I Give My Little Stars to Children
March 9, 2022 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Russia's Invasion of Ukraine is entering its second week: what Happened on Day 13 of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine. [NYT] Conditions are worsening in Ukraine as Russia's invasion nears the end of its second week, with the shelling of Kharkiv [Al Jazeera -- warning, graphic], the capture of Kherson [NBC], where food is now running low, and the encirclement of Mariupol [AP]. International tensions are increasing amidst the impact of sanctions and Russia's efforts to draw 'red lines' for further escalation in response, including by nuclear saber rattling. Amidst halting peace talks, Zelenskyy seems to be backing off the importance of Ukraine joining NATO -- a key Russian demand for any de-escalation. The US CIA director warns that "the next few weeks of fighting in Ukraine will be "ugly" as the Kremlin loosens the rules of engagement for Russian forces to resume stalled advances or compel the surrender of resisting cities. Reuters: in his most recent comments, China's Xi Jinping has called for "maximum restraint." NPR: More than 2 million people have now fled Ukraine, 12 days after Russia invaded.

In Odesa, a port and shipbuilding city of strategic importance and with deep historical resonance for Ukrainians, Russians and Europe in general, the populace is preparing to resist occupation as Russia presses to take control of Ukraine's coast. [NYT] ] Al Jazeera: The Battle for Odesa. Reuters: "'Don’t Worry, Be Happy': Behind sandbags, Odessa waits to see if it's next" PBS News Hour, March 7: "Ukrainians fight to hold the port city of Odessa as exodus out of the country persists."

Humanitarian attempts to resupply or establish corridors to evacuate besieged cities have come under attack or been mined. They have also been criticized for offering exit into Russian territory only. However, as of this morning a renewed cease-fire and attempt to institute more acceptable evacuation corridors is being reported by CNN.


Meanwhile, US lawmakers have reached a deal on a $13.6B Ukrainian aid package. [AP] and the Biden administration has announced a ban on Russian oil under pressure by congress [Politico] after previously lobbying against it [Axios] and while warning of continued price shocks. NYT analysis. CNN: Biden turns to countries he once sought to avoid to find help shutting off Russia's oil money.

In response, Fitch has Downgraded Russia's Rating to C, saying "Soverign Default is 'Imminent.'"


While DW News continues to report on the apparent stalling of the invasion, asking "Has Russia run out of manpower?, Politico reports that " US intelligence representives are cautioning that "Putin is angry" and may "double down."


Though Russian invasion forces are entrenching, resupplying and preparing for the next phase of their operations, members of Belarus' armed forces have reportedly refused to participate in a bottom-up fashion, allegedly prompting the resignation of Belarus' Chief of Staff (though this possibly should be considered unverified as major outlets have not reported it). Russia has also reportedly lost an unusual number of senior leaders, suggesting that problems with communications and coordination are pushing them closer to active fighting than is normal.

NPR reports that more than 2 million people have now fled Ukraine, 12 days after Russia invaded. Time reports that some have faced racism at European borders. (from Time on March 1). UNHCR operational data portal: Ukraine situation.


In a tale reminiscent of a WWII memoir, one eleven year old boy "traveled hundreds of miles alone to Slovakia, with only a passport and a plastic bag." In Estonia, "an ad hoc army of volunteers assembles to help Ukrainian refugees." [NPR] Border problems and visa policy at Calais have stymied Britons' efforts to take in refugees, including their own family members. [BBC] Poland continues to take in refugees, with policies notable in part for being markedly different than previous refugee crises (and from previous attitudes towards Ukraine from shared history). Similar developments have been seen in Hungary [Al Jazeera], with Orban starting to back away from his Russian ties[FT] as elections approach in April [NYT], including accepting the reinforcement of Hungary's eastern border by NATO troops [Al Jazeera]. With northern routes becoming more difficult and Russia pressing west along the Black Sea coast, Romania is also seeing more of an influx. "Single mothers, speeding cars: Ukrainian refugees flee west to Romania." [DW]

There are continuing reports of dissent and protests from within Russia [Mother Jones], with thousands detained [Reuters]; as well as less political commentary on the impact of actions from Russian vloggers. Mixed reactions are seen in street interviews such as these with college students (already a few days old). Ukraine has also released recordings of calls to its 'hotline' for Russians seeking information about deployed family members (from yesterday).

However, there are also reports of an increasingly nationalist adoption of the invasion's cause including popularization of the 'Z' symbol, as unpacked in this long Twitter thread from Kamil Galeev (@kamilkazani): "Many Russians are putting "Z" on their cars - that's totally voluntary and to my best knowledge nobody's forcing them." What is unclear is to what extent that kind of nationalist outpouring is maintained purely by disinformation both at home and within the armed forces -- as was dramatized by this remarkable news conference with captured paramilitaries and soldiers.

The last week saw SkyNews reporters come under heavy targeted fire from snipers reported to be members of Russian 'sabotage teams.' (CW). A battle for control of the Zaporizhzia nuclear plant that was streamed live on webcam resulted in building fires that were ultimately contained without any release of radiation. The plant was being seized by Russian forces in violation of international norms and potentially in a war crime, depending upon interpretation; either way a reckless and unprecedented action.

While confusion and diplomatic tensions continue around proposals to supply Ukraine with familiar MiG-29s previously retrofitted by Poland for NATO interoperability, Russia continues to lose its most advanced fighter jets and other aircraft over Ukraine and Biden has sent additional Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries to Poland.

Similar tensions exist around the formation of Ukraine's International Legion, with different nations having different standards for the participation of their citizens in foreign wars and opinions of the potential for escalation by capture or killing of foreign nationals by Russian forces and vice-versa. History with Hilbert: What is the Ukrainian Foreign Legion? CBS: American Fighting for Ukraine. Newshub: Over 500 Kiwis volunteer despite government warning; Reuters: around 70 men from Japan volunteer to fight. Time: "Meet the Foreign Volunteers Risking Their Lives to Defend Ukraine—and Europe."


The War on the Rocks podcast reviews the underperformance of Russian forces in the invasion of Ukraine thus far and wars against drawing too many conclusions about Russia's ultimate capabilities once consolidated: 11 DAYS IN: RUSSIA’S INVASION STUMBLES FORWARD.

Two recent War Nerd Radio podcast episodes on Ukraine:
EP 319 — Escape From Kiev: Interview With an American-Ukrainian Refugee
EP 320 — Ukraine-Russia War: Sanctions & Economic Warfare, with Ben Aris.

Potential looming ecocnomic spillover problems include disruption to food supplies due to the conflict -- Ukraine and Russia and Belarus are major suppliers of various feedstocks and fertilizers; as well as other industrial materials, such as noble gases needed for electronic production. A Time special on sunflower oil and snack food prices. From Feb. 22, derivative trading expert Patrick Boyle on the Economic Effects of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine, and more recently discussing oil embargo.

There is also the potential for conflict induced energy crises to derail the response to climate change, yielding different analyses and conclusions from different stakeholders. NYT, March 2: "Ukraine War and U.S. Politics Complicate Climate Change Fight," and yesterday, "Climate Hawks Join the Debate on Ukraine." Columbia Climate School: "The Impact of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine on Climate Change Policy." The Conversation: "How the war in Ukraine will shape Canada’s energy policy — and climate change." Carnegie Europe: "Russia’s Ukraine Invasion and Climate Change Go Hand in Hand." Yale Climate Connections collects many additional links on the "nexus" of climate change and the invasion of Ukraine.

It has been widely noted in response to Russia's claims that their war aim is to 'denazify' Ukraine that Zelenskyy is Jewish, with relatives in Israel (like many Russian and Ukrainian Jews) -- what has been less widely remarked on is that Russia's sitting Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin is also Jewish. " A career bureaucrat with no political aims" just recently hand-picked and hastily installed by Putin [PBS], P.M. Mishustin would theoretically be instrumental in any attempt to remove Putin from power within the rule of law by presiding over the procedure for initiating impeachment in the Duma (Russia's parliament).


Some other potentially informative vlog updates:
Caspian Report (March 8) -- Russia's War in Ukraine is not going to plan

Adam Something (March 7) -- Can Ukraine Actually WIN This?

Second Thought (March 5) -- What is Putin Thinking?

Wendover Productions (March 5) -- The Failed Logistics of Russia's Invasion

Military Aviation History Channel (Mar 3) - Reasons for Failure? Russian Air Force in Ukraine - background, capabilities and expert interviews

History with Hilbert (March 2) - What Happened to the Old Ukrainian Flag?

Older but very good: The Putin Files - Interview with Masha Gessen on Putin in 2017 (PBS Frontline)

On war and post-war plans -- historical parallels and precedents:

A leaked RIA Novosti propaganda article intended to be published after occupation, was followed by a report on or around March 5 from Kyiv Independent that "The Security Service arrested people alleged of being Russian proxies tasked with organizing the so-called “Federal Republic of Ukraine.” According to the SBU, the supposed “republic” would have included Ivano-Frankivsk, Zakarpattia, Lviv, Ternopil, and Chernivtsi."

A blog post and map further illustrates of the Russian nationalist view (as found by claswsoon).

To help understand this in its historical context, Wikipedia articles on the Russian occupation of Eastern Galicia, 1914–1915, and then after WWI the Polish-Ukrainian War and West Ukrainian People's Republic, 1918-1919. Interestingly, captured war plans suggest an initial fifteen day invasion timetable (the same amount of time Russia took to reach Lviv in 1914).

I will add a few more background and article links in the follow-up comment below.

Finally, on a personal note, a reminder of one of the most important and poignant comments ever made on MeFi -- by Dee Xtrovert in 2009, regarding life in besieged Sarajevo.

The thread's title is taken from the art of Maria Prymachenko, some of whose works have been destroyed by invasion forces and which have been adopted as symbols of peace and humanity in wartime.


Additional links from the close of the previous thread:

Busy Old Fool: A response to disappointing reactions by Western anarchists from "The editor of Freedom, the London-based anarchist journal which dates back to 1886" who is "from Poland and has a less-than-polite messagefor her comrades on the left who are relativising the war."

kliuless:
@KofmanMichael: "This conflict has some similarities to the 1939-1940 Winter war. So do early impressions about the state of the Russian military. After 2014 I spent years cautioning the Russian military was not 12ft tall. The future will be spent explaining how they're not 4ft tall either."

Lessons of the Winter War: A Study in the Military Effectiveness of the Red Army, 1939-1940 - "Anti-Soviet sentiment became more & more vocal abroad [&] rising international sympathy for the Finns. As the war dragged on, foreign aid for Finland increased steadily, with military weaponry [&] volunteers from Europe and the US arriving weekly in 1940"

@kamilkazani: "Let's discuss Russian economy. Many underestimate its dependency upon technological import. Russia's so deeply integrated into Western technological chains that severing these ties will lead to its collapse. Sanctions are already effective and can be made even more efficient🧵"*


kmt: Related and chilling to the bone: while shooting the "Putin Interviews", Oliver Stone watched Dr. Strangelove with Putin, yt who hadn't seen that before. I couln't bear myself to watch this video, just verified, that indeed they are sitting together in front of the movie.

TheophileEscargot: Bret Deveraux of ACOUP had an interesting Twitter thread where he says we might have to prepare ourselves for a "messy peace".

adamvasco: From Bill Roggio , Editor Long War Journal
A look at the military situation in eastern and central Ukraine, & around the capital of Kiev. This will use several maps, from @nytimes & @BCC. The strategic situation for Ukrainian force in Kiev & to the east is not good. (Twitter thread)


Silvery Fish: Kyiv International reports ⚡️International Atomic Energy Agency loses contact with safeguards monitoring systems at Chornobyl. Systems that monitor nuclear material at the radioactive waste facilities at Chornobyl, taken over by Russian forces, have stopped transmitting data, the IAEA said on March 8.


For ongoing live updates from Guardian:
Russia’s war in Ukraine: complete guide in maps, video and pictures

To help follow events as they unfold, Russia-Ukraine Monitor Map (a crowdsourced effort by Centre for Information Resilience).

Слава Україні.
posted by snuffleupagus (1040 comments total) 149 users marked this as a favorite
 
Link to Previous Thread ("I Give You, Kyiv, These Polissia Flowers and This Bright Sun"), ") and prior ("The Bear and the Sunflowers" ).

Additional background on Galicia, and further discussion in a "History of Names: A Case of Constructing National Historical Memory in Galicia, 1830-1930s" by Yaroslav Hrytsak. More for those with journal access: "Historical Memory and Regional Identity among Galicia’s Ukrainians" from Galicia, a Multicultured Land also by Yaroslav Hrytsak; and "How We Built the Road": The Politics of Memory in Rural Galicia" by S.R. Roseman [American Ethnologist Vol. 23, No. 4 (Nov., 1996), pp. 836-860. Regarding the political uses of the history of Nazi-aligned forces identified with Galicia, "The Shaping of “Historical Truth”: Construction and Reconstruction of the Memory and Narrative of the Waffen SS “Galicia” Division" by O. Khromeychuk.

Additional background on the emergence of the Kievan Rus in the 9th to mid-13th century and the Partitions of Poland beginning in 1772 and continuing for 123 years.

And as a footnote, with regard to politicization of of history, ethnicity, lineage and religion in the region's past -- less discussed for want of good sources (except for anti-semitic purposes such as in the Protocol of the Elders of Zion) is that the rise of the Rus displaced the nominally Jewish Khazar empire which had exerted some control over the region for hundreds of years, included a trading post at or near today's Kyiv. Ultimately its remnant was wiped out by the Golden Horde, with the last attested Khazar ruler being Georgius Tzul in 1016.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:54 AM on March 9 [15 favorites]


Two nights ago someone rolled up in a pickup truck and using a massive projector shined a huge blue & yellow light across the front of the Russian Embassy in Lisbon. Just a masterful troll.
posted by chavenet at 10:11 AM on March 9 [20 favorites]


Mod note: Unlucky timing with simultaneous posts; I'm gonna keep this one for being more comprehensive but here's a link to the other one as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:14 AM on March 9 [21 favorites]


Potentially interesting development, reported in this tweet from Paul Sonne based on a TASS article:
Kremlin says Putin ordered conscripts to be excluded from Ukraine operations and is now asking military prosecutors to find and punish those who allowed conscripts to go to Ukraine.

https://tass.ru/politika/14013917

Someone's worried about domestic unrest. Especially worried if the mothers of soldiers start an outcry.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 10:17 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]


“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” – Lenin
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 10:20 AM on March 9 [46 favorites]


Kremlin says Putin ordered conscripts to be excluded from Ukraine operations and is now asking military prosecutors to find and punish those who allowed conscripts to go to Ukraine.

If Putin was genuinely unaware and not just saving face, this development reminds me of a comment noted by Heather Cox Richardson and linked in the previous thread:
Andrei Kozyrev, Russia’s foreign minister from 1990 to 1996, tweeted: “The Kremlin spent the last 20 years trying to modernize its military. Much of that budget was stolen and spent on mega-yachts in Cyprus. But as a military advisor you cannot report that to the President. So they reported lies to him instead. Potemkin military"
Of course, Putin was instrumental in establishing that system so he's at fault regardless.
posted by Gelatin at 10:23 AM on March 9 [36 favorites]


is now asking military prosecutors to find and punish those who allowed conscripts to go to Ukraine

If only the Tsar knew...
posted by tigrrrlily at 10:27 AM on March 9 [19 favorites]


If Putin was genuinely unaware and not just saving face, this development reminds me of a comment noted by Heather Cox Richardson and linked in the previous thread:

This is the problem with the oligarchs as middlemen. It'd be much less painful for Russia to pay the oligarchs directly to just go away and fuck off out of the system. They burn 10 rubles on useless economic activity for every one they manage to steal.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:27 AM on March 9 [5 favorites]


Continuing a discussion which started in the simultaneous post, when companies pull out of Russia and lay off local Russian staff, are they taking the opportunity to pierce the information bubble?

I'd like to think each layoff notice was accompanied by a detailed reporting of what's actually going on in Ukraine, how the atrocities committed by the Russian army make it immoral to continue doing business in Russia and how there wouldn't have been any layoffs if Putin hadn't gone to war.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 10:28 AM on March 9 [23 favorites]


Snuffleupagus, this is an excellent sum-up and continuation of the thread. Thanks for doing it!
posted by storybored at 10:35 AM on March 9 [25 favorites]


Reposting my divestment comment from the deleted thread:

Since it's public news, I can report that my huge (35,000 person) company, S&P Global, has decided to suspend all operations in Russia. This is a huge deal because we provide business intelligence for financial (you know, the S&P 500 ...), energy, and other markets. I have mixed feelings - on the one hand, it's the right thing to do solidarity-wise. On the other hand, it means the Russia-based employees get laid off and they aren't the ones who invaded Ukraine.

I am pretty proud of the leadership stance.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:44 AM on March 9 [39 favorites]


Seriously, a moment to acknowledge the work put in here by Snuffleupagus. Let's keep this thread worthy of it.
posted by Acey at 10:44 AM on March 9 [70 favorites]


WTI is coming back down. It's back under $110. I think the speculators have realized they fucked up when they were expecting a '70s style oil crisis.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:56 AM on March 9 [5 favorites]


Seems like energy trades are experiencing GME/AMC-style seesawing as retail tries to get in on it (with necessarily stale information compared to huge financial firms and funds, a disparity which must be at its height in this sector and in these conditions).
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:03 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]


In 1905 the Russian army slaughtered over 1000 civilians in Odessa to try to quell the growing revolution. The massacre was immortalized in Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 film The Battleship Potemkin, specifically in the Odessa Steps sequence (caution: intensely disturbing), which is widely recognized as one of the most significant and moving scenes ever to be put on film.

As the city of Odessa becomes increasingly at risk, I can't help but wonder if the Russians advancing remember this film, if they remember the events it was based on, if the cultural echoes of the events and the film might have been widespread enough to get them to realize exactly what it is they're doing, and what they've become.
posted by MrVisible at 11:11 AM on March 9 [33 favorites]


My father's family is from that Galicia. No doubt named for the Celts on their way to sack Delphi. And, man, there are so many Galicias and Galatias across the north shores of the Mediterranean from Spain to Turkey. Those dudes got around.

Seriously, a moment to acknowledge the work put in here by Snuffleupagus.

Second that.
posted by y2karl at 11:18 AM on March 9 [8 favorites]


I saw this photo yesterday of a huge crowd of people trying to evacuate via Kharkiv railway station. I can't quite put my finger on why it's so much more impactful in black and white than the original colour version. Maybe it is just the clear parallel with photos of WW2 Europe and how my brain processes those, and yet was taken this week. Sends a literal shudder down my spine every time I see it.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 11:27 AM on March 9 [21 favorites]


Seriously, a moment to acknowledge the work put in here by Snuffleupagus. Let's keep this thread worthy of it.

it's like a kliuless post and a sonascope comment had a baby
posted by freecellwizard at 11:28 AM on March 9 [36 favorites]


Anthony Bourdain on Putin and oddly precinct, Trump.
posted by geoff. at 11:35 AM on March 9 [14 favorites]


Finland reports GPS disturbances in aircrafts flying over Russia’s Kaliningrad: The interference began soon after a meeting between presidents Sauli Niinistö and Joe Biden
posted by bleary at 11:37 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]






The latest Ezra Klein podcast with Fiona Hill is also a great listen. She is so sharp and so poingant, and avoids falling for Ezra's framing for predictions.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 11:44 AM on March 9 [5 favorites]


@kyivindependent
⚡️Russia claims it will stop the war immediately if Ukraine agrees to:

- cease military action
- change constitution to enshrine neutrality
- recognize Crimea as Russian territory
- recognize the Russian-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states
This should sound familiar to people who followed the Meuller investigation, in broad strokes this is the same plan that Manafort and Kilimnik cooked up for Putin.

Manafort Worked With Russian-Ukrainian On Peace Plan Before -- And Long After -- Criminal Charges
On January 15, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office suggested in a court filing that the two men spoke a lot, before and long after Manafort was criminally charged, and specifically about an initiative to bring peace to Ukraine that was likely very favorable to the Kremlin.

-
Kilimnik's plan -- which he claimed at the time Manafort was not involved with -- recommended bringing disgraced former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych back from exile in Russia to the country that overthrew him in a deadly revolution to be the head of the war-torn eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
So the new plan has less Yanukovic, which is better? I dunno, plenty of Putin stooges can be a Yanukovic. Regardless, this is the plan Putin wanted Manafort to give to Trump. But Manafort lost his job and was criminally charged and convicted.

There are many criticisms of the Mueller probe for being ineffectual, though it seems that in this instance that if Manafort and Kilimnik's plan continued unimpeded, Putin's current wish-list of concessions could have been White House policy.

Without the scrutiny and public pressure generated by the investigation, there would be no war today. Trump would have given Putin everything he wanted.
posted by adept256 at 11:47 AM on March 9 [45 favorites]


Russia now (kinda) admitting conscripts were sent in.

JPost: Russia admits conscripts taking part in Ukraine invasion
Russia's defense ministry acknowledged on Wednesday that some conscripts were taking part in the conflict with Ukraine after multiple denials by President Vladimir Putin, who said only professional soldiers and officers had been sent in.

The ministry said that some of them, serving in supply units, had been taken prisoner by the Ukrainian army.

"Unfortunately, we have discovered several facts of the presence of conscripts in units taking part in the special military operation in Ukraine. Practically all such soldiers have been pulled out to R
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:48 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


Adept256, I disagree because it very well could be that Trump gave him everything he wanted and then Putin still rolled into Ukraine to take the rest because he knew Trump wouldn't stop him.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 11:49 AM on March 9 [21 favorites]


And as a footnote, with regard to politicization of of history, ethnicity, lineage and religion in the region's past -- less discussed for want of good sources (except for anti-semitic purposes such as in the Protocol of the Elders of Zion) is that the rise of the Rus displaced the nominally Jewish Khazar empire which had exerted some control over the region for hundreds of years, included a trading post at or near today's Kyiv. Ultimately its remnant was wiped out by the Golden Horde, with the last attested Khazar ruler being Georgius Tzul in 1016.

By converting to Judaism, the Khazar royals gave their Christian and Muslim neighbors a plausible pretext for maintaining peace with a Jewish neutral buffer kingdom. And unlike Islam or Christianity, Judaism did not oblige the kings to convert their subjects forcibly, and so the Khazar kingdom was able to stay pluralist.
posted by ocschwar at 11:50 AM on March 9 [12 favorites]


Anthony Bourdain on Putin and oddly precinct, Trump.

I was going to post this, and I don't think I have ever seen Bourdain be so reserved, strategic and careful about his word choices. When I first viewed I expected a full on tirade of swearing and cursing and maybe even a hearty table flip.

No, this is even better. The understated response is so sharp it's a surgical scalpel. It's like he's dismissing a bothersome and irritating middle manager that has only failed upwards.
posted by loquacious at 11:52 AM on March 9 [10 favorites]


The White House > Briefing Room > FACT SHEET: United States Bans Imports of Russian Oil, Liquefied Natural Gas, and Coal, March 08, 2022 Statements and Releases.
posted by cenoxo at 11:52 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


I just had a thought: maybe that whole thing about Trump asking for dirt on Hunter Biden was Trump seeking an excuse for not giving Ukraine arms.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:54 AM on March 9 [14 favorites]


My understanding is that privately the Zelensky government was willing to give up on NATO before this all started and may have been willing to concede some territory to get the matter resolved. The Russians went in anyway. The problem is that when Russia says Donetsk and Luhansk they still mean more than the border before the war started.
posted by interogative mood at 11:59 AM on March 9 [3 favorites]


So the new plan has less Yanukovic, which is better? I dunno, plenty of Putin stooges can be a Yanukovic. Regardless, this is the plan Putin wanted Manafort to give to Trump. But Manafort lost his job and was criminally charged and convicted.

The biggest problem is how are they going to keep their stooge in power? If someone in the Rada doesn't shoot him on the first morning little alone the people rising up against them in a Euromaidan 2.0, do Russia intend to remobilize and go back in if their stooge is dethroned? Every day this war goes on the more weapons flood into Ukraine, the more Ukrainians mobilize, the more their outrage hardens into resolve, the more entrenched their positions become, the costlier it becomes to take Ukrainian territory. This is desperation. They're doing it because they're terrified of losing what they already have.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:04 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


From the previous thread: It really is amazing how much quick progress we can make on fossil fuel use when we switch messaging from 'Let's save the world' to 'Fuck that guy, specifically.'

In the Netherlands, underneath the northern province of Groningen, there's a huge gas field. We've been tapping it since the early 1960's, and it took just a few years to switch away from coal gas for domestic use. The downside has become apparent since the 1990's, as small earthquakes (and occasionally not that small, up to 3.6 magnitude) started occurring. As the gas field underlies more than half the province (it's the ninth-largest field worldwide), this started affecting a fair amount of people, who were understandably somewhat miffed about their houses taking damage while the state, earning a nice income from the gas sales, was reluctant to compensate them. But those protests grew stronger and it was agreed that, aside from compensating the damage and drop in value, the field's gas production would be seriously reduced.

But a week after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine a provincial newspaper took a poll among 1000 participants, with 61% stating "Fully agree" or"Agree" with cranking up production to a level where no Russian gas imports would be needed, with 10% neutral or undecided. People in directly affected areas were even more strongly in favour.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:06 PM on March 9 [33 favorites]


I know Ukraine news is a little slow right now, but a reminder to my US compatriots to avoid US-centric topics. We have an ugly habit of that, and can do better to listen and amplify discussions, news, and observations by the European, Scandinavian, and Slavic people directly affected by the war.
posted by Silvery Fish at 12:10 PM on March 9 [29 favorites]


The problem is that when Russia says Donetsk and Luhansk they still mean more than the border before the war started.

The problem is that Russia has no credibility, has reneged on all past deals, and has made clear its final aim is full reabsorption of Ukraine into the Russian Empire. So, like, demilitarisation seems to be just a way to make the next stage in 2 or 5 or 10 years all the easier. No Ukrainian government should accept anything like that.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:18 PM on March 9 [51 favorites]


Surrogacy has been common in Ukraine for at least a decade now, and there have been plenty of news stories in Anglophone media about the issue, but they’ve tended not to center the stories of the surrogate mothers in Ukraine. This story by Cindy Carcamo in the L. A. Times bucks that trend. Excerpt:
In an interview last Thursday, Lilya told The Times that food prices were five times higher than usual. If the war doesn’t end soon, she said, she probably will have to tap into her savings to survive.

“How can we help you?” Jessie texted Lilya last week. “Can we help get you and your girls to the U.S.? You can live with us?”

Lilya didn’t respond. But she told The Times that she doesn’t want to leave Ukraine. She doesn’t want to leave behind her husband, who has joined the fight, along with thousands of other Ukrainian men defending their land. She loves her country. Lilya said she would’ve joined the fight, too. But she has nowhere to safely leave her children.

Most days, Lilya texts Jessie, asking about Vivian and Mary. They communicate on Viber — a translation application. Lilya speaks only Russian.

“This is the sweetest child,” she texted when Jessie sent her a photo of Vivian wrapped in a fuzzy pink blanket decorated with white stars.

“She is an angel. She had a good home for 9 months,” Jessie responds.

It’s cold and snowing in Ukraine. Lilya said she cries every day. Her daughters are afraid. Every time a helicopter hovers above their house, her girls cower in fear. But they “wake up every day grateful to God that we are alive.”
posted by Kattullus at 12:28 PM on March 9 [20 favorites]


(WH reporter) Eli Stokols on Twitter
Psaki on getting Polish jets to Ukraine: "the logistical questions here...are things like how do you get planes into Ukraine in a way that is not escalatory?"

Says those conversations are taking place "at the military level."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:37 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


The sanctions strategy is flawed. To defeat Putin, you have to know how the Kremlin works – The west misunderstands the Russian concept of oligarchy, which leaves these powerful actors more beholden to the state, Olga Chyzh, The Guardian – Opinion, 8 Mar 2022:
Western states hit Russia with a package of sanctions so unprecedented that they were described as a “declaration of war” by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. The hope was that beyond the measures targeting the Russian central bank and financial institutions, asset freezes and travel bans would “entice” powerful oligarchs and members of Putin’s inner circle to influence the Russian leader to call off the invasion. Some even suggested that sanctions might topple the regime.

But while the world rejoiced at the spectacle of seized lavish superyachts and secluded chalets, Russian troops continued making inroads and attacking Ukrainian cities. Only two of the sanctioned individuals expressed their rather reserved disapproval of the war – hardly the “mounting pressure” that the west might have envisioned.

Russian oligarchs will not put pressure on Putin, not now and not anytime soon. They stay silent, even as they watch their assets and fortunes dwindle. We should have expected this. The west misunderstands the concept of oligarchy in modern Russia, which leaves these powerful actors more beholden to the state – or president – than any outside influence, and prevents the jet-set tycoons we see in the western media from wielding real political power.

What the west calls “Russian oligarchs” are not a homogenous group in terms of their interests, functions within the state, or political influence [Google Translate]. Those who have direct access to the president fall into two broad categories: the economic oligarchs and the strongmen…
More in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 12:39 PM on March 9 [15 favorites]


Ukraine receives new batch of Bayraktar TB-2 drones from Turkey

Numerous Turkish Air Force Airbus A400M flights between Ankara (ANK) and Rzesow (RZE) in Southern Poland were conducted between February 25 and 27, 2022. It is possible that this is how the drones were delivered to Europe, before being shipped over the Ukrainian border.

It seems that Turkey and Poland have already made a resupply run for the Ukrainian air force. This was all very low-key though, I'm afraid that it's the publicity of the MiG-29 deal that doomed it, especially the boneheaded plan to launch them from a US airbase in Germany.

Let this be a lesson. If there are plans to arm the Ukrainians, maybe pursue them a little more clandestinely, preferably before CNN knows. If this were done well, we'd should have learnt about this at the same time that convoy was blown sky-high.
posted by adept256 at 12:59 PM on March 9 [12 favorites]


Nearly two million people have fled Ukraine. These men and women refuse to:

My Parents Are Trapped. I’m a Member of Parliament And I Can’t Save Them. By Dmytro Gurin

I Hate Fascism. So I Flew to Kishinev. By Cole S. Aronson

It’s Freezing in Kharkiv And There Is Nothing to Eat. By Maria Avdeeva

‘We Will Stand With Our Hands to the Tanks’. By Roman Sigov

Brewing ‘Victory Beer
’ in Lviv By Nancy Rommelmann

The Road Back to Odessa
. By Vladislav Davidzon
posted by Kabanos at 1:00 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


I found Alona Liasheva's Notes from Lviv in times of war a worthwhile read, for both her observations of how social relations are reconfigured in times of upheaval, and her unsentimental but deeply humane voice.
posted by heteronym at 1:13 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


This video is quite moving it purports to show a senior Ukrainian military officer making an open plea to his cousin who is a member of the Russian Duma (parliament). Here is the translation from the Reddit thread:

"Our own language - you forgot"
"Remember brother, how we played together in our childhoods, how we played wars" (Voynushka - just child's way of saying war)
"How we went for mushroom hunting"
"How we went fishing"
"How we gathered with our families, on home setting - on all occasions"
"How we visited graveyards and visited our grandmother and grandfather"
"Grandfather, Viborny Mikhail Antonovich - who fought and reached Berlin fighting Fascist evil"
"There is a reason I stood in front of this tank - It's a symbol of World War 2"
"Nothing was forgotten, we remember everything but I wanna ask you brother...tell me"
"How does it end up that... when, at what stage did you sell your soul to devil?"
"When and at what stage did you forget that your home/country is in Danger?"
"Don't you know that today/these days - bombs are falling.. including on Shepetovka? Where we both were born and grew up"
"Don't you know that Odessa is on the brink of bombing, blood, sorrow. In Odessa your blood/native brother lives - military Viborny Volodymir Borisovich"
"Tell me brother, how come [switches to Ukrainian] - What did those Muscovites[Russians] Give you?"
"What did they give you other than millions?"
"Those millions will be gone.... and your soul will remain there"
"Our parents are buried nearby. Your father, my mom - Olya, your father - Uncle Borya, your mother - Aunt Vanda - my godmother by the way"
"They are probably turning in their graves right now"
"Do you understand what you've done? Thanks to you, surname Viborny is cursed/damned"
"I've said everything"
"Make your conclusions and do everything to stop this war as a deputy of Stata Duma"
"Don't be afraid of anything, don't be afraid, if you die - better die with dignity for your homeland"

posted by interogative mood at 1:39 PM on March 9 [23 favorites]


In updates of the refugee situation in Poland, the sheer volume is starting to overwhelm our volunteer rush. Right now the main thing missing is actual coordination at government level. This is especially evident with tasks that the government took on itself - for example the information/aid points in railway stations in Warsaw were initially located at the West and East terminals (where trains finish running) but not Central, which is the biggest and best for urban transport (and the only underground one of the lot, so warm and feeling much safer). Volunteers and city officials have been doing miracles to deal with people, and a girl I know who got sandwiches to people there today says it's all orderly and calm.

The other place that blew up yesterday online was the official government-run reception point at Torwar sports arena, where it turns out the government hasn't provided anything but beds - not food, sanitary supplies, medication, freaking masks and gloves because we're still at 15-ish thousand Covid cases per day, teenage scouts running the kitchens without adult supervision, one cleaning lady for 500+ refugee beds. The volunteer coordinator (herself a volunteer) wrote a long open letter yesterday and promptly came down with Covid herself, leaving a 20-year-old girl in charge of the lot of it.

The need that surprised me the most is flipflops - because it's often hundreds of people using very few showers, so limiting the spread of athlete's foot is a priority.

Karolina Żebrowska really summed it up well yesterday, including the reasons it's all hitting Poles so badly. Kyiv looks like Warsaw would have if it hadn't been flattened in 1944.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:41 PM on March 9 [41 favorites]




Addendum: Janina Ochojska, MEP and head of Polska Akcja Humanitarna (an amazing NGO focussing on long-term disaster relief in places like South Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and eastern Ukraine) spoke in the European Parliament today and stressed that basically the entire refugee relief is volunteer led and the government is getting the warm glow from it after years of demonising non-European refugees and actively pushing them back from the Belarusian border for six months now. Regime media have been pouring hate on her for this despite it being all true.

(Ochojska is an absolutely kickass lady with post-polio syndrome who created one of Poland's biggest and most international NGOs while walking on crutches and fighting for disability access to transport and public services, then went public with her breast cancer diagnosis while running for MEP - she's thankfully beaten the cancer now.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:51 PM on March 9 [41 favorites]


Psaki on getting Polish jets to Ukraine: "the logistical questions here...are things like how do you get planes into Ukraine in a way that is not escalatory?"

The MiG-29's range is around 3200km (2000mi) with external tanks and without aerial refueling by anyone's air force. They could also go by ship, but then to avoid moving through NATO territory would either need to transit the Bosporus while Turkey is denying Russian warships passage, or would need to depart from Georgia -- inviting reprisal.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:54 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that US VP Kamala Harris is arriving Poland today (Wednesday) and her entire schedule has been adjusted to make figuring out these logistical issues the top priority.
posted by interogative mood at 2:05 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


I’ve linked to Yevgenia Belorusets’ war diary from Kyiv before. The latest entry is poignant. Excerpt:
A friend who was evacuated from a small town outside Kyiv told me that peaceful people are being taken prisoner in the parts of the city controlled by Putin’s army. The Russian army breaks into private homes and takes entire families away. How often does this happen? How many have already been captured in this barbaric way? Where are these people now?

The occupied neighborhoods, villages, and small towns are often the least visible. They sink in the deluge of news. Rarely is there electricity anymore, and so it is hard to keep in contact with these areas. Other voices report other plights and are heard much louder. And you want to listen to them because they are easier to hear, because you can help immediately—or at least hope to help.

Putin demands recognition of the occupied territories in Donbas and Luhansk Oblast. All the villages and towns that are left to his power will be silenced by the occupiers. Even under the circumstances of terror that Ukraine is experiencing right now, it is unimaginable to allow this further swallowing of villages and towns.

When I left my apartment today, I saw an empty street. No cars, no pedestrians. At such moments, Kyiv seems like a city that has yet to be inhabited—a city without a present, with only a past and a future. A few steps further along, I saw two pedestrians, both holding flowers in their hands. This is one tradition that has broken through the cold wall of war: on March 8, International Women's Day, women are given flowers. Outside the pharmacy, I spotted many women with flowers, prepared for a long wait in the cold. A car had stopped at the pharmacy, and someone had gotten out and handed flowers to those in line.
posted by Kattullus at 2:06 PM on March 9 [39 favorites]


This is a shout out to All Might Be Possible for their very first FPP, which ended up being canceled because of this post. Please do not be discouraged by this bad luck! Please make more posts! Thanks for your efforts to make life easier for those of us on our phones. FPPs are appreciated, next time will go better.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:09 PM on March 9 [166 favorites]




and stressed that basically the entire refugee relief is volunteer led and the government is getting the warm glow from it after years of demonising non-European refugees and actively pushing them back from the Belarusian border for six months now.
We have the exact same situation in Hungary. It is utterly shameless. Funny that both Poland and Hungary have far right governments, the HUF and the PLN moves down together, the remains of civil society volunteer for the Ukrainian refugees in record numbers.

Oh, the difference is, Orbán's government is such a puppet for Putin, that Hungary’s honorary consul in Szczecin [Poland] resigned because he said the government’s position on the war was indefensible.
posted by kmt at 2:20 PM on March 9 [17 favorites]


Is there any real chance Orbán could lose in April?
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:22 PM on March 9


No.
posted by adept256 at 2:26 PM on March 9


Any possibility that Ukraine will concede territory to Russia to make this stop? Putin will have to save face somehow.
posted by mygraycatbongo at 2:34 PM on March 9


The question is, how much? The LPR, DPR, and Crimea have been under control of Russia for eight years, so they're not really bargaining chips.
posted by meowzilla at 2:43 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


One thing that I think is interesting is happening is that a lot of people assume that Ukraine is inflating numbers, so they automatically disregard them. I think in some cases this is a serious mistake, and that Ukraine’s numbers may be closer to accurate than believed.

Anecdata, but I live in an area which has a higher than average veteran population, and there are some scenes that are straight out of WWII. I walked into a veteran-centered store today, and it was a gender shifted ghost town. The male (veteran) staffers all said their goodbyes and quit over the last week.

We are hearing that people are going to join the International Legion, but I think the sheer scale of how many are going may be underestimated right now. I wonder if the Ukranian “30,000” may actually be more correct.
posted by corb at 2:49 PM on March 9 [22 favorites]


I remarked in a previous thread about how long the naval fortress of Sevastopol held out against the nazis. The wehrmacht's entire 11th army with the 4th air fleet of the luftwaffe took 8 months and 3 days to seize the city. That city has been in Russia's possession for 8 years now. I'm afraid if they choose to stay, they can.
posted by adept256 at 2:52 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Especially with the Kerch Strait bridge.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:55 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


From what I *read* Putin wants the regions under his control in Ukraine to become independent, just like the Russian demand for South Otessia and Abkhazia in Georgia. They didn't get that in Georgia, and Russian troops are still there. Is it plausible that Putin will do the same in Ukraine, that is, keeping troops in the contested areas and only agreeing to a ceasefire?

IOW status quo all around, except that now Ukraine will think twice about NATO and the EU (which wouldn't accept them anyway.)
posted by mygraycatbongo at 3:15 PM on March 9




> “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” – Lenin

from the other fpp: "ffs my FIL said 2 days ago that Russia could take Berlin again. There are not drugs strong enough to replicate the warpedness of propagandized Russian mind. Truely a waste of human potential."

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." – Voltaire
posted by kliuless at 3:32 PM on March 9 [12 favorites]


Any possibility that Ukraine will concede territory to Russia to make this stop?

(Ukrainian Market researcher) Info Sapiens: Most Ukrainians are against accepting the terms of the Russian Federation
According to the all-Ukrainian nationally representative survey conducted by Info Sapiens for the British Research Agency ORB International on March 3-4, 2022, 79% of Ukrainians are against the official recognition of the previously occupied areas of the Donbass region as part of Russia, 75% are against the official recognition of Crimea as part of Russia, and 56% are against the ban on Ukraine’s membership in NATO even if it ends the war.
Among other results, Zellensky has an 88% positive rating (8% negative.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:12 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


The Russians leaving their country for Finland - BBC News

Putin: "Sounds like I need to protect the ethnic Russians in the rest of Karelia..."
Finland: "Come and take it."
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:12 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


EZLN statement on war in Ukraine: in English & in Spanish (original)
posted by nikoniko at 4:13 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


Americans are strongly in favor of a much more aggressive intervention than we’ve committed to. Scenes of tragedies being played out like the family murdered by Russians in their car as they tried to escape shelling, scenes of the destruction of the hospital in Mariupol, and the shelling of apartment blocks — it will be very hard for America’s leaders to say no to taking a more direct role in the outcome. A no fly zone, sending more sophisticated weapons, trainers, mercenaries, etc.

I fear that Kasparov is correct World War 3 is here. Hopefully deterrence will stop it from going nuclear.
posted by interogative mood at 4:21 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


Psaki on getting Polish jets to Ukraine: "the logistical questions here...are things like how do you get planes into Ukraine in a way that is not escalatory?"
I feel like this is the part where The Rock Luke Hobbs shows up and introduces his friend, Dominic Torretto, who proposes a plan that involves a flatbed trailer, nitrous oxide, and copious amounts of "hacking" that is so crazy that it just might work.

I also honestly wonder at this point how many jets we're talking about, whether they would make a material difference in the war effort, and whether all of this is a smokescreen for other materiel that's being shipped to Ukraine and not being talked about.
posted by bl1nk at 4:27 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


From what I understand the columns in Ukraine have enough SAMs to force-ground Ukraine's existing fighter fleet. So the planes might not be a game changer anyway.

Anyhow, if they do come into play, it will be with some overland transportation gambit that we won't know about until it is done.
posted by ocschwar at 4:45 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


So, like, demilitarisation seems to be just a way to make the next stage in 2 or 5 or 10 years all the easier. No Ukrainian government should accept anything like that.

Yes, that's the problem. Zelensky's basically said they'd be willing to make territorial concessions, and NATO. It's a bitter pill for any sovereign state to be treated that way, but holding out for something that you aren't going to get anyway isn't a sensible trade for so many cities destroyed and Ukrainian lives lost. But they have to have some way of enforcing it being the end of such concessions. So they absolutely cannot demilitarize. And Putin also wants to keep them from joining the EU, and that's a *much* bitterer pill. The Maidan protests started because Yanukovych sold out to Moscow and cancelled the EU association agreement that was about to be signed.
posted by tavella at 5:02 PM on March 9 [20 favorites]


The SAMs all around
Forced our planes to the ground
How could we strike
With deafening sound?
Bayraktar!
posted by kaibutsu at 5:11 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


I was wondering if the nato modified MiGs might come with modern NATO anti radiation missiles attached. They certainly have state of the art ECM.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:11 PM on March 9


I also honestly wonder at this point how many jets we're talking about

25+/-5
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:33 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


In my fever dream there's a ton of public back and forth between Poland and the US about the jets, lots of misunderstandings and failures and tense moments; meanwhile the jets themselves are being made to look like existing Ukranian stock and quietly shipped over. They become instrumental in beating back the Russian inviasion all while the press is still spilling ink trying to figure out why Poland and the US just can't get aligned.

This fever dream is helpful in that it highlights how much of what is really going on we can now right now — not zero, but not far off. As such it helps me avoid the deep analysis and reactions my brain can get into, which right now is almost certainly going to be wrong.
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:48 PM on March 9 [11 favorites]


Russia will nationalize assets of foreign firms that leave – ruling party
Russia’s ruling party, United Russia, said on Wednesday that a government commission had approved the first step towards nationalizing assets of foreign firms that leave the country in the wake of economic sanctions over Ukraine.

United Russia added in a statement on the Telegram messaging app that the commission on lawmaking activity had supported a bill allowing for firms more than 25% owned by foreigners from “unfriendly states” to be put into external administration.
So their reaction to businesses leaving is to make sure they never come back. Maybe McPutin's will have an ice cream machine that fucking works.
posted by adept256 at 5:59 PM on March 9 [34 favorites]


vers, thanks very much for that Bellingcat article. I don't believe anything Russia says, but I hadn't realized the extent to which their lies had been actually shown to be lies - and I definitely wasn't aware of how that evidence was assembled, or by whom.

Bellingcat's work is extraordinary and exactly the antidote we need (or at least *I* need) to the "who even knows what's true?" aspect of this war, and I am immensely grateful that they're doing the work they're doing, and grateful to know about it. Thank you.
posted by kristi at 6:07 PM on March 9 [25 favorites]


BTW I have heard that Telegram is a favorite of nazis. It certainly comes up again and again in Jan 6th evidence collections. Now the Kremlin is using it for official announcements. I guess my question is, how fucked up is Telegram? On a scale from 4chan to metafilter?
posted by adept256 at 6:07 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


"nationalize" is doing the heavy lifting in that headline given that Putin's cronies are going to be buying the businesses at fire sale prices. It'll be just like the '90s again!
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:08 PM on March 9 [16 favorites]


I guess my question is, how fucked up is Telegram? On a scale from 4chan to metafilter?

It's about at Reddit levels in that fascists do exist on it but are barely tolerated in some vain attempt at free speech absolutism.

Pavel Durov, the founder, dropped a statement regarding where his loyalties lie. Spoiler alert: He hates Putin and the FSB.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:11 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


I know nothing about Telegram but just noticed this in that interview with Bellingcat's Eliot Higgins:
How is Telegram useful?

One thing that’s very handy about it is when videos and photos are shared, unlike most social media platforms that strip metadata, the metadata is retained. We’ve used that to show that the Russians were producing disinformation and even false-flag attack videos, because they left the metadata [revealing where the filming actually took place] when they faked the videos, so that’s been incredibly useful. That also means if people are sharing stuff from the ground, we have the metadata in there with things like the coordinates from the camera that we’re using, so we can more quickly geolocate stuff and add it to our verified-information database. And I think a lot of Russians and Ukrainians connect with that platform as well and some other platforms that haven’t been shut down by Russia yet.
posted by kristi at 6:22 PM on March 9 [25 favorites]


The @kamilkazani thread "Let's discuss Russian Economy.." linked in the post above is a great refutation of the "sanctions can't work" view. If he's correct, the Russian economy has been deliberately hollowed out and is increasingly dependent on western European/US goods to keep going. It's interesting that all the heavy industry partners are former Eastern Bloc.

I'm sure this opens the door to China and other countries, but for now, for the next decade, Russia appears to be in a terribly vulnerable position to sanctions, a problem of its own making.
posted by bonehead at 6:22 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


Gerry Doyle has a short thread on the air capability/no-fly zone back & forth:

if we are being clear-eyed about this: ukraine's air force is largely intact but is not operating (fixed wing, anyway) east of kyiv. giving them more tactical aircraft that they also can't fly east of kyiv won't change the picture much, if at all

which isn't to say that having more mig-29s isn't better than having fewer. it's just that it is not a difference-maker, or has anywhere near the impact of flooding ukraine stockpiles with high-tech anti-tank weapons, manpads, ammunition and other less sexy stuff

FURTHER, it is pretty clear the u.s. and dod want ukraine to get the migs! what they object to, quite rationally, is the logistical insanity of flying them to a u.s. base in germany and then [via magic] getting them into ukraine. deal is doable if everyone would shut up about it

this all is reminiscent of the no-fly zone debate. suppressing ru air defenses and shooting down its planes is a big deal! and the effect would be... keeping the ruaf out of the fight, which it largely has been, except for a few days of higher-tempo ops that resulted in losses

what people really want isn't a no-fly zone, but nato air interdiction. they want russian artillery destroyed on the ground. which would definitely swing the war wildly in ukraine's favor, but guess what, WOULD ALSO START A GLOBAL CONFLICT


Also the yt algos coughed up a Yale panel discussion this week with Tim Snyder, Arne Westad, and Nellie Petlick (apologies, on mobile i can't seem to c&p the video description in full which has their credentials). I thought it interesting for the dive into the China side, which seems in contradiction with the reporting by Li Yuan in NYT specifically her pieces on Chinese internet's discourse on the war.
posted by cendawanita at 6:24 PM on March 9 [17 favorites]


Thanks for the NYT link. And the Chinese are preaching to the choir in China about the invasion of Ukraine (Hong Kong, Taiwan both claimed by China by precedent)
posted by bluesky43 at 6:34 PM on March 9


How is Telegram useful?

Telegram is also pretty easy to create an archive from -- the data collection that Bellingcat, Oryx, Middlebury and other groups and individuals are doing in Ukraine has immense potential to be critically important if/WHEN Putin is tried for war crimes.
posted by vers at 7:24 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


Poland's "High Risk" Plan To Transfer MiG-29s To Ukraine Shot Down By U.S. — The Pentagon says there are better ways to bolster Ukraine's air defenses that are less likely to provoke a Russian response., Joseph Trevithick, The War Zone, March 9, 2022:
The Pentagon has now publicly said it will not serve as an intermediary in a three-way deal that would see Polish Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets transferred first to the U.S. government and then onto the Ukrainian Air Force. John Kirby, the U.S. military's top spokesperson, said that American authorities had determined that any such transfer would run a high risk of provoking serious Russian retaliation of some kind and that Ukrainian forces would benefit more from additional deliveries of ground-based air defense systems. You can read more about the Polish government's proposed plan, and the potential hurdles that it would have faced, here.

Kirby made his remarks about the U.S. government's response to the Polish government's proposal for how to get its 28 remaining MiG-29s to Ukraine via the United States at a press conference today. By every, indication this proposal, which emerged publicly yesterday, had caught American officials off guard. The plan, as stated by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, involved sending the Fulcrums to the U.S. Air Force's Ramstein Air Base in Germany and called on American authorities to help the Polish Air Force acquire an equivalent number of "used" fighter jets to make up for this loss of aerial combat capacity. This is the latest development in what has become something of a saga regarding possible deliveries of combat aircraft to Ukraine that began with a remark from a European Union official nearly two weeks ago.

"We do not support the transfer of additional fighter aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force at this time and therefore have no desire to see them in our custody, either," Kirby said bluntly, after lauding the Polish government for its contributions to NATO and the military and other assistance it has already rendered to Ukraine....
posted by cenoxo at 7:38 PM on March 9


The guy who made Telegram, Pavel Durov, used to be CEO of VK, the Facebook of Russia. He alleges he was removed as VK CEO for refusing to hand over information regarding the Ukrainian Euromaiden protests in 2014. That's when he started Telegram, so that people would be able to communicate without government eavesdropping. He is 100% anti-Russia.
posted by meowzilla at 7:45 PM on March 9 [26 favorites]


Dr. Benjamin L. Schmitt
@BLSchmitt
🚨ALERT🚨 Today the Russian Urals crude oil benchmark price 5 day rolling average hit *$24.96 below* the global Brent oil benchmark as traders mostly avoid Urals, dropping from -$24.27 yesterday.
Normally there's only a few bucks between Brent and Urals. Nobody on the markets is touching Russian oil even at a steep discount. This is also the oil that Shell had to apologize for purchasing a few days ago.

Beijing must be popping the champagne because China is going to have a very cheap source of hydrocarbons the next few years.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:58 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


Ukraine Reports Loss of U.S.-Built Patrol Boat by Russian Missile, The Maritime Executive, Mar 8, 2022:
A U.S.-built patrol boat that had been transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the Ukrainian Navy as part of the efforts to build up its sea forces is reported to be among the causalities. In 2018, the then 30-year-old vessel was transferred to Ukraine along with another vessel from the Island Class as part of five vessels sent from the United States to Ukraine to increase the country’s naval defenses.

The patrol boat named Sloviansk [Wikipedia] was lost according to the mayor of the port city of Yuzhny, located west of Odesa, during reconnaissance and protection missions for the ports of Odesa and to the south in the Black Sea. Several sailors, or possibly the entire crew aboard, are reported missing. The vessel is believed to have been sunk, possibly as early as March 3.
...
“An airstrike by an enemy aircraft of the Russian Federation on the patrol boat Sloviansk was inflicted. The patrol boat sank as a result of an air-to-ground cruise missile,” said Volodymyr Novatsky expressing condolences to the families of the victims. It is believed that this is the first confirmed loss in combat of a ship of the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
...
The loss of the patrol ship comes as another blow to the small Ukrainian Navy. Days earlier the Navy also announced the loss of its flagship, although it said that was a conscious decision to prevent the vessel from falling into Russian hands. The 3,100 ton frigate Hetman Sahaidachny [Wikipedia], was reportedly scuttled [The War Zone 3/3/2022] while it was under repairs in the port city of Mykolaiv....
posted by cenoxo at 8:05 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


Amazing post, thank you.
posted by sudasana at 8:20 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


China is going to have a very cheap source of hydrocarbons the next few years

Especially if your an owner.
posted by clavdivs at 9:14 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


Other than Western economists showing me graphs of the collapsing ruble and Putin swearing revenge on all the companies leaving Russia, are there signs of the sanctions having an immediate impact that the government cares about? Is unemployment up in Russia? Are a lot of smart people leaving the country? Are companies (state-owned or not) worried about staying afloat? Are bureaucrats getting nervous?

I hear so many comments about how the Russian economy has been reset back decades and Putin has destroyed its long-term prospects; but they all seem like theoreticals or projections.
posted by meowzilla at 9:40 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Are a lot of smart people leaving the country?

Purely anecdata, but all three of the Russians I’ve worked (closely, not random dude whose launch approval I need) with have left or are planning to leave in near term (2/1 respectively).

To be blunt, both of those who’ve left think it’ll be a short term thing, whereas the one that’s still gearing up to leave is planning to never return.

I genuinely think there’s going to be a serious brain drain problem on par with the collapse of the empire. I dunno if Putin cares about that at all.
posted by aramaic at 9:56 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


I suppose that, "Are the weapons and equipment factories still working at full capacity?" might be the relevant immediate-term question.
posted by clawsoon at 10:06 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


Thank you cenoxo for the google translation of that carnegie.ru article by Tatiana Stanovaya posted upthread, it is a tremendously thorough explanation of the current Russian internal power centers and players, with insight I've seen nowhere else regarding the political architecture of Putin's Russia, its war motivations, its varied/surprising reactions to external sanctions, and the basic functionality and future possibility of the state. A must-read.
posted by riverlife at 10:08 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


On reflection, regarding nationalization and seizure of foreign assets, they likely don't mean the McDonalds, but rather the mines and oil fields. They're not going to leave their main revenue stream idle just because the investors pulled out. They'll keep running the wells.

So the biggest victims of this robbery will be the greedlords at BP and Shell. I'll let the poets finish that story.
posted by adept256 at 10:12 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


Russia’s largest automaker is being forced to stop production because they can’t get the chips and other components they need to keep making their cars.
posted by interogative mood at 10:19 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


> So their reaction to businesses leaving is to make sure they never come back.

> the Russian economy has been deliberately hollowed out and is increasingly dependent on western European/US goods to keep going... Russia appears to be in a terribly vulnerable position to sanctions, a problem of its own making.

Russia's Brain Drain Will Be Hard for Putin to Stop - "History teaches that the first citizens to flee authoritarian crackdowns are the best and brightest, and that locking them in is a catastrophe."[1,2,3]
A poll taken before the Feb. 24 invasion found that 43% of Russians between the ages of 18 and 24 want to leave the country for good. Of those, 44% cited the economic situation as the primary reason for departing. That sentiment will surely be strengthened by the impact of global sanctions and domestic crackdowns.

As growing numbers of Russians contemplate leaving their country, Putin will face a predicament familiar to his Communist predecessors and other authoritarians. China is seeing financial professionals flee Hong Kong in response to its crackdowns, a reminder that repressing citizens is one thing; keeping them from voting with their feet is another.[4] That’s a challenge Putin will find difficult to win...

At a certain point, the Soviet satellite states realized that these runaways cast doubt on claims that the Eastern Bloc was a socialist paradise. The authorities dealt with it the only way they knew how, locking their citizens behind the Iron Curtain.

Repression took many forms... The crackdown served its purpose but was a disaster in other ways. The spectacle of the Eastern Bloc turning its societies into country-wide jails was hardly a winning strategy in the global battle of ideas.

The West understood this, of course, and exploited it. As early as 1952, the administration of President Harry Truman created the United States Escapee Program, which targeted high-profile defectors, providing enticements to intellectuals, scientists and others to flee the Soviet Union and its client states.

As one historian of this program has noted, the term “escapee” deliberately “conjured the Soviet sphere as one vast prison, surrounded by barbed wire, watchtowers, and guards zealously posed over automatic weapons.” American popular culture helped cement this perception around the world.[5,6]
@AlexGabuev: "🧵Two weeks ago, as Vladimir Putin was declaring his vicious war on Ukraine, he called the West an 'Empire of Lies.' In fact, the Kremlin's disastrous move was itself rooted in lies, misconceptions and giant lapses of expertise & intelligence."

> I thought it interesting for the dive into the China side, which seems in contradiction with the reporting by Li Yuan in NYT specifically her pieces on Chinese internet's discourse on the war.

@ianbremmer: "china state media close to 100% aligned with putin's narrative on the war in ukraine. v problematic sign for where the global 'order' is heading."[7,8,9]
  • @JulianRoepcke: "Chinese media is embedded with the Russian army and going into #Mariupol"
  • @Noahpinion: "Chinese state media is buying pro-Russian invasion ads on FB"
@ianbremmer: "best chance for a near term putin climbdown would be if china — russia's only important friend on the global stage — were prepared to press moscow hard for a ceasefire. xi's decided to bet on putin instead."

Chinese firms that aid Russia may be cut off from U.S. equipment -commerce secretary
Chinese companies that defy U.S. restrictions against exporting to Russia may be cut off from American equipment and software they need to make their products, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told the New York Times.

The U.S. could "essentially shut" down Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp or any Chinese companies defying U.S. sanctions by continuing to supply chips and other advanced technology to Russia, Raimondo said in an interview published on Tuesday.
@ProfPaulPoast: "The economic sanctions imposed on Russia are unprecedented in scope and scale. But I'm not sure they'll actually 'work'."[10]

@kamilkazani: "Many argue that sanctions are 'ineffective'. That’s false. They are already highly effective in undermining Russian military efforts and can be made even more efficient. They can guarantee that Russia loses this war if they are goal-oriented and not moral crusade-oriented🧵"[11]

@Noahpinion: "In which @delong and I talk to the excellent @kamilkazani about Russian society, the Russian economy, and about how sanctions can disrupt Russia's war effort."[12]
posted by kliuless at 10:49 PM on March 9 [18 favorites]


I am currently talking to a Russian woman who believes all of these are Western lies, and that all Ukrainian civilian deaths are the result of either Ukrainians killing Ukrainians for propaganda purposes, or forcing the Russian military to target civilian areas. For example, she believes Ukraine bombed the maternity ward in Mariupol to make Russia look bad. What would be the best rebuttals to her arguments?
posted by lock robster at 11:05 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Russia’s largest automaker is being forced to stop production

The biggest foreign carmaker in Russia is the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
Which is a Multi-National thing.
Tolyatti is considered the largest auto producing city in Russia. Sister Cities International, created in 1956. U.S. has Russian and Ukrainian "sister cities. Some of the reaction is interesting in response.
One of Tolyatti' sister cities is Flint, Michigan which has chip shortages way before this war. The more salient point is this war effects life's in the AO and beyond but concentrating on the European aspect is important. Frankly I don't care if Russia can't get chips because it's already been hard here. The metric is ancillary information to pertinent which, beyond the war zone, grows smaller by the day.
posted by clavdivs at 11:19 PM on March 9


What would be the best rebuttals to her arguments?

I don't think there is any, at this exact moment, because all your sources are already poisoned and suspect, if the strategy is providing factual rebuttals. It's kinda like antivax messaging etc. At this point in that one-to-one exchange, i would suggest having a stronger editorial voice (inc pointing out the common humanity e.g. why would ppl with such similar cultures be killing their own ppl?) when you present your arguments, and then just let it go. Maybe there's someone or institution who they still have reputational trust in who's been firmly anti-invasion you can lean on.

But the facts are too numerous and so strikingly opposite all you really get in the moment is them shutting down.
posted by cendawanita at 11:23 PM on March 9 [21 favorites]


cendawanita, so far the comparison with talking to anti-vaxxers has been very apt. So far any video evidence I send her is dismissed as "Western lies" or "NATO propaganda." She is convinced, by the way, that NATO is trying to build nuclear weapons in Ukraine to use against Russia, so Putin had to invade to stop them. In her eyes, it's all the US's fault. The only reason Russia isn't winning outright is this isn't a "real" war, because "Russia is going out of its way to protect civilians."
posted by lock robster at 11:32 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


I've seen a lot of heartbreaking stories from people in Ukraine whose own parents and siblings in Russia don't believe their literal eyewitness testimony. If these people can't get through to their own blood relatives and friends, I'm afraid we have little hope of success.
posted by confluency at 11:34 PM on March 9 [42 favorites]


There was an off-hand mention in the interview of Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins of Russian soldiers freezing to death in the convoy. There’s a cold snap in Ukraine right now, and those tanks and trucks may not have enough power to run the heaters anymore. Yesterday the Independent had an article on it [archive link].
posted by Kattullus at 11:39 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


I think the situation for interacting with people in Russia who have been indoctrinated by state propaganda is similar to interacting with people in a cult. You cannot convince them with reason or evidence, and you're not going to change their mind in a single conversation. You can, however, plant seeds of doubt, and be an empathetic voice who is ready to help lead them out once they've decided they need to abandon the cultic worldview.

According to people who study and work on cult deprogramming, the key is keeping things personal. Focus on your own perspectives and experiences, and those of other people that they can personally relate to. Ironically, I think the stories about people in Ukraine whose parents and siblings in Russia refuse to believe them about what's happening are exactly the sort of story that can be effective to share. Talk about how heartbreaking it is for you to read such stories, how you difficult you imagine it must be to not be believed by the people you love when you're going through something so horrible. They will say that the stories are made up, of course. You cannot prove them wrong in a way that will reach them, but you can simply assert that you believe these people, and reiterate how horrible it must be for them not to be believed.

There are no guarantees, but if you are able to maintain some kind of human connection, that is valuable, hard, and honorable work to be doing.
posted by biogeo at 11:58 PM on March 9 [54 favorites]


What would be the best rebuttals to her arguments?
"You are a Fascist, don't ever contact me again." and drop them. They are fundamentally immoral people who justify killing and glorify war. Maybe they will change themselves at some point, maybe they will stand smug and proud in the breadline, but you shouldn't waste your empathy bank on trying to change their mind, that empathy is better directed towards more deserving victims at this time. I really hope that at the end of this, part of russian conscription is that new conscripts and their parents have to go tour the destruction in Ukraine as the German citizenry did when some of the camps were freed.

RE: Ukraine conceding Crimea and Donbas, Luhanks to Russia - I don't understand how this is a sustainable solution without Ukraine joining the EU or NATO. Russia has proven to just be lying liars who lie when it comes to ceasefires or not going after more territory. Even when Ukraine is militarized (liek right now). IF they cede the territories to Russia, they need stronger defensive backing than just their own militarization to prevent this same situation again.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:45 AM on March 10 [40 favorites]


She is convinced, by the way, that NATO is trying to build nuclear weapons in Ukraine to use against Russia, so Putin had to invade to stop them

This Russian propaganda on Ukrainian nuclear weapons builds upon the remarks that Zelenskyy made in February on the subject of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and its potential repudiation. This is the agreement made upon the collapse of the USSR that Ukraine would surrender the world's third-largest nuclear arsenal, which was then housed on its soil.
I want to believe that the North Atlantic Treaty and Article 5 will be more effective than the Budapest Memorandum.

Ukraine has received security guarantees for abandoning the world’s third nuclear capability. We don’t have those weapons. We also have no security. We also do not have a part of the territory of our state that is larger in area than Switzerland, the Netherlands, or Belgium. And most importantly – we don’t have millions of our citizens. We don’t have all this.

Therefore, we have something.

The right to demand a shift from a policy of appeasement to ensuring security and peace guarantees.

Since 2014, Ukraine has tried three times to convene consultations with the guarantor states of the Budapest Memorandum. Three times without success. Today Ukraine will do it for the fourth time. I, as President, will do this for the first time. But both Ukraine and I are doing this for the last time.

I am initiating consultations in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was commissioned to convene them.

If they do not happen again or their results do not guarantee security for our country, Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all the package decisions of 1994 are in doubt.

I also propose to convene a summit of permanent members of the UN Security Council in the coming weeks with the participation of Ukraine, Germany, and Turkey in order to address security challenges in Europe. And elaborate new, effective security guarantees for Ukraine.

Guarantees today, as long as we are not a member of the Alliance and in fact are in the gray zone – in a security vacuum.
Ukraine, with war in its east, with Crimea under apparently permanent Russian occupation, and feeing strung-along by the NATO membership process, was demanding formal security guarantees from the US, UK, France, Germany and Turkey. Or the deal to remain a non-nuclear state would be up for review.

In this speech a few days ago, Zelenskyy is furious at NATO's betrayal in refusing to impose a no-fly-zone, describing the caution over nuclear confrontation as "self-hypnosis". He mocks the support that NATO has provided; 50 tons of diesel fuel; saying it is probably for burning the Budapest Memorandum.
posted by moorooka at 1:32 AM on March 10 [11 favorites]




A thread about the median tone of Russian state media directed at Russians. Apparently if you're expecting something on the level of English-language Russian state media, only in Russian, you're severely underestimating the scale of the dishonesty.
posted by confluency at 3:06 AM on March 10 [19 favorites]


@kamilkazani: "Many argue that sanctions are 'ineffective'. That’s false. They are already highly effective in undermining Russian military efforts and can be made even more efficient. They can guarantee that Russia loses this war if they are goal-oriented and not moral crusade-oriented

That's an interesting thread, but the idea that Russia's loss to Japan in 1905 toppled the Russian regime ain't right. Thousands of assassinations of government officials in the two decades before 1917 didn't do it, either. It only went down after the total war and total disaster of WWI.
posted by clawsoon at 4:48 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


She is convinced, by the way, that NATO is trying to build nuclear weapons in Ukraine to use against Russia, so Putin had to invade to stop them

I don’t have much patience so my response would be: “So what! India has nukes, Pakistan has nukes, China has nukes, the US, the UK, France all have nukes. Israel probably has nukes. Turkey and Germany have them via NATO. It’s called mutual assured destruction. Ukraine is building nukes? Don’t do anything to piss them off then.”

Logic and reason only works with people who are logical and reasonable.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:54 AM on March 10 [16 favorites]


I want to believe that the North Atlantic Treaty and Article 5 will be more effective than the Budapest Memorandum.

Ukraine has received security guarantees for abandoning the world’s third nuclear capability. We don’t have those weapons. We also have no security.
The "security guarantees" given in the Budapest Memorandum are things like "The US won't attack Ukraine unless Ukraine attacks the US first." Same thing from the UK. And from Russia. Russia is clearly in violation of the Budapest Memorandum. The US and the UK are not.

"Security guarantees" are the vague words that are said by people who want you to assume, incorrectly, that the Budapest Memorandum obligates the US and/or others to defend Ukraine.

The closest that the Budapest Memorandum comes to saying that anyone is obligated to defend Ukraine in any way under any circumstance is that if Ukraine is nuked, the US, the UK, and Russia are obligated to immediately bring the matter up before the UN Security Council.

Here's the text of the Budapest Memorandum.
Zelenskyy is furious at NATO's betrayal in refusing to impose a no-fly-zone, describing the caution over nuclear confrontation as "self-hypnosis". He mocks the support that NATO has provided; 50 tons of diesel fuel; saying it is probably for burning the Budapest Memorandum.
NATO is not even a signatory to the Budapest Memorandum.
posted by Flunkie at 6:21 AM on March 10 [9 favorites]


if Ukraine is nuked, the US, the UK, and Russia are obligated to immediately bring the matter up before the UN Security Council.

At this point I'd ask... what purpose would the security council serve in this case? Aside from authorizing peacekeeping missions in countries outside of the Russia/China/US sphere of influence, it doesn't seem to do much ever.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 6:39 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Only country to eliminate nukes, all legalize aside it seems like the western world has a huge moral responsibility.
posted by sammyo at 6:41 AM on March 10 [19 favorites]


On the tangent of Russian domestic war propaganda, this tweet by Dr Ian Garner came across my TL and the thread seems to be chorused by others studying mass media/political comms/comms in Russia in the replies:

There is some particularly sickening stuff about Nazis and genocide in Russia's state news today. I'm not going to repost it, but the material they're producing is utterly repugnant. I spend a lot of time reading strange propaganda, but this stuff is next level.

I think we're too much in the thick of it to expect successful deprogramming in any meaningful numbers at the moment. All we can do is bear witness and run a self-styled guerilla response when the conversational opportunity presents itself.
posted by cendawanita at 6:42 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


They're not the only country to eliminate nukes.

I am not arguing that the western world does not have a moral responsibility.

In the face of someone "furious" that we are not living up to legal obligations, I don't think it's particularly fair to complain about "legalese" when someone points out that the legal obligations don't even come anywhere remotely close to what the furious guy is saying.

I am strongly pro-Ukraine when it comes to this conflict. That doesn't mean that I can't recognize that Zelensky is "furiously" intentionally lying to us about our actual obligations in this matter, and I don't think it's unreasonable to point that out.
posted by Flunkie at 7:16 AM on March 10 [7 favorites]


For example, she believes Ukraine bombed the maternity ward in Mariupol to make Russia look bad. What would be the best rebuttals to her arguments?

The Putin regime's line on this has actually changed, now the hospital was actually an Azov battalion base. I imagine she'll rapidly swap out her beliefs to conform to the new version.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:22 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


They're not the only country to eliminate nukes.

Indeed. Kazakhstan and Belarus sent the Soviet missiles on their territory back to Russia, but with less fuss.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:30 AM on March 10


Any recommendation for an organization to donate to to help Ukrainian refugees or other victims of the war?
posted by skewed at 7:39 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


US citizens seek to join foreign fighters in Ukraine, Ben Fox & Rob Gillies, Associated Press, March 9, 2022:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given the smaller nation’s embassy in Washington an unexpected role: recruitment center for Americans who want to join the fight.

Diplomats working out of the embassy, in a townhouse in the Georgetown section of the city, are fielding thousands of offers from volunteers seeking to fight for Ukraine, even as they work on the far more pressing matter of securing weapons to defend against an increasingly brutal Russian onslaught. “They really feel that this war is unfair, unprovoked,” said Ukraine’s military attaché, Maj. Gen. Borys Kremenetskyi. “They feel that they have to go and help.”

U.S. volunteers represent just a small subset of foreigners seeking to fight for Ukraine, who in turn comprise just a tiny fraction of the international assistance that has flowed into the country….
Here’s an edited summary of data points from the AP article:
  • These are unpaid volunteers, not mercenaries.
  • U.S. government discourages Americans from going due to legal/national security issues.
  • At least 6,000 people (mostly Americans) have inquired about volunteering.
  • Half the potential volunteers were rejected, some b/c the Ukraine embassy couldn’t vet them adequately.
  • About 100 U.S. citizens have made the cut, including Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans with combat experience and some helicopter pilots.
  • Volunteers must make their own way to Poland with their own protective gear. Weapons will be provided after they arrive.
  • They must sign a contract to serve without pay in the ‘International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine.’
  • ~20,000 foreigners from various nations have joined, and ~1000 Canadians have applied.
  • A large proportion of volunteers are ex-military.
  • U.S. State Department doesn’t know how many Americans have entered Ukraine since the Russian invasion. They could face criminal penalties or lose citizenship by taking part in an overseas conflict.
  • U.S. authorities worry about what could happen if an American is killed, captured, or recruited by a foreign intelligence service.
  • Some potential foreign fighters could be white supremacists (fighting on both sides of the conflict) who become more radicalized, gain military training in Ukraine, and pose an increased danger when they return home.
These are men who want adventure, a sense of significance and are harking back to World War II rhetoric,” said Anne Speckhard, who has extensively studied foreigners who fought in Syria and elsewhere as director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism.
posted by cenoxo at 7:47 AM on March 10 [11 favorites]


This MetaTalk and this AskMe have lists of orgs accepting donations.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:48 AM on March 10 [13 favorites]


Indeed. Kazakhstan and Belarus sent the Soviet missiles on their territory back to Russia, but with less fuss.

Except Belarus only had 5% of the number of missiles that Ukraine had (81 vs 1,512) and no nuclear reactors. Kazakhstan had far more missiles (1,360) but still didn't have the infrastructure to maintain or use them, little alone keep them out of the... wrong(er?) hands. Hell, when they found a half-ton cache of HEU the Kazakhs basically called the US because they had NFI on how to handle it. They only had a single BN-350 reactor which is liquid sodium cooled so they only had miniscule amounts of plutonium and it's effectively useless for manufacturing tritium. So while yeah, both of them also gave back the weapons without the fuss, they would be effectively useless as nuclear weapons after a Tritium half-life anyway.

Ukraine had the defense industry infrastructure and the civilian nuclear industry necessary to continue to be a nuclear state with an arsenal large enough to provide second strike capabilities. They have fifteen VVER-440s that would have been capable of generating the tritium and plutonium necessary to keep the nuclear weapons functional. It had an actual practical choice on its hands on whether to accede to the NPT as a nuclear state or a non-nuclear state. Of course it was a foregone conclusion because acceding to the NPT as a nuclear state would have basically consigned it to being a rogue state but it was still a choice it had to make.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:53 AM on March 10 [17 favorites]


UK finally puts Abramovich on sanctions list

Pretty sure there's going to be a clause in the ruling like "but only if he really really wants to be sanctioned".

The absurd degree to which the Tory party in the UK is obviously compromised and complaisant to the Russian state could be an entire other megathread. Their (probably unrelated) utter callous contempt towards Ukrainian refugees another.

---
[Lavrov is the guy that claimed Russia didn't attack Ukraine, and called the outcry over the maternity hospital bombing "pathetic"]

@pevchikh:
I would like you to meet Polina Kovaleva. Polina is a 26-year-old glamorous Russian girl from London🇬🇧. She lives in a huge apartment in Kensington and loves to party, her instagram feed looks like a non-stop holiday. That’s not unheard of, but there is one small detail…(THREAD)

Polina is the stepdaughter of Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov. Yes, THAT Lavrov. He is one of Putin's closest allies, his loyal talking head full of hot air and now also a war criminal.

[snip]

Polina’s mom and Lavrov have been together for around two decades now. Polina’s biological dad isn’t super rich. She doesn’t have an oligarch husband. But at the age of 21, she bought this apartment in London on Kensington High Street for £4.4m.

She paid cash. No mortgage. £4.4m. Can anyone explain how this is possible? Her only source of money is her unemployed mother who happens to be Lavrov’s informal wife. This is the textbook example of unexplained wealth. The property can be legally seized right now.

[snip]
The entire thread is worth reading as it illustrates how the UK is letting those DIRECTLY involved in the planning, justification, and execution of the war of aggression against Ukraine maintain massive capital reserves via relatives in the UK.
posted by Buntix at 8:05 AM on March 10 [47 favorites]


It's hard to watch Russian internal propaganda - so bombastic and inhumane. I have family members who believe whatever the latest version of the truth on TV is, and it's heartbreaking. At some point, upwards of 100m Russians are going to need to be deprogrammed from this. They're going to have to learn which Azov bases were just maternity hospitals after all. The Twitter thread above has it: there's no hell hot enough for the propagandists. It's a massive moral injury, and we'll be dealing with the consequences for many decades.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 8:05 AM on March 10 [21 favorites]


Vera Lytovchenko (cellar violin), P. Tchaikovsky. Melody. Kharkiv. Ukraine. 05.03.2022
posted by cenoxo at 8:19 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Half the potential volunteers were rejected, some b/c the Ukraine embassy couldn’t vet them adequately.

This is a really interesting situation - I’m following a lot of the social media chatter, with people I both know and don’t, and I’m not sure that these people are actually formally getting rejected - hearing from a lot of people that they just never heard back - which may /mean/ rejected, but these people are not interpreting that way. People are getting their own tickets to Ukraine-adjacent countries and just heading for the front.

I don’t know if this is unintentional and the embassy would rather they not, or the embassy doesn’t want to get in trouble for facilitating a ton of US fighters heading in who may get killed and piss off the State Department.
posted by corb at 8:22 AM on March 10 [10 favorites]


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia: https://mobile.twitter.com/mfa_russia/status/1501880265584615425

“Maria #Zakharova: We call on #EU & #NATO countries to stop the thoughtless flooding of the unviable #Kiev regime with the latest weapons systems in order to avoid enormous risk to intl civilian aviation & other means of transport in Europe & beyond.”

Quite a language shift and amping up of threat-posturing.
posted by Silvery Fish at 8:27 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Talking Points Memo. Link goes to their members-only section. Excerpt:

"Remember the time that Donald Trump’s degenerate campaign manager worked with a business partner who was a Russian spy and they finagled to pull the part of the 2016 GOP platform that called for military aid to Ukraine? Or the time Russian intermediaries reached out to the candidate’s son about the Russian government assisting his campaign and he said he “I love it!” Or the other time when the now leader of the House GOP caucus said that he thought “there’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump” and then his colleagues swore him to silence and told him not to speak of it again. Do I need to bring up more examples? Maybe the time where Trump met Putin in Helsinki, Finland, and told reporters he trusted Putin more than his own intelligence officials?"
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:32 AM on March 10 [47 favorites]


Whats up with the Putin regime's translators? Are they trying to be clever in Russian and it just doesn't translate well or is the original text really this fucked up all the time?
posted by some loser at 8:33 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Only country to eliminate nukes, all legalities aside it seems like the western world has a huge moral responsibility.

While I agree with the statement on the huge moral responsibility part, I must point out that South Africa was the first country, from all available evidence, to eliminate nuclear weapons on its own. As opposed to under superpower pressure.
posted by y2karl at 8:33 AM on March 10 [7 favorites]


What would be the best rebuttals to her arguments?

I'd like to repost this article: Having conversations with Friends and Family about Ukraine.

"...confronting someone else's "facts" with yours often has a negative effect – when presented with opposing ideas, people often entrench further into their positions and narratives. This often escalates conflict in the conversation and, even if well-intentioned, often has the opposite effect than we hope.

It is extremely rare that you can "save" someone from their informational ecosystem by telling them they are wrong. This usually happens only when people already have a deep trust in your judgment or if they believe you have a similar set of goals or worldview as they do. They have to see you as an ally and not as a misguided friend or, worse, an enemy. Before presenting a different set of information than they're used to, it's helpful to try the following actions first...."
posted by storybored at 8:44 AM on March 10 [11 favorites]


Russian Journalist and former MP Alexander Nevzorov spoke about looming war with Ukraine in April of last year. His predictions were spot on. (video in Russian with subtitles)

Text below with some annotations.
The most important thing, of course, the now clearly inevitable war with Ukraine. The victorious cartoons and videos of the military training exercises from the Ministry of Defense did their work. Everybody now believes in the power of Russian military machine. However, all these exercises are just a performance on an imaginary piano. You can make faces like the famous pianist Van Cliburn used to make. You can roll your eyes portraying inspiration, rapture, incredible dexterity of your fingers, you can pretend to do all that only until some bastard shoves a real piano under your hands. And that's when the humiliation starts. It will turn out that the great theoretical pianist can't even play the one finger "twinkle twinkle". And that's in the best case.

How, what will happen in this war, and how? Whatever happens, in any case, will end in a horrible defeat and tragedy for Russia. To add to the Afghan, Vietnam, Chechen, the poor country will grow yet another hump of shame. Why, why despite such an apparent inequality of power I still assume the victory will belong to Ukraine? Simple because for Ukraine, either outcome of the war will be a victory. Because there are only two outcomes, and both of them are fatal for the Russian Federation. In one case, the giant, angry, bloody monster called "Russia"... tramples the small, proud, defenseless neighbor. In another case, the small, proud, defenseless neighbor tramples the giant bloody monster. For Russia, both of these options are equally tragic. Now, who understands war least of all? Who are the ones you should never listen to in regards to it? I'll tell you. It's the so-called military analysts, who will now be feeding everyone the terminologized bullshit, about how their Hurricanes, Grads, Poseidons, Pinocchios will burn the strategic corridors for the tank divisions and behind them, convoys of infantry will be heading for Kyiv.

This is complete nonsense. This is what might happen during a military exercise. With a prior agreement and for a very large paycheck the Ukrainian side will considerately lay down under the Russian tanks and obediently accept the hits from just a few of the missiles. All of the military analytics are made predominantly by fools who either have long lost touch with reality, or never even touched it in the first place. None of them factor in the beyond furious resistance of Ukraine and the complete lack of military prowess of the Russian army. The Ukrainian subdivisions will be, I suspect, even fiercer than the Chechen ones.

The Chechen war was lost by the old Soviet army which still had some traditions, generals and military experience. Now there's none of that. No generals, no Rokhlin, no Lebed, nobody. So what will this Russo-Ukrainian war look like? To start with, what is war to Russia? First and foremost, it's the possibility to rob your own army with impunity. Since you will be able to write off absolutely anything. The magical ability of war to write off things is well known. And the best deals are made on the front-lines. There are already smart missiles that change trajectory the moment they're purchased. And as for the experience of the First Chechen war has shown, Russia has long learned how to sell its own tanks to the enemy bundled together with the crew. Everything will begin with a couple divisions getting lost. Can't go without that. Those divisions will inevitably get carpet bombed by the Russian Air Force which in Chechnya has gained an amazing ability to bomb its own units, after eliminating at least a quarter of Russian forces. Now that's a skill I doubt they've managed to drink away yet, and the Russian Air Force will finally be able to put it to practice. The Russian Navy will also have the opportunity to try their new talents. With some long-range artillery, binoculars and port wine they will inevitably fire upon a couple beaches with sunbathing tourists from the very same Russia. As the pieces of tourists get sorted into bags, the sweaty admirals will be offing themselves. Not because of the tourists, but after finding out that the hulls of their warships are held together only by a thick layer of paint. Of course, as it comes to the whole "dying" part, it will turn out that the patriotic cartoons cannot wage war or die by themselves. And the frontlines, as is tradition, will be presented with conscripts that only have experience of shooting mops and shovels, running to get the beer for their seniors and making beds. Those chick in camo will get strangled by the desperately fierce, experience, and wildly motivated Yarosh batallions -about five thousand in the first week. Russia will be showered with zinc coffins. Not a single soldier or officer will have even the slightest idea of why the hell they are here and for whose yachts and palaces they are fighting. What, you think there won't be another Grozny rail terminal? There surely and inevitably will be. Since the cognac-soaked lampasse-clad idiots are still the same, and still pointing their little pencils at their maps. Russia somehow manages to find humiliation everywhere. It finds it, swallows it, somehow digests it and for several years suffers a horrible media diarrhea. But here it will bite off humiliation indigestible amounts. A week later, the zinc-coffin rainfall will only get stronger. What was the Chechen war, which decorated Russia's landscapes with 18,000 tombstones fought for? Now it's more or less clear: To build diamond palaces, mosques in Grozny, to bow to Chechnya and to transfer it a billion rubles every day from the federal budget. In other words, to pay it a tribute befitting of a victor. And for this exact reason the Russian government turned thousands of their boys into stinking, burnt meat, and made around the same amount disabled. And that's considering that in Chechnya they weren't fighting an army, but with a few bands of volunteers who weren't even real soldiers - just some poets, gynecologists, and land surveyors. Why were the piles of corpses necessary? You could just start paying Chechnya right away, without firing a single shot.

Those Russian officers whose memory has not yet been entirely washed away with cognac, will surely recall all the imprisoned heroes of the First and Second Chechen wars, starting with Colonel Budanov, they will recall all the bullying by the tribunals and their betrayal by the government. Officers are observant people, they surely took notice that the Motherland doesn't forgive heroic deeds. In other words, bloodbath, terror, chaos, outcry of the press, Soldiers' Mothers Union all of this will increase tenfold, every day. Worldwide informational background, made up entirely of cursing. exposing and defaming Russia will be getting heavier and even further shackle the movements of an already barely standing army. The zinc-coffin rainfall will keep getting stronger. Consider that it's not only the Russian propaganda that can make up "Crucified Boys". But you won't even need to make up anything here, because any war creates well enough of bloody and heart-wrenching precedents. All other things aside, this is not just a war with Ukraine, Ukraine would've been just half the trouble. This is also a war with Odessa. In other words, the best way to cheaply and eternally become a laughingstock of the world. The powerful anti-war movement in Russia itself will become the core which will finally unite everyone who hates the regime.

And there is another unpleasant nuance. Right now the magical power of art is at work - cartoons, videos, declarations, parades, but it's best not to familiarize anyone with the real capabilities of the Russian army. After seeing the Russian army in action, the Japanese will immediately remember about the Kuril Islands, the Germans will smile about Konigsberg, Moldova about Transnistria and so on. And another thing. You have to remember, the military environment conceals difficult and quick surprises for the government. The danger of war is also in quickly forging heroes, authorities, legions' favorites, who will quickly realize they hold all the aces, and the one who will be the first to fraternize with Ukrainians will become the coolest and most renowned. Perhaps some of the commanders will indeed be burning with desire to rescue the Russian-speaking people, to save them from oppression, poverty, humiliation and robbery. But if you have that terrible, unstoppable itch to save the people, then sure, you can of course move towards Kyiv, but you can also move towards Moscow. The directions are, in this regard, absolutely equivalent. But on the way to Kyiv you will meet the desperate Yarosh batallions, AFU, partisans, ambushes. landmines, snipers, humiliation, and death. At the same time the road to Moscow is entirely free of these obstacles, while the end is approximately the same. Well, Zolotov and The National Guard will quickly join NATO. And Putin will only be left with only a call to his friend, Biden, asking to send the US Marines to protect Moscow from the crazed Russian commanders.
posted by interogative mood at 8:53 AM on March 10 [57 favorites]


One of my favorite costume YouTubers, Karolina Żebrowska, just published a quiet, personal reflection on what's happening in Poland right now. I found it helpful and human -- one person's ground-level perspective on an unimaginably overwhelming situation. It feels like a useful counterweight to the big, military-industrial-geopolitical drama portrayed by much of the media. Not that the military-industrial-geopolitical stuff isn't consequential -- just that it can be easy to overlook the daily experience of the people affected by the big historical tides. Anyway -- the video is worth a watch.
posted by ourobouros at 8:57 AM on March 10 [15 favorites]


or the embassy doesn’t want to get in trouble for facilitating a ton of US fighters

Similarly https://universalcreditsuffer.com/2022/03/09/mod-scrambles-to-stop-british-soldiers-going-awol-to-ukraine/
he UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is scrambling to stop and discourage serving British soldiers from travelling to Ukraine to fight Russian Forces. This comes as several troops have already gone Absent Without Leave (AWOL) stating an intention to travel to Ukraine. British authorities fear Russia may see this as Britain becoming directly involved in hostilities, not to mention the propaganda that would follow should a serving British soldier be captured by Russian Forces.

...

Whether the British Military continues to see Service Personnel going AWOL is unknown, but given the MoDs frantic activity over the past few days, it’s clear they have a fear mors may go as the conflict in Ukraine drags on.
There was very publicly a bunch of ex Royal Marines joined the UFL recently (and between them and the previous FFL there's probably some serious commando units in the making).

It's also interesting that as well Abu TOW there's also Wali who was an international fighter with the Kurds against Isis in Syria. The dystopian future where there's fluid non-state volunteer international brigades fighting against PMCs like the Wagner group and Blackwater seems a bit locked in.
posted by Buntix at 9:00 AM on March 10 [8 favorites]


My one-way ticket out of Moscow. from Owen Matthews in The Spectator.
posted by adamvasco at 9:16 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


How Putin squandered Russia's prosperity (newspaper article in Dutch, its regular economist's column, translated using Deepl)

Almost nineteen years ago, economist Dominic Wilson of the US investment bank Goldman Sachs presented a projection of the large emerging economies that suddenly shed a completely different light on the world economy of the future. Brazil, Russia, India and China would surpass many advanced countries in economic size by the middle of the century. Since then, we have known the term 'Bric' countries as an abbreviation for the four.

China was predicted to overtake the EU in economic size by 2016 and the United States by 2041. This has happened faster than expected. The final catch-up to the leading position in the world economy is now expected around 2030. But the rest of the Brics are disappointing. The biggest disappointment is Russia. When the first Bric forecast was published, it was supposed to catch up with the major EU countries in the early 1930s.

It is not going to happen, and maybe never. The country, with its 145 million inhabitants, is still barely larger in economic terms than the Benelux [Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg]. And this despite its unspeakably large reserves of oil, gas and metals. Or perhaps: thanks to it.

The first thing that comes into play here is what the international literature calls the 'Dutch disease', after the influence of the gas discoveries in the Netherlands: the 'free' flow of money from raw materials that causes the rest of the economy to be neglected. Add to that - besides weak institutions - a struggle for power over a state apparatus that distributes all that commodity money. Corruption, clientelism and nepotism are not unusual in many resource-rich countries.

As a turbo effect, in Russia there was also the raw and ill-considered way in which the economy had to be transformed cold turkey into a modern capitalist machine by Western advisors in the nineties. Concentrations of power and oligarchs are two consequences of this.

Good economic management and good governance could have made a big difference. The story of Burma (now Myanmar) and South Korea, two poverty-stricken agricultural states with comparable GDP per capita just after the war, is well known. Today, South Korea is the tenth largest economy in the world and nearly 30 times the size of Myanmar with the same population.

And Russia? In 1995, it was the wealthiest country per capita of all the states that were once part of the Soviet Union. In 2021, it had to leave Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians far behind. More importantly, Russia only doubled its GDP per capita (measured in purchasing power parities) between 1995 and 2021.

Except for Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine - no examples of good economic governance either - all the other former Soviet republics did better. So, in order of progress: Georgia (4.7 times the prosperity of that time), Armenia (4.5), Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan to Moldova (still 2.3 times) increased their prosperity faster than mother Russia did in the past quarter century - of which more than two decades under Putin.

What a missed opportunity. If Russia had gone through the same development as the former Soviet Republic of Estonia, it would now be almost as large economically as Germany and as prosperous per capita as Spain. But now? The war against Ukraine and the sanctions, calculated by the bank JP Morgan, will lead to a shrinkage of at least 12 percent. That would bring Russia's per capita prosperity back to pre-2011 levels. How do you manage that?

Putin's paradise is not only disappearing behind the new Iron Curtain. It is also disappearing behind the horizon.
posted by Stoneshop at 9:17 AM on March 10 [32 favorites]




What a missed opportunity. If Russia had gone through the same development as the former Soviet Republic of Estonia, it would now be almost as large economically as Germany and as prosperous per capita as Spain. But now? The war against Ukraine and the sanctions, calculated by the bank JP Morgan, will lead to a shrinkage of at least 12 percent. That would bring Russia's per capita prosperity back to pre-2011 levels. How do you manage that?

With the dramatic shift in PPP over the last few days the Russians are now the poorest people in Europe slipping below even Moldova.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:36 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to imagine convincing a war-supporting American two weeks into Desert Storm or the 2003 Iraq invasion that the US was committing war crimes, and it gives me some perspective on how difficult it might be to convince a war-supporting Russian of the same thing two weeks into Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Us-good-them-bad kicks in for most humans at the start of just about any war - just look at how carefully things the like Azov battalion have to be talked about if you're on the Ukrainian side of this war.
posted by clawsoon at 9:54 AM on March 10 [48 favorites]


Inside Ukraine’s Embattled Cities
Dispatches on two cities in Ukraine’s south that are surrounded by Russian forces and under attack.

A harrowing and heart breaking report from the New York Times podcast The Daily.
posted by bluesky43 at 10:01 AM on March 10


Original: Dat werd, toen de eerste Bric-prognose werd gepubliceerd, geacht om begin jaren dertig van deze eeuw de grote EU-landen in te halen.

Translation: When the first Bric forecast was published, it was supposed to catch up with the major EU countries in the early 1930s.

Close but no cigar!
posted by The Tensor at 10:01 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


Russia says China refuses to supply aircraft parts after sanctions (reuters)

March 10 (Reuters) - China has refused to supply Russian airlines with aircraft parts, an official at Russia's aviation authority was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying on Thursday, after Boeing (BA.N) and Airbus (AIR.PA) halted supply of components.

Russia's aviation sector is being squeezed by Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, with Russia's foreign ministry warning this week that the safety of Russian passenger flights was under threat. Agencies including Interfax quoted Valery Kudinov, a Rosaviatsia official responsible for maintaining airplane airworthiness, as saying that Russia would look for opportunities to source parts from countries including Turkey and India after a failed attempt to obtain them from China.
posted by bluesky43 at 10:06 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Apropos countering Russian propaganda in Russia: I suspect when more soldiers return from the front, things may start to turn.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:45 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


Don't forget that censorship and propaganda have an incredibly long (and fascinating) history in Russia. Film, art, posters. Modern forms are more insidious - one teacher I had in St. Petersburg (this was 20 years ago) told us that it was better under Soviet rule because the truth was basically the opposite of whatever the official story was. Excellent harvest = very bad harvest. In more modern iterations, it's harder to pick out the truth. Still, I don't think this ability to see through disinformation is gone from the Russian collective memory.
posted by kitcat at 10:50 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


I don't think this ability to see through disinformation is gone from the Russian collective memory.

And yet I personally know intelligent Russian people who survived the USSR and who tell me that the Ukranian army is using schools and hospitals as bases and mischaracterizing Russia's strikes on these military targets, that there is no such country as Ukraine, and that Putin loves Russia and is not rich.
posted by prefpara at 10:54 AM on March 10 [15 favorites]


Russia will temporarily ban the export of grain crops to the EAEU countries

Warning: RIA is a Russian state media [read: propaganda] outlet. I only use them because they are an authoritative source and I wouldn't believe it unless I heard it from the horses's mouth.

I don't know why Russia is doing this at this point. This is basically sabotaging what's left of the Russian sphere of influence in Central Asia. Maybe they're out for revenge with countries that are taking in Russian citizens? Maybe they've looked at incoming crop figures and know they're utterly fucked without Ukrainian grain.

Even after the Russo-Ukraine war has ended, the aftershocks are yet to come.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:55 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


BBC: Russia hits back at Western sanctions with export bans
The ban covers exports of telecoms, medical, vehicle, agricultural, and electrical equipment, as well as some forestry products such as timber.

The economy ministry said further measures could include restricting foreign ships from Russian ports.
Serious question: does this make any kind of sense from Russia's point of view? Isn't Russia just expanding the sanctions on itself?
posted by polecat at 11:10 AM on March 10 [13 favorites]


Panzerfaust3 anti-tank weapons just arrived in Ukraine yesterday from Germany.

UA soldiers in the field already have them.

The sheer number of anti-tank weapons the West is funneling to Ukraine has been nothing short of astounding.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:13 AM on March 10 [10 favorites]


Serious question: does this make any kind of sense from Russia's point of view? Isn't Russia just expanding the sanctions on itself?

It sounds stronger than "we can't export these items because our suppliers in the West stopped sending us everything we need to make them."
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:14 AM on March 10 [24 favorites]


I don't know why Russia is doing this at this point.

Because if ordinary Russians start to get hungry, Putin and his cronies are fucked.
posted by The Tensor at 11:22 AM on March 10 [8 favorites]


In annoying things, Natura Siberrica and Babushka Agafia products have been taken off the shelves of Polish drugstores. Both are made in Estonia from Siberian herbal recipes (with a Russian owner who currently has no holdings in Russia), and have been my favourites because they're high on effective ingredients and gentle on my skin. I'm off to find online shops that still have stocks.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:23 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


CNN: 'Structured ambush': Video appears to show strike on Russian tanks (~6 min)

Also features Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton opining that NATO should threaten Kaliningrad.

Ukrainians claim that they killed the commanding Colonel in that attack.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:54 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


The sheer number of anti-tank weapons the West is funneling to Ukraine has been nothing short of astounding.

Also astounding is the sheer number of destroyed Russian vehicles. It's not a sustainable level of losses, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:15 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


> Also features Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton opining that NATO should threaten Kaliningrad.


Dr. Strangelove is not a how-to manual, ffs.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:18 PM on March 10 [25 favorites]


"The sheer number of anti-tank weapons the West is funneling to Ukraine has been nothing short of astounding."

It's okay as long as Western stocks are not being drained. 'keeping your powder dry' [and well-stocked] should be to the fore wherever Russia is concerned.
posted by unearthed at 12:20 PM on March 10


Also features Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton opining that NATO should threaten Kaliningrad.

To be fair this is one of many ideas he lays out as a "strategic distraction" that he thinks would be helpful.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:21 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Re communicating with Russian friend:

Maybe it would help to point out that Russia have changed their story? "The Ukrainians are bombing their own hospitals" "Oh actually it was us but it wasn't a hospital" So they admit that their first report wasn't true at all...why would you believe the second one to be true? What happens when there's a third report that contradicts the second one? Why do you keep believing these people who admit they lie to you?
posted by bink at 12:40 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Propaganda does not exist to convince; it exists to reinforce. It doesn't have to be made of lies, but it's purpose is ideological, not argumentative.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:45 PM on March 10 [34 favorites]


Why do you keep believing these people who admit they lie to you?

It wasn't a lie, it was an honest mistake.

Judging from my elderly Fox News parents, they've decided who to trust and then they trust.
posted by Slothrup at 12:53 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Who knew that propaganda would become such a peril to us all?
posted by emmet at 12:56 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]




Who knew that propaganda would become such a peril to us all?

Orwell.
posted by Gelatin at 1:01 PM on March 10 [51 favorites]


In annoying things, Natura Siberrica and Babushka Agafia products have been taken off the shelves of Polish drugstores. Both are made in Estonia

That sounds almost on a par with the international feline fancy banning Russian Blue cats from cat shows. (Surely they could Freedom Fries the breed name to “Glory to Ukraine Blue” or something?)

Less stupidly, I was at the Heathrow duty-free a few days ago, and while all Russian vodkas are gone, there are established Russian-named brands (Stolichnaya and Smirnoff), which are owned by Western multinationals and made in EU countries (Latvia and Italy, IIRC, though not necessarily in that order).
posted by acb at 1:02 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


The same footage as in the CNN video above, but without the talking heads.

That Russian armoured convoy acted entirely oblivious of the fact that they could be ambushed in a location like that, and they were. Which means they were either ignorant of how the war had been going so far (implausible, but not downright impossible), in a hurry to get somewhere they were needed or where they figured they could best position themselves for the next move, and/or thought they could destroy any opposition with maybe a few losses on their side. And definitely lacking the intel to weigh their options.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:07 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


I listened to the recent This American Life episode about Russia, in particular the Mr. Popular segment about Putin. My takeaway was that it might serve some people to suspend their disbelief in the official state narrative - in a period of prosperity.

Also, it's become pretty dangerous at this point for Russians to vocally disagree with those narratives. Whether that colours private conversations, I don't know. And this is not to say that no one is fooled. But I doubt most are.
posted by kitcat at 1:15 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


>NATO should threaten Kaliningrad.
>Dr. Strangelove is not a how-to manual, ffs.

See, I was saving Kaliningrad as a counter-offer to Putin's ridiculous demands.
"You want to annex Crimea, and Ukraine never joins NATO? Sure. But in exchange, Kaliningrad Oblast becomes the 4th Baltic and joins NATO immediately. Swapsies is fair, right?"
posted by bartleby at 1:28 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


"You want to annex Crimea, and Ukraine never joins NATO? Sure. But in exchange, Kaliningrad Oblast becomes the 4th Baltic and joins NATO immediately. Swapsies is fair, right?"

This is kind of silly for the same reason Russia trying to puppet Ukraine is dumb. How are you going to stop the civilians in the Kaliningrad Oblast from rising up against a Western puppet government, or voting them out, then voting to rejoin Russia? Like if Russia invaded Alaska, declared them an independent country, forced military allies with Russia and China, you really think that the population wouldn't raise hell to get back into the United States? Do we just keep Kaliningrad under occupation indefinitely in a forever war? Punish them if they vote wrong? Remobilize if they run their puppet rulers out of town on a rail?

Kaliningrad would be a bargaining chip in terms of "you hand back Crimea, and the Donbass and we give you control of Kaliningrad back" in peace talks and it would be NATO's first objective in order to keep the Suwalki Gap open but there's no way that an independent Kaliningrad would stay independent given its own free will.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:36 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


That sounds almost on a par with the international feline fancy banning Russian Blue cats from cat shows. (Surely they could Freedom Fries the breed name to “Glory to Ukraine Blue” or something?)

You mean FIFe?
As of Tuesday, no cats bred in Russia may be imported and registered in any FIFe pedigree book outside Russia, and no cats belonging to exhibitors living in Russia may enter any FIFe shows outside the country.


My emphasis. 'Bred in Russia' refers to the individual cat, and only affects new registrations. No breeds are banned.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:09 PM on March 10 [9 favorites]


If the cat is a Russian Blue, just dye the back half yellow and you should be good.
posted by clawsoon at 2:11 PM on March 10 [11 favorites]


Mod note: Deleted a few. a) We don't need the word "cuck" in here, especially when it's not a direct quote. b) If nothing is happening, you can go do some self-care instead of coming up with implausible scenarios.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 2:20 PM on March 10 [46 favorites]


Russia is going all in on the US-Ukraine biological weapons connection, requesting a meeting of the security council.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:29 PM on March 10


From NBC News, 2022/03/09, "U.S. warns Russia could use chemical weapons in false-flag operation in Ukraine":
U.S. officials say they are concerned Russia could be preparing to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine after the Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of possibly planning a false-flag chemical weapon attack.

An administration official said the U.S. is worried that the Russians are making the claim “to justify a false-flag operation or them using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine themselves.”
The thing that stuck out to me about this report was the very direct and explicit calling out of this false-flagging tactic.
posted by mhum at 2:30 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


tiny details

But last night Edmonton beat Washington in OT.. Ovechkin was scoreless, and the Oilers captain scored the OT winner, and the game in Edmonton began with a rendition of the national anthem as performed by the Vitar Ukrainian Folk Choir.

Edmonton is home to some 160,000 citizens of Ukrainian descent. Ovechkin is a big deal in the league and known for his chumminess with Putin. Sports are a very poor substitute for what we need right now, but the combination of details last night was pleasing.
posted by elkevelvet at 2:35 PM on March 10 [9 favorites]


An administration official said the U.S. is worried that the Russians are making the claim “to justify a false-flag operation or them using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine themselves.”

Equally worrying is the possibility that the plan is to use this as justification for deploying tactical nukes, since doctrine around WMD is "proportionate response", and tactical nukes are under that umbrella.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 2:37 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent
@KyivIndependent 46m
⚡️Twitter deletes Russian embassy disinformation posts. The social network has deleted tweets by the Russian Embassy in the U.K. which attempted to deny Russian involvement in the attack on a Mariupol hosptial. Twitter said it had removed the posts for denying violent incidents.

/say what you will, Twitter is doing a good thing.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:37 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


For a country that's not a democracy and has been shunned by most of the global community, Russia is sure spending a lot of time concocting stories to justify their invasion. Why?
posted by meowzilla at 2:40 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Julia Ioffe @juliaioffe
Sergei Guriev, a prominent Russian economist who is close to Alexey Navalny and was forced to flee Russia in 2013, is trying to organize a movement of Russians who are against the war.
Quote Tweet
Sergei Guriev@sguriev
Putin invaded Ukraine in our name. But we, true Russians, are against the war. Yes, we are responsible for not stopping Putin but we are a friend of Ukraine. http://TrueRussia.org gathers Russians who want to support Ukrainian refugges.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:45 PM on March 10 [6 favorites]


They dissemble and lie in the hopes of sowing disunity among the international community so as to avoid a response if/when they escalate.
posted by wierdo at 2:45 PM on March 10 [10 favorites]


@KyivIndependent 3:28 PM · Mar 10, 2022
Reuters: Facebook to temporarily allow posts calling for violence against Russians, calls for Putin's death.

According to internal emails seen by Reuters on March 10, Meta will allow for calls of violence against Russians in the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The temporary changes apply to Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.

I'm… not sure how I feel about this.
posted by mazola at 2:49 PM on March 10 [13 favorites]


I just saw this too, and feel the same way.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:52 PM on March 10


Absolutely disagree with this part: posts calling for violence against Russians

Absolutely agree with this part: calls for Putin's death.
posted by doggod at 2:54 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I don't know, do we really think soldiers who are part of an invading army are in the same category as civilians? If Ukranians living in a town under siege want to post on Facebook about where their neighbors can get guns to defend themselves from attacking Russian troops, do we really think Facebook should shut down that form of organizing?
posted by prefpara at 2:54 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


An administration official said the U.S. is worried that the Russians are making the claim “to justify a false-flag operation or them using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine themselves.”

Of course, if the US had even the slightest indication that Russia was considering this, their best strategy would be to loudly announce this in order to reduce the possibility that any false flag operation would work and thus the possibility of Russia trying. So these announcements are not just news, but also war strategy — and we should read them in that light.
posted by ssg at 3:05 PM on March 10 [14 favorites]


imo the increasing absurdity of the Russian attempts at disinfo are par for the course of right-wing info wars that we've seen recently: at a certain point the only remaining move is to keep going all in on us v them. It certainly "works" on some people, mostly those already indoctrinated; the absurdity of it to the rest of us is no impediment to that. It seems to be completely falling flat internationally, thankfully, but it will be effective at shoring up support among the already faithful.

Ultimately it indicates to me how far up their own colons they are – there is no moderation possible, only more claims, more conspiracy. It's likely the public-facing folks are also doing this to bolster support for themselves among the believers in the Russian gov't, too — certainly any moderaiton of the position would upset Putin, at least.

It's not dissimilar to what we saw in the states with Trump and co over the years of his term – including I think the big question of, well, what are people going to DO about it? The difference of course is we're not dealing with trampling of democratic norms, but the very real destruction of a country and murder of its people.
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:12 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


For a country that's not a democracy and has been shunned by most of the global community, Russia is sure spending a lot of time concocting stories to justify their invasion. Why?

All rulers are beholden to their people to one degree or another (at the same time, democratic rulers also can do unpopular things!). Even if you can't vote someone out, the success of your projects can't ride on pure oppression. Things don't happen from the ruler's pure will, you need popular support so that the people you rule will act when you ask them to.
posted by dis_integration at 3:17 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


A Ukraine No-Fly Zone Would be Ineffective, Dangerous and a Gift to Putin, RUSI* Commentary, Justin Bronk, 10 March 2022:
Russian forces continue to subject Ukrainian cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol to brutal and indiscriminate bombardment, and have already killed thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers. There is a natural and understandable clamour in many Western countries for a no-fly zone to prevent the Russian Air Force from operating over all or part of Ukraine. This would be a major mistake….
Subtopics in the article include: Military Arguments Against a No-Fly Zone; Other Options; and Political Arguments Against a No-Fly Zone.

*Royal United Services Institute [WP] - British defence and security think tank.
posted by cenoxo at 3:23 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


For a country that's not a democracy and has been shunned by most of the global community, Russia is sure spending a lot of time concocting stories to justify their invasion. Why?

Because just flat-out 100%-contrary-to-fact lying has been working for Putin and his puppets for years. (One of their reps to the UN today even tried calling the hospital bombing "fake news".) But it turns out people have a limit. Which I guess is gratifying to discover...?
posted by The Tensor at 3:25 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


The Dispatch podcast (right-leaning yet smart and sane) posted a great interview (autoplay audio) with Natalie Jaresko, Ukraine's former minister of finance.
posted by jon1270 at 3:33 PM on March 10


Russia is sure spending a lot of time concocting stories to justify their invasion. Why?

At least in part because they need something to tell their own soldiers, to keep them fighting.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:33 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


do we really think soldiers who are part of an invading army are in the same category as civilians

I think we have reason to at least consider it if they're conscripts. (Or at least to being less binary with our categories)
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 3:35 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Prefpare, re. this:

I don't know, do we really think soldiers who are part of an invading army are in the same category as civilians?

My fear is that it does not apply to soldiers, but to civilians who happen to be in the respective countries, many of whom are there because they disagree with Putin's politics, or at least try to escape them.
posted by doggod at 3:41 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Equally worrying is the possibility that the plan is to use this as justification for deploying tactical nukes, since doctrine around WMD is "proportionate response", and tactical nukes are under that umbrella.

Yeah, that's something to keep an eye on, particularly if the troll farms and remaining Russia-friendly media channels start pushing it as the preferred narrative.

The Russian doctrine on using nuclear weapons is something that has been pretty extensively pored over and studied, e.g.:

ESCALATION MANAGEMENT AND NUCLEAR EMPLOYMENT IN RUSSIAN MILITARY STRATEGY, by Michael Kofman and Anya Loukianova Fink (Jun 23, 2020):
The purpose of Russia’s escalation management strategy is to deter direct aggression, preclude a conflict from expanding, prevent or preempt the use of highly damaging capabilities against the Russian homeland that could threaten the state or the regime, and terminate hostilities on terms acceptable to Moscow. [...]

The Russian military sees an independent conventional war as possible, but believes conflict is unlikely to remain conventional as it escalates. This is not a departure from late-Soviet military thought. The military expects a great-power war between nuclear peers to eventually involve nuclear weapons, and is comfortable with this reality, unlike U.S. strategists. However, in contrast with Soviet thinking, the Russian military does not believe that limited nuclear use necessarily leads to uncontrolled escalation. [...]

There is an erroneous perception in American policy circles that at some point Washington and Moscow were on the same page and shared a similar threshold for nuclear use in conflict. It is not clear that this imagined time period ever existed, but perhaps both countries viewed nuclear escalation as uncontrollable, or at least publicly described it as such during the late-Cold War period. In principle, Russian leadership does view nuclear use as defensive, forced by exigent circumstances, and in the context of regional or large-scale conflicts.
Russian doctrine doesn't rule out the use of tactical nuclear weapons as an instrument for conventional war termination, particularly in situations where victory may not be possible otherwise, such as against a more technologically-advanced adversary with precision or other asymmetric weapons.

It's okay as long as Western stocks are not being drained. 'keeping your powder dry' [and well-stocked] should be to the fore wherever Russia is concerned.

This is literally the situation those Javelins and Stingers were designed for. It would be insane not to send them.

Even if all you care about is OG NATO-land, it's still a good idea: one less Russian tank is one less Russian tank in the world. Each one that gets blown up in Ukraine is one fewer that you need to worry about rolling through the Fulda Gap. And they can't build new tanks faster than we can build Javelins.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:41 PM on March 10 [22 favorites]


However, in contrast with Soviet thinking, the Russian military does not believe that limited nuclear use necessarily leads to uncontrolled escalation.

It's difficult to appreciate how anyone could know/believe what might happen if there is a nuclear bomb, limited or not. I feel like this is some wishful thinking.
posted by bluesky43 at 4:03 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Yes, the whole point of someone like Putin is to behave unpredictably, it's like the DC think tanks who come up with "geopolitical" "doctrines" never studied game theory or something.
posted by polymodus at 4:06 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Russia is sure spending a lot of time concocting stories to justify their invasion. Why?
At home, maybe. What I'm curious about is why there seems so little of it abroad?
It could be because I'm in the wrong demographic to be pushed that kind of stuff by the various algorithms; but I don't think I have seen a single piece of 'we welcome our liberators' propaganda.

You would think that in an era of stochastic terrorism, of getting your way by flooding the zone with so much confusing information that people don't know what to believe, and then taking control of the narrative, there would at least have been some kind of, I dunno, "Says here that the people of Donbass were being oppressed because they're Orthodox. Maybe this is one of those messy ethno-religious things we should just stay out of and let it happen?" and some bowtied guy on Fox rationalizing 'Well what if everybody east of the Dnieper wants to live under Russian dictatorship? Aren't we ultimately talking about self-determination here? It's Ukrainian imperialism that's the real problem!' bullshit paid for with Russian dark money, showing up in my YouTube recommendations and twitter feed.

Has anyone been seeing that kind of stuff, and I'm just in a bubble of well tuned block lists?
posted by bartleby at 4:09 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Part of what made previous Russian propaganda "okay" seemed to be its plausible deniability. "What do you mean, this is Russian propaganda? That just shows what a gullible conspiracy theorist you are." That gets more difficult if it's straight-up "Russia good, NATO bad."
posted by clawsoon at 4:26 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


> bartleby: "Has anyone been seeing that kind of stuff, and I'm just in a bubble of well tuned block lists?"

I haven't seen that stuff first-hand myself, but I did see a chyron on MSNBC earlier today which said that Tucker Carlson was apparently pushing the Kremlin's biolabs propaganda line. I expect that he was doing more of a "just asking questions" kind of thing rather than a "we must join Russia and invade Ukraine to stop their WMDs" thing but I had the sound was off so I couldn't actually hear what the people on the segment were saying.
posted by mhum at 4:39 PM on March 10


Anecdote is not anecdata, but yesterday one of my coworkers stated that the Ukrainians are shelling themselves and setting up the Russians, who, he tells me, are going to win this war.

Now, 99.9% of the time, I bite my tongue and refuse to discuss politics or social issues at work. It’s a fight I’m not going to win (another coworker is all about InfoWars; another one casually mentioned the other evening that Anderson Cooper is secretly employed by the CIA; no, none of these people are vaccinated - why do you ask?)

But when that particular guy, whom I really thought was a relatively rational moderate/light right leaning, made that statement I just started in. Not angrily, but I was like “look, I’m not an expert on foreign policy, but I have studied the Cold War and also took a bunch of Russian language and lit classes, and I do this thing called “read,” so let’s talk about the history of Ukrainian sovereignty, the rise of authoritarianism, Putin’s dry runs in Chechnya, the sham of “democratic elections” in Russia after Yeltsin, etc etc.”

Everyone went quiet and moved away from me as I held an impromptu lesson on this particular current event, although they did look at me like I had grown another 2 heads.

TL;DR: a guy who had previously established himself as a moderate has been exposed to media somewhere stating that the Russians aren’t doing anything wrong and will be victorious. This is in a tiny metro area in the US. The person in question has a university education from a state school. So yeah, that propaganda is breaking through somewhere.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 4:49 PM on March 10 [79 favorites]


So they admit that their first report wasn't true at all...why would you believe the second one to be true? What happens when there's a third report that contradicts the second one? Why do you keep believing these people who admit they lie to you?

The final retreat is simply: "Well, many people are saying different things, why do you believe the Ukrainian story uncritically? I'm a deep thinker and have decided that actually, this situation is complicated, and it's you who are making unfounded claims, not me, the skeptic."

I saw a post from someone (a flesh-and-blood human, a spouse of a friend of a friend) which did a sort of "skepticism sandwich":

1. every conflict has two sides
2. there's lots of information going around and most of it is fake
3. Ukraine was preparing to attack Russia, possibly with nuclear weapons
4. Putin is a dictator, but NATO is also to blame
5. Everyone calling for the end to the war is being overly emotional; every side (NATO, Ukraine, Russia) wanted this war and won't listen to you

Just an extraordinary example of the genre. "The situation is more complicated than you think... here's some VERIFIED FACTS about Ukraine... everyone involved is bad, and your pro-peace stance is emotional and not reasonable."
posted by BungaDunga at 4:50 PM on March 10 [19 favorites]


The Putin regime's line on this has actually changed, now the hospital was actually an Azov battalion base. I imagine she'll rapidly swap out her beliefs to conform to the new version.

BungaDunga, that is exactly what happened. More specifically, any civilian casualties in Mariupol are being caused by the Azov battalion. Any civilian casualties elsewhere are being caused by Ukrainians using people as human shields. When I sent her articles by journalists, she scoffed at me, called me a blind believer. When I pointed out that Putin has not presented evidence for Ukraine planning a nuclear or biological strike against Russia, she dismissed my comment as folly.

Thanks for the link, storybored. I think that explains a lot of my failures in talking to her. For me, the most interesting moment in our conversation happened when she claimed that the US and NATO had forced Russia's hand by supporting the Maiden Revolution and, so she claiked, creating biological weapons in Ukraine. According to her, Putin had to intervene in Ukraine, she said, for the sake of Russia's future. The West forced his hand.

When I replied Putin doesn't seem like a man who can be forced into anything, that gave her pause. As did asking why if, Putin was worried about a research facility, he invaded the entire country instead of merely attacking that facility. I felt like I could tell she was trying to reconcile her image of a poor Putin being pushed around by the West with the strong autocratic Putin image represented in the Russian media. But after a few minutes, any dissonance evaporated, and she returned to calling Zalenskyy a Nazi and claiming that justified the invasion. It was a disheartening end to what felt like a hopeful moment.

She then sent me a long series of pictures "debunking" the Mariupol maternity hospital strike as nothing more than a group of actors paid by Ukraine to make Russia look bad. Honestly, talking to her right now feels like I'm talking to a member of QAnon.
posted by lock robster at 4:53 PM on March 10 [21 favorites]


Part of what made previous Russian propaganda "okay" seemed to be its plausible deniability. "What do you mean, this is Russian propaganda? That just shows what a gullible conspiracy theorist you are." That gets more difficult if it's straight-up "Russia good, NATO bad."

This. Also a lot of the news during the establishment of RT, at least in the West, was that it was challenging the narrative spun by US imperialism directly which did build them street cred for at least a while. It wasn't so blatantly pro-Putin, just anti-whatever stupid fucking barely veiled holy war bombing campaign the US was starting by blowing up Muslims that week. Anti-imperialism is a very seductive mistress because, honestly, colonialism has been a fucking disaster for everyone who isn't white, cis, het, and arguably, male.

The biggest problem for the Russian propaganda machine this time is that anyone who tries to both sides this bullshit can easily be debunked by the fact that if Russia stopped fighting then war would cease but if Ukraine stopped fighting Ukraine would cease. It makes sense to people. The only actor who can stop this is Russia and they ain't stopping it. That's why they have to have Lavrov and Nebenzya throw whatever bullshit at the wall that they can and see what sticks.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:55 PM on March 10 [23 favorites]


Whenever I see people arguing with conspiracy theorists, and trying to figure out just the right combination of well sourced facts and logical arguments that will convince them, I think of that "first time?" meme.

Like, have you talked to conspiracy theorist before? They don't respond to facts and logic. If they did, they wouldn't have become conspiracy theorists. They are fucked-up, damaged individuals. Trying to reason with them will only drive you crazy.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:57 PM on March 10 [43 favorites]


Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman (ret.) interview on Ananpour & Company. - The U.S. Is at Great Risk of Ending Up in This War.
"We are on the cusp of a hot war...the longer this goes the riskier it gets. The decisions that we have to make weeks and months from now are going to be much much more dangerous. We need to make some courageous risk-informed decisions now to avoid that otherwise we will find ourselves in an untenable position. We need to do that now. We need to provide the Ukrainians the support they need. It is going to get worse I cannot be more adamant about it. We need to do everything we can to help the ukrainians to win this or to to freeze this to move this to a diplomatic solution quickly otherwise we [the U.S.] have every risk of ending up in this war." A critique of the Biden administration and the National Security Council's incremental military strategy.
posted by storybored at 5:10 PM on March 10 [13 favorites]


The debate now is do we need to engage in a tit-for-tat set of minor escalations now and thereby avoid a major escalation later or do those small scale tit-for-tat escalations snowball into the thing we want to avoid. There is no certainty that either strategy is optimal.
posted by interogative mood at 5:15 PM on March 10 [12 favorites]


The story behind this photo of the family that carried their elderly dog 17km to get to the Polish border (no paywall). Also, 14/10, here's a woman who evacuates elderly and disabled dogs from Irpin.

Schadenfreude at sea: The Internet is watching with glee as Russian oligarchs' yachts are seized (WaPo, no paywall)
Using automated Twitter accounts, online tracking sites and homemade bingo cards, casual fans of financial retribution are following the location of the oligarchs’ ships and jets, often hoping to catch them on the run or docked in a country likely to seize them. Social media accounts have sprung up to follow the movements of these luxurious vehicles and keep track of which ones have been frozen or taken into possession by governments.
Polish women are leaving strollers at train stations for Ukrainian refugees (WaPo, no paywall)
The strollers on the train platforms in Poland are a symbol of what women know about war and their place in it. These Ukrainian mothers have arrived without husbands or partners because the men of Ukraine, ages 18 to 60, are prohibited from leaving. The men are staying to fight in the army. That is what men have always done in wars: They have fought and died.

Women in war have been forced to flee, or to hide, or they have been raped, or they have fled and hidden and then been raped. Their bodies have become territories on which battles are fought. They have been the family protectors; they have been charged with keeping children safe using only these bodies as armor.
posted by peeedro at 5:30 PM on March 10 [21 favorites]


A possibly useful resource on twitter: daily updates including detailed maps of where the fighting is and analysis of what operational goals the two armies seem to be trying to achieve. Provenance unclear to me, but it seems to be getting widely linked.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:34 PM on March 10


CNN is reporting that the 40-mile long convoy northwest of Kyiv has mostly dispersed and repositioned nearby:
With the clouds temporarily clearing around the Ukrainian capital, new satellite images taken earlier on Thursday show that the Russian military convoy northwest of Kyiv that stretched more than 40 miles (more than 64 kilometers) has "largely dispersed and redeployed," Maxar Technologies says.

The satellite images show that some elements of the convoy have "repositioned" into forests and treelined areas near Lubyanka, Ukraine, according to Maxar. The satellite images were taken at 11:37 a.m. Kyiv time (4.37 a.m. ET) on Thursday.

Just north of the Antonov Airbase in Hostomel, Ukraine, Russian military vehicles are seen sitting on roadways in residential areas in the town of Ozera — 17 miles northwest of Kyiv.

Towed artillery and other vehicles are seen taking cover in a sparse patches of trees near Lubyanka — about three miles northwest of the Antonov Airbase.

In Berestyanka — 10 miles west of the airbase — a number of fuel trucks and, what Maxar says, appears to be multiple rocket launchers are seen positioned in a field near trees.
I find it interesting that (I think) the only photos we've seen of that convoy have been from satellites and not from, say, drones.
posted by mhum at 5:37 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Vladislav Davidzon: No Quiet Place Left on Earth
President Zelensky’s soaring optimism has given way to the reality that America isn’t coming to help, Ukraine is on its own, and Vladimir Putin is only getting started.

"There is, however, nothing left to deter Putin from trying his luck at this point. ... The only option left [for him] is to go all in, even if it means carpet bombing Russian-speaking cities into ruin in order to save the Russian-speaking world from the specter of fascism."
posted by Kabanos at 5:42 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


The strollers on the train platforms in Poland

Those photos, coming right after reading the article about the person whose husband carried their old dog all the way to the border (and then he had to turn around), really hit me hard.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:56 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


“You sure got a nice planet there…would be a shame if something were to happen to it”

— Vladimir Putin

So…this is where we are. Nuclear extortion. It started the minute Putin reminded the world of Russia’s nuclear arsenal at the outset of this horror show. Now we haven’t entirely played the role of frightened shopkeepers, what with the sanctions and arms shipments, but we sure might not be doing enough to keep Ukraine free. And that not-doing-enough is because of fear, which is how extortion works.

I really hope our sanctions and javelins help the brave Ukrainians drive the Russians home in shame. But there may come a time — and soon— when we might have to cross Putin’s line in the sand in some way because it’s imperative that his grotesque venture fails.
posted by Toecutter at 6:31 PM on March 10 [14 favorites]


You're talking about half a billion dead humans, at a minimum, and possibly the end of civilised life in earth. No type of escalation is "optimal", no matter what drugs you're on.

Moorooka, while I obviously share your sentiment against nuclear war, I think that the best way to respond to nuclear threats is a live question. To say that we should all simply roll over and give into all demands in the face of a nuclear threat is, I would suggest, a bad idea for at least a couple of reasons:

(1) What you're essentially advocating is that all countries with nuclear weapons can simply do what they want with total impunity, including trampling on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries without nuclear power. What I think this results in is a stampede towards nuclear weapons, as countries without nuclear weapons realize that they are the only way to protect themselves and/or gain power over other countries. (I worry, actually, we are already somewhat at this point: Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons almost 30 years ago and Russia didn't, and I think it's pretty clear that that has enabled Russia to bully them; I read [via Google Translate] comments sections in newspapers around the world and have noted several commenters of various non-nuclear powers saying the lesson they've learned is to try to encourage their governments to develop nuclear weapons for reasons of national security, as it's clear that otherwise they're vulnerable to just this sort of bullying). Having lots more countries develop nuclear weapons, will, I suggest, in the medium term to long term may well make the world less safe, not more safe.

This strategy also rewards nuclear brinkmanship like Putin is doing: effectively incentivizing/rewarding displays of nuclear brinkmanship will make it more common, not less common, and I would suggest that nuclear war (whether deliberately waged or even accidental from misreading others' signals) is a more likely result of nuclear brinkmanship.

I think unfortunately that it's clear that there are certain leaders and countries that only respond to force or displays of force, not the kind of nice postwar consensus to which many European nations (and others) have subscribed. Having read and watched a lot about Putin, I'm pretty convinced that unfortunately he's someone who responds to force (or displays of force), and not much else. As I said just above, the Russia-Ukraine issue is clearly high profile and being played out very visibly on the global stage. If he wins, that's going to send a strong message to the entire world that they should develop nuclear weapons to avoid the kind of treatment Ukraine is getting. Placating Putin now may avoid nuclear war now, but as I just noted, I think it will make it more likely later for the reasons I mentioned.

(2) Also, all-out nuclear war is not the only risk here. I think there's a non-insignificant threat that Putin will deploy a "tactical nuclear weapon" (i.e. a small-scale nuclear weapon), probably against Ukraine (although perhaps against some country seen to be abetting Ukraine too much, in Putin's view). This would be disastrous not only for Ukraine but also because the nuclear floodgates would be opened. Currently, there's basically a global prohibition against using nukes of any kind. Opening the door to any kind of nukes I think dramatically raises the risk of both all-out nuclear war, as well as smaller-scale (but still objectively large scale) disasters. So I think it's very important that we keep the lid on nukes full stop. If Putin responds only to power and force (actual or perceived), there's a serious argument to be made that we're all safer, both in the short term and in the longer term, if we can display enough force to deter him without goading or provoking him. I've become convinced, for instance, that if we had collectively displayed more force against him/Russia after Crimea in 2014, then we wouldn't be in this pickle at all. He's escalated his moves over the last 22 years because he's become convinced that we're weak and can't/won't stop him. A bit more force earlier on and we likely would have been much safer now. And a bit more show of force now may deter Putin from deploying a tactical nuclear weapon.

Note that I'm not advocating any particular policy or strategic move right now: I'm just arguing for the general point. The question of how then to respond once we've all taken that on board I think has a lot of room for debate.
posted by ClaireBear at 6:40 PM on March 10 [44 favorites]


...only photos we've seen of that convoy have been from satellites and not from, say, drones.

Probably it's the same reason that Ukraine hasn't turned the convoy into a highway of death - Russia has functioning air defenses there. Drones are just planes that get blown up like any others.
posted by meowzilla at 6:42 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


It seems like there has been a consistent pattern since WWII: If one major power invades a third country, the other major power doesn't go to war directly, but instead provides enough support and weapons to the invaded country to create 5 or 10 or 20 years of hell until the invader finally gives up and goes home. I hope that doesn't happen to Ukraine, but so far the American response has been following the classic pattern.
posted by clawsoon at 6:51 PM on March 10 [12 favorites]


It's linked in the first Ukraine invasion thread two months two weeks ago: the Stability–instability paradox. Nuclear-armed countries start more wars with non-nuclear armed countries, but they become a proxy war between nuclear-armed countries since they never escalate into direct wars.
posted by meowzilla at 7:14 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Business Insider: Russia ally China tries to protect itself from the ruble's collapse by letting it fall more against the yuan
China hasn't imposed its own sanctions and has largely steered clear of criticizing the attack. But the move to expand the margin of exchange for the ruble against the yuan means the country wouldn't have to subsidize Russian buyers of Chinese goods who use rubles at a rate different from market prices.

Moscow's exchange re-opened trading of the ruble yesterday, giving Russians their first chance at responding to the latest round of Western sanctions, and they dumped the currency.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:42 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


aside from us getting into a total nuclear war scenario there are several things that strike me about this situation

1 - i honestly think that putin thought he was going to have the soldiers march right in just like the soviet union used to do with warsaw pact countries - he doesn't understand that things have changed and he doesn't realize how much his neighbors have become sick and tired of his country and how they have been treated by it

2 - this invasion might encourage other countries to become nuclear capable, but it's the usa's invasion of iraq that made it obvious that countries that don't have nukes, don't have the capacity to stand up to hostile powers - north korea went for it because of this

3 - china, which is quite aware that it can't just invade taiwan, at least anytime soon, is studying our reaction carefully and is studying russia's position even more carefully - they have an historic opportunity to turn russia into a client state and they have seen what can happen to countries that push too hard

4 - the most dangerous scenario is where russia loses and there is really not any scenario that would be better than phyrric victory - they've already gotten the consequences that make this a mistake - but an outright loss may well result in civil war in russia

5 - even the use of tactical nuclear weapons will be a psychologically shattering thing for the world to see - expect world wide revulsion and demand that these weapons be gotten rid of, expect violence if it doesn't happen

6 - while the world is approaching a catastrophic level of climate change that may force migrations of god knows how many people, cause major famines, start wars in other places, and just screw everything up, the more affluent countries are now distracted by this godawful war and may well forget that the whole world may be in grave danger from other things
posted by pyramid termite at 7:44 PM on March 10 [21 favorites]


"We are on the cusp of a hot war...the longer this goes the riskier it gets. The decisions that we have to make weeks and months from now are going to be much much more dangerous. We need to make some courageous risk-informed decisions now to avoid that otherwise we will find ourselves in an untenable position"

Vindman's interview and Lend-Lease idea reminds me of two things......(and maybe off-topic)

1) In terms of moving stockpiles to the border, a precedent could be drawn from what happened during the Berlin Airlift. The nuclear option wasn't there, but the standoff was the existential threat in the context of its time. it was at a time where Truman's popularity was at its lowest. West Berlin had its own Zelensky (Ernst Reuter) who encouraged the West Berliner's to hold out while the airlift was brought up speed to overwhelm the USSR's push to take over West Berlin and the threat of the invasion of Germany and the rest of Europe.

The material is there. The logistics to get it to the Ukrainian border is there. The speed in which it can be delivered is there.

2) Vindman's interview reminded me of two experiences that I had with women who emigrated to this country. One came from Vietnam. The other from East Germany. They both expressed their gratitude and thanks in living in this country in such a way that it made me realize how "unknowingly cynical" so many people I knew (and especially on the left) had become and how "uncool" these two women would seem to them.

I find myself relying more and more only on Vindman's and Fiona Hill's analysis. I realized tonight that they are both immigrants from working class and oppressive backgrounds. That they're love and gratitude for democracy is obvious. The lengths that they are willing to speak and fight for it are obvious to me. It showed when they testified in front of Congress and it shows now.

Yes, I agree with Vindman in his saying that the current political response is defeatist.

Biden et.al. will support Ukraine up to the point til their property values are threatened.
posted by goalyeehah at 7:47 PM on March 10 [17 favorites]


I thought we weren't doing armchair prognostication about international relations and nuclear war in these threads. None of us really know anything, this kind of speculation just serves to wind each other and ourselves up.
posted by biogeo at 8:01 PM on March 10 [49 favorites]






Mod note: This should go without saying, but uncritically repeating Russian propaganda talking points will get your comment deleted, no matter how carefully you attempt to couch them, and no matter whether you're doing this on purpose, or just accidentally because you have a really crap twitter feed or something.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:24 PM on March 10 [63 favorites]


Mod note: Also deleted a derail about the US invasion of Iraq in 2003; we are not doing whataboutism, and this is not a US Politics thread. If you see someone trying to divert the thread into the evils of American imperialism (which are legitimately legion but not for this thread) to "whatabout" Putin's invasion of Ukraine, please flag it rather than taking the bait.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:35 PM on March 10 [54 favorites]


The Ministry of Transport proposed not to return foreign aircraft without the decision of the government commission
The document says that if the lessor terminates the contract with the airline and demands the return of the aircraft or engine ahead of schedule, the decision to return will have to be approved by the government commission on import substitution (headed by Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov). Without such a decision of the commission, the carrier will be able to continue using the lessor's aircraft.

At the same time, it can pay with the lessor in rubles, follows from the document, and service equipment - "in organizations that have a document confirming their compliance with the requirements of federal aviation regulations."
The Irish aren't getting their planes back. If they do they'll get back rubles they can't convert into anything useful.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:44 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Taiwan should feel safer after watching this. First of all the US has treaties with the US and we’ve pledged to defend it in ways we never did with Ukraine. Second of all the Chinese use and based their equipment on a lot of Russian military hardware which once again has been shown to be mostly garbage. Finally China has a lot of the same corruption issues as Russia. The claimed strength from of their military is much lower than their actual strength because so many officials have been skimming off the top for years. China is going to have to delay any ideas it had for invading Taiwan and do a decade long rethink.
posted by interogative mood at 8:51 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


"Taiwan should feel safer after watching this."
It's the Taipai Times, today.

The Irish aren't getting their planes back.
The irony of ironic days to come.

'The Year of Ukraine'

"see here we got what we wanted
now Serhiy Nigoyan’s graffiti on the wall
in the square across the way kids play at war
in Donbas the adults are also at play

a square looms on Google Maps another square
it’s a house it’s a boy with a rifle in his hands..."

-Iya Kiva.

Vasyl Makhno... In the poem there are two allusions: to Pavlo Tychyna, a major Ukrainian poet who in 1919 wrote a poem that spoke of “torn apart Kyiv” and about the Russian poets Andrey Bely, Alexander Blok, and Sergey Yesenin, and the other to the 12th-century epic poem The Tale of Ihor’s Campaign..."
posted by clavdivs at 9:19 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


we’ve pledged to defend [Taiwan] in ways we never did with Ukraine.

Eh, it's pretty ambiguous.
The Taiwan Relations Act does not guarantee the U.S. will intervene militarily if the PRC attacks or invades Taiwan nor does it relinquish it
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:29 PM on March 10


We maintain strategic ambiguity so that some idiot from Pan-Green doesn't declare independence unilaterally and start a war in the South China Sea thinking the US would defend them, not because we intend to abandon Taiwan in the face of PRC aggression.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:45 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


please folks, no ambiguity in the war thread.
posted by clavdivs at 9:48 PM on March 10 [47 favorites]


it can pay with the lessor in rubles, follows from the document, and service equipment

Is this kind of showcasing the dangers of international agreements? Can any country do this? Is this just digging themselves deeper in a hole since they’re already facing sanctions? Would love to hear from some economics nerds on this one.
posted by corb at 9:55 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking about this for a couple weeks now, and I don't know that it's a super well-formed thought (I DO know that this comment is way too long, apologies), but -- the US and the USSR spent a lot of time fighting proxy battles (shooting battles and influence battles both) in what was then called the "Third World." (For those of you born after 1985ish, First World was the US and allies; Second World was USSR and allies; Third World was "everywhere else" that was non-aligned and theoretically able to be brought into one or the other sphere of influence.) This included things like the Korean War and Vietnam War, but also development aid and political favors to try to win non-aligned "Third World" nations to their side.

The collapse of the USSR required Russian politics to withdraw from those world-wide battles for dominance and influence, and to retreat mostly to influencing the one-time "Second World" nations of the Eastern Bloc. And while the First World has been expanding into parts of Europe formerly aligned with the Second World, via NATO and via the EU, it's really been China -- not the US or the EU -- that's been eating Russia's lunch in terms of worldwide influence. China's Belt-and-Road initiative, in particular, is a massive influence-seeking development aid program that not only is improving infrastructure and Chinese trade access throughout Southeast Asia, but also all over Africa ($60 billion worth in Africa, with deals to improve Chinese access to African raw materials), AND through the central Asian countries that were formerly part of the USSR (the "stans") AND even Russia itself ($10 bn so far), to a degree -- it needs those sweet sweet transsiberian railway tracks to ship more finished goods to Western Europe.

Russian politics have for hundreds of years been much more focused on Europe than Asia (throughout Imperial Russia, the USSR, and the Russian Federation for sure, but arguably since around 1400 after the Mongol Empire collapsed or since the tsardom began in the 1540s). To Russia, Asia has always been for conquering and expanding into, but Europe is for politics. They have rarely been interested in dominating Asian politics, but basically always interested in dominating European politics. It's super-understandable that Putin is more interested in Eastern Europe than in Central Asia, just from the POV of "any generic Russian leader from 1540 forward." It's even more understandable because of Putin's personal history as a child of the Cold War, and Putin's deep commitment to a Slavic nationalist idea of "what Russia is." (Like, since Kievan Rus is generally considered the progenitor state of eventual Russia, awkward that Kyiv is not actually in Russia, if you're Putin.) (Like, people like to note that Kyiv had already been a great city for 500 years when Moscow was a still muddy nameless village on outskirts of Vladimir-Suzdal. Moscow's a real Johnny-come-lately compared to Kyiv (says the lady who lives in a city that wasn't founded until Kyiv had been around 1300 years, but details).)

Anyway, I've been thinking since this kicked off that there's a huge gap in Putin's thinking, and that gap is "Asia." (Like, yes, the whole continent.) NATO is not ... actually really doing anything to Putin? I get that "slowly creeping closer to Russia's borders" is itself a provocation to Putin, as is "look, everyone in Europe wants to join either the NATO club or the EU club because Russia is no longer a global superpower and you can't offer anything."

But while Putin's sitting there stewing that Catholic Poland would prefer to identify with ((ex-)Catholic) Western Europe than with (Orthodox) Russia (which is like a cultural faultline that dates to (before) 1054, you can't fix it now, that ship has sailed), China is massively expanding its influence in parts of Asia and Africa that the USSR had to bail out of, and now it's dumping billions of dollars into upgrading infrastructure and trade in the former-Soviet "stans" and even into Russia itself, to tie those countries much more closely into Chinese trade networks and make them much more dependent on China's economy. And Putin's just ... ignoring that? China's building fuckin' railroads in former Soviet Republics and offering development grants so people in the stans can upskill and run factories to supply Chinese manufacturers and building massive windfarms in the stans, and Russia is ... ignoring that.

Putin would rather focus his attention on Eastern Europe and NATO and the EU, on reliving 20th-century Warsaw Pact grudges. Meanwhile, China is busy stealing Russia's Asian sphere of influence away, including in the parts of Russia that are in Asia, through massive development and trade investments that will benefit China's economy in huge ways. And Putin's response to that is to ... cut himself off from Western trade networks and make himself so totally reliant on Chinese trade networks that there's a darn good chance Russia ends up a client state of China? Like, I kinda thought China would have to be carefully triangulating against both the US and Russia as it expanded its economic and diplomatic influence. But, um, no, it turns out that Putin is so focused on Eastern Europe (and an idea of a "pan-Slavic -- and only Slavic -- Russia") that he's willing to ignore his entire Asian backyard, and not just let China have it, but willingly make the whole of Russia a Chinese client state, as long as he can score some points against the West as he does so.

That's bizarre, but I think it's also correct -- Putin has always been a lot more interested in Russian-European politics than in Russian-Asian politics, and he is at heart still fighting the Cold War. I think that Putin thinks he can still turn around and remind China it's his "junior partner," while China has quietly been staging a corporate takeover for two decades. And I wonder if the massive realignment of Russian-Chinese relations won't be the larger geopolitically important outcome of Putin's disastrous murder-spree in Ukraine. The forces integrating Europe are pretty far along, and there's not much that can be done to turn them back. (There are fits and starts, sure, and backsliding, but the movement is in a very clear direction.) But in Putin's obsession with European Russia, he's almost totally ignored Asian Russia, and I think it might come as a shock when Putin or his successor realizes that, oh shit, we are definitely China's junior partner now. And at the rate they're going, they won't even be a junior partner; they'll be a flat-out client state, and closer allies of China will be elevated more quickly than Russia is.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:26 PM on March 10 [93 favorites]


"Is this kind of showcasing the dangers of international agreements?"

It's priced into their insurance, basically. And then their insurers are reinsured, by other insurance companies, specifically to spread out the risk and costs of shit like this. (There is a whole area of legal practice that is nothing but insurers arguing with their reinsurers about who's paying how much for what.) I think I read that the most-exposed Irish leasing company had 2.5% of its assets tied up in Russia? Which is A LOT ... but also a totally insurable proportion. I also read that they had begun warning investors in their public filings (like a yearly SEC filing but for Ireland) about that 2.5% exposure a couple years ago when Russia's posture got more aggressive, so it was definitely a known risk.

If you read a history of Lloyd's of London, you'll get to read a lot about how groups of men came together to insure ocean voyages, which no one man could afford to insure, but a group of them coming together and insuring 200 voyages could. If they lost 5, 195 would still arrive, so they could afford to pay out claims to the 5 from the 195 that arrived. Lloyd's does not directly insure, but is like a clearinghouse where insurees can find insurers, and where pricing can be set appropriately. Their whole expertise is that they've got 350 years' experience in what it should cost to insure very large international ventures (first merchant ships; today giant multinational companies) against terrorists, coups, world wars, city-destroying disasters (the 1906 SF earthquake, f'ex), everybody getting tired of being British colonies, etc.

(Like I'm not going to say nobody's going out of business over this -- companies make bad decisions and purchase inadequate insurance all the time! Minor shocks become major sector-destroying events! -- but it was a known risk so most were probably appropriately insured.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:39 PM on March 10 [16 favorites]


(the 1906 SF earthquake, f'ex

I mean, the famous result of that was that a number insurers went bankrupt instead of paying claims. Maybe they're better at risk management now...
posted by alexei at 11:07 PM on March 10


- i honestly think that putin thought he was going to have the soldiers march right in just like the soviet union used to do with warsaw pact countries

Hungary 1956 wasn't really a walk in the park for the Warsaw Pact members taking part in the suppression: 722 killed, 1540 wounded on their side. The revolutionaries took a much heavier toll, 2500..3000, and there were roughly as much civilian casualties.

By comparison Czechoslovakia 1968 was benign, with around 100 dead (most of them in accidents!), against 137 Czech soldiers and civilians.

Reading up on this I came across a remarkable sentence: "According to documents from the Ukrainian Archives, compiled by Mark Kramer, KGB chairman Yuri Andropov and Communist Party of Ukraine leaders Petro Shelest and Nikolai Podgorny were the most vehement proponents of military intervention." KGB? Yes, those guys again.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:56 PM on March 10 [6 favorites]


That's bizarre, but I think it's also correct -- Putin has always been a lot more interested in Russian-European politics than in Russian-Asian politics, and he is at heart still fighting the Cold War.

It's not something I know about but the Taiwanese and HK news that my parents watch have been talking this week about Russian antagonism towards Japan over some islands, and maybe something else with Korean history as well. But it's interesting that there's this narrative that China and Russia seem to have friendly political relations (perhaps generally in some kind of unity against the first world and the various systems that work to preserve that global hierarchy), but if that's the case as the two recently proclaimed at the Olympics then why didn't Xi tell him his plan was a terrible unpragmatic idea.
posted by polymodus at 2:06 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Some tweets:

Andrei Soldatov: Putin appears to be truly unhappy with the FSB in Ukraine: he attacked the 5 Service SOiMS (FSB's foreign Intelligence branch). Sergei Beseda, head of the Service, and his deputy Bolukh, head of the DOI, placed under house arrest, according to my sources inside.

And i found this thread interesting about the Chinese internet, and the argument as i understand it, is that as censorship of local issues became tighter, speaking about 'western issues' took on a metaphorical/analogical function, which is the space within which Russian disinfo could be fostered:

Tony Lin: The sweeping pro-Russia disinfo on the Chinese internet isn’t created in a day. Want to recap a tiny bit of what happened in the past decade. As the idiom 草蛇灰线 goes, there’re always traces. All the developments below are intertwined with each other. 1/
posted by cendawanita at 2:17 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]


Putin is so focused on Eastern Europe (and an idea of a "pan-Slavic -- and only Slavic -- Russia")

I think that right there is important. Putin's Russia is mad racist. You can hear drips and drabs of it now when people discuss why Shoygu is a safe guy to have close to Putin (because he knows he can't stage a coup because Russia would never accept a leader that is like kinda Asian!). Look at the faces of that weird Z propaganda commercial or at the "airline employees" at the Women's Day last supper. Where are the Asians? Nowhere, cause they don't count. And I think you are on to something that this Slavic superiority brand racism led Putin to completely ignore a bunch of influence and ally deals that were right there the whole time.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:24 AM on March 11 [47 favorites]


Because all I can manage lately is to stare angrily at the wall in thought spirals, I'm thinking that Putanism as a whole is just another flavor of white nationalism. Something propaganda under Putin has done really "well" is conflate pride in Russia (it's arts, science, sports achievements) and being Russian with pride and support of Putin and his ideals. For a lot of people, to hear that you dislike Putin (or the box he is desperately trying to force the nation into) is to hear that you dislike Russia and thus dislike them.

Trump tried to do the same thing, making it seem patriotic to follow his cult of personality (MAGA!), but I don't think it could ever really take off in the US as long as it retains current presidential term limits.
posted by WeekendJen at 3:18 AM on March 11 [29 favorites]


There are further letters from the (alleged) anonymous FSB source, being translated by Igor Sushko, a Ukrainian racecar driver. The original letters were published on Facebook by Vladimir Osechkin, a Russian human rights activist. Christo Grozev from Bellingcat thought that the first letter was legit. These translations originally appeared on Twitter, but the versions on Sushko's blog are easier to read.
  1. Previously
  2. Letter #2
  3. Letter #3
  4. Letter #4
posted by confluency at 3:35 AM on March 11 [17 favorites]


This war is getting more absurd each day. First we have Russian trucks losing their tires because of corruption, and now NATO apparently failed to intercept a drone:
Tu-141 "Strizh" Missile-Like Drone From The War In Ukraine Looks To Have Crashed In Croatia:
It will be interesting to hear what Ukraine says about this. Also, it does raise some serious air defense readiness questions for the NATO countries that the Tu-141 flew over, if indeed that was the case. And as always, new information can emerge and details can change, but based on the information currently available, it seems very likely that the mysterious craft involved in this incident was indeed the Tu-141.
posted by kmt at 3:56 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


While that Tu-141 drone crash is absurd, I’m not sure how this is some necessarily scandalous NATO story. Given that on the surface it appears to be an accident with an ancient Ukrainian drone that lost control… I’d assume that if NATO was aware of it being Ukrainian they might not have been jumping to shoot it down and hoping to have it parachute down. Hopefully we’ll find out more details soon.

(Though the fact that it actually crashed into the capital of Croatia is pretty suspicious, it will be interesting to see where it flew from and over.)
posted by rambling wanderlust at 4:22 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I don't think I've seen this yet; apologies if it's old news:

Canadian commander who helped train Ukrainian soldiers has 'immense confidence' in them

It's an interesting discussion of how various NATO nations have been training the Ukrainian military over the past few years to develop more responsibility and initiative at lower ranks rather than having the old Soviet top-down style.

She is unwilling to make any firm predictions about who will win; she is only confident that the Ukrainians will fight.
posted by clawsoon at 4:26 AM on March 11 [8 favorites]


NPR Science: Video analysis reveals Russian attack on Ukrainian nuclear plant veered near disaster. Contains photos as well as footage from security cameras.
posted by amf at 4:50 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


Tajnik ukrajinskog ministra: Letjelica nije ukrajinska, naše imaju druge oznake

Google translate: "MARKIJAN Lubkivskij, former Ukrainian ambassador to Croatia and secretary of Ukraine's defense minister, told HRT that the plane that crashed into Zagreb last night was not Ukrainian."

That could be embarrassed bullshit, but it is at least conceivable that Russia (or Belarus) are falling back on stocks of old equipment (especially if that equipment is deniable as in use by Ukraine).

Either way presumably this thing flies low and fast, possibly using basic terrain following (gyros and a radar altimeter) as was the doctrine before stealth; and that's still one of the ways to avoid radar (especially if you don't have human pilot constraints, and also especially once far away from the fighting).

If any film (or digital media, if upgraded) survived, the Croatian government may know whose it is based on what it was photographing.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:40 AM on March 11


If the war continues for an extended time will it actually weaken the bear significantly? Also the reports of the number of russian troops deceased seems less regular, is that due to fog of war/lack of information or an actual change in rate?
posted by sammyo at 5:50 AM on March 11


YLE, Finland's state broadcasting corporation, has reported that there's been a spike in interest in their Russian language news. Excerpt:
Finnish public broadcaster Yle has offered Russian-language news on radio since 1990 and on TV and the web since 2013, under the name Yle Novosti. The four-minute daily TV broadcast attracted an average of 225,000 viewers last year, but that figure has risen sharply in recent weeks.

Since the war began, there has been an upsurge in interest in Yle Novosti's broadcasts and online news stories.

Last week, the number of visitors to Yle Novosti's site rose by more than 60 percent from the weekly average earlier in the year. Traffic from Russia jumped by 80 percent.
Finland and Russia have a long history, and some Russians might trust news from Finland, in the Russian language, more than they would other Western news sources, so I'm not surprised. If you have friends and family in Russia, you might want to share Yle Novosti's website with them, or YLE's daily TV news bulletin in Russian. It's no silver bullet, but it is at least another resource. Furthermore, the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, along with Dagens Nyheter in Sweden and Politiken in Denmark, have started publishing news in Russian. This is the first such report, about a woman who fled Kyiv with her kids.
posted by Kattullus at 5:52 AM on March 11 [27 favorites]


Whatever you think of VOA/Radio Free Europe and its traditional role as a State Department (or CIA) mouthpiece, it's interesting that USAGM has reportedly decided not to return to shortwave broadcasting to get past the media blackout -- prompting this crowdfunded effort.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:11 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


UK announces sanctions against 386 members of Russian parliament
Britain has announced sanctions against 386 members of the Russian parliament accused of being “complicit” in the invasion of Ukraine by voting to recognise the independence of two of its territories
posted by bleary at 6:12 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]


US Army Patriot missile batteries moving to Poland, John Vandiver, Stars and Stripes, March 9, 2022:
STUTTGART, Germany — Two U.S. Patriot missile batteries [Wikipedia] have been dispatched to Poland, U.S. European Command said Wednesday, bolstering defenses in a country where thousands of additional U.S. troops have deployed since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine two weeks ago.

“This defensive deployment is being conducted proactively to counter any potential threat to U.S. and Allied forces and NATO territory,” Capt. Christina Judd, a EUCOM spokeswoman, said in a statement.

EUCOM’s Gen. Tod Wolters directed the Patriot batteries from the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, headquartered at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Germany, to an operational site in Poland….
See also: In Forests Along Polish Border, US Troops Edge Closer to Ukraine Conflict, Henry Ridgwell, Voice of America News, March 10, 2022.

‘American troops and missiles sent from Germany to Poland to guard Ukraine from Russian attack’ sounds like a third-rate alternate WWII history novel, but here we are, peering over the edge of the cliff.
posted by cenoxo at 6:27 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]




WHO says it advised Ukraine to destroy pathogens in health labs to prevent disease spread

Biosecurity experts say Russia's movement of troops into Ukraine and bombardment of its cities have raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged.

Like many other countries, Ukraine has public health laboratories researching how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans including, most recently, COVID-19. Its labs have received support from the United States, the European Union and the WHO.

posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:01 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


It's not something I know about but the Taiwanese and HK news that my parents watch have been talking this week about Russian antagonism towards Japan over some islands, and maybe something else with Korean history as well.

Technically, Russia and Japan never concluded World War II. There are a string of islands off the northern coast of Japan, the Kurils, that Japan took after the Russo-Japanese War and Russia took after WWII. Japan’s relations with Russia over the last decade or so had been aiming to move toward resolving disputes over the islands, and also forestall a Russia-China alliance against Japan’s interests. So Japan committing to the sanctions is a major shift in their foreign policy.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 7:04 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]


But it's interesting that there's this narrative that China and Russia seem to have friendly political relations (perhaps generally in some kind of unity against the first world and the various systems that work to preserve that global hierarchy), but if that's the case as the two recently proclaimed at the Olympics then why didn't Xi tell him his plan was a terrible unpragmatic idea.

I think it's more that the leadership of both countries are committed to strategic friendship, which is useful in political terms and economic terms (if nothing else, China needs lots of energy). That strategic friendship would suffer if China tried to overtly interfere with Russian military actions. Perhaps more to the point, if Putin didn't see why all this was a bad idea, I don't know why Xi would. I don't think European or American leaders expected things to get this ugly, either.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:42 AM on March 11


Sanctions are one of the few strategic ways for Japan to pressure an adversary having written off offensive wars in Article 9. Even with the reinterpretation of Article 9 back in 2014 to include offense in the case of defending an ally, it still would prohibit Japan from engaging with Russia over the Kurils.

I think that Japan knows that a complete collapse of the Russian federation is not beyond the realm of possibility as a result of Putin's hollowing out of the Russian state. Even with most of Russia's eastern territories being settled by ethnic Russians over the Soviet years, the regions have been economically neglected for decades compared to the energy wealth they send back to Moscow. Artyom Loskutov tried a Siberian Republic secessionist stunt as a piece of performance art back in 2014 in response to the annexation of Crimea and Russia was utterly freaked out. They banned all mention of it and threatened to kick BBC Russia out of the country for even mentioning it.

I'm just saying, but people back home in Perth bandy about the idea Western Australia seceding from Australia over how the GST is distributed through commonwealth grants and no Aussie PM has ever seen need to repress the idea.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:42 AM on March 11 [9 favorites]


I think it's more that the leadership of both countries are committed to strategic friendship, which is useful in political terms and economic terms (if nothing else, China needs lots of energy). That strategic friendship would suffer if China tried to overtly interfere with Russian military actions.

If you were ruthless and your potential regional rival was going to commit geopolitical suicide resulting in them becoming a client state to you in all but name enabling access to gobs of cheap energy supplies and a monopoly on trade, why would you interefere?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:44 AM on March 11 [24 favorites]


I hope this isn't read as whataboutism, but for all those who are incredulous about the Russians who trust the state propaganda, the propaganda up to the Iraq war was similarly widely trusted by huge majorities of both the general public and politicians in the US and among its allies.
Obviously, the huge difference is that you didn't get 15 years in prison for disagreeing with Bush and Blair. And that is a huge difference. But regardless of the lack of force, people believed in the lies they were told, and those people were both on the left and right sides of the aisle. I lost friends because of it.
If I look back to understand why they believed it, I think it was very much about being afraid, and looking for any sort of decisive action. We don't really hear a lot about what Russians are feeling right now, or what they felt 6 months ago. But I did read an article about "conversations with a Russian friend" in Danish, where the point was that the friend hoped for a renaissance for Russian power. Within the last 40 years, Russia has become increasingly insignificant, and perhaps that trickles down to even an individual level.
It's a bit like the schoolyard bully, who can't achieve academic excellence, or sports results, or even geeky friends, but compensates by bullying the weakest students. Russia can't convince us to take it seriously as a world power, but now it is showing us that it can ruin a country, so we have to take it seriously.
posted by mumimor at 7:49 AM on March 11 [27 favorites]


Thousands of Russians have fled, afraid a new Iron Curtain will fall

Terry Gross interviews Masha Gesson on last night's NPR's Fresh Air:
...GROSS: My impression from your writing is that there's a big division now in Russia between people who have managed to find sources of the truth about the war Russia really is waging against Ukraine and those people who believe the propaganda that Russia - that the Russian government is putting out and think, like, nothing's wrong here.

GESSEN: Yes. It should probably be noted that the people I'm describing, even if the estimates of 200,000 people leaving Russia are correct, that's still a tiny, tiny minority of Russians. And even if we add all the people inside Russia who are getting their information from Western media or more likely from the remaining independent media, all of which have been blocked in Russia, but if people are using VPNs, if they're using anonymizing browsers, if they're using telegram channels that are still at this point accessible - probably not for much longer - then they're getting factual information about the war in Ukraine. But there's still a tiny, tiny minority in a country that even as its economy has gone into a tailspin and you would think they would notice that, if nothing else, even so, they seem to continue to believe that that things are basically kind of normal, except they have to tighten their belts because Russia is under attack by the West, which is imposing unwarranted, unfair economic sanctions against it.

GROSS: One of the things I always wonder about in situations like this is when do you know it's time to leave? And you watch people make that decision first in Ukraine and then in Moscow. So let's go to Ukraine for a second. For a while, people thought, oh, Russia is just scaring Ukraine. They're not really - you know, they're trying to teach Ukraine a lesson. They're not really going to invade. And then not only did Russia invade, I mean, it's just been absolutely brutal. It's been a war on the whole country and on its citizens. What kind of anguish would the people going through who you knew and who you were talking to about whether they should leave or not before the invasion actually started?

GESSEN: So I was in Kyiv and in Kharkiv during the last week of January talking to people about precisely that, about the talk of war, about what their ideas were about what they would do if the invasion actually happened. And even though we know enough about Putin and we knew enough about Putin before his February 21 speech and before the invasion began on the 24, we knew enough to be able to predict precisely the worst-case scenario, according to which this war has been unfolding so far. It is impossible to believe. Some things are just too awful to contemplate...
Between that and this Morning Edition's Zaporisia report linked by amf above, I have slept very little indeed in these last few hours.

In the words of Joseph Chamberlain's apochryphal 'Chinese' curse, these are all too interesting times.
posted by y2karl at 7:51 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


Russia completed its digital TV switchover fairly recently in 2019 -- I wonder if most Russians still own sets with analog tuners in them. (As a historical note, the USSR had some TV satellites to serve its hinterlands even though the practicalities of VHF/UFH TV make this inefficient for conventional uses vs. mountains and towers.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:10 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


More on the amount of volunteers going to Ukraine issue - I just spoke with one who was flying to a border country from the United States, and apparently there are customs and border patrol interviewing everyone with a US passport heading to border countries at the gate about whether they are actually intending to travel to Ukraine - taking names, details, and addresses. This really bolsters my suspicion that the numbers are pretty high and the US is at least quietly trying to get a handle on it.
posted by corb at 8:31 AM on March 11 [16 favorites]


On the discussion above about airplanes and leases and repossession, CNN Business has an interesting article, Flying on Russian planes is about to get much more dangerous (by Chris Isidore), which notes how important aviation is to a country as physically large as Russia, notes that "the loss of essential parts and the possibility of aircrafts being repossessed means Russia's ability to recover in the future will be severely damaged," and discusses China's actions so far:
China has yet to impose any sanctions of its own. But it is possible that even Chinese leasing companies could feel compelled to try to take possession of the Boeing and Airbus jets they have leased to Russian airlines, Aboulafia said. That's because those Chinese companies don't want to risk any trouble buying planes from Airbus or Boeing in the future. ... China has already indicated it won't ship parts for those planes to Russia ...
Indeed, the article makes the point that whatever nations and companies do today, consequences may appear in the future:
Russia announced plans for a new law Thursday that would block those planes from leaving the country. But that would set up a situation wherein its airlines will have trouble leasing planes in the future, even after the sanctions end.

"The Russian airlines want to do business with the leasing companies. They suspect when all is said and done that they'll need airplanes in the future," said Betsy Snyder, credit analyst with Standard & Poor's who follows aircraft leasing companies. "But they're being told by the powers that be in Russia not to do that."

It is much easier for the global aviation industry to live without Russia, which accounts for only about 1% of total commercial jet purchases, than it will be for Russia to live without US and EU aircrafts or parts. Russia's attempts to build its own commercial jets have produced aircraft of questionable safety which have found no buyers on the international market.
posted by kristi at 8:32 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


How Vladimir Putin Lost Interest in the Present
Mr. Putin spent the spring and summer of 2020 quarantining at his residence in Valdai, approximately halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. According to sources in the administration, he was accompanied there by Yuri Kovalchuk. Mr. Kovalchuk, who is the largest shareholder in Rossiya Bank and controls several state-approved media outlets, has been Mr. Putin’s close friend and trusted adviser since the 1990s. But by 2020, according to my sources, he had established himself as the de facto second man in Russia, the most influential among the president’s entourage.

Mr. Kovalchuk has a doctorate in physics and was once employed by an institute headed by the Nobel laureate Zhores Alferov. But he isn’t just a man of science. He is also an ideologue, subscribing to a worldview that combines Orthodox Christian mysticism, anti-American conspiracy theories and hedonism. This appears to be Mr. Putin’s worldview, too. Since the summer of 2020, Mr. Putin and Mr. Kovalchuk have been almost inseparable, and the two of them have been making plans together to restore Russia’s greatness.
According to people with knowledge of Mr. Putin’s conversations with his aides over the past two years, the president has completely lost interest in the present: The economy, social issues, the coronavirus pandemic, these all annoy him. Instead, he and Mr. Kovalchuk obsess over the past. A French diplomat told me that President Emmanuel Macron of France was astonished when Mr. Putin gave him a lengthy history lecture during one of their talks last month. He shouldn’t have been surprised.
Generally, I am not a subscriber to the "Putin has gone crazy"-theory, but I'll admit it has some merit, and this is a convincing argument. But still, take everything you read in a time of war with a sack of salt.
posted by mumimor at 8:36 AM on March 11 [44 favorites]


Russia's attempts to build its own commercial jets have produced aircraft of questionable safety which have found no buyers on the international market.

Surely damaging the Antonov facility outside of Kyiv (in war now, or in resistance later) won't work any improvement there; it would seem to be that company's equivalent of Boeing Renton (and also once Boeing Field in Seattle).
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:37 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


The Ministry of Defense called the information about the strike on the village in Belarus fake
“The Ministry of Defense unequivocally declares that the information about a missile attack on a Belarusian village is outright nonsense,” Inna Gorbacheva , an official representative of the Ministry of Defense, told BelTA .
Belarus is "nope nope nope nope nope" and the fuck out of there. They're willing to grant military access but they are not taking any Russian false flag bait to commit actual forces. Putin is scrambling for any boots on the ground that don't involve committing more Russians and he's not getting them. I think the question now is how long until he starts general mobilization of as many reserves as his corrupt bureaucracy can find and are still in the country.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:39 AM on March 11 [8 favorites]


> There are further letters from the (alleged) anonymous FSB source, being translated by Igor Sushko, a Ukrainian racecar driver. The original letters were published on Facebook by Vladimir Osechkin, a Russian human rights activist.

these are absolutely fascinating, thanks for sharing.
posted by Old Kentucky Shark at 8:49 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


also, "racecar driver helps explain a war by translating Russian intelligence memos posted to Facebook" is extremely 2022
posted by Old Kentucky Shark at 8:52 AM on March 11 [42 favorites]


Interesting War on the Rocks article on the incentives around sanctions and military aid: Making Coercion Work Against Russia.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:53 AM on March 11


Reddit live feed is happy-exploding over what the Albanian delegate is saying at the UN council meeting re: Russia’s claims of biological weapons in Ukraine. Can anyone can point to the recording of the meeting ?
posted by Silvery Fish at 9:07 AM on March 11


Can anyone can point to the recording of the meeting ?

It's still ongoing.

Hoxha, the Permanent Representative of Albania to the United Nations, called the allegations "part of the information warfare, false, unsubstantiated, part of the usual propaganda and the disinformation coming from Russia, conspiracy theories not worth our time."

He then went on to call "everything, absolutely everything we've been hearing from Russia regarding Ukraine has been false, fabricated, or distorted."

Then calls out Lavrov for his ridiculous assertion two days ago that Russia did not attack Ukraine.

Talks about Russia's "long and well documented track record of using chemical weapons including attempted assassinations and poisoning its own citizens". Called out the "direct and irrefutable link" between Russia's actions and senior GRU officials.

Basically goes on to ridicule every other claim Russia has made, openly accusing them of war crimes, again calling for the stop in hostilities.

It's the diplomatic equivalent to saying "what the fuck is this stupid bullshit?"
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:25 AM on March 11 [62 favorites]


Speaking of salt, please sprinkle some on that racecar driver's translations of anonymous sources.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:25 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


Thank you, Your Childhood Pet Rock. Watching now, and thank you for synopsis of Albania’s comments.
posted by Silvery Fish at 9:37 AM on March 11


@paldhous:
Just because it shows up on flight tracking sites, doesn't mean it's real: Destroyed An-225, formerly the world's largest cargo plane, is showing on
@flightradar24
, callsign FCKPUTIN, circling Kyiv at 4,500ft.
https://www.flightradar24.com/multiview/2b196bf0
Unfortunately not showing anymore (the original tweet was 8 hours ago). Could well of been an inside job, here's FlightRadar24's obituary page for the AN-225.
posted by Buntix at 9:57 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


for all those who are incredulous about the Russians who trust the state propaganda ... just look at the number of people who believe Fox News.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:00 AM on March 11 [23 favorites]


From Reuters, "EXCLUSIVE Russians liquidating crypto in the UAE as they seek safe havens":
DUBAI, March 11 (Reuters) - Crypto firms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are being deluged with requests to liquidate billions of dollars of virtual currency as Russians seek a safe haven for their fortunes, company executives and financial sources said.

Some clients are using cryptocurrency to invest in real estate in the UAE, while others want to use firms there to turn their virtual money into hard currency and stash it elsewhere, the sources said

One crypto firm has received lots of queries in the past 10 days from Swiss brokers asking to liquidate billions of dollars of bitcoin because their clients are afraid Switzerland will freeze their assets, one executive said, adding that none of the requests had been for less than $2 billion.
It would be an extremely 2022 turn of events if Putin's invasion also triggers a run on Bitcoin and knocks over the entire cryptocurrency house of cards.
posted by mhum at 10:01 AM on March 11 [40 favorites]


Wait, I thought that crypto would boom now, because -- unlike real currencies -- most of them aren't banning doing business with Russia.

Or is that irrelevant, because without Internet access (to pass along transactions), it can't be spent outside .ru?
posted by wenestvedt at 10:06 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Having usurped the foxes, the werewolves now run the hen house.
posted by y2karl at 10:14 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


The problem with crypto is that there isn't anywhere near enough liquidity to cash out, especially when a lot of people want to do so. Which is why cryptobros evangelise so hard, to get someone to pick up their bags so they can get that lambo or whatever.
posted by acb at 10:15 AM on March 11 [13 favorites]


Prepare for more "Grandma, you can put your 401(k) in bitcoin!" commercials.
posted by rhizome at 10:27 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]


Wait, I thought that crypto would boom now, because -- unlike real currencies -- most of them aren't banning doing business with Russia.

Crypto in general has a huge liquidity problem. Historically speaking the main BTC and BCH prices can take huge dives in fiat value when even relatively small whales try to cash out to actual fiat and not make believe Tether fun bucks or other so-called stablecoins or swap coins.

This also has been historically used to move markets, and since there's no real regulation of these markets outside of the exchanges and fiat off ramps they can be easily manipulated if you have enough coins to throw at it. At this point it's really obvious that there's automated trading groups or individuals out there that can make the BTC-USD values plummet by trying to sell off a large block of coins just so they can buy it low and pump it back up again, and it doesn't take much because of the liquidity problems.

Like there have been huge market movements moving just a few hundred to a few thousand BTC, something in the order of 250,000 to 1,000,000 USD. Which is totally tiny compared to the theoretical market cap of just BTC alone. If you tried to move and manipulate the fiat and FOREX markets with that small of an amount the markets would just laugh at you.

Most cryptocoins are inherently deflationary, too, which has it's own huge bag of problems and isn't the financial boon that most crypto enthusiasts think it is, because they miss the part about how that makes it inherently a zero sum game and pyramid scheme with extra steps.

There's also the issue that coin tracing and analysis is a well developed industry now with many of the main stream exchanges refusing to deal in tainted or "mixed" coins, and you can bet your lunch and your shirt that a lot of Russian oligarchs, crime orgs and so on have tainted coins from dubious sources. Like arms sales, embezzlement, sex trafficking, drugs or more.

If a whole lot of coins came on the market at the same time you can expect the market prices to nose dive and traders offering fiat cash buyouts on exchanges or in person will want and expect bargains, especially on tainted or mixed coins that may be blacklisted on major exchanges that follow Know Your Customer and other regulations.

These discounted prices are common even on small sales and crypto for cash trades, especially in person or off the exchanges with private direct wallets and transactions. People who aren't morons don't pay market spot prices with cash in hand for in person or direct trades.
posted by loquacious at 10:31 AM on March 11 [21 favorites]


Dubious about that crypto article.

Just looking at bitcoin as a proxy for the entire market as it's the biggest and there doesn't seem to be any significant increase in volume. https://data.bitcoinity.org/markets/volume/30d?c=e&t=b. It hasn't gone over 50K btc per day since the start of the month, which per https://exchangerate.guru/btc/usd/50000/ would be $1.9 billion. So anyone trying to dump billions of dollars in crypto would almost certainly be very visible. Also impacting the market to a degree that meant they would be trashing the price they'd get.

Suspect this isn't so much a leaked story about something happening as much as someone trying to influence the market themselves.
posted by Buntix at 10:31 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Wait, I thought that crypto would boom now, because -- unlike real currencies -- most of them aren't banning doing business with Russia.

To turn money into crypto you need a counterparty to accept whatever currency you have (rubles) and turn it into Bitcoin or ETH or whatever. Right now nobody anywhere is buying rubles. The only people buying rubles right now is the Russian Central Bank who are using 80% of Russia's capital inflows to keep the ruble even vaguely afloat. Crypto? There's literally no liquidity because there's no counterparty available who's stupid enough to sell crypto for rubles.

The people who had crypto bought before the ruble crashed now are able to get those coins and liquidate them outside of Russia into a foreign bank account but since US/EU are sanctioning Russian banks and don't want to touch Russian citizens, the crypto instead has to be redeemed through a more... neutral... party, in this case the UAE. From there they can get a UAE bank account connected to SWIFT, the Visa/MC network, and basically be part of the global financial system again, at least if they're outside the country.

The problem is when everyone wants to redeem their tokens and there aren't enough buy orders for your shiny cryptocoins you get...
The problem with crypto is that there isn't anywhere near enough liquidity to cash out, especially when a lot of people want to do so. Which is why cryptobros evangelise so hard, to get someone to pick up their bags so they can get that lambo or whatever.
This.

So if these reports are accurate we're going to see a massive test in the liquidity of the crypto market and the cash reserves of the exchanges to effect those redemptions. There could be a massive drop in crypto, there could be exchanges closing as they struggle to keep enough cash on hand, stablecoins are probably in the crosshairs, I'll be surprised if Tether comes out the other side of a crypto liquidity crisis. However, it's also possible nothing could happen if the Russians aren't trying to take out too much from the market. But I'm with acb in that I fully expect it to fail.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:32 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


Bitcoin might also have a problem if there is a big spike in transaction volume. IIRC There are a limited number of transactions that can be in a block and the level of difficulty in the algorithm is set to keep the rate of block mining constant is that right? So if everyone is sending their coins to cash them out; those transactions to the exchange could take a long time to be processed. Along with the fact that a lot of the exchanges are thought to have been using straw trades to make Bitcoin look more valuable than it is.
posted by interogative mood at 10:33 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Bitcoin might also have a problem if there is a big spike in transaction volume. IIRC There are a limited number of transactions that can be in a block and the level of difficulty in the algorithm is set to keep the rate of block mining constant is that right? So if everyone is sending their coins to cash them out; those transactions to the exchange could take a long time to be processed.

This. Although BTC is still hanging out around $1.76 the last block and gas on ETH is still around 20-30 gwei so they probably haven't been able to start in earnest. Those will start to climb if the Russians start to redeem en masse.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:38 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I think that there is enough people interested in crypto shenanigans (per the thread about Dan Olson's video) that this discussion would merit its own thread.
posted by sukeban at 10:40 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


Mod note: Yeah, the crypto stuff is both maybe worth it's own thread and pretty definitely getting deraily in this one. Crypto didn't invade Ukraine.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:42 AM on March 11 [62 favorites]


IIRC There are a limited number of transactions that can be in a block and the level of difficulty in the algorithm is set to keep the rate of block mining constant is that right?

Yes, but this is easily "solved" by sending larger single transactions and paying higher fees. At least on a client level. As shitty as Bitcoin is, it does have this option for individuals to just crank up their own block rewards to get pushed to the front of the queue and get transactions confirmed faster.

Bitcoin miners love this.

And as much as I hate crypto at this point for being stupid and silly if that market collapsed - especially if it took down Tether with it - a lot of little people are going to get burned and it may have some serious implications to the global economy as a whole not unlike the sub-prime mortgage scandal and scam that blew up in 2008.

This is probably turning into a huge derail at this point and I don't even think that it would make a good MeFi post on it's own unless something major happened. But I'd be interested in that thread, especially one that analyzed how useful - or more likely not at all useful - cryptocurrency has been in the middle of an active war zone or around the invasion of Ukraine and all of this unhappy horseshit.
posted by loquacious at 10:42 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


This thread on Twitter lists historical examples of Russian military response to separatists or movements to leave its sphere of influence. I found it pretty staggering.
posted by prefpara at 10:46 AM on March 11 [22 favorites]


CBS News' Mary Walsh on Twitter
The vise on Kyiv seems to be tightening.
@PentagonPresSec says Russians are beginning to make ground momentum toward Kyiv from the east
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:57 AM on March 11


Thank you very much for that link, prefpara, it's incredibly vindicating to see Russian/ Soviet colonialism and horrors finally brought in front of a western audience - we in the east have known many of these, but less about the once perpetrated within Russian/ Soviet borders. Without the quiet and not so quiet collusion from western anti-colonial fighters and activists, Russia would never have been as successfull as they have been. I am heartened to see that the response to Ukraine has been stronger than I feared it would be given decades of disinformation particularly amongst the left, who should by rights be allies in the fight against Russian colonialist aggression.
posted by doggod at 10:58 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


Russia widens attack on Ukraine's cities, striking western airfields and Dnipro

Might explain why the US is reluctant to send airplanes to Ukraine. If Russia can put cruise missiles on any airfield in the entire country, then anything resembling a traditional airbase only exists because Russia allows it. Maybe this doesn't apply to smaller drones.
posted by meowzilla at 10:59 AM on March 11


Ukraine still has ~80% of its fixed wing aircraft. They just aren't flying much.

(Foreign Policy Magazine's) Jack Detsch on Twitter (Yesterday)
NEW: Russia has more than 90 percent of surface-to-air missiles systems arrayed inside and outside of Ukraine available: senior U.S. defense official.

Russia has put in place a surface-to-air missile network in Ukraine that covers most of the country, U.S. officials have said.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:14 AM on March 11


I'm supposed to be asleep (3am here) but my twitter TL feels particularly active today.

Fast-moving stuff:
- (unconfirmed) attacks from the Belarusian forces. Malcolm Nance: WARNING: A predictable but late invasion from western Belarus to take Lviv using elements of the Belarus Army & several Russian Motorized a rifle Brigade, airborne forces may attempt a fast penetration to cut logistics lines from Poland. Not good.

Christo Grozev's thread here seems to be collecting OSINT on that.

- from Kyiv Independent: ⚡️ EU announces new sanctions, luxury goods and crypto ban.

“We will deny Russia the status of most-favoured-nation in our markets. This will revoke important benefits that Russia enjoys as a WTO member,” said European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen.

Not as fast-moving:
- Maksim Alyukov: Just watched Russia’s main political talk show with notorious propagandist Soloviev (Mar 9). Couldn’t believe my ears. Two hardcore pro-Putin guests - Shaknazarov and Bagdasarov - acknowledged the impact of sanctions, military failures, and called for an end to the invasion. (The rest of the thread covers russian elite temp check)

- Medusa has more reporting about that FSB rumour: From bad intel to worse Putin reportedly turns on FSB agency that botched Russia’s Ukraine prep

ETA: argh sorry I missed this one:
Philip P. Pan: Not good: Analysts who study disinformation said this was the first time they had seen this scale of amplification between Beijing and Moscow around a conspiracy theory.
https://t.co/FMWhNUzINs
posted by cendawanita at 11:27 AM on March 11 [9 favorites]


Just watched Serhii Plokhii and Timothy Snyder discuss how to respond in the face of tyranny. The event was recorded this afternoon in Vienna.
Link to Video in YouTube
posted by 15L06 at 12:37 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Bret Devereaux of ACOUP has a good article on Nuclear deterrence 101 and how it applies.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:03 PM on March 11 [10 favorites]


Russia completed its digital TV switchover fairly recently in 2019 -- I wonder if most Russians still own sets with analog tuners in them. (As a historical note, the USSR had some TV satellites to serve its hinterlands even though the practicalities of VHF/UFH TV make this inefficient for conventional uses vs. mountains and towers.)

How far can the can the Teletorns broadcast?
posted by eustatic at 2:00 PM on March 11


Perhaps more to the point, if Putin didn't see why all this was a bad idea, I don't know why Xi would. I don't think European or American leaders expected things to get this ugly, either.

Obama once said "Russia doesn't make anything", which is a way of openly stating that everyone in the world knew Russia was not much of a powerful country, and anyone in the world could've warned the leader of Russia this was a bad idea.
posted by polymodus at 2:23 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


Apparently the Israeli PM advised Zelensky to just give in to Russia, which he rejected for obvious reasons.

I am just dumbfounded how this was seen as a good idea.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:26 PM on March 11 [20 favorites]


The Strangeness Of Living Under Russian Occupation by Josh Kovensky for Talking Points Memo, where he interviews Sophia, a young Ukrainian woman living in Berdyansk, a city of a hundred thousand inhabitants, currently under Russian occupation. Excerpt:
“The situation here is quite weird, because they’ve occupied the city, but it seems to me that the Russian troops don’t know what to do next,” she told me on Friday.

Russian soldiers drive around, many of them in large vans labeled RosGvardia: Russia’s National Guard, which doubles as an internal military force for the country. Berdyansk residents are staging protests in the central square each day at noon, Sophia said, but as far as she can tell there’s no obvious response. The protests continue each day, unabated, and the Russians continue to drive around.

Some things have changed. A gas line from neighboring Mariupol, besieged and bombed heavily by Russian forces, was cut off, depriving the city of heating gas. Some residents have electric heaters, others have gone without heat. The Russians took over the local radio station, Sophia said, using it to “broadcast fake news” to the town. The Russians are blocking groceries and other products from Ukrainian government-controlled areas from going into Berdyansk, and people from going out. Instead, they’ve supplied the city from gaudy trailers with “humanitarian aid” emblazoned on them.

“It’s not really clear where are they going, what are they trying to do,” Sophia said of the Russians. “But basically nobody can leave the city right now.”
The “humanitarian aid” truck reminds me of an old story from the Winter War. The foreign minister of the Soviet Union, Vyacheslav Molotov, claimed that Soviet airplanes were delivering humanitarian aid to Finland, so Finns started calling Soviet bombs “Molotov breadbaskets”. When the Finns then started to lob petrol bomb-bottles at Soviet tanks, they were dubbed Molotov cocktails, as a way of returning the favor.
posted by Kattullus at 2:27 PM on March 11 [23 favorites]




Bennet is in the Pocket of the oligarchs. Meanwhile support for Ukraine in Israel is >75% in public polling.
posted by interogative mood at 3:12 PM on March 11 [11 favorites]


Apparently the Israeli PM advised Zelensky to just give in to Russia, which he rejected for obvious reasons.

The Prime Minister of Israel advised the leader of another nation to submit to effective dissolution at the hands of an invading nation whose leadership has explicitly denied its right to exist? WTF is even happening here?
posted by tclark at 3:16 PM on March 11 [53 favorites]


Illia Ponomarenko @IAPonomarenko
Apparently, the Ukrainian national mail service had a competition among artists to get the best “RUSSIAN WARSHIP, GO FUCK YOURSELF” stamp design.
This is the winner.

(link points to photo)
posted by bluesky43 at 3:17 PM on March 11 [35 favorites]




The resourcefulness of Ukrainians continues to impress: Ukrainian firm offers $1 million USD per captured or surrendered Russian military plane. There is a promotional video with a phone number for pilots to call.

On the other hand, the front page of the Kyiv Independent is devastating to read, including the news that Warsaw, Krakow can no longer accept refugees. Over the course of two weeks, 80,000-100,000 Ukrainians arrived in Krakow, and 200,000 in Warsaw. Both are now unable to accept refugees, Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service reports.
posted by vers at 3:32 PM on March 11 [10 favorites]


I imagine the Israeli PM's advice is grounded in realpolitik and an interest in countering Iran.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:39 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Obama once said "Russia doesn't make anything"

...the siloviki and the Russian official elite in general are utterly, irrevocably committed to the idea of Russia as a great power and one pole of a multipolar world.

I keep wondering whether they actually missed the fact that power and respect in "the West" are about thriving economies at least as much as nukes, or whether they just don't like that game as much as the traditional one where you get to sing patriotic songs and kill people.
posted by trig at 3:41 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


The Prime Minister of Israel advised the leader of another nation to submit to effective dissolution at the hands of an invading nation whose leadership has explicitly denied its right to exist? WTF is even happening here?

Israel is active in Syria, as is Iran. They've been carefully neutral in this, to avoid Russian interference in their own neighborhood.

Also, many of the oligarchs are Jewish, including the guy trying to divest himself of Chelsea, and also have Israeli citizenship. Monied interests don't always neatly align with political boundaries.
posted by pwnguin at 3:46 PM on March 11 [11 favorites]


@oryxspioenkop
This is Igor.

Every morning Igor goes for a stroll through the nearby forest.

Today, Igor found a Russian Army 9K330 Tor SAM system abandoned in the forest.

Now Igor owns a $20 million SAM system.

Congratulations Igor.
Unfortunately the Wikipedia screenshots are probably not real, though there is discussion.

Anyhoo, not at all unrelatedly here's Ukrainian band Los Colorados covering Du Hast.
posted by Buntix at 3:51 PM on March 11 [6 favorites]


You know, I've been wondering, what is the cost of a SAM missile versus, say, a Bayraktar drone?
posted by Reverend John at 4:10 PM on March 11


The Twitter thread describes what Aeroscope is (something about locating a drone’s operator?)
Though Russians are using Aeroscope hardware, they use the technology to track the drone operators' positions in order to target their artillery/rocket fire. In other words, Russians use DJI technology to kill Ukrainian drone operators. (5/N)
Weird little bits of 21st century technology popping up while the Russians fight using Soviet tactics from WW2 and waving Soviet flags.
posted by meowzilla at 4:13 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Individual missiles are a order of magnitude or two cheaper than drones depending on drone and sam. But missle systems mount multiple missiles plus all the control systems. Most missile systems like the 9k330 fully kitted are going to cost more than the Bayraktar.
posted by Mitheral at 4:16 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


You know, I've been wondering, what is the cost of a SAM missile versus, say, a Bayraktar drone?

The Bayraktar comes in at about a $1 million, SAM start at about $40k for the ones used in Israel's Iron Dome. But you do kinda need all the ancillary stuff.

That said while drones can technically do air-to-air AFAIK they aren't any good at it yet with anything other than other drones. So not really directly comparable anyway.
posted by Buntix at 4:20 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


But if you are talking about using drones to attack ground targets, then I dunno like a couple of hundred $ + change for the bottle...

@NotWoofers [pics on original tweet]
The Ukrainians have modified drones to drop Molotov cocktails. I repeat. They have modified drones to drop Molotov* cocktails.

Now it doesn’t seem to have a lighting mechanism yet, but I expect it is not far off.
(The Finnish version used Bengal matches (a.k.a. storm matches) strapped to the outside of the bottle, but thinking sparklers would probably give a little extra time for the drone to get over their target).


* See above by kattullus
posted by Buntix at 4:38 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Ah, well, I was just wondering if the missile might cost more than its target, and I hadn't found any per-missile cost in my brief googling. Alas.
posted by Reverend John at 4:49 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]




Re: Molotov via drone and it doesn’t seem to have a lighting mechanism yet, I strongly suspect the Ukrainians' resourcefulness is already at work on that.

A moment of googling showed me that the Polish army developed a chemical ignition version with sulfuric acid, sugar, and potassium chlorate that ignited upon impact, negating the need for a fuse. Betting there might be more than one chemical formula that would self-ignite.

You know who I'm rooting for.
posted by vers at 5:02 PM on March 11 [9 favorites]


The Feb 19 speech by Zelenskyy, which moorooka just reminded us of, is a powerful read. Recommended, if you have not done so yet.
posted by brambleboy at 5:18 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Commercial drones have already been adapted to drop grenades and mortar shells in other recent conflicts. (So that'd be one way to ignite other things, with a short delay fuse.)

see also pencil detonators
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:06 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


From bad intel to worse Putin reportedly turns on FSB agency that botched Russia’s Ukraine prep
Link to an article in Meduza by Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan.
According to Soldatov and Borogan’s sources, its leadership has been placed under house arrest. There is no official confirmation of these reports as yet. For Meduza, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan explain how the FSB’s Ukraine intel got this bad.
posted by 15L06 at 6:09 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


“Bret Devereaux of ACOUP has a good article on Nuclear deterrence 101 and how it applies.”

That's a truly excellent piece and I urge people to consider it required reading if they're leaning toward the “if we're not willing to directly fight Putin, then [slippery slope argument]”.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I'm aghast at how... unaware... so many people are of the harsh and terrifying reality of conflict between two nuclear powers. It's not limited to “nuclear conflict between two nuclear powers” but “any military conflict between two nuclear powers”.

There's a misperception that the possession of nuclear weapons, being supremely powerful, is less limiting than when lacking them. Well, that's true only when you have them and your opponent doesnt. If both combatants have them, they are both more limited than they would be if both lacked them.

And that's why 2022 is not 1939. There's a reason it's called the nuclear trap.

Devereaux does an excellent job of explaining this, including with regard to choices that have been and are being made by Russia, Ukraine, and NATO/US.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:13 PM on March 11 [29 favorites]


tactics from WW2

Radio direction finding is at least that old (though in a much clumsier form factor than DJI's kit).

('Huff Duff' goes back to 1926).
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:14 PM on March 11 [4 favorites]


Tim Mak, the NPR correspondent in Ukraine tweeted this earlier today:
My friend, the talented Ukrainian journalist Olena Lysenko (follow her at @seekyivcom), was drinking matcha in Lviv, a western city in Ukraine this morning.

When the air sirens went off, the whole cafe emptied, and Olena was told to take shelter in a nearby church.
This is what she saw.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:29 PM on March 11 [6 favorites]




but it is important to note here that Russia's terms as they currently stand do not relate to Ukraine's right "to exist"

This is demonstrably false. Ukrainian sovereignty was regarded in an official Russian state outlet as "a terrible catastrophe."

From the following link, translated automatically:

"Russia is restoring its unity - the tragedy of 1991, this terrible catastrophe in our history, its unnatural dislocation, has been overcome."

and

"Russia is restoring its historical fullness, gathering the Russian world, the Russian people together - in its entirety of Great Russians, Belarusians and Little Russians."

These are entirely explicit statements refuting the independent, sovereign nationhood of Ukraine.

The offensive of Russia and the new world in original wayback machine.
posted by tclark at 6:53 PM on March 11 [17 favorites]


I believe that Israel is pressuring Ukraine to accept these terms on the understanding that the other western powers will not provide Ukraine with the aid necessary to defeat Russia's invasion (evidenced by the fact that they continue to literally finance said invasion by purchasing Russia gas) and that the refusal to accept these terms will not change the eventual outcome, only the magnitude of death and destruction that it takes to get there.

Yes. I'm sure Bennett comes as a totally neutral party, not a person informed by scores of Russian oligarchs who have high tailed it to Israel to ride out the war.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:54 PM on March 11 [17 favorites]


The breakdown of Russian:Ukrainian background in Israel's Cold War immigrants is also around 4:1 (or that's my rough sense; and likely also based on polling that obscures the realities of mixed heritage).
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:02 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


However in the since-erased comment that you are responding to I was referring to the Kremlin's list of specific conditions to end hostilities as was outlined five days ago.

So I said Russian leadership has made statements that Ukraine as an independent sovereign nation should not exist, and your response was "but this is not their current negotiating position"?
posted by tclark at 7:18 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


Ah, well, I was just wondering if the missile might cost more than its target, and I hadn't found any per-missile cost in my brief googling. Alas.

Along the same lines, a single Javelin missile (not the launcher, or the cost to get it over to Ukraine) costs $175K. Ukraine is offering $40K amnesty for Russian troops to surrender.

Split the cost of the missile three ways (three crewman in RU tanks) and it comes to $58K, it's more than the existing $40K amnesty, and you'd probably still come out ahead when you calculate everything else. $58K is ten times the median annual salary in Russia, before the sanctions hit.
posted by meowzilla at 7:22 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


These Are All The Types Of Shoulder-Fired Missiles That Are Pouring Into Ukraine – Thousands of man-portable anti-aircraft and anti-armor weapons have already been delivered to Ukraine and thousands more are on the way., Joseph Trevithick, The War Zone, March 5, 2022.
posted by cenoxo at 8:13 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


These Are All The Types Of Shoulder-Fired Missiles That Are Pouring Into Ukraine – Thousands of man-portable anti-aircraft and anti-armor weapons have already been delivered to Ukraine and thousands more are on the way.

I kind of hate it that as soon as one 20-year war ends, arms suppliers get their order books filled almost immediately for another war.
posted by clawsoon at 8:26 PM on March 11 [16 favorites]


Wikipedia > List of countries by military expenditures [2022]. See the section More information Rank, Country...
posted by cenoxo at 8:50 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


> Yes. I'm sure Bennett comes as a totally neutral party, not a person informed by scores of Russian oligarchs who have high tailed it to Israel to ride out the war.


Moreover, there's this, although I'm not at all familiar with the subject:

Axios : Israel-Russia coordination in Syria unaffected by war in Ukraine
Military coordination between Israel and Russia in Syria hasn't been interrupted since Israel condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, three Israeli officials told Axios.

Why it matters: Russia holds enormous influence in Syria but allows Israel to operate freely against Iranian activity there. Israeli officials have told the U.S. and other allies that they need to take a careful approach to the Ukraine crisis to ensure that continues.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:35 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Here a link to a very comprehensive and readable summary of the current situation published by Meduza.
posted by 15L06 at 9:48 PM on March 11 [10 favorites]


Refugee-wise, the main places overwhelmed in Warsaw are railway stations (because some refugees want to go further west and don't want to move from the station because they keep trying to get their free tickets in person) and the mass reception centres because central government coordination is pants. Both situations should get better quickly because of extra trains to Germany this weekend and the ongoing private-lodging program (the local government one has people vetting the volunteered rooms, my friend volunteered last week and the check will happen Monday, another in a suburb still hasn't had her check two weeks after volunteering). But I suspect the information campaign is to get people into smaller cities that still have lodging reserves, like Olsztyn, which is a good idea - the main regional metropolises all have good train connections and infrastructure, and services and volunteers are less overwhelmed than Warsaw, Kraków and the area nearest to the Ukrainian border.

Just read an article about a policewoman from Kharkiv who made it to Siedlce with her two police dogs (current and retired), her four cats and her friend's two cats, plus her kid and 80 year old mum. Makes me a bit more optimistic in my nightmares, though for the past two weeks they have been regularly related to evacuating my unreasonable number of cats.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:24 PM on March 11 [41 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent. 2m
⚡️Explosions reported in Dnipro.

The city’s mayor Borys Filatov says Ukraine’s air defense systems repelled the early morning attack.

No casualties were reported
posted by clavdivs at 10:26 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


It seems that the bombing of Belarus by Russia as an attempt to create a false flag and draw Belarus into the conflict have not swayed Belarus’ army to fight. The expected attack has yet to materialize. There are also reports of various mercenaries calling home telling their brothers in arms not to come because it’s a shit show.
posted by interogative mood at 10:45 PM on March 11 [9 favorites]


mooroka: My theory is that it was this speech (about the Budapest Memorandum) on February 19 that made his mind up.

If I’m reading the article right, American intelligence services believe that the decision had been made by no later than February 18th.
posted by Kattullus at 11:42 PM on March 11 [4 favorites]


15L06, thanks for that Meduza summary. It is indeed comprehensive and very clear eyed, especially about the fog of war.
Overall, the open sources create a rather contradictory picture. On the one hand, according to the video and photo documentation, the Russian Army is suffering nonstop defeats and incurring huge losses, first and foremost, in terms of equipment. On the other hand, the losses and defeats are taking place deeper and deeper into Ukrainian territory, ever closer to possible key targets in this phase of the war.
posted by kmt at 11:56 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


The Meduza summary, the Deveraux piece and Zelensky's February 19 speech together make an excellent overview of where things stand two weeks in—thank you to the three people who posted them. So many are champing at the bit to escalate NATO's involvement, but there's a reason the Cold War persisted for 45 years. And as terrible, terrible as the damage Russia is inflicting on Ukraine is, the damage of a nuke on Kyiv or Warsaw or Berlin or London, or Moscow, or all of them, would be orders of magnitude worse. The West is trying a different path, weaponizing globalization by suddenly rupturing it where Russia is concerned, and we don't know if it will work. But as Deveraux reminds us, we know how nuclear deterrence works.
posted by rory at 1:45 AM on March 12 [27 favorites]


Just read an article about a policewoman from Kharkiv who made it to Siedlce with her two police dogs (current and retired), her four cats and her friend's two cats, plus her kid and 80 year old mum. Makes me a bit more optimistic in my nightmares, though for the past two weeks they have been regularly related to evacuating my unreasonable number of cats.

Being a long time player of FFXIV, I also keep an eye on the various streamers who play the game, as they usually have good/funny things to say. One of the streamers of note is Zepla, who was up till the fighting started based in Ukraine, and who then fled to Poland.

She recently recounted her experience as a refugee on a stream after making it across the border, and one point she made was that all the prep work she did to take her dogs (Ukraine has rabies concerns, so transporting dogs normally either requires quarantine or copious amounts of paperwork) wound up not being necessary.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:28 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]


Moreover, there's this, although I'm not at all familiar with the subject:

Axios : Israel-Russia coordination in Syria unaffected by war in Ukraine


There's a lot more to it, due in large part to the ties the Israeli right wing has to Russia, and all that has entailed (see also: the whole Jonathan Pollard mess.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:32 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


Twitter user Jomini of the West makes fairly detailed maps, focusing on the armed conflict, mostly based on the open source intelligence available. Besides a map of the entire theater of war, he posts close-up maps of specific regions. Each map he makes includes his assessment of how things look for the Ukrainian and Russian forces.

His latest set of maps, depicting the situation as of yesterday, make it seem that Russian lack of manpower and morale have led to a near-stalemate. That said, the situation in the East and South remains perilous for Ukraine, but that Russian forces might be forced back from their attempt to encircle Kyiv.

If he is correct, the situation is still more dangerous for Ukrainian than Russian forces, but victory is still not in sight for Russia. Which is remarkable, considering how things looked just two weeks ago.
posted by Kattullus at 3:20 AM on March 12 [14 favorites]


War in Ukraine: How Russia is recruiting mercenaries – Social media channels and private messaging groups are being used in Russia to recruit a new brigade of mercenaries to fight in Ukraine alongside the army, the BBC has learned., Hanan Razek & Illya Barabanov, BBC News Russian & BBC News Arabic, March 11, 2022:
The BBC has spoken to a serving mercenary and a former fighter with close links to one of Russia's leading mercenary organisations, who have shared details of the recruitment campaign. The serving mercenary said many veterans of the secretive Wagner organisation were contacted on a private Telegram group a few weeks before the start of the war. They were invited to a "picnic in Ukraine", with references to tasting "Salo", a pork fat traditionally eaten in Ukraine.

The message appeals to "those with criminal records, debts, banned from mercenary groups or without an external passport" to apply. The message also included that "those from the Russian-occupied areas of Luhansk and Donetsk republics and Crimea - cordially invited".

The Wagner group [Wikipedia] is one of the most secretive organisations in Russia. Officially, it doesn't exist - serving as a mercenary is against Russian and international law. But up to 10,000 operatives are believed to have taken at least one contract with Wagner over the past seven years.

The serving mercenary who spoke to the BBC said new recruits are being placed in units under the command of officers from the GRU, the Russian military intelligence unit of the ministry of defence….
More in the article (and about the Wagner group): In 2021, the BBC gained access to an electronic tablet left behind by a Wagner fighter in Libya.

(Previously: Russian Mercenaries Take The Lead In Attacks On US And Allied Forces In Syria – Despite the Kremlin's denials and the US government downplaying the situation, the two sides appear headed for a serious confrontation., Joseph Trevithick, The War Zone, Feb 15, 2018.)
posted by cenoxo at 3:52 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


Julia Davis is a journalist who watches Russian state TV, so you don't have to., ''they're talking about implementing public hangings in Ukraine''.
posted by adamvasco at 4:09 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


But as Deveraux reminds us, we know how nuclear deterrence works.

This matters little unless Putin knows and remembers how it works. Which is not apparent.
posted by some loser at 4:21 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


This matters little unless Putin knows and remembers how it works. Which is not apparent.

I think it was apparent that he does when he issued his warnings on day one or two of the invasion. Those were precisely about underlining the implications of NATO coming into direct military conflict with Russia—essentially saying "back off, I can do what I like here and you can't intervene for risk of ending all life on earth". Which is intensely frustrating and dismaying when we can see his crimes unfolding in front of us, but that's why nuclear brinkmanship sucks, and living in the Cold War for 45 years sucked. If nukes hadn't been invented we would have had WWIII in the 1950s or 1960s, and maybe a few more since, with lots of conventional death and destruction... would that have been better or worse? I honestly don't know, and I don't enjoy the thought experiment.

As Devereux's piece reminds us, the remorseless logic of nuclear deterrence means that any conflict between nuclear powers escalates into total nuclear war. As we knew by the early 1980s, it wouldn't even take a total nuclear war to trigger nuclear winter and the end of civilisation. The combined military and political minds of two generations were constrained by that logic, and it seems unlikely that anyone has found a Get Out of Jail Free card in the space of the past two weeks.
posted by rory at 4:53 AM on March 12 [10 favorites]


rory, India and Pakistan have demonstrated that it's possible for two nuclear powers to limit themselves to conventional war. There's probably some theoretical basis to explain how this is possible.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:08 AM on March 12 [10 favorites]


Recent missile incident, India apologized! Just can not imagine Putin either apologising or accepting an apology.

I do pray from the history of Petrov and Arkhipov rational actors remain in the Russian military.
posted by sammyo at 6:10 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]


rory, India and Pakistan have demonstrated that it's possible for two nuclear powers to limit themselves to conventional war. There's probably some theoretical basis to explain how this is possible.

What? India and Pakistan almost came to nukes over the Balakot crisis which "only" involved India firing missiles at terrorist targets on Pakistani soil and the escalation from there.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:20 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


I take your point, Nancy. I don't know what analysts make of that exception, but suspect the explanation would revolve around their single post-nuclear conventional war taking place only a year after Pakistan revealed its nuclear capability, when their arsenals would still have been significantly mismatched. The two haven't engaged in direct military conflict since, so their risk calculations must have changed. Even a limited Pakistan-India exchange would cause a global famine.

Whereas—to bring it back to Putin—he doesn't seem to care that even his conventional war risks a significant shortage of Ukrainian wheat and famine in countries that depend on it, but the threats to Russian production and exports might yet bear down on him. At some point there was rhetoric from the Putin side about not caring about a world with no place for Russia in it, but that's the sort of "I'll push the button" noise you'd expect them to make to get us to take the risk seriously. The whole point is to keep us guessing so that we're forced to assume the worst.
posted by rory at 6:30 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


To refocus on Ukraine, and one piece of cheering news (assuming it's accurate): How a Ukrainian village armed with two flags defeated two Russian tanks.

Meanwhile, there are bleak reports from Mariupol.
posted by rory at 6:37 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


Does anyone have any info on what will happen if Kyiv falls and Zelenskyy and the other government officials still in Kyiv are captured or killed?

Is there a plan for the continuity of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian military to fight on?

If they fail, what will an insurgency in Russian occupied Ukraine look like?
posted by Reverend John at 7:13 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have any info on what will happen if Kyiv falls

The fallback location for the government is in Lviv.
posted by Slothrup at 7:18 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


@johnsweeneyroar 7h
#KyivDiary Day 17
The war is going badly for Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainians are standing firm. His army is a bit rubbish, frankly.
It's beginning to be possible to imagine a world without Putin. In the Kremlin whisperers gather in the gloom.
Stalin died in March. And Caesar.

/John Sweeney is a reporter in Kyiv- the link includes a video report that is well worth watching.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:46 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


This piece by Seth Abramson ties together multiple strands of global politics of the past decade and shows why the West should funnel as much support into Ukraine as possible, short of direct NATO engagement with Russia:

There’s a real danger that it is the very hopelessness within NATO about Ukraine’s ability to fight off the Russian invaders that’s making it so difficult to get the alliance to take meaningful action to aid that desired if improbable outcome.

The whole thing really is essential reading.
posted by rory at 7:50 AM on March 12 [8 favorites]


YouTuber Lindybeige interviewed a friend who was volunteering for the International Legion. Apparently the place where he bought much of his kit estimates about 1,000 people from the Bristol (UK) area are planning to join.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:55 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]


Timothy Snyder has shown up a couple of times in the Ukraine threads, but I was keeping an eye out for Stephen Kotkin, and here he is in the New Yorker: The Weakness of Despots. I find him really illuminating since discovering him a few years ago -- his politics aren't entirely mine but within that worldview it's extremely clear about the historical perspective of Russia in a way that is clarifying for me. He's very much a sardonic voice I find. Per Marcy Wheeler's commentary on the interview:

Three things about this Stephen Kotkin interview everyone is pointing to.

First, his cautions about overestimating Ukraine's success are important.

Second, his definition of "the West"? Whooboy.

It disappears a whole lot of imperialism that permits "the West" to enjoy these advantages.

Do we have "the West" w/o Saudi repression?

Third, the way he flips the "but NATO" single-legged stool of lefty criticism is important.

NATO is flawed.

But I'm grateful that Poland and the Baltics have a means of protecting the lives they've grown in the last generation.

posted by cendawanita at 8:07 AM on March 12 [13 favorites]


Does anyone have any info on what will happen if Kyiv falls?

What if Russia Wins the War in Ukraine?, UN Dispatch Podcasts, Mark Leon Goldberg, March 3, 2022 – (Podcast & Transcript):
It has been one week since Russia mounted a massive invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian people have thus far mounted a valorous defense of their country and have thwarted Vladimir Putin’s plans for a swift victory. Still, the situation on the ground changes by the day and Russia remains the dominant military power. This begs the question: What happens if Russia wins this war?

Liana Fix is a resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, DC. Along with co-author Michael Kimmage, she recently wrote an essay in Foreign Affairs [paywall, no workaround except registration?] describing the ways a Kremlin-controlled Ukraine would transform Europe — and international relations more broadly.

We kick off discussing what a Russian “victory” might look like in Ukraine before having a broader conversation about the many ways that such an outcome would upend Europe as we know it.
The transcript follows the podcast, here’s the first question:
MLG: What are the Various Ways that Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Could End?

Liana Fix [00:02:43]: Well, I think the very basic assumption of Russian victory would be that Russia has controlled political and more or less military control of Ukraine. This means a Russian victory could be either a scenario of regime change, that Russia is able to take Kyiv and to install a pro-Russian compliant government. It could also be a scenario of a partition of the country, and it could also be the scenario of a Ukrainian defeat and surrender, which gives Russia the opportunity to occupy most of Ukraine. That is certainly the basic level what Russia wants to achieve. It is political control and detaching Ukraine from the West. So, making it impossible for Ukraine to cooperate in any way with the European Union or with NATO in the future.
…continued in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 8:24 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


cendawanita, thanks for the link to the Kotkin interview—another great read. He nails why Zelensky is the right man for this war even if he had his flaws before it:

It turned out that “the television President,” Zelensky, who had a twenty-five-per-cent approval rating before the war—which was fully deserved, because he couldn’t govern—now it turns out that he has a ninety-one-per-cent approval rating. It turned out that he’s got cojones. He’s unbelievably brave. Moreover, having a TV-production company run a country is not a good idea in peacetime, but in wartime, when information war is one of your goals, it’s a fabulous thing to have in place.
posted by rory at 8:32 AM on March 12 [11 favorites]


For anyone keeping a Seized Russian Oligarch Yachts Bingo card:

The Italian authorities have seized SY A (I believe it's the largest sailing yacht in the world. Opinions on how it looks are - spicy, let's say.)
posted by From Bklyn at 8:33 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


This piece by Seth Abramson

I hope this crisis doesn't breathe new life into soi-disant Russian experts like confirmed confabulators Seth Abramson who somehow seems insulated, in the eyes of his readers, from paying consequences for his frequent, unending fictions, the man is essentially Democratic Alex Jones.
posted by dis_integration at 8:40 AM on March 12 [44 favorites]


Thank you for that. I started reading the Seth Abramson article and stopped a quarter the way in because the piece just seemed 'off' in a way I couldn't put my finger on. I see I am not alone in that assessment.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:43 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that link, dis_integration - a quick search after reading his piece hadn't turned up his critics. I'll take his stuff with a grain of salt from now on.
posted by rory at 9:11 AM on March 12


Non-oligarch here... can someone explain to me the obsession with yachts? I honestly don't get it. Why yachts?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:13 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


Also not an oligarch, but it's a combination of a symbol of wealth and power going back to the age of sail and further, it allows you to subvert laws either by just being isolated at sea, or potentially in international waters, and assuming they recognize global warming and just don't care, if you already own land mansions, why not future proof with ocean mansions as well?
posted by neonrev at 9:18 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Presumably because they're status symbols, a way to travel in luxury, and a kind of portable, personal kingdom - where guests conduct themselves at the pleasure of the oligarch, and one can operate far from the reach of the law. Standard mafia shit.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:18 AM on March 12 [10 favorites]


Also non-oligarch, but I'd presume some combination of not wanting to actually live in Russia (for obvious reasons), but not wanting to establish residence elsewhere and be subject to their laws, therefore, mobile mansion/estate.
posted by LionIndex at 9:18 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


Are there no oligarchs on Mefi?
posted by bluesky43 at 9:20 AM on March 12 [65 favorites]


Also, the allure of an activity that often involves beautiful women wearing little to no clothing as often as possible.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:20 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Non-oligarch here... can someone explain to me the obsession with yachts? I honestly don't get it. Why yachts?

IIRC, it's something that Thorstein Veblen covered in "The Theory of the Leisure Class". You're doing something useless (sailing nowhere in particular) in a way that resembles useful activity (ocean transport, fishing) and makes it clear that you have time and money to waste. And it's something that rich people from previous generations did to actually build their wealth. And it's theoretically dangerous, which plays into it all in some way that Veblen explains that I forget.
posted by clawsoon at 9:21 AM on March 12 [13 favorites]


i am a temporarily-embarrassed oligarch just waiting for my ship to come in (it's a yacht.)
posted by glonous keming at 9:22 AM on March 12 [19 favorites]


i am a temporarily-embarrassed oligarch just waiting for my ship to come in (it's a yacht.)

Ah yes, the Uptown Girl conundrum.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:26 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


(Searching through the text of "Theory of the Leisure Class", I think my mind may have automatically applied what Veblen said about hunting to sailing.)
posted by clawsoon at 9:27 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


Peter Maass has an interesting article comparing the invasions of Ukraine and Bosnia called Putin’s Endgame Is Not a Mystery. It’s Regime Survival. Excerpt:
He is the president of a Slavic nation who takes advice from no one and gambles on a war that does not go as planned. Fierce resistance prevents his forces from seizing the capital he covets. Western sanctions send his economy into a tailspin, the middle class flees, and state media offers ridiculous propaganda (“Our enemy is bombing themselves”).

This sounds like Vladimir Putin in 2022, but it’s Slobodan Milošević in 1992, when military forces under the Serbian leader’s control went on a genocidal rampage in Bosnia. The war dragged on for years and involved sieges of Sarajevo and other cities, including Srebrenica. Milošević claimed Bosnia was an artificial country that didn’t deserve to exist — the kind of lie that Putin has deployed against Ukraine. Serbs shelled apartment buildings and attacked civilians as they tried to flee — just as the Russian army is now doing in Ukraine. You can look at a picture of Sarajevo in 1992 and a picture of Kyiv in 2022 and not know which is which.

There’s a lot of guessing about what Putin will be able to achieve in Ukraine and whether he’ll survive in power, now that his opening gambit has failed. But there has been surprisingly little reference to the precedent of Miloševic and Bosnia. It’s as though what happened in Bosnia is not regarded as an authentic chapter of Europe’s history — because most of the war’s 100,000 victims were Muslim, and Muslims aren’t considered fully European. As the historian Edin Hajdarpašić noted last week: “If 1990s Bosnia is taught, it is in courses on genocide & violence, but rarely as part of European history courses.” It’s an omission that does more than reveal how prejudice tilts our choices about which history to highlight and which history to ignore; it deprives us of a greater understanding of what may lie ahead.

There are two sides to the lessons from Belgrade and Sarajevo. The first is that a leader who embarks on a violently nihilist path can remain in power far longer than you might expect. There is speculation about a possible coup in Moscow, but Milošević stayed in office throughout the war, which ended after four years, and wasn’t ousted until late in 2000 when he tried to rig an election that he lost. The second lesson is that an underdog fighting for survival can stave off, though with immense loss of life, a far larger force that lacks its motivation. The Bosnian Army was thrown together after the Serb onslaught began and persevered, despite an unconscionable arms embargo by the United Nations (imposed against all parties but hurting only the Bosnian side, because Serbs had plenty of weapons of their own).
posted by Kattullus at 9:28 AM on March 12 [31 favorites]


Also, I remember windsurfing on a package holiday in a large bay around a billionaire's yacht in the 90s, and everyone knew which billionaire's yacht that was, so it's a really imposing way to say “I'm in town”.
posted by ambrosen at 9:28 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Thank you for linking the Kotkin interview. I wanted to but was unsure of doing so because i worry if i share too much in here and come across as pushing an agenda (through my work i met many of these scholars personally, if curious check my profile).
Kotkin did a three part lecture in 2017 there:
Lecture I: The Gift of Geopolitics: How Worlds are Made, and Unmade
Lecture II: What, if anything, is the Difference between Fascism and Communism?
Lecture III: The Chip on the Shoulder

They build on each other but also stand individually. Lecture II is a favorite.
posted by 15L06 at 9:29 AM on March 12 [19 favorites]


The Globe and Mail's Mark MacKinnon on Twitter
Israeli PM Bennett’s office reached out to me directly on this: “This report isn’t just inaccurate but patently false. At no point did PM Bennett advise President Zelensky to take a deal from Putin.” Confirmed that a mediation meeting in Jerusalem is being discussed.


The Italian authorities have seized SY A

"Sailing Yacht A" on your BINGO card.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:33 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Boats are fun, and big expensive ones are excellent vehicles for laundering money. Plus there is a strong international yachting community, which enables rich people to see themselves as being part of something that's apart from and unencumbered by state laws and power. A yacht is entree to a floating global country club.
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:34 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


can someone explain to me the obsession with yachts?

There are some obvious advantages to owning just a regular ocean going yacht, but I think the mega-yachts are more about various forms of complex tax avoidance.
posted by Lanark at 9:34 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


various forms of complex tax avoidance

Aside from the cachet they confer, this is a primary motivation.

Have oligarch-style money?

Consider flagging your yacht in the Marshall Islands, for example.

Via the ICIJ/Paradise Papers:

Formula One auto racing star Lewis Hamilton got a new luxury jet, a $27 million candy-apple-red Bombardier Challenger 605 with Armani curtains. He also got a refund on the value-added tax.

And the lawyers at Appleby, an elite law firm founded in Bermuda, were there to help.

They teamed with the London-based accounting giant Ernst & Young to craft an arcane plan to sidestep the VAT, a consumption tax charged in Europe on everything from socks to cars. One of the conditions: Hamilton’s inaugural flight would have to touch down on the Isle of Man, the British crown dependency in the Irish Sea known for its lenient tax treatment of the world’s super-rich.

“This will involve a short stay, normally less than 2 hours,” Appleby said in a written explanation of the tax-avoidance strategy.


See also: How a network of enablers have helped Russia’s oligarchs hide their wealth abroad from the ICIJ's Russia Archive.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:51 AM on March 12 [13 favorites]


If you have a yacht you can go to various places in the Mediterranean and Caribbean and vacation but all your stuff is there, just how you like it along with a staff that takes care of you. Imagine taking your house with you on vacations. You can use it for meeting and gatherings with other rich people. You can also anchor out in the harbor when you don’t want to meet with anyone and just want to disconnect from the world or engage in any hedonistic behavior that authorities might frown upon.
posted by interogative mood at 9:54 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


This is serious business we discuss but all the same, I can't help thinking Weird Al Yanukovych everytime I see that particular surname.
posted by y2karl at 9:55 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


can someone explain to me the obsession with yachts?


Halfway serious, the yachts give Congress an opportunity to issue letters of marque.
posted by ocschwar at 10:27 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


More seriously, the yachts are never seen in Kaliningrad or Arkhangelsk or Vladivostok. Maybe some times in Sevastopol.

They are glaring examples of how the oligarchs enjoy the wealth they got through the absense of the rule of law, only in places that have it. And seizing them is another way to rub in Putin's face the fact that access to the more fashionable seas is still beyond Russia's reach, and will remain so come the next Neptune's Day (google it - it'll give you an education into Russia's imperial ambitions.)
posted by ocschwar at 10:31 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


As fun as yacht talk is, can we please get back to talking about Ukraine?
posted by peppermind at 10:32 AM on March 12 [27 favorites]


Some direct info of the view from inside Russia Comments from my friend's Russian connections in Moscow (grammar by Google Translate).
I called an old co-worker, the head of the legal department in the bank. Most at the bank, she said, support the aggression. Her own father is with two hands for Putin. My sister called from Moscow, she is a dentist in a large private clinic. Most doctors, she said, support Putin and aggression. So, assurances that everyone is against it are not true.

My ex-wife's father lives in New York, he is a couple of years older than me. He called her and tells her that NATO is harming Russia, and that he and his wife are praying for Putin (Georgian wife) nurse, adores Putin.

My classmates are circulating this petition: [[excerpted]]
APPEAL TO THE REAL RUSSIANS WHO REALLY LOVES THEIR HOMELAND! Putin V.V. removes Russia from the influence of America and Europe. This does not suit the West. A coup d'état is being prepared. The overthrow of Putin is being prepared. America spares no expense for this, and there are people in the country who are ready to do it. An information war against Russia and against Putin. The deliberate attempt to create a negative attitude among Russians about what is happening in the country. Support the president of RUSSIA, preserve the state, preserve peace and stability, defend the sovereignty and independence of RUSSIA. Pray for our Motherland and our President!
Obviously, without polling you can't tell how typcal this is, but it's certainly visible among both the locals and ex-pats.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:34 AM on March 12 [8 favorites]


I think also that’s one thing the information shutdowns allow - for Putin to control the information flow of the war, so they aren’t seeing pictures of dead Russians. One of the people in an occupied Russian area was saying that the Russians are not allowing any humanitarian aid in but theirs, and if people want to get supplies they have to go to brightly colored Russian trucks labeled “humanitarian assistance”, where Russians film them. I imagine part of the narrative people are seeing is “Ukraine has been bombing these towns and we, the generous Russians, are helping”.
posted by corb at 10:38 AM on March 12 [9 favorites]


That's exactly what it is. That's also why the humanitarian corridors out of Donbass only led to Russia.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:40 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


Re: information shutdowns, the tool that Polish group Squad303 made to help fight the Russian disinformation tidal wave by enabling individuals around the world to send text messages and emails to Russian citizens has (finally) made it into mainstream news at the WSJ. Over 7 million messages have been sent, and the effort is ongoing. The website is 1920.in.
posted by vers at 11:04 AM on March 12 [8 favorites]


I think also that’s one thing the information shutdowns allow - for Putin to control the information flow of the war, so they aren’t seeing pictures of dead Russians.

This is very much it. Coverage of Chechnya inside Russia is a prime example/cautionary tale of how this has been playing out with Ukraine since 2014.

The newly-minted oligarchs who controlled various media outlets in the Yeltsin period were quite happy to air extensive coverage -- including graphic coverage of Russian casualties, along with criticism or condemnation of the war -- in the first war on Chechnya in the mid-90s.

"If it bleeds it leads" is an approach that gets ratings, and why be an oligarch if you're not in it to make more money?

Things shifted under Putin and his prosecution of the Second Chechen War starting in 1999. Media came under increasing state control, or the oligarchs who owned media outlets were put on blast to "stay out of politics, wink wink, nudge nudge" and independent journalists who continued with critical investigative coverage (Politkovskaya among many others) were intimidated or outright assassinated.

Casus Belli: The Russian State and Media in Public Discourse during the Chechen Wars (Contemporary Review of Genocide and Political Violence, October 2, 2020)

Russia's wars in Chechnya offer a grim warning of what could be in Ukraine (NPR, March 12, 2022)

Russian Media Policy in the First and Second Chechen Campaigns (2002, pdf):

The military campaign in Chechnya from December 1994 to August 1996 became the "first real test of journalists' freedoms" since the end of the Soviet Union and loomed large in perceptions about the Russian media for the rest of the 1990s. Though some journalists had condemned "shock therapy" in 1992 and the shelling of the parliament in 1993, the Chechen war prompted the journalistic community to desert Boris Yeltsin en masse for the first time. Moscow-based television networks were the public's main source of information on the fighting. The private network NTV exposed official lies about how the war was waged. Newscasts on state-owned Russian Television (RTR), which reached a nationwide audience on Channel 2, soon followed NTV's lead. Virtually all privately owned newspapers also raised their voices against the military campaign.

[...]

If the first post-Soviet war in Chechnya seemed to prove that the Russian authorities could not manipulate the media, the military campaign that began in 1999 suggested just the opposite. Many reporters for private as well as state-owned media now relied on an official information centre that one veteran war correspondent described as a "propaganda department." Yassen Zassoursky, dean of the Moscow State University's Journalism Faculty, had hailed coverage of the first war as "a remarkable achievement of Russian democratic journalism," but in late 1999 he found little to praise about the "onesided coverage" favouring the official viewpoint. State policies during the second war gave rise to "a news blackout that benefit[ed] only the Kremlin."

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:04 AM on March 12 [9 favorites]


Wikipedia > List of countries by military expenditures [2022]. See the section More information Rank, Country...

At first I was, like, "Oh, wow, Russia's percentage of GDP spent on military is right up there with the petrostates," and then I was, like, "Oh. Yeah."
posted by clawsoon at 11:07 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


“The overthrow of Putin is being prepared. America spares no expense for this, and there are people in the country who are ready to do it.”

If this is along the lines of “Ukrainians attacking Belarus” and “Ukrainians building a dirty bomb”, then the game is afoot…
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:22 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Obviously, without polling you can't tell how typcal this is, but it's certainly visible among both the locals and ex-pats.

Watching a cnn interview of russian journalist couple that had their station shut down, now in europe - they said it was basically impossible to poll in russia, who would answer any question negative.
posted by sammyo at 11:35 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent
@KyivIndependent 1h
⚡️SBU: Intercepted phone calls shows that Russian troops near Kharkiv were ordered to shoot at civilians, including children.
posted by bluesky43 at 11:55 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


A Tale of Two Borders - there are refuees and refugees ... One thing noone seems to be able - or willing - to do is help the second kind...
posted by doggod at 12:09 PM on March 12


The Weakness of the Despot. An expert (Stephen Kotkin) on Stalin discusses Putin, Russia, and the West. (the New Yorker) (with excerpts, but the whole interview is revealing)

On NATO expansion: I would say that nato expansion has put us in a better place to deal with this historical pattern in Russia that we’re seeing again today. Where would we be now if Poland or the Baltic states were not in nato? They would be in the same limbo, in the same world that Ukraine is in. In fact, Poland’s membership in nato stiffened nato’s spine.

On Putin: The biggest surprise for Putin, of course, was the West. All the nonsense about how the West is decadent, the West is over, the West is in decline, how it’s a multipolar world and the rise of China, et cetera: all of that turned out to be bunk. The courage of the Ukrainian people and the bravery and smarts of the Ukrainian government, and its President, Zelensky, galvanized the West to remember who it was. And that shocked Putin! That’s the miscalculation.

On Oligarchs:The oligarchs were never in power under Putin. He clipped their wings. They worked for him. If they didn’t work for him, they could lose their money. He rearranged the deck chairs. He gave out the money. He allowed expropriation by his own oligarchs, people who grew up with him, who did judo with him, who summered with him. The people who were in the K.G.B. with him in Leningrad back in the day, or in post-Soviet St. Petersburg––those people became oligarchs and expropriated the property to live the high life. Some of the early Yeltsin-era people were either expropriated, fled, or were forced out. Putin built a regime in which private property, once again, was dependent on the ruler. Everybody knew this. If they didn’t know, they learned the lesson the hard way. Sadly, this encouraged people all up and down the regime to start stealing other people’s businesses and property.

On the war: Russia has a lot of weapons that they haven’t used yet, but there are a couple of factors here. First of all, Ukraine is winning this war only on Twitter, not on the battlefield. They’re not winning this war. Russia is advancing very well in the south, which is an extremely valuable place because of the Black Sea littoral and the ports. They are advancing in the east. If the southern and eastern advances meet up, they will encircle and cut off the main forces of the Ukrainian Army. What’s failed so far is the Russian attempt to take Kyiv in a lightning advance. Otherwise, their war is unfolding well. It’s only a couple of weeks in; wars last much longer.
posted by bluesky43 at 12:24 PM on March 12 [11 favorites]


Can you imagine being paid to commit warcrimes in worthless rubles? That cant be great for morale.
posted by some loser at 12:30 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


And then having to use them to bolster your mom's buckwheat and sugar budget while she prays for Putin's success?
posted by WeekendJen at 12:33 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


A very strong Statement of the International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia:

WE – the undersigned representatives of the Indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East living outside of Russia against our will—are outraged by the war President Putin has unleashed against Ukraine. At the moment, the entire population of Ukraine is in grave danger. Old people, women and children are dying. Cities and towns of an independent country are being destroyed because their inhabitants did not want to obey the will of a dictator and a tyrant.

As representatives of Indigenous peoples, WE express solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their struggle for freedom and are extremely concerned about ensuring the rights of Indigenous peoples during the war on Ukrainian territory, including the Crimean Peninsula that remains illegally occupied by Russia.

posted by doggod at 12:35 PM on March 12 [28 favorites]


For anyone keeping a Seized Russian Oligarch Yachts Bingo card:

The Italian authorities have seized S/Y A (I believe it's the largest sailing yacht in the world. Opinions on how it looks are - spicy, let's say.)
In case anybody was overcome with concern for Mr. Melnichenko, you will be relieved to know that (as far as I know) he still has his other mega-yacht, M/Y A. So rest easy - he'll still be able to console himself over his loss in a salon decorated in Baccarat crystal and white stingray leather.

I live in a geographically isolated port in a beautiful part of the world and Russian oligarch yachts come through here semi-frequently. You'll even, on rare occasions, run across a group of Russian-speaking dudes in matching pseudo-nautical uniforms resupplying in the grocery store or picking up a necessary part for the boat in a local chandlery. Every time that happens I'm reminded of how the Russian oligarchs are among the closest relatives the world has to James Bond-style supervillains, even down to the henchmen in matching outfits.

The Ukrainians, of course, know what it is like to live under the heel of such corrupt leaders in a way that, god willing, most of us never will. If the world has been surprised by their fierce resistance it can only be because of not paying attention to the incredible trauma Ukraine has already endured.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:39 PM on March 12 [22 favorites]


Really, the "I'm going to hold a country hostage and destroy it and maybe all of humanity if my demands aren't met" is very very much Bond Supervillian tactics. It's a shame we don't seem to have a Bond making progress that we know of.
posted by hippybear at 1:51 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


The Ukrainians, of course, know what it is like to live under the heel of such corrupt leaders in a way that, god willing, most of us never will. If the world has been surprised by their fierce resistance it can only be because of not paying attention to the incredible trauma Ukraine has already endured.

Also the incredible trauma Russia has been committing. Spent the last hour or so hunting round the sites trying to figure the best place to post a Chechnyan song from a previous Russian war crime:
I cannot say a word so I'll write my story down
Of walking on my comrades' bodies lying on the ground
Across the Russian minefield they saved us with their lives
"Meet you in paradise" they shouted as they died

Allah Akbar
Mohammed walks beside me
In the winter out of Grozny
Meet you in paradise

We bribed the Russian general one hundred thousand cash
Our recon team went out ahead but they never made it back
Commander Shamil Basaev said we'll go out ahead
The first explosion took his leg and left three commanders dead

Allah Akbar
Mohammed walks beside me
In the winter out of Grozny
Meet you in paradise

As the first mines went off and the wind began to blow
Their artillery shells and rockets screamed down into our ranks
So many brave mujahideen we left out on the snow
We didn't want to leave them there, I didn't want to go

Allah Akbar
Mohammed walks beside me
In the winter out of Grozny
Meet you in paradise

Allah Akbar
Mohammed walks beside me
In the winter out of Grozny
Meet you in paradise

The villagers of Alxan-Kala took the wounded in their homes
No medicines, no pain killers for the hacksaw cutting bones
Doctor Malika Sabieva turned away from the wounded men
We don't know what to do, we have nothing for them

Allah Akbar
Mohammed walks beside me
In the winter out of Grozny
Meet you in paradise
posted by Buntix at 1:56 PM on March 12 [20 favorites]


“The overthrow of Putin is being prepared. America spares no expense for this, and there are people in the country who are ready to do it.”

If this is along the lines of “Ukrainians attacking Belarus” and “Ukrainians building a dirty bomb”, then the game is afoot…


I think it's actually more likely to be that they're trying to pre-emptively portray anyone talking about coup-ing Putin as a Western pawn - which means, in my read, that at least some people in Putin's circle are afraid the likelihood of it might increase, and want people to feel a little uncomfortable about doing it.

Ukraine is winning this war only on Twitter, not on the battlefield. They’re not winning this war

I think it's complicated. One of the things that I think people forget often is that "winning this war" is a complicated series of objectives, that states frequently readjust as needed. What is "winning this war" for Russia? Is it driving out the Ukrainian army? A formal surrender of the entire government? The smoking craters of formerly booming cities? We can't actually know, because they've changed it several times.

What does it take for Ukraine to "win this war"? To survive, and not become a Russian province. Winning the war, for Ukraine, does not mean driving all Russian troops out.

This makes these complex endeavors, and creates situations where Russia/Ukraine can either both win or both lose.
posted by corb at 2:47 PM on March 12 [18 favorites]


Corb - I'm not sure if you read the entire interview from The New Yorker where you quote is pulled from but it's worth reading the whole thing. The historian makes the point that Putin could never govern/control Ukraine should his forces prevail,
posted by bluesky43 at 2:52 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


Subduing Ukraine and keeping it subdued would be beyond the capability of an overstretched, demoralised Russian army. Though if Putin is serious about annihilating Ukraine as a cultural entity, and just annexing the land as Lebensraum for Russia, he might try the old Stalinist tactic of forcibly relocating its population (say, to scattered settlements all over the Russian Far East) and replacing it with ethnic Russians. This succeeded against the Crimean Tartars.
posted by acb at 3:00 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


"What does it take for Ukraine to "win this war"? To survive, and not become a Russian province. Winning the war, for Ukraine, does not mean driving all Russian troops out."

As a friend of mine who works in intelligence said, "Ukraine doesn't need to win; they just need to not-lose."

(And I think USSR-era population replacement sorts of things would be a lot harder to do in a modern, internet-connected world.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:09 PM on March 12 [11 favorites]


I think that installing a Kremlin friendly government in Kyiv is probably the highest hoped for outcome for Putin but being able to establish at least part of a land bridge to Crimea is an acceptable level of success.

Though apparently Putin fully thought he was going to (re)claim Ukraine for Russia so who what he really believed.

Seems clear now that the Ukrainian people won't stand for Putin Puppet government so maybe even if he can hold onto the eastern regions he'll have a bad time of it while sanctions continue to be a drain on the Russian military's ability to hold anything.
posted by VTX at 3:23 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


(And I think USSR-era population replacement sorts of things would be a lot harder to do in a modern, internet-connected world.)

Although the Russian state not realising that might explain this:

@jason_corcoran
Belgorod in Russia is located 40kms from the Ukraine border. A column of buses waits for refugees from Ukraine, according to
@bazabazon
[video of a lot of shiny buses in tweet]

Other than it being a weird PR stunt (IIRC this tweet was the same day that the video of a the train laden with vintage trucks and buses being sent to support the invading Russian troops).
posted by Buntix at 3:58 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


The Weakness of the Despot. An expert (Stephen Kotkin) on Stalin discusses Putin, Russia, and the West. (the New Yorker) (with excerpts, but the whole interview is revealing)

On NATO expansion: …


A note on sources, this historian is a Hoover fellow meaning he's quite definitely a conservative American liberal, the kind that powerful elites like to hear from for their intellectual ideas. Princeton has some leftist professors but plenty of conservative ones. IDK Kotkin's precise political positions but if you google, he basically hates socialism and his books make that clear.
posted by polymodus at 4:43 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]


Rory: cendawanita, thanks for the link to the Kotkin interview—another great read

He definitely makes interesting copy, as they say in journalism.

15L06: Thank you for linking the Kotkin interview. I wanted to but was unsure of doing so because i worry if i share too much in here and come across as pushing an agenda (through my work i met many of these scholars personally, if curious check my profile).
Kotkin did a three part lecture in 2017 there:


No worries and honestly you should just go ahead. That lecture series was definitely one of the highlights in my discovery of his work, so I'm seconding that recommendation. For whatever reason that I have no idea of, the Foreign Policy and Research Institute in the US did a week of high school-level seminars on Central and Eastern European Politics for high school teachers back in 2017, and it was those videos that got bumped up into my yt algorithms during the early days of the pandemic. Kotkin really stood out in his presentation, which started my hunt. As far as primers go, I'd recommend them as well, and here's the playlist: 2017 History Institute: "What is Eurasia and Why Does It Matter?"

polymodus: A note on sources, this historian is a Hoover fellow meaning he's quite definitely a conservative American liberal,

Yes, i mentioned as well in my linkage that his politics aren't exactly mine. But what I appreciate is his worldview isn't also particularly polemical in a baseless way. He's very blunt about his assessment of American power in this space and Russian geopolitical weight, and as someone who grew up in 'the periphery' I appreciate the lack of mealy-mouthed expression of how of course that's not what America or the West is. It sounds like he hates socialism only if you think having a large dose of publicly expressed irony about the condition of the region means that. That said, it's easy enough to calibrate if you prefer to take it in in a more partial way.

Even those who took issues with the interview and read his ongoing Stalin books were trying to square his work and the interview, which to me indicates that discomfort in the perceived friction. Not for nothing there's a reason why he's the one who's willing to take on the NATO expansion claim and not deny it happening while denying it even mattered any more than a pretext.

In any case, it's a good flag to note. And it turns out he did a slightly earlier interview on a Hoover Institute podcast that expanded on the New Yorker interview: 5 More Questions: the Ukraine Edition. I find it very interesting because i KNOW some of his conclusions will lead to troubling futures (re: American superiority), which i think he doesn't deny but merely waiting for an actual counterpoint that's worked.
posted by cendawanita at 5:10 PM on March 12 [16 favorites]


Estonian former chief of intelligence Eerik-Niiles Kross on Twitter
Multiple sources say that 🇺🇦 forces knocked out the whole command of 🇷🇺 31st Guards Air Assault Brigade BTG in an ambush. This would mean the BTG is out. This unit was part of the little green men in Crimea in 2014.
This would be west of Kyiv.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:13 PM on March 12 [10 favorites]


At some point I suspect Putin will simply consolidate the front lines and claim victory. The separatist republics will either be enlarged to have that territory as their borders or they will be annexed. Places that resist this occupation will find their villages flattened and the people made into refugees sent to what remains of Ukraine.
posted by interogative mood at 5:26 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Russia Warns It May Target Arms Shipments To Ukraine – The steady stream of weapons and materiel provided by foreign countries to Ukraine has gone on unimpeded, but that could soon change., Tyler Rogway, The War Zone, March 12, 2022:
With Moscow's invasion of Ukraine going far from as was expected, statements made today by Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergey Ryabkov [Wikipedia], have officially put the U.S. and its allies on notice that any weapons shipments into Ukraine will be viewed as legitimate targets and potentially attacked as such.

“We warned the United States that the orchestrated pumping of weapons from a number of countries is not just a dangerous move, it is a move that turns these convoys into legitimate targets,” Ryabkov told state television. He went on, warning “about the consequences of the thoughtless transfer to Ukraine of weapons like man-portable air defense systems, anti-tank missile systems, and so on.”

So far, arms shipments into Ukraine have gone on without much interference. It is understood that they occur almost exclusively over land, but it appears Ukrainian airlifters have been involved, as well, at least earlier in the war. U.S. officials and President Zelensky had commented in the past that these supply lines have remained open, which have been a critical lifeline for Ukraine's defense. In recent days, shipments have sped up, with the U.S., in particular, pushing as much materiel into the country as it can, likely out of concern that Russia could soon move to more actively interdict the shipments.

The shoulder-fired anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons — a complete rundown of which of these systems have been sent to Ukraine is available in this previous feature our ours — have had a devastating impact on the Russian military. At the same time, Ukrainian troops are also burning through supplies very fast and now the ease of which they can be delivered could change….
More in TWZ article.
posted by cenoxo at 6:22 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent on Twitter
Zelensky: Sergeant Inna Derusova is the first woman to be awarded the Hero of Ukraine title posthumously.

A field medic, she was killed during the artillery attack on Okhtyrka on Feb. 24, the first day of Russia's invasion. She saved more than 10 soldiers that day.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:43 PM on March 12 [17 favorites]


More in TWZ article.

For a moment, I had this confused with TMZ, and I was very confused.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:02 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


Even TMZ has war coverage these days, but I’ll avoid using TWZ in the future, apologies.
posted by cenoxo at 7:20 PM on March 12


any weapons shipments into Ukraine will be viewed as legitimate targets and potentially attacked

Shipments of weapons on Ukrainian soil have always been legitimate targets.

Gee, it sure would be a shame if the VKS tried dropping bombs on military targets instead of cities. It'd be a double shame if they attacked soldiers who literally have truckloads of antiaircraft missiles, in an area of the country where the Ukrainian air force is relatively free to operate.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:28 PM on March 12 [10 favorites]


I’m pretty sure that’s an empty threat. The last thing Russia wants is to for example attack an American arms shipment and risk us coming more fully into the war. But it might try to attack anything coming in from non NATO sources.
posted by corb at 8:11 PM on March 12


Apparently Russias home grown GPS system is struggling from a critical lack of maintenance and they cut back on launches to keep replacing satellites. Thus they’ve had to fall back on US controlled GPS which the US has been tweaked for their region so it is no longer accurate. There are also rumors that Russia is running low on jet fuel and have had to start diverting supplies from commercial aviation. This is causing further problems as carriers such as Serbia that we’re adding service and routes to pickup from western carriers leaving have had to pull back because if they send their planes into Russia they won’t have fuel go get home.
posted by interogative mood at 8:18 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


US controlled GPS which the US has been tweaked for their region so it is no longer accurate.

I'm dubious. GPS satellites are in medium earth orbit, so they cover a lot of ground. Selectively degrading signals would be difficult to contain to a small (even Ukraine sized) region.

You can jam or spoof the signals locally from the ground. The Russians have been known to do that in the area for years. Maybe the Ukrainians are returning the favor, but the US probably isn't.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:13 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


GPS used to have a "selective availability" feature that did allow the US to reduce its precision regionally, but this has been deprecated since 2000.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:26 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


That doesn't quite capture the situation, to quote the FAQ from your own citation:

Will SA ever be turned back on?

The United States has no intent to ever use SA again. To ensure that potential adversaries do not use GPS, the military is dedicated to the development and deployment of regional denial capabilities in lieu of global degradation.


"regional denial capabilities" seems like exactly what was described up thread. I'm not a GPS expert, but it seems like you could just add some random jitter to the clock timestamps of nearby satellites to reduce precision / confidence without breaking it globally.
posted by pwnguin at 9:34 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


it seems like you could just add some random jitter to the clock timestamps of nearby satellites to reduce precision / confidence without breaking it globally.

That would affect a very large area outside the intended zone, which would "break it" for many applications. Imagine Poland's turn-by-turn navigation suddenly being accurate only to a kilometer.

"Regional denial" almost certainly refers to overpowering the orbital signals with local ones, which is much easier to contain.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:54 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]




Mod note: It is possible to think Kotkin is an incredibly incisive commentator (as I do!) while also not agreeing with his politics. It is also possible for people to highlight what they don't agree with about his politics without those people being shills for something in particular. He's a very particular dude with a very particular POV, and IMO he's really smart and worth reading, but you're definitely reading from a particular POV and it's okay to talk about that fact and/or to warn people they will be reading something that comes from a particular political background. (I tell friends, "He has kinda triumphalist views on The West/NATO that will make you roll your eyes, but I promise it's worth reading anyway ...")
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:59 PM on March 12 [13 favorites]


American Veterans Joining the Ukrainian Army May Run Afoul of Federal Law and Could Lose Benefits or US Citizenship, Military.com Opinions, Sean Timmons*, 11 Mar 2022.
*Sean Timmons is the managing partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC's Houston office, concentrating his practice on military law.
…In response to calls from Ukrainian officials for foreign fighters to join a newly formed foreign legion, many American veterans have shown interest in joining the fight in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ordered a temporary lift on visas for foreign fighters and has taken to social media to actively encourage everyone with military experience and training willing to join his countrymen to help his nation resist the Russian war effort.

But do American veterans risk losing their earned benefits by joining a foreign army? The answer, sadly, is yes.

A key limitation on the participation of retired United States military personnel is found in the Constitution itself. It lies in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 [link]. This constitutional provision, known in American legal doctrine as the "Emoluments Clause," specifically prohibits any person "holding any office of profit or trust" in the federal government from accepting any gift, emolument, office or title of any kind from any king, prince or foreign state without the consent of Congress.

As interpreted by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, the Emoluments Clause prohibits the receipt of any form of compensation, including consulting fees, gifts, travel expenses, honoraria or salary by all retired military personnel -- officer and enlisted, regular and Reserve -- from a foreign government unless Congress consents. Consent, arguably, is provided by Congress in 37 U.S.C. § 908 [link], which has delegated approval to the military branches and requires advance consent from the relevant service secretary and the secretary of state before accepting anything from any foreign government.

This limitation would apply equally to United States military veterans agreeing to fight for Ukraine, Russia or any other country engaged in any other armed conflict around the world….

Additionally…
…receipt of retirement pay from the United States government is conditioned on maintaining citizenship and availability to be recalled in the event of a national emergency.
…Fighting for a foreign government in some limited circumstances can result in the loss of American citizenship, imperiling those benefits.
…the Department of Defense may suspend retirement pay up to the amount of any foreign salary earned or obtained as a result of fighting for a foreign government, such as Ukraine.
… there are significant security clearance implications and other potential legal issues for veterans who might join the fight.
More details in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 10:03 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Military veterans are not necessarily retirees. That’s a major problem with the article American Veterans Joining the Ukrainian Army May Run Afoul of Federal Law and Could Lose Benefits or US Citizenship.

I am not a lawyer, of military affairs or otherwise. But I am a former U.S. Marine.

The writer says the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause any compensation by a foreign government to anyone "holding any office of profit or trust" – which he says includes retired military personnel. I won’t argue with that.

But then he says, “This limitation would apply equally to United States military veterans agreeing to fight for Ukraine, Russia or any other country engaged in any other armed conflict around the world.” Nope. Not all veterans are retired. Many of us have no continuing formal ties. We are on our own.

He continues: “Additionally, receipt of retirement pay from the United States government is conditioned on maintaining citizenship and availability to be recalled in the event of a national emergency.” The article is supposedly about “veterans,” but he keeps referring to “retirees.”

So, maybe he should just replace every use of “veteran” with “retiree”. Or maybe his sloppiness means there are other problems with his work.

And I expect that many, if not most, of the veterans heading for Ukraine are not retirees.
posted by NotLost at 10:35 PM on March 12 [9 favorites]


…the place Russia's army has in that society and political system.

Angels and artillery: a cathedral to Russia's new national identity – Cathedral of the Armed Forces blends militarism, patriotism and Orthodox Christianity to controversial effect, Shaun Walker, The Guardian, Oct 20, 2020:
Angels hover above artillery, religious images are adorned with Kalashnikovs and the Virgin Mary strikes a pose reminiscent of a Soviet second world war poster. The imagery inside Russia’s vast Cathedral of the Armed Forces blends militarism, patriotism and Orthodox Christianity to breathtaking and highly controversial effect.

An hour’s drive from Moscow, the cathedral has a metallic, khaki-green exterior, topped with golden domes and crosses that rise to 95 metres (312ft). Inside is the largest amount of mosaic of any church in the world, with many of the work depicting battles from Russian history and the second world war in particular.

During Vladimir Putin’s two decades in charge of Russia, the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War, as the second world war is still called here, has gradually become the main building block of a new Russian national identity. Now, the war victory has its own religious shrine, and when future historians look back at the Putin era, they may well decide that this cathedral is its defining building…

… But while there are plenty of war museums in Russia the cathedral is something altogether new, making explicit the quasi-religious subtext of the way the war is remembered in Russia.

Dmitry, a 28-year-old altar server working at the cathedral, claimed that the military and religious images on its mosaics, far from being a jarring combination, are in fact a perfect fit: “In the war, our soldiers martyred themselves so that we could be free and independent. Only Russians are capable of sacrificing themselves to save humanity, just like Jesus did.”
Details and photos in the article. See also: Wikipedia > Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces.
posted by cenoxo at 10:38 PM on March 12 [9 favorites]


(And I think USSR-era population replacement sorts of things would be a lot harder to do in a modern, internet-connected world.)
I think the world is a lot less prepared to look the other way in Ukraine than they are in Xinjiang but we shouldn't assume that the internet has moved us beyond the horrors of 20th-century-style genocide. We don't know how far Putin is willing to go, nor do we yet have any good idea how far the rest of the world is willing to counter, given the necessity of considering Russia's nuclear deterrent.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:44 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]


Not to talk too much about the US, but. While private enterprises like Blackwater might indicate otherwise, the official US military has had a disgust for mercenaries from the beginning. You know that famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware river? He wasn't crossing to fight British redcoats, but 'Hessians' (German? Prussian? military for hire from Hesse-Kassel and Hesse-Hanau). About 25% of the forces sent against the revolution were such mercenaries.
So I can see the US military taking the position of 'become a foreign mercenary and we strike you from the rolls of honor and cancel your pension, etc.'
posted by bartleby at 10:45 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Don't most militaries (maybe except Russia?) dislike the idea of mercenaries? Both conscripted and professional ones both talk a lot about patriotism, duty, loyalty, esprit de corps, etc. while not paying a market wage. Otherwise people start thinking that their fellow soldiers might show up on the other side of the battlefield for a slightly bigger paycheck.
posted by meowzilla at 11:31 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Or maybe his sloppiness means there are other problems with his work.

Yeah, I think there are enormous holes in this article, and I think it's kind of indicative of this sort of giant ambivalence going on at higher levels of both the military and politicians. Military Times published a "How To Go Volunteer To Fight With Ukraine" article, and it's been enormously successful - I've talked earlier about the significant numbers of veterans trying to volunteer for the International Legion right now. But also - the war is getting worse and worse, and this has got to be a concern for the American government and also military leaders for a couple of reasons. I suspect someone had A Word with Military Times, and this shoddy article is the result.

First - if American veterans go to join the territorial defense forces, American veterans are going to die, because it is a meat grinder out there. And they're not just going to die like veterans have died fighting in Rojava, where it's at best a line in a local newspaper - they're going to die fighting for a nation that is very good at social media, which means social media is going to start being blanketed by photos of heroic looking Americans in front of American flags along with videos of how they sacrificed for Ukraine. And probably the veterans they served with in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars giving heartfelt interviews about it. And we know, we reliably know, that the one thing that tends to tip the American public feeling into war is dead Americans. Which means veterans going to fight have a high likelihood of giving America a casus belli that absolutely nobody - except the veterans themselves, who are very conscious of it - want.

Second - Ukraine is receiving enough volunteers for the International Legion that it is able to stand up units made up entirely of same-country volunteers, not just 'English-speaking' volunteers. That means that likely right now, out there somewhere, there is a small 'American unit' fighting, and the more veterans it receives, the larger it will become. And it's going to be fighting likely with American command structure and practices, because that's what everyone knows and it's going to be easier than making something up from scratch or trying to follow Ukrainian protocol. Which means you essentially have a serious American fighting unit in a war that the United States is not supposed to be involved in.

I also think this article is just so, so flawed - the Ukrainian government is not paying for the travel or salary of foreign fighters, largely it's being funded by private donations by people who aren't going. My bet is that its existence is to try to stop people buying plane tickets for a week or so, because the bet is that the war is going to get so much worse by that point that people will be less enticed. But I absolutely would not take it at face value.
posted by corb at 12:08 AM on March 13 [30 favorites]


A very strong Statement of the International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia:

Y. Varoufakis, along with his thoughts on the attack on Ukraine, recently quoted a letter-manifesto the Progressive International received from an otherwise unspecified group of Russian socialists and communists:

“We are told that the opponents of this war are hypocrites and that they stand not against the war, but for the West. This is a lie. We have never been supporters of the United States and their imperialist policies. When Ukrainian troops shelled Donetsk and Luhansk in 2014, …, we were not silent. Nor will we be silent now that Kharkov, Kiev and Odessa are being bombed on the orders of Putin and his camarilla.

There are so many reasons to fight against this war. For us advocates of social justice, equality, and freedom, they are especially important. This is an invasion. No threat to the Russian state exists… This war produces incalculable disasters for our peoples. Both Ukrainians and Russians are paying for it dearly with their blood. Long after the dust has settled, poverty, inflation, and unemployment will affect everyone…

This war will turn Ukraine into rubble and Russia into a prison. The opposition media have already been shut down in Russia. People are placed behind bars. Soon Russians will have only one choice: Rise up or end in prison. This war multiplies all the risks and threats to our country. Even Ukrainians who a week ago sympathised with Russia are now enlisting to fight our troops. Finally, fighting for peace is the patriotic duty of every Russian. Not only because we are the custodians of the memory of the west war in history- Second World War, when 20 million Russians died or Soviets- but also because this war threatens the integrity and very existence of Russia.

Putin is seeking to connect his own fate with the fate of our country. If he succeeds, then his inevitable defeat will be the defeat of the entire nation. Then we may indeed face the fate of postwar Germany: occupation, territorial division, the cult of collective guilt. There is only one way to prevent these catastrophes. We, ourselves, the men and women of Russia, have to stop this war. This country belongs to us, not to a handful of distraught old men with palaces and yachts. It is time to take it back. Our enemies are not in Kiev and Odessa, but in Moscow. It is time to kick them out.

War is not Russia.

War is Putin and his regime.

That’s why we Russian socialists and communists are against this criminal war.

We want to stop it to save Russia.

No to intervention

No to dictatorship

No to poverty.”

posted by progosk at 12:16 AM on March 13 [34 favorites]




Yes, I'm sure this cautionary magazine article about retirement benefits will surely change the risk calculus of going to fight Russia.
posted by ryanrs at 12:19 AM on March 13 [3 favorites]


There's no buckwheat in my local supermarket, so I suppose panic is seeping in and people are stockpiling (as we have been doing ourselves with some things we anticipate being harder to come by).
posted by WeekendJen at 12:58 AM on March 13 [16 favorites]


I'm dubious. GPS satellites are in medium earth orbit, so they cover a lot of ground. Selectively degrading signals would be difficult to contain to a small (even Ukraine sized) region.

I'm not sure of the mechanics of how it works but as far as I know this is definitely a feature baked into GPS and it's on purpose, and as I understand it this is precisely one of the main reasons why the DoD allowed and planned for public use of GPS.

Like it was actually a mandated requirement that public GPS streams could be selectively degraded specifically for use cases like a land war in Europe.

And the mechanics of how they selectively degrade GPS is likely highly sensitive and classified, because if you could easily look that up you could likely try to correct for it. It's classified enough I'm not even going to bother try looking it up for the details because that's the sort of thing that could really attract the wrong kinds of attention.

It's also one of the reasons why you can't really get current generation high precision GPS receivers small enough to fit in, say, a DIY drone without security clearances and licenses because a DIY drone with high precision GPS is a poor man's cruise missile or guided munition.

As I understand it high precision GPS receivers and systems can fall under classified munitions laws and protections the same way certain encryption software and hardware falls under sanctions and why you can land in jail if you do something silly like sell the wrong technology to North Korea or Iran.

Also note that phones, consumer satnavs and stuff like consumer drones do not rely on high precision GPS. They often use a hybrid system of GPS, cell phone tower location data, inertial guidance and WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) as used for terrestrial beacons used in civil and general aviation.

Consumer cell phone and satnav devices aren't as accurate as you would think on pure consumer GPS. They're just really good at guessing and cross-referencing it to logical locations with geodetic or GIS databases.

Cell phones, consumer GPS handhelds and car satnavs in particular do much more poorly when you go deep into the literal woods and they can't rely on cell phone towers, WAAS coverage or geodetic/GIS databases to aid in guessing your location through logical inference.

And they've been doing selective GPS degrading on the public and global GPS signals since something like, oh, the first Gulf War in the early 90s.

The DoD has it's own encrypted time/clock streams to use that aren't publicly available to consumers, meaning they can simultaneously degrade the public GPS signals while still retaining their high precision munitions grade GPS all from the same satellites.

Modern GPS satellites provide more than one product or timecode streams. You won't see them or pick them up with consumer grade GPS receivers or software. They won't show up at all in things like an Android GPS analysis and metering app, or even a professional surveyor's total station or mobile surveying system.
posted by loquacious at 1:31 AM on March 13 [21 favorites]


Reuters has a report on the bombings of a military base in Lviv, as well as other developments today.
posted by Kattullus at 1:43 AM on March 13 [2 favorites]


Kamil Galeev:
A truck driver in St Petersburg put Z-letters on his vehicle and is being publicly beaten for that (a driver who records it from his car is commenting cheerfully). People who hate Z-campaign and Z-message are quite numerous in Russia. Still, they constitute a minority
Sharing this because all the anti-war resistance I've seen from Russia so far are peaceful protests. Until now. I don't know if this attack will be a one-off incident, or a growing trend.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 3:26 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]


A truck driver in St Petersburg put Z-letters on his vehicle and is being publicly beaten for that (a driver who records it from his car is commenting cheerfully).

A+, the same logic applies as for these fascists as for nazis - fist to the face (if not in warzone, then bullet to the head).
posted by Dysk at 4:06 AM on March 13 [10 favorites]




Is Kamil Galeev @kamilkazani generally accurate?

I've been going through his Twitter thread primers on relevant Russian history and what's going on right now in Russia.

But it'd be good to know where or if he's wrong.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:32 AM on March 13 [3 favorites]


Katullus and I have reported the same attack. There were NATO officers training Ukrainian soldiers at that base. The missiles were launched from Russian planes over Russian territory. This is an escalation.
posted by y2karl at 4:37 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]


Is Kamil Galeev @kamilkazani generally accurate?

I've been following his threads with interest and find his perspective on Russian culture and politics fascinating, but at least once he has uncritically repeated a specific piece of information which had at that point already been debunked (the ID of a captured Russian pilot as someone previously photographed in Syria -- not the same guy!). So I'm taking his observations and theories with a big grain of salt.
posted by confluency at 5:25 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]


Zelenskyy, his adviser Mikhail Podolyak and the majority leader in parliament David Arakhamia, grabbed a coffee and went for a walk in Kyiv yesterday.

On another hopeful note, Podolyak, who is taking part in the negotiations with Russia, gave the following update on negotiations on Twitter: “To clarify. At the negotiations, the RF not putting ultimatums, but carefully listens to our proposals. 🇺🇦 will not give up any of the positions. Our demands are - the end of the war and the withdrawal of RF troops. I see the understanding and there is a dialogue.” [RF=Russian Federation]

I think the clarification applies to his tweet from last night: “
Negotiations with the RF delegation are now ongoing in a continuous video format. Special working subgroups have been created. Ukraine's positions are determined by the previous directives.”
posted by Kattullus at 5:40 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]


sebastienbailerd: Is Kamil Galeev @kamilkazani generally accurate?

I’ve caught a couple of major errors in his historical threads, and I have only a limited understanding of Russian history, but someone who’s better informed than I am would need to weigh in on whether he’s basically got things right, with some mistakes, or if he’s way off base.
posted by Kattullus at 5:43 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


The bravery of Ukrainian protesters in Kherson is just beyond belief. What incredible courage, and fortitude, to come out every day and yell at guys brandishing guns and sitting in tanks.
posted by Kattullus at 6:12 AM on March 13 [18 favorites]


(Not to derail any further on the legal implications of U.S. citizens volunteering to fight in Ukraine, but here’s an official source. It would be wise to consult an appropriate attorney before doing this.)

Travel.State.Gov
U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs

Travel.State.Gov > Legal Resources > Legal Resources > Advice about Possible Loss of U.S. Nationality and Dual Nationality > Advice about Possible Loss of U.S. Nationality and Foreign Military Service:
Advice about Possible Loss of U.S. Nationality and Foreign Military Service

A U.S. national who is a resident or citizen of a foreign country may be subject to compulsory military service in that country. Although the United States recognizes the problems that may be caused by such foreign military service, there is nothing that we can do to prevent it since each sovereign country has the right to enact its own laws on military service and apply them as it sees fit to its citizens and residents.

Federal statutes long in force prohibit certain aspects of foreign military service originating within the United States. The current laws are set forth in Section 958-960 of Title 18 of the United States Code. In Wiborg v. U.S. , 163 U.S. 632 (1896), the Supreme Court endorsed a lower court ruling that it was not a crime under U.S. law for an individual to go abroad for the purpose of enlisting in a foreign army; however, when someone has been recruited or hired in the United States, a violation may have occurred. The prosecution of persons who have violated 18 U.S.C. 958-960 is the responsibility of the Department of Justice.

Although a person's service in the armed forces of a foreign country may not constitute a violation of U.S. law, such action could serve as a predicate act for the relinquishment of U.S. citizenship under 349(a)(3) of the INA [8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(3)] under two circumstances. Section 349(a)(3) provides for loss of U.S. nationality if a U.S national voluntarily and with the intention of relinquishing U.S. nationality enters or serves in the armed forces of a foreign state engaged in hostilities against the United States or serves in the armed forces of any foreign state as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer.

Note that the administrative presumption of intent to retain nationality does not apply to voluntary service in the armed forces of a state engaged in hostilities against the United States, and thus such action could be viewed as indicative of an intention to relinquish U.S. nationality, although each case is examined on its own with a view to the totality of the circumstances.

Military service in a foreign country is not an expatriating act if service is as a soldier who is not an officer, unless the foreign military is engaged in hostilities with the United States. Further, foreign military service usually does not cause loss of nationality since an intention to relinquish nationality normally is lacking.

In adjudicating loss of nationality cases, the Department has established an administrative presumption that a person serving in the armed forces of a foreign state not engaged in hostilities against the United States does not have the intention to relinquish nationality.

One who voluntarily serves as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer in the military of a country not engaged in hostilities with the United States will lose one’s U.S. citizenship only if one intended to relinquish U.S. citizenship when he/she served in the armed forces of a foreign state.

See also information flyers on related subject available via the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page. These flyers include:

Advice About Possible Loss of U.S. Nationality and Seeking Public Office in a Foreign State
Renunciation of United States Nationality
posted by cenoxo at 6:45 AM on March 13 [10 favorites]


For anyone following Tim Mak on twitter, he ended with this especially disheartening message:
Tim Mak
@timkmak 46m
The news today has been especially bad.
It does not feel appropriate to post a war dog photo today.
More news to come.
We will keep reporting.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:28 AM on March 13 [3 favorites]


And thanks to all for the additional links and context for understanding the Kotkin interview in the New Yorker. It is much appreciated.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:29 AM on March 13


Looking for more info on Podolyak and the negotiations, I came across this article from Turkish news site Anadolu Agency, which interviewed him last Thursday. With the caveat that this is a diplomat laying out a case that puts his country in a good light, it’s an interesting look at how the Ukrainian government sees the war. Here’s an excerpt:
Once Russia “objectively assesses its losses,” the two sides “can take a more pragmatic approach” in the negotiations, [Podolyak] added.

However, Podolyak said there are still some obstacles in the process, such as unreasonable Russian demands that are unacceptable for Ukraine.

“Ukrainians are not dying out on the battlefields for this. We have … hundreds of thousands of people who are defending their homes,” he said.

“Of course, with this heroism, Ukraine will definitely not accept the initial ultimatum ... presented by Russia. That is impossible in principle.”

To force Kyiv to give in to its demands, Moscow has changed tack and started brazenly targeting civilians and civilian targets, he said.
The whole interview, which is fairly short, is worth a read.
posted by Kattullus at 7:48 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Jonathan Pie shows that jokes are the truth and the truth is a joke.

The fucking irony that he got his start on RT. Albeit his content was licensed rather than produced by them but it's still funny to think about.

Leaked Kremlin Memo to Russian Media: It Is “Essential” to Feature Tucker Carlson
“It is essential to use as much as possible fragments of broadcasts of the popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who sharply criticizes the actions of the United States [and] NATO, their negative role in unleashing the conflict in Ukraine, [and] the defiantly provocative behavior from the leadership of the Western countries and NATO towards the Russian Federation and towards President Putin, personally,” advises the 12-page document written in Russian. It sums up Carlson’s position: “Russia is only protecting its interests and security.” The memo includes a quote from Carlson: “And how would the US behave if such a situation developed in neighboring Mexico or Canada?”
Tucker is Putin's most useful idiot.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:52 AM on March 13 [39 favorites]


"Angels and artillery: a cathedral to Russia's new national identity – Cathedral of the Armed Forces blends militarism, patriotism and Orthodox Christianity to controversial effect, Shaun Walker, The Guardian, Oct 20, 2020:"

I am obsessed with this place and desperately want to visit it. It is bananas. My masters is in liturgy, so I spent a lot of time thinking about messages communicated by religious art and architecture, and I am particularly fascinated by Christianity used in service of violence (probably because of the "Jesus - Guns - Babies" contingent in the US). Especially when colonialist empires use crosses as their symbol, as if they think they're Jesus and not the Romans.

Anyway, here's a short article from earlier this month that has a lot of good links and that talks a little bit about the religious mythmaking of Russia (and why Crimea and Kyiv are both important for a Russian empire to hold, and how Putin is turning traditional national myths to his service). The existence of the Cathedral also says a lot about the near-total collapse of academic theology in the Orthodox world, which happened through various accidents of history, but which has proven extremely difficult to resurrect. (Romania is the one traditionally-Orthodox place with a really robust theological academy -- otherwise, you pretty much have to go to the US or Canada for post-secondary Orthodox theology. There are some individual universities in Europe and the Middle East with good departments, but if you want choices and colleagues, it's Romania or North America.)

The development of a Russian state religion that's kind-of loosely based on Orthodoxy, and that co-opts Orthodoxy's legitimacy, but that glorifies violence and patriotic military service, and turns WWII into a religious event -- it's fascinating, it's bizarre, it's kind-of medieval, it's instructive for people in other countries watching similar current attempts by their local religio-political leaders. It's intellectually empty, so almost all of its communication has to rely on symbols, whether those are buildings or art or stories, so this cathedral is actually probably the most coherent statement of Putin's "theology" available -- and what he wants the theology of the Russian Orthodox Church to be. (It also really puts the lie to Putin's whole, "I'm Lak, I'm Dagestani, Chechen, Ingush, Russian, Tatar, Jew, Mordvin, Ossetian" speech -- it's really clear who Putin considers authentically Russian and who he doesn't, and if it wasn't clear, you can go look at his cathedral and figure it out pretty quick.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:27 AM on March 13 [34 favorites]




WeekendJen, I just want to say that I appreciate your updates. Please don't ever hesitate to share in these threads – I will happily read as much as you care to post. Having someone "on the ground", who understands both Russian and Western perspectives (and can therefore "translate" for us), is invaluable. And, stay safe.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:30 PM on March 13 [52 favorites]


Putin’s prewar moves against U.S. tech giants laid groundwork for crackdown on free expression
Russian agents came to the home of Google’s top executive in Moscow to deliver a frightening ultimatum last September: take down an app that had drawn the ire of Russian President Vladimir Putin within 24 hours or be taken to prison...

The unnerving encounters, which have not previously been disclosed, were part of a broader campaign that Putin intensified last year to erode sources of internal opposition — moves now helping him maintain his hold on power amid a global backlash over the invasion of Ukraine.
posted by clawsoon at 1:43 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]


If China agrees, things are going to get even more interesting:

@Dimi: SCOOP - Russia has asked China for military equipment and other assistance to support its invasion of Ukraine.
#UkraineWar @FT

https://on.ft.com/3q2Nrqr
posted by rambling wanderlust at 1:53 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Fascinating that giant power Russia can't manage to execute this war on their own...
posted by hippybear at 2:03 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]


From a paywalled Wyborcza article, this time about Russians fleeing Putin's repressions: it's estimated that the first day of the "don't say war" law alone, 700 journalists left Russia, often with their extended families. Others with easily transferrable skills like IT workers are fleeing possible conscription and sanctions.

Russia is still under Covid travelling restrictions that mean you have to have an "urgent reason" to cross the land border, so people are fleeing to where planes are still flying and visas aren't needed, predominantly Georgia, Armenia and Turkey (though in other articles I've also seen Kazakhstan and Serbia mentioned). Thus far no restrictions on air travel from the Russian side, but there are reports of long interrogations about travel reaaons, phones being searched, remaining family members visited by security services. Rumour has it that booking a return flight gets you through border control easier.

In Tbilisi the migration has exploded the rental market, especially since few people are willing to rent to Russians (Tbilisi buildings still have damage from 2008 Russian shelling) and the roubles of the emigres are worth so much less. People are living 6 to a room and trying to find any work, with one lawyer mentioning she's applying to be a cleaner. Istanbul rental situation is mentioned to be also difficult and expensive, though not as extreme because it's a bigger city with fewer prejudices against Russians.

Russians fleeing to Georgia especially, where wounds from Putin's war are so fresh, never mind two centuries of colonisation (with Tbilisi sacked by Russian soldiers in the late 18th), is seven layers of irony.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:03 PM on March 13 [23 favorites]


Also: Russian band Shortparis invited a choir of Red Army veterans (eldest of which is 92) to record an acoustic version of their Apple Orchard song. You can't say war in Russia but the video speaks for itself.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:19 PM on March 13 [12 favorites]




You can't say war in Russia but the video speaks for itself.

Well, it is incredibly moving, but I wish I had a bit more context?
posted by mumimor at 2:53 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


More context, and translation of the lyrics, here on Reddit. It's fairly clearly anti-war, and as is mentioned on Reddit, the singer was arrested at an anti-war protest.
posted by Kattullus at 3:00 PM on March 13 [8 favorites]


Thanks!
posted by mumimor at 3:04 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Russian police have arrested a protestor for holding up a blank sheet of paper, and she wasn't the first.
posted by rory at 3:09 PM on March 13 [8 favorites]


Dying far from home, in a prison cell administered by a government beholden to human-rights norms, may be the best Kadyrov can hope for, given that there are hundreds of Chechens who are honour-bound to avenge what he did to their relatives if ever given a chance (as a result of which he only ever sleeps in heavily fortified compounds).
posted by acb at 3:18 PM on March 13 [4 favorites]


Leaked Kremlin Memo to Russian Media: It Is “Essential” to Feature Tucker Carlson
The Russian government has pressed outlets to highlight the Fox host’s Putin-helping broadcasts.
David Corn (motherjones)

On March 3, as Russian military forces bombed Ukrainian cities as part of Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of his neighbor, the Kremlin sent out talking points to state-friendly media outlets with a request: Use more Tucker Carlson. “It is essential to use as much as possible fragments of broadcasts of the popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who sharply criticizes the actions of the United States [and] NATO, their negative role in unleashing the conflict in Ukraine, [and] the defiantly provocative behavior from the leadership of the Western countries and NATO towards the Russian Federation and towards President Putin, personally,” advises the 12-page document written in Russian. It sums up Carlson’s position: “Russia is only protecting its interests and security.” The memo includes a quote from Carlson: “And how would the US behave if such a situation developed in neighboring Mexico or Canada?”
posted by bluesky43 at 3:20 PM on March 13 [6 favorites]


How would the US behave if such a situation developed in neighboring Cuba? We know. I am glad that we did not resort to bombing their cities.
posted by brambleboy at 3:28 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]


French author E. Carrère sent a vivid report of what last week was like in Moscow (he left on Tuesday 8th) - the original was published in Nouvel Obs, and in translation in Der Spiegel, la Repubblica, and El Pais - here's a Googletranslation of the Spanish version.
posted by progosk at 3:38 PM on March 13 [4 favorites]


Guardian journalist Isobel Koshiw: I'm only just starting to understand the scale and extent of Russian atrocities in Kyiv region over the past 2 weeks. It's unbelievable. It's not just Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel, Borodyanka etc. Dozens of smaller villages were completely terrorized, cut off, people were executed.
Tanks, bombs, shootings: Ukrainians describe Russian takeover of villages.

posted by adamvasco at 3:46 PM on March 13 [14 favorites]


Business Insider: Russians try to sell Big Macs for $36 each and a McDonald's paper bag for more than $300, following the closure of branches
Another seller recently posted a "McDonald's Breakfast," including McMuffins, potato pancakes, and sauces for around $18.

In a listing translated into English, the seller said they were offering the items to "those who want to enjoy the last taste of a bygone era."
That last bit makes me wonder if this is a kind of protest performance.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:58 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


How would the US behave if such a situation developed in neighboring Cuba? We know. I am glad that we did not resort to bombing their cities.

And that was because they backed down in the face of Kennedy's nuclear intimidation and removed their defenses. But never forget that the world avoided Armageddon due to one Soviet naval officer's individual decision.
posted by moorooka at 4:05 PM on March 13 [6 favorites]




From the Financial Times:

Inside Putin’s circle — the real Russian elite
Although they have amassed immense power and wealth, Putin and his immediate circle remain intensely resentful of the way in which the Soviet Union, Russia and their own service collapsed in the 1990s — and great power mixed with great resentment is one of the most dangerous mixtures in both domestic and international politics.
and

Endgame in Ukraine: how could the war play out?
“If his goal is to impose some kind of puppet regime . . . it’s pretty evident by the response of the Ukrainian people that they will never accept that,” Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, said this week. “If he tries to enforce such a puppet regime by keeping Russian forces in Ukraine, it will be a long, bloody, drawn-out mess through which Russia will continue to suffer grievously.”
posted by y2karl at 5:14 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Garry Kasparov (Twitter)
No one will be able to say "we didn't know" this time. The villages are being burned now, not buried. The concentration camps are being built, not demolished. The war you say you don't want is already here.
Yes, escalation is frightening, which is why Putin uses it. Choosing less risk now only to guarantee more risk later is the same flawed calculation that got us to this point. It's cowardice in its favored disguise of prudence.
posted by adamvasco at 5:17 PM on March 13 [29 favorites]


Russian police have arrested a protestor for holding up a blank sheet of paper,

Someone on Twitter shared this old joke:

"Man stands on a street in Hamburg, 1918, with a sign that says "the king is an idiot". Police arrest him. He says he meant the British king. "You can't fool us," they reply, "we know who the idiot is."

And here's an English subtitled video from Moscow today. Woman arrested almost instantly for holding up a sheet of paper that literally says (in Russian) "two words". Then a second woman arrested just as quickly. Even though she sounded like she was about to defend the regime.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 5:18 PM on March 13 [13 favorites]


I'd never heard of Shortparis before the band got mentioned in this thread. I found this video: "Moscow Speaking" as a result of watching the other linked video. I'd recommend first watching without subtitles so you can focus on the video, and then watching again with translated subtitles (assuming you don't speak Russian).

It's going to haunt me. The video, the words. I personally found it moving and clarifying. Even the comments are largely worthwhile and show the viewers' reactions to the video in light of what is currently happening in Ukraine as opposed to what the song meant to them before the invasion.
posted by tllaya at 5:22 PM on March 13 [4 favorites]


There seem to be discussions afoot to create some kind of safe zone in western Ukraine with European Union but not NATO forces.
posted by interogative mood at 5:40 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


I’ve never heard of Shortparis before this thread either. tllaya - thanks for sharing that song it’s haunting. I hear Russian boys choir and Nine Inch Nails and the catchiest of 90s pop and so much more.

How is Shortparis understood, categorized, in Europe? Is it comparable to our grunge / punk scenes?
posted by Silvery Fish at 5:43 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


There seem to be discussions afoot to create some kind of safe zone in western Ukraine with European Union but not NATO forces.

So, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Ireland, and Malta?

Or NATO members, just not attaching their forces to NATO?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:54 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]


The New York Times has an article about Russians fleeing into exile, ‘Things Will Only Get Worse.’ Putin’s War Sends Russians Into Exile. Excerpt:
In Istanbul, Ms. Borodina, the playwright, who arrived on March 5, has already lined up a designer and a Turkish printing shop to make Ukrainian flag pins for Russians to wear. It is part of her effort, she says, to “save this identity” of a Russia separate from Mr. Putin. She believes it is fair for Ukrainians to espouse hatred now for all Russians. But she is critical of people in the West who say that every Russian bears responsibility for Mr. Putin.

“Have you lived under a dictatorship?” Ms. Borodina, 31, whose work has told the stories of Russians imprisoned for years after protesting, said she would ask those Westerners. “Do you know what the consequences of these protests can be?”

Some exiled Russians are trying to organize mutual aid efforts and seeking to counter anti-Russian sentiment. Mr. Aleshkovsky, the journalist, 37, said he cried every day for the first five days of the war and suffered panic attacks. Then, he said, “I pulled myself together and realized I needed to do what I know how to do.” He and several colleagues are organizing an initiative tentatively called “OK Russians” to help those forced to or trying to depart and to produce media content in English and in Russian.
[Archive link]
posted by Kattullus at 11:47 PM on March 13 [18 favorites]


No one will be able to say "we didn't know" this time. The villages are being burned now, not buried. The concentration camps are being built, not demolished. The war you say you don't want is already here.
Yes, escalation is frightening, which is why Putin uses it. Choosing less risk now only to guarantee more risk later is the same flawed calculation that got us to this point. It's cowardice in its favored disguise of prudence.


I keep seeing this argument: Putin is an irrational madman bent on the domination of Europe, a Hitler for the 21 century, so we must intervene militarily and face him now. However, he won't go nuclear when backed into a corner because...why?

People don't seem to understand that if you are arguing for military intervention, what you're really arguing for is a nuclear first strike. If Putin is the madman, then military intervention only ends one way -- in a nuclear exchange after a series of escalations. The only way to win is to skip the escalations. For certain definitions of "win".
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:03 AM on March 14 [6 favorites]


People don't seem to understand that if you are arguing for military intervention, what you're really arguing for is a nuclear first strike.
Please note that I am not arguing for direct military intervention at this point in time, but nevertheless I don't see how your claim follows. Perhaps you might wish to explain, as it does not seem obvious.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:24 AM on March 14 [9 favorites]


It's the unfortunate side effect of deterrence and nuclear weapons. If you assume that any direct conflict between nuclear powers is going to end with a nuclear exchange between those powers, the only way to circumvent that is a first strike that removes the capability of the targeted nuclear power from responding, either through crippling all of their launch infrastructure, or their decision makers. It's addressed here if it's of interest.

Now you can argue that nuclear powers can have direct conflict without a nuclear exchange, but you'll need very strong evidence to prove that it's possible and that it won't spiral from conventional conflict, to 'tactical' nukes, to world ending exchanges.
posted by Carillon at 12:33 AM on March 14 [8 favorites]


Shortparis is great and like most artists in Russia (at least prior to the war) they could keep working and producing songs / videos that were extremely thinly veiled critisisms of the government as long as they said they were "anti-political" in interviews and such. You can see in this interview a typical way that some backflips and yoga are done to avoid labeling themselves with a definitive stance. If an artist is outspoken (in regular wording) about the leaders failures, they can't book shows because local authorities block them and thus they can't make touring money. A side note about the "Moscow Speaking (govorit moskva)" video linked above is that "GOVORIT MOSKVA" is how messages broadcast on public address systems always begin. Most commonly in my area they are messages about dry grass fire hazard status and messages to stay home (during initial covid quarantine phases), though they could be about anything. The first time I was standing outside and heard "GOVORIT MOSKVA" echoing everywhere was a bit of a strange experience, very different for the US. Made everything just feel porous to the sleeze of power.

I know prior to more video focused alternative groups rappers were targeted by authorities. Teh rappers tended to have their messages in direct words in their verses rather than videos and songs open to interpretation, so I think they were an easier target. Plus rap is much more obviously a recentish import from "the west" than more rock / alternative / dance sounding music. I don't have too much else to say about rap though because my Russian isn't really good enough to keep up and understand whole songs when theres a fast flow.


IC3PEAK is another group to check out if you enjoy shortparis' work. The link goes to a mefi post I made a while back with some videos and an interview they did with Yuri Dud who is a huge Russian Youtuber and was one of the first to come out as against the war.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:23 AM on March 14 [16 favorites]


People don't seem to understand that if you are arguing for military intervention, what you're really arguing for is a nuclear first strike. If Putin is the madman, then military intervention only ends one way -- in a nuclear exchange after a series of escalations. The only way to win is to skip the escalations. For certain definitions of "win".

I think the counter-argument to 'avoid conflict at all cost' (at least for some people) is that this is not possible and that the best you can hope for is postponing the issue for a while. The idea is that if Putin/ the current Russian leadership as a whole are irrational madman bent on the domination of Europe, a Hitler for the 21 century, they have objectives that go way beyond Ukraine and if those who might object to this are shown to be easily cowed, we will be at exactly this point a few years down the line when the next step is taken.

For those who argue against any conflict - is it that you just don't believe that this will happen, or that even if it does Europe is a small price to pay? Or is it that you hope time will somehow sort things out and NATO/ the US/ Britain/ whoever will be in a better position to counter?
posted by doggod at 1:25 AM on March 14 [16 favorites]


Kattullus, thank you for linking this. This is why to me it is completely weird how people expect the current situation to be solved by the Russian people. Leaving aside the question of just how much support Putin has amongst Russians (way too much for anything to happen it seems), it's a measure of intense privilege to me to expect people living in a dictatorship to do something about it. I lived in one, and while clear, solid numbers are impossible to obtain, it is estimated that more than 10% of people in my country have been in political prison/ force-institutionalised, with many dying there after regular tortures that the US has only a vague notion of if they look at the worts of Abu Ghraib. We have to expect that each current political prisoner in Russia lives through their own Abu Ghraib - keeping in mind that their families and other contacts are also available, and that psychological torture via interpersonal relationships is completely par for the course.

As for sanctions - this part of the world is full of people who grew up in near-famine conditions. I lived through it - was severely under-nourished as a young teen. There is no saying how long people can exist under such conditions 'for a good cause' and under fear of repression.

In any case, I wouldn't hold out much hope for a Russian uprising in the near future. This war is going to make a huge number of victims amongst the Russian population, too, one way or the other.
posted by doggod at 1:35 AM on March 14 [22 favorites]


“History moves in a spiral, ... It comes back to the same place — back to this same place.”

Of late this feels way, way too apt. (Flu, check. Crazy financial bubble? Check. World War... *gulp*)
posted by From Bklyn at 2:08 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


For those who argue against any conflict - is it that you just don't believe that this will happen, or that even if it does Europe is a small price to pay? Or is it that you hope time will somehow sort things out and NATO/ the US/ Britain/ whoever will be in a better position to counter?

No serous person believes it will happen, because attacking an impoverished, divided and war-torn former-Soviet republic that doesn't possess nuclear weapons is categorically distinct from attacking the world's most economically and militarily powerful nuclear alliance. The notion that Russia, with an economy about the size of the Netherlands plus Belgium, completely reliant on gas exports to Western Europe, has the means to steamroll across the continent, inviting nuclear extinction in the process, is completely illogical. Russia knows this, NATO knows this. They both know the other knows this. That's why NATO is not intervening and is instead continuing to guzzle Russian gas. They aren't afraid of Russia and they don't care about the Ukrainians.
posted by moorooka at 2:18 AM on March 14 [7 favorites]


WeekendJen - thanks for the additional Shortparis context and recommendations. I’m going to spend some time with both groups.

Shortparis’ english-language Wikipedia page calls them a “performance group” and notes they formed in 2013, both markers that helps to give context, but trying to understand their music and where it falls into their much larger cultural and musical dialog feels like I’m trying to understand a word in another language that does not have a direct translation into my native language. Which is good. The exercise of trying to understand is good, and right now is helping me stay engaged while also side-stepping an overwhelming sense of rage and helplessness.

Tangentially related - were you able to stock up on the babushka agafia products you like? I noticed that there are still places in the US who have items in stock.
posted by Silvery Fish at 2:47 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


For a good (albeit ominous) backgrounder to contextualise what's making Putin&Co. tick, Novara Media's A. Bastani recently interviewed B. Teitelbaum on Dugin and neo-traditionalism recently - Putin’s Philosopher and the Global Far Right.
Teitelbaum was also a guest back in December on the Conspirituality podcast, focussing more on the Western variant (i.e. Steve Bannon) of this school of thought - ep. 82: Steve Bannon, Mystic (w/Benjamin Teitelbaum)
posted by progosk at 3:14 AM on March 14 [8 favorites]


Ukraine is absolutely central to "Duginist" ideology, which has a strong influence on Putin as clearly revealed in the history-laden essay that Putin published last year. It is the key to understanding how Russia got to this point and where it might go from here. Although it may be difficult for some to stomach, this March 12 article from the horse's (i.e. Dugin's) mouth (which can be read via google translate) distills its ideological essence.
posted by moorooka at 3:59 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


(I hope that it's obvious enough that posting a link to this article does not constitute any type of endorsement of its contents)
posted by moorooka at 4:04 AM on March 14 [7 favorites]


@AP: "AP images of a pregnant woman being rushed to an ambulance after Russia bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol where she was meant to give birth shocked the world. @AP has learned that the woman and her baby have died."

@terrelljstarr: "One reason why Russian imperialism is so hard for so many in the West to process is that many can't see 'white' Ukrainians as being oppressed--especially by 'white' Russians. Many aren't used to 'white' people being dehumanized in ways similar to Black/Brown peoples."

@terrelljstarr: "What Russia is doing is blueprint colonialism. Putin can kill Ukrainians so easily because he doesn't see them as full human beings. Doesn't matter the race or ethnicity. A hallmark colonialism is subjugating folk to less than human."

@ukigoni: "I have interviewed real Nazis, including the personal aides of Ribbentrop and Goebbels, men who worked at the Reich Chancellery with Hitler, as well as torturers and officers of Argentina’s genocidal dictatorship of the 1970s and 80s. These killers all considered themselves the victims of imaginary all-poweful entities, world Jewry, godless Marxism. They, and not the people they murdered, were the real victims of history, each and all told me. This self-ascribed victimhood empowered them to commit mass murder. Assigning imaginary power to harmless groups they outmatched in every way, satisfied their desperate need to feel wronged, without actually putting themselves in harm’s way, without actually becoming real victims."

@MaximEristavi: "this is what anti-colonial solidarity from belarus really looks like. despite being occupied by russia themselves they put their lives on the line to fight invaders shoulder to shoulder with ukrainians. the fall of the empire is imminent."

@EuromaidanPress: "Except for Belarus, all of Russia's 'allies' in the EAEC and OCST have failed to support Moscow on Ukraine."

@ramez: "This is an incredible analysis of how Putin's invasion of the world will re-order the global world, largely for the better. By a leading Chinese policy thinker... He closes by saying that China has 1-2 WEEKS in which to make a choice. And basically says that China should choose the West, and use its influence over Putin to end the war and bring him to heel. It says that China is the only nation that can."[1,2]

@BeijingPalmer: "e) one of the underlying arguments that may end up having real power in Chinese internal discourse is 'the US and the West are stronger than we thought and not necessarily in decline.' The problem with that argument is that it implies the last decade of Chinese FP fucked up."[3,4,5,6,7,8,9]

@paulkrugman: "'The coming years of Putin's [economic] rule will thus look very much like the worst years of Yeltsin's rule.' Very nice essay by my colleague Branko Milanovic."

@Noahpinion: "The biggest reason that Western sanctions won't cause a shift to a yuan-centric global financial system: Everyone knows that China would be perfectly happy to use similar sanctions."[10,11,12]

@Noahpinion: "This antitank weapon was designed and manufactured in Ukraine. I'm pretty optimistic for the future of Ukraine's economy, if it can survive Putin's attack."[13,14]

@Noahpinion: "The best-case scenario for the Ukraine war. Really hope Fukuyama is right about all this."

@JominiW: "1/ Ukrainian Theater of War, Day 18: Russian forces continued their operational pause in Kyiv and NE with limited attacks in the Mariupol & Donetsk regions. Bombardment of Kharkiv & Mikolayv intensifies. Harassment of Russian supply routes remains effective."

@ProfPaulPoast: "Many worry that the 🇺🇦-🇷🇺 war could escalate to World War III. But are we ALREADY in a World War?"

@kamilkazani: "How to defeat Putin? Many recognise the importance of coercive measures against Russia and necessity to give it a way out. And yet, some presume that the way out should be given to Putin to force him to negotiate. That's a disastrous idea. There's no way he can roll back now🧵"[15]
posted by kliuless at 4:36 AM on March 14 [34 favorites]


I really wish the rest of the world would make nuclear disarmament a precondition of resuming any of the ties with Russia that have been cut in recent times. Obviously they won't.
posted by Dysk at 4:36 AM on March 14 [7 favorites]


Moorooka, I’m seeing a ‘403 Forbidden’ error for that Dugin March 12 article URL (and 404/no file found with archive.org or Google cache).
posted by cenoxo at 4:44 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


Re: Kotkin's New Yorker interview, I found this twitter thread pretty useful:
I try to stay away from editorializing on here, but I will make an exception for this New Yorker interview with Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin.

Kotkin makes some bizarre claims about Russian history which should be addressed. Let's begin
Also, regarding recent widely shared takes about the region's history. Many of these threads and articles felt off, containing minor mistakes in order to push an agenda. I guess some caution is needed on everyone's part, not to take anything at face value, even coming from experts. We tend to forget that many of these historical topics were subject to active academic, legitimate debate before this war. These types of discussions are obviously on hold now, but this doesn't mean that we should uncritically accept slanted, shallow "historical" takes.
posted by kmt at 5:18 AM on March 14 [20 favorites]


Jan Böhmermann is a German comedian/talkshow/latenight host. He is often snotty and abrasive, but also in this instance, poignant. (Also proof that German's can be funny - in case you missed Loriot, and weren't sure.)
March 9th episode of "ZDF Magazine Royale" a concise and funny and also pathos-filled set of observations. (It might auto-select Russian sub-titles (hahaha) you can re-set them easily enough.) High-lights include his observation that, after discussing Zeleskiy's former career, "... when one clown is attacked, all of us other clowns need to come to their rescue..."
posted by From Bklyn at 5:22 AM on March 14


March 9th episode of "ZDF Magazine Royale"

I believe you mean the March 4th ep, which here on YT, or here on ZDF's own Mediathek.
posted by progosk at 5:59 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


kmt, that is a great thread, I've been hoping for something like it to arrive.
Essentialism has no place in modern political discourse. First of all, as the author makes very clear, it is rubbish. Second, it kills people. Even when the people who use it are peaceful moderately conservative professors.
posted by mumimor at 6:04 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


Can the west slaughter Putin’s sacred cash cow?
The final paragraph:
“The Russians and Putin”, he explains, “have always believed Europe can never survive without Russian oil. He thinks if he wins in Ukraine, the Kremlin will be forgiven because there is no alternative and the west is weak. That is how he thinks, it’s how Gazprom thinks and it’s how Rosneft thinks. That is how they see the world. That is why Putin personally controls the energy trade. It is his sacred cash cow.”
It's a longish article,and frustrating, but worth reading. (Frustrating because how can world leaders continue to not take global warming seriously?)
posted by mumimor at 6:31 AM on March 14 [9 favorites]


Ukrainian violinists are joined in harmony by top violinists across the world. 94 violinists. 29 countries.
Violinist Kerenza Peacock: "I befriended some young violinists in Ukraine via Instagram and discovered some were in basement shelters but had their violins. So I asked colleagