. Russia's best outcome would be a destabilized Ukraine which embraces or tolerates a pro-Russia change of government. Are there any signs at all at this time of civil discontent that points to this possiblity?
  10. Some key cities (outside of the contested East) are Lviv, Kyiv, Maripol, Kharkiv, and Odessa. Will Russia attempt to occupy any of these cities? If so, will they be able to continue to do so? The Russians seem to be most visibly moving on Kharkiv; what is the current situation there?
  11. If Russia succeeds at anything less than either a) successfully destabilizing the current government and replacing it with a pro-Russian one; or b) if not immediately the previous, then occupying Ukraine until it does so; then will this be (perceived or demonstrably) a disastrous loss for Russia and Putin?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:46 AM on February 24 [7 favorites]


Russia has preceded this with an ongoing and comprehensive cyber-attack

Not quite so comprehensive; it did not look like one prepared in advance, but a spontaneous one. Though that may be down to Ukrainian cybersecurity capabilities being quite formidable, to the point where hiding implants in their systems in advance might not be viable.
posted by acb at 5:53 AM on February 24


Also, the Ukraine Crisis Media Center reminds you to not share any information about the movement of Ukraine's armed forces that may cost their defenders their lives. We should probably be mindful of this here.
posted by acb at 5:56 AM on February 24 [14 favorites]


Russia even if ejected from the Security Council would retain "friends" that would veto any significant UN decrees.

Ejecting Russia from the Security Council would go against the fundamental principles of the UN, after all, the USSR was part of the council during the entire Cold War, and they invaded Afghanistan and supported insurrections all over the place.

But that said, Russia has very few friends at this point. Syria has been mentioned in this thread and Belarus, and the stans, those might be real friends, but not exactly influential friends. But the rest, Turkey, China, Hungary are very much only "friends" who wouldn't go to war for Russia, or even risk sanctions.
posted by mumimor at 6:05 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


The Auschwitz Memorial statement on the invasion of Ukraine:

"This morning, Russia attacked Ukraine. This act of barbarity will be judged by history, and its perpetrators, it is to be hoped, also by the International Court of Justice.

As we stand at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, it is impossible to remain silent while, once again, innocent people are being killed purely because of insane pseudo-imperial megalomania.

We express our absolute solidarity with the citizens and residents of the free, independent, and sovereign Ukraine and with all Russians who have the courage to oppose this war.

At this moment, the free and democratic world must show if it has learned its lesson from the passivity of the 1930s. Today, it is clear that any symptom of indifference is a sign of complicity."
posted by Kabanos at 6:07 AM on February 24 [36 favorites]


A military convoy just parked outside my apartment in Stockholm, stuck around for a while to maybe get lunch or something and then rolled onwards. That's not normal and is troubling. I don't know my military vehicles but they were big trucks carrying bulky cargo. Maybe a mobilized field hospital?
posted by St. Oops at 6:19 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


A military convoy just parked outside my apartment in Stockholm, stuck around for a while to maybe get lunch or something and then rolled onwards. That's not normal and is troubling. I don't know my military vehicles but they were big trucks carrying bulky cargo. Maybe a mobilized field hospital?

There is a huge military exercise in the Baltic right now. It may be part of that. Nominally, it's a NATO exercise, but they may be coordinating with Sweden and Finland. I haven't checked the details.
posted by mumimor at 6:28 AM on February 24 [5 favorites]


Apparently Poland is sending a medical train to Ukraine. Though I'm wondering how that works, with Poland's railways being standard-gauge and Ukraine's being Soviet broad-gauge. You wouldn't want to be one of the wounded waiting for the bogies to be changed at the border.
posted by acb at 6:30 AM on February 24


Ah, it isn't NATO, but JEF (Joint Expeditionary Force), which includes Sweden.
posted by mumimor at 6:31 AM on February 24 [4 favorites]


It feels like the U.N. is having a real "League of Nations" moment right now.
posted by Philipschall at 6:32 AM on February 24


I'd encourage everyone to try to follow Ukrainian journalists or other Ukrainians (in Ukraine) on your social media/news feeds. Their voices are important to mix into any international reporting you hear or read. If I have the energy later, I might try to put together a list of links and names to share here.

But for some novel perspectives, I thought I'd also amplify two black voices:

Terrell Jermaine Star is journalist and foreign policy commentator focused on Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe. He has a podcast called Black Diplomats: "a podcast about politics, foreign affairs, and travel from a Black perspective," aiming to decolonize the conversation on foreign affairs. He is currently in Kyiv.

Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon is a writer and Ph.D. student in Soviet/Russian/E. European history. She's worked on Ukraine for nearly 10 years. She is a Harvard-educated regional expert on the former Soviet Union, and has researched the experiences of blacks/Africans in the USSR.

Both commentators who know the countries well, and speak both Russian and Ukrainian (unlike many air-dropped journos).
posted by Kabanos at 6:36 AM on February 24 [36 favorites]


Russian stocks plunge and rouble hits record low after Ukraine invasion

FWIW, a Danish investment specialist told the radio she thought the Russian crash would have little impact on Danish investment funds, because most are focused on investing in green new deal industries (not only energy but also other green industries). I think this is morbidly interesting, because perhaps it means that this freakish war will accelerate environmental change, at least in Europe.
posted by mumimor at 6:41 AM on February 24 [5 favorites]


I was so struck by reading the Zelensky speech last night that I had to find a video and make captions for it; it's not something I've noticed done in full elsewhere yet and I think really needs to be seen. For context, this is Zelenskyy speaking in his native Russian in a speech addressed to the people of Russia just hours before Putin began his invasion.

Here it is:
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's heartbreaking, defiant speech to the Russian people [English subs]

(Also on Reddit, though it's a info war free-for-all over there from what I've seen so it might not see the light of day over there.)
posted by Rhaomi at 6:44 AM on February 24 [44 favorites]


"...insane pseudo-imperial megalomania..."

I think that's an exaggeration. An understandable exaggeration, perhaps, but it's ultimately not very illuminating.

Putin's moves are better understood as fundamentally revanchist in their nature. Seen as an exercise of consolidation of personal power, a broad invasion of Ukraine is arguably counter-productive because there are numerous ways he could achieve the same goals without taking these enormous risks. (Trump, BTW, is quite wrong about this: Putin isn't being smart, he's being reckless.)

If this is difficult to rationalize on the basis of a realpolitik, it's much easier to rationalize as an expression of a national sentiment of revanchism the Putin not only shares, but deeply believes.

Russia as a whole has felt deeply humiliated by its loss of status at the dissolution of the USSR. Russians individually may or may not prefer Putin's style of governance, but they are unanimous in their sense of resentment against the West for what they believe is a 30-year deliberate campaign to diminish Russia.

I think there's been a sense among many that Putin is best seen as a KGB analyst who has been brilliantly cultivating his personal power for its own sake. This has probably given him both too much credit and not enough. He may not be quite the genius cold-blooded Machiavelli that some have thought — he may be more of a passionate true-believer than many have suspected. Or, rather, he's better understood as an amalgamation of both. In this sense, we should expect him to be predictably self-interested most of the time, but occasionally seemingly "erratic" as a sentinment central to his worldview predominates.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:48 AM on February 24 [17 favorites]


You wouldn't want to be one of the wounded waiting for the bogies to be changed at the border.

It takes about 30 minutes. There are facilities for that on all rail border crossings.
posted by hat_eater at 7:00 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Ultimately there are really only two options:

1) Let Russia brutally conquer Ukraine

2) Wage war on Russia

Putin has made it clear that sanctions are not going to restrain him, diplomacy will not sway him.

There is no option three.

Which leaves the world in a dangerous situation all the way around.

Waging war on Russia would mean engaging a nuclear power and the risk that Putin would use atomic weapons. And basically he'd have to either do that, or accept defeat. Becuase the US military and NATO can stomp his little two bit military flat in the course of a few days. His only real deterrant against NATO powers crushing him is his atomic weapons.

The question, from a realpolitik cold blooded sort of standpoint is whether or not defending Ukraine against Russia is worth the risk of Putin using atomic weapons which could escalate quickly into a more general atomic war.

The other question is: where does this end?

Say the world decides to sacrifice Ukraine to Putin's ambitions.

Sure, people **SAY** that if his next invasion is Belarus, or Lutheuania, or whatever that would be different because those nations are formally part of various treaties and meta-governmental organizatons that Ukraine isnt'.

But the same calculus ultimately applies: is Belarus worth risking atomic war with Russia? And EU ties or not, I'm really doubtful that most of the world leaders would agree that Belarus is worth a shooting war with Russia.

At **SOME** point the answer will become yes, this particular nation is the actual real line in the sand and Russian attacks on that nation are worth risking atomic war with Russia. The only real question is whether Putin will stop before that point is reached, or if he'll be so drunk on his prior successes, and hte world's prior surrender, that he won't realize that's the real line.

I'm a leftist. I'm not a pacifist. I do think some wars are worth fighting. I'm of the opinion that back when Putin invaded Ukrane the first time to annex Crimea the world should have shut down all economic ties plus supplied a guerrilla movement in Crimea.

Now? I don't know. I really don't want to risk atomic war. But I think letting Putin conquer Ukraine wold set a really bad precedent. Worldwide we seem to be looking at the fall of the post WWII stablity and the dawn of a new era of border skirmishes and wars.

I also have the suspicion that if the world sits back and lets Putin take Ukraine then China will see that as an opportunity to conquer Taiwan. Using much the same line of argument: it was never a real country, it's always been part of the Motherland, they're bad people hurting our ethnic citizens!
posted by sotonohito at 7:07 AM on February 24 [37 favorites]




That's assuming that Russia would have the means not only to conquer Ukraine but to suppress all resistance and keep it suppressed, whilst turning control of Ukraine into an economic net posivite, and that Ukraine (a large country, the size of most of Western and Central Europe) with a culture of resistance would not turn into Putin's Iraq, bleeding Russia's economy and morale.
posted by acb at 7:15 AM on February 24 [5 favorites]


Belarus, or Lutheuania, or whatever

....
posted by Not A Thing at 7:17 AM on February 24 [27 favorites]


The newspapers this morning in Germany were remarkably, troublingly blasé. The rags didn't even mention it, the more 'serious' papers are stern and solemn but none are freaking out on the level that I wonder if they shouldn't be. Sure, Ukraine is far away ... but far away means roughly the same distance as Chicago to Dallas, or NYC to Atlanta. That is, the same 'coast.'

We're worried. And I hope the rest of Europe decides on some swift, unequivocal action - whatever that may be.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:30 AM on February 24 [5 favorites]


But the same calculus ultimately applies: is Belarus worth risking atomic war with Russia?

WTF? Belarus is already on Putin's side.
posted by y2karl at 7:31 AM on February 24 [20 favorites]


it's inevitable that people will want to get their hot takes out of their system and I just hope we get past the hot takes in this space.. personally, the only way I can capture how I'm feeling right now is when a colleague typed into team chat "Seems the world can never be at total peace (sad face emoji) Always something going on somewhere" I had to respond: big difference today is, the "something going on somewhere" has a zero chance of remaining "somewhere"

we will feel this one
posted by elkevelvet at 7:33 AM on February 24 [15 favorites]


From Bklyn: I hope the rest of Europe decides on some swift, unequivocal action - whatever that may be.

Aye, there lies the rub... whatever may that be?
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:37 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


what exactly is the deployment of Ukrainian forces in response to Russian incursions and how successfully has it defended Ukrainian territory?

Were I a Ukrainian general that would be information I would quite understandably prefer not to reveal.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:52 AM on February 24 [17 favorites]


When looking for trolls, an important signal to disregard commentary is people whose talking points or responses are a bit too generic for the specific discussion.

This is a busy, busy time for professional cut & pasters and they don't want to spend the extra seconds to directly address nuance in each of the dozens of threads they are maintaining simultaneously. Generic refutations of discussion without specific backup, introducing new talking points that seem irrelevant, re-raising issues that have gone past because they don't read in detail, adding heat without adding light, all big giveaways that propaganda is in play.

Also, KYC applies especially in times of high disinfo: Know Your Commenters. People who don't have much to say on a website except in specific hot topics are to be treated with caution. We certainly have the "usual suspects" here on MeFi but they post in dozens of threads and are consistent about their worldview and easy to process. Look out for new voices especially.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:02 AM on February 24 [58 favorites]


My hot take is that it's okay to just feel sad and afraid and anxious and to vocalise those feelings. You don't need to crap out any amateur geopolitical analysis to justify them. (Frankly, unless it's clear you really know what you're talking about, I think it diminishes you.)
posted by Panthalassa at 8:09 AM on February 24 [37 favorites]


Putin Had A Lot Of Options. He Chose The Most Aggressive One by Josh Kovensky. Excerpt:
As Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated the Ukraine crisis over the past several months, he retained a range of key options.

Recognize the Russia-backed breakaway territories of Donetsk and Luhansk? Conduct a limited offensive in Ukraine’s east? Pound Ukraine with missiles but leave ground troops out of it?

Of these options, he appears to have chosen the most extreme: a full-fledged, multiple-pronged assault on all of Ukraine, bringing the full might of the Russian military to bear on its neighbor while enlisting Belarus as a war ally.
posted by Kattullus at 8:21 AM on February 24 [6 favorites]


Ultimately there are really only two options:

I reject the hypothesis that there are ever only two options. On anything.

I tend to view wars, when they happen, as inevitable disasters, rather like destructive weather systems. They happen not because of anything that happened recently. But because of complexities that have been evolving/devolving over time. The difference being that with a war, there was always a time it could be stopped.

The time to STOP what is happening right now was ...

(I'll let historians fill in this blank)

I'll also let them speak to what happens when somebody engages with Russia in a land war on territory it thinks of as its own; and for that matter, what happens to Russian interests over time in colonized areas -- what happened to the Soviet Union. It wasn't defeated on any military battlefield, it was ground down by a combination of the West's Cold War antagonisms and (more importantly) the subversion etc of the colonized people themselves. Or as Angela Merkel put it a few years ago (on the topic of sending military might to Ukraine):

“I am firmly convinced this conflict cannot be solved with military means [...] I cannot imagine any situation in which ... [military action from the West] ... leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes he will lose militarily. I have to put it that bluntly.”

She added:

“I grew up in East Germany, I have seen the Wall. The Americans did not intervene in the Wall, but in the end we won.”

In other words, you don't beat Russia by getting sucked into a war with it. You beat it by grinding it down by other means as Germany (and other Eastern Block concerns) did in bringing about the end of the Cold War.
posted by philip-random at 8:24 AM on February 24 [26 favorites]


I'm 28. I was raised in the "America in the middle east" era
When this sort of thing makes me feel fearful and alone and dismayed about world peace or security, I have found it comforting to read old old threads here.
Something about knowing that people, some of you, were worried about the same things, sharing news and love in comment threads on news posts in 2001, 2003, and so on, when I was in elementary school.
posted by shenkerism at 8:28 AM on February 24 [23 favorites]


I don't know why this should need saying but: there will be no direct military response by NATO. It would be insanely risky, there is no popular support for war, and it's not necessary. If anyone reading this is worried about an imminent escalation to multilateral war, rest assured it isn't going to happen today or in the near future.

Russia wants a Ukrainian government aligned with Russia. It very much doesn't want an occupation of most or all of Ukraine — that would be an albatross around Russia's neck, or worse. Therefore, this invasion isn't intended to gain and hold territory, it's intended to weaken and destabilize Ukraine's current government and create conditions favoring a spontaneous or surreptitiously "managed" regime change to one which favors Russia. This effort has a horizon measured in weeks. Not days, but also not years, and probably not months.

Russia has accrued some immunity to sanctions, but it is nevertheless a relatively small economy that is mostly relying upon the export of extracted resources. Therefore, if Europe is willing to accept the substantially higher energy and related costs that severe sanctions would involve, Russia simply cannot afford this invasion in the medium to long term. In that event, it would have to cut its losses and retreat. A resiliency of the Ukrainian government coupled with severe sanctions against Russia by the West would portend a bad outcome for Russia and a good outcome for everyone else.

In contrast, a lengthy occupation by Russia of most or all of Ukraine would be a bad outcome for everyone. In particular, it would risk the development of a western-backed Ukrainian insurgency harbored in NATO countries that would make a direct Russian-NATO confrontation all-too-likely. It is reasonable to assume that almost every party involved will attempt to avoid this. Many decisions currently being made will have a basis in this consideration.

Most observers expected Putin to send forces only into areas already held by Russian separatists and then to maintain pressure on the Ukrainian government until its overt and covert attempts to destabilize it succeeded, if possible. That Putin has taken these more dramatic steps demonstrates a greater tolerance for risk than many expected and thus should be kept in mind while considering what the future might bring. Nevertheless, the stakes involved for everyone concerned are so high that both Russia and NATO et al will be very measured and considered in their actions.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:29 AM on February 24 [33 favorites]


^ thank you. The notion that "we can do this, or that" is frankly repugnant. Even if a person could somehow prove this to be the case (and it is unprovable) we are forced to live and behave as though our actions matter and there is always a possibility we can do better. (ETA response to philip-random's comment, upthread)
posted by elkevelvet at 8:30 AM on February 24


a lot of people in eastern Ukraine are actually pro-Russian... because, well, they are Russian.

There are some people in eastern Ukraine like that, but their numbers are regularly overstated and 'Russian-speaking' is conflated, inaccurately, with 'Russian-identifying'. Research shows that the majority of Ukrainians in every region of Ukraine feel Ukrainian.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 8:40 AM on February 24 [39 favorites]


Almost all of the Russian activity has been airstrikes on military tagets.

Is there a non propagandist cite on this? I’m mostly seeing this claim repeated by tankies, but journalists in major cities are saying there’s been explosions near them.
posted by corb at 8:45 AM on February 24 [10 favorites]


Almost all of the Russian activity has been airstrikes on military tagets.
The Military's targets.
posted by shenkerism at 8:54 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


"Is there a non propagandist cite on this?"

I may have phrased that badly. I meant the distinction to be between airstrikes and advancing troops, not so much between military and civilian targets (of airstrikes).

What I've seen are bombings of targets of military significance, which would include major airports, for example, as well as numerous government locations. I don't know how much they've attacked critical infrastructure — that will make a huge difference with regard to the civilian population.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:56 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


We certainly have the "usual suspects" here on MeFi [...]

manzanar.metafilter.com
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 9:00 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


I have not heard of this source before, but it is being shared by sources I trust. Here's Gravitas Plus with a quick explainer of what has brought us to this point.
posted by Jpfed at 9:03 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Russia wants a Ukrainian government aligned with Russia. It very much doesn't want an occupation of most or all of Ukraine — that would be an albatross around Russia's neck, or worse. Therefore, this invasion isn't intended to gain and hold territory, it's intended to weaken and destabilize Ukraine's current government and create conditions favoring a spontaneous or surreptitiously "managed" regime change to one which favors Russia. This effort has a horizon measured in weeks. Not days, but also not years, and probably not months.

The problem is how does Putin intend to keep his puppet government? Ukrainians will clearly not accept another Yanukovych. They will not be passive to a puppet government. Euromaidan 2 pops up, sends whoever Putin places in the Verkhovna Rada packing back to Russia, and then what? Do they come in again on a "peacekeeping" mission and repeat the process? Do they have the security forces necessary to open fire on massive protests when Euromaidan 2 pops up? If they do have enough security forces sympathetic to the puppet government, do they have enough to sustain that government in a possible civil war?

There is no puppet government without sustained occupation and there is no sustained occupation that's quick and cheap.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:05 AM on February 24 [19 favorites]


From Aljazeera:

And so, Cold War II begins

But even Putin’s most outrageous claim about Ukraine’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons and threaten Russia is no more farcical than Washington’s claim about Saddam Hussein developing weapons of mass destruction, as a pretext to invade faraway Iraq, which Biden, then a senator, supported.

His recognition of the two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine is also reminiscent of US President Donald Trump’s illegal recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem, which Biden continues to uphold.

And last but not least, Russia’s possible attempt at regime change in Ukraine follows in the footsteps of US attempts in more than a few countries, including more recently Venezuela.

Clearly, Russia has mastered Washington’s methodical fakery and trickery. But it does not seem to have learned the lessons from its follies and failures.

Indeed, neither power has learned from their miserable mistakes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Old habits die hard.

posted by philip-random at 9:07 AM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Nice bit of bothsidesism there.
posted by acb at 9:09 AM on February 24 [12 favorites]


Putin might settle for turning Ukraine into a failed state, I guess. No puppet regime, but with no military to speak of, no economy, and another migrant crisis for Europe. If Russia can't control Ukraine, then maybe he'll try to make it so nobody else can, either.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:10 AM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Nice bit of bothsidesism there.

more like, neither-side-ism. Marwan Bishara is Palestinian.
posted by philip-random at 9:18 AM on February 24 [13 favorites]


Clearly, Russia has mastered Washington’s methodical fakery and trickery.


So THAT'S why Donnie-the-Mouth admires Putin so much; he's adopted the good ol' USA's methods of "country liberation" and "exporting democracy." /s
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:22 AM on February 24


I've been seeing a lot of "here goes WWIII" rhetoric, here and on Twitter. I am asking very genuinely: is that really the case? What is the path for the current situation to spiral into WWIII? (WWIII being, presumably, a nuclear war between Russia and NATO?) How likely is it? Is this what informed people think is a strong possibility, with a clear and probable series of steps from what is happening right now, or is this rhetoric coming from a place of fear and worry that is perhaps in line with how bad it would be if that happened but not necessarily how likely it is to happen?
posted by cosmic owl at 9:28 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Just so that it's mentioned, I'm seeing reports, some with video, of protests going past on Twitter in cities across Russia including Moscow and St Petersburg. Difficult to tell how large they are, but they are people protesting at considerable risk to themselves.

God save us from the weakness of Strong Men.
posted by Grangousier at 9:28 AM on February 24 [54 favorites]


The message that every side is corrupt and that idealism is for simpletons is the message of Putin's Russia, a form of learned helplessness that makes any form of idealism or activism impossible.
posted by acb at 9:29 AM on February 24 [49 favorites]


Putin might settle for turning Ukraine into a failed state, I guess. No puppet regime, but with no military to speak of, no economy, and another migrant crisis for Europe. If Russia can't control Ukraine, then maybe he'll try to make it so nobody else can, either.

That's probably it. How an authoritarian keeps power is to make sure no alternative exists. A democratic western-leaning Ukraine is an intolerable alternative (and real threat) to him.
posted by mazola at 9:29 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


What is the path for the current situation to spiral into WWIII?

If the US intervenes this scenario becomes much, much more likely, although probably unlikely in the absolute sense.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:30 AM on February 24


I've been seeing a lot of "here goes WWIII" rhetoric, here and on Twitter. I am asking very genuinely: is that really the case? What is the path for the current situation to spiral into WWIII? (WWIII being, presumably, a nuclear war between Russia and NATO?) How likely is it? Is this what informed people think is a strong possibility, with a clear and probable series of steps from what is happening right now, or is this rhetoric coming from a place of fear and worry that is perhaps in line with how bad it would be if that happened but not necessarily how likely it is to happen?

People are mainly extrapolating from Putin's speech. If he really wanted to bring back Soviet-era borders that would mean invading NATO members in the Baltics. If he wanted to bring back Russian Empire era borders that would threaten Finland and Poland at a minimum. Poland is a NATO member. I understand some current nuclear weapon owners and NATO members have previously gone to war over an invasion of Poland.

Basically, there's a possibility that Putin would invade NATO members, and that the NATO mutual defence treaty is worth the paper it's written on.
posted by plonkee at 9:34 AM on February 24 [13 favorites]


Romania, Poland, Turkey, and several smaller NATO members are close enough that they could offer immediate air support: combat air to deny Russian use of Ukranian airspace, ground support to halt Russian advances. I suspect there's a significant pressure inside NATO to do just that. It takes time to move a division; it take flight time to get a fighter over Kyiv.

So on one hand you have a tactical option that's feasible and attractive; on the other, that's a massive escalation directly on the path to WWIII. I'm glad I'm not in a decision making position right now. There are very hard questions of how to manage this crisis.
posted by fatbird at 9:39 AM on February 24 [5 favorites]


In other words, you don't beat Russia by getting sucked into a war with it. You beat it by grinding it down by other means as Germany (and other Eastern Block concerns) did in bringing about the end of the Cold War.

A land war with Russia in winter is literally textbook stupid unless you are Finnish.

However, it is not inevitable that a second Cold War would have the same result as the first. For example, China is in a different position in the global pecking order.
posted by plonkee at 9:39 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Putin's speech had that line about "Decisions have already been made" (I'm paraphrasing) which I read as "Nukes are on the table."

But it's sabre rattling. Pure and simple.
posted by valkane at 9:40 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Poland is a NATO member

And so are the Baltic states, which is the only reason that Russia has put up with the indignity of Kaliningrad being an exclave.
posted by acb at 9:40 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


IMO if the sanctions need to bite it's time for no more suckling of Putin's teat by the West. Sit on a company that's Russian state/oligarch tied? Decide your loyalty. I'm fucking looking at you, Gerhard Schröder. If they decide to stick with Russia? Sanction/visa ban them too from whatever parts of the world we can. Seize everything they own outside their own jurisdiction. The West™ doesn't need to sanction the entire Russian economy. Just economically hunt the oligarchs, Russian powerbrokers, and their Western cronies down like dogs in every corner of the world where they might think they are safe. They want their empire? Let them hold only rubles and dachas.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:41 AM on February 24 [28 favorites]


In other words, you don't beat Russia by getting sucked into a war with it. You beat it by grinding it down by other means as Germany (and other Eastern Block concerns) did in bringing about the end of the Cold War.

I mean, Ukraine didn't decide on war with Russia, yet here she is.
I don't think Ukrainians will consider it a viable option to go for some slow grind down of the Putin regime when they're faced with a military meat grinder on their own land. (Although one could argue that Ukraine's slow and messy, but persistent march toward democracy has been the slow grinding threat that Putin recognized and fears the most).

The Berlin Wall wasn't brought down by US precision guided missiles, but it's crazy to say its demise came about without US/NATO military engagement (cold and hot) vs the USSR, being a big factor. Or that the security of West Germany wasn't backed by NATO military power.

Merkel said "I am firmly convinced this conflict cannot be solved with military means..." And yet Germany always seems to be among the last of European countries to offer any effective non-military means of restraining Putin's aggression.

Merkel said "I am firmly convinced this conflict cannot be solved with military means..." And yet here we have Russia 'solving' the conflict with military means.

If nothing else, I hope this war puts an end to the misguided German Ostpolitik of the past few decades.
posted by Kabanos at 9:42 AM on February 24 [9 favorites]


Merkel said "I am firmly convinced this conflict cannot be solved with military means..." And yet Germany always seems to be among the last of European countries to offer any effective non-military means of restraining Putin's aggression.

It's telling that the Germans sent helmets instead of guns.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:45 AM on February 24


A land war with Russia in winter is literally textbook stupid unless you are Finnish.

Yeah, but does that saying even apply to Russia? If Russia thinks that Ukraine is actually Russia, is Russia waging a land war against Russia in winter? Are they doomed to failure?
posted by eclectist at 9:46 AM on February 24 [6 favorites]


Re: leftist apologia for Putin

No to war with Ukraine! Against Russian military intervention!:
The following is a statement by Russian comrades of the International Marxist Tendency, denouncing the invasion of Ukraine that began in the early hours of today.

...

It is hard to find anything more hypocritical than the statements issued by Putin and other Russian officials about ‘denazification’. Contrary to their rhetorical appeal to the memory of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, and the sacrifices of the Soviet people in the fight against Nazism, the historical model of the Putin regime is not the Soviet Union. Rather, Putin’s model is the Russian Empire, as he has directly and repeatedly explained. His long speech on 21 February regarding the introduction of troops into the LPR (Luhansk People’s Republic) and DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) was emphatically anti-communist. It was based on the stance of Russian chauvinism, and not Soviet internationalism. In Russia, Nazi collaborators are also regularly honoured, although by no means on the same scale as in Ukraine. The White movement is glorified and communists are persecuted, including functionaries of the Communist Party. The communist parties in the people’s republics of Donbas still operate illegally. The policy of the Russian authorities is one of national chauvinism, anti-communism, anti-democracy and the robbery of the workers. Under such conditions, only extremely naive people can perceive Russia as an ‘anti-fascist’ force.
posted by kmt at 9:53 AM on February 24 [24 favorites]


What is the path for the current situation to spiral into WWIII?

The US has put troops on the ground in neighboring NATO countries.

If Russia attacks and kills US troops…..that’s a war that Russia cannot win by conventional means.
posted by corb at 9:55 AM on February 24 [5 favorites]


There are reports in the Guardian's liveblog of Russian troops trying to capture the Chernobyl power station. Whatever they want with it cannot possibly be good.
posted by acb at 9:56 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


acb - my understanding is that Chernobyl is in the middle of the shortest route from Belarus to Kiev.
posted by jpziller at 9:58 AM on February 24 [5 favorites]


Ukraine has announced that they've lost control of the Chernobyl area, which is on the straight line path to Kyiv for a Russian advance. It's not obvious there's a nefarious plan for it; the question I've seen is whether the fighting damaged the containment measures (there's been reports of one cooling pond destroyed), and whether Russians have made provision to maintain the containment measures while in possession of it.
posted by fatbird at 9:59 AM on February 24 [5 favorites]


My spouse's family in Romania is pretty antsy. They normally don't get many refugees because it's a poor country (people emigrate from Romania more than they immigrate to Romania). They have a huge, mostly barely monitored border with a country under attack. I think many of the people even feel sympathetic, but they're really poorly prepared to help. It's going to be rough.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:59 AM on February 24 [13 favorites]


Destroying the containment measures could be a good way of ensuring that any Ukraine that outlives Russia's capacity to suppress resistance is a miserable failed state that poses no threat of setting an attractive counterexample to Putin's regime.
posted by acb at 10:07 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


I am asking very genuinely: is that really the case? What is the path for the current situation to spiral into WWIII?

A path to escalation I've heard some people talk about is if a cyberwar spills over into infrastructure of NATO allies, eg an attack on Ukraine's power grid gets out of hand. The US would be liable to respond in kind, and then what? Nobody has ever had to de-escalate a cyber conflict like that before.

(that's not to say it's likely, but in relative terms it seems more likely than it has been)
posted by BungaDunga at 10:10 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


The prevailing winds blow into Russia. I think they're just taking a straight relatively unoccupied line from Belarus to Kyiv
posted by cmfletcher at 10:11 AM on February 24 [10 favorites]


The good news on Chernobyl, sort of, is that the new confinement structure was recently completed. It's not just the decaying Soviet-era sarcophagus anymore.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:15 AM on February 24 [8 favorites]


I am struggling to stay situationally appropriate at work when this comes up. Several of my conservative co-workers are fretting aloud over this invasion and wondering how it got this far. And I'm like, I dunno, the game show host Russia tried to help into office as a puppet and that you fuckers voted for spent four years sucking up to Putin, trying to declaw NATO, and threatening to withhold aid from Ukraine unless they helped him frame his rival's son. It's a real fucking mystery what emboldened them, my dudes.

I guess I should consider myself lucky I work with the kind of Romney Republicans who at least view the invasion as a bad thing, rather than the wingnuts trying to say with a straight face that actually this is a good thing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:16 AM on February 24 [82 favorites]


anyone asking about the odds of WWIII, I can't speak to any responses on this one but for me, it's enough to know there are people rolling the dice on this one

the fucking dice are getting rolled
posted by elkevelvet at 10:23 AM on February 24 [11 favorites]


Beau of the 5th Column has a good analysis on the possibility of nukes being deployed/used.

Short version: not very likely.
- Russia has no interest in nuking the region they want to control which is right on their own border, and which is filled with people many Russians see as kin. There is no upside to that.
- Nukes are a rather antiquated weapon, and there are many more modern tools to sicc on your enemy that doesn’t flatten and glass an entire region on your own border, with the fallout traveling on any eastbound wind.

What makes Russian use of Nukes *more* likely is if NATO troops cross past the separatist areas and into Russia itself. Then it’s an existential threat the Putin government and they have little to lose.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:24 AM on February 24 [6 favorites]


If there ever was a time for ordinary Russians to find the courage to at least try reversing this madness, it would be now. Please.
posted by UN at 10:28 AM on February 24


There is no scenario in which NATO troops cross into Russia. None.
posted by saturday_morning at 10:30 AM on February 24 [17 favorites]




"Protests are erupting in several Russian cities tonight against Putin's large-scale invasion of Ukraine, along with attempts from police to forcibly suppress them. Here's his hometown of St. Petersburg. I'll be threading videos below as I find them." -- Alejandro Alvarez on twitter.
posted by valkane at 10:31 AM on February 24 [14 favorites]


Answering cosmic owl's question:

"What is the path for the current situation to spiral into WWIII?"

There's little reason to fear such an escalation as things stand now. It's the longer term that is the concern.

For better or worse, NATO is right there. NATO is a mutual defense pact. Article 4 is binding; with a neutered Article 4, NATO would almost be meaningless. Estonia and Latvia already border Russia. A Russian-occupied Ukraine would have NATO next to Russian troops in Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Also, NATO members Turkey and Bulgaria face Ukraine and Russia across the Black Sea.

All of these countries, particularly the Baltics and Poland, have strong historical reasons to fear an expansionist Russia and will sympathize with and support (officially or unofficially) a Ukrainian insurgency against Russian occupation. This would create an extremely volatile situation such that direct conflict between NATO and Russia could easily happen, even if both sides desperately wish to avoid it.

For example, Ukraine is calling for NATO to declare Ukrainian airspace a "no-fly zone". This is prima facie untenable, as Russian aircraft are already operating in Ukraine and thus NATO enforcing a no-fly zone against Russia would invite an instant escalation into wider war.

Absolutely no one wants a NATO-Russian war — not even the Ukrainians, because nuclear-armed great powers (or erstwhile great powers) fighting a war on one's soil is a terrifying prospect. Therefore, all parties will be looking for paths through this conflict that avoid such an outcome while also protecting or furthering their interests.

The worry is that these competing interests might cause the parties involved to decide that brinkmanship is the least worst option.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:32 AM on February 24 [16 favorites]




Putin just bought himself another Afghanistan, on European soil. With the entire western world against him.
posted by valkane at 10:38 AM on February 24 [7 favorites]


A land war with Russia in winter is literally textbook stupid unless you are Finnish.

Yeah, but does that saying even apply to Russia? If Russia thinks that Ukraine is actually Russia, is Russia waging a land war against Russia in winter? Are they doomed to failure?


I assume the Russians think that they are playing the part of Tsar Alexander I, rather than the part of Napoleon. I do not think it is as absolutely certain as Putin does.

(More realistically, I have seen some people point out that Ukraine's geography lends itself to guerilla warfare, which is not dissimilar to how the Finns did it.)
posted by plonkee at 10:39 AM on February 24 [5 favorites]


I would think if you are posting from a major urban area or Tier 1 research university there is at least one nuclear missile aimed in your direction. Better hope it doesn’t come to that.
posted by eagles123 at 10:39 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Journalist Julia Ioffe made the point that Russia is, and has always been, a bureaucratic autocracy. It was that way under the Tsars, it was that way under Stalin, and it is that way now. Stalin became “The Boss” by out-maneuvering his opponents via the bureaucracy. And it takes a BIG bureaucracy to run a country that large.

Putin is at the head of the Russian govt, but it’s a much more shambolic, disorganized entity than a unitary dictatorship. A professor of my spouse once commented in class that the biggest mistake the Americans made during the Cuban Missile Crisis was thinking that The USSR was acting as one, when actually there were multiple disparate power factions with their own differing opinions about what to do.

It’s quite possible that to a certain degree Russia has stumbled into this situation, especially now that the Russian economy is tanking faster than any market meltdown in history.

Putin may know what he wants and is doing.

But Putin is not Russia.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:41 AM on February 24 [21 favorites]


OTOH, others have claimed that Russia doesn't have a government in the western sense but rather patronage networks atop the levers of power. The state is weak, and everything is corruptly privatised, but the new owners know that their continued fortune depends on pleasing the Czar.
posted by acb at 10:43 AM on February 24 [9 favorites]


But Putin is not Russia.

This is the argument for why billionaires should be illegal. So much power concentrated in one person is anti-social poison. Kings should be outlawed.
posted by valkane at 10:45 AM on February 24 [20 favorites]


Though who will pass and enforce the law to outlaw kings?
posted by acb at 10:47 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


A republic, if we can keep it.
posted by Gelatin at 10:48 AM on February 24 [20 favorites]


Democracy. Though the Republicans keep trying to turn it back to Kingship.
posted by valkane at 10:52 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


There is no scenario in which NATO troops cross into Russia. None.

Kaliningrad, Karelia, and Crimea. Kaliningrad especially would be a target for NATO because holding Kaliningrad and Belarus means the Suwalki Gap can be closed and stop NATO forces in Central Europe from reinforcing the Baltic states.

Stalin became “The Boss” by out-maneuvering his opponents via the bureaucracy. And it takes a BIG bureaucracy to run a country that large.

Lenin: "Hey can you tell whoever I put in charge of giving people jobs not to give the job of leader to Stalin. By the way, who did I put in charge of giving people jobs?"
Trotsky: "Stalin..."
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:52 AM on February 24 [11 favorites]


I've seen various reports that the Russian elite- oligarchs included- were also surprised by this.

This is the argument for why billionaires should be illegal. So much power concentrated in one person is anti-social poison.

Yes, but it's worth mentioning I think that Putin is a billionaire because he controls the Russian government, not the other way around. Same for all the other Russian oligarchs. Their riches are spoils. This is somewhat the opposite to the West where billionaires gain power through their money; Russian oligarchs gain money through power and fealty to the Top Guy. Get crosswise with Putin and you'll find yourself in exile at best, rotting in a Russian prison at least, and/or falling out of a window.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:55 AM on February 24 [13 favorites]


I'm pretty sure history books have a few things to say about what it means to employ soldiers without head protection in modern battle situations. Russia for example did that (had to do that) in World War 1 and to a lesser extent 2, with horrible results.

So, if you feel Germany should also send weapons to Ukraine or be more sanction-happy or whatever the actual point here is, by all means argue with someone about that (I'm not interested). But ridiculing the delivery of helmets to a war zone is not a good look.
posted by Ashenmote at 10:55 AM on February 24 [7 favorites]


Were Russia to lose Kaliningrad, what would happen to it? Giving it back to Germany is obviously a nonstarter. Would Poland or Lithuania have more of a claim to it, or would it become a free city, like interwar Gdansk/Danzig?
posted by acb at 10:57 AM on February 24


Something about knowing that people, some of you, were worried about the same things, sharing news and love in comment threads on news posts in 2001, 2003, and so on, when I was in elementary school.

Reminds me of my grade school days in the 1980s, when the Philadelphia Inquirer responded to nuclear fears and The Day After by printing a long, theoretical article explaining Just How Screwed You Are if the Russians decided to detonate an arbitrarily-sized bomb over Philadelphia's City Hall. It was not altogether comforting that for this particular combination of warhead size and distance from ground zero, the result would not be instant or rapid death but rather more like "hey, have you ever watched the movie Threads?"

And about ten miles away, my grandparents sat there remembering that goddamned little turtle and "Duck and Cover."

'Twas ever thus. Sadly enough.
posted by delfin at 10:58 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


Finlandization” means
You live on the border with Russia, so yes; you can have a democracy, as long as you don’t vote for stuff Moscow disapproves of.
Both Sweden and Finland have stayed out of NATO by hoping that they could appease Russia.

Now with Ukraine’s sovereignty violated, people up north are starting to see that keeping the Bear appeased might not work, and that the protection of Article 5 (aka An attack on one NATO member is an attack against the alliance and all its members) might be something that suddenly looks promising.

Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Romania, all these states are covered by the protection of A5. They are inviolate.

This is why Russia fought so hard to keep Ukraine out of NATO; because you just can’t up and invade a NATO country.

This is also why Trump tied to weaken NATO and get the US out.

And yeah, Republicans; we’re gonna hang that last albatross around y’all necks for at least a generation.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:00 AM on February 24 [45 favorites]


"Biden on Swift: The sanctions that we are proposing on all of their banks are of equal consequence maybe more than swift. It is always an option but that’s not the position the rest of Europe wishes to take" -- acyn
posted by valkane at 11:07 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


In Sweden, the topic of NATO membership has come up again. The Social Democrats (i.e., centre-left party, institutionally conservative/incumbent, currently governing in a fractious coalition with the Greens and Left Party and an agreement with the Center Party) are dead against it, as has been their policy throughout the post-WW2 era, though the right-of-centre parties (who may well govern in coalition after the coming election later this year) are in favour of opening the question (which would presumably entail a referendum).

In practice, many commentators say that Sweden is a NATO member in all but name. They work with NATO extensively, holding joint exercises, and sharing data on threats from Russia. Sweden maintains its own unique equipment (they fly locally developed Saab Gripen fighters rather than US ones), and, perhaps more pressingly, are not covered by NATO Article 5. (Pressingly because any move by Russia to seize the Baltic States is expected to involve them taking the Swedish island of Gotland, opposite them in the Baltic.)
posted by acb at 11:08 AM on February 24 [9 favorites]


"Oh, uh, speaking of which: Biden has been presented with options for massive cyberattacks against Russia"

This is the ace-in-the-hole that I've wondered would finally see the light of day.

Given the US's preeminent involvement in both the history of the Internet and all the current related technology, its very deep pockets, what has been revealed about the depth and breadth of the NSA's activities and capabilities, the success of the few US cyberattacks of which we are aware, and the success of the relatively much-less resource-rich Russian cyberattacks... well, it's certain that the US could cripple any country's civil IT networking if it decided to do so.

The reason it's never done so is because this capability, as with the most valuable espionage, is almost always too valuable to use. Using it is to lose it, in several respects — both in revealing to the enemy its own vulnerabilities, but also in revealing one's own strengths.

Therefore, the scope of the deployment of this capability will most likely be proportional to its utter necessity. If the alternative is to allow an enemy to consolidate its gains such that it becomes entrenched in a conflict that could eventually provoke a nuclear exchange, then burning those bridges is a reasonable sacrifice.

Which is to say, I don't think there's been any time before now that has justified the US revealing the approximate scope of its cyberwar capabilities. Russia regularly deploys these weapons because they have to — this sort of asymmetric warfare plays to their strengths. The US especially would not want to reveal to China its capabilities and would do so only if other alternatives aren't available.

In my opinion, the deciding factor will be how effective the economic sanctions are in hobbling Russia. If they are not sufficiently effective, comprehensive offensive cyberwarfare by the US will for the first time be the best available option.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:10 AM on February 24 [31 favorites]


Were Russia to lose Kaliningrad, what would happen to it? Giving it back to Germany is obviously a nonstarter. Would Poland or Lithuania have more of a claim to it, or would it become a free city, like interwar Gdansk/Danzig?

That's the $65,000 question. Whoever takes Kaliningrad takes on a million ethnic Russians into their country.

For Poland this would mean a significant ethnic and language minority who would be disadvantaged by anything but a heroic amount of money spent on beefing up the bureaucracy to start working in Russian. Poland becoming ever more ultranationalist as time goes on and having no love lost for Russians this seems like a non-starter.

For Lithuania it would mean a significant political bloc that could easily start shit. It's one of the reasons they refused to annex it back in the '50s and I doubt their feelings have changed given how freaked they are about Russian political power and subterfuge already. If Kaliningrad were forced to independence would they even want it? Would they just go straight back to Russia and asked to be annexed? And what would stop them from becoming the Belarus of the Baltic Shores? There's no good answer to the Kaliningrad question other than the status quo, shit as it is, appears to be better than all of the available options.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:14 AM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Both Sweden and Finland have stayed out of NATO by hoping that they could appease Russia.

It's more the case that Finland has stayed out of NATO because it would be viewed as a provocation by the Soviet Union, then post-Soviet Russia.

That was more a case of realpolitik based on the fact the country shares a very long border with a very bellicose neighbour. Appeasement? Not so much. Finns like my grandparents, who were veterans of the Winter War and Continuation War, would bristle at such a suggestion.

Note that "Finlandization" was used as a pejorative by people like Henry Kissinger to imply that countries moving towards strong social democratic policies were doing Moscow's bidding. Kissinger may have had, you know, ulterior motives for such a claim because, well, Kissinger.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said it is important that the opportunity to apply for Nato membership remains available:

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) confirmed on Thursday that Finland and Sweden were taking part in Nato's virtual summit about the Ukraine situation on Friday.

"It is important for Finland and Sweden to be involved in the Nato meeting, due to the situation in the Baltic Sea region, for example," Haavisto said.

Haavisto also said it is important that the opportunity to apply for Nato membership remains available.


As with Sweden, it's starting to look like the invasion of Ukraine may nudge things in the direction of NATO membership. I mean, who knows, but lots of things are possible right now.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:17 AM on February 24 [21 favorites]


I suppose they could call it something like Curonia and give it EU membership as a state in its own right. Or they could even create this state right now for use in the plan to bribe Russian troops into desertion.
posted by acb at 11:18 AM on February 24


Is there any reason Kalningrad Oblast couldn't be an independent country? Obviously, this would entail "nation building" since it would need a robust democratic government and some kind of desire on the part of the people living there to not be a part of the Russian Federation, but if we are talking about what to do with Kaliningrad in the first place then we are already in a tough geopolitical position.
posted by os tuberoes at 11:20 AM on February 24


If you want to keep tabs on protests in Russia, Eilish Hart, an editor at the Latvia-based, Russia-focused news-site Meduza (Wikipedia entry), is doing very good work aggregating information about and videos of anti-war demonstrations on Twitter. The latest count is that 1528 people have been arrested in demonstrations in 52 cities.
posted by Kattullus at 11:27 AM on February 24 [19 favorites]


Biden’s Ukraine Plans Face Wall Street Roadblock (the daily poster)
Corporate lobbyists thwarted measures that could strengthen sanctions against the Putin regime — and they were lobbying as the threat of war intensified.
posted by bluesky43 at 11:30 AM on February 24 [9 favorites]


I suppose they could call it something like Curonia and give it EU membership as a state in its own right. Or they could even create this state right now for use in the plan to bribe Russian troops into desertion.

This would be a catastrophically bad idea. The EU as a decision making organ prides itself on consensus seeking, consent, unanimity, and equality almost to a fault. The amount of political damage a determined adversary could do from inside the EU would be incalculable and there's no mechanism for some countries to be more equal than others inside the EU.

Is there any reason Kalningrad Oblast couldn't be an independent country? Obviously, this would entail "nation building" since it would need a robust democratic government and some kind of desire on the part of the people living there to not be a part of the Russian Federation, but if we are talking about what to do with Kaliningrad in the first place then we are already in a tough geopolitical position.

It's not so much that it couldn't be an independent country but would it stay an independent country. You can "liberate" Kaliningrad but if they immediate have a referendum to be reannexed by Russia, what then?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:36 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


Note that the talk here has already turned into "Putin gets Ukraine, maybe some tiny shreds can somehow stay free".

Because no one gives enough of a shit about Ukraine to risk military action against a nuclear armed nation. And, TBH, I can't blame them because I'm not sure I give enough of a shit about Ukraine to risk military action against a nuclear armed nation.

That's ultimately the question: do you care enough about Ukraine to risk London, NYC, Berlin, Paris, whatever being nuked? That the answer is "no" is a bit shameful, but unsurprising.

Brinksmanship is as terrifying today as it was in the 1960's. Putin, basically, is daring the world to stop him, and the world won't.

Which brings the question: where is the actual, real, no shit, line in the sand where people say "fuck it, Putin does this we'll risk his nukes?"

NATO members or not, I don't think any of the Baltic states qualify. I suspect they'll invoke Article 5 and somehow, like magic, reasons will be found that Article 5 doesn't apply in that circumstance. Because no one with power gives enough of a shit about Estonia to risk nuclear war over its freedom from Russian invasion.

Putin has put us back into Cold War geopolitical considerations, and boundary testing. How far can he push it before the other atomic powers say no with force? He doens't know. I don't know. I don't think anyone actuallly knows.

But somewhere is that line. And all us over here on MeFi can do is hope that Putin will settle for invading and conquering only the nations on the other side of the line.
posted by sotonohito at 11:37 AM on February 24 [6 favorites]




NATO members or not, I don't think any of the Baltic states qualify. I suspect they'll invoke Article 5 and somehow, like magic, reasons will be found that Article 5 doesn't apply in that circumstance. Because no one with power gives enough of a shit about Estonia to risk nuclear war over its freedom from Russian invasion.

This is not going to happen. First of all, ignoring an Article 5 threat would be the end of NATO and the admission that the US cannot or will not enforce its hegemony on the world. At that point the US will be done as a world power and no US leader will permit that because the US economy is basically built on it being the economic hegemon of the world. The US gets to send out cotton rags and get back goods. Not losing that privilege is the most bipartisan thing in the US.

Secondly, Russia wouldn't be declaring war on Estonia. They would be declaring war on the EU. The EU would be forced to act or face its own dissolution. It's why Putin doesn't have his fanboys in the Baltics starting separatist shit like in Ukraine in the first place. It's one thing to pick off the sickest member of the herd. It's another entirely to take on the entire fucking herd.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:46 AM on February 24 [32 favorites]


The amount of political damage a determined adversary could do from inside the EU would be incalculable and there's no mechanism for some countries to be more equal than others inside the EU.

More than Russian klept-owned Cyprus and/or Orbánist Hungary?
posted by acb at 11:47 AM on February 24


More than Russian klept-owned Cyprus and/or Orbánist Hungary?

Yes. The thing about Cyprus and Hungary is that they are in it for their own interests. It has to work for them because they have no better destiny awaiting them. They have to work within the framework they have. If you had a theoretical Curonia forced into the EU against their will working for a hostile foreign power they would throw a wrench in every gear. Bulgaria finally allows North Macdeonia to accede to the EU? Wrench. Accession of the rest of the Balkans when they're ready? Wrench. You better fucking believe that any ethnic Russian state with even loose political ties to autocratic Russians ain't going to let Serbia join the EU.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:54 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Sotonohito: NATO members or not, I don't think any of the Baltic states qualify. I suspect they'll invoke Article 5 and somehow, like magic, reasons will be found that Article 5 doesn't apply in that circumstance. Because no one with power gives enough of a shit about Estonia to risk nuclear war over its freedom from Russian invasion.

I realize that in the United States this seems like this is all happening far away. But some of us reading and participating in this thread are a lot closer to events, and have friends and/or family that are even closer to the epicenter. Idle speculation about Russian invasions of Estonia, or any other place bordering Russia, is a deeply anxiety-inducing idea. I have close friends living in Estonia. Please keep in mind that your audience on MetaFilter isn't just Americans, and even then, there are plenty of Americans for whom the prospect of invasions by Russia aren't thought exercises, but something that would affect people they love.
posted by Kattullus at 11:57 AM on February 24 [123 favorites]


Adding to Kattullus' comment: it's also plain wrong that no-one cares about Estonia. And a very American point of view. You might not care about Estonia, but I'm guessing about 500 million people in Europe care a lot about Estonia.
posted by mumimor at 12:03 PM on February 24 [59 favorites]


Some Americans also personally care about those places and have friends and/or family living in those places, so, yes.
posted by wondermouse at 12:05 PM on February 24 [6 favorites]


It's the century-old isolationist talking point: “Do we want corn-fed farmboys from Iowa dying for (foreign place name)?”
posted by acb at 12:05 PM on February 24 [5 favorites]


Yeah… no; the idea that NATO would not invoke A5 if the Baltic members are invaded would render the entire treaty null and void. Everybody knows that.

And whatever else, NATO is not about to fold up shop and take down the flags. That’s not in the cards.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:06 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Rhaomi: "I was so struck by reading the Zelensky speech last night that I had to find a video and make captions for it; it's not something I've noticed done in full elsewhere yet and I think really needs to be seen. For context, this is Zelenskyy speaking in his native Russian in a speech addressed to the people of Russia just hours before Putin began his invasion.

Here it is:
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's heartbreaking, defiant speech to the Russian people [English subs]

(Also on Reddit, though it's a info war free-for-all over there from what I've seen so it might not see the light of day over there.)
"

Update: I might have been a bit pessimistic. Five hours later, this subtitle video was the #1 post on all of Reddit, including three different copies on the front page simultaneously, was crossposted to 100+ other subreddits in multiple languages, got 4,000+ awards, and with almost 100,000 votes is now the single most popular thing I've ever posted there. Here's a video download link if you want to post it other platforms yourself.

Normally I'd be annoyed to see so many copycat accounts ripping off something I put time and effort into creating, but in this case it's incredibly heartening to see it duplicated and spread through so many other communities and languages in solidarity with Ukraine. I've got no idea how popular Reddit is in Russia (if it's even allowed), but hopefully this helped spread Zelenskyy's powerful message to many more people than if it had remained available mainly as text transcripts or brief video clips. (And since I posted the link here first, I'll go ahead and mentally credit y'all for giving it the early signal boost it needed to break through.)

Слава Україні 🇺🇦
posted by Rhaomi at 12:06 PM on February 24 [162 favorites]


Is there any guess as to what the casualties on either side will be? Both Russia and Ukraine are undergoing demographic collapse. Young soldiers being killed removes workers that can service the economy and service each country's elderly's retirement. It seems an odd way to go where Russia wants to eliminate their citizen count more rapidly than their already declining peacetime citizen count per year.
posted by DetriusXii at 12:07 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Kattullus and mumimor, thank you for saying that. It's astonishing to me reading this how willing many in the west are to write off tens if not hundreds of million people...

On a different note, here is a collection of links for Ukraine-linked NGOs. A page on Romanian Facebook where ordinary people offer housing and other help to refugees (some already arrived); Im sure similar pages can be found for other countries.
posted by doggod at 12:08 PM on February 24 [5 favorites]


The way this war widens isn't when NATO decides to attack in support of Ukraine but rather when a Russian cyber attack exceeds its bounds and starts running rampant somewhere other than Ukraine. If it were to make it to a neighboring NATO member such as Poland, e.g., an escalatory spiral is possible. If it made it to a G7 member or similarly important country, all bets are off. I wouldn't call it likely, but we're well into the realm where unintended consequences rule.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:11 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


As unhappy as Russia is with the Baltics' NATO membership, it is no more likely to invade them than is NATO to invade Russia, and for the same reasons. Expect Russia and NATO to go to great lengths to avoid a direct confrontation.

However, keep in mind that countries can find themselves involved in devastating wars they had every intention of avoiding. WWI made that abundantly clear.

In my opinion, today and in the coming days we should judge the wisdom of the actions of the leaders involved on the basis of how cognizant they are of both of those points.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:12 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


It's one thing to pick off the sickest member of the herd.

Thing is, Ukraine isn't even a member of the herd. It was a potential member. Sadly for it, it is a buffer state.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:14 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


Another point Beau of the 5th Column mentioned:
Russia has enough troops to take Ukraine. But can they hold it?
Russia has roughly a similar number of troops available compared to how many coalition troops went into Iraq, Country with a similar population size to Ukraine. And we never fully controlled Iraq.

So even if they can hold it while
dealing with…. what is Ukrainian for WOLVERINES?… there won’t be much left to go into other countries.

Once guerrilla war starts, the locals don’t have to win. They just have to continually bleed the occupiers until they go home.

Yes, it feeds your people into the meat grinder, but that’s what kicking out the occupier takes; being willing to bleed more for your homeland than the invaders are willing to bleed to keep it.

Worked in Vietnam, worked in Afghanistan.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:16 PM on February 24 [7 favorites]


Derail about Estonia: in a way it's personal. Back when the Baltic nations had just gained independence, I was on a boat trip with a bunch of colleagues from all over Europe. There was a colleague from Estonia and we all found that very new and exotic. But then one person looked at the Estonian and me and exclaimed something like: you guys have the exact same blue eyes! I know it is a bit silly and romantic, but since then I have felt we are family.
posted by mumimor at 12:17 PM on February 24 [23 favorites]


Perhaps Putin is betting on technical assistance from Xi in establishing a Xinjiang-style control infrastructure to pacify Ukraine?
posted by acb at 12:21 PM on February 24


China has made it clear that they don't support the invasion. Russia is almost alone with this.
posted by mumimor at 12:23 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


I had a digital meeting with an Estonian colleague yesterday. We've been working on a transnational project and have been looking forward to our first physical meeting scheduled in April in Tallin. That's feeling less likely now. The October meeting in St. Petersburg less so. I mean, small potatoes in the grand scheme of suffering that this will cause but sad nonetheless.
posted by St. Oops at 12:25 PM on February 24 [12 favorites]


Perhaps Putin is betting on technical assistance from Xi in establishing a Xinjiang-style control infrastructure to pacify Ukraine?

Russia and India have very good relations now, he could just talk to Modi about how Kashmir is being managed.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:25 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


However, keep in mind that countries can find themselves involved in devastating wars they had every intention of avoiding. WWI made that abundantly clear.

I would say a lot of the lessons from WWI are more that it's very easy to underestimate things, and assume that every conflict is going to be a series of sharp conflicts leading to a quick victory. I think many were plenty happy to be involved, not understanding the scale and the outcomes that were arriving.
posted by Carillon at 12:28 PM on February 24 [5 favorites]


Speaking of the Great War,

This would be a catastrophically bad idea. The EU as a decision making organ prides itself on consensus seeking, consent, unanimity, and equality almost to a fault.

The EU/NATO recognizing Kosovo independence in 2008 has been used by Putin as a casus belli for the whole mess, or at least supporting Luhansk/Donetsk. So more international bodies and alliance systems doing the same would just be escalating this trend.

Also, I don't get the Curonia name. That region isn't in Courland. Maybe reverting the name back to Königsberg would make more sense.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:31 PM on February 24


They could sarcastically name it Putingrad.
posted by acb at 12:39 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


Justin Ling, in Foreign Policy:

Russia Launches Social Media Offensive Alongside Missiles - Telegram has been the main vector for invasion disinformation (Ling is a credible Canadian freelance journalist with a long history of covering the far right and disinformation):

As ballistic missiles launched from Russia, columns of tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border, and Russian President Vladimir Putin took to the airwaves to declare war on Thursday, a network of pro-Kremlin propaganda social media channels were at the ready to massage the war online on Putin’s terms.

On the secure messaging platform Telegram on early Thursday local time , a handful of channels such as “Donbass Insider” and “Bellum Acta” with a history of advancing pro-Russian propaganda sprang into action. Within minutes of explosions being reported in Donetsk, Odessa, and Kyiv, the channels supplied details, images, and video of the war in real time, in Russian, English, Spanish, and French. They showed Russian soldiers heading to war and the missiles landing just outside major Ukrainian cities.

On other Telegram channels that trade in far-right memes, images were shared of Putin brandishing a handgun and promising to “crush those filthy Ukrainian,” earning heart emoji from followers.

Telegram may be a fairly marginal social media channel in the West, but—unlike Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube—it is one free of restrictions for state-backed propaganda campaigns in Russia, where it remains popular. The Russian state broadcaster RT, for example, has more than 200,000 followers on the platform.

The amount of disinformation emanating from Telegram was significant enough to warrant a statement from the Ukrainian government’s anti-disinformation body on Thursday, calling the work of such channels “information terrorism.” While few English-language channels were on the list of those the government flagged as dangerous, despite some of them having tens of thousands of followers, the statement nevertheless underscores Kyiv’s fear that Telegram offers a dedicated pipeline of pro-Russian propaganda.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:59 PM on February 24 [8 favorites]


China has made it clear that they don't support the invasion. Russia is almost alone with this.
posted by mumimor at 12:23 PM on February 24


China refuses to call Russian attack on Ukraine an ‘invasion,’ deflects blame to U.S. (cnbc)

China Responds Cautiously to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

What Is China Learning from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine? (Evan Osnos, The New Yorker)

/China's response to this is as important as the US and NATO.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:01 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Ling embedded himself in the protests in Ottawa and did a fantastic job. He's great and credible.
posted by fatbird at 1:01 PM on February 24


China refuses to call Russian attack on Ukraine an ‘invasion,’ deflects blame to U.S. (cnbc)

China Responds Cautiously to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

What Is China Learning from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine? (Evan Osnos, The New Yorker)


One of those links is different from the others.
To me it seems that American media and politicians are engaging in dangerous fanfic, equivalent to that during the run-up to the Iraq war. Some of us are at the risk of a war in our neighborhood, maybe even in our homes. Please stop it.
posted by mumimor at 1:08 PM on February 24 [11 favorites]


Ragıp Soylu
@ragipsoylu
Look at the size of anti-war protestors in St Petersburg, Russia. Wow (twitter)

/those people are so incredibly brave.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:09 PM on February 24 [34 favorites]


Reports emerging that Russia has taken control of Snake Island. While disputed, the International Court of Justice says that 80% of its territory is owned by Romania.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:11 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Alexander S. Vindman
@AVindman
·
8m
If true this would be a stunning development. Ukraine Minister of Defense claims to have re-secured the airport, seized by Russian Air Assault Forces—Russia’s elite military units--on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv. He added the fight continues.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:13 PM on February 24 [6 favorites]




Biden hits Russia with tough export curbs, slashing access to global tech (reuters)

The Biden administration announced sweeping export restrictions against Russia on Thursday, hammering its access to global exports of goods from commercial electronics and computers to semiconductors and aircraft parts.

The controls, announced by the Commerce Department and first reported by Reuters, rely on a dramatic expansion of the so-called Foreign Direct Product Rule, forcing companies making high- and low-tech items overseas with U.S. tools to seek a license from the United States before shipping to Russia. The measures also instruct the Commerce Department to deny almost all of those license requests. In a White House speech announcing the new controls, President Joe Biden said they would "impose severe costs on the Russian economy both immediately and over time," noting that allies including 27 members of the European Union such as France, Germany and Italy, as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, had joined in the response to maximize its impact.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:19 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


I can't find verification from a good source yet about Snake Island, but our Romanian family is saying it's all over the news there. Depending on how you come down on "It's disputed"/"ICJ says it's Romania's" that is potentially an Article 5 situation, i.e. would provoke unified NATO response.

The Russian seizure of Snake Island has been added to the territory's Wikipedia page, with Russian language sources.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:19 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


I apologize fo being flip or dismissive regarding people in Putin's path.

It is not that I don't care about Estonia, or Ukraine. I do and I should have expressed that.

On a personal note I know a few Ukranians from the time I spent at a conference on education in a tiny little town a couple hours outside Moscow that both they and I attended. That was almost exactly a year after the USSR collapsed. I turned 18 there and students from the Stork School in Ukraine celebrated with me.

What I meant was that geopolitically the people with power don't give a shit. Or at least not enough of a shit to do anything.

As for Estonia and NATO, I remain doubtful. Maybe NATO powers do represent the hard sharp line that Putin can't cross without war even though he has nukes. But we live in the era of Brexit and MAGA.

If Trump wins a second term in 2024, as he very well might, I wouldn't be surprised if Putin decided to annex Estonia or some other powerless NATO member specificially becuase he expects America to fail to respond to an Article 5 invocation and he is looking for the collapse of NATO and America's standing that would entail.

Putin has learned that on the geopolitical stage the question is not "what am I allowed to do" but "who's going to stop me?"

And so far the answer has been "no one."

Sanctions are a joke. They'll exist for a year or two at the most then be forgotten. Same as they were after Putin's first invasion of Ukraine when he annexed Crimea. That was his test: who would stop him?

And the answer then was the same as the answer now: no one.

Becuse Merkel is wrong. The ONLY thing that will stop Putin is either military action or the credible threat of military action.

When someone tells you who they are, believe them. Putin has told us he wants the USSR back, he's been saying that in exactly those terms for years now. And he's getting it.
posted by sotonohito at 1:23 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Great explainer from Lisa Desjardins on the impact of Biden's economic sanctions. She notes BIden used the phrase in the "weeks and months ahead", and that it's not clear what the long term game plan is.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:28 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Biden hits Russia with tough export curbs, slashing access to global tech

FYI Reuters has a paywall now, but it's obviously syndicated elsewhere, here's Yahoo.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:34 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


I apologize fo being flip or dismissive regarding people in Putin's path.

It is not that I don't care about Estonia, or Ukraine. I do and I should have expressed that.

On a personal note I know a few Ukranians from the time I spent at a conference on education in a tiny little town a couple hours outside Moscow that both they and I attended. That was almost exactly a year after the USSR collapsed. I turned 18 there and students from the Stork School in Ukraine celebrated with me.


I don't mean to be too personally critical here, as I really value your contributions, but you do have a tendency to speak with authority on a broad range of sensitive political topics when it's really just speculation - you've gotten pushback on that kind of thing before. Knowing a few Ukranians 30 years ago doesn't really make you a geopolitical expert.
posted by Think_Long at 1:36 PM on February 24 [21 favorites]


i am half disinformation, but please don't debate twice impeached president khorosho's 2024 campaign here.
posted by 20 year lurk at 1:48 PM on February 24 [12 favorites]


What I meant was that geopolitically the people with power don't give a shit. Or at least not enough of a shit to do anything.

But that is still wrong. The EU does not want war in Ukraine, and even less in actual EU countries. While people outside the EU don't understand what it is, it is a huge economic power, second only to the US, and in this reality, money=power. The EU countries are all interdependent. A car company in Munich may get parts from Rumania, Poland, Lithuania, Denmark, and every other EU country. A huge part of the problem with Brexit is that it has taken the UK out of the on-demand supply chains that are characteristic for the EU.
And you can say a lot about the current government in Poland, but the Baltic is now truly a strong regional economy, with lots of cross-border exchange, both of people, knowledge and goods. Poland borders on Ukraine. Oh, and if the Russians want to invade the three Baltics, there is no way there won't be conflict in the entire Baltic Sea, and all the way up to the North Sea.
Russia invading Estonia is literally like Mexico invading New Mexico, if Mexico spent most of their government money on having an absurdly large military-industrial complex. Someone in, I don't know, Vietnam, might say: who cares about New Mexico? But a lot of people care a lot about the US borders, even though they don't know a lot about New Mexico.
posted by mumimor at 1:50 PM on February 24 [39 favorites]


Concerning Snake Island, is it possible Putin has just lost his GD mind? What does he think is going to happen?
posted by os tuberoes at 1:51 PM on February 24


It is not that I don't care about Estonia, or Ukraine. I do and I should have expressed that.

Considering that you didn't even bother to spend ten seconds finding out what the actual name of "Lutheuania, or whatever" is and didn't know Belarus is on Russia's side, maybe you should really reconsider whether adding more noise to the conversation is a good idea.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:53 PM on February 24 [48 favorites]


She notes BIden used the phrase in the "weeks and months ahead", and that it's not clear what the long term game plan is.

Sanctions on SWIFT remain on the table. That seems to be a card being withheld, either as a last-ditch attempt to force Putin to the table or because of concerns the world will move away from the US dollar as a global currency. Trump was the very best Russian spy that Putin ever had installed in the US — we now seem to have almost zero leverage.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:57 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Russia invading Estonia is literally like Mexico invading New Mexico, if Mexico spent most of their government money on having an absurdly large military-industrial complex.

/and Estonia is a NATO member.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:58 PM on February 24


Sanctions on SWIFT remain on the table

From what I've read, Biden said that not all of NATO is on board with the SWIFT option at the moment. But from what I've also read, that would cripple the three main Russian banks who do 80% of their business in US dollars.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:06 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]




is it possible Putin has just lost his GD mind?

Yes, but also possible that once the military operations started they’ve taken on some life of their own. That is, I don’t know that Putin is personally aware of or directing every operation. I think this is why people worry that WWIII could be around the corner - the possibility of taking the wrong territory or other missteps that force others into the conflict.
posted by jzb at 2:16 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Anna Akhmatova, July 1914
I

Smell of burning. The marshes are singeing
For four weeks, with the peat bog dried up.
And today, even birds have quit singing
And the aspen that shivered has stopped.

God, Himself, sees the sun with dismay,
And since Easter, the drought has spread.
And a one-legged stranger today
Has appeared in the courtyard and said:

“Frightful times are upon us. Fresh graves
Will be crammed everywhere rather soon.
Death and famine will come here in waves,
And eclipse both the sun and the moon.

But, no matter, our foes won’t prevail,
Not a piece of our land will be vanquished.
Virgin Mary will spread out her veil
Up above this immeasurable anguish.”

II

The sweet smell of juniper flies
From the evergreen woods burning down.
Soldier boys are bemoaned by their wives
And the cries of the widows resound.

Not for nothing the prayers were said,
Arid earth was thirsty for rain:
And the warm red liquid was spread
Over the trampled plain.

The empty sky only grows heavier,
And the prayer is hushed and composed:
“They have wounded your body, Savior,
And they’re casting lots for your clothes.”
posted by kmt at 2:18 PM on February 24 [22 favorites]


Concerning Snake Island, is it possible Putin has just lost his GD mind? What does he think is going to happen?

I think he’s probably hoping that the fact it’s disputed between Romania and Ukraine may give plausible cover.
posted by corb at 2:22 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]


"5 days ago, J.D. Vance said [...] Now, he's issued a long statement..."

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:26 PM on February 24 [21 favorites]


German TV had an editorial just now bracing everyone for the economic shit-storm that is brewing, gas up to 2€/liter (that’s 8$ a gallon) interest rates rising and everyone taking it in the neck one way or another.

It’s not a rosy outlook, even without the region plunging us into WWIII (which I can’t imagine. Though family have called and suggested we come to North America for an extended visit - that’s from the generation that lived through the aftermath of WWII though, so take it as you will. We haven’t even checked on flights.)
posted by From Bklyn at 2:38 PM on February 24 [5 favorites]


France says Putin needs to understand NATO has nuclear weapons

France's foreign minister said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, when making threats about using nuclear weapons, needs to understand that NATO, too, is a nuclear alliance, but he ruled out NATO-led military intervention to defend Ukraine.

Asked whether Putin's threat of "such consequences that you have never encountered in your history" was tantamount to threatening Russian use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was indeed understood as such.

/Jesus, I just saw this exchange about nuclear weapons. I have extended family living in Europe, and this is on all accounts, terrifying.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:47 PM on February 24 [6 favorites]


From what I've read, Biden said that not all of NATO is on board with the SWIFT option at the moment. But from what I've also read, that would cripple the three main Russian banks who do 80% of their business in US dollars.


Cutting SWIFT was taken off the table by the Europeans. They're being very careful to not do things that would hurt ordinary Russians because they don't want to give Putin ammo to turn the conflict into a Great Patriotic War.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:06 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will change the face of Europe for ever
Timothy Garton Ash / The Guardian

Timothy Garton Ash is from an older generation than me and IMO sometimes is in denial about the current situation. But he is very smart and always brings profound insights to the table. I like this paragraph:
There will be a time to reflect on all our past mistakes. If, starting in 2014, we had got serious about helping to build up Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself, reduced European energy dependence on Russia, purged the sewage lakes of Russian dirty money swilling around London and imposed more sanctions on the Putin regime, we might be in a better place. But we have to start from where we are.
Because it is a Maggi cube of insight: he is basically pointing to the things we should have done, not just to stop the Russian expansion, but also to stop global warming, to prevent the election of Donald Trump and all that entails, and to stop Brexit from happening. Because all these things are connected.
Regarding his suggestions for action, I hope our current politicians are braver than him, and his friends who led us to this situation.
posted by mumimor at 3:06 PM on February 24 [28 favorites]


Again, unverified through mainstream English language press, but the situation on Snake Island seems to be this: there are usually around 25 people on the island, but today there were only 13, all were Ukrainian, all were killed when they refused to surrender. Russia controls it now. I'm unclear on why there weren't any Romanians on the island, but I wonder if they bolted, preemptively.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:12 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Ukrainian Armed Forces reports that to date they have destroyed:

More than 30 Russian tanks, as many as 130 armored combat vehicles, 7 planes, and 6 helicopters.

No word on how much the Ukrainian side has lost.
posted by Kabanos at 3:38 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


As for Estonia and NATO, I remain doubtful. Maybe NATO powers do represent the hard sharp line that Putin can't cross without war even though he has nukes. But we live in the era of Brexit and MAGA.

If Trump wins a second term in 2024, as he very well might, I wouldn't be surprised if Putin decided to annex Estonia or some other powerless NATO member specificially becuase he expects America to fail to respond to an Article 5 invocation and he is looking for the collapse of NATO and America's standing that would entail.


I'm an American, but I also have EU citizenship by way of Estonia. I have relatives there, some who survived the half century of Soviet rule and some who are too young to remember it. One great uncle died at the hands of the NKVD. A great-grandfather is buried in Tallinn, but I cannot visit his grave because the Soviets bulldozed the headstones out of that cemetery to use in construction projects.

I cannot predict the future and I don't want to try. I've had good friends of mine, well-informed American friends, tell me that it was a bad, irresponsible idea for the Baltics to be admitted to NATO, because... well, because of course Putin or his successor is going to have his way with the Baltics sooner or later, and either (1) it will escalate into full blown war between nuclear powers or (2) NATO will dissolve because nobody outside that corner of the world wants to risk option 1. And maybe that will happen. Maybe my well-informed American friends are right and NATO is a fool's errand. Maybe there are some places in the world that are simply doomed to being overrun and made into vassals over and over, and maybe we are putting on airs by pretending otherwise. Just look at the map: Russia is so big, and the places around its margins are so small. We're only being realistic here.

And yet - the people of the Baltics declared independence from Moscow twice in the 20th century. Once when the tsars fell, and again when the Soviets fell seven decades later. I don't know what will happen to NATO, but the powerless Baltics have fought off or waited out imperialist Russian occupation twice now. I can only assume that they will be ready to do it again, with or without help from NATO.
posted by cubeb at 3:39 PM on February 24 [68 favorites]


"Look at the size of anti-war protestors in St Petersburg, Russia. Wow" -- Ragıp Soylu on twitter
posted by valkane at 3:40 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Luckily for us, America has its best and brightest hard at work making sense of the situation. We--

Senator Tuberville claims Putin is invading Ukraine because Russia is a communist country that needs more land.

“He can’t feed his people,” said Tuberville. “It’s a communist country, so he can’t feed his people, so they need more farmland.”



posted by delfin at 3:42 PM on February 24 [17 favorites]


"The 13 snake island defenders reads like a modern Ukrainian 28 Pamfilovtsev legend, as the Russians continue to reverse engineer their glorious WW2 myths but with themselves in the role of aggressors" -- Shaun Walker on twitter
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 3:49 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


From the sounds of things, the Ukrainian military is putting up a damn fight. I don't know how long they can hold out, but they are fighting for their home. Beyond the military, thousands of automatic weapons were handed out in Kyiv today, and the president says they will arm any citizen who wants to fight.

Those of us in the USA don't really have the worry of fighting an invading force like this. One of the US's biggest strategic advantages is geography. It's almost impossible to bring a force big enough for an effective invasion here. But when you see the images in Ukraine, it's something that should make anyone stop and think. A couple of days ago, these people had homes, they had jobs, they had social lives, they had hobbies. Now they're hiding in subways with the clothes on their back and little else. Most of them are going to lose everything, and it happened *that fast.* And for what? To satisfy the lust for power of a madman. Hell yes they're going to fight. And if by some miracle they manage to defeat the Russian invasion before they have to turn to insurgency, they will have likely saved a lot of Europe in the process.
posted by azpenguin at 3:49 PM on February 24 [46 favorites]


For cubeb: today the Danish parliament voted for a large rise in the defence budget, not to build walls in Denmark, but to support our neighbors around the Baltic Sea. I have never, ever in my life seen a Danish parliament so unambiguously support the NATO defence system, and I am kind of old.
posted by mumimor at 3:51 PM on February 24 [26 favorites]


Environmental sensors in Chernobyl suggest that there may be a serious radiological incident at Chernobyl. Some say a missile or artillery shell hit a waste storage container.
posted by interogative mood at 3:55 PM on February 24 [7 favorites]


Concerning Snake Island, is it possible Putin has just lost his GD mind? What does he think is going to happen?

I think he’s probably hoping that the fact it’s disputed between Romania and Ukraine may give plausible cover.


This seems to me like a great example of where the facts really matter. As far as I can tell, we’re talking about Romania’s rights to the waters around Snake Island. If that’s really the sort of thing that would trigger Article 5…I don’t know about that. It’s definitely a much different question from (at this time, hypothetical question) of what to do if Russia invades a NATO member in the Baltics.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 4:02 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Cutting SWIFT was taken off the table by the Europeans. They're being very careful to not do things that would hurt ordinary Russians because they don't want to give Putin ammo to turn the conflict into a Great Patriotic War.

Also Europe buys a lot of natural gas from Russia and they need swift to pay for it I believe.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 4:13 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


No country is ever going to voluntarily give up nuclear weapons again given what’s happening to Ukraine and what happened to Libiya. Any country that does not have nuclear weapons should be scrambling to build some as fast as they can. What a shitty world.
posted by rdr at 4:23 PM on February 24 [23 favorites]


Environmental sensors in Chernobyl suggest that there may be a serious radiological incident

The sources for the Chernobyl radiation claims (all on Twitter so far) mostly seem dubious. This guy seems to have some credibility, and doesn't seem too concerned.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:35 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Regarding the data from the Chernobyl monitors: someone on Twitter noticed the number reported is 65,500 nSv/h. Many here will recognize this is very close to the maximum value of a 16 bit integer. This indicates the equipment is probably malfunctioning in some way.

I guess there's a chance this number is actually this high, or that it's higher and an integer overflow happened. But the simplest answer is the sensors or other equipment have been damaged in the combat.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 4:56 PM on February 24 [12 favorites]


idk i'm not an expert on much of anything but we all can look at that map and click on multiple sensors ourselves.

as i type this you can see the sensor DHS-2 having a spike from it's nominal value of around 7500 - 8000 nSv/h suddenly jump to 58800 nSv/h. sensors SVRTV and SVYaP and a few others are showing similar spikes. maybe it's nothing but it sure looks like multiple sensors in and around the area are reporting radiation spikes and they're not all 65,565 nSv/h
posted by glonous keming at 5:03 PM on February 24 [9 favorites]


I think the Chernobyl stuff is derail-y but my interpretation of MAX INT readings wouldn't be that the sensors were malfunctioning but that their sensitivity was being swamped.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 5:10 PM on February 24 [12 favorites]


New statement from the International Crisis Group. War in Europe: Responding to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine.
While the available steps may seem small given the scale of what President Putin is doing, and cannot turn back the clock or by themselves reverse Russia’s aggression, a demonstration of unity and imposition of costs by outside powers represent the best hope of bringing the region, and the world, back toward a more stable order:
  • The first task for Western powers and their partners – one that is well under way – is to take the steps they had warned Moscow’s military escalation would provoke: sanctions, a NATO buildup in Eastern Europe, supplying Ukraine with weapons and assistance.
  • Non-Western powers should make their voices heard, following the example of Kenya’s permanent representative to the UN, to make clear the reputational costs of Moscow's war of aggression.
  • The UN and others should take urgent steps to help Ukraine prepare for the war’s probable humanitarian fallout, and establish a fact-finding mechanism to collect evidence of violations of international humanitarian law.

Those who oppose Moscow’s aggression need to raise the costs to Russia and prepare for what could be a long and difficult struggle.
posted by russilwvong at 5:26 PM on February 24 [9 favorites]


So my American niece, a professor who got her PHD from studies of Ukraine and lived there off and on for years was quoted in her local paper for charities to help.

https://savelife.in.ua/en/donate/?fbclid=IwAR157ergvZ207BMb6FR7VjmT4OAfnjaFnwqE1SWrkjjbwrC7tYaOySS3Bng

and click the Ukrainian army button I guess

https://sites.google.com/view/standwithukraine
for humanitarium help.
posted by baegucb at 5:26 PM on February 24 [12 favorites]


Russia has not put soldiers on Romanian soil. Snake Island is Ukrainian territory.

There was a territorial dispute between Romania and Ukraine over the island, resolved by the International Court of Justice in 2009. The substance of the dispute was not about who owned the island (everyone agreed in the 1990s that Ukraine owned the island) but about who owned the surrounding seafloor for purposes of oil drilling. To repeat, in 2022 Romania does not own Snake Island and makes no claim to own Snake Island.

Peer reviewed source: Ocean and Coastal Law Journal

Serpents’ Island (also called Snake Island and Ostrov Zmeinyy) is virtually the only island in the Black Sea, except for a few that hug the coasts. It has 0.17 square kilometers of land area...Although sovereignty over Serpents’ Island was contested for many years, in 1997 Romania accepted that this feature belonged to Ukraine. Romania argued before the Court that Ukraine had agreed in the 1997 treaty that Serpents’ Island was a “rock” under Article 121(3) and therefore that it could not affect the maritime delimitation between the two countries...by determining that Ukraine’s tiny Serpents’ Island should have no impact whatsoever on the maritime boundary, the Court reconfirmed [in 2009] that small uninhabited islands will generally have limited or no impacts on delimitations and that such features should not generate extended maritime zones.

Russia's invasion of Snake Island is part of its war of aggression against Ukraine. It is not an invasion of the territory of a NATO country.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:28 PM on February 24 [28 favorites]



First, minimize partisan recriminations at home and present a united front.
Second, inflict crippling economic sanctions on Russia, even if they hurt the West.
Third, directly target the assets of Russian oligarchs.
Fourth, arm the Ukrainian military and resistance.
Fifth, reinforce NATO’s frontiers.
Sixth, welcome Ukrainian refugees
.

Russia Must Pay

Deterrence has failed. Now it’s time for Putin’s defeat.
By David French

posted by y2karl at 5:44 PM on February 24 [6 favorites]


No country is ever going to voluntarily give up nuclear weapons again given what’s happening to Ukraine

Particularly as if I recall correctly, Ukraine gave up the weapons after receiving safety guarantees from us.
posted by corb at 5:50 PM on February 24 [22 favorites]


"Ukraine used to house many of the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons but gave them up in 1994 in exchange for a security guarantee, known as the Budapest Memorandum, from the US, the United Kingdom and Russia."

From a CNN article.
posted by glonous keming at 5:56 PM on February 24 [17 favorites]


St. Olga is getting a new incarnation as St. Javelin.

And was apparently a very good day for the javelin anti-tank missiles. I wish they had more of them.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 6:01 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


from Rebecca Solnit's Facebook page:

It increasingly seems like Putin miscalculated on a grand scale, and I wonder if this is the end of his 22-year-stranglehold on power in Russia. He has seemed strangely delusional about his capacity to get away with this invasion. We are seeing dissent from prominent officials, ordinary citizens in protests, and reportedly also from some members of the military sent to conduct the invasion. While the rest of the world can and must oppose this war crime, the resistance of Ukrainians and Russians will matter most. I also fear what a Putin facing defeat could do.
posted by philip-random at 6:15 PM on February 24 [35 favorites]




Yeah I've been reloading the Kyiv independent and a few other sources all day. It's been so bizarre. It also seems so familiar.

I know they're not the same thing but from a distance I am so reminded of the time that Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998. In both cases I was sitting with my friends frantically watching CNN and every other source, in disbelief, wondering what it all meant, what I was supposed to do about it.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:18 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


White House ‘outraged by credible reports’ Russian forces have taken hostages inside Chernobyl power plant
The White House has reviewed “credible reports” that Russian troops are holding staff inside Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant hostage, after Russian forces captured the facilities as Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale assault inside the country.

“We’re outraged by credible reports that Russian soldiers are currently holding the staff of the Chernobyl facilities hostage,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on 24 February.

“This unlawful and dangerous hostage-taking which could upend the routine civil service efforts required to maintain and protect the nuclear waste facility is obviously incredibly alarming and incredibly concerning, and we request their release,” she said...

A Ukrainian official told Associated Press that Russian shelling hit a radioactive waste repository and an increase in radiation levels was reported. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:21 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]


If shelling hit a waste depository I guess we should just pray that nothing hits the New Safe Confinement Structure. If that gets trashed it will set back remediation at the site for god knows how long. It's not like you can just repair it; it had to be built off to one side and rolled across on rails to fit over the existing structure because you can't exactly work above the sarcophagus safely. It took $2.3 billion and 9 years to build.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:29 PM on February 24 [6 favorites]


about those cyber attacks (thread)

Anonymous
@YourAnonNews
#Anonymous is currently involved in operations against the Russian Federation. Our operations are targeting the Russian government. There is an inevitability that the private sector will most likely be affected too.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:36 PM on February 24 [7 favorites]


We are seeing dissent from prominent officials, ordinary citizens in protests, and reportedly also from some members of the military sent to conduct the invasion.
More than 150 senior Russian officials sign open letter condemning Putin's invasion of Ukraine as 'an unprecedented atrocity' and warn of 'catastrophic consequences' while urging citizens 'not to participate'

posted by bluesky43 at 6:39 PM on February 24 [6 favorites]


More than 150 senior Russian officials sign open letter condemning Putin's invasion of Ukraine as 'an unprecedented atrocity' and warn of 'catastrophic consequences' while urging citizens 'not to participate'

Can we not link to the Daily Mail? It's a fascist rag. Stop.

Do some work and find credible sources, please.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:43 PM on February 24 [15 favorites]


This was from the Rebecca Solnit link posted above.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:43 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]




Here is a Moscow Times link regarding that open letter. It identifies the signatories as "municipal deputies from Russian cities", and also links directly to the letter (RU).
posted by Not A Thing at 7:21 PM on February 24 [8 favorites]


Do some work and find credible sources, please.

It's somewhat suspicious that the Mail didn't actually post the letter, and I can't find any outlets confirming the story themselves.

However! I think I tracked it down, it's posted here by an account apparently belonging to Elena Rusakova, who is a local official in Moscow. I think she's an opposition figure of some sort- these are not "senior Russian officials" by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:24 PM on February 24 [8 favorites]


Like, just to get a sense of what sort of stuff she was involved in before this, her most recent issue has been opposing the chopping down of some trees, and also she signed a petition calling for Russia not to send troops to Kazakhstan. I think these local officials are probably the highest office you are allowed to occupy if you're in opposition, so it's not that surprising that a couple hundred in the whole country signed onto this sort of letter.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:34 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Their response: "Russian warship, go fuck yourself."

I’ve been having a lot of emotions about this for days, but I think one thing that is becoming clearer to me is that Ukraine and Ukrainians believe there is at least a reasonable possibility that Russia will engage, if they achieve victory, in serious harm of civilian populations.

They are fighting not for their lives but for their children’s lives, and they will not give them a fucking inch.
posted by corb at 8:07 PM on February 24 [43 favorites]




"The truth is behind the Ukrainian people," "They’re just defending their own land.”

"But the quiet from Biden and his foreign policy staff is more mysterious. "
link from Rhaomi.

Never explain
Never complain
Don't feed the Trolls.
posted by clavdivs at 9:49 PM on February 24 [5 favorites]


it's early days.
eventually the historians will file their reports.
they'll get a lot wrong
but not near as bad as what's currently being assumed


(by both sides, yes. War sucks.)
posted by philip-random at 9:59 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Putin, with his own length of rope, has now hanged himself, in the court of world opinion. After this, end game business, who will speak to him? Who will do business with him? His country deserves much better, and as democratic norms set up all over the rest of the old Eastern bloc, he has a lethal case of nostalgia for the age when the world feared Russia, rather than liked Russia.

Meanwhile in the US, there was a Russian backed attempt to split up California in the last election cycle. These trucker convoys, one heading for Washington DC, this is also more of that interference. I would not allow a blockade of our capitol at this time.

I have to admit this hit all my hopeless buttons at once. Russia needs to take care of their little monster, they need to realize what is at stake. He has now offered the Russian young people disgrace, and a military future, neverending. The people who endured the last Russian occupation, described the officers who lived in their building in Poland, as monsters. Everyone knows the drilling they are gonna get. There is not now, nor will there be, anything civilized about this, ask Alexei Navalny.
posted by Oyéah at 10:19 PM on February 24 [14 favorites]


Ukraine is only about 1/3 vaccinated. I can’t imagine there is much to be done about that now. But disease during wartime is sometimes more deadly than the war itself.
posted by nat at 10:42 PM on February 24 [5 favorites]


What's the level of anti-West sentiment inside of Russia though? Putin may be one despot, but I figure it's possible that if the West and American hegemony is unpopular within Russia for historical reasons then its citizens have been passively settling for a lesser evil, in their eyes. It's entirely possible unless we have accurate information on that.
posted by polymodus at 11:10 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


Also Europe buys a lot of natural gas from Russia and they need swift to pay for it I believe.

Russians living under a totalitarian regime — one where political opponents are regularly poisoned or suicided out of tall building windows — can only do so much. Cutting Putin and his oligarchs off the money train may be the only option left to the world. It would probably help decision-making for the US and OPEC nations to figure out a way to guarantee energy supplies to Europe. "Lend-lease" is a kind of historical precedent in this regard, and I hope the Biden team is working in this direction, however quietly.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:14 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


It's entirely possible unless we have accurate information on that.

Like, you know, tomes and tomes of interviews and publications from Russians themselves?

Covid-wise, Poland has suspended quarantine rules for Ukrainian refugees and seems to be semi-organised in getting people to safety. I'm going to see if there's a need for volunteers in the coming days, thus far all I've seen are calls for lawyers and for safe places for pets (I'm alas all stocked up with cats).
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:16 PM on February 24 [19 favorites]


Seems to me the best way to isolate Putin is to hit the bank accounts of the powerful oligarchs around him, and make strong signals as to how well they would do as future partners with the west until he becomes inconvenient.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 11:51 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]


@Kasparov63: "Ok, after years of warnings were ignored and hearing 'Garry, you were right!' all damn day today, I'll repeat what I said in 2014: Stop telling me I was right and listen to what I'm saying now. My recommendations follow... Bankrupt Putin's war machine. Freeze & seize Russia's finances & those of him and his gang."
posted by kliuless at 12:12 AM on February 25 [31 favorites]


Krugman is no capital-L leftist, but in his Op-Ed today (archive.org) even he literally concludes that the way the West has to fight this is critically to rein in its own corruption:

The sums involved are mind-boggling. Novokment et al estimate that in 2015 the hidden foreign wealth of rich Russians amounted to around 85 percent of Russia’s G.D.P. To give you some perspective, this is as if a U.S. president’s cronies had managed to hide $20 trillion in overseas accounts. Another paper co-written by Zucman found that in Russia, “the vast majority of wealth at the top is held offshore.” As far as I can tell, the overseas exposure of Russia’s elite has no precedent in history — and it creates a huge vulnerability that the West can exploit...

There are two uncomfortable facts here. First, a number of influential people, both in business and in politics, are deeply financially enmeshed with Russian kleptocrats. This is especially true in Britain. Second, it will be hard to go after laundered Russian money without making life harder for all money launderers, wherever they come from — and while Russian plutocrats may be the world champions in that sport, they’re hardly unique: Ultrawealthy people all over the world have money hidden in offshore accounts.

What this means is that taking effective action against Putin’s greatest vulnerability will require facing up to and overcoming the West’s own corruption.
posted by polymodus at 12:21 AM on February 25 [81 favorites]


To be fair it would be pretty On Brand for our current times for the seizure of trillions of hidden assets held by the world's billionaires to be a result of the aggression and hubris of a billionaire.
posted by fullerine at 12:35 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


I am watching a live broadcast of SVT Nyheter, Sweden's national news service, and one SVT-employed analyst reported that an independent news outlet in Russia (alas, I did not catch the name) had published in both Russian and Ukrainian, which she called both "unusual" and "brave." She also said one of SVT reporters in Kiev cannot report now because now everyone needed to "lay low." She is worried about friends who spent the night in a subway; troops are on their way into Kiev and it sounds like nobody knows if the Ukrainian government will survive.

There is not a lot I can do. But as a dual US-Swedish citizen, I can lobby my US representatives to help defend Ukraine, and I can lobby the Swedish government to get defensive weapons to Ukraine ASAP as its ambassador to Sweden has requested. The anti-war protests in Russia are promising; I would love to support the Russian anti-war push in some small way if possible.

While I am far away from the war, it does not feel far away. So many thanks to commenters who skip idle speculation about impending (SUPER SCAREY STUFF). Speculation is not helpful. Also, I hope it is true, as mentioned somewhere above, that a platoon of Russian troops surrendered north of Kiev because they thought they were on an intelligence incursion and had not expected to kill anyone. If true, I hope word of that brave and wise act is spread far and wide so other troops realise they have a choice, too.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:01 AM on February 25 [15 favorites]


Per Reuters, a "data wiper" cyberattack on Ukrainian targets Wednesday may have been preparatory to the Russian invasion.

An interesting note: the wiper contained a valid digital signature from "Hermetica Digital Ltd." of Cyprus, which was, as you can imagine, a pretty unpleasant surprise for the one-man game design firm, who denied ever requesting the certificates.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:03 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


FYI: Kyiv, not Kiev, is the usual spelling stance of the Ukrainian government, along the lines of Beijing not Peking.

(And dear gods, that city is not only home to nearly three million people, but also chock-full of absolute cultural treasures, including a cave monastery that's a few decades off celebrating its millennium. Bombing anywhere near the city is a crime against humanity on so many different levels.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:11 AM on February 25 [43 favorites]


Putin, with his own length of rope, has now hanged himself, in the court of world opinion. After this, end game business, who will speak to him? Who will do business with him?

The UK probably will, on the quiet. He helped them get free of the EU, and they owe him one. Also, his oligarchs own the top end of London and the Conservative Party. And the UK still are world leaders in financial opacity, which they would be mugs not to leverage for profitably undercutting EU sanctions on Russia.
posted by acb at 1:17 AM on February 25 [10 favorites]


Bella Donna: one SVT-employed analyst reported that an independent news outlet in Russia (alas, I did not catch the name) had published in both Russian and Ukrainian, which she called both "unusual" and "brave."

This is Новая газета (Novaya Gazeta), who are a long-running newspaper edited by Dmitry Muratov, who received the Nobel Peace Prize last year. For more on Muratov and Novaya Gazeta, there was a long profile about him and the newspaper last autumn in The New Yorker.

Here is the front cover, and it says Russia. Bombs. Ukraine.
posted by Kattullus at 1:22 AM on February 25 [9 favorites]


Thanks, Kattullus! Apologies to all about Kyiv, and thanks for the correction, I claim sanctuary. As it happens, the capitol city is spelled as Kiev in Swedish–at least for now. Will make an effort to remember it should be Kyiv in English.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:42 AM on February 25 [5 favorites]


"Russia at the present time is at a crossroads. It's often said that the Cold War is over and the West has won. That's only half true. Because what's happened is that the Communists have been defeated but the ideas of freedom are now on trial. If they don't work they'll be a reversion, not to Communism, which has failed but to what I call a new despotism, which would pose a
mortal danger to the rest of the world. Because it would be infected with the virus of Russian imperialism which has been a characteristic of Russian foreign policy for centuries. Therefore the West has, the US has, everyone who wants freedom in the world has a great stake in freedom succeeding in Russia. If it succeeds it will be an example for others to follow, for China, for example to follow. if it fails then it means the hardliners in China
will get a new life- they'll say if it failed there, there's no reason for us to turn to democracy, that's part of what is at stake here. The other point to have in mind is that it's vital it succeeds because it'll mean that Russia, which for seventy years has been trying to export the values of communism to the world, will be exporting democracy, freedom and the goods of freedom."

From an interview with Richard Nixon, 1992.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 1:59 AM on February 25 [17 favorites]


Russia has historically had no culture of civil society, going from the Mongolian Empire to Caesaropapism to the USSR, then, through a brief period of Chicago-gangster capitalism*, to Putinism. Though that's not to say that the Russian people are essentially unsuited to liberal democracy, any more than the German people were. And with the huge anti-war protests in Russia now, there are some promising green shoots.

* Or, as someone said at the time, “Lenin failed to teach the Soviet people socialism, but he succeeded in teaching them capitalism”
posted by acb at 2:08 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


ACOUP's Bret Devereaux has posted a long, thoughtful Understanding the War in Ukraine on his site.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:46 AM on February 25 [10 favorites]


How possible is some kind of Internet embargo? Can they be reverse great fire walled? Or even just cut off from the big commercial content delivery networks? Remind the Russian people what the life Putin glorifies was really like.

Hell, block them from GitHub and see what fails.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:43 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


snuffle-

Since we're speculating: Internet embargo pushes them closer to China, from the *other* speculation I've read and presumably it's not in everyone's best interests to really divide the world into 'two internets/sources of information'.

re: GitHub - I think that hurts the world, and Russian engineers, while doing no appreciable damage to Russia itself?
posted by jpziller at 4:56 AM on February 25


The Russian people didn't attack Ukraine. Putin did. And it's fairly clear that the people are not happy about it. I don't see any point in punishing them.

The west going after oligarch money, that will be a much much more effective stick; one applied directly to the problematic man-baby and his friends. I feel the most effective tactic against Putin may be to just start laughing at him. (After taking away his toys, of course.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:56 AM on February 25 [7 favorites]


It’s just modernized sanctions. Trade sanctions and financial sanctions will also impact the Russian people. That’s why people argue against them as a form of collective punishment, but what else do we have? The point is to demonstrate to Russians that Russia can’t have the standard of living it has now with Western interdependence, and also do shit like this.

This is where we are now. Putin put us all here, and the Russian people too have choices to make.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:08 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


I feel the most effective tactic against Putin may be to just start laughing at him.

Yeah, that worked so well against Trump, and, (suspending the tiresome Godwin's Law) Hitler before him. Look, as far as the risibility of these figures go, I'm right there laughing with you, but as a tactic, I'm not blind to the fact that our laughter is a Perfect Wave that these guys surf to power on. To my mind, the only public figure laughed to irrelevancy was Jerry Brown, which, oops, amirite?
posted by Chitownfats at 5:10 AM on February 25 [13 favorites]


Indeed, for most Russians, cutting off their access to GitHub would be the thing that finally destroys their will to live. Let's not entertain extreme options here, please.
posted by some loser at 5:13 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


About ten minutes ago, Novaya Gazeta tweeted (in Russian): Россия готова отправить в Минск на переговоры с Украиной делегацию, сказал пресс-секретарь российского президента Дмитрий Песков.

Google Translated English: Russia is ready to send a delegation to Minsk for talks with Ukraine, said the Russian President’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov.

(Russian speakers, is готова “ready” or more like “preparing” in this sense?)
posted by mdonley at 5:14 AM on February 25


"Russia has historically had no culture of civil society, going from the Mongolian Empire to Caesaropapism to the USSR, then, through a brief period of Chicago-gangster capitalism*, to Putinism. "

Can we not do this??
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:15 AM on February 25 [32 favorites]


The Russian people didn't attack Ukraine. Putin did. And it's fairly clear that the people are not happy about it. I don't see any point in punishing them.

Indeed. Punishing the Russian people would be an own-goal, as Putin would love an excuse to make his atrocious war about "Russians vs Everyone Else."

Taking everything from the oligarchs (to say nothing of Putin himself), however, is a great idea.
posted by Gelatin at 5:21 AM on February 25 [12 favorites]


DW reporting Russian troops engaging defenders in the outskirts of Kiev.

And Putin’s reported approval ratings have (predictably) spiked. Demonstrators’ bravery non withstanding.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:23 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]




Finnish state broadcaster YLE has said that Finland will withdraw from Eurovision if Russia is not kicked out. I expect that over the next few days pressure will build on many international organizations, whether they’re cultural or otherwise, to exclude Russia.
posted by Kattullus at 5:36 AM on February 25 [17 favorites]


What happened to Russia storming out of Eurovision and setting up its own unquestionably-heterosexual song contest named after the short-lived Warsaw Pact Intervision contest of the 1970s?
posted by acb at 5:41 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


I just spoke with a work teammate who fled Kyiv for the southwest of the country yesterday. He's talking to our other two guys, and they have left Kyiv as well. Luckily the internet and cell phones are working for now. The current discussion is about the order for able men to stay in the country and their conflicted feelings about that duty versus family needs. I can't imagine.
posted by freecellwizard at 6:04 AM on February 25 [19 favorites]


Aeroflot banned from UK, Russia responds in kind.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:08 AM on February 25


That’s why people argue against them as a form of collective punishment, but what else do we have?

There's a difference between sanctions that leave the streets filled with human shit (as the US did in Iraq) and more targeted ones. The direct purpose of the sanctions against Iraq was to make the civilian population upset so they would uprise and overthrow Saddam. I don't think Biden is going to go that route, but more targeted sacntions can impose significant costs on the upper-tier of Russia's economic elite.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:09 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


but more targeted sacntions can impose significant costs on the upper-tier of Russia's economic elite.

This. Think of all the corruption, Florida mansions, etc. not to mention the fact that the elites have bought up all the real estate in London and other major cities. Just seize those assets and solve two problems at once. BTW loved the Krugman article.
posted by freecellwizard at 6:13 AM on February 25 [16 favorites]


one of SVT reporters in Kiev cannot report now
The other SVT reporter broadcasting from Ukraine is a neighbor of mine and is on the front lines. Bombs exploded in the background as he reported live this morning.
posted by St. Oops at 6:14 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]




Russian tanks in Kiev.
Could we maybe be more circumspect about sharing random unverified YT clips? (Also, as has been noted: Kyiv not Kiev)
posted by neroli at 6:28 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


(It’s been published by BBC and others, but the YT clip plays as an embed.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:30 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Russian billionaires lose $39 billion.

Some folk that Putin probably cares about.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:44 AM on February 25 [9 favorites]


Shoutout to justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow for the clarification on Snake Island. The Romanian TV outlets (which tend to be garbage, frankly) were describing it as "Romanian territory" and citing the Wikipedia line about the ICJ saying it was 80% Romania's. By morning, the newspapers--some of which contain a much higher level of journalism--said pretty much what justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow did, noting that the "80%" figure referred to the surrounding rock bed, and not at all to the island.

Romania remains fairly disturbed to have the island (which is just 28 miles from the Romanian coast) seized by Russia though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:46 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


The Russian people didn't attack Ukraine. Putin did. And it's fairly clear that the people are not happy about it.

While the first half of that statement is true, we don't have enough evidence for the second. In fact we know from polls that 50% of the Russians blame the West for the crisis, Andy that in the run up to the invasion, Putin's approval ratings rose.

Just as in the US where a lot of people believe what they get from Fox, the Russian people are getting tainted media that they appear to believe.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:49 AM on February 25 [7 favorites]


FYI, you can access a transcript of the most recent Gaslight Nation podcast, from Wednesday, which is devoted to this topic.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:09 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


On two different broadcasts on two different outlets, I saw a reporter who I believe must be independent interview first a mother and then her son about how they felt. They were in some kind of shelter and the interviews were in English. I turned it off as soon as it started the second time because it feels obscene to me when reporters are interviewing victims. This is true in general, and it’s certainly true in this case.

The mom invited the reporter to ask her son directly after the reporter asked her how her son was feeling. I think he was maybe 10. In excellent English he said he thought things would be upsetting for a few days but then everything would calm down and they would be fine. The reporter said something like, “that’s a remarkably positive perspective from your very articulate son,” and then he put his ear bud with the mic back in his right ear and I kind of wanted to whack him through the screen.

These interviews with vulnerable people who could lose everything feel like war porn or something. That youngster has no idea what the hell is going on, how could he? I am not against reporting or journalism. But I am not a fan of voyeurism or exploitation, which is how that felt to me. A friend from Latvia was at a protest against the war today in Stockholm. She said she took money and medicine, which were being collected for distribution in Ukraine.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:33 AM on February 25 [6 favorites]


I understand the hesitation, but I think putting a human face on what is happening is important, not just to us as observers but to the people experiencing this kind of hardship who want to be seen and heard. There's definitely a critical step there in terms of making sure you're giving someone an opportunity to take the mic, as opposed to stuffing it into their face.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:38 AM on February 25 [11 favorites]


On two different broadcasts on two different outlets, I saw a reporter who I believe must be independent interview first a mother and then her son about how they felt. They were in some kind of shelter and the interviews were in English. I turned it off as soon as it started the second time because it feels obscene to me when reporters are interviewing victims. This is true in general, and it’s certainly true in this case.

The mom invited the reporter to ask her son directly after the reporter asked her how her son was feeling. I think he was maybe 10. In excellent English he said he thought things would be upsetting for a few days but then everything would calm down and they would be fine. The reporter said something like, “that’s a remarkably positive perspective from your very articulate son,” and then he put his ear bud with the mic back in his right ear and I kind of wanted to whack him through the screen.


Man-on-the-street interviews are damn near as old as the printing press and especially in wartime situations; it's a hell of a lot harder to emotionally rationalize the violence of warfare when you have actual Other Human Beings with moms and children and hopes and aspirations and fears. FFS, this is why we have watchdogs and journalists to begin with.

The guy from The Root this morning was doing some stellar interview work with a local that really put a face on this for me; the Russians are going to be in for a protracted, painful insurgency, I think.

Given the number of people who have noted how much of this is about geopolitics and ignoring the actual plight of the Ukrainians in the fire, I'd like to see as much of this as possible. It matters, however unpleasant it is to watch. It's not war porn. It's a reminder of the consequences.
posted by Thistledown at 7:45 AM on February 25 [15 favorites]




Looks like the Patreon to get supplies to Ukraine has been shut down. Is there anyone helping on the ground that we are still able to help?
posted by corb at 7:56 AM on February 25


From Heather Cox Richardson's Facebook page:

Illia Ponomarenko, a defense reporter with the Kyiv Independent, reported today that according to Ukraine’s top general, “Russia’s blitzkrieg on day one has failed.”

Washington Post reporter Dan Lamothe today listed information delivered in an early briefing by a senior U.S. defense official. While this information is very early, and likely to be revised in the future, the official told reporters that the U.S. believed Russia launched more than 100 missiles at Ukrainian targets last night, primarily at airports and military targets. There were an estimated 75 Russian planes, including bombers, targeting nearly 10 airports.

The official described this as an “initial phase” of a “large-scale invasion” from Belarus south, from Crimea north, and from Russia to around the city of Kharkiv, which saw the heaviest fighting. The next move, he predicted, would be on Kyiv. “We still believe—it is our assessment—that they have every intention of basically decapitating the government and installing their own method of governance, which would explain these early moves toward Kyiv.” Tonight, U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley told lawmakers that Russian troops were now about 20 miles from Kyiv.

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky told his people that Ukraine lost 137 defenders on the first day, with 316 more wounded. Russia has not acknowledged any losses, although images from photojournalists in Ukraine indicate there have been Russian casualties.


And a bunch more. Post is eight hours old.
posted by philip-random at 7:57 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


I think interviewing victims is critical if it's done respectfully. People are tribal by nature and you have to take steps to get the light bulb to go on and say "hey, they're just like us!" Imagine if the bulk of the people in the US had had more of a mental link and empathy with the citizens of, say, Iraq or Afghanistan. Those wars may not have happened, or internal dissent might have been greater. In the case of Ukraine it may spur the West to more action and energize Russian opposition.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:01 AM on February 25 [10 favorites]


A Twitter thread by Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall reflecting on Zelenskyy:

There must have been many moments over the last few weeks when Zelensky said to himself, "How the fuck did I get here?" As most of you know, Zelensky was a comedian and actor. Sort of a lark candidacy. I believe he actually owed a lot of his fame to a show in which he played a President of Ukraine. Not certain I remember that right but I think so. It seems almost unimaginable that he could have had any idea it would come to quite this. And yet now he's in a position in which he will either preside over the dissolution of the independent Ukrainian state or, if things go very differently, probably be regarded as something like a founding father of it. Through the last few weeks I've heard lots of commentary from public sources or just region experts in convo saying the guy is just hopelessly over his head. And I don't know enough about the precise negotiations or internal Ukrainian state stuff to know whether that's true or not. But history often lives or dies in key, clutch moments. And I must say the recent speeches barreling into war ... they've shown a moral courage that is very hard to second guess. And let's be frank, there's something between a non-trivial and very good likelihood he will not physically survive this conflict. And yet, there he is. Not running. It's hard not to compare it - though the facts are very very different to the last President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, who got the fuck outta dodge at the first hint things were going south. Very very few of us will ever face a situation with such a combination of historic consequence and physical danger. But many of us face moments where we must choose to face fear and live out our promises or run. And you have to say this guy is really passing that test. And though the resistance we're seeing is definitely one that involves millions of Ukrainians I have to imagine that a rapid collapse or evacuation of state or its leadership would have been a gut punch to the morale we're seeing standing in defiance today.
posted by Kattullus at 8:17 AM on February 25 [89 favorites]


Agreed. But, ultimately, I'd rather see him in, say, Bucharest than dead, at the point he can't be visibly leading anyway. And a lot of refugees are likely to wind up in Romania, too.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:21 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


For those who are looking for some way to help:
Amnesty International is in Ukraine and working. Volunteer or send money
International Red Cross is in Ukraine and working. Volunteer or send money
Doctors Without Borders should be there, but I can't see they have updated their website and I haven't heard from their newsletter. Still, volunteer or send money, because they are perhaps the most trustworthy organization.

Also: pressure your government to send aid, both weapons and humanitarian aid. And also to receive all the refugees who need it.

For the people here who live in Asia or the Americas: I don't know how to describe the seriousness of the atmosphere here in Europe. In several countries we are already on the beginning steps of a war footing, in the sense that several PMs are telling us that we must prepare for shortages and hardship. Right on top of the pandemic! I have only ever experienced this atmosphere when I traveled the Middle East before the second Iraq war.
posted by mumimor at 8:22 AM on February 25 [24 favorites]


In the Swedish reports, the Prime Minister of Sweden is quoted as saying that the EU leaders speaking to Zelensky by video understood that it might be the last time any of them ever saw him. Zelensky is not wrong that other nations need to fight as well against Putin; still, I understand their reluctance. It’s not like I know what to do, but allowing Ukraine to be crushed seems like inviting Putin to keep going.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:27 AM on February 25 [14 favorites]


And Russia has been kicked out of Eurovision and suspended from the Council of Europe.
posted by acb at 8:34 AM on February 25 [22 favorites]


and canceled the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix
posted by ryanrs at 8:38 AM on February 25 [9 favorites]


allowing Ukraine to be crushed seems like inviting Putin to keep going.

If NATO engages directly with Russian forces it's the end of the world, full stop. We've been playing a game since 1945 where wars can be fought between non-nuclear powers or between a nuclear power and a non-nuclear power, but no direct conflict between the nuclear powers can happen because the escalation to the literal end of the world is just a few pushes of a button away, and there's nothing about Putin that makes me think that calculus has changed. The west can support Ukraine financially and with arms and training, but beyond that, our hands really are tied. That's the calculus we used in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and it's the calculus Putin is using in his invasion of Ukraine. The only difference is that this is "on European soil" and with a country we had vaguely been courting to join NATO a decade ago, but otherwise, how could we do anything? One misstep and the best outcome is a global crisis that would make COVID look like a minor inconvenience, and the more likely outcome is something like Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
posted by dis_integration at 8:43 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]


A twitter thread on the Chernobyl radiation readings: "This spike is strange, as it is not near anywhere where you would expect fighting happen or vehicles kick up radioactive dust."
posted by BungaDunga at 8:44 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


The west can support Ukraine financially and with arms and training, but beyond that, our hands really are tied.

This incentivizes every nation on earth to get nuclear arms, because if every country will just throw up their hands and watch them die otherwise, what choice do they have?
posted by corb at 8:48 AM on February 25 [20 favorites]


It’s not like I know what to do, but allowing Ukraine to be crushed seems like inviting Putin to keep going.

Ukraine isn't crushed yet. Should it go down and Putin feel like he's on a roll, the next target is probably Transnistria. It's an area with a plurality of ethnic Russians. Moldova is also outside NATO and EU protections along with the Dniester river being a natural barrier of strategic importance. Also, given Putin's nationalist pride rhetoric, Bessarabia is one of those things that's a sore spot when it comes things Russia has lost.

Once Transnistria is dealt with his options for "protecting ethnic Russians" as a justification for war narrows. Latvia is the Baltic with the highest overall proportion of ethnic Russians but Ida-Viru is a supermajority Russian county in Estonia. However, both of those mean dealing with not only NATO but the entire EU.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:48 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


spike is strange, as it is not near anywhere where you would expect

There have been some reports of a hostage crisis at the plant itself? Safety crews detained? But I don't want to link unverified stuff that sounds like a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. sidequest.

Ukraine isn't crushed yet. Should it go down and Putin feel like he's on a roll, the next target is probably Transnistria.


And then all of Moldova. And then Bulgaria, amphibiously from Odessa and Sevastopol. While saber-rattling about the Baltics and Finland to discourage intervention.

Then Hungary will be pressured to leave NATO and join Putin's new bloc, and Serbia the same with other orgs.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:49 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


I know this sounds like a joke, but Russians are going to be super pissed when they find out about Eurovision. I’m not claiming that will spark a revolution but I bet it will be surprisingly painful to regular citizens.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:51 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]


This incentivizes every nation on earth to get nuclear arms, because if every country will just throw up their hands and watch them die otherwise, what choice do they have?

One could argue -- and did, at the time -- that that ship sailed with the US overthrow of non-nuclear Iraq under the pretext of "weapons of mass destruction" (itself a deceptive phrase intended to conflate the chemical weapons Iraq might have had but did not with nuclear weapons, despite being orders of magnitude less destructive), while North Korea was left to do as it pleased.
posted by Gelatin at 8:53 AM on February 25 [6 favorites]


There's a counterfactual being put out there by, in particular, Alexander Vindman, that NATO forces could have been stationed in Ukraine months ago and that Putin would have been just as reluctant to get into a shooting war with them as we are, and so wouldn't have been willing to actually invade just as much as we aren't willing to push them back now. I suspect such a move would have been politically impossible, but it's too late now.

This incentivizes every nation on earth to get nuclear arms, because if every country will just throw up their hands and watch them die otherwise, what choice do they have?

It does, but that incentive is nothing new, is it? If a power-mad American president decided to invade Canada, nobody's going to start a war over it, though I imagine Russia would be happy to arm the Canadian resistance.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:54 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]


One could argue -- and did, at the time -- that that ship sailed with the US overthrow of non-nuclear Iraq under the pretext of "weapons of mass destruction" (itself a deceptive phrase intended to conflate the chemical weapons Iraq might have had but did not with nuclear weapons, despite being orders of magnitude less destructive), while North Korea was left to do as it pleased.

Additionally, NATO's campaign in Libya provided ample evidence of what can happen to you if you don't have nukes and aren't really good friends with someone who does.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:59 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


There have been some reports of a hostage crisis at the plant itself? Safety crews detained? But I don't want to link unverified stuff that sounds like a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. sidequest.


The monitoring gear is sensitive enough to detect Russian armor tracks kicking up dirt.
posted by ocschwar at 9:01 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


“More than 50,000 Ukrainian refugees have left the country in less than 48 hours, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who said the majority have gone to Poland and Moldova,” from CNN and others. A local Swedish news site reports that the first refugees have arrived in southern Sweden, only nine so far.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:02 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


There is another alternative to direct conflict, which is to engineer the overthrow of Putin's regime from within Russia and install a Western-friendly regime of some kind (it would likely not be a democratic one). For example if the generals think Putin has gone mad, they could install a military dictatorship, or if continual war becomes unbearable, there could be civil war, and some kind of repeat of the October revolution, and if we have scaled back our efforts at fostering internal conflict in Russia since the wall fell, because of terrorism or whatever, now is the time to ramp that back up. But we can't roll tanks into Ukraine or Moscow, unless you want manhattan to be a forbidden zone for the next 20,000 years.
posted by dis_integration at 9:02 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


There's a counterfactual being put out there by, in particular, Alexander Vindman, that NATO forces could have been stationed in Ukraine months ago and that Putin would have been just as reluctant to get into a shooting war with them as we are, and so wouldn't have been willing to actually invade just as much as we aren't willing to push them back now. I suspect such a move would have been politically impossible, but it's too late now.

That suggests the same consideration must be taken with regard to Bulgaria now, and possibly Slovakia (if not Moldova, which would probably be deemed too provocative), and in light of the new reality.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:04 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


Sanctions won’t stop Putin; the only thing that will is a massive show of force by NATO. The risks of that are potentially Armageddon; but the alternative is to let this tyrant slowly conquer us all.

Is the problem with Putin only? There has to be a whole establishment of high ranking government/military officials who enthusiastically share that view, he can only govern if these people consent to his authority. How do you errode support in this layer?
posted by WaterAndPixels at 9:13 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


That suggests the same consideration must be taken with regard to Bulgaria now, and possibly Slovakia (if not Moldova, which would probably be deemed too provocative), and in light of the new reality.

Bulgaria and Slovakia are both EU members. If Russia threatens EU territorial integrity all bets are off and the militaries of the world start mobilizing. That's why he's daring the West to start WWIII with Ukraine. He's gambling the West doesn't have the stomach to stop it in a direct confrontation.

Moldova on the other hand... Transnistria meets all the same criteria as Donbas and it's probably Putin's wet dream to take back Bessarabia.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:13 AM on February 25


That suggests the same consideration must be taken with regard to Bulgaria now, and possibly Slovakia (if not Moldova, which would probably be deemed too provocative), and in light of the new reality.

Just to be clear, Bulgaria is already a NATO signatory so an invasion there would be a test of Article 5. That would be the kind of thing that would probably cause dissent among the ranks of the Russian military, since it would be genuinely insane. Maybe Article 5 in fact has no teeth because we aren't in fact willing to come to the defense of a small country without a lot of influence on Europe's economy or politics, who knows, in that case, we're in the Chaos Zone where all bets are off.
posted by dis_integration at 9:16 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


I had thought Bulgaria was not a NATO member, my mistake. Slovakia, as well. Both joined in '04. Glad that doesn't have to done in haste now.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:19 AM on February 25


Also, for Putin to take Romania and Bulgaria would require dealing with the Carpathian and Balkan mountain ranges. Ukraine is part of the flat European plain with the only strategic barrier being the Dnieper.

I can't emphasize enough how bad a decision it is to take on the mountainous terrain while simultaneously fighting against the combined strength of Europe and quite possibly the United States. Even if Putin did want to try for a naval invasion he would need naval supremacy in the Black Sea which he wouldn't have and he would still need to go through the mountains to get to Sofia and over the Danube to get to Bucharest.

Putin is insane but he's not stupid.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:20 AM on February 25


There's a counterfactual being put out there by, in particular, Alexander Vindman, that NATO forces could have been stationed in Ukraine months ago and that Putin would have been just as reluctant to get into a shooting war with them as we are, and so wouldn't have been willing to actually invade just as much as we aren't willing to push them back now. I suspect such a move would have been politically impossible, but it's too late now.

This is just a variant version of saying that the US/NATO should have always been ready to go to full scale war with Russia over Ukraine. A fairly provocative version, since it becomes essentially a de facto immediate enrollment of Ukraine in NATO and puts more troops on the Russian border.
posted by mark k at 9:21 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]


Putin is insane but he's not stupid.

I was imagining a creeping encirclement of Romania, and not so much an outright conquest of Bulgaria as the same kind of turnover by default with not that much actual warfare. But, as above, I hadn't realized Bulgaria was already in NATO.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:22 AM on February 25


I’m fairly certain that it was in the Fronline docu Putin’s Revenge where Putin is quoted as having told the Ukrainian PM
”The west promises you all sorts of nice things, but they never deliver. I don’t promise you anything nice, but I always deliver.”
Fascinating watch looking into who Putin is.

People who have studied him say that because of his KGB background, he can’t help but see protestors in the streets without assuming someone is paying them; people don’t just protest because they’re fed up and want a better life and things have gone too far… there is some manner of paymaster with an agenda. I mean, that’s what the KGB taught him to do.

He also got freaked out about Libya and Iraq. Because we put a Head of State of a sovereign nation and his administration on a kill list deck of cards which we issued to the troops that were sent in to blow their shit up and enact “regime change”.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:29 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


The risks of that are potentially Armageddon; but the alternative is to let this tyrant slowly conquer us all.

or ... as already suggested, a return to tried and true Cold War options. If it's MAD (mutually assured destruction) to meet your opponent in open warfare, you pursue alternate strategies and tactics. Everything from undermining your opponent economically to working subversion from within to, yes, military actions that don't amount to a frontal assault on what they perceive as their personal real estate.

Lots of talk the past few days of World War Three. Whenever I hear that phrase, I like to remind people that we've already had the Third World War. In fact, it's still happening. In the so-called Third World. All those brutal and ugly smaller conflicts that have been tearing nations and lives apart since the end of World War Two. Sometimes a major power gets directly involved (Vietnam, Afghanistan). But it's indirect way more often. Russian (and sometimes Chinese) money and arms and influence vs Western (usually American) money and arms and influence.

I'm no expert on any of this. Just some guy who's read a bunch of books, watched some documentaries, paid attention to the News for better part of five decades now. From my perspective, it's always been Armageddon somewhere for somebody -- apocalypse not coming, apocalypse now and ongoing just (to misquote William Gibson) unevenly distributed.

The Great Game is what the British called their prolonged 19th Century political and diplomatic and sometimes martial confrontation with Russia in Afghanistan and beyond. One could see the near future being a more up to date version, with different rules of course (all games need rules), because now both sides have nukes.
posted by philip-random at 9:37 AM on February 25 [20 favorites]


One of Putin's real risks here is that anything but Gulf War-style unchecked success exposes that the Russian military isn't as effective as advertised. If this gets bogged down, things could get even uglier fast as the desperation moves begin.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:43 AM on February 25 [7 favorites]


The monitoring gear is sensitive enough to detect Russian armor tracks kicking up dirt.

Yeah keep in mind that the numbers are nanosievert scale.
posted by atoxyl at 9:43 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Russia places restrictions on Facebook

My colleague is originally from Moscow, and she has lots of friends and family over there. She's worried because her circle is so reliant on Facebook to keep in touch. This has just happened in the last half hour or so.
posted by Gray Duck at 9:46 AM on February 25 [5 favorites]


I believe he actually owed a lot of his fame to a show in which he played a President of Ukraine. Not certain I remember that right but I think so.

Yes. Servant of the People. To watch it is to fall in love.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:49 AM on February 25 [19 favorites]


There is a live stream of a NATO press conference after a NATO Summit (which included Finland and Sweden) right this minute. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, has announced that Putin is demanding that NATO give up all infrastructure and membership given to member nations that joined after 1997.

He has discussed the partnership of the US, Japan, NATO nations, etc. Had mentioned airplanes, troops, etc. positioned in NATO countries. But Stoltenberg has not replied directly to press questions about what NATO will do if/when the capitol falls. He started his statement by asking Putin to stop the invasion and withdraw Russian troops. He has continued to stress that request in responding to press questions.

The Secretary General says it is important for NATO and its allies to stand together and support Ukraine but ... I don't think anyone is coming to save that country.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:00 AM on February 25 [6 favorites]


"weapons of mass destruction" (itself a deceptive phrase intended to conflate the chemical weapons Iraq might have had but did not with nuclear weapons

This is not a term that originated with the Iraq invasion, and it's not really "deceptive"; it's a pretty clear statement of long-running US policy in the immediate post-Cold War era, following the decision in 1991 to unilaterally renounce the possession and future development of chemical weapons by the US, and the right (which had halfheartedly been retained up until that point) to retaliate to chemical weapons use in kind. The implication is that the US reserved the right to use nuclear weapons in retaliation for chemical or biological weapons, since that is the only WMD the US possesses or will develop.

This is related and in opposition to the doctrine of "no first use" (NFU), which indicates an unwillingness to use nuclear weapons except in response to their use by an enemy.

The present US stance is a sort of qualified NFU, as of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, wherein the US has pledged not to use nuclear weapons against "non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations", presumably even if they used chemical or biological weapons. This was a change from the policy of previous decades, which was deliberately ambiguous as to the situations in which nuclear weapons might be employed.

Russia, France, and the UK still maintain a deliberate posture of "strategic ambiguity" and have not pledged NFU.

All that said: while I find discussions of nuclear policy rather interesting and it's a focus area of mine, I do not think that it's really germane to the present situation, which is a pretty decidedly conventional war.

The US, and other European allies of Ukraine, maintain a significant spectrum of options to assist Ukraine in the conventional arena without actually deploying ground forces into Ukraine's territory, ranging from supplying weapons (covertly or overtly), or deploying its own version of Russia's infamous "Little Green Men" (deniable, sheep-dipped operators with TCN or other nondiplomatic cover), "advisors" or "trainers" with diplomatic cover, etc.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:00 AM on February 25 [9 favorites]


Can we stay away from "if this escalates at all NYC is going to be a nuclear wasteland" please? I know that this is a privileged position, but some of us live there and would like to be able to participate in this thread without being forced to contemplate the still very hypothetical deaths of ourselves and all our loved ones unnecessarily. I asked earlier in this thread about the likelihood of this spiraling into a nuclear conflict and the consensus seemed to be that it was more likely than before but still a rather remote possibility. I would appreciate not jumping to the worst-case scenarios here.

Edit: It seems like one of the comments I had in mind when writing this has been deleted; nevertheless, the request stands.
posted by cosmic owl at 10:08 AM on February 25 [20 favorites]


Bank of China has restricted some Russian financing due to mostly US sanctions already. Fingers crossed, because potential Chinese financial system support is the only way out Putin had left in case he does get cut off from Western financing.

And Poland, at least, is openly sending ammunition and organising evacuation of wounded by train (the wide gauge line goes pretty deep into Poland).
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:11 AM on February 25 [17 favorites]


Good to hear.

Apparently the anti-tank missiles the defenders have been using to great effect are of Swedish manufacture, but provided by the UK.
posted by acb at 10:16 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


All that said: while I find discussions of nuclear policy rather interesting and it's a focus area of mine, I do not think that it's really germane to the present situation, which is a pretty decidedly conventional war.

Nuclear weapons shape all areas of statecraft (Jervis 1989), especially when there's a conventional war where a nuclear superpower is involved, and potential participants in that war also possess nuclear weapons.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:17 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


"Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, has announced that Putin is demanding that NATO give up all infrastructure and membership given to member nations that joined after 1997."

That's basically all member states that were formerly part of the Eastern Bloc right up to the borders of Germany. Including Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, etc...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:18 AM on February 25 [17 favorites]


Putin is demanding that NATO give up all infrastructure and membership given to member nations that joined after 1997.

To even consider this for a moment (though I should clarify that NATO is not) would be beyond morally bankrupt.

And also signifies that honestly NATO should be building up in every close member nation.
posted by corb at 10:19 AM on February 25 [25 favorites]




And also signifies that honestly NATO should be building up in every close member nation.

Which it sounds like they are; and while I think they should be doing it, it also makes me nervous as it also seems to me like it heightens the possibilities of inadvertent contact happening and escalation from there. But I don't know what else to do - just have to live with the anxiety I guess.
posted by nubs at 10:31 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


What's Putin's purpose in such an obviously ludicrous demand? Announcing he plans to move Russia's borders 900 miles west can only shore up opposition in countries that might otherwise have thought it in their own best interests to leave Ukraine to its fate.
posted by echo target at 10:33 AM on February 25 [7 favorites]


Apparently the anti-tank missiles the defenders have been using to great effect are of Swedish manufacture, but provided by the UK.

🎶 Billy the bookcase says hello
And so does a table whose name is Ingo
And the chair is a ladder-back birch recoilles rife has a laser-guided rocket, but his friends call him Karl🎵
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:35 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Via Meduza:

OVD-Info has shared the following information on yesterday’s anti-war protests in Russia:
  • More than 1,800 people were detained in 60 different cities;
  • At least 31 minors were arrested countrywide;
  • At least 17 journalists were detained in seven different cities;
  • Protesters have been charged with various misdemeanors, punishable by fines ranging from 2,000 to 300,000 rubles (about $25–$3,625) and jail time ranging from 15 to 30 days.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:38 AM on February 25 [10 favorites]


What's Putin's purpose in such an obviously ludicrous demand?

At the risk of Godwinning this, perhaps Putin is on pervitin?
posted by acb at 10:40 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, has announced that Putin is demanding that NATO give up all infrastructure and membership given to member nations that joined after 1997.

Setting up token demands he can take off the table later during negotiations? Or just setting up demands he knows won't be met because he doesn't want any negotiation to work.

I was nervous, I'm even more nervous now, I can't even imagine how people in Ukraine and the neighbouring countries are feeling.

All these lives upended, the destruction, the pain, the grief for what? So that an old man can bask in old glory.... it makes no fucking sense.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 10:42 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]


What's Putin's purpose in such an obviously ludicrous demand? Announcing he plans to move Russia's borders 900 miles west can only shore up opposition in countries that might otherwise have thought it in their own best interests to leave Ukraine to its fate.

It's Austria's demand to Serbia. It's not really one to be entertained because it's so utterly ludicrous. From a strategic point of view? The whole point of going all the way to Poland is that the Carpathian mountains narrow the choke point that Russia has to defend from any European assault from 1300km long to just over 500km. That means it costs a significant chunk less to man compared to the entire Ukrainian border with Russia. On top of that Russia only have to worry about Belarus being vulnerable on two flanks vs the three that it would with Ukraine on its southern flank. If Ukraine was neutral it would also mean that Russia has a heads up because NATO would have to cross Ukraine first in any assault on Russia proper.

If Belarus stays intact then forces from Belarus and Kaliningrad can immediately close the Suwalki gap and stop NATO from reinforcing the Baltic nations through Poland. So they have a nice tight front that immediately splits NATO in two and makes dealing with each theater easier. They can basically put the troops on the border with Poland in defensive positions and (relatively) quickly conquer the Baltics which stops reinforcement on that flank via the Baltic sea and which would also force any potential naval invasion to do an amphibious landing.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:44 AM on February 25 [5 favorites]


I just dropped off a package for the refugees arriving at the eastern border of Hungary at our local collection point. Since yesterday thousands of people are offering food, shelter, transport for refugees fleeing Ukraine. Based on facebook activity apparently this cause is uniting the country, silencing the paid trolls.

But I didn't consider that we may become refugees too.

What is your advice, where to follow the official NATO sources? What should we expect? I was anxiously following the discussion here, nodding along the reasoning from MAD, but this demand to reverse NATO to the 1997 is something entirely surreal. Do you think this demand is a big ask to start negotiation? Or Putin really lost the plot?

I'm asking because this is the moment I stopped scrolling the facebook updates of our small villages in the east and started checking plane tickets to Canada and Vietnam. Please help me with a reasonable explanation that rules out all out NATO - Russia war.
posted by kmt at 10:45 AM on February 25 [29 favorites]


All these lives upended, the destruction, the pain, the grief for what? So that an old man can bask in old glory.... it makes no fucking sense.

There's a fairly well-known passage in Väinö Linna's novel The Unknown Soldier (sometimes translated as Unknown Soldiers - I have English editions with both titles):

"When the bullet struck, his mind burst with a strange release. He had three seconds to realize that he was dying, but in those three seconds he feared death less than he had in the entire war. He was almost content, as he realized, his consciousness fading, 'That's it...Now it's over'

Jorma Kariluoto had paid his dues into the common pot of human idiocy."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:47 AM on February 25 [10 favorites]


"NATO Secretary General warns cyber attacks can trigger Article 5."

Christ.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:53 AM on February 25 [17 favorites]


I admire the persistence and will of the Russian peoples. They have endured a lot, in the end to live difficult lives. The oligarchy uses them just as the monarchy did, but I have seen plenty of Russian cultural events, read plenty of Russian literature and I know there is a strong culture of Russia, and has been.

Demagogues, conquerors, murderers are a part of our species heritage, and we were all hoping to move forward in peaceful trade and cooperation. For some, beaurocrats are the enemy, peace is boring, quiet, daily heros don't appear on the main stage, we have a bunch of this in the US right now too. Oh, and the kicker, look under Putin's shirt, there hangs an Eastern Orthodox Christian cross. Are these the Nazis Putin wants out of Ukraine? The vultures are circling while the world works to find a means to keep international cooperation alive.

Following the Bannon, Flynn, Prince, choirboys, and listening to Bannon's misogyny, is remeniscent of a high school debate class. They are running their mouths and their would be war and political engines, deriding our nation and it's elected government, puffing themselves up, like coffee and breakfast at the cafeteria, is some big thing they are doing. They are the same as Putin, with out having any real responsibilities, and on top of it all, they are talking about prosecuting Biden, after the midterms. They are using all the same moves, with Bannon boasting they are working to bring down the Biden administration. Our own Putin is setting up a new golf circuit with it's own dipstick, planted firmly in Middle Eastern wells.

The barbarism and murder in Ukraine is atrocious, and that Russian media is not a good mirror for what they have a hand in, because life is difficult enough there. Where rocking the boat, you either break the ice or the ice breaks you.

The newly minted opposition media in the US is forming up to be just as opaque and binding as Russia's.
posted by Oyéah at 10:54 AM on February 25 [5 favorites]


Any suggestions re: best platforms to use to send money to Ukraine for med/fighting support?
posted by goalyeehah at 10:56 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]






Thanks, Mandolin. I am looking for best platforms to send the money (i.e. Western Union, etc) Are looking at WISE right now.
posted by goalyeehah at 11:04 AM on February 25


An Animated History of Ukraine.

The fact that numerous Ukrainians in the comments give it 👍 is a good sign.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:06 AM on February 25 [9 favorites]


The most important thing right now is for Ukraine to be able to take these punches from Russia, but not fall. We have to hope that NATO is able to provide sufficient non-direct combat assistance to Ukraine to enable them to avoid being annihilated. Failing that this will escalate. That doesn’t mean ww3 and a nuclear exchange — keep in mind that the major participants in WW2 had chemical and biological weapons but refrained from using them because deterrence still works, even when shooting at each other.

The terrifying thing is that we might find that out and that would make future wars between major powers more likely as the fear that it would become a nuclear war would he lessened.
posted by interogative mood at 11:17 AM on February 25 [5 favorites]


What is your advice, where to follow the official NATO sources? What should we expect? I was anxiously following the discussion here, nodding along the reasoning from MAD, but this demand to reverse NATO to the 1997 is something entirely surreal.

kmt, it must be terrifying to be in Hungary right now. But as a NATO nation, all the other NATO countries will absolutely have your back if it comes to that. C-Span has video of the NATO Secretary General's statement and press conference earlier today. NATO has a website with news, etc., here.

I have no idea what will happen but Jens Stoltenberg made it very clear, in more diplomatic language, that Putin was full of shit and NATO would never, ever agree to the Kremlin's batshit demands about 1997 membership, etc.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:22 AM on February 25 [11 favorites]


"NATO Secretary General warns cyber attacks can trigger Article 5."

I didn't see the entire press conference. Does anyone have a source link for the info above?
posted by Bella Donna at 11:38 AM on February 25


Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev writes "No war please" on the camera following his advancement to the final in Dubai.

The acts of bravery, both large and small, from citizens in both Ukraine and Russia is making me cry.
posted by muddgirl at 11:42 AM on February 25 [45 favorites]


(his movie also was also quite good.)
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:49 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


This is not a term that originated with the Iraq invasion, and it's not really "deceptive"; it's a pretty clear statement of long-running US policy in the immediate post-Cold War era

All that may be true, but the George W. Bush Administration nevertheless did use "weapons of mass destruction" in a shell game to conflate a nuclear threat they tried to portray Iraq as posing with the (in reality, also nonexistent) chemical weapon capability it once had.

If the US was willing to invade Iraq to confiscate whatever remaining chemical weapons it may have had, Colin Powell wouldn't have had to make his famously deceptive presentation to the United Nations. But the Bush Administration kept trying to inflate the threat Iraq posed and lied and lied to do so.
posted by Gelatin at 11:51 AM on February 25 [5 favorites]


Nuclear weapons shape all areas of statecraft (Jervis 1989), especially when there's a conventional war where a nuclear superpower is involved, and potential participants in that war also possess nuclear weapons.

Exactly, this is already a nuclear war, no scientist would be content to predict that atomic weapons will or won't happen because of X or Y reason.
posted by polymodus at 11:53 AM on February 25


Any suggestions re: best platforms to use to send money to Ukraine for med/fighting support?

From the Ukrainian Government's official Twitter:
You can help. Please support Ukraine by urging your governments to act:

1. Call your MP to urge strong economic sanctions: banning Russia from SWIFT, fully isolating it, stopping all business, oil and gas embargo, providing Ukraine with more defensive weapons, ammunition, money

2. Donate money to support the Ukrainian Army. You can transfer money to the following accounts:

🇺🇦 https://bank.gov.ua/en/news/all/natsionalniy-bank-vidkriv-spetsrahunok-dlya-zboru-koshtiv-na-potrebi-armiyi

🇺🇦 https://savelife.in.ua/en/donate/

3. Organize street protests in your city to support Ukraine and condemn Russian aggression
The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has opened a special account for contributions to the Ukraine Armed Forces. It looks like they have a transfer account with JP Morgan Chase in NYC to receive wire transfers in USD. Currently there does not seem to be an easy way to send funds via anything other than inter-bank wire transfer. (I.e. no Zelle, Venmo, Paypal, credit card, GoFundMe, etc.) At least from my bank, this implies a $20 fee for an outgoing wire, although that may be less than the fees charged by some platforms if you are donating a significant amount.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile trying to coordinate small-dollar donations into lump sums that could be sent by trusted people via wire transfer, to reduce handling costs?

If fellow Mefites are interested, I would be happy to take donations via Zelle/Venmo/Paypal and forward them on via wire though my bank (and I will, of course, provide receipts in as definitive a form as possible to prove that the money has flowed onwards). MeMail me if interested.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:54 AM on February 25 [22 favorites]


I didn't see the entire press conference. Does anyone have a source link for the info above?

NATO Secretary General warns cyber attacks can trigger Article 5.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:57 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


Thanks, Kadin!!!!
posted by goalyeehah at 11:58 AM on February 25


To remove some of the fear of immediate invasion beyond Ukraine, it takes months to build up the the troops, equipment, and most importantly the supplies for this kind of invasion. The amount of Russian forces currently in the field are absolutely enough to drive all the way to the Western borders of Ukraine and most likely destroy Ukraine’s ability to wage conventional war. But that’s about it. Another much larger buildup would be required to attempt this across any of the NATO borders, especially since it would almost certainly guarantee deep strikes on those equipment marshaling areas by comparable, if not superior, western air power.

US and allied intelligence forces did an amazing job outlining the Ukraine buildup including listing the Order of Battle and most likely invasion dates. They almost certainly have the capability to see another punch coming well in advance.

This doesn’t mean NATO shouldn’t put forces in all the Baltic and Ukraine-bordering states. They very much should do this at the very least to put down the threat that if you shell this area you are killing citizens of the core western ally countries.

None of this helps the citizens in Ukraine, who best case are likely to suffer both an indefinite Russian occupation and the random violence of a well funded asymmetrical insurgency attempting to bleed Russia out.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:00 PM on February 25 [11 favorites]


Military campaign donations. Politics continued via other means, indeed.

That’s not an insult directed at Kadin or anyone else, mind you. I’m just shaking my head at the madness of it all.
posted by notoriety public at 12:02 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


There is also a GoFundMe action in UK to support Kyiv Independent

No time to vet. Having faith they are on the right side of it all.

Current exchange rate dollar to pound is $1.00 to .74 lb.

My donation went through
posted by goalyeehah at 12:07 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]




Earlier today a Russian spokesperson threatened Finland and Sweden. From The Hill:

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova warned against other countries attempting to join NATO after Russia started a war with Ukraine Thursday.

“Finland and Sweden should not base their security on damaging the security of other countries and their accession to NATO can have detrimental consequences and face some military and political consequences,” Zakharova said in a viral clip of a press conference.

The ministry later posted the same threat on its Twitter. Finland and Sweden have given significant military and humanitarian support to Ukraine since Russia invaded.


This is an ill-considered threat, at least when it comes to Sweden. Yesterday, the Swedish Prime Minister was all, nah, we still don't have any plans to join NATO. Today, after the threat, she's all: Let me be very clear. It is Sweden alone, independently, that determines our security. (That is a flawed translation because my Swedish is far from perfect. Here's the original: Jag vill vara oerhört tydlig. Det är Sverige som själva och självständigt beslutar om vår säkerhetspolitiska linje, säger Magdalena Andersson.)
posted by Bella Donna at 12:34 PM on February 25 [12 favorites]


US and allied intelligence forces did an amazing job outlining the Ukraine buildup including listing the Order of Battle and most likely invasion dates. They almost certainly have the capability to see another punch coming well in advance.

This was really remarkable. A lot of people, even Ukraine's President seemed to think that the US were exaggerating and that Russia was building up troops for show or for an incursion restricted to the eastern provinces but the CIA seemed to have it down to the day, with the claim that Putin would wait for the end of the Olympic games. Really surprising to me
posted by dis_integration at 12:47 PM on February 25 [24 favorites]


Ben Rhodes from Pod Save the World has some really interesting thoughts on this. However his podcast comes out Wednesdays, so you should listen to Thursday's Pod Save America instead (him guesting) for a post-invasion take. Obviously things are moving fast, but he seems to think that this is going to force a total revamp of the organizations (NATO, UN, etc.) that handle international security and relations. Basically NATO was created to prevent exactly what is happening right now, and it hasn't. And Russia is on the UN Security Council, which has meetings specifically about preventing and responding to this kind of thing. How's that going?

He also feels like this is is maybe more about Putin as an individual than even about senior Russian leadership (he mentioned a meeting where it looked like the other people were surprised by his statements), and that given that, this could set the stage for Putin to fall from power (not immediately though). Strongmen look strong until they aren't: bad economy, protests, a big hit to the oligarchs' pocketbooks, and suddenly your allies in the government may no longer be allies.
posted by freecellwizard at 12:48 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Who Is St. Javelin and Why Is She a Symbol of the War in Ukraine? The anti-tank missile system has become a key part of Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:56 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


I thought Brett Deveraux put it well in the ACOUP post linked above:

Frankly, especially after the intelligence failures of the Global War on Terror, I was shocked by the degree to which US intelligence mostly nailed this; it goes to show that while organizations created to spy on the Soviet Union struggle to spy on terrorists and the Taliban, they are very good at spying on the Russian Federation.
posted by cosmic owl at 12:57 PM on February 25 [17 favorites]


To back track a little to the SWIFT /banking issue. Also Europe buys a lot of natural gas from Russia and they need swift to pay for it I believe.

The German Foreign Minister was on the radio earlier saying cutting off SWIFT means cutting off NGO’s from supporting dissident groups (and grandmas from getting support from their grandkids in Europe) - in short, it’s not as simple or effective as it sounds.

Taking away the Oligarchs’ toys and money is likely also not easy but the moral calculus is a damn sight clearer.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:00 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this war, but I'll keep them to a minimum, since I'm just some dude in the US who's only viewing things from afar.

Upthread there was some talk about leftist takes on the invasion. I've read some deeply awful ones, and even the DSA International Committee's statement is a fucking embarrassment; it doesn't even condemn Russia for invading (no surprise, alas; they're good at being shitty). The International Marxist Tendency post linked above is pretty even-handed, I think. Cori Bush and Ilhan Omar released statements that, in my opinion, don't release Russia from its culpability, but don't advocate for measures that'll fuck up the lives of regular folks in Russia.

Re: organizations to donate to, svrm, a Ukrainian black metal band I'm a big fan of posted the following earlier today. I know the first two of these links have already been shared in one form or another, and I can't vouch for the value of any of these, but I'm leaving them in since they're part of the whole message.

---

Dear international friends! You surely couldn't have missed news about the war in Ukraine. We now protect not only our territory and people, but also the freedom and democracy for the neighbour countries as well. Because you can’t really believe, that Russia will stop on our territory IF it wins (though it won't).
But now we need all possible help to stop the aggressor! Please consider the following:
👉 Support Ukrainian army - UA843000010000000047330992708 (multi-currency account by National Bank of Ukraine)
https://bank.gov.ua/.../natsionalniy-bank-vidkriv...
👉 Donate to NGO supporting our Army - https://savelife.in.ua/donate/
👉 Support organizations that help people who suffer from war (children, women) - https://voices.org.ua/donat/

---


All power to the people of Ukraine. May all Russian soldiers desert. Solidarity forever.
posted by heteronym at 1:02 PM on February 25 [20 favorites]


This is what Putin really wants, Brookings OP-ED, Fiona Hill, February 24, 2015:
At a news conference in Budapest on February 17 [404, archive.org link], Russian president Vladimir Putin engaged in one of his favorite pastimes: sparring with journalists. One reporter asked if Putin thought the newly brokered ceasefire in Ukraine’s Donbas region would hold. If not, what would Russia do if the United States sent weapons to the Ukrainian army? “Arms supplies are already taking place,” Putin asserted.

Then, in a manner more suited to sports commentary than diplomacy, Putin declared that, in any case, the military game was already over in the Donbas. Kyiv (and by implication, the United States) had been beaten, by a rag tag rebel team of miners and farmers. “It is never easy to lose of course and is always a misfortune for the losing side, especially when you lose to people who were yesterday working down in the mines or driving tractors. But life is life, and it has to continue. I don’t think we should get too obsessed about these things,” said Putin.

With these flippant remarks, Putin depicted the Ukrainian military defeat as a round in a much bigger tournament where everyone is a bit player in Russia’s competition to call the shots in its neighborhood. Right now Putin thinks he is on a winning streak.

In Ukraine, and in his whistle-stop trip to Hungary, Putin is out to score points for Russia. He is not out to win friends in Ukraine or Europe. Nor is he out to restore a Russian empire, or build a new Moscow-centric geopolitical order. Putin wants respect for Russia, not external obligations. He wants respect in the old-fashioned, hard-power sense of the word. Other countries should proceed with caution if they consider trampling on Russia’s interests….
More in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 1:07 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


A caller to WNYC Public Radio described himself as a participant of the Hungarian Revolution, against Russia in 1956, and called for the UN to intervene and protect the Ukrainian government. He then started to describe how to make and use Molotov cocktails before the host cut him off. It starts at 10:10.
posted by meowzilla at 1:17 PM on February 25 [34 favorites]


I've read some deeply awful ones, and even the DSA International Committee's statement is a fucking embarrassment; it doesn't even condemn Russia for invading (no surprise, alas; they're good at being shitty).

Can you clarify what statement you're referring to? This tweet from the 24th?
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 1:20 PM on February 25


After Olympics was no surprise. Putin used the same pattern when he invaded Crimea... waited right after Sochi.

And you can be sure US has recon assets in the area, from orbit down to ground level.
posted by kschang at 1:27 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


It does seem like at least one European spy organization was caught off guard:

German Spy Chief Stranded in Ukraine Amid Russian Attack
Bruno Kahl, head of the foreign intelligence service BND, found himself unable to fly back to Berlin after the start of the offensive, highlighting the low-risk assessment of the German and other European intelligence services about the potential for an invasion of Ukraine, which left many capitals largely unprepared for the war despite weeks of warnings from U.S. and U.K. intelligence.

Mr. Kahl had to travel by road from Kyiv to the Polish border, which he crossed only on Friday after a slow drive alongside thousands of refugees trying to flee the fighting, a spokesman for the intelligence agency said.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:53 PM on February 25 [10 favorites]


GalaxieFiveHundred: That one, and this one, because I've found that Code Pink is happy to side with questionable governments in the name of "peace."

I find DSA-IC's refusal to mention Russia by name pretty appalling. Sure, we socialists (I say this as an active DSA member) need to call out their own war machines first, etc., but this seems like one of those lazy "they're not the US, so they can't be imperialist" arguments that the IC tacitly supports these days- see their refusal to denounce the dissolution of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions last fall.
posted by heteronym at 2:00 PM on February 25 [12 favorites]




an excerpt from the (above) interview:

I watched you on Euronews saying that there will be no Russian invasion of Ukraine, that the reaction of the West was “hysterical”.

Which is true.

But the Americans were right.

In what sense?

There is an invasion.

This is not an invasion. It’s a peace enforcement special military operation.

You can call it whatever you like, but the Russian army is everywhere in the country.

Not everywhere.
posted by elkevelvet at 2:19 PM on February 25 [24 favorites]


GalaxieFiveHundred: That one, and this one, because I've found that Code Pink is happy to side with questionable governments in the name of "peace."

Thanks for clarifying, heteronym. Suffice to say, I disagree with your characterization of the IC's position. I don't think I'd really argue with you about Code Pink. Feel free to DM me if you're interested in chatting more about it. I think talking about it further in this thread would invite a derail or an internet shit fight, which I'm super not interested in.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 2:20 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


There's a lot of people still operating in "Anti Imperialist US mode", I've seen bunch of posts from self-proclaimed leftists blaming this on the US & NATO, saying Russia is only doing this because of the agressive moves to expand NATO and Russia is just afraid...... and I usually just tune out that at point, cause you've got to be able to look at things through other lenses than "US BAD!".
posted by WaterAndPixels at 2:21 PM on February 25 [30 favorites]


CBC segment, just over 8 minutes: "How Putin used propaganda to justify invading Ukraine"

over 8 years of work leading to this
posted by elkevelvet at 2:27 PM on February 25 [12 favorites]


A caller to WNYC Public Radio described himself as a participant of the Hungarian Revolution, against Russia in 1956, and called for the UN to intervene and protect the Ukrainian government. He then started to describe how to make and use Molotov cocktails before the host cut him off.

Luckily they're not depending on WNYC for that info:

@JoshNBC: Ukrainian TV today is broadcasting instructions for making do-it-yourself Molotov Cocktails, to take out Russian tanks

@shaunwalker7: Driving on the road towards Kyiv and the radio announcer is giving out instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails.

Washington Post: Ukrainians Google ‘how to make a molotov cocktail’ after defense minister’s call to arms
posted by peeedro at 2:46 PM on February 25 [7 favorites]


UN security council: 11 yea, 3 abstention (including China), Russia votes no to veto.
posted by corb at 2:48 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Russia votes no to veto.

Quelle shock.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:49 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


India abstained, but is making a wishy-washy speech asking them to stop.
posted by corb at 2:51 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


One thing that is wanting me about the Snake Island massacre.

100 years ago, the US Navy went out to take Puerto Rico. They lined up before the fort in San Juan and fired one barage at the fort. The Puerto Ricans fired back with cannon that did not have enough range to reach the navy ships.

And that was it. The navy sailed away and maintained a blockade on Puerto Rico for the rest of the war. Madrid surrendered the island. The islanders never did.

The Russians could have fired one shell and Snake island and left it at that. Maybe destroy the dock to leave the Ukrainians trapped there. If they can't leave and they can't fire back, they are hors de combat. This was pure overkill.
posted by ocschwar at 2:53 PM on February 25 [28 favorites]


goalyeeha: I am looking for best platforms to send the money (i.e. Western Union, etc) Are looking at WISE right now.

I’ve used wise today to transfer money directly to friends of mine in Ukraine. The money arrived in their accounts a few minutes after I sent it.

I worked with a team of young Ukrainian software developers in 2020. Smart, funny, lovely people. The young men from my team reported for military duty today. The young woman left Kyiv for (hopefully) a safer place. My heart is breaking for my friends.
posted by syzygy at 2:56 PM on February 25 [33 favorites]


They're saying that they will be bringing it to the General Assembly, but I can't tell if they're planning to call an emergency session due to failed unanimity in the Security Council or just bringing a regular toothless resolution. Anyone seen anything?
posted by corb at 3:04 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Syzygy, thanks for confirm. Please check your email for personal note...
posted by goalyeehah at 3:08 PM on February 25


Reminder to my fellow Mefites that while there's nothing wrong with gallows humor as a coping mechanism for oneself, it's something that doesn't necessarily come across well in a forum thread, especially with a mixture of people among which some of whom are very close to the tragedy and some of whom aren't. I've seen a couple get deleted, but it's the sort of thing that could be hard on the mods to have to read, too. If you're thinking of making a dark joke in this thread, maybe skip it. It's not going to land well for a lot of people here, and I'm sure causing distress isn't your intention. Thanks, friends.
posted by biogeo at 4:33 PM on February 25 [59 favorites]


I'm puzzled why I see so few references to the Holodomor, the deliberate Soviet campaign to starve the Ukrainian people to death. Putin says the Ukrainian people are historically tied to Russia. Um, duh! Who was left after the pogrom? That goddamed monster Stalin sentenced seven million Ukrainians to death. And Putin wants to follow in his bootsteps.
posted by SPrintF at 4:48 PM on February 25 [27 favorites]


All this talk of Putin waiting for the end of the Olympics to attack.

What is the Paralympics? Chopped liver?
posted by The genius who rejected Anno's budget proposal. at 5:03 PM on February 25 [5 favorites]


Do you think Vladimir Putin is the kind of person who has any respect at all for the Paralympics?
posted by Grangousier at 5:09 PM on February 25 [19 favorites]


There's a lot of people still operating in "Anti Imperialist US mode".

Indeed so. I recently saw this attitude described as 'parochial moral narcissism' which I think describes it very well. It's not about you. Russia has invaded Ukraine. It's not a chance to pontificate on Iraq or Vietnam or Panama. Tanks are attacking a European capital. It's not an allegory for something bad America did. This is about Russia militarily crushing its neighbour.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:14 PM on February 25 [87 favorites]


I've found the daily updates from historian Heather Cox Richardson full of useful information and links to valuable sources. Her February 24 edition summarizes the initial effects of the invasion - including the report of the Russian platoon surrendering, believing they were a reconnaissance team - and then recaps the early sanctions.

She covers US politics generally, from the perspective of a historian, but she rightly sees how historic the invasion of Ukraine is, and will probably continue covering it for as long as there's news. She tends to post daily, around midnight US Eastern Time. She's one of my top sources of useful, contextualized news.
posted by kristi at 5:57 PM on February 25 [12 favorites]


Don't know if this matters much, but it runs counter to what I would expect (and seems so for people who know more).

Kazakhstan is kinda on fire on its own already.
posted by pwnguin at 6:50 PM on February 25 [5 favorites]


(Well, Wikipedia tells me he story of the bombardment of San Juan wasn't quite what the docent on site related.)
posted by ocschwar at 6:52 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


Well, this week was shocking of course; I assumed Putin would stop at the breakaway regions or perhaps the entire oblasts, but not take the offensive to the Dnieper.

I don't know anything but I don't think, contrary to the above, that Putin cares about 20th-century geostrategic considerations about frontages to defend per se, I think he was more concerned about a less illiberal neighbor right next door feeding reform impetus into his own political system (and there's a lot of new Klept to be collected in the Donbas and other productive regions).

I am sad that the Ukrainians are suffering so, but hopeful that the 2014-on unsatisfactory stalemate can now have an eventual resolution by Europe excluding Russia from its affairs until reversion to the pre-Crimea seizure status quo is achieved.

Putin has really clarified things this week. To me at least.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:34 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


Not trying to make this about the US, and not going for "whattaboutism", but I expect many millions of Russians have similar feelings now as the 30-60%* of the US public that was opposed to Bush & Co invading Iraq did back in 2003.

We had a slightly larger "coalition of the willing", but outside of the UK it was mostly window dressing, and the nations like the UK and Netherlands that contributed** were looking toward their positions in the back-end oil dealings no doubt.

* basically public polls during the Blix period were running only ~30% for the war regardless of getting a UN authorization (~30% were opposed to the Bush's war UN or no).

** not to forget Poland
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:43 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


Saw that ocswar, here is another example.

I'm puzzled why I see so few references to the Holodomor, the deliberate Soviet campaign to starve the Ukrainian people to death
.
here are some.
I believe it is a very serious event. So I'll concentrate on Lazar Kaganovich.
" As an organizer, Kaganovich was active in Yuzovka (Donetsk), Saratov and Belarus throughout the 1910s, and led a revolt in Belarus during the 1917 October Revolution...On 13 January 2010, Kyiv Appellate Court posthumously found Kaganovich, Postyshev, Kosior, Chubar and other Soviet Communist Party functionaries guilty of genocide against Ukrainians during the catastrophic Holodomor famine"
He was a Stalin henchman and eyes on Ukraine. He tried to overthrow Khrushchev but failed. Exiled and stripped of power he died in Moscow, 1991. It ironic that Suslov and others defeated him as Suslov is key to understanding Putin. Stalin>Suslov (whom Stalin used to kick in the pants)>Andropov>Putin.
I believe Putin wants to exceed Andropovs main sticking point, crush dissent (56', 68') while maintaining the satellite countries status. Putin is combining these goals into some diluted version of empire. The reclaiming and expanding of his boarders.
I just wonder if the rest of the current Russian leadership just nodded to Putin with a boy howdy knowing if he fails his rule could come to an abrupt end.
posted by clavdivs at 7:52 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Their response: "Russian warship, go fuck yourself."


Anyone know how to write this correctly in Ukrainian (I could do it with Google translate but not sure how accurate it is). Asking for the very large lawn sign in my near future.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 8:02 PM on February 25 [7 favorites]


I don't know anything but I don't think, contrary to the above, that Putin cares about 20th-century geostrategic considerations about frontages to defend per se, I think he was more concerned about a less illiberal neighbor right next door feeding reform impetus into his own political system (and there's a lot of new Klept to be collected in the Donbas and other productive regions).

I'm also of this opinion (and also not an expert in this at all)... because really who is going to come attack Russia with tanks?????? The countries that could try are all nuclear armed, and are not going to try to attack Russia with tanks because they know how this ends and it's not a happy ending for anybody. Could they really think they have to defend against such attacks?
posted by WaterAndPixels at 8:05 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Their response: "Russian warship, go fuck yourself."

Anyone know how to write this correctly in Ukrainian


I believe they spoke to the Russians in Russian (not surprising, most Ukrainians can understand and speak a good deal of Russian), what I've seen quoted is:

"Русский военный корабль, иди на хуй"
posted by dis_integration at 8:16 PM on February 25 [13 favorites]


I believe that literally it is "go jump on a dick".
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:42 PM on February 25 [6 favorites]


Sun is rising in Ukraine. Kyiv is still free. Zelenskyy is alive.
posted by ocschwar at 8:44 PM on February 25 [44 favorites]


WaPo says that the US has someone standing by ready to evacuate Zelensky, but that he has refused. As the kids say, fucking legend.

I also read in a couple of places that French special forces, the GIGN have offered to escort Zelensky to the French embassy if he wishes, from whence he could continue to serve his country.
posted by os tuberoes at 8:47 PM on February 25 [16 favorites]




Ukraine's Capital Kyiv Braces For A Major Battle With Encroaching Russian Forces (Updated) – Ukrainian forces are preparing to hold the line in Kyiv amid reports of renewed Russian offensives across the country., Joseph Trevithick, The War Zone, February 25, 2022:
As Russian forces continue their push on Ukraine's capital Kyiv, as well as make advances along other fronts, President Vladimir Putin has effectively called for the Ukrainian military to stage a coup and implicitly threatened strikes that could kill civilians.

"Take power into your own hands," Putin told the Ukrainian armed forces in a televised address. "It looks like it'll be easier for us to make a deal with you than this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis."

Putin claims Russia is mostly fighting "nationalists" and calls on Ukraine's armed forces to surrender. "Don't let neo-Nazis and Banderites use your children, wives & parents as a human shield," he added, making a reference to Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian ultranationalist who was arrested by, but then later collaborated with the Nazis against the Soviet Union during World War II.

Putin's remarks here suggest that there may be planning already for more strikes on Kyiv, as well as other population centers, which could put civilians at risk, if the Ukrainian government does not capitulate....
More details follow in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 9:09 PM on February 25 [5 favorites]


The only thing I can add to this conversation are two things: one professional, one familial.

Professionally, I spent the better part of my day reviewing over a billion dollars of international payments to make sure that none of them were going to Russia or were being paid in rubles. I had the joy of (indirectly) providing Treasury with a report verifying where any such payments over the last year went, and to whom. It was a busy day in government accounting land. The money people in the US government are taking these sanctions very seriously. Whether that comforts you or not, I cannot say.

Personally, I have family that work in the Pentagon and have had a busy week. The fact that Russian does not control the airspace over Ukraine means that something has gone very wrong with their plans. It isn't an indication that Russia is losing, but it is startling at how badly the first two days have gone for them.

Two days ago, I was saying Нет войны. Now, I am saying Слава Україні.
posted by gwydapllew at 9:39 PM on February 25 [63 favorites]


Saw this earlier tonight, suggested by an ex coworker who hails from Poland. Its from Adam Something who usually does train/public transport commentary so I don't know if he's missing some angles in his video, but the recent history recap was very interesting nonetheless.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 9:43 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Sun is rising in Ukraine. Kyiv is still free. Zelenskyy is alive.

Now is the time to keep that pressure up on our legislators and get them more help. Poland sent ammunition and it didn't trigger WWIII. What can we give?
posted by corb at 10:48 PM on February 25 [22 favorites]


i hope western propagandists stop glamorizing putin after this. he's not a genius mastermind 4th dimensional chess player. he's a small minded loser who lucked into looting a failed state and used depraved methods to take control of a giant military machine and police state that predated him. and he again lucked into doing so when the major world powers which are not dictatorships are dealing with the actual important question of the century, which is how to maintain an equitable multi-ethnic democracy. all he does is lob propaganda bombs at them, and their warring factions slobber over him because they get to use him as a foil to portray the other faction as "weak" because they don't have the power of a one man dictatorship.

well, ok, let's see who's weak when one aging man tries to lead a country of 100m people, alone, with no political system, no economic future, no successor, and a fucked up war. all the best to him.
posted by wibari at 11:35 PM on February 25 [32 favorites]


I found the Scenario Analysis on a Ukrainian Insurgency from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies fascinating.
Twitter feed seems to indicate some external connectivity is starting to drop as the country goes offline, possibly as a precursor to a more aggressive phase of the invasion that the Russians don't want the rest of the world seeing. Fingers x-ed Ukraine can continue to give Putin more than a bloody nose while sanctions kick in and bite.
It'll be interesting to see if Oligarchs (I'm waiting for Putin to just paint them as enemies of the people and seize all their stuff - its unclear how much he needs them), the Military or even the Russian people themselves can do anything to change what has been set in motion.
posted by phigmov at 11:40 PM on February 25 [6 favorites]


i hope western propagandists stop glamorizing putin after this.

Not as long as the money keeps coming in.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:11 AM on February 26 [5 favorites]


Russia-Ukraine latest news: fighting on the streets of Kyiv; Zelenskiy vows ‘we won’t lay down our arms’, The Guardian, Sat 26 Feb 2022 03.27 EST. (Scroll down for events summary.)
posted by cenoxo at 12:36 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


The Ghost of Kyiv -- legend of an Ukrainian Ace in a day, haven't seen any confirmation, but there's the story of this unnamed Ukrainian fighter pilot who shot down six Russian aircraft in a single day...
posted by kschang at 12:43 AM on February 26


Twitter's little anti fake news box says video game rather than real.
posted by tavella at 12:44 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


It counts for little in the grand scheme of things but this filleting of the Russian ambassador to Ireland on national TV is excellent.
posted by o seasons o castles at 12:47 AM on February 26 [17 favorites]


interesting if true...
@kamilkazani: "3 theses on the Russian-Ukrainian war: 1. Putin's decision to start the war on Ukraine isn't foreign policy. It's domestic one. Putin first consolidated his power through the war in 1999-2000 and it worked. So he repeated this trick every time his popularity started waning..."

not that oligarchs aren't worth taking down...
Forget the obsession with sanctions against oligarchs. I have a better way to hurt Putin - "The added value of this approach is that, unlike some economic sanctions, it will not harm ordinary Russians, in fact it will delight them."
Russia’s ruling class – the members of the Duma, the Senate, the presidential council, the top echelons of the security and defence services, top state television employees – is several thousands strong. These men (and some women) draft, rubber-stamp, promote and carry out Putin’s decisions. Some of them also – unlike the oligarchs – actually advise him.

Being a member of the Duma or Senate is a pretty cushy number – you are well-paid, you can make an occasional speech if you wish, but you are basically there to vote for the Kremlin’s decisions, and, above all, you can extort as many bribes as you can cope with. (For this reason they are detested by a majority of Russians.) Members of the presidential council are civil servants, essential for the preparation of legislation. The security services play crucial roles in executing Putin’s vision. And TV propagandists spread disinformation.

These are the people to target – because when several thousand of the people Putin actually depends on begin to feel the consequences of his policies in their personal lives, there will be a groundswell of discontent.

Most of these people love to travel to Europe and the US. They educate their children here. They own properties here. The members of the Russian elite, their families and children, love to swan around on yachts, ski slopes and fine hotels in the west, posting pictures of themselves on Instagram. If they are denied visas to travel to the west – if they are effectively imprisoned in Russia – it will not take long for the discontent to permeate the entire political class. The message to them will be clear: if you want to enjoy your western lifestyles, you need a new leader who respects western values; until then, you’re banned.
also btw...
If Russia's invasion of Ukraine feels familiar, look to Broadway in the 60s - "We will defend ourselves... I have some advice for you: Get off my land."
We are near the start here of Fiddler on the Roof, having just been schooled in the "Tradition" that governs the town and its people.

The musical, based on "Tevye and his Daughters" by Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich — better known by his pen name, Sholom Aleichem — takes place in the fictional town of Anatevka, a more singable name for a town Aleichem modeled on the town of Boyarka near his birthplace in central Ukraine. And when the musical welcomes new arrivals, they tend to have traveled from the nearest big city, Kyiv.

Life in Anatevka is mostly peaceful – the musical centers on milkman Tevye's attempts to marry off his daughters — but there is a lurking danger represented by the presence of Russian soldiers.

In real life, Jews in the area had been the targets of pogroms for the better part of a century by the 1905 depicted in Fiddler.

Not mentioned in the show is that Imperial Russia was in the midst of turmoil of a broader sort – a political conflagration that would later be labeled the "First Russian Revolution." In January of 1905, Tsarist forces had opened fire on a peaceful workers' demonstration in St. Petersburg, and as news of that incident spread, so did unrest throughout the empire. When more than 170,000 workers in Ukraine went on strike, the Russian army clamped down hard.
posted by kliuless at 1:01 AM on February 26 [20 favorites]


(The ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ Is The Mythical Hero Ukraine Needs Right Now – There is no evidence that a single MiG pilot shot down multiple Russian warplanes, but, historically, such legends are potent morale boosters., Thomas Newdick, The War Zone, February 25, 2022.)
posted by cenoxo at 1:04 AM on February 26 [5 favorites]


From The Guardian:

Local media in Russia has been warned over its coverage of the invasion, with threats to block access to their websites.

Its communications regulator Roskomnadzor accused 10 outlets on Saturday of falsely depicting what Russia calls a special military operation in Ukraine, and publishing false information.

It censured them for referring to it as a “attack, invasion, or a declaration of war”, and said the government will stop access if this continues. Fines of up to 5 million roubles are also possible.

posted by Bella Donna at 1:14 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


fwiw...
@kamilkazani: "Let's discuss Putin speech. He declared Ukrainians to be 'Neonazis' and promised to 'denazify' them. Indeed the 'Nazi' character of Ukrainian statehood and identity has long been a central thesis of Russian propaganda. Let's discuss why and how it reflects ideology of Putinism... It combined the respect to Stalinism (which achieved the Great Victory), the Russian Orthodox clericalism, the Russian ethnonationalism. It's often mocked as Russian Orthodox National-Communist Monarchism... The USSR was already conducting huge ethnic cleansings before the war, before any collaboration with the Nazis could even start. The war didn't really change anything - it allowed Soviets to carry on but now with a perfect excuse. We're cleansing minorities because they're Nazi... The 'anti-Nazi' narrative of Russian authorities is simply a weapon against those Eastern Europeans who wouldn't submit to their will... Of course Russia wouldn't do it consistently. It would rather use it as a weapon to silence any foreign opposition to its domination. If you don't submit and surrender to Putin, that proves you are Nazi. That's some real reductio ad Hitlerum scaled up... Why Russia uses it? First, because it's compatible with Russian foundation myth that rulers in Kremlin are saint because once they defeated the Nazi Germany. Ofc they won't tell that it was Kremlin that built up Nazi military might and allied with them on the early stages of WWII... Second reason is that the West first bought this convenient lie, in order not to question the origins of Nazi military might, and continues buying it. Persisting in feel-good-lies is emotionally easy. But it will cost a heavy price that the West is only starting to pay."
posted by kliuless at 1:34 AM on February 26 [12 favorites]


> And Poland, at least, is openly sending ammunition and organising evacuation of wounded by train (the wide gauge line goes pretty deep into Poland).

@sentdefender: "Convoys of NATO Supply Trucks begin to pour into Ukraine from Poland to provide Lethal Aid for the Ukrainian Government Forces."

> Poland sent ammunition and it didn't trigger WWIII. What can we give?

@Hansardish: "Do not forget you can provide direct financial aid to the Ukrainian Army. Please give what you can."

@Ukraine: "Donate money to support the Ukrainian Army. You can transfer money to the following accounts:

🇺🇦 https://bank.gov.ua/en/news/all/natsionalniy-bank-vidkriv-spetsrahunok-dlya-zboru-koshtiv-na-potrebi-armiyi

🇺🇦 https://savelife.in.ua/en/donate/
posted by kliuless at 1:49 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Biden approves $350 million in military aid for Ukraine, Reuters, Feb 26, 2022:
WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden instructed the U.S. State Department to release $350 million in military aid to Ukraine on Friday as it struggles to repulse a Russian invasion. In a memorandum to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden directed that $350 million allocated through the Foreign Assistance Act be designated for Ukraine's defense.
posted by cenoxo at 2:06 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


With the caveat that it’s difficult to verify any video, here’s a bizarre and light-hearted exchange between a Ukrainian driver and some Russian soldiers. Translation from here (- is driver, = is Russian soldiers):
- What happened guys
= We are out of gas
- Maybe we tow it back to Russia ?
= (Laughter)
- Where are you headed ?
= Donetsk
- No to Kiev
= (Other solder) Why they tell us this is Donetsk
- Everything is on our side and your guys surrender very good
(Can any Russian-speakers on here verify the translation?)
posted by Kattullus at 2:17 AM on February 26 [7 favorites]


The Polish national football team has declared that they will not play against Russia in a World Cup qualifying match. If I remember FIFA rules correctly, unless FIFA kicks Russia out, the national team will get a by into the next round (against either Sweden or the Czech Republic, who probably wouldn’t play Russia either). I don’t have a very favorable impression of the people in charge of FIFA, but it’s almost impossible to imagine that they’ll throw their support behind Russia.
posted by Kattullus at 2:30 AM on February 26 [7 favorites]


There are reports of thermobaric rocket launchers heading into Ukraine from Russia. Which is bad, in that it suggests a scorched-earth policy of not bothering with house-to-house fighting but just annihilating the cities and anyone in them.
posted by acb at 3:45 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


There are reports of thermobaric rocket launchers heading into Ukraine from Russia. Which is bad, in that it suggests a scorched-earth policy of not bothering with house-to-house fighting but just annihilating the cities and anyone in them.

I believe that history shows, radiation damage aside, firestorms are worse than nuclear explosions.
posted by mikelieman at 4:06 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


"New @AP reporting tonight: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was asked to evacuate Kyiv at the behest of the U.S. government but turned down the offer. An American official tells me Zelenskyy said, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”" -- James LaPorta on twitter
posted by valkane at 4:13 AM on February 26 [8 favorites]


Apparently Hungary has withdrawn its opposition to cutting Russia out of SWIFT.
posted by acb at 4:35 AM on February 26 [13 favorites]


unless FIFA kicks Russia out

if I were running things Russia's future scope of interaction would be limited to North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and their part of the ISS. Enjoy your new empire, and say hi to Ortega for me.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 4:41 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


In the big scheme of things, it’s a small matter, but the Faroe Islands (who are outside the EU) have agreed to join with other European countries in putting sanctions on Russia. This is far from painless for the Faroese because a quarter of the island nation’s export revenues come from selling fish to Russia.
posted by Kattullus at 4:47 AM on February 26 [39 favorites]


The world is so insane right now that we're all breezing by the fact that the head of the Russian space agency threatened to... drop the International Space Station on us...?? -- Caleb Watney on twitter
posted by valkane at 5:07 AM on February 26 [13 favorites]


"The mayor of Kyiv is Vitali Klitschko, former heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

He did not flee from the Russian invasion, but instead remained in Kyiv to fight for his country and independence." -- Travis Akers on twitter. (click thru for a great pic)
posted by valkane at 5:37 AM on February 26 [9 favorites]


On the latest episode of The Bugle podcast, comedian Neil Delamere commented that Putin had to be mad to attack Ukraine, given that Vitali Klitschko, and his brother and fellow former heavyweight world champion of boxing Wladimir, would be manning the defenses, as they are, and I paraphrase, “two of the hardiest lads you’ll ever see”.
posted by Kattullus at 5:55 AM on February 26 [6 favorites]


And Turkey is now blocking Russian warships from the Bosphorus Strait. Which is a big deal, as unless Turkey (or NATO) is at war with Russia, that's in violation of the Montreux Convention.
posted by acb at 6:03 AM on February 26 [16 favorites]


Zelensky on twitter thanking Erdogan the closure of the Dardanelles for Russian warships:twiter
posted by kmt at 6:04 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Apologies, it's the Bosphorus.
posted by kmt at 6:07 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Guardian reporting the Zelenskiy tweet may have been aspirational rather than a factual announcement. No confirmation from either Turkey or Russia yet.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:31 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Even if blocking the Bosphorus would be illegal (or a declaration of war), Turkey could always make inspections of any Russian ships going through exceedingly thorough.
posted by acb at 6:39 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]




Which is a big deal, as unless Turkey (or NATO) is at war with Russia, that's in violation of the Montreux Convention.

At war, or if threatened, and NATO members have been targets of collective threats by Putin over the last few days.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:41 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


State Telecommunications Service: Kremlin website down.

See upper left corner of the page....

Can anyone get anymore info on this...
posted by goalyeehah at 7:18 AM on February 26


There was a discussion on Icelandic radio between a Russian-speaking journalist, an expert on Russian politics, and a military analyst. One point they all made is that the war was clearly not going how Putin had envisioned it, and that in his speech yesterday, where he called on the Ukrainian army to overthrow its government, he seemed less composed than normal. It seems likely that Putin really believed his own rhetoric, and that he thought the invasion would be, to use a 2003 word, a cakewalk. That explains why the Russian forces were spread over such a large area, instead of being concentrated in the east.

This links up with a lot of things I’ve read by military analysts online, for instance that National Guard units were sent in the first wave towards Kyiv. They seem to have thought that the Ukrainian armed forces wouldn’t be a difficult opponent, since they were, as Putin was quoted as saying in the article cenoxo linked to above, beaten by a bunch of miners and farmers in 2014.

This isn’t to say that the invasion is failing, for one the Russian army has made significant advances in the south, but it does make it seem that the Russian army had not been prepared for the stiffness of the resistance by the Ukrainian army and the fortitude and togetherness of the Ukrainian people.
posted by Kattullus at 7:22 AM on February 26 [17 favorites]


MEP (and former Estonian Chief of Defence) Riho Terras is tweeting (threadreader copy) that according to Ukrainian intel, “Putin is furious, he thought that the whole war would be easy and everything would be done in 1-4 days.”
2/7 Russians didn’t have a tactical plan. The war costs about $20 bln/day. There are rockets for 3-4 days at most, they use them sparingly. They lack weapons, the Tula and 2 Rotenberg plants can’t physically fulfil the orders for weapons. Rifles and ammo are the most they can do.

3/7 The next Russian weapons can be produced in 3-4 months – if even that. They have no raw materials. What was previously supplied mainly from Slovenia, Finland and Germany is now cut off.

4/7 If Ukraine manages to hold the Russians off for 10 days, then the Russians will have to enter negotiations. Because they have no money, weapons, or resources. Nevertheless, they are indifferent about the sanctions.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:22 AM on February 26 [36 favorites]


From the Lincoln Project: Mother Russia.
posted by y2karl at 7:28 AM on February 26 [7 favorites]


I suppose sometimes it is about the USA
posted by philip-random at 7:49 AM on February 26


according to Ukrainian intel, “Putin is furious, he thought that the whole war would be easy and everything would be done in 1-4 days.”
[. . . ]
If Ukraine manages to hold the Russians off for 10 days, then the Russians will have to enter negotiations. Because they have no money, weapons, or resources. Nevertheless, they are indifferent about the sanctions.


I am hoping for this; every day Ukraine hangs is another day it might be true.

But to avoid being demoralize if it's wrong, I'm reminding myself it still seems very improbable. My suspicion is things will get a lot worse before they get better, and putting it right will be the work of years.

I saw Dan Drezner (professor of international politics with a big twitter presence) just responded to a similar claim:
On the one hand, this could be true. On the other hand, this invasion is only 72 hours old and Russia has yet to commit the bulk of their forces.
posted by mark k at 8:00 AM on February 26 [18 favorites]


It must grind on Putin, who clearly enjoys having the appearance of being a tough guy, that Zelenskyy is acclaimed war hero level of strength.
posted by sammyo at 8:06 AM on February 26 [10 favorites]


(Can any Russian-speakers on here verify the translation?)

My Russian is rusty, but that feels like a solid translation.
posted by gwydapllew at 8:06 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


What matters now is that Ukranian's hold the line and continue to buy time.

I also hope that underground resistance networks can be set-up for the back-end actions should it go that way.

I think of the Hungarian Uprising and Prague Spring, etc. The difference here is the groundswell of open support for Ukranians.
posted by goalyeehah at 8:17 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I'm really curious what kind of information is getting through to the average Russian. I read one account by a younger Russian who had access to outside media that "the older generation" believes everything broadcast by state media.

And today's WaPo has this commentary by a Ukrainian:

Russian media is allowed to describe the invasion only as “a special military operation in Donbas” — Orwellian language apparently dictated by Putin himself. (That reluctance to use the word “war” shows that the authorities understand that the attack might not be popular with ordinary people.) Ukrainians can track the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns and compare them with the reality we see on the ground. Russian TV, for example, broadcasts stories of fake Ukrainian soldiers surrendering to Moscow’s forces — even though we all know firsthand that our soldiers have been offering bitter resistance.

posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:20 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I took a sociology class at UCLA in the mid-eighties. The biggest takeaway was learning how during the Vietnam War, live feeds of the carnage were essentially beamed directly into American homes which contributed to anti-war sentiment. Because this ability was new, the U.S. government was behind the curve on controlling it. Glad to see social media providing the same function now.
posted by goalyeehah at 8:29 AM on February 26 [10 favorites]




kmt > Zelensky on twitter thanking Erdogan the closure of the Dardanelles Bosphorus for Russian warships

Turkey Did NOT Close The Bosphorus To Russian Ships, gCaptain, John Konrad, February 26, 2022:
In the last hour several media outlets worldwide began reporting that Turkey closed the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits to Russian ships, but, Reuters is now reporting that the rumor – traced to a Turkish official with knowledge of the matter – is false.

Despite the rumor being false the situation could change. Turkey is a member of NATO and, in a recent tweet, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy did thank President Tayyip Erdogan for Turkey’s humanitarian and military support, saying a “ban on the passage of (Russian) warships to the Black Sea” was very important for his country.
NATO Cannot Stop Russian Warships From Entering The Black Sea, gCaptain, Tuvan Gumrukcu (Reuters), February 25, 2022:
Turkey, a NATO member, cannot stop Russian warships accessing the Black Sea via its straits, as Ukraine has requested, due to a clause in an international pact that allows vessels to return to their home base, the Turkish foreign minister said on Friday.

Ukraine has appealed to Turkey to block Russian warships from passing through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits which lead to the Black Sea, after Moscow on Thursday launched a full-blown assault on Ukraine from land, air and sea.

Under the 1936 Montreux Convention [Wikipedia], Turkey has control over the straits and can limit the passage of warships during wartime or if threatened, but the request has put the NATO member in a difficult position as it tries to manage its Western commitments and close ties with Russia.

Speaking in Kazakhstan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was studying Kyiv’s request but said Russia had the right under the Convention to return ships to their home base, in this case the Black Sea….
posted by cenoxo at 8:55 AM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Can Turkey Close Straits To Russian Ships?, Naval News Op-Ed, Tayfun Ozberk, 24 Feb 2022 – Following Russia's attacks on Ukraine's main cities, Vasyl Bodnar, Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey, asked Turkey to close the straits to Russian ships in favor of Ukraine. Is it possible to do so in accordance with the Montreux Convention?

Answer: it’s complicated and risky. Details in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 9:20 AM on February 26


I misspoke earlier when I tried to make this about the US. This is totally about Ukraine, and the despot who wants to take it. I apologize for my stupid narcissistic view. I have nothing but respect and hope for the people who are fighting for their lives.
posted by valkane at 9:20 AM on February 26 [14 favorites]


Swedish as well as Polish football teams are saying nyet to playing Russia in the World Cup next month, according to CNET. I went to a protest against the war in downtown Stockholm today. On my way to the subway station, I passed a woman my age walking a dog. She looked at the sign I was carrying and asked me where I was going. I told her, and she thanked me for going to the demonstration. She had to babysit her grandchildren and didn't know there was a demonstration. I told her about the one scheduled for tomorrow night and she promised to check it out.

It is a remarkable event for me, living in Sweden, when a total stranger initiates a conversation. So that was heartening. I think there have been demonstrations on Thursday and Friday as well as today. They aren't huge but they aren't tiny, either. When I was heading home after, another protest had materialised outside the entrance to the central subway/train station hub on Sergelstorg.

At the first demonstration I met up with a buddy, originally from Lithuania, who complained that the demonstration wasn't larger. "It's not surprising, " I said. "There's only about 15,000 Ukrainians living in Sweden." "That's not the point! It shouldn't be the Ukrainians who have to show up. It should be the rest of us." I apologised. She is completely correct.

My favorite sign from the protest: Fascism is cancer. Russia needs chemo.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:24 AM on February 26 [36 favorites]


(Photo of Putin at his desk.

Text, in Machine Bold, in top half: "BUILDS UP CASH RESERVES AND CONTROLLED INTRANET, ORDERS OLIGARCHS TO REPATRIATE WEALTH"

Text in bottom half: "NEGLECTS TO STOCKPILE MORE THAN A WEEK OF ARMS")
posted by acb at 9:25 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I'm following a twitter stream from The Kyiv Independent that seems legitimate and has a lot of information I haven't seen reported elsewhere. If anyone knows anything about them and their legitimacy it would be appreciated. They just reported that Belgium is sending machine guns and fuel, as is The Netherlands and that all railway links to Russia have been destroyed.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:30 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Sorry to report that two Danish journalists, a reporter and photographer, were injured in eastern Ukraine when their car was fired on. They were treated at a local hospital and their injuries are not life-threatening, according to the Swedish report, which links to a Danish newspaper. (It's a short item, headline is Danska journalister skottskadade i Ukraina.)
posted by Bella Donna at 9:34 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


History has found the Ukrainian president, and his courage is remarkable to witness. (the Atlantic)

Yesterday, Zelensky told a videoconference of European leaders that they would likely not ever see him again. The whole world can see that his execution is very likely imminent. What reason does he have to doubt that Vladimir Putin will order his murder, as the Russian leader has done with so many of his bravest critics and enemies? Zelensky’s fate is so clear that Washington offered to extricate him from Kyiv, so that he could form a government in exile. But Zelensky swatted away the promise of safety. He reportedly preferred that Washington deliver him more arms for his resistance: “The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.”
posted by bluesky43 at 9:36 AM on February 26 [22 favorites]


Speaking of media, after clicking on the link provided by bluesky43 above, I saw that there is a GoFundMe for media in Ukraine to help outlets relocate, etc. It is being promoted by The Kyiv Independent. I will add this to the MetaTalk thread if it's not there yet.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:38 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Petition for No Fly Zone in Ukraine (change.org)
posted by bluesky43 at 9:41 AM on February 26


Killing Zelensky would be worse than a crime. It would be a blunder.

Ukraine's success comes from Zelensky's personal example AND from the judgement of his advisors. He has surrounded himself with dozens of people who would do just as good a job as president if the worst came to pass. Not all of them are still in Kyiv. I would eat my hat if there is not a shadow cabinet in Lviv ready to take over, and another in Poland. If he comes out of this alive, we might get to see proof that he's human like the rest of us and has his flaws. If he dies, the heroism of the last 48 hours will be all that is left of him. And the memory of it will be upheld by his successors.

Putin. Is. Just. Not. Smart.
posted by ocschwar at 9:42 AM on February 26 [35 favorites]


A message of support to the Ukrainian people from the National Leader of Belarus. It remains to be seen what this means, if anything, or how it turns out.
posted by os tuberoes at 9:42 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


To clarify, that's the previous Belarus opposition leader, who has now declared herself as the National Leader of Belarus due to the fact that the leadership of Belarus authorized use of their land for attacks on Ukraine. Still really interesting though.
posted by corb at 9:45 AM on February 26 [20 favorites]


"The investigative news project @wwwagentsmedia is tracking and verifying Russian soldiers killed or captured in Ukraine, debunking Moscow’s official claims of zero combat losses." -- Kevin Rothrock on twitter.
posted by valkane at 9:48 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]



Putin. Is. Just. Not. Smart.


Putin is cynical. I doubt if it ever even began to cross his mind that the kind of heroism we're seeing from Zelensky was possible. Or more to the point -- that something so profoundly human might prove poisonous to his (Putin's) ends.
posted by philip-random at 9:49 AM on February 26 [10 favorites]


Magnitsky Act catalyst Bill Browder on deeper Russia sanctions: “knock them back to the Stone Age” (Ali Veshi, msnbc)
great discussion of SWIFT sanctions.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:53 AM on February 26 [5 favorites]


“The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.”

This is a remarkable phrase. A phrase to build a revolution on. A phrase that I hope continues in a trajectory that leads to Putin's downfall. It is a phrase as powerful (to me at least) as 'La Marseillaise.' Not insignificantly it also calls out 'the West' for not helping sooner, for choosing a path that helps first the powerful.

It's historic.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:03 AM on February 26 [59 favorites]


According to Ukrainian Sources, Russian forces have begun dropping cluster bombs of butterfly mines. Such weapons are banned by the Geneva Convention.
posted by Philipschall at 10:05 AM on February 26 [5 favorites]


NYT just reported that Belgium and The Netherlands are contributing weapons (see comment above about The Kyiv Independent who scooped the NYT in this reporting).
posted by bluesky43 at 10:06 AM on February 26


The Kyiv Independent@KyivIndependent⚡️Lviv-based Pravda brewery switches to making Molotov cocktails.

The brewery announced the plans after Ukraine’s Defense Ministry instructed civilians to make Molotov cocktails to resist invading Russian forces.1:10 PM · Feb 26, 2022
posted by bluesky43 at 10:11 AM on February 26 [6 favorites]


I'm following a twitter stream from The Kyiv Independent…

The Kyiv Independent is recommended as a Ukraine resource by NiemanLab (which is published by Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism). See their recent article Some resources for following the invasion of Ukraine, NiemanLab, Laura Hazard Owen, Feb. 24, 2022:
… The Kyiv Independent, a three-month-old English-language Ukrainian news site launched by former Kyiv Post journalists after that outlet temporarily shuttered — the Kyiv Post has since relaunched — is using the lightning bolt emoji to help readers quickly differentiate its breaking news tweets from other tweets…
A Google search for “Kyiv Independent newspaper” shows they’ve been cited by Al Jazeera, The Guardian, Washington Post, and other news sources.
posted by cenoxo at 10:18 AM on February 26 [21 favorites]


The notion that the Russians didn’t have a deep tactical plan for this endeavor feels on-brand for this government.

Putin is canny and cunning and manipulative in the way someone trained by the KGB would turn out.

But Putin wasn’t a high-flying KGB officer. He was assigned to a backwater station by most standards of his career before the Wall came down. He was never a “thinker”.

The Putin Files is a playlist of the unedited interviews with the journalists, govt officials, etc from the Putin’s Revenge film referenced upthread.

There are many things that Putin is. “Strategic Genius” is not on the list of just about anyone who has studied him.

That gives me hope. That, and the fact that even with an autocrat at its head, there’s still a huge bureaucracy comprising the government, and it almost never fully agrees with itself.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:30 AM on February 26 [10 favorites]


I suppose sometimes it is about the USA...

If enough attack ads made about the shit eating Putin ass kissing of Trump, Tuckyorose and the rest of their ilk help tilt towards a Democratic party sweep of the midterm elections, is it not about the world, too? Because there will be no shortage of self-made ammunition for those. Let us pray and work for that.
posted by y2karl at 10:41 AM on February 26 [8 favorites]


The Ukrainian National Anthem goes roughly like this:

Ukraine is not yet dead, nor its glory and freedom,
Luck will still smile on us brother-Ukrainians.
Our enemies will die, as the dew does in the sunshine,
and we, too, brothers, we'll live happily in our land.

We'll spare neither our souls or bodies to get freedom
and we'll prove that we brothers are of Cossack kin.

We'll spare neither our souls or bodies to get freedom
and we'll prove that we brothers are of Cossack kin.
posted by droomoord at 10:52 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Waiting for the report that some Ukrainian 16yo composer has added a “Russian Warship; go jump on a dick” line.

🌻
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:58 AM on February 26 [10 favorites]


I suppose sometimes it is about the USA.

It already is: Pentagon studying fallback supply lines to Ukraine ahead of expanded Russian invasion, DefenseNews; Joe Gould, Sebastian Sprenger, Rachel S. Cohen; Wednesday, Feb 23 2022.

It could get worse. If, for example, Putin decides to destroy NATO member Poland’s materiel supply lines to Ukraine, what would the USA do?
posted by cenoxo at 11:05 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


It’s part 4 of Sweden’s national Eurovision contest. Before it started, the hosts talked about the invasion and briefly noted that people who voted using a particular number tonight would be raising money for Ukraine and neighboring countries who are taking in refugees. The news covered the protest I went to and related issues. One of those issues turns out to be the number of Swedish children who are terrified that there will be a war here. Not to make it all about Sweden, it’s not, but it was interesting to me because kids are going to be afraid but that hadn’t occurred to me. On some news report over the past few days, one of the journalists had overheard a child in the long line to entering Poland saying something like, “But my birthday is on Sunday. What about my party?” There’s going to be 5 million different stories of heartbreak among the estimated 5 million refugees making/expected to make their way out of Ukraine.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:13 AM on February 26 [11 favorites]


If, for example, Putin decides to destroy NATO member Poland’s materiel supply lines to Ukraine, what would the USA do?

Probably stealth cruise missile strikes against the airbases that launched those strikes. US satellites track everything. They'd know which planes participated in the strikes.
posted by kschang at 11:15 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]


I've seen many things in this thread both explicitly and implicitly referring to the Budapest Memorandum, typically along the lines of "Ukraine gave up its nukes because the US promised to defend it".

That sort of thing is said very, very frequently, but it's not at all what the Budapest Memorandum actually says. It's true that the Budapest Memorandum gives "security guarantees", but they're things like "We won't attack you unless you attack us first". Nothing in it obligates the US, or anyone, to defend Ukraine. I suspect that a lot of people intentionally say "security guarantees" in the hopes that people reading it will assume "promise to defend".

I want to be clear that I'm firmly on the side of helping Ukraine. But I don't think that the false implication that we are obligated by treaty to do so should go unchallenged.
posted by Flunkie at 11:18 AM on February 26 [17 favorites]


Remember a while ago, when Putin announced he was going to retire? What was that all about?

I keep coming back to that, because it felt like a weird thing to announce at the time, and it feels even weirder given his current actions. I haven't seen any reference to it in any of the commentaries I've read about Putin, though.
posted by meese at 11:19 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Apparently Russia no longer wants its people to see what's happening on Twitter.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:19 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


oh for fuck sake can we please try to keep this thread useful and informative
posted by glonous keming at 11:31 AM on February 26 [14 favorites]


-Germany softens stance on curbing Russian access to SWIFT
-Ukraine's Zelenskiy welcomes moves to cut Russia off from SWIFT

also btw...
@Ukraine: "Stand with the people of Ukraine. Now accepting cryptocurrency donations. Bitcoin, Ethereum and USDT."[1]

BTC - 357a3So9CbsNfBBgFYACGvxxS6tMaDoa1P

ETH and USDT (ERC-20) - 0x165CD37b4C644C2921454429E7F9358d18A45e14
posted by kliuless at 11:33 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Thank you mods for everything you are doing to keep this thread useful and informative.
posted by cosmic owl at 11:34 AM on February 26 [19 favorites]


The Ukrainian National Anthem goes roughly like this

Selo i Ludy (previously featured in this post) did a livestream yesterday. They're fun as hell, but they understandably looked exhausted and worried. They also had a few echo/technical issues (hence the fundraiser for a new motherboard).

They did a version of the anthem with some neighbours who were sheltering with them.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:38 AM on February 26 [3 favorites]




(Related to keeping this thread useful and informative, can we split to a “part 2” since 600+ comments is a lot to load on mobile?)
posted by itesser at 11:45 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Remember a while ago, when Putin announced he was going to retire? What was that all about?

I keep coming back to that, because it felt like a weird thing to announce at the time, and it feels even weirder given his current actions. I haven't seen any reference to it in any of the commentaries I've read about Putin, though.


I just read this old (2012) interview with Gleb Pavlovsky this morning and he talks about that some (more than I am posting below):

Q: Why couldn’t Putin stay ‘national leader’ and let Medvedev be President?

A: What does ‘national leader’ mean? If you are basing your views, as Putin does, on the idea that the Russian people are ready at any moment to pounce on the authorities and tear them into bloody pieces, then you can’t rely on some ghostly construction like ‘national leader’. The question is, where is the real power, where are the buttons and levers? Putin had the feeling that Medvedev was eroding his popularity and that it was time for him to return to the stage.

posted by ghharr at 11:49 AM on February 26


Anyway to get around the L.A. Times firewall re: Putin's delusion
posted by goalyeehah at 11:53 AM on February 26


Apparently the anti-tank missiles the defenders have been using to great effect are of Swedish manufacture, but provided by the UK.

Putin fought the NLAW and the NLAW won.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:03 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Tushayev is dead. Nothing makes me happier than when a warlord who betrayed his own people and was brought in basically to commit war crimes gets killed. If there is a god, Ukraine is certainly doing their work.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:07 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


@goalyeehah - turning off javascript and reloading it worked a treat for me, also has the benefit of disabling a whole bunch of crap tracking scripts. Reader view might work if you're on a phone with browser that has that?
posted by mcrandello at 12:10 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


And Kadryov was sent crying
"We are shocked, don, that the Ukrainians have so many weapons, don, and now we have no desire to fight against Ukraine, don"

We screwed up, Don
The Ukrainians are fucking legends.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:17 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


pet rock -- is there another source for this with complete translation?
posted by jpziller at 12:30 PM on February 26


Would someone please explain what Kadryov is saying in the tweet. There is no translation....
posted by goalyeehah at 12:32 PM on February 26


BBC - Russia has limited Twitter in parts of Russia, Twitter has confirmed.
posted by adamvasco at 12:34 PM on February 26


Popular Slavic YouTube personality Life of Boris on ongoing events.
posted by gwydapllew at 12:41 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


pet rock -- is there another source for this with complete translation?

I do not know of the primary source.

Would someone please explain what Kadryov is saying in the tweet. There is no translation....

The translation is in the blockquote.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:43 PM on February 26


> Former President Poroshenko is leading one of the volunteer battalions, with 4 anti-tank weapons. The Russians hate him so much that he'll be tortured and/or executed if taken alive.

That's a hell of a story, because Poroshenko flew back there from Brussels late last month to be tried for treason, accused of helping the Russian separatists in Donbas sell coal while he was President. A court decided not to jail him before trial, and so here he is, raising a people's brigade and preparing to fight the invading Russians on the streets of Kyiv, same as his nemesis Zelenskiy. Will they end up reluctant comrades in arms?
posted by nicwolff at 12:44 PM on February 26 [11 favorites]


So, what online sources are people following? Is there a list compiled somewhere? This twitter list has been useful: https://twitter.com/i/lists/43845512 and am open to other resources for on the ground reporting, footage, and verification.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:48 PM on February 26


Will they end up reluctant comrades in arms?

Neither seem reluctant to me.
posted by ryanrs at 12:49 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


> If, for example, Putin decides to destroy NATO member Poland’s materiel supply lines to Ukraine, what would the USA do?

>> Probably stealth cruise missile strikes against the airbases that launched those strikes. US satellites track everything. They'd know which planes participated in the strikes.


Right – retaliate. And if those airbases were on Russian soil, what would Russia likely do, to whom, and how quickly? (There’s no need to reply, I’m just imagining how things might escalate out of control on both sides.)
posted by cenoxo at 12:49 PM on February 26


it's my understanding that the russians would have no way to know whether those missiles were nuclear armed or not

it's very likely they would simply assume they were

a lot of the tactics that have been used on other countries could not be used on russia because of this
posted by pyramid termite at 1:00 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


So, what online sources are people following? Is there a list compiled somewhere?

I'm following Daniel Dale's list.
posted by Mavri at 1:00 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


Ahmad Khan both
@johnsweeneyroar and @OzKaterji are both in Kyiv.
posted by adamvasco at 1:02 PM on February 26


Thank you.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 1:05 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Well , I’m finally going to sleep tonight, two friends have crossed the border with Poland. Their parents are staying to fight, but they made it. They stood for 25+ hours, in no man’s land, but my god they made it. Polish families are providing a tremendous amount of immediate support in terms of shelter, food and transportation. They are crashing tonight and then tomorrow we figure out where we get them next.

They were extremely lucky, they are in western Ukraine to start, and healthy and could make it to the border. They spoke of holding kids for overwhelmed moms, of below freezing temps at night, and just how scared everyone is. I’m sure we’ll hear more in coming days. We also don’t have great contact with their parents, so obviously that’s intense too.

But Imagine that. Your parents insisting that you leave and remember them. Fuck me.
posted by larthegreat at 1:07 PM on February 26 [78 favorites]




Here's a livemap I found. Unsure if reputable, however.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 1:13 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


The /r/worldnews Live Thread (2nd pinned link) seems to have a very steady feed of twitter posts that I generally see confirmed a bit later on other sources.

So has anyone seen confirmation of the Chechen "warlord"s death at the Hostomel airport?
posted by sammyo at 1:18 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


The lack of good planning is very reminiscent of what happened at the Bay of Pigs or during the invasion of Iran by Iraq in 1980; lots of wishful thinking and essentially the opposite effect of what was intended, at least politically.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 1:19 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Concerned about the thermobarics seen entering Ukraine. Does NATO have a way or plan to respond if Russians just decide to level?
posted by corb at 1:24 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


I'm seeing a lot of Ukrainian twitter accounts calling for a no-fly zone. I think that is more likely than a retaliatory missile strike if Russia were to massively escalate with their rocket flamethrower (truly a terror weapon, by the way) or something similar. A no-fly zone is highly provocative but less so than a direct strike. I'm not sure I expect it, but I don't know what Russia could really do if a huge flight of F-22s/F-35s suddenly popped on their transponders all along a certain new demarcation line. At that point it would be on them to escalate further or accept the situation.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:25 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Re: no-fly zone.

America could send F-22s and F-35s into Ukrainian airspace but the question is if they're willing to fire on Russian jets in Ukranian airspace.

Yes? The US is now committing an act of war against a nuclear power.
No? There's not a no-fly zone.

I'm not sure I expect it, but I don't know what Russia could really do if a huge flight of F-22s/F-35s suddenly popped on their transponders all along a certain new demarcation line

Ignore them and continue their sorties? If you're going to make a no-fly zone you have to be willing to shoot down any aircraft that enters it. There's no "hey we'd really like you not to be here and we're just going mildly annoy you if you do" option here.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:31 PM on February 26 [10 favorites]


Is the Kadryov quote joke or actual interpretation of what he is saying???
posted by goalyeehah at 1:32 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Germany to send weapons directly to Ukraine.
Germany's Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has announced that Germany will deliver weapons directly to Ukraine. He said Germany would be sending 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles. Berlin has also dropped some restrictions on German-made weapons being sent to conflict zones, meaning that third countries will be able to send more arms to Ukraine.
Mr Scholz said the Russian invasion marked a turning point. The move reverses Germany's long-standing policy of banning weapon exports to conflict zones. At the same time, German ministers have said they are working on restricting Russia's access to the Swift global interbank payment system in a "targeted" way that "hits the right people" and avoids collateral damage.

/on the one hand yay for Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands for supporting their neighbor but boo the fucking arms industry is loving this.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:35 PM on February 26 [10 favorites]


To paraphrase from Twitter: Putin's foreign policy is so bad that Germans are sending weapons to people who are fighting against the Russians and the reaction from the entire world is "it's about fucking time."
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:38 PM on February 26 [28 favorites]


According to the tweet below, the Washington Post has reported the info below. There is a link to the Washington Post but I can’t get past the paywall.

The chairman of Russia’s lower house of parliament had his plane turned back mid-flight by Sweden and then Finland, making him the first top Russian official to face Europe’s denial of airspace permissions in response to the invasion.

I really hope this is true. At this point many countries have decided to refuse flights from Russia.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:39 PM on February 26 [13 favorites]


The danieldale twitter list is reporting Russian paratroopers dropping over Kyiv.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:48 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


The WaPo report:
MOSCOW — A top Russian official flying to Moscow faced a dramatic rebuff when Sweden denied his official government plane permission to enter its airspace — just as it was about to fly across the Scandinavian nation.

Finland also denied his flight permission.

Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, was returning after an official visit to Cuba and Nicaragua when he became the first top Russian official, along with his delegation, to face Europe’s denial of airspace permissions targeting Moscow.

Volodin played a key role in Russia’s recognition of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, paving the way for the invasion. He was also a member of Russia’s Security Council that endorsed the move on Monday.

Volodin wrote on Telegram Saturday that the route had been cleared in advance, “but the European countries refused to allow our flight. This happened when we were about to enter Sweden’s airspace.”

He said the flight captain detoured north, adding two and a half hours to the flight. Sweden and Finland have not announced closures of their airspace to Russia airlines or aviation, as have other nations — including Britain, Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia — which has left Russia’s state-owned Aeroflot with dwindling options for its European routes.

“We’ve been living in these realities for a long time,” said Volodin, who personally has been under U.S. sanction since 2014.

In Cuba, when the invasion began, Volodin sent an “appeal” to Ukrainians: “We have always considered you to be a brotherly nation. Our country's actions are aimed exclusively at protecting peace.” He urged them not to resist Russia’s military.

At Monday’s meeting of the Russian Security Council, he said that Russia’s move since 2019 to fast-track passports for 800,000 Ukrainians in the two regions meant that recognizing the regions would be “primarily protecting our country’s citizens.”
posted by BungaDunga at 1:48 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


An article summarizing today’s global reaction from The Guardian. Excerpt:
Vladimir Putin was facing growing international isolation and the prospect of pariah status on Saturday night as long-term allies dramatically turned against him following the invasion of Ukraine, and western nations planned further decisive military and financial action against Moscow.

As his hopes of a quick victory evaporated in the face of fierce resistance by Ukrainian soldiers and armies of citizen volunteers, Russia’s president was deserted by his key ally, China, and had his ultimatum demanding Kyiv’s surrender defiantly brushed aside by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In perhaps the most striking development, Germany announced on Saturday night that it would supply Ukrainian troops with 1,000 anti-tank weapons as well as 500 Stinger missiles from its own military reserves.
posted by Kattullus at 1:49 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


If you're going to make a no-fly zone you have to be willing to shoot down any aircraft that enters it. There's no "hey we'd really like you not to be here and we're just going mildly annoy you if you do" option here.

Probably the US would also have to destroy any unfriendly anti-aircraft systems on the ground; Russia has moved some deeper into Ukraine, and of course has had them on Ukraine soil since at least MH17 was shot down.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:52 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Hold the line, damn it. Hold the line....
posted by goalyeehah at 1:57 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


The danieldale twitter list is reporting Russian paratroopers dropping over Kyiv.

That same Twitter list is now reporting skepticism about that claim. I don’t think it’s been confirmed.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:03 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


I work in telecom and my company just announced free calls for at least 2 weeks to Ukraine for family/friends, and will update/expand if this is longer than 2 weeks. It was heartening to read.

I dislike Nationalism, but watching Zelensky stand on the front lines was far more inspiring to me than any US based wartime propaganda, but that's probably because it's a war of defense not offense. And they're not (despite Putin's claims) "all nazis" (yes, Azov, etc do exist, but they are not the dominant faction) - so if they were actual nazis I may have a different perspective.

My friend is in radio and said there's a lot of signal jamming (of the kind he hadn't seen since Cuba protests this past year or two whenever that was). And apparently a lot of Russian comms are open air cuz a lot of their stuff is still old soviet stuff?

I don't think sending weapons to Ukraine is necessarily wrong (as has been announced by a few European countries, including Netherlands needing German permission to send equipment(?)), but on the other hand... it's certainly concerning that we may lead to further escalation.
posted by symbioid at 2:05 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


Elizabeth Campbell @ECampbell360
"We have captured around 200 Russian soldiers, some around 19 years old. Not trained at all. Badly equipped." Ukraninan Major General Borys Kremenetsky says. "We allow them to call their parents. Parents completely surprised."
More and more it appears that Putin and his generals sent conscripts in as the front lines for a lot of the initial waves. It would certainly explain why whole convoys are being wiped out so easily by Ukrainian defenders. The reports were saying that infantry were not providing the screening capabilities that they were supposed to because they literally weren't getting out of the trucks. When you don't have infantry doing screening for mechanized units it becomes trivial for say a platoon with a bunch of anti-tank weapons hidden along the road to line up along said road and lay hell onto a line of vehicles and armor.

The other thing is this is supposed to be a big fucking no-no in domestic Russian politics. Only volunteer soldiers supposed to be sent to front lines. There's rumours of conscripts being forced into signing contracts turning them into career soldiers but nothing definitive yet. So much dodgy shit going on and as I find better sourced stuff I'll be sure to post it.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:08 PM on February 26 [29 favorites]


Charles de Gaule once opined that
Patriotism is rooted in the love of one’s own country. Nationalism is rooted in the hatred of others
Zelensky is a patriot.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:08 PM on February 26 [58 favorites]


A saying flying around Ukraine now is “a country with a bird on the national emblem will never conquer a country with a giant fork on their national emblem.”
posted by njohnson23 at 2:13 PM on February 26 [14 favorites]


NATO seems to have decided against the no fly zone and instead decided to supply Ukraine with advanced air defense systems and AWACS and global hawk based data about where the Russian aircraft are and where they are going.

Let the Russians keep banging their head against the wall until they exhaust themselves.
posted by interogative mood at 2:14 PM on February 26


Seems Russia will be excluded from Swift, after all.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 2:15 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Beau of the 5th Column makes an interesting point; This far into the war, with the military might that Russia has, they still have not eliminated the Ukrainian military.

The Ukrainian military is still combat effective. And the irregular resistance is also up and running. So Russia has to deal with both.

The fact that the Ukrainian military is even throwing punches still is big.

As odious as the comparison is (because every cheap pundit goes there), there is one modern conflict where an invading great power took on an organized military at the same time as a native irregular resistance movement: Vietnam
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:16 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Here's a thread from the head of the EU Ursula von de Leyen announcing further economic sanctions including removal of some Russian banks from SWIFT.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:17 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


This is an interesting twitter thread about the apparently irrational and/or disorganized behaviour of the russian forces. This is the first place where I heard the term "ghost soldier". It seems the corruption in the army runs very deep and it's just not true that they can get their shit together when it's needed. Perhaps too optimistic, but one can hope.
posted by kmt at 2:17 PM on February 26 [9 favorites]


A no-fly zone is inches from all out war and I can only see it being seriously considered if Putin gets scared and desperate and starts slaughtering civilians en masse with terror weapons like their thermobaric rockets or cluster bombs. It doesn't seem like some out there hypothetical since this is what they appear to be preparing to do. There aren't a whole lot of uses for a flamethrower that launches 24 incendiary rockets in this context that don't involve civilians given the nature of the situation. I think a no-fly zone in an active sense like was done over Iraq is a non-starter but given coalition intelligence capabilities and the ability to see deep into Russia, if the Ukrainian Air Force were given an opportunity to marshal its remaining forces under a NATO/EU/coalition umbrella in Poland, for example, and then were escorted by a coalition forces in a response to a Russian incursion, it puts the ball in Russia's court to escalate against the coalition or turn back.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:19 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


Beau of the 5th Column makes an interesting point; This far into the war, with the military might that Russia has, they still have not eliminated the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainian military is still combat effective. And the irregular resistance is also up and running. So Russia has to deal with both.

Not only is the Ukrainian military still combat effective, the Ukrainian Air Force is still flying sorties with their Su-27s. The resilience of these people is off the fucking charts bonkers.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:19 PM on February 26 [11 favorites]


Hmm. Sending badly trained conscripts in the first wave?

Is this a tactic where low-value troops are sent to absorb bullets, not thinking that Ukraine can re-arm? Then "regular" professional military come in behind them?

God, I really hope that's not the case.
posted by Thistledown at 2:19 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Seems Russia will be excluded from Swift, after all.

About time.
posted by swift at 2:21 PM on February 26 [13 favorites]


I just read an analysis that that is a combat tactic - send in the canon fodder of untrained soldiers, figure out what the enemy's strengths and weaknesses are and use that to position more highly trained troops. barbaric.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:21 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Is this a tactic where low-value troops are sent to absorb bullets, not thinking that Ukraine can re-arm? Then "regular" professional military come in behind them?

It's far more likely that point #3 of the thread that kmt linked to upthread describes it:
3/Secondly it seems the decision making structrues have low opinion in general of Ukraine and their fighting abilities and sort of an ideal that there's a willing subservience in Ukranians if they get to be part of Russia. Pure racism informing their decision making process.
Hitler made the same mistake with Barbarossa.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:22 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Even cannon fodder have to be put in a coffin and sent home to their families.

And the one thing that Putin fears most is protestors in the streets of Russian cities.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:26 PM on February 26


figure out what the enemy's strengths and weaknesses are

I swear to fucking God, I hope they find out the answer is “oops, turns out there aren’t any weaknesses, even the babushkas are badass.”
posted by notoriety public at 2:26 PM on February 26 [10 favorites]


I just read an analysis that that is a combat tactic - send in the canon fodder of untrained soldiers, figure out what the enemy's strengths and weaknesses are and use that to position more highly trained troops. barbaric.

I think it's more incidental. Sure, the Kadyrovites weren't until the second wave but it smacks of desperation, not strategy. The overall intention was clearly a quick capitulation. Quick adventure, in and out 20 minutes. That goal has clearly not been met.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:27 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I find Putin's arrogance highly gratifying, and the bravery of the Ukrainians humbling.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:34 PM on February 26 [9 favorites]


According to an article in BBC Russian (which I read through Google Translate) they obtained recordings of voice calls between high-level Chechen officials, who had been briefed about the invasion weeks prior, but as revealed in the conversation, commanders of other Russian national guard units had not been informed until a week before the invasion, and they were less than thrilled to receive their orders.
posted by Kattullus at 2:40 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Friend of mine, who is from Ukraine, was just looking at the online version of the Russian newspaper Komsomol Pravda (KP.RU). It appears that the new Russian president of Ukraine has been chosen. I told her to not read the comments. So she went to read the comments. Almost all were directly critical of the Russian governments action in Ukraine. They also were saying that this new Russian appointed president is a drunk and was compared to a monkey. As this website is reachable from anywhere it not necessarily true that these comments are from Russians (everybody is relatively anonymous,) but the fact that they are there on the website says something. (Lack of good moderation?)
posted by njohnson23 at 2:40 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Detailed military assessment as of this afternoon.
Ukraine has done well, but Russia continues to make gains in the South:
RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, FEBRUARY 26
posted by Kabanos at 2:41 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Can anyone who’s more economics-literate than myself explain what it means that the EU will paralyze the assets of Russia’s central bank and freeze its transactions?

Doesn’t that mean the Russian central bank will be almost unable to function?

This seems like an enormous step to me, much bigger than I expected the EU to take.
posted by Kattullus at 2:47 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


A lightheaded moment captured on video. Allegedly this shows a Russian APC stuck on the side of the road. The driver asks — what happened, run out of gas? The soldiers say yeah. Then the driver says I guess now you’ll have to push it back Russia. They all laugh…
posted by interogative mood at 2:50 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


From what I've read, three (or maybe four) of Russia's largest banks use SWIFT to do 80% of their transactions. It's unclear to me at this point, and would like to see further analysis, whether this will really cripple the Russian banking system or is a small increase in sanctions. I haven't found any good analysis yet.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:52 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Detailed military assessment as of this afternoon.
Ukraine has done well, but Russia continues to make gains in the South:
RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, FEBRUARY 26


that is so incredibly difficult to read. I read one paragraph and couldn't continue.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:53 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Following a direct request from Mykhailo Fedorov, the deputy PM and digital minister in Ukraine, Starlink is now active in Ukraine.
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:53 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


which means that Russia will not be able to take down the internet in Ukraine (without attacking Elon Musk?!? where ever those servers are).
posted by bluesky43 at 2:56 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]




SWIFT is how banks communicate about transactions. It moves information, not money.

But being cut off from SWIFT means you have to do any and all foreign transactions by stuff like fax and email and such.

You can still do international business with those willing to trade with you. But passenger pigeon is a lot slower than wire transfer. Iran was cut off from SWIFT by US sanctions for years, and it hit them hard.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:59 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Mykhailo Fedorov
@FedorovMykhailo
@elonmusk
, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:59 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


I don't think sending weapons to Ukraine is necessarily wrong (as has been announced by a few European countries, including Netherlands needing German permission to send equipment(?)), but on the other hand... it's certainly concerning that we may lead to further escalation.

I'm also pretty uneasy about the way European countries are publicly announcing material support for Ukraine, and I hope they're doing so in order to bolster Ukrainian morale, and not to appease the demands of their own citizens. Whereas Russia can send war material and conduct black ops but blatantly deny it which gives both sides plausible deniability.
posted by meowzilla at 3:00 PM on February 26


but as revealed in the conversation, commanders of other Russian national guard units had not been informed until a week before the invasion, and they were less than thrilled to receive their orders.

I keep thinking about this whole factor. Putin didn't spend months building up public support and sentiment in favor of this war, as others have in their invasions (I'm really not trying to get into a compare/contrast here. I'm really not. We don't need the derail). He spent months telling the world his build-up was just an exercise and that they had no plans to invade. Every "what do ordinary Russians say?" article I saw during the build-up said they didn't expect a war, thought it was silly to worry about, saw no reason to attack, etc... and then one day Putin says "Ukraine isn't a real country, we're going in."

The motivational factor--or lack of one--must have a huge impact on what's happening on the ground. Even more so if he's throwing untrained conscripts into the front lines.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:10 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I haven’t found analysis online by an economist of the central bank-targeting part of the EU sanctions, but here is a former US state department official who’s focused on economic sanctions weighing in:
(2) On the Central Bank of Russia, the allies committed to "prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions." That is hard to read, but it doesn't necessarily mean full-blocking sanctions.

The wording suggest a more scalpel-like measure, in which the allies prevent the CBR from deploying reserves to bail out other sanctioned entities. Yes, this would be a big deal. But it would not be as big of a deal as full-blocking sanctions on the Central Bank of Russia.

What will I be watching for? In addition to the details above, I'm interested if implementation is immediate or if there's a grace period (like w/the Sberbank measure earlier this week). To maximize impact, the allies should impose full-blocking sanctions with immediate effect.
posted by Kattullus at 3:11 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Sandboxx's Airpower tracked down the original video, where "Ghost of Kyiv" video was identified as a DCS video, but someone cut off the introduction. (DCS is a multiplayer air combat sim). Could there be a real Ghost of Kyiv? Unlikely, but not impossible.
posted by kschang at 3:13 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


But Putin wasn’t a high-flying KGB officer. He was assigned to a backwater station by most standards of his career before the Wall came down.

According to Catherine Belton's “Putin's People”, Cold War-era Dresden was in some ways a backwater, but also where the KGB cultivated groups they liaised with in the West (from extremists such as the Baader-Meinhof gang and neo-Nazi groups to organised crime), so chosen because what happened there wouldn't draw as much attention as Berlin. It is from this milieu that Putin and his fellow siloviki drew their tactics.
posted by acb at 3:15 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


a lot of the tactics that have been used on other countries could not be used on russia because of this

I was wondering about this. Isn't there, like, a famous direct phone line between DC and Moscow? Hell, didn't Trump call Putin on said line and tell him they were going to be striking Russian assets in Syria back a whole couple eons ago? Would Putin trust Biden or other European leaders that "No, Vladimir, these are not nuclear weapons"?
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 3:21 PM on February 26


Doesn’t that mean the Russian central bank will be almost unable to function?

Let's say you're a Central Bank of Russia with a fuckton of reserves and a currency that's crashing through the floor and you want to prop it up. You go out onto the open market and buy a whole fuckton of rubles from whoever is buying using Euros. Now, how do you pay for it? Normally the Central Bank of Russia would send the ECB a note saying something along the lines of "hey, I owe you 50 million euroes so that these transactions can be settled" and the banks of those people selling their rubles would be credited euros from that IOU. Everyone exchanges IOUs with each other and it all gets settled eventually.

Now imagine if instead of accepting that IOU, the ECB told the Central Bank of Russia to go fuck itself. How do you pay for rubles if you can't get the euros into the hands of those that are buying them? You can't. What can you use your Euros for? Nothing. You can't get them into the European system electronically so you can't pay anyone for anything. If you want anything it's basically briefcases of cash and who has time for cash anymore? So your reserves are now pretty much useless unless you find a country who's both liquid enough and willing to deal with the counterparty risk of an economic pariah. Not a lot of them around.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:21 PM on February 26 [12 favorites]


I keep thinking about this whole factor. Putin didn't spend months building up public support and sentiment in favor of this war, as others have in their invasions

Great. He's Zapp Brannigan without the chair-isma, or sham-pagn. Fucking hell.
posted by mrgoat at 3:22 PM on February 26


At the risk of derail: there is reason to think Putin spent some time stationed in New Zealand. Can't get much more remote backwater than Auckland.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:22 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


"My hotel in Moscow asked me to settle the bill early because they aren’t sure if credit cards are going to work once SWIFT sanctions kick in." -- Raf Sanchez on twitter
posted by valkane at 3:34 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


At the risk of derail: there is reason to think Putin spent some time stationed in New Zealand. Can't get much more remote backwater than Auckland.

This article on operations at the Russian embassy in Ireland claims that New Zealand and Ireland "have always been seen as a good training ground for practising how to operate in western, especially English speaking, countries". So perhaps not so unusual to send an early career spy to a 'backwater'.
posted by roolya_boolya at 3:39 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


From Reuters on the SWIFT action with some analysis. Short answer seems to be that Russia will not be crippled financially but international financial moves will take more time and be more costly.
posted by bluesky43 at 3:39 PM on February 26


Kiev cams are beginning to record gunfire.
posted by ocschwar at 3:45 PM on February 26


Kyiv, please.
posted by kschang at 3:48 PM on February 26 [16 favorites]


Autocomplete needs an update. My bad.
posted by ocschwar at 3:57 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


advanced air defense systems and AWACS and global hawk based data about where the Russian aircraft are and where they are going.

So, everything but US soldiers setting them up and firing them. More than I expected. The Russians will never have control of the air now. It's better that Ukrainians fire the missiles anyway.
posted by mikelieman at 4:03 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]



Vladimir Pozner: How the United States Created Vladimir Putin (2018)

If you want to understand what happened yesterday, watch this video from 2018.


From the Wikipedia:

Pozner began his career as "quote, unquote a journalist" – unwittingly, by his own account – in a disinformation department of the KGB.[11] In 1961 he was offered the position of senior editor with the English-language Soviet Life magazine. In 1967 he transferred to a sister publication, Sputnik, leaving it in February 1970 to take up a post with the State Television and Radio Committee, where he became a chief commentator and host of the propaganda radio program the Voice of Moscow on the North American service of Radio Moscow.
posted by mecran01 at 4:16 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


kschang > Could there be a real Ghost of Kyiv? Unlikely, but not impossible.

See The ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ Is The Mythical Hero Ukraine Needs Right Now article at The War Zone.
posted by cenoxo at 4:19 PM on February 26




The Kyiv Independent @KyivIndependent reports that Lviv-based Pravda brewery has switched to making Molotov cocktails.
The brewery announced the plans after Ukraine’s Defense Ministry instructed civilians to make Molotov cocktails to resist invading Russian forces.
posted by adamvasco at 4:54 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


West to cut some Russian banks off from Swift.
"The assets of Russia's central bank will also be frozen, limiting Russia's ability to access its overseas reserves."
posted by clavdivs at 6:03 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


So, Russia is telling their draftees on the ground, they are in Donetsk? Does everyone else think they aren't in Kyiv?
posted by Oyéah at 6:27 PM on February 26


This article on Ukrainian refugees is a good overview. It mentions that part of the reason that neighboring countries and the EU have rolled out the welcome carpet might be the fact that Ukrainians don't trigger anti-Muslim xenophobia.

The photo of the stylish woman pushing a high-end stroller is a visual corrective to the assumptions of refugees as abject.
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:55 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


On that topic, I am seeing multiple reports that black and other non-white Ukrainian refugees are not receiving refuge, or are receiving it last/at the back of a very long line.
posted by prefpara at 6:59 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Russia’s war on Ukraine: Where fighting is on now (Feb. 27 live updates), Kyiv Independent [website], Igor Kossof; February 27, 2022 1:42 am:
Russian forces have launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, killing at least 198 people so far, as they pushed in from multiple directions. Multiple Ukrainian cities and villages were shelled, attacked with missiles, helicopters, tanks and ships, while ground forces have begun invading multiple parts of the country.

The following is a live blog of the Russian attacks on the third day of the invasion, Feb. 27. (Live blogs from previous days: Day 1, Feb. 24; Day 2, Feb. 25, Day 3, Feb. 26.)
More at their website.
posted by cenoxo at 7:00 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Any Los Angeles MeFites know of any rallies/vigils scheduled?
posted by goalyeehah at 7:13 PM on February 26


Reuters via The Guardian: At the Ukrainian border, a mother brings a stranger’s children to safety. The ban on men aged 18 to 60 leaving the country leads one father to take drastic action
Clutching a mobile phone number of a woman she had never met, Nataliya Ableyeva crossed the border from Ukraine into Hungary entrusted with a precious cargo: a stranger’s children.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:28 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


on that topic, I am seeing multiple reports that black and other non-white Ukrainian refugees are not receiving refuge, or are receiving it last/at the back of a very long line

I've seen evidence that this has been swiftly rectified, if you know of anyone of color at the Polish border having issues there are local (polish based)Nigerian groups that will meet them and provide aid as well.as officials to contact. Happy to provide contact info via DM.
posted by larthegreat at 7:38 PM on February 26 [42 favorites]


Sunday night, when the Japanese stock market starts its trading day, will be the first trading session with the central bank of a G20 nation cut off from SWIFT.

This will be fucking bonkers. We'll be seeing who just got entangled in the sanctions, and who is getting an unexpected windfall from it. Then the same for stock markets around the world, culminating in the NYSE, 8:30 EST.

If you're in New York, maybe bring a Ukrainian flag to the Charging Bull on Wall Street, along with some popcorn.
posted by ocschwar at 7:48 PM on February 26 [13 favorites]


Oh right, and somewhere in the middle of this, the Russian bank runs will be going full speed.
posted by ocschwar at 7:53 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


"[A] large part of the Western Left should honestly admit that it completely fucked up in formulating its response to the “Ukrainian crisis”."

A letter to the Western Left from Kyiv by Tara Bilous.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 8:10 PM on February 26 [35 favorites]


This will be fucking bonkers. We'll be seeing who just got entangled in the sanctions, and who is getting an unexpected windfall from it. Then the same for stock markets around the world, culminating in the NYSE, 8:30 EST.

Yea, with that plus the general uncertainty of it all, I donot understantd why VOO, VIX and VVIX all closed on Friday as if the outcome were certain and positive. I'm not smart enough to even say whether SWIFT bans are good or bad for market indexes, let alone predict the next 48h of war and sanctions. Markets also seemed surprised when Trump won election in 2016 though, but it really seems like the volatility indexes should be high?
posted by pwnguin at 8:57 PM on February 26


It's easy to miss things in these big threads, so I'll reiterate reading A letter to the Western Left posted just above.
posted by meinvt at 9:09 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


I'm hearing that Bellingcat is claiming that they have intercepted memos that Russian Army is being told to take Kyiv by Monday regardless of the consequences - my assumption is that it's an attempt to present a fait accompli before the potential emergency session of the General Assembly.
posted by corb at 9:32 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Markets also seemed surprised when Trump won election in 2016 though, but it really seems like the volatility indexes should be high?

The volatility indices are based off market indices like the S&P.

What I'm picturing is we find out which car company for some reason has its cash reserves stored in the wrong bank tonight, and which IT company turns out to have a maintenance contract for all the convenience store ATMs in eastern Poland. A lot of naughty children will be outed, and also a lot of boring companies whose existing products and services are suddenly in a lot more need. So the indices will be a wash. Which means the volatility indices will also be steady. Nevertheless, things will be bonkers.
posted by ocschwar at 9:43 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]




Corb, do you have a source for that? I don't see any references on bellingcat's website or their Twitter.
posted by theory at 10:59 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


@KevinRothrock:
Hate to be That Guy, but what’s up with Putin’s right thumb in this video?
Also, apparently unsatisfied with the mythic badassery of the Ghost of Kyiv, the Snake Island 13, and Sunflower Babushka, Zelenskyy now wants to establish a Ukrainian Foreign Legion and is calling for volunteers.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:29 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


This article on Ukrainian refugees is a good overview. It mentions that part of the reason that neighboring countries and the EU have rolled out the welcome carpet might be the fact that Ukrainians don't trigger anti-Muslim xenophobia.

Plenty of commentators pretty much saying the quiet thing out loud, like Daniel Hannan in the UK's Daily Telegraph, which is the Pravda wing of the Conservative Party. Not going to link to it, but...

"They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations. It can happen to anyone"

aka white people.
posted by reynir at 11:30 PM on February 26 [33 favorites]


Corb, do you have a source for that?

I got it from Mark Temnycky, pulling sources looks like Bellingcat's Christo Grozev is saying that the sources are a little questionable but it seems to match other intel.
posted by corb at 11:34 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


Regarding the calls from the Ukrainian government for foreigners to help the country fight Russians: The International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine may be new but there have been foreign fighters there for several years.

Christopher Miller wrote about this in BuzzFeed just last month:
Aslin, who has served with Ukraine's marines since September 2018 and just extended his contract for a fourth year, is one of the thousands of foreign fighters who have flocked to Ukraine since the war began in 2014 to fight for one side or the other. Most of them have been Russians and citizens of other former Soviet republics, and most joined unofficial volunteer units. But hundreds have come from the European Union, roughly 40 have arrived from the US, and at least 12 from the UK, according to BuzzFeed News’ reporting and independent research done by experts who track such fighters.

Here's Patrick Jackson reporting for the BBC in September 2014:
French, Spanish, Swedish or Serb, the foreigners fighting for both sides in east Ukraine's bloody conflict hail from across Europe and come with a bewildering array of agendas. The non-mercenaries among them are motivated by causes which can stretch back to the wars in the former Yugoslavia - and even further still, to the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. Russia is the elephant in the room, dwarfing any other foreign nationality, although it is increasingly hard to disentangle Russians fighting as volunteers from regular soldiers allegedly deployed on covert missions. Ukraine's pro-Russian rebels like to talk up their foreign volunteer fighters, presenting them as latter-day International Brigades fighting "fascism". Meanwhile there has been some debate in Kiev on the wisdom of creating a Ukrainian "Foreign Legion".

I have seen at least one journalist (before the the creation of The International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine was announced) say it is basically a terrible idea for anyone to try to travel to Ukraine right now. But if the question earlier was, will Westerners volunteer to fight in Ukraine, the answer is yes. They have been for ages, some on the independent-Ukraine side, some on the pro-Russia side.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:05 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


"[A] large part of the Western Left should honestly admit that it completely fucked up in formulating its response to the “Ukrainian crisis”."

A letter to the Western Left from Kyiv by Tara Bilous.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 11:10 PM on February 26 [+] [!]


Yeah this is a pretty disingenuous article trying to smear the Left. I'll skip why the section titled "Obvious Mistake" is pretty shit analysis that uses a false equivalence between Russia and US global hegemony as a hypothetical. The key is that I hate reading Jacobin, and even I can see this author is intentionally quoting the Jacobin author out of context:

In another Jacobin article from earlier this month, Marcetic went as far as saying that Fox News’s Tucker Carlson was “completely right” about the “Ukrainian crisis”.

Wrong, the full context is:

Carlson is, of course, a charlatan who, for all his populist rhetoric, is a conventional neoliberal Republican on almost every issue. But he also happens to be completely right on this particular matter. And it’s telling that even as Carlson continued to broadcast vile agitprop calling for the banishment of the homeless and fearmongering about immigrants, it was his entirely sensible position on Ukraine that got the most aggressive widespread pushback from the liberal-Democratic side of the spectrum.

I don't know if the author is just failing to think things carefully or what, this doesn't fly. People deserve better sources of critical analysis. Read scholarly work, I read Chomsky rather than get any ideas from Jacobin, but I'm sure there's lots of choices of better sources out there.
posted by polymodus at 1:28 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


the volatility indexes should be high?

Volatility index is based on the options being traded on the S&P500 stocks out to the next 30 days.

It did shoot up on the 24th to as high as 37.5, but has dropped back to high 20's and is rising again. Generally, at VIX=30 market is considered "very unsettled", according to Forbes investing advisor.
posted by kschang at 1:32 AM on February 27


Marcetic went as far as saying that Fox News’s Tucker Carlson was “completely right” about the “Ukrainian crisis”.

Wrong, the full context is: [...]


Wait, what's the difference between 'Tucker Carlson was "completely right” about the “Ukrainian crisis”' and "[Tucker Carlson] also happens to be completely right on this particular matter", where "this particular matter" is "his entirely sensible position on Ukraine"? Yes, the full context has the Jacobin author taking care to condemn Carlson's other positions - but also specifically praising this one, which is what the Bilous article is saying.
posted by trig at 1:48 AM on February 27 [30 favorites]


Yeah I'm super wary of promoting Carlson here.
posted by Carillon at 1:50 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]




Compulsively hitting refresh on this thread, Twitter, and various news sites is not doing my mental health any favors. I appreciate everyone’s company thus far and will catch y’all later. Hugs to anyone who wants ‘em. Take care.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:19 AM on February 27 [29 favorites]




Apparently many Russian tank crews are intentionally dumping their fuel as soon as they learn their destination is Kyiv rather than the Donbas. This may be some combination of civil disobedience and/or fear of the Ukrainian defenders' formidable reputation.
posted by acb at 2:53 AM on February 27 [12 favorites]


> Tushayev is dead... And Kadryov was sent crying

for some revealing chechen history...
@kamilkazani: "News about 10 000 Chechen troops leaving to Ukraine alarmed many. And yet, one must know context to understand its meaning. Many assume that after Putin's victory Chechnya became just part of Russia and thus Chechen troops are just Russian regulars of Chechen origin. Not quite..."

they're like putin's 'sardaukar' or what he'd have you believe...
Russia Tries to Terrorize Ukraine With Images of Chechen Soldiers

but like...
> Regarding the calls from the Ukrainian government for foreigners to help the country fight Russians: The International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine may be new but there have been foreign fighters there for several years.
There remain deep divisions in Chechnya about Russian rule. Ratelle, who has spent time in the Caucasus with Islamist insurgents fighting Putin’s regime, said not all Chechens are behind the Russian lines.

“We’ve seen fighting between Chechens, against Chechens in eastern Ukraine in the last couple of days,” he said.

Exiled Chechens opposed to Kadyrov and Putin have seized opportunities in recent years to take the fight to the Kremlin abroad: in Syria, Donetsk, and now in the rest of Ukraine.

On Saturday evening, Akhmed Zakayev, who leads the Chechen separatist government in exile, delivered a statement announcing his intent to form volunteer detachments of Chechens living abroad to fight alongside the Ukrainian government, according to a video posted by the news outlet Egazet...
oh and...
@IntelDoge: "Adam Osmaev, leader of a battalion of Chechens that fight against Russians, releases a statement against Kadyrov's participation in the war. Spot the Ukraine flag in the background."

also btw, thinking about this upthread...
> Given the US's preeminent involvement in both the history of the Internet and all the current related technology, its very deep pockets, what has been revealed about the depth and breadth of the NSA's activities and capabilities, the success of the few US cyberattacks of which we are aware, and the success of the relatively much-less resource-rich Russian cyberattacks... well, it's certain that the US could cripple any country's civil IT networking if it decided to do so.

> @YourAnonNews: "#Anonymous is currently involved in operations against the Russian Federation. Our operations are targeting the Russian government."

@YourAnonTV: "#Russian state TV channels have been hacked by #Anonymous to broadcast the truth about what happens in #Ukraine."
posted by kliuless at 4:04 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


A letter to the Western Left from Kyiv by Tara Bilous.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 11:10 PM on February 26 [+] [!]


The article makes broad sweeping statements about "the Western left" but only cites a Jacobin writer, a random DSA chapter, and the DSA IC. I was not familiar with the IC before this, but its own members acknowledge it's a hot mess. If it doesn't have its own internal democratic processes worked out, and works in parallel with the rest of DSA, then it's unclear who it's statements even represent. It's idiotic. And Jacobin has a reputation for publishing some real doozies, don't they? Call out the idiots. There was also a terrible twitter thread from a NYC council member. I follow a lot of people who would be broadly termed "left" and the coucil woman and tbe DSA IC have stood out as a significant outliers in my feed. The left contains multitudes.
posted by Mavri at 4:16 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


I think if you read the last part about the author's personal experience, their argument is particularly persuasive.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:33 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


We should absolutely note the names of those on the left (and right) who have been apologists for Putin. Let's ensure it's a stain on them that is never washed away.

However, the mainstream left in Europe is Sanchez in Spain, Starmer in the UK, Scholz in Germany, Letta in Italy, Hidalgo in France etc. All of them fully recognise who is responsible for the war and see Putin for what he is.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:55 AM on February 27 [14 favorites]


Starmer is not a leftist, but a Blairite.
posted by acb at 4:59 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


The Guardian is reporting, mostly based on social media postings I should make clear, that the attack on Kharkiv has been repelled.

The same pattern seems to be repeating that’s been seen elsewhere, that Russian frontline troops don’t seem to be very motivated. But that doesn’t seem to be case in the south, where the invasion has been moving at a brisker pace and threatening the Ukrainian soldiers defending the invasion forces which came in from the east.

While things are still looking bleak for Ukraine, it’s clear that the original invasion plan is clearly in tatters.
posted by Kattullus at 5:11 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


"All Russian units in Kharkiv eliminated. Ukrainian military and home guard units have full control." -- Illia Ponomarenko of The Kyiv Independent on twitter
posted by valkane at 5:24 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]




"Sanctioned Russian TV Host Cries About Losing Italian Properties

The impact of Putin’s war against Ukraine is starting to set in, startling even his most ardent state TV propagandists. It’s all fun and games 'till they seize your Italian villa." -- Julia Davis on twitter.
posted by valkane at 5:29 AM on February 27 [12 favorites]


"Big picture: It's becoming clear that the real goal of Brexit wasn't to turn the UK into the thriving hub of British Empire 2.0 (whatever the more frothing Tory nationalists said they wanted): it was to turn the UK into an impoverished satellite state of Russian Empire 2.0." -- MeFi's own Charlie Stross on twitter.
posted by valkane at 5:30 AM on February 27 [23 favorites]


Oh shit.

"MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian nuclear deterrent forces on alert amid tensions with the West over Ukraine." -- Kyle Griffin on twitter
posted by valkane at 5:34 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Official Announcement of the International Judo Federation, 27. Feb 2022: In light of the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine, the International Judo Federation announces the suspension of Mr. Vladimir Putin’s status as Honorary President and Ambassador of the International Judo Federation.
posted by cenoxo at 5:43 AM on February 27 [15 favorites]


Why is that chilling -- does it refer to the missile crews themselves?
posted by wenestvedt at 5:45 AM on February 27


Meduza journalist Eilish Hart is reporting that Zelenskyy has confirmed that there will be peace talks near the Ukraine-Belarus border.
posted by Kattullus at 5:48 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


The link in the tweet is to Zelenskyy’s official telegram feed.
posted by Kattullus at 5:51 AM on February 27


In the video Russia released of Putin making the orders, Gerasimov and Shoygu both looked like they were about to shit themselves in fear.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:53 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


"Belarusian lieutenant colonel addressed the military. "Our boys are now sitting in the woods of Belarus, probably preparing to attack Ukraine. Some won't come home alive. This is not our war. Find a way not to follow criminal orders. Sometimes saying "no" takes the most courage."" -- Franak Viačorka on twitter
posted by valkane at 5:54 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Starmer is not a leftist, but a Blairite.

It would be great if a thread about the invasion of Ukraine could be about the invasion of Ukraine, responses to the invasion of Ukraine, fallout from the invasion of Ukraine etc.

Secondly, the topic at hand was the left's response to the invasion and Stammer, as the centre-left leader of the UK's main left wing party should clearly be mentioned in that context.

Finally, defining the left more narrowly actually makes the left's response to the invasion a lot worse since the apologists and whatabouters are mostly concentrated in (though not by any means a majority of) the harder left.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:56 AM on February 27 [41 favorites]


Travis Akers (Navy officer on Twitter) explains that "For those who are not familiar with 'nuclear deterrent forces,' this would be in reference to the nuclear triad: land launched nuclear weapons, submarines capable of launching nuclear weapons, and strategic aircraft capable of launching nuclear weapons."

So yes, that's the kind of scary shit we heard back in the 80s.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:03 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


"Cold War-era nuclear saber-rattling intended to illicit self-deterrence. Our predecessors were subjected to generations of it… they were unflinching in defending there interest. Putin is not suicidal, he is not a madman. These are empty threats to drive a flight response." -- Alexander Vindman on twitter.

"Good morning from Ukraine to those waking up on the east coast. Kyiv is still standing. Western intel predictions varied, and even most optimistic said city would fall within 2-3 days. But the out-matched Ukrainian military is putting up a valiant fight to defend the city" -- Tim Mak on twitter.

"Russia’s main forces are still failing to enter Kyiv and sustain severe casualties. Defense in the northwest is still very strong and effective. Air defense keeps strong. Small sabotage groups do enter but get destroyed. Ukraine has full control." -- Illia Ponomarenko on twitter.
posted by valkane at 6:14 AM on February 27 [14 favorites]


"President Zelensky confirms Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet at the Belarusian border near the Pripyat River for talks, the first since Putin's full-scale invasion. They are doing so "without preconditions," Zelensky said." -- Christopher Miller on twitter.
posted by valkane at 6:20 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


@pwnallthethings on twitter
Quick thread on the nuclear posture change ...
posted by Kabanos at 6:57 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


I’m pretty concerned about Zelensky meeting for talks, since Russia absolutely wants to kill him, and seeing as how Russia is not stopping their assault for this.
posted by corb at 7:04 AM on February 27 [7 favorites]


Why do you think Zelensky will personally be at the talks ? Do you think Putin will be at the talks ?
posted by Pendragon at 7:05 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Zelenskyy is clearly going into this with his eyes open - he may not attend in person. I doubt Putin is going to be there.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:06 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


It sounded to me like they're sending a delegation to negotiate, not Zelensky himself.
posted by Trent Crimm, The Independent at 7:07 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Putin puts Russia’s nuclear forces on alert, cites sanctions [*], Kyiv, Ukraine (AP); Yuras Karmanau, Jim Heintz, Vladimir Isachenkov, Dasha Litvinova; Feb 27, 2022:
In a dramatic escalation of East-West tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces put on high alert Sunday in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers.The order means Putin wants Russia’s nuclear weapons prepared for increased readiness to launch and raises the threat that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s response to it could boil over into nuclear warfare.

Putin, in giving the nuclear alert directive, cited not only the alleged statements by NATO members but the hard-hitting financial sanctions imposed by the West against Russia, including the Russian leader himself. Speaking at a meeting with his top officials, Putin told his defense minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty.”

“Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country,” Putin said in televised comments.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations responded to the news from Moscow while appearing on a Sunday news program. “President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. “And we have to continue to condemn his actions in the most strong, strongest possible way.”

The practical meaning of Putin’s order was not immediately clear. Russia and the United States typically have the land- and submarine-based segments of their strategic nuclear forces on alert and prepared for combat at all times, but nuclear-capable bombers and other aircraft are not.

If Putin is arming or otherwise raising the nuclear combat readiness of his bombers, or if he is ordering more ballistic missile submarines to sea, then the United States might feel compelled to respond in kind, according to Hans Kristensen, a nuclear analyst at the Federation of American Scientists. That would mark a worrisome escalation and a potential crisis, he said….
*This url may be borked: there’s some confusion on AP’s website about the story location.
posted by cenoxo at 7:09 AM on February 27


"So apparently Zelenskyy won the Ukrainian version of Dancing with the Stars in 2006 and the tape is even better than whatever you're imagining." -- Kat Abu on twitter.
posted by valkane at 7:10 AM on February 27 [28 favorites]


OMG that is fabulous.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:11 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent@KyivIndependent·1m
⚡️Foreign minister: Putin's nuclear threat is an attempt to put pressure on Ukraine ahead of the negotiations with Russia.

Putin's order came shortly after it was announced that the two delegations were ready to meet, Dmytro Kuleba said.

"We will not succumb to this pressure."
posted by bluesky43 at 7:12 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Your Childhood Pet Rock > In the video Russia released of Putin making the orders, Gerasimov and Shoygu both looked like they were about to shit themselves in fear.

Video link please?
posted by cenoxo at 7:13 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Has there been this sort of heightened nuclear alert since the 60s?

I was born in '70 and to my recollection the USSR and US tended to avoid this sort of brinksmanship by then. Among the many serious issues, it increases the risk of an accidental exchange.
posted by mark k at 7:16 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


“Prayer for Ukraine” performed by Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York. Cold open on SNL.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:17 AM on February 27 [7 favorites]


Putin is sending Vladimir Medinsky.

This is not a serious attempt at negotiation.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:18 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


olexander scherba🇺🇦@olex_scherba26 years in 🇺🇦 diplomatic service. Ukraine’s Ambassador to Austria (2014-2021). Author of “Undiplomatic Thoughts” (2021). Currently NAK Naftogaz.
Oh my. I could cry. A small town near Chernihiv went on the street and stopped RU tanks.
People, you are wonderful.

posted by bluesky43 at 7:20 AM on February 27 [7 favorites]


The Ukrainian negotiators should bring a simple number board to the meeting and as the day goes on take messages and increase the numbers of russians killed and captured.
posted by sammyo at 7:20 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Vladimir Rostislavovich Medinsky (Russian: Владимир Ростиславович Мединский, Ukrainian: Володимир Ростиславович Мединський; born July 18, 1970) is a Russian political figure, academic and publicist who served as the Minister of Culture from May 2012 to January 2020. He is a member of the General Council of the United Russia party. -- wiki.
posted by valkane at 7:22 AM on February 27


The nuclear threats are made from a position of weakness. Don’t let that asshole dragging the world back to the 1980s stop us from doing a single thing. Hopefully it signals to the Russian military leaders that a “sudden illness” is needed for Mr Putin.

A little overnight trip for him to Lubyanka would be a miraculous irony.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 7:31 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Around here (and on the inter webs) we've been calling it a Caesar moment. Et Tu etc.
posted by valkane at 7:34 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Scholz in Germany... fully recognise[s] who is responsible for the war and see[s] Putin for what he is.

Now he does. Last week he sure didn't — vetoing the SWIFT sanctions, blocking other countries from delivering German-made weapons, five thousand gottverdammte helmets instead of SAMs. For the last few decades his party spearheaded an approach to Russia which tried to treat it like France — that is, thinking that economic ties would overcome what was considered historical enmity. This of course was a childish fantasy that the beginning of this war in 2014 should have dispelled. But the entire German economy (especially its manufacturing, and thus the broader European economy) is bound to Putin's fossil fuels. The factories can't run, the cars in Berlin will stay parked, our homes will not be heated in winter without Russian oil and gas.

Scholz gave a speech today which indicates an almost complete 180˚turn. To understand how momentous the about-face is, here's an explanation from a couple days ago:
The SPD, for its part, has a lot of soul searching to do. The Ostpolitik rapprochement policies adopted by former German Chancellor Willy Brandt during the Cold War have long been considered one of the SPD party’s most important contributions German foreign policy. Since then, good relations with Russia have been regarded by most Social Democrats as being sacrosanct.
OK, Scholz's speech. Here's the Guardian on it but the story is still developing. Apparently we're doubling our defense budget, authorizing other countries to send German weapons, sending our own weapons, finally relenting and booting them from SWIFT (I assume still with a carve-out for fossil fuels & Italian luxury goods), building LNG terminals (how quickly?) to reduce dependence on Russian pipelines, mobilizing forces to NATO's eastern border... everything except shutting down natural gas deliveries. This is tremendous progress. I'm not sure I've ever seen Germany change policy so quickly. Maybe Merkel's foolish pro-coal, pro-Putin turn away from nuclear energy after Fukushima.

I was just at a solidarity rally and I'm told between 100-500k people showed up. I saw at least two big banners and two more small signs (including mine) saying things like "I'd rather cold [showers/feet] than to buy Putin's gas". Let's see if it comes to that.

Lastly, in that article above, Axel Schäfer (SPD) said "This is a turning point, possibly similar to what happened after Sept. 11." I'd be interested to hear if people in the USA think the American people understand how serious it is to Europeans that war has returned to the continent.

Слава Україні.
posted by daveliepmann at 7:35 AM on February 27 [34 favorites]


Now that I'm not on mobile.

Link with video and English dubbing.

Yes I know it's Sky News. Yes they're Murdoch fascist enablers. I'm sorry it's the best link I have.

Also, Medinsky being head of the delegation probably means that they're going to walk in to the meeting and say "You saw we're getting nukes ready, yes? Surrender or face annihilation"
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:36 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Personally, I could go for a Julius Caesar kind of resolution right about now.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:36 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


The problem is that if anything happens to Putin in a physical sense there will most probably be civil war in Russia. Everything will flare up. That calculus no doubt enters the mind of every member of Putin's inner circle.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:38 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


BBC News (World)
@BBCWorld
·
35m
"At no point has Russia been under threat from Nato" says White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, in response to President Putin putting Russia's nuclear forces on "special alert"
posted by bluesky43 at 7:41 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


corb: I’m pretty concerned about Zelensky meeting for talks, since Russia absolutely wants to kill him, and seeing as how Russia is not stopping their assault for this.

There's also that he doesn't necessarily need to be there: if the delegates sent call him in an area served by compromised Belarusian cell service they may be able to get info to geolocate him via that.
posted by Buntix at 7:41 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Instead of a Julius Caesar resoluton, I would prefer a Leopoldo Galitieri solution.
"Galtieri's declining popularity due to his civil rights abuses and the worsening economic crisis in Argentina caused him to invade the Falkland Islands in April 1982. Galitieri was removed from power after Argentine defeat in the Falklands War in June, which led to the restoration of democracy and his prosecution for military misconduct in 1986. "
posted by storybored at 7:42 AM on February 27 [12 favorites]


"Big picture: It's becoming clear that the real goal of Brexit wasn't to turn the UK into the thriving hub of British Empire 2.0 (whatever the more frothing Tory nationalists said they wanted): it was to turn the UK into an impoverished satellite state of Russian Empire 2.0." -- MeFi's own Charlie Stross on twitter.

Yeah the Russians must be really glad that they did that, it's certainly helping them right now.

Is Volodya storming around his hut in the Urals, muttering darkly like Cambridge in Richard III, "Is it even so? rewards he my true service. With such deep contempt made I him king for this?

Or maybe making everything about your own country is narcissism even when you're complaining?
posted by atrazine at 7:44 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Or maybe making everything about your own country is narcissism even when you're complaining?


I think the point is more about how Russian money has infected politics in all the western countries, and it's valid to point that out.
posted by valkane at 7:47 AM on February 27 [32 favorites]




Jeremy Cliffe (former Berlin bureau chief for The Economist) has a thread on Scholz's speech: "Germany’s foreign policy sacred cows are now a steaming pot of Rindergulasch"
posted by daveliepmann at 7:56 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent@KyivIndependent·21m⚡️FM: Ukraine will not capitulate.

“We will be happy if the result of these negotiations is peace,” Dmytro Kuleba said. "But, and I emphasize this again, we will not give up, we will not capitulate, we will not give away a centimeter of our territory.”
posted by bluesky43 at 7:56 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


I wonder if Putin's "NATO threat" is outlined here (Heather Cox Richardson again, from Facebook 7hrs ago) :

We are in what feels like a moment of paradigm shift.

On this, the third day of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, it appears the invasion is not going the way Russian president Vladimir Putin hoped. The Russians do not control the airspace over the country, and, as of tonight, despite fierce fighting that has taken at least 198 Ukrainian lives, all major Ukrainian cities remain in Ukrainian hands. Now it appears that Russia’s plan for a quick win has made supply lines vulnerable because military planners did not anticipate needing to resupply fuel and ammunition. In a sign that Putin recognizes how unpopular this war is at home, the government is restricting access to information about it.

Russia needed to win before other countries had time to protest or organize and impose the severe economic repercussions they had threatened; the delay has given the world community time to put those repercussions into place.

Today, the U.S. and European allies announced they would block Russia’s access to its foreign currency reserves in the West, about $640 billion, essentially freezing its assets. They will also bar certain Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication system, known as SWIFT, which essentially means they will not be able to participate in the international financial system. Lawmakers expect these measures to wreak havoc on Russia’s economy.

The Ukrainian people have done far more than hold off Putin’s horrific attack on their country. Their refusal to permit a corrupt oligarch to take over their homeland and replace their democracy with authoritarianism has inspired the people of democracies around the world.


emphasis mine.
posted by philip-random at 7:58 AM on February 27 [39 favorites]




The Kyiv Independent@KyivIndependent·23m⚡️Russian oligarch Deripaska: 'We need peace."

In his Telegram channel, industrial tycoon Oleg Deripaska wrote that peace talks between Russia and Ukraine must begin “as soon as possible!”

/the oligarchs are getting scared.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:03 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


/the oligarchs are getting scared.

Even with all the rubles in Russia you can't holiday in Barcelona on your super yacht if Putin nukes it.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:06 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


It’s time we talked about Putin advisor Aleksandr Dugin (twitter thread) "In his writings he has expressed admiration for the Waffen SS and says he seeks to establish a ‘radically revolutionary and consistent, fascist fascism’ in Russia." He is a hero and inspiration for the Western far-right. White supremacists and alt-right leaders at Charlottesville idolise him.
posted by adamvasco at 8:09 AM on February 27 [13 favorites]


Or maybe making everything about your own country is narcissism even when you're complaining?

What valkane said, but also (side digression here) there’s definitely a large element of truth to this vis-a-vis the takes that blame Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the expansion of NATO - that shoehorning the US as the bad actor in every conflict still centers the US just the same as viewing the US as the white knight in every world conflict.

(Not to mention that if one truly wants to blame the US for the current situation, you have to go back a little farther, to the period where the Soviet Union was breaking apart and how the various pieces would be reconstituted was not yet settled. A lot of the pro-democracy movements in different Soviet republics were still pro-socialist or at least very, very wary of capitalism, and while the initial new governments formed by pro-democracy movements were often not pro-USSR, they were also often not pro-US either. But, like in many other cases before and since, US meddling aided the rise to power of kleptocrats such as (eventually) Putin and cronies. The NATO expansion didn’t start right away and seems to have been more in response to disappointment that the new capitalists/oligarchs/kleptocrats in Russia weren’t showing much gratefulness or loyalty for any assistance given, if I recall correctly. /derail)
posted by eviemath at 8:09 AM on February 27 [15 favorites]


One inescapable conclusion of the last few days is that Putin is really naive about war. It kinda makes sense, given that his wars so far, Chechnya, South-Ossetia, Donbas, Syria, have all been really small scale operations with limited resistance. He really seems to have had no idea what invading a whole country would entail.
posted by Kattullus at 8:09 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


Particularly when that country is populated by white christians - I'm cynical about this but that this is on the doorstep of western Europe to a large degree explains the west's response.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:12 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


A lot of the pro-democracy movements in different Soviet republics were still pro-socialist or at least very, very wary of capitalism, and while the initial new governments formed by pro-democracy movements were often not pro-USSR, they were also often not pro-US either.

Can you blame them? They took one look at what happened in Albania and said "nope, nope, fucking nope."

But, like in many other cases before and since, US meddling aided the rise to power of kleptocrats such as (eventually) Putin and cronies.

This. The reason the oligarchs are oligarchs is because the neoliberals basically made Russia privatize everything to get state aid and guess who bought it all at fire sale prices?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:15 AM on February 27 [17 favorites]


Particularly when that country is populated by white christians - I'm cynical about this but that this is on the doorstep of western Europe to a large degree explains the west's response.

No need for cynicism.

posted by Pyrogenesis at 8:21 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


bluesky43: Particularly when that country is populated by white christians

This is true. Though a lot of things needed to go Ukraine’s way for the world at large to give a shit, otherwise the world would’ve reacted, or rather not reacted, like in 2014, or the invasion of Georgia in 2008, or most shamefully, during the wars following the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
posted by Kattullus at 8:26 AM on February 27 [15 favorites]


Ukraine and the Future of Arms Control, Michael Krepon, Arms Control Wonk, January 24, 2022 [pre-invasion]:
…What happened to Vladimir Putin? He was always cunning, calculating, and cruel, but he had a well-honed sense of risk and reward. Now he threatens major predations on Ukraine to make partial amends for the loss of empire and to revise the post-Cold War order. When was the last time a major power invaded a weaker country and declared victory? OK, let’s revise that: When was the last time a major power invaded a weaker country and reaped gains greater than losses?

Ukraine isn’t a manageable diplomatic problem if Putin means a small fraction of what he says. And by going public with his demands, he ensures they won’t be met, leaving him with three choices: to retreat, to go small, or to go big. Putin doesn’t want Washington and NATO to thicken connectivity to states and former Soviet Republics that were once beholden to the Kremlin’s will. But that’s exactly what he’ll get at this point. All that’s left to decide are matters of scale.

Further Russian punishment meted out against Ukraine will prompt punishment in return. The degree of economic punishment will depend primarily on Germany. There will also be additional military assistance to Ukraine, joint military exercises and other visible manifestations of U.S. ties to NATO allies. All of this will happen at a bad time, when the United States is overcommitted and overextended, and when many hear the siren song of America First. Putin has noted all of the above…

Putin is pursuing the Kremlin’s old school maneuvers, which include nuclear-tinged [Foreign Policy] methods of coercion [alternate archive.org NYT link]. The United States has rejoinders to whatever actions Putin decides to take. Wise countermeasure, rather than the standard Cold War methods can widen the distance between Putin’s ambitions and their realization.

When Putin threatens war on a neighbor because he doesn’t like the loss of empire and the post-Cold War order, the consequences for arms control are resoundingly negative…

However the Ukraine crisis plays out, the odds are stacked against the use of nuclear weapons, which would be utterly stupid and unconscionably dangerous. Nuclear weapons have not been used in warfare for over seven decades because they have no utility on the battlefield; however attractive the first move appears the following moves make the situation worse.

The size, composition and readiness levels of nuclear forces will not affect the outcome of a small or larger war on Ukrainian territory, which will be determined by the fortitude of the contestants and the pain that can be inflicted upon them by far more prosaic means.

One nuclear signaling option for Putin, as Pavel Podvig has written, is to take a page from the old Soviet playbook and reintroduce ground-based, nuclear-armed ballistic missiles….
More in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 8:26 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


He really seems to have had no idea what invading a whole country would entail.

I think it's just because war has changed since 1945. You can't just slap conscripts in tanks and have them overwhelm by numbers. The anti-armor and anti-air capabilities of infantry has skyrocketed with things like Javelins, NLAWs, MANPADS like Stingers, and the like. When Ukrainian infantry can take down a $100 million Su-30 with a $100K MANPADS the GDP differences between the nations are suddenly not as big a disadvantage.

What happens when the Su-30s get taken down easily? Close Air Support becomes a more costly endeavor which increases the defensive capabilities of a smaller infantry force. Logistics become ever more important and corruption saps heavily at logistical capability. It's hard to understate just how much of that US defense budget goes to logistics because keeping planes in the air and ships at sea is fucking expensive and needs a retinue of supply to keep them there. Russia on the other hand has officers selling fuel out the back door because authoritarians rely on everyone getting their grift to stay happy and not start shooting at the house of cards they're built on.

Then you have training. US has a well trained all volunteer force. They have people who are basically trained in being support. If there's a column on the move then the US has their mechanized going forward, they're checking the roads in front, out to the side, they're engaging enemy units waiting for potential ambushes before they can become a problem. That's all they do. They know how to do it. Russia on the other hand seems to have a bunch of conscripts that think screening means their induction. Leave the truck? We could get shot!
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:30 AM on February 27 [30 favorites]


bluesky43: Particularly when that country is populated by white christians

This is true. Though a lot of things needed to go Ukraine’s way for the world at large to give a shit, otherwise the world would’ve reacted, or rather not reacted, like in 2014, or the invasion of Georgia in 2008, or most shamefully, during the wars following the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
posted by Kattullus at 8:26 AM on February 27


Agreed. In a perverse way, Trump shitting on Ukraine and Obama's lack of action in 2014 may have motivated Biden's call to arms. I'm not sure the EU would've responded the way they have without US leadership (I say this as a critic of there having to be US leadership for the EU to act). And the bravery of the Ukrainian president and people is inspiring.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:32 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Amid fierce defense, Ukraine fails Russian blitz victory plans (Kyiv Independent)

More than 72 hours after the start of the all-out invasion on Feb. 24, Russia has failed to inflict a quick defeat to Ukraine’s armed forces or gain a foothold in any of the country’s key cities.
As of Feb. 27, all the biggest cities – Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Dnipro, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Mariupol, Kherson – are still under full Ukrainian control, despite Russia’s massive and costly effort to seize or isolate them.
If Russia aimed to take the Ukrainian capital in a shock and awe operation, it failed.
The situation tends towards hard, dragged-out war rather than a demoralizing blitz run the Kremlin likely counted on, judging from their immediate rush toward Kyiv.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:38 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Ursula von der Leyen
@vonderleyen
First, we are shutting down the EU airspace for Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft.

They won’t be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU.

Including the private jets of oligarchs.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:47 AM on February 27 [15 favorites]


I'm not sure the EU would've responded the way they have without US leadership

That's fine, but you are wrong. What is pushing at the EU leaders, and the UK leadership, is popular sentiment. I see hardly any references to the US in the media. Our politicians are not waiting for the US, they are reacting based on an assessment of the real threat to our societies.

And while I favorited Pyrogenesis' post with the link to Al Jazeera, because I can see "whiteness" is a factor in US sentiment, it doesn't factor here. This war is literally here, where we live. If the war escalates, we will be attacked. I fully understand the German position, both before and after the invasion. I have many friends who have made the same turnaround in the last few days, life-long pacifists who are saying that if there is war, they will fight.

If the Russians took back Alaska, Canadians wouldn't sit around thinking about wether the majority in Alaska is Inuit, that would not be an issue. If anything, many Europeans are quite prejudiced against Ukrainians, but no one doubts that we have to take action now.
posted by mumimor at 8:53 AM on February 27 [72 favorites]


That's fine, but you are wrong. What is pushing at the EU leaders, and the UK leadership, is popular sentiment. I see hardly any references to the US in the media. Our politicians are not waiting for the US, they are reacting based on an assessment of the real threat to our societies.

This. The US has been awfully conservative and restrained in its actions and rhetoric for fear of any sort of escalation. If anything France, Poland, and the Baltics have been dragging Europe kicking and screaming towards hardening the resolve against Russian aggression and the actual existential threat to the European Union.

If anything, many Europeans are quite prejudiced against Ukrainians, but no one doubts that we have to take action now.

This also. Hell, half the reason the UK left the EU was because they don't like slavs.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:57 AM on February 27 [17 favorites]


This war is literally here, where we live. If the war escalates, we will be attacked.

This.

In less than a handful of days, 50,000 Finns signed a petition for Nato entry to be discussed in parliament.
posted by infini at 8:59 AM on February 27 [18 favorites]




One can hope that there is a Von Stauffenberg in Putin's court who is willing to do their duty to their country and humanity. Though it looks like Putin's in his Führerbunker phase, and it's unlikely that anyone, even an old friend, could get within exploding-briefcase range of him.
posted by acb at 9:02 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Hell, half the reason the UK left the EU was because they don't like slavs.

At the risk of derailing, don't tell us what we think from the other side of the fucking world, thanks.
posted by Grangousier at 9:03 AM on February 27 [26 favorites]


Thank you. Admittedly I am seeing primarily the US media's slant on this. If it's true that the EU is acting out in front of the US, I whole heartedly support this completely.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:03 AM on February 27


Thank you for that comment, bluesky43.

My general rule the past 4 days is to stay away from mainstream media here and keep as close to the ground as I can via twitter feeds, etc.
posted by goalyeehah at 9:09 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


It’s time we talked about Putin advisor Aleksandr Dugin (twitter thread) "In his writings he has expressed admiration for the Waffen SS and says he seeks to establish a ‘radically revolutionary and consistent, fascist fascism’ in Russia." He is a hero and inspiration for the Western far-right.

Dugin is essentially Julius Evola if, rather than having beefs with Aleister Crowley in 1920s Italy, he had grown up in the chaos-magick tradition of Michael Moorcock and Genesis P. Orridge.

(Dugin started out in that subculture in the USSR underground, and chose the edgelord path, coming up with “National Bolshevism”. He kept most of the fascist ideals, whilst losing the irony.)
posted by acb at 9:12 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Can people please stop flooding the Ukraine crisis thread with American politics?
posted by oulipian at 9:16 AM on February 27 [82 favorites]


@ryanlcooper: the GOP comms people are belatedly realizing that conservatives’ massive crush on Putin is a political liability... they were basically cheering him on until the invasion bogged down and he started looking like a monstrous idiot ... all these fuckin worms desperately trying to pivot when they didn’t get the swift victory they so eagerly wanted

PoeticJ59274248: Ukraine is offering much much much more resistance to takeover by Putin than the GOP did.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:17 AM on February 27 [21 favorites]




"huge breaking news at BP:
- BP to exit its 20% stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft
- BP chief executive Bernard Looney to resign from board of Rosneft with immediate effect" -- Jim Pickard on twitter
posted by valkane at 9:19 AM on February 27 [19 favorites]


"So far Putin is threatening or posturing the use of thermobarics, the weaponization of nuclear fallout from Chernobyl & now apparently the Russian nuclear Arsenal. The Russians are trying to get from the negotiating table what they haven’t earned through blood on the battlefield." -- Alexander Vindman on twitter.
posted by valkane at 9:20 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Mod note: A few comments indeed. This is, in fact, not a Let's Argue About American Leftist Politics thread. Please keep it more on the actual direct situation with Ukraine and take the random nervous politics arguing elsewhere.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:28 AM on February 27 [22 favorites]


My spouse works in a surrogacy agency - and had a call Friday with parents waiting in Poland desperate to join their newly born baby who is currently in a NICU in Kyiv. We’ve seen the footage in the NICU moving to a bomb shelter. Fuck all this.

I do wonder if much of the world’s reaction is helped by the fact that after several years of Covid, we have a genuine singular human villain to direct our anger into. And right now I am ok with that. Fuck Putin.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 9:31 AM on February 27 [20 favorites]


"A thought for all the Deutsche Bank employees who had to work straight through this weekend, figuring out new avenues to launder oligarchic capital.

(And not just DB, but a lot of big banks, law firms, and accounting firms.)" -- Adam Davidson on twitter.
posted by valkane at 9:34 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


"This coming week, we will launch a multilateral Transatlantic task force to identify, hunt down, and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian companies and oligarchs – their yachts, their mansions, and any other ill-gotten gains that we can find and freeze under the law." -- The White House on twitter.
posted by valkane at 9:39 AM on February 27 [26 favorites]


Sweden is sending 5000 Pansarskott m86s, among other things, to Ukraine.

"A thought for all the Deutsche Bank employees who had to work straight through this weekend, figuring out new avenues to launder oligarchic capital.

The ECB should double the weight of Russian assets for RwA purposes and declare their collateral value for loan purposes as 0. Then watch the banks send out the margin calls and the oligarchs flip the fuck out. Especially since they won't be able to use anything squirreled away in Russia to recapitalize.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:43 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Welp, I guess a lot of real estate is gonna come on the market in London.
posted by valkane at 9:45 AM on February 27 [13 favorites]


I said should. They probably won't do it.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:49 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


"You know you’re an unpopular leader when Sweden is sending your enemy 5,000 anti-tank missiles." -- Richard Engel on twitter.
posted by valkane at 9:57 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


Not to armchair-quarterback this too much but I am thinking if Russia had limited their invasion to the disputed oblasts in the east this all may have gone much more like Crimea. Making it a broader invasion on the whole of Ukraine really changed people's responses inside the country and around the world IMHO.

On a lighter note I listened to Steve1989MREInfo yesterday while cleaning the bathroom and was not surprised to see he'd uploaded a review of the 2021 Ukrainian 24-hour ration. He really liked it.
posted by traveler_ at 10:00 AM on February 27 [15 favorites]


Just put in my order thru MREmountain. I too will eat like a hero.
posted by valkane at 10:04 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


The ruble is down 50%, and banks in Moscow are trading 89 rubles per dollar in one direction and 154 in the other. This is insane.
posted by ocschwar at 10:13 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Russian supply column getting nailed by Bayraktar TB2

And that is why you get air superiority before you send in defenseless supply convoys.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:17 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


The ruble is down 50%, and banks in Moscow are trading 89 rubles per dollar in one direction and 154 in the other. This is insane.

Tinkoff's spread is 78.25/171.

Liquidity is non-existant.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:18 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


What are all the politicians propped up by rubles gonna do? This has to hurt on so many different levels.
posted by valkane at 10:22 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]




It seems to me that the smartest thing for Putin to do now, would be to call off the invasion, claim on Russian television that the Ukrainians have been shown the error of their perfidious ways, and reinforce the Donbas “republics”.

But the problem with autocratic systems is that the autocrat is a human being, with pride and blind spots and author human frailties. So he probably won’t.

I don’t know how this will end, but Putin is, at best, looking at ruling an isolated Russia as international pariah, and at worst … we’ll, there are fates worse than that.
posted by Kattullus at 10:32 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Does anyone have any insight into what might reasonably come from the Russia-Ukraine talks, if anything?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 10:33 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Could Russia hold the “republics” against the Ukrainians at this stage? I don't think they can get off this ride that easily.
posted by acb at 10:36 AM on February 27


insight into what might reasonably come from the Russia-Ukraine talks

my money is on poisoning as a proximate goal, but i'm just a... frankly, i think gadfly is probably more appropriate for my part than armchair quarterback. or rapt viewer processing horrified bafflement via gadflight, for the full citation.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:39 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


I think it's just because war has changed since 1945. You can't just slap conscripts in tanks and have them overwhelm by numbers.

Soviets introducing SA-7 Grail into S Vietnam in '72 was a great impetus for us to continue to GTFO and leave Thieu to his eventual fate as we did that year...

That Trump was trying to hold up a US shipment of antitank systems to Ukraine for fake dirt to smear Biden with deserves a chefs kiss for the writers room.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 10:41 AM on February 27 [13 favorites]


Hey folks, let’s just slow this train way down. We are not here to talk shit about each other. Or to debate the deeper meaning of being armchair gadflies or whatever. Back to Ukraine or go find another thread. Read a book, take a walk, whatever. Thank you!
posted by Bella Donna at 10:45 AM on February 27 [34 favorites]


Poisoning as proximate goal… I sincerely hope a minister of equal import as Russia‘s is all that is sent. The notion of Zelenskyy going and being assassinated - a wholly reasonable assumption, sadly, is chilling.

A friend was telling me about a colleague of his, a diminutive middle-aged NGO worker has sent out an appeal on Twitter for weapons. Nothing else, not money not bandages, weapons. From this point of anecdata I anticipate March will be very long.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:49 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Ursula von der Leyen (EU President): "We are stepping up our support for Ukraine. For the first time, the EU will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and equipment to a country under attack." and also "...we will target the other aggressor in this war, Lukashenko’s regime, with a new package of sanctions, hitting their most important sectors. All these measures come on top of the strong package presented yesterday, agreed by our international partners."

Whoa.
posted by gwint at 10:51 AM on February 27 [20 favorites]


Ahmad Khani: Right now deferring to experts and journalists on the ground, given the fog of war.

I think you make a fair point.

Though I’ll say that living in a country bordering Russia, there has been a degree of speculation forced upon us.

Just an hour ago my wife asked me to explain to her what would happen if nuclear war broke out, what are the steps that Putin would need to take to start throwing nuclear weapons around.

That said, it doesn’t help anyone’s peace of mind to think these things through. I take your point and will refrain from speculating based on my limited knowledge.
posted by Kattullus at 10:51 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]




Mod note: A few comments removed; folks please cool it way down and stop treating this like a posture-off. This is a scary, intense situation and MeFi's gonna be the best it can be when we're all taking a step back and trying to make the conversation work instead of diving in head first on internet fisticuffs.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:57 AM on February 27 [48 favorites]


Reuters: Turkey to implement pact limiting Russian warships to Black Sea
"It is not a couple of air strikes now, the situation in Ukraine is officially a war... We will implement the Montreux Convention," Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, said in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk.
Per the article, this is for warships specifically, and there's a clause in the rules that allows warships to return to home base. That could make it fussy, depending on how all that plays out. Politically/diplomatically, this seems like a big deal to me.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:00 AM on February 27 [13 favorites]


Just to clarify for all, my posting was intended to be a general observation with no specific posters in mind. None. I wanted to underscore how difficult it is to make sense of this all—perhaps I am entirely wrong, and now is when speculation is needed? I truly do not know. For myself, I'm just trying to avoid speculation without sources, and am deferring to others (mainly lists of journalists on the ground in Kyiv).
posted by Ahmad Khani at 11:00 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Here's Evan Hill's ongoing thread—some good work with Bellingcat that geolocates quite a few of the Russian attacks on Ukraine.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 11:02 AM on February 27


More evidence of Russians using conscripts

The Russian army is still largely composed of conscripts (at least for the lowest level troops, rather than officers), just in general. The current general rule is:
As of 2021, all male citizens aged 18–27 are subject to conscription for 1 year of active duty military service in armed forces, but the precise number of conscripts for each of the recruitment campaigns, which are usually held twice annually, is prescribed by particular Presidential Decree.[12] Russian law provides some grounds for temporary postponement of and permanent exemption from military draft.

The conscription of graduates of civilian institutions of higher education, who have graduated the military departments of their almae matres and received a commission as an officer was abolished on 1 January 2008 when the amendments, contained in Federal Law of 6 July 2006, №104-FZ,[13] entered into force.
Though what I read/hear is that conscription still more primarily affects working class Russians who don't have political connections or the money for bribes, or who are targeted due to anti-government political activity.
posted by eviemath at 11:02 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


French CSG Retasked With NATO Support Role, Naval News, Xavier Vavasseur, 26 Feb 2022:
The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its strike group are being retasked to support NATO following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces…

Charles de Gaulle and its escort today started a logistics stop in Limassol, Cyprus. The CSG will then be assigned with the mission to support NATO partners. While the aircraft carrier can not transit to the Black Sea because of the Montreux Convention [Wikipedia], its air wing will likely be tasked with patrolling the skies above and around the Black Sea, as well as supporting partners in the region such as Romania and Bulgaria. French Navy ATL2 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) are also based in Cyprus and could fly long range ISR missions or support directly the CSG.

Such support may be needed as a large Russian Navy presence [*] has been observed earlier this week near Tartus in Syria, where a Russian Naval base is located. This is just roughly 60 nautical miles from Cyprus.

NATO yesterday announced the activation of the NATO Response Force. France is currently commanding the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and as such will deploy the spearhead element of VJTF: 500 troops to Romania. France said it would also deploy additional troops and aircraft in Estonia and fly air policing missions in Poland….
*Unusual Russian Navy Concentration Seen In Eastern Mediterranean, Naval News, H.I. Sutton, 24 Feb 2022:
As the world watches Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there is also a significant and purposeful Russian Navy presence in the Mediterranean. This is part of the same big picture. Today they have been observed sailing close together in an unusual formation…

Russia has reinforced its naval presence in the Mediterranean, much more than usual. This can be seen as an outer defense layer for naval operations in the Black Sea, off Ukraine. In particular, to deter NATO involvement, especially from the US and French aircraft carriers.

This is the concentration of essentially the entire Russian Navy in the Mediterranean, in one place.
posted by cenoxo at 11:06 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Now have documented use of cluster munitions on civilian populations in Ukraine— from both Bellingcat and Human Rights Watch.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 11:07 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Interesting: the Aeroflot Moscow-JFK flight has turned around, and that page shows that tomorrow's flight is cancelled.
posted by phliar at 11:08 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


One of my friends in Stockholm went to a hardware store and another place over the weekend to stock up on things like storage containers for water. There weren’t any. Many other people had the same idea. We are scared.

I am living a life of privilege at this moment. On the BBC, lots of people who are now refugees are talking about how they were worried about mundane, daily life stuff one moment, and now they’re just hoping everyone in their family will be alive when they wake up tomorrow morning.

This war is a huge mindfuck for the people of Ukraine, the Russian soldiers who were lied to, and the hundreds or potentially thousands of protesters inside Russia who are incredibly brave by protesting and who have been arrested, often roughly (and who knows what will happen to them now).

I am still living a life of privilege, but now I understand how fragile that all is in a way that I have not understood before because I have never been this close to a war before. I understand that bad things happen to individuals daily. I understand that bad things happen to nations and regions as well. But all of the other conflicts have been far away and so I haven’t been affected in a way that made those conflicts feel real to me. I don’t think that makes me an asshole; I think that makes me human. Also, a human who needs to do better when it comes to future conflicts.

Anyway, thank you all for many helpful links. I’m so excited that BP is divesting from Russia.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:08 AM on February 27 [38 favorites]


Does anyone have any insight into what might reasonably come from the Russia-Ukraine talks, if anything?


No preconditions, so zero downside to attending them.
posted by ocschwar at 11:15 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Just an hour ago my wife asked me to explain to her what would happen if nuclear war broke out, what are the steps that Putin would need to take to start throwing nuclear weapons around. We had this conversation in the car earlier today (when the kids weren't around) - and it's a hell of a sticky wicket : do you leave? Do you plan to leave? Do you rely on this remaining a contained conflict? The unknowns are, frankly, terrifying - we never thought/believed Putin would do this and now here we are. What are his limits? The limits of his army?

This war is a huge mindfuck... and how
posted by From Bklyn at 11:16 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


The amount of continuing and escalating support the rest of the world (outside of China) is giving Ukraine is frankly dizzying. We're not talking about "words of solidarity." Weapons from across Europe (including Germany!) Meaningful sanctions and bans from the US to Japan. Worldwide protests. It's incredible.

Oh, and also Dee Snider: "People are asking me why I endorsed the use of "We're Not Gonna Take It" for the Ukrainian people and did not for the anti-maskers. Well, one use is for a righteous battle against oppression; the other is a infantile feet stomping against an inconvenience."
posted by gwint at 11:19 AM on February 27 [96 favorites]


At least 5250 people have been arrested at protests in Russia since Feb 24 according to the Meduza livestream.
posted by kmt at 11:20 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Radek Sikorski (ex Polish Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, ex war correspondent in Afghanistan in the 80s, BoJo's mate from uni and current MEP) has noted on Twitter that one thing Putin has managed is to gel the EU into a higher gear of cooperation, creating a much smoother machine that's working as a true European superpower now. Nothing like a common enemy.

(Personally I'm rather astonished - our government in Poland had been in a cold war with Brussels over judicial independence, with threats of withholding funds completely, and within 24 hours we're leading the charge for sanctions, cooperating with the Baltics and getting Germany to agree. Much less believable than Putin attacking Ukraine.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:24 AM on February 27 [32 favorites]


How has Hungary, as an EU member with a Putin-aligned government that also borders Ukraine, been responding to this hardening of EU-Russian relations?
posted by Rumple at 11:28 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


olexander scherba🇺🇦@olex_scherba·3mToday in Zhytomyr oblast Ukrainians cheered and applauded yet another group of RU military who “thought it was an exercise”. It was a blast!
posted by clavdivs at 11:30 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


What are his limits? The limits of his army?

He can't break the laws of physics. The more troops the longer it takes to mobilize and states notice that sort of thing. He can't just snap his fingers and have 100,000 troops on the Finnish border to instantly start walking in if that's what you're worried about.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:34 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


I think the question about Putin’s limits is less about the laws of physics and more about what he is willing to do, and to what extent his military is willing to carry out whatever he orders. Will he make civilization-destroying orders? If he does, will the Russian military carry them out?
posted by jeoc at 11:39 AM on February 27


Hungary finally isn't vetoing sanctions but has very pointedly not sent any weapons yet.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:40 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


He can't break the laws of physics. The more troops the longer it takes to mobilize and states notice that sort of thing. He can't just snap his fingers and have 100,000 troops on the Finnish border to instantly start walking in if that's what you're worried about.

Add to that: it seems that the logistics are already overwhelming the Russian forces. Way up in this thread (or perhaps the previous one) there was a post about Russian soldiers in Belarus stealing livestock and firewood. And that was before they invaded Ukraine. Obviously, the soldiers can pillage whatever country they invade, medieval style, but that is not how a modern army works and it is extremely demoralizing.
posted by mumimor at 11:42 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Obviously, nuclear weapons don't need food, refueling and hospital care, but then we are into MAD territory and while I do speculate if Putin has gone insane*, I don't think the entire Russian military leadership are ready for that.

*Quite a few of my elder (+ 60) friends seem to have gone a bit bonkers during the lockdowns. Also to a degree where they are harming themselves. I don't know how that would look for someone at the head of an empire.
posted by mumimor at 11:47 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Radek Sikorski (ex Polish Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, ex war correspondent in Afghanistan in the 80s, BoJo's mate from uni and current MEP) has noted on Twitter that one thing Putin has managed is to gel the EU into a higher gear of cooperation, creating a much smoother machine that's working as a true European superpower now. Nothing like a common enemy.

This was brought up in military historian Bret Devereaux's blog piece (first linked way upthread), and given as a reason why a number of analyst types were calling the invasion a strategic blunder (this is not intended to diminish the human cost of the invasion):
Overall, my sense of the military-affairs/international relations community is that the general opinion is that Putin is making a mistake here even though he is likely to win on the ground at first: the costs of controlling Ukraine are likely to be high, the rewards likely to be low, and this aggression is likely to solidify, rather than weaken NATO. Long-term success seems very difficult to achieve. I tend to concur with that assessment, though I’ll admit there is a lot of room for unlikely or unexpected outcomes.
posted by jomato at 11:51 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


""This coming week, we will launch a multilateral Transatlantic task force to identify, hunt down, and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian companies and oligarchs – their yachts, their mansions, and any other ill-gotten gains that we can find and freeze under the law."

a.k.a. let's give the oligarchs a big heads-up
posted by storybored at 11:52 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]




For people looking to boycott Russian owned products, apparently as of Friday Żubrówka and Soplica vodkas are Polish again, so no need to avoid them. Or check out Hlibny Dar, though there may be some logistical problems in the next while with this excellent Ukrainian vodka brand.

(And I forgot to mention that Sikorski is of course the husband of Anne Applebaum, so together they have a Pulitzer and a World Press Photo award, as well as two Ukrainian medals for supporting Ukrainian interests.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:56 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


"I’m sorry but there’s no hopes of ever being able to occupy a country full of people who just pick up mines and move them while a lit Marlboro dangles from their lips."
posted by BungaDunga at 12:04 PM on February 27 [39 favorites]


Obviously, nuclear weapons don't need food, refueling and hospital care, but then we are into MAD territory and while I do speculate if Putin has gone insane*, I don't think the entire Russian military leadership are ready for that.

One hopes that McNamara's back channels are open, and that all steps will be taken by Russian elites to put an internal stop to this madness, before decisions are made that cannot be undone. Those yachts and mansions aren't much fun when everything is irradiated.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:08 PM on February 27


Another tip I've seen for boycotting the Russian economy if you live in the UK or Western Europe: turn down your thermostat by a few degrees and wear a jumper.
posted by acb at 12:10 PM on February 27 [16 favorites]


a.k.a. let's give the oligarchs a big heads-up

If the oligarchs thought their assets and property were safe from seizure, they’re even stupider than I thought. This statement is solely posturing; no one is surprised.
posted by rhymedirective at 12:11 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]




EU formally agrees ban on Russian Central Bank transactions: Borrell

Russia has awoken the EU as a world superpower.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:14 PM on February 27 [13 favorites]


There’s also this: More Than a Decade After Military Reform, Hazing Still Plagues the Russian Army

One Soldier's War by Arkady Babchenko goes into pretty gory detail about what this "hazing" entails.

With the help of Ukranian authorities, Babchenko famously escaped an assassination attempt by you-know-who a few years ago.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:23 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Not to armchair-quarterback this too much but I am thinking if Russia had limited their invasion to the disputed oblasts in the east this all may have gone much more like Crimea. Making it a broader invasion on the whole of Ukraine really changed people's responses inside the country and around the world IMHO.

I agree with that absolutely.

Putin has, to put it mildly, fucked it.

Look, I respect the principle of keeping national borders intact and just "saying no" to irredentism and re-arranging sovereignty unless absolutely necessary. But like many of us, I have a lot of sympathy for some movements that could be construed as separatist. Even when those movements are not entirely peaceful. To be very honest, I could previously see the Russian logic on Crimea and even on the Donbas provinces. That is not to say that seizing them by force was ever acceptable or that Putin wasn't a thug even then, but it has to be seen in the context of other things in the world, what NATO did in Kosovo, South Sudan, the mixed opinions of people on the ground. Even if you could conclusively come to a position that it was wrong it was clearly complicated.

I have never been either a territorial integrity maximalist and although the majority of the people in the Donbas provinces did not want to become part of Russia, moving sovereignty of a Russian/Ukrainian mixed territory from Ukraine to Russia did not strike me as necessarily an act that only a barbarian would contemplate.

In other words, like a lot of Europeans, there was a limit to what I was willing to contemplate as a response in order to respond to a border dispute on the other end of the continent.

What Putin has made clear in his disordered speeches over the last few days is that he is not attempting to rearrange the borders between two states (and again, I'm not saying that I would have been totally ok with that either) but is bent on exterminating Ukrainian nationhood entirely. That crosses a lot of lines, and I think for a lot of Europeans it crosses lines because we know what this is. This is a campaign of national extermination. Yes it's verging on the genocidal.

What has he achieved so far?

-Gotten Germany to commit to triple its military budget for 2022 and normalise at 2% GDP or above afterwards (still almost a doubling).

-Probably driven Sweden and Finland into NATO in all but name

-Triggered an inevitable increase in the military budgets of European countries, all of which are much richer per capita than Russia and can spend him into the ground with a cheeky extra 1% on their income tax bands. Ok, Germany chose not to spend much on its military previously but that was a choice, they can afford to spend a lot. What happens when the Mittelstand start making drones?

-Completely shut down all intra-European bickering. You think Macron and Johnson are still sending each other snipe-a-grams about fish quotas and customs procedures? Where now for Poland's and Hungary's challenge to EU rule of law (n.b. much more of a threat to the EU long-term than Brexit was)?

-Triggered an immediate reconsideration of European gas supplies. Germany will now build those LNG import plants. Everyone will work like the blazes to get out of gas much faster than they otherwise would have. Ten years from now EU gas demand will be materially lower than it would have been had he not done this. What else is he going to export?

-Effectively ended the tolerance in the UK for his oligarch buddies to launder money, reputation, and influence. They're done. Every carefully planted bit of Russian influence, every Conservative or Labour Friends of Russia parliamentary group, every network. It's going to be torn out by the roots in the next 12 months. See, it is true that some of his oligarchs have contributed money to people now in government but politicians don't have to stay bought and the trouble is that if you've taken Russian money you need to make big anti-Russia gestures to get your hands clean. Johnson isn't Putin's buddy just because his cut-out sluiced some money into his campaign to be leader you know? Thanks for the money, but now all your bank accounts are frozen. What, they're going to ask for a refund?

and for what? The opportunity to get sucked into a horrible guerrilla war that Russians really do not want to fight?

Ukraine was genuinely split about whether to align with the EU or with Russia. The really big protests came as a response to the suppression of the EuroMaidan protests and not necessarily all the people involved in those later protests were pro-EU so much as anti-riot-police-beating-teenagers. Many Ukrainians speak Russian, quite a number as a native language. What Putin has done at a stroke is to drive most doubting, Russophile Ukrainians into a movement of national resistance against a foreign invader that ten years ago they might have been sympathetic to.

He has stepped all the way onto his own dick and I hope that he doesn't do something even more horrible as he comes to that realisation.
posted by atrazine at 12:25 PM on February 27 [83 favorites]


A Ukrainian sailor in Mallorca has scuttled the 7 million euro yacht he works on (google translate link), owned by a Russian munitions oligarch.

"All this follows from the statement in court of the arrested Ukrainian sailor.

The now detainee points out that the owner of the ship is in charge of the production of weapons with which his country is being attacked. When the sailor saw on television a Russian cruise missile in a block of flats where there were civilians, he had a very bad time. "The warhead did not explode, but more than five floors were still destroyed," he says in his statement before the judge. He understood that it was a cruise missile produced by his boss's company and was furious. For this reason, he returned to the ship and remembering that he lives in Kiev in a similar apartment to the one attacked, he decided to take revenge on the owner , causing only material damage, never personal.

Once on the ship, he opened a large valve in the engine room and a second in another compartment where the crew lives. He closed the fuel valves and turned off the electricity so there would be no leaks. He told three crewmen to abandon ship and they started screaming that he was crazy. He reminded them that they too were Ukrainians and that his homeland had come under attack".

(More rich testimony at the link above.)
posted by Rumple at 12:25 PM on February 27 [65 favorites]


No (tank) parking on town roads
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:26 PM on February 27 [26 favorites]


Referring back to Kadin2048's comment of two days ago related to pooling small donations for a single larger bank transfer to negate the effect of fees when donating to support the Ukrainian army:

The National Bank of Ukraine's account to support its military now does accept payments via card in any currency instead of requiring a bank transfer. This seems to have changed in the last few hours.

Link to the press release in English: https://bank.gov.ua/en/news/all/perekazati-koshti-dlya-dopomogi-zbroynim-silam-ukrayini-stalo-prostishe

Direct link to English payment page (the one in the press release is in Ukrainian): https://bank.gov.ua/en/about/support-the-armed-forces.
posted by mdonley at 12:27 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


A Ukrainian sailor in Mallorca has scuttled the 7 million euro yacht he works on (google translate link), owned by a Russian munitions oligarch.

Here in a Mallorca local newspaper [google translation]
posted by sukeban at 12:49 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Kosovo asks U.S. for permanent military base, speedier NATO membership

Looks like Kosovo is terrified that another someone (*cough*Milorad Dodik*cough*) is getting ideas.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:50 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


If you slice the border fine enough I [think/been led to believe] you'd have found a majority in the two breakaway regions wanting to shift flags. As atrazine said above, I too believe that's all gone by the boards now.

I think/hope for Russia to get back into Europe's good graces it's going to have to disgorge Crimea.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 12:50 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]




a.k.a. let's give the oligarchs a big heads-up
It seems like a smart move: it pushes all of them to think about how serious the odds of seizures are at a time where Putin is looking the weakest he has this century, and if someone panics and tries to move assets around it might reveal or confirm ownership for things which weren’t on their radar before.
posted by adamsc at 1:17 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


The APC's being towed and tanks being reversed out of town by pedestrians brings back an early hope of mine that the history book image, the 'man in front of tanks in Tiananmen square' photo for this conflict, was going to be members of a Ukraine branch of СтопХам knocking on the window of an armored personnel carrier, holding a windshield sticker:
"Pardon me, Driver. There seems to be some confusion. You have driven into another country. This is nekulturny. Please back up the way you came in."
posted by bartleby at 1:19 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Does anyone know what a diplomatic off-ramp for all of this would look like? Does it even exist?

On an emotional level, I would like Putin to be immediately sent home in shame and isolation with his tail between his legs: you get nothing, you lose, good day sir. In reality, I’m guessing that if it’s even possible in the near term, a diplomatic end to the conflict would need to let Russia save face.

How do you get Russia to stand down without placating or rewarding it? Is there any way to both end this now and ensure that Putin doesn’t regroup and try this dumb bullshit again six months or a year from now?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:42 PM on February 27 [14 favorites]


Seeing reports of Kyiv being fully surrounded, what will happen when this war switches from a blitzkrieg to a siege, urban warfare, massive civilian casualities? Will the Ukrainians hold on? Will the world's attention hold?

Michael Kofman's feed (Russian mil expert) while admitting that the initial Russian invasion has been a mess, is showing a darker picture of the coming days-- large columns of Russian and Chechnyan soldiers heading to Kyiv.
posted by gwint at 1:43 PM on February 27 [7 favorites]


ft.com: Russia sanctions list: What the West imposed over the Ukraine invasion

(that list is as of this morning-- not fully up to date, for instance, doesn't include Hundreds of Irish-owned planes to be ordered back from Russia in days: "Aircraft lessors to take unprecedented step to recover tens of billions worth of aircraft within days as part of ratcheting up of EU sanctions")
posted by gwint at 1:46 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, FIFA continues their age-old tradition of being spectacularly corrupt, incompetent, and cowardly all at the same time by declining to kick out the Russians, and choosing an IOC-style "solution" of not calling Russia by its name, but otherwise allowing them to compete.
posted by aramaic at 1:48 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


Another map: Russia-Ukraine Monitor Map
The Russia-Ukraine Monitor Map is a crowdsourced effort by Centre for Information Resilience (https://twitter.com/Cen4infoRes) and the wider open source community to map, document and verify significant incidents during the conflict in Ukraine.

Its aim is to provide reliable information for policymakers, journalists as well as justice and accountability bodies about the evolving situations both on-the-ground and online. Bellingcat, Mnemonic and the Conflict Intelligence Team have also begun to contribute to the map. You can find more information here: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2022/02/27/follow-the-russia-ukraine-monitor-map/
posted by Ahmad Khani at 2:15 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]



Michael Kofman's feed (Russian mil expert) while admitting that the initial Russian invasion has been a mess, is showing a darker picture of the coming days-- large columns of Russian and Chechnyan soldiers heading to Kyiv.


More proof that Putin is just not that smart.

Even if they take Kyiv, that would just activate a shadow government in Lviv. The man's judgement is unsound.
posted by ocschwar at 2:15 PM on February 27


Seeing reports of Kyiv being fully surrounded

Taking back by previous comment...

@KyivIndependent:
Klitschko's spokesperson denies that Kyiv is 'encircled.'

In an interview with AP, Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that ‘Kyiv was encircled’ but ready to fight.

His spokesperson said that he misspoke, and that such information is “a lie and a manipulation.”
posted by gwint at 2:18 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Reuters: Russian c.bank orders block on foreign clients' bids to sell Russian securities - document

Holy fuck. The Russians are stopping capital outflows any way they can. Those lying down with the dogs are now finding out about those fleas.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:31 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Looks like the emergency session of the General Assembly is on. Any thoughts on how likely the UN is to take action there?
posted by corb at 2:35 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Another map: Russia-Ukraine Monitor Map

Really excellent resource, but a note of caution: if a link on that map says Violence Level 5, you're in for some old-school Rotten.com-style brains splattered on the pavement, or something equally horrifying involving incendiary weapons. Most other entries were categorized level 2 - destroyed military hardware and the like - which seemed fine for general (adult) audiences.

Point being: even if you're the sort that reflexively ignores CW/TWs, items with the level 5 categorization might be upsetting.
posted by Ryvar at 2:46 PM on February 27 [12 favorites]


yes, good warning—thank you for that. Is indeed a scale of 1-5.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 2:48 PM on February 27


stopping capital outflows any way they can.

Can you explain to me like I am a 4 year old what this means? What it means in any and all contexts?
posted by vrakatar at 3:01 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/antonov-an-225-largest-plane-destroyed-ukraine-scli-intl/index.html

In addition to everything else fucked up with all of this I'm seeing reports that the world's heaviest, largest plane has been destroyed or damaged on the ground in Kyiv at the airport where it was based.

Yes, that Antonov AN-225 Mriya (translation: Dream), the only one in the world, the one originally designed to carry the USSR Buran space plane, the same one that has been on numerous relief and aid missions as a cargo plane since it was repurposed as a general oversized air transport service in what was generally speaking a peaceful and remarkable swords-to-plowshares relic of the Cold War.

Something about this is just chilling, disturbing and remarkable to me that transcends aviation nerd fandom stuff, like watching the former USSR and Russian Federation just utterly trashing what was left of their good will and legacy. (Yes, I know that it was originally built and designed in Ukraine, but it was originally designed for and used by the USSR space program. The history of Ukraine and Russia via USSR is, of course, very complicated.)
posted by loquacious at 3:06 PM on February 27 [25 favorites]


They estimate that the AN-225 can be repaired, though it could cost as much as €4bn.

Would that still be cheaper than building a new heavy-lifting aircraft using modern materials and technologies (apparently the Antonovs were getting on in years and becoming increasingly costly to keep running), or is the historical value of this unique aircraft being factored into the calculations here?
posted by acb at 3:10 PM on February 27


The history of the Russian army is one of terrible operational performance and efficiency that is only balanced by the willingness to stick it out until they eventually find a way to win. The Winter War, World War 2, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Syria were all places where they generally had strong advantages against their adversaries but still struggled. Consider that the Soviet economy was considerably larger than the Wehrmacht and they had more men and better tanks at the start of the German invasion. They had more guns and ammo in their inventory as well — but they often failed to get the soldiers, tanks and guns to the front at the same time. Even their performance under the Czar in WW1 followed the same pattern.
posted by interogative mood at 3:10 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Norway's $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, will divest its Russian assets the Norwegian prime minister said on Sunday.

The fund's Russian assets, consisting of shares in some 47 companies as well as government bonds, were worth $2.83 billion

"We have decided to freeze the fund's investments and have begun a process of selling out (of Russia),"
posted by yyz at 3:21 PM on February 27 [13 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent@KyivIndependent·1h
⚡️EU countries to send ‘fighter jets’ to Ukraine to fight off Moscow’s invasion by countering Russian air and land assaults, the EU's Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said.

/The Kyiv Independent twitter stream is the best and most up to date info I've read.
posted by bluesky43 at 3:23 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


If memory serves, Antonov may have a second hull that they can build out to a full aircraft, but they simply lack the funding or the need (and some parts). The An-225 is a VERY special aircraft reserved only for the largest of cargo that can't be handled any other way, at up to 640 tons. At max power, it burns 20 TONS of fuel per hour.
posted by kschang at 3:24 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


economic sanctions and actions matter. They just aren’t as instant or satisfying as people like.

Frankly the chatter I’ve heard all weekend is that when markets open in a few hours Russia will have a run on banks (they are already constraining foreign ability to exit Russian securities) and a full on liquidity crisis. We’ll start seeing in the weeks to come who is vulnerable where and how deep those links are. It’s going to be a rowdy week on Wall Street, but frankly peanuts compared to fleeing your home or picking up arms to defend it.
posted by larthegreat at 3:25 PM on February 27 [14 favorites]


Neutral Swiss poised to freeze Russian assets - president (reuters)
Swiss President Ignazio Cassis said on Sunday that it was "very probable" that neutral Switzerland would follow the European Union (EU) on Monday in sanctioning Russia and freezing Russian assets in the Alpine country. Cassis, interviewed on French-language Swiss public television RTS, said that the seven-member Federal Council would meet on Monday and review recommendations by the departments of finance and economy.
posted by bluesky43 at 3:34 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Would the Ukrainian air force be familiar with the jets the EU send? (I gather that they mostly fly MiGs and Sukhois and the EU would be sending Lockheed/Northrop Grumman/Saab or similar.) If not, how much training is required for a pilot to change jet models?
posted by acb at 3:41 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Twitter thread about the collapsing Ruble

Of note: the market "appears to be paralyzed; trading is open but no trades are occuring". Something "very, very strange" is occuring, likely to be a massive liquidity crisis tomorrow.
posted by chuntered inelegantly from a sedentary position at 3:43 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


when markets open in a few hours Russia will have a run on banks

It's Twitter, so viewer be forewarned, but: Huge queues gather in front of ATMs in Moscow and other Russian cities. The photo was taken at 5 o'clock in the morning.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:45 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Would that still be cheaper than building a new heavy-lifting aircraft using modern materials and technologies (apparently the Antonovs were getting on in years and becoming increasingly costly to keep running), or is the historical value of this unique aircraft being factored into the calculations here?

It's more like nobody else ever tried to build something this large.

USSR was able to copy the space shuttle to make the Buran, but somehow they weren't able to copy the 747 carrier, and ended up with the An-225 instead.

The Airbus 380 was never intended to be a cargo plane, and Airbus, desperate to keep A380 in the air, is floating ideas to keep the top deck for passengers and dedicate lower level to cargo only, thus operating as a cargo/ passenger hybrid liners. And due to the shape, it may not be competitive with other existing wide-body cargo aircraft. And the A380 is the only thing close to An-225 in size.

And it's not a matter to "let's just build a new one". You need a large order, like 100 across multiple users, to make the development worthwhile. It costs billions to prototype, build, and certify a new plane, and it has to be certified by multiple authorities across the globe. Not to mention train a new cadre of maintenance techs, create a new set of instructions, and whatnot.
posted by kschang at 4:09 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Would the Ukrainian air force be familiar with the jets the EU send? (I gather that they mostly fly MiGs and Sukhois and the EU would be sending Lockheed/Northrop Grumman/Saab or similar.)

Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria operate MiG-29s, although they’re configured quite differently to Ukrainian ones.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:26 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


The entire article is worth reading, but here’s an excerpt from Amid the Ukraine crisis, looking again at Putin, the one-man show the West doesn’t understand, Fiona Hill [WP bio], Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, (originally posted May 2016) reposted February 13, 2022:
The Putin Paradox

Putin’s and Russia’s biggest problem is that, in trying to ensure its security against the United States and the entire West, its resources are far inferior in conventional military and economic terms. Russia is still the underdog. For Putin, the only recourse to this imbalance is to return to his KGB operative’s training. The Soviet Union indebted and doomed itself in the 1980s when Moscow began the arms race with the United States. Russia has assets it can use, but its contemporary military reform and modernization is still underway. So, in an “asymmetric” struggle with the United States, Putin and Russia have to be innovative, catch the West off guard, and fight dirty.

Putin and his security team approach international affairs as a series of missions – they are often remarkably frank in using this language to describe their approach. Putin makes it clear that Russia will act on multiple fronts at the same time and do things that Western leaders would not contemplate – including the threat of crossing the nuclear threshold and breaking the post-World War II taboo against using a battlefield nuclear weapon.

The paradox of all this – including the nuclear brinksmanship – is that although Putin wants the West to back off and leave Russia alone, he does not want Russia to become a pariah state, stuck on the outside of the big international institutions and decisions. This would be detrimental to Russian interests. Putin wants to intimidate Western leaders and their publics, but his big mission is to get Russia a seat at the table with the West, on Russia’s terms, which he declares is on “equal” terms with the United States. Putin wants to thrash out a deal with the United States on any critical issue that could affect Russia’s interests.

The ultimate problem for the United States and the West is how to handle these demands, at a juncture when Putin has seemed set on bombing his way to that table, with interventions in Ukraine and Syria, and negotiating terms at gunpoint. Putin’s behavior is completely unacceptable to Western leaders. But they cannot simply reject the idea of dealing with Russia in international affairs….
Know thine enemy.
posted by cenoxo at 4:29 PM on February 27 [16 favorites]


Can you explain to me like I am a 4 year old what this means? What it means in any and all contexts?

You know how some people get fired and take as much shit as they can on their way out the door? It’s like that except for an entire country.
posted by rhymedirective at 4:36 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Fiona Hill is incredibly insightful. thanks for posting that - the whole article is worth reading.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:37 PM on February 27


Ok. Deep breath.

I think we may look back on this as the first Great Information War. Except we're already 8 years in.

The first Great Information War began in 2014. The invasion of Ukraine is the latest front. And the idea it doesn't already involve us is fiction, a lie.


A thread from Carole Cadwalladr.
posted by meese at 4:46 PM on February 27 [14 favorites]


Reports coming in that Russia and Ukraine have decided on a truce and joint control protocol at the Chernobyl exclusion zone

Maybe a first step towards this starting to de-escalate.
posted by interogative mood at 4:55 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Rouble futures are down >25% at the time of my post (chart), and Sberbank Europe is apparently doomed to collapse according to the ECB. Yikes.
posted by aramaic at 5:10 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Those lying down with the dogs are now finding out about those fleas.

It'll be interesting if there is enough pressure or even freefall for Russian banks if major foreign debtors, such as prominent political/crime families, have their transactions made public.
posted by Rumple at 5:11 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]




stopping capital outflows any way they can.

Can you explain to me like I am a 4 year old what this means? What it means in any and all contexts?


When I was a small child the Berlin Wall fell and the USSR dissolved. When the iron curtain lifted, foreign companies saw an opportunity to invest. McDonalds opened next to the Kremlin, Exxon helped drill for oil, and starting in 1999, national economic activity grew 10 times from 1999 to 2008, and another 50 percent from 2008 to 2013.

Well, when that happens, other investors want in, and start buying property. They sell dollars and buy rubles, then use the rubles to buy land, lend to local companies, and the government, expecting a long term reward. This investment is called capital, and its flowing into the country, bidding up prices on things. Hence, a "capital inflow." The reverse is called a "capital outflow." In an outflow, companies sell assets, convert the currency, and then export it. Right now, everyone who manages capital is heading for the exit on the rumor of SWIFT bans, even before they're official.

End result of all this is measured in the exchange rate, since there's still local companies, still oil, still a McDonalds. Basic law of supply and demand is that when you sell rubles and buy dollars, the exchange rate falls. Russian money now has less a claim on world production; Russian workers will find that imports have gone up in price substantially overnight. Worse, the price of oil is in dollars not rubles, so they're getting screwed on that front too.

Since nobody holding dollars who wants the risk of investing in them as long as Putin makes Russia a pariah state, capital assets all get sold to the next highest remaining bidder (probably a local), and lots of stuff drops in value. Real estate, for example. Stocks, which are in essence valued based on predictions of future profits, 30+ years out. If you're a bank, your source of cheap borrowing just vanished, and the non-currency assets you held just lost money. You are now undercapitalized, have no access to more money, and at risk of owing more in deposits than you actually have (insolvency, i.e. bank runs). Countries reasonably hate all these effects, so governments try to stop it. China, for example, has strict regulations on money leaving the country (this meant they had to address crypto by banning it too).

Even more democratic growing economies have to deal with 'fast' capital outflows during a downturn, but by now developing market finance ministers know the score and have rules in place ahead of time -- all parties knew going in to it how easy it would be to get out. What's most problematic is having this all happen in a short period of time, and over a weekend where most banks are closed.
posted by pwnguin at 5:32 PM on February 27 [29 favorites]


and the fix for all ^ is to print more ₽. The Japanese had to do that with the ¥ and as a result entered the 1940s at 3.6 and left it at 360 to the dollar.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 5:37 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


and the fix for all ^ is to print more ₽.

Or they could renounce the evils of war and work to undo sanctions.
posted by pwnguin at 5:39 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


Thank you for all the information, and insights. It all gives me hope. I worry that Mr. Putin is going to see just how big of a mistake he has made, and then again, he should also be able to see the response is defensive. There is no plan for offense. Plan for defense. It should lessen some of his real fears, but macho types don't cop to fear.

He was on the EU's doorstep with lots of hydrocarbons to sell, there had to be some massive prosperity in there for his people, and boring, boring peace, and Russians maybe having a long road to recovery from the hellish history of the last 200 years, wait, ever history. I don't mean consumer goods, I mean peace and comfort. Oligarchy and despotic government, don't deliver that except to a few.

I am safe, and warm in my place. My loved ones are accounted for, I salute Ukraine, I hope for the best for them. A month ago, they were just combatting a pandemic. I have no news, but my heart is with them.
posted by Oyéah at 5:45 PM on February 27 [7 favorites]


Wouldn't a devalued Ruble be good for Russian oil and gas exports?
posted by Rumple at 5:48 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


WRT the fate of Ukraine’s huge Antonov AN-225 Mriya cargo aircraft, the Ukrainian Minister Reports AN-225 Was Destroyed, Antonov Yet To Confirm, AVGEEKERY.com, February 27, 2022:
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has fractured peace, killed a number of civilians and destroyed critical infrastructure. Screenshots of drone video [or satellite photos] showed the AN-225 hangar on fire with an aircraft inside also on fire. (See tweet below from OSINT_Canada).”
However, another unfinished hull is available (if they can afford to rebuild it) – see Sky Giant: Turkey Mulls To Complete The Second Antonov An-225 Mriya, Oryx, January 18, 2022.
posted by cenoxo at 5:49 PM on February 27


Ukraine belongs in the European Union (EU) and the bloc wants them in, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a televised interview with Euronews Sunday.
posted by glonous keming at 5:50 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


I'm seeing all sorts of people who should know better advocating for no-fly zones and intervening in Ukraine

Is it too much to ask that people not try to start a nuclear war
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:50 PM on February 27 [15 favorites]


I truly had thought that the nagging fear of perhaps immediate nuclear war was something that had faded from the planet and I wouldn't feel again in my lifetime. But, here we are.
posted by hippybear at 5:52 PM on February 27 [20 favorites]


all sorts of people who should know better

I console myself by thinking it's just another instance of "Internet Tough Guy" syndrome.

...I mean, it is, right? C'mon, right? Please tell me I'm right....
posted by aramaic at 5:53 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Indeed. vputin@kremlin.ru is the best place to direct your request.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 5:53 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Is it too much to ask that people not try to start a nuclear war

There is literally only one person on the planet who might, might, not does, want to start a nuclear war. That ball is largely in Putin's court. No one, not one single person involved, wants that.
posted by mrgoat at 5:54 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


The Big Sanctions: A Quick Explainer
The goals and risks of SWIFT cutoff, central bank sanctions, etc.
posted by Kabanos at 5:56 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


"I'm seeing all sorts of people who should know better advocating for no-fly zones and intervening in Ukraine

Is it too much to ask that people not try to start a nuclear war"


Is it best then to just watch Ukraine struggle, struggle, be bombed, overrun, and do nothing effective to assist them, or to discourage Vladimir Putin? All this in a February, during a pandemic? Just a question. Is it OK to send bottled water, and let the Russian kids who were sent to war, call their moms? What would you advocate happen to the whole of Eastern Europe? Then Western Europe?
posted by Oyéah at 6:25 PM on February 27 [14 favorites]


Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria operate MiG-29s, although they’re configured quite differently to Ukrainian ones.

Yup, those are the ones that are being sent, it sounds like:
The Washington Post's Michael Birnbaum says that a European diplomat told him that Ukraine was set to receive Russian-made jets from Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Poland. This further points to the impending delivery of MiG-29s, as well as possibly Su-25s
posted by BungaDunga at 6:30 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Poast:...What makes this a very scary scenario—what makes a war between the great powers more likely than it’s been in 80 years—is that Putin might feel at some point like his back is against the wall and he has no other options, so he lashes out in desperation. In our discipline, we call this “gambling for resurrection.” You’re worried you are going to be deposed, and the only way to save yourself is to take a high-risk gamble. Otto von Bismarck in the 19th century called it “committing suicide for fear of death.”

There is a useful analogy with Pearl Harbor. In the late 1930s, Japan had invaded Manchuria and was engaged in a war with China. And the U.S., which was supporting China at the time, imposed an oil embargo on Japan. We squeezed the Japanese government until they realized they only had about a year and a half of resources left. They were desperate to stop the oil embargo. So, they took the gamble of Pearl Harbor and paid for it with a costly war in

Thompson: This is a real dilemma, because the U.S. government doesn’t want to be in the position where we let Ukraine suffer and watch thousands of people die just because we’ve been spooked into thinking that angering Putin could cause another Pearl Harbor. That seems monstrous and inhumane, and yet I fully understand the calculus you’re describing. So, what should President Joe Biden do?

Poast: I think the Biden administration is making the right decision. I think that they need to do more to mobilize forces into Poland, into the Baltic states, to put in place what we would call a trip-wire force to discourage Putin from further invasions. But we’re facing all bad options. The objective is to pick the least-bad option.
How the Crisis in Ukraine May End
posted by y2karl at 6:31 PM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Is it OK to send bottled water

When people talk about "intervening" in a conflict, they mean sending their own soldiers to fight alongside one of the original participants.

When people talk about "no-fly zones" they mean sending fighters to shoot down (in this case) Russian aircraft.

Are you seriously equating ordering US and European soldier to kill Russians with sending bottled water?

If you really want to kill Russians that badly, you can volunteer for one of the International Brigades, and leave the rest of the world to not be incinerated by nuclear strikes.
posted by aramaic at 6:31 PM on February 27 [14 favorites]


Russia Threatens to Deploy Tactical Nuclear Weapons, Voice Of America News, December 14, 2021:
A top Russian diplomat has warned that Moscow will respond “militarily” and deploy tactical nuclear weapons, if NATO does not guarantee an end to its eastward expansion.

His remarks raise the stakes even higher in the confrontation between Russia and Western powers just days after U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin held a two-hour video conference aimed at defusing a burgeoning crisis over Russian military movements near Ukraine's borders, where the Kremlin is estimated to have amassed around 100,000 troops.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov’s threat comes amid rising fears that Putin is considering a further military incursion into Ukraine in a rehash of Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and its seizure of a large part of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, bordering Russia….
Wikipedia > Tactical nuclear weapon.
posted by cenoxo at 6:31 PM on February 27


The EU has found a way to send Ukraine aircraft to operate. By supplying them with contemporary aircraft (presumably from NATO members air forces) it should be possible to also support them with targeting and control from AWACS in close-by NATO that Russia won't violate, or at least international airspace, which is a little dicier (and other sources for air to ground). We're talking about pointing beyond visual range standoff weapons for them. Possibly even based out of NATO territory rather than in Ukraine (again, dicier).

This move is a potentially tremendous game-changer, and is better than a hollow no-fly zone that can't be enforced without risking nuclear escalation.

Link 16 is old already, but will give the basic idea.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:33 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


After reading the article Kabanos linked, I've got a question.
The [Russian] central bank holds a substantial amount of [its] foreign exchange reserves — perhaps $300 billion out of the total — in foreign banks, mostly in the West. If the U.S. and Europe freeze those assets, Russia’s central bank won’t be able to use them to stop the ruble’s slide
What's the upside to Russia in holding its assets in Western countries? It seems like the risk of those assets being frozen is something Russia would be very, very aware of. So what makes it worthwhile to take that risk?
posted by Banknote of the year at 6:34 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


What's the upside to Russia in holding its assets in Western countries?

The upside is you get to transact in markets. The global financial hubs are in London and New York. If a central bank wants to defend its currency, that is where its assets needs to be.

It seems like the risk of those assets being frozen is something Russia would be very, very aware of. So what makes it worthwhile to take that risk?

It seems that they really thought the EU would sit this one out, on account of all the oil and food they send. And until recently, that seemed to be the German preference.
posted by pwnguin at 6:41 PM on February 27 [10 favorites]


some loser > Belarus renounces its non-nuclear status after "referendum" which also grants president immunity from prosecution

Quoting from the article:
The new constitution could see nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country gave them up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

On Sunday, speaking at a polling station, Lukashenko said he could ask Russia to return nuclear weapons to Belarus. "If you (the West) transfer nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, to our borders, then I will turn to Putin to return the nuclear weapons that I gave away without any conditions," Lukashenko said.
posted by cenoxo at 6:53 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Holy moly, the UK may actually be moving against corrupt money and real estate "investments".

[edit: improved link]
posted by aramaic at 6:58 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


The [Russian] central bank holds a substantial amount of [its] foreign exchange reserves — perhaps $300 billion out of the total — in foreign banks, mostly in the West. If the U.S. and Europe freeze those assets, Russia’s central bank won’t be able to use them to stop the ruble’s slide

If there weren't freezing of assets/accounts then a 20% slide of the Ruble against the US dollar would result in a 20% increase in the bank's assets for any money they have in foreign currency.
posted by I paid money to offer this... insight? at 7:00 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


This thread is long enough that when I click preview/edit preview my phone can't tell where I clicked and will post.
posted by I paid money to offer this... insight? at 7:07 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Kamil Galeev:
Why Russia will lose this war?

Much of the "realist" discourse is about accepting Putin's victory, cuz it's *guaranteed*. But how do we know it is?

I'll argue that analysts 1) overrate Russian army 2) underrate Ukrainian one 3) misunderstand Russian strategy & political goals🧵
This is a long and winding thread - but a fascinating one that arrives at the Russian and Ukrainian mythologies that are being destroyed and created before our eyes.
Power is mythological. Russian state security are gods within their own mythological space where they represent the god like state. But what they found that Ukrainians left this mythological space. Thus Russian state security has no power there. They are just mortals.
Unrolled for easier reading.
posted by Kabanos at 7:08 PM on February 27 [12 favorites]


I'm seeing all sorts of people who should know better advocating for no-fly zones and intervening in Ukraine

I, like many, have concerns about the nuclear capacity of Russia and their willingness to use it. But I’m not willing to watch other people die and tell myself that it’s necessary so that Putin doesn’t get angry enough to do it.

I’ve survived one domestic abuser, and that is more than anything what Putin seems like to me. At a certain point there is a moral necessity to intervene and “civilians incinerated by thermobaric weapons” is my line. If that is done then I feel we have a moral necessity to step in.
posted by corb at 7:09 PM on February 27 [34 favorites]


Huh. From cenoxo's link to the Wikipedia page on tactical nuclear weapons:
According to several reports, including by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, as a result of the effectiveness and acceptability of USAF use of precision munitions with little collateral damage in the Kosovo conflict in what amounted to strategic destruction once only possible with nuclear weapons or massive bombing, Vladimir Putin, then-secretary of Security Council of Russia, formulated a concept ("escalate to de-escalate") of using both tactical and strategic nuclear threats and strikes to de-escalate or cause an enemy to disengage from a conventional conflict threatening what Russia considers a strategic interest.[21][22][23] The lowered threshold for use of nuclear weapons by Russia is disputed by other experts.[24][25]
posted by eviemath at 7:10 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]



This thread is long enough that when I click preview/edit preview my phone can't tell where I clicked and will post.


eponysterical
posted by cosmic owl at 7:10 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


I think the impulse to say we shouldn't stand by and watch people get slaughtered is the right impulse, but still we can't forget that we can't follow right impulses in the wrong world. We created this nuclear world and we have to play by its rules now, and those rules don't line up with common sense because the fact of nuclear weapons is in a beyond human understanding. Putin's invasion has put us all on the verge of catastrophe and I'm hoping that in the face of madness, NATO and Biden and the rest of the world take only the most precise, careful and unavoidable steps here. And that might mean, yes, standing by and doing nothing (militarily speaking).
posted by dis_integration at 7:30 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


corb, there are also a wide variety of resistance options beyond direct confrontation of opposing national armies. Supplying Ukraine with arms and logistics assistance is one more direct option that is already happening (mostly by other European countries, which I think is important for avoiding nuclear conflict between Russia and the US; but the US can then provide military aid to those European countries in a chain of support, if needed). There is a real and important distinction between having other countries' troops in Ukraine fighting Russia versus just sending supplies to Ukraine: recall that the US and USSR fought many proxy wars during the decades of the Cold War, and this sort of indirect military confrontation prevented direct military confrontation and thus nuclear war.

Non-Ukrainian countries and individuals can also support Ukraine in a variety of other useful and effective ways, as well. Support (financial, logistical, etc.) for direct resistance to Russian invasion forces outside of the formal military context is one such option: Economic sanctions are another option (that states, more so than individuals, can take). Support for refugees, medical assistance, and support for anti-war protesters within Russia all help.
posted by eviemath at 7:35 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


Chelsea FC has been owned by a Russian oligarch named Roman Abramovich for 18 years. He moved his (world’s largest) private plane from Italy to Russia yesterday, presumably to avoid potential seizure. Some in parliament have suggested the government seize Chelsea from him. Yesterday he published an announcement giving the “stewardship and care” of Chelsea to its charitable foundation. Nobody really seems to know what this means in practicality, as he still owns the club and really hasn’t been in the UK in years anyway because of the UK’s apparent efforts to stop him from living there despite owning a £100+ mansion near Kensington palace. He went and got Israeli and Portuguese citizenships for himself.

Chelsea played in a cup final at Wesley stadium today where Ukrainian flags were in abundance and both captains carried yellow and blue flowers onto the pitch. The club issued a statement saying “The situation in Ukraine is horrific and devastating. Chelsea FC’s thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine. Everyone at the club is praying for peace.” Presumably all of the talk of getting rid of “dirty Russian money” will blow over after a while and the billionaires will be back to their old tricks.
posted by Bunglegirl at 7:36 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


As scary as Putin's apocalyptic innuendos are, everyone in the Russian chain of command knows that the good ol USofA has invested in incredible technology that is able to wipe out all of russia in literally minutes. Hopefully there are rational actors within that chain. There certainly are. Generals that have no interest in ending the world for a country of sunflowers.
posted by sammyo at 7:38 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Hopefully there are rational actors within that chain.
"I want to say, and this is very important: at the end we lucked out. It was luck that prevented nuclear war. We came that close to nuclear war at the end. Rational individuals: Kennedy was rational; Khrushchev was rational; Castro was rational. Rational individuals came that close to total destruction of their societies. And that danger exists today."

--Robert McNamara
posted by Flunkie at 7:49 PM on February 27 [16 favorites]


Hackers bring down Kremlin website and more.
posted by NotLost at 7:54 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


i don't feel like anon hackers DDoSing some Russian government websites is going to be helpful. the primary utility would be to allow Russian officials to make reasonably plausible claims that they are being targeted for direct cyberwar and thus justify some retaliation or escalation.
posted by glonous keming at 8:04 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Addendum to my last comment: Ukraine is asking for volunteers for International Brigades too, though.
posted by eviemath at 8:08 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


I remember corb posting from the 2016 GOP nominating convention and seeing Manafort's work firsthand. Lancing this boil on the world is well past time, and distributing helmets to the Ukrainians wasn't going to cut it.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 8:09 PM on February 27 [12 favorites]


We cannot be afraid of the apocalypse.

In fact, we must. No fight, no cause is worth the total extinction of advanced life on this planet. That's what's at stake here. We can curse the fools who created the balance of terror and the monster exploiting it to wreak hell on Ukraine but we cannot volunteer the population of the planet for permanent obliteration in the pursuit of a temporal good, however compelling that good is.

Fortunately, it's not necessary to do so. No one is suggesting abandoning the fight against Putin or the defense of Ukraine. There are many weapons for that fight and we've only started deploying them. But we must not, and need not, sacrifice existence on this planet in the battle.
posted by multics at 8:12 PM on February 27 [22 favorites]


twitter, with gratifying trend chart: "The Russian Ruble sank to a new all-time low, trading at 117.62 RUB/USD. Since Jan. 1, 2022, the ruble has depreciated by as much as 47.33% against the USD. Conflict in Eastern Europe is fuelling the currency's destruction. At present, I measure Russia’s inflation at 69.4%/yr."

I should add, it's short term gratifying since we also should not wish for a Weimar-type inflationary destabilization in Russia either.
posted by Rumple at 8:13 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


When people talk about "intervening" in a conflict, they mean sending their own soldiers to fight alongside one of the original participants.

I think that's kind of an oversimplification, because I remember just days before the invasion how reluctant European countries were to give even material aide let alone weapons to Ukraine. Remember just a month ago when Germany only offered some helmets to Ukraine?

There was clearly a big shift on what "intervening" meant before and after the invasion happened.
posted by FJT at 8:16 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


^ How does that example show a shift in definition of “intervening” from sending direct soldiers to fight to… something else?
posted by eviemath at 8:19 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


You know, honestly I'm fucking ANGRY enough at being forced back into a state of mental fear I had left behind 30 years ago and want to think, let's just fucking rip off the bandage. Let's call Putin's bluff. Let the entire collective West send in troops to fight to drive him out of Ukraine, like we did Iraq out of Kuwait. Let's make sure absolutely nobody retaliates so only Russia fires a nuke, but let's see if he does it. If he does, his country is basically finished.

I don't want to live with this fear again. Let's just get it over with. Either he's a madman who would press the button, or he's not and we gain everything by fighting against him.
posted by hippybear at 8:24 PM on February 27 [17 favorites]


How does that example show a shift in definition of “intervening” from sending direct soldiers to fight to… something else?

Because pre-invasion, it seemed people thought doing anything more than sanctions was "intervening".

But post-invasion, giving weapons and even military aircraft is now on the table.

So, how much further will goalposts move, if the heaven forbid, the situation further escalates/deteriorates?
posted by FJT at 8:27 PM on February 27


I should add, it's short term gratifying since we also should not wish for a Weimar-type inflationary destabilization in Russia either.

Russian citizens who don't have much say in what Putin does will beat the brunt of this, I don't find this gratifying, but it does appear necessary to go through this route. I don't know how you help Russia into being a modern state, but crushing them and letting them fend for themselves poor & humiliated seems like a recipe for disaster (we all saw how that worked out in the 40s). Especially with the amount of nuclear weapons left in the country.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 8:29 PM on February 27


And I think sometimes definitions like these are intentionally ambiguous. The most famous example is how the US for decades has practiced "strategic ambiguity" on whether it will intervene to defend Taiwan.
posted by FJT at 8:30 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


A point on no-fly zones: Imposing them has historically involved significant bombing of air defenses and warning systems. This would presumably need to include those on Russian soil. And Russian responses in kind. It's not just declaring an area off limits and having civilized dogfights to make a point.
posted by mark k at 8:37 PM on February 27 [14 favorites]


Because pre-invasion, it seemed people thought doing anything more than sanctions was "intervening".

That is explicitly counter to the other comment that you quoted though?
posted by eviemath at 8:38 PM on February 27


I'm afraid of the apocalypse and quite frankly wouldn't want the whole world destroyed on my behalf. Speaking only for myself obviously. And I'm not Ukrainian.
posted by Mavri at 8:40 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


Mod note: Heywood Mogroot III, take some time off. Everyone else, just a heads up, I know tensions are high blah blah, but don't attack your fellow members. Also, we're short-staffed at the moment, so if you've flagged something, it might take a bit of time to be sorted, but we'll get to it, and we'll probably be banning / temp-banning pretty freely for people being shitty. Don't be shitty.
posted by taz (staff) at 9:00 PM on February 27 [25 favorites]


Let's make sure absolutely nobody retaliates so only Russia fires a nuke, but let's see if he does it. If he does, his country is basically finished.

The big problem is that it's not only his country that is basically finished in that scenario, it's every country.
posted by Justinian at 9:15 PM on February 27 [19 favorites]


I just discovered this potentially useful twitter account: @doomscroll_bot. I've honestly had trouble focusing on anything but this war and need to find some balance between staying informed and staying sane. Heading to bed... love to you all.
posted by gwint at 9:17 PM on February 27 [7 favorites]


The big problem is that it's not only his country that is basically finished in that scenario, it's every country.

That's an assumption of total arsenal launch and not just a single or even limited multiple strike. We've had numerous nuclear bombs detonated on this planet, so if he decides to try a first shot and nobody shoots back, it will be horrible but it won't set the atmosphere on fire or anything.
posted by hippybear at 9:17 PM on February 27 [7 favorites]


True, and global warming would be sorted! Anyways, Jesus fucking Christ
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 9:18 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


It seems a widely held opinion that, however tragic the situation will be for Ukraine, in the end this is going to be end extremely badly for Russia, and thus that the decision to invade does not smack of the cruelly rational Putin of old. Hence the question why now? A perhaps far-fetched possibility is that Putin, who has deeply wanted to restore the Russian empire to its former glory, feels that he simply doesn't have much time left to do so, and that a Hail Mary is better than going to the grave having not tried. Could it be that he has cancer or some other illness, and his doctors gave him a timeline? Indeed, internet search finds no end of such rumors being reported in the past few years by news organizations of ill repute: cancer, Parkinson's, spinal injury. I can't give them much credence. Nonetheless it's a bit troubling that Marco Rubio tweeted that "something is off" with Putin and that this morning he re-iterated that:
Let me stress again that we are NOT dealing with 2008 #Putin

It is a grave error to assume he will make the same calculations & decisions today that he would have made in the past

The old Putin was a cold blooded but calculating killer

This new Putin is even more dangerous
I wish somehow that for membership in world affairs -- e.g. UN -- required a government to have an airtight mechanism of preventing a mad king from causing destruction. Hard to see how.
posted by brambleboy at 9:19 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Russia does not deserve this, Ukraine doesn't deserve this. No one in this scenario deserves this. It should be obvious by now that something went dreadfully wrong to go to this length, over the very existence of Ukraine. The blossoming of peace on the borders between the West and the East seemed a new given. The oil and gas business was going to bring a lot of prosperity to Russia. I speculate that the bitcoin market has something to do with this, there must have been some dreadful, unaccounted for losses. Maybe there was a gambit supposed to bring down the West and it failed. Something happened besides, one person, suddenly making these moves. I know a lot of the buildup has gone on for a while, I was even reading about the possible creation of a new Russian Monarchy, I typically read credible news sources, maybe that one was a troll piece.

I have studied Russian History, and endured the cold war as a military brat living on SAC bases, listening to drills, alarms, and I was enjoying watching the smoothing out of things across Europe, I was particularly happy with the formation of the EU. I am glad to see that outfit working together.

Something happened that wrought this, something in particular. It has broken the leader of Russia. He is a broken man with a great deal of power. I hope the news of the world can filter truthfully into Russia, and China, so their people can see what is happening, and figure out how to create the peace, we all need to survive. I would much rather we were all on good terms, and for whatever goes on in the background, we were busy with a pandemic, and it was the Solstice season, and then everything went to hell.

For a while, I thought this was an exercise to see how the EU's defenses would shape up. I thought this was to trace out lines of communication, and gather intelligence about how a ground war would go, should it happen. I thought it was an attempted hack of the defensive systems of the West. I thought they would learn what they needed to and use the info, but now I perceive it as a very broken situation, with an awful end game.

I would negotiate, and I would not try to get Mr. Putin's oldest friends to betray him, I would give a lot of breathing room, and If the whole thing goes up, we did our best. I would like the US to do better, inside it's borders, and stay out of most things, but we don't, but we should.
posted by Oyéah at 9:24 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


I mean, in the course of his presidency, Donald Trump was heard to ask, why he couldn't use Nukes?
posted by Oyéah at 9:25 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


I'm afraid of the apocalypse and quite frankly wouldn't want the whole world destroyed on my behalf

I am, too. I definitely understand this perspective. But I think what this is teaching us is that we need to figure out some way to deal with nuclear powers other than "encourage everyone to get nukes, then no one will ever invade anyone".

The nuclear option has always been understood, post us kind of figuring this stuff out some decades ago, as the last resort. The "total war" option - where if you don't use them, your country is in danger of being overrun and conquered. I don't like that they exist at all, trust me - but there has seemed to be kind of an understanding among nations who have a seat at the nuclear table that they are last-ditch efforts for truly extraordinary circumstances.

Now Putin is essentially threatening to use them for non-desperate scenarios. He's threatening to use them in an aggressive way, as a way to gain more territory. Hinting to Poland and Sweden, "I'll nuke you if you join an organization I don't like", is a threat of a different order of magnitude than previous nuclear threats, which were mostly "I'll nuke you if you nuke me" or "I'll nuke you if you invade my homeland".

This is a threat that we can't give in to, in part, because of how deeply dangerous it can be. Abusers always escalate. If we are committing to do whatever a madman wants because otherwise he will nuke us, then there's literally nowhere that won't take us. He can demand literally anything he wants. I may not know the solution, but I do know this situation is untenable.
posted by corb at 9:37 PM on February 27 [44 favorites]


Poast:...What makes this a very scary scenario—what makes a war between the great powers more likely than it’s been in 80 years—is that Putin might feel at some point like his back is against the wall and he has no other options, so he lashes out in desperation. In our discipline, we call this “gambling for resurrection.” You’re worried you are going to be deposed, and the only way to save yourself is to take a high-risk gamble. Otto von Bismarck in the 19th century called it “committing suicide for fear of death.”

My ex-therapist taught me that in psychology it is called an extinction burst.
posted by polymodus at 9:39 PM on February 27 [11 favorites]


That's an assumption of total arsenal launch and not just a single or even limited multiple strike.
Turgidson: Mr. President, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth, both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing. But it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless distinguishable, post-war environments: one where you got 20 million people killed, and the other where you got 150 million people killed!
Muffley: You're talking about mass murder, General, not war.
Turgidson: Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops! Uh, depending on the breaks.
Muffley: I will not go down in history as the greatest mass murderer since Adolf Hitler.
Turgidson: Perhaps it might be better, Mr. President, if you were more concerned with the American people, than with your image in the history books.
posted by CrystalDave at 9:44 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


That's an assumption of total arsenal launch and not just a single or even limited multiple strike. We've had numerous nuclear bombs detonated on this planet, so if he decides to try a first shot and nobody shoots back, it will be horrible but it won't set the atmosphere on fire or anything.

I honestly don't understand what you're suggesting here. NATO/US is attacking Russia. Putin uses a nuke. NATO/US attacks more, I assume. Why wouldn't Putin use more nukes? In what way would his country be "finished" as soon as he uses one?

Also, sort of beside the point, but are you only thinking of ICBMs?
posted by mark k at 9:51 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


The old "Yes, Prime Minister" bit explained salami tactics pretty well.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:56 PM on February 27 [7 favorites]


As a New Zealand resident I am safer than most people in this thread from nuclear conflagration but FFS knock it off. I appeal to mods who might delete this comment to delete the provocative calls for nuclear exchange as well. I do not want to be exposed to calls for massive destruction which are basically driven by hysteria.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:03 PM on February 27 [84 favorites]


Seconding the sentiment's of joe's spleen. I realize all these concerns and fears are legitimate, but I'm also not seeing anything healthy here, just us winding one another up even further about a situation outside our control.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:06 PM on February 27 [26 favorites]


MAD was mentioned up thread and McNamara.
"" We'll just slip the word to them that, "for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry—and he has his hand on the nuclear button ""

-Nixon

I believe Putin was just added to the Madman theory.

ironic that the Machiavelli qoate, "a very wise thing to simulate madness" is used, example being Brutus. BK 3 chap. 2.
The key is to have a fall back postion and retain power when "folly" goes array. Howd that go.
posted by clavdivs at 10:24 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


> I’ve survived one domestic abuser, and that is more than anything what Putin seems like to me. At a certain point there is a moral necessity to intervene and “civilians incinerated by thermobaric weapons” is my line.

@Kasparov63: "Ukraine's only sin was to try to join the free world of democracy and prosperity. This was unforgivable to Putin. But instead of being embraced and protected by the nations it wished to join, they kept Ukraine at arm's length and did business with its tormentor."

@Kasparov63: "The time for long maneuvering games are over. The only way this really ends is the fall of Putin's regime by collapse of Russian economy and defeat in Ukraine. Everything else is waiting for the next crisis."

@chessninja: "Seeing some 'give Putin a face-saving off-ramp before he goes nuts and nukes us all' crap. 1) We're a long ways from needing to save anything other than Ukraine. 2) Putin can fabricate a pretext to leave just as easily as he fabricated a dozen ridiculous pretexts to attack."
posted by kliuless at 10:32 PM on February 27 [28 favorites]


Corb, I get what you’re saying, but it doesn’t change the fact that regardless of who holds the figurative switch, the literal switch is held by captains and majors in bunkers, air wings and SSBNs. They have protocols, and orders, and ultimately at least some of them will execute those orders. When those ones do? Nobody wants to go first, but it only takes one person willing…most of the rest will follow suit. Part of the reason we don’t risk nuclear war for any reason other than direct existential threat is that there remains a vast infrastructure of semi-automated responses and procedures long untested but extremely likely to spiral out of control. Shit, outside their SSBNs China doesn’t even do the “existential threat” part: they leave most of their warheads unmated and maintain an official policy of no first strike because decades ago they calculated they’ll have enough people left to retaliate.

Ukraine is ultimately a reiteration of the lesson from Iraq and North Korea: sovereignty does not meaningfully exist without nuclear weapons. It hasn’t for some time now.

We should do everything we can that does not put US or EU armed forces in direct contact with Russian soldiers: weapons to defeat Russian armor and air power? Check. Medical aid and emergency supply drops to civilian population centers? Check. AWACS data? Check. Cutting off Russia’s financial arteries and either letting a bizarrely effective Anonymous run wild (or far more likely just using them as a fig leaf for state-level network attacks)? Check, check, and quite possibly check...

We can do all those things, and with enough Javelins and MANPADS it basically comes down to 7 million defenders with small arms vs 150,000 unmotivated, similarly armed attackers with shit logistics and fuel supply. *IF* the Ukrainian defenders hold out long enough for European weapons to reach them and for Russian armor to exhaust their fuel supply, they’ve won. Odds are still very much against them but it’s the only play that doesn’t leave hundreds of millions or even billions dead. Ask any cold, terrified Ukranian partisan clutching an AK-pattern rifle in a chilly basement tonight if they’d rather do the exact same thing with a full thermonuclear exchange in the works and every single one worth your respect will look at you like you’re insane to even ask. Being conquered sucks. Being conquered and the flashpoint for the end of human civilization would suck infinitely worse.

I want to add that I deeply respect you and have loved your contributions to this site for many, many years. You’re one of my favorite people here but I don’t think you’re seeing this issue clearly, and that worries me because I know your level of military knowledge exceeds my own. It can be hard to see a sociopathic bully like Putin in action and think he might get away with it: it is for me. But it’s not worth a substantial portion of the major civilian population centers of the world. It just isn’t.
posted by Ryvar at 10:33 PM on February 27 [13 favorites]


Hey all, thermonuclear weapon usage policy is something about far as outside our circles of control as anything in the solar system is. It brings a lot of feelings for deeply understandable reasons and it's hard to put down. But do you, also, think that might be better for the functioning of the Ukraine conversation?
posted by away for regrooving at 11:00 PM on February 27 [10 favorites]


I'm not seeing any mention of it, so some might want to refresh themselves on the Siege of Grozny in 1999 where the Russians, after "advancing slowly", eventually surrounded the city and flattened it to crush any resistance, no nuclear weapons needed. Anti-tank and anti-air missiles don't help if the enemy is content to sit at a distance and lob missiles and bombs at you for a month.
posted by meowzilla at 11:18 PM on February 27 [7 favorites]


I hope the news of the world can filter truthfully into Russia, and China, so their people can see what is happening, and figure out how to create the peace, we all need to survive

Unfortunately, the general sentiment among mainland Chinese netizens has been pro-Putin. To a shocking degree, especially among the youth (born after 2000). There is some pushback from a dwindling minority - dwindling because we get driven out by the (at times insane) hostility.

I quit MeFi a while ago, and this is the first thread I've followed daily since then. I am replying now only because... the discussion of ~let's settle this once and for all~ going on? It's one major reason why an entire generation of mainland Chinese youth loathe the West, and NATO in particular, to the point where they support Russian invasion of a sovereign nation that has a decent official relationship with China (Ukraine is fairly important for One Belt One Road; China pledged to protect Ukraine from nuclear threats in 2012).

If NATO goes to war with Russia, would China take a perceived last chance and invade Taiwan? Would North Korea attack South Korea? Pakistan and India? Iran? I can't begin to gauge the potential risks in the nightmare scenario. Can anyone here?
posted by fatehunter at 11:40 PM on February 27 [19 favorites]


re: the Siege of Grozny...
@kamilkazani: "Putin was confirmed as the Prime Minister on 16 August 1999. By that point Yeltsin chose him as a successor and Putin controlled intelligence. But he still had to stand on elections - and he was unknown. His rate of approval was between 3-4% because ppl didn't recognise his face. Just two weeks later apartment bombings started. Since September 4, a number of residential houses in Moscow, Volgodonsk, Buinaksk were blown up. More than 300 people died, 1700 were wounded. Putin accused Chechen terrorists in these attacks and invaded the separatist region. He won. In the course of the war he built his image as a tough victorious military leader. And Russian public opinion likes victorious military leaders. By the end of the year with the Chechen resistance largely crushed, he became very electable. That's how he became a President... It all sounded shady. But the military planes were already raising Grozny to the ground. Successful invasion that followed changed the electoral balance completely. In August 1999 2% voters would vote for Putin, in 2000 - 53% did. Russian people love victorious wars."
posted by kliuless at 11:42 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


I guess what I'm trying to say is that the initial Russian strategy may have been to capture Ukraine intact, but a pile of rubble will also work as "mission accomplished".
posted by meowzilla at 11:45 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


putin wagged the wrong dog.
posted by kliuless at 11:56 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


I can't begin to gauge the potential risks in the nightmare scenario. Can anyone here?

This business will get out of control...
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:33 AM on February 28


My understanding is that analysts in Russia and the US expected the Ukrainians to be divided and given their history only be able to muster a short token resistance to overwhelming force from Russia. The US saw the invasion as likely — unlike Ukraine and many EU /NATO countries; and that Russia would go for all of Ukraine; but where they got it wrong was the level of Ukrainian resistance, particularly in the more ethnically Russian areas.

The Americans intel folks are very happy they were wrong, This is the dream scenario for them. If Ukraine manages to keep this up: they will write revisionist histories where this was their plan all along.

It is a bit depressing really to think that another generation of international policy students will get all the wrong lessons and it will probably blow up in their faces. In my generation it was the end of the Cold War and the Afghanistan trap we set for those Soviets and Reagan’s military spending. We graduated and boom 9-11 was a total surprise — everything we were taught was a lie. So we fucked it all up.
posted by interogative mood at 12:35 AM on February 28 [9 favorites]


We really need to start a new thread. That is all.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:54 AM on February 28 [14 favorites]


via Scott Stedman's twitter:

-City of Berdansk apparently seized by invasion forces; police disbanded and transit stopped. (from @michaelh992, longer thread on overall situation here)

-Russian MoD is claiming air superiority, and putting out announcements instructing civilians to evacuate Kiev via a specific route.

-Ukrainian delegation arrives at border for peace talks via Polish helicopter escort (from @ragipsolyu).

Negotiations are set to begin right about now.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:05 AM on February 28


(Kyiv, that is.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:14 AM on February 28




How the Crisis in Ukraine May End
This article was linked way up, and I'm not reposting it because I find it good, but because I find it indicative of what is happening in this thread. The authors are having a chat about what Putin might do and what Biden should do. But that is not what this is about. I'll give them that it seems like Putin has a Stalin-like control by fear of his government, but if we are to see an end to this, other Russian leaders need to intervene.
Biden, however, is not at all relevant. This situation is being managed by European leaders and IMO they are doing a good job, given the circumstances. This is new, I'll admit that. But it didn't begin yesterday, it began with the election of Donald Trump. Since then, European leaders have learnt that they cannot lean on the US for their own safety and they have slowly adapted. And then rapidly in the last few weeks.
And there is one thing about the EU that is confusing, I know, and that is that it is a collective government with several parallel decision-making fora. Van der Leyen is certainly powerful, but only as powerful as the national governments let her be. Scholz and Macron are first among their peers, but those peers won't let them be kings.
I can understand how that may seem scary to US-observers, specially because I can see the US media are doing a very bad job these days, linked article as a specially bad specimen. But while I am very scared, I do feel our leaders are stepping up to the occasion.

And in that spirit: please stop the nuclear war stuff. If it goes that way, it's far more likely that I will be hit by a bomb than you will.
posted by mumimor at 2:37 AM on February 28 [55 favorites]


I'd like to give a quick update on the refugee situation in Hungary. I won't be able to link to many sources, as most of it is going on in Hungarian facebook groups.

The one English article I found is from AFP: Helpful Hungarians rush to aid of fleeing Ukrainians

  • At least 70.000 refugees arrived from Ukraine since Thursday.

  • Sberbank's Hungarian branch requested a 2 day bank holiday in order to avoid a bank run. The Hungarian Central Bank granted the request. Customers can use their cards but cannot execute other transactions. (article in Hungarian)

  • The facebook group "Help for Ukraine" currently has 95 k members. For reference, this is 1/10th of Hungary's population.

  • The current right-wing government is trying to backpedal on their previous courtship of Putin, but in a way that won't upset Putin. Although, they opened the borders, there is almost zero government help for refugees. According to reports, the second largest border checkpoint has the usual border patrol + 4 policeman on the Hungarian side. All help is provided by volunteers, NGOs and different religious relief organisations.

  • The reason for the less than enthusiastic condemnation of Putin is the number of pending Russian-Hungarian infrastructure projects still pending - where the kleptocrats expected huge windfall. The most prominent is the extension of the Paks nuclear power plant: overpriced, probably using inferior technology, with a huge Russian loan, we'd be supposed to pay for two generations. The greatest champion for this is our own government (and their oligarchs)...

  • As you may well know, Orban's regime spent the last 6 years demonizing refugees. They systematically dismantled the governmental organizations that were dedicated to refugee relief in the past, changed laws to make asylum applications practically impossible and wage a war on civil society who wanted to help. It is telling that in order to let the Ukrainian refugees in, they had to use emergency powers they granted themselves for Covid in order to avoid changing the previous laws. The anti-refugee laws are still on the books, they just created an exception.

  • The popular support for the refugees must've surprised them, but they do their best to claim the help people get at the border as their own.

  • In addition to the above (trying to pass other's work as their own) the government media is only showing romani people fleeing, trying to wake up the sad racist tendencies in the majority of Hungarian society.

  • Speaking of racism: it is not whataboutism to point out the disgusting racism the Polish and Ukrainian and Hungarian border guards show (these are the ones I know about). In Poland the guards don't let through Nigerian students fleeing Kiyv. On the Hungarian - Ukrainian border the Ukrainians push every non-white refugee to the end of lines all the time. In Hungary policeman resolve conflicts around buses and trains by throwing off brown people from there. POC are right to point out the hypocrisy, don't accuse them with whataboutism! (not mefi per se, just shouting in general)

  • Due to the above we are in an impossible situation: so many people want to help, but cannot do it effectively. There is no organization between the different relief orgs and the government. People are buying supplies to help only to be turned away because location X is physically full while no one knows about location Y where 30 families are freezing and hungry. As an example, I spent the whole weekend trying to help with rides and food. But I almost couldn't - the supplies I dropped off on Friday won't be transported this week due to lack of organization. The second round of baby supplies we bought turned out to be arriving late: so many people arrived there before us that we were asked not to leave anything there as they were full. I also worry that the initial enthusiasm will fade soon + people will run out of resources. We had 8% inflation in January alone!

  • Another example of the mismatch of the popular support and the lack of relief resources: one organization told me that they received 1200 volunteer applications on February 24th alone and they have no capacity to process the applications and direct volunteers where they are needed.


  • Sorry for the braindump, I'm tired and frustrated and cannot express myself as well as I want. I'll try to post more information when possible and ask fellow Mefites for the same from Poland, Romania if possible.


    On preview: as mumimor sad. Can we please drop the offhand discussion of the political/game-theoretic tradeoffs of small tactical nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe? There are people living here you know.
    posted by kmt at 3:06 AM on February 28 [56 favorites]


    The Polish Border Guard hq clamped down on incidents with non-Ukrainian refugees and now everyone is being let through, but there were enough people turned away in the first two days (unsure if by Polish or Ukrainian border guards) that the South African ambassador drove over to the border crossings in person to intervene.

    I've seen Twitter and Facebook posts directing people to smaller border crossings that are only manned from the Polish side because the holdups and queues seem to be mostly on the Ukrainian one (systems down, trouble clearing people's papers etc) - Polish guards have been able to reinforce on this side and suspend a lot of procedures. I suspect it's also a factor that international students are the only able bodied men getting out right now, so between that and prejudices they're getting deprioritised for aid.
    posted by I claim sanctuary at 3:50 AM on February 28 [4 favorites]


    Russian people love victorious wars.

    May they hate the prospect of losing a war (that no one can win) enough to somehow stop Putin from igniting one.
    posted by cenoxo at 3:58 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]




    And in case you know anyone fleeing Ukraine right now, the recommended Polish-manned-only border crossings are Dołhobyczów-Uhriniv (with a reception point for refugees in Dołhobyczów) and Budomierz-Hrushiv (reception point in Krowica Sama some 6 km away). As of 7AM today the waiting times for pedestrians there were under 2 hours, as opposed to 70+ for cars on main crossings in Medyka and Korczowa, plus 700+ pedestrians waiting for processing in Medyka. Over 100K people came over yesterday into Poland alone...
    posted by I claim sanctuary at 4:23 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


    kmt: The facebook group "Help for Ukraine" currently has 95 k members. For reference, this is 1/10th of Hungary's population.

    According to Google, Hungary has a population of 9.75 million.
    posted by syzygy at 4:32 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


    syzygy - oh damn, you are right. I shouldn't post when tired.. Mods, perhaps can you please modify it to ~1%? An order of magnitude less impressive, but still. Apologies.
    posted by kmt at 4:38 AM on February 28 [5 favorites]


    My friend, you have a lot on your plate right now. Thank you for all your efforts to help the new refugees in your country. What’s a slip of numbers between friends?
    posted by Bella Donna at 4:52 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


    Speaking of racism: it is not whataboutism to point out the disgusting racism the Polish and Ukrainian and Hungarian border guards show (these are the ones I know about). In Poland the guards don't let through Nigerian students fleeing Kiyv. On the Hungarian - Ukrainian border the Ukrainians push every non-white refugee to the end of lines all the time.

    Thank you kmt for acknowledging this. I'm a brown-skinned person living in Canada, a country where I am rarely be recognized to be a citizen by any of the settler, immigrant or refugee communities arriving and living here. I know it's worse for my mom who is actually dark-skinned compared to me.

    When coronavirus broke out, US citizens were harrassing the distant relatives she has living down there. It's not stuff that would ever make the news, because it's simply not important to people to whom it's not happening. It's what most Westerners assume are irrelevant details for the majority of the species, so we track this violence ourselves. It was similar during that truckers protest, whose most vocal members overtly missed the racially pure Canada of pre-1970. We waited for it to be over before going outside into those areas that had been protestor-occupied because we already know better.

    People who live trapped in their skin color know the repurcussions are coming. I am having sleepless nights crying for Ukraine, let's be clear, much like I did for Syria a decade ago. It doesn't change the fact of racism and that much more is coming. I haven't slept well since this started. I think I will check with the Coordinator for the local Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women's Program up here in the "Great White North" this week to see if our indigenous communities understand they should be on high alert. Domestically speaking, the violence is coming. The blame is coming. It doesn't matter if we're African, Indian or Native humans, we're just not as pretty to look at when we're wretched as white-skinned humans are. I talk to my mom almost everyday because we are on high alert. We know the violence is coming. Domestic scapegoats will be needed to absorb the blame for the failures happening in Old World countries with White Christian populations, just as it has always been the privilege for white-skinned Settler populations to freely express and utilize since Canada first began accepting waves of migrants from this European part of world in the 1870s. I do really admire President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. I hope one day I can feel reason to admire my fellow Canadians as much. I wish for peace in Ukraine because it is the right thing to do and also because we don't need North American racial violence to get any worse.

    What this means is that taking effective action against Putin’s greatest vulnerability will require facing up to and overcoming the West’s own corruption.

    Yes, such as that which has generated mass graves of unidentified children in North American soils over the past 150 years.
    posted by human ecologist at 5:52 AM on February 28 [15 favorites]


    NEW THREAD ----> CLICK HERE!!!
    posted by Pendragon at 6:54 AM on February 28


    Someone needs to do the milk and cookies thing or else people just aren’t going to understand this “new thread” business.
    posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:47 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]




    Overall, I give this thread...

    🍪🍪🍪🍪 🥛

    Good discussion all. Thank you for keeping us all informed particularly when it's difficult to filter MSM in a conflict like this. Take care
    posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:34 AM on February 28 [5 favorites]


    Mr. Cortexchev, close down this thread!
    posted by y2karl at 6:45 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


    (bangs shoe on podium)
    posted by clavdivs at 7:04 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


    I see what you both did, there. We're old, huh?
    posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:06 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


    Relieved not to have the shoe thrown, at least.
    posted by cortex at 7:17 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


    We shall see who's thread buries who.
    posted by pwnguin at 10:16 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


    We're old, huh?

    Old enough to understand that we don’t want to sell Putin any rope or shovels.
    posted by cenoxo at 3:10 PM on March 8


    « Older Revisited Gluttony   |   Why Are Finland's Schools Successful? Newer »


    This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments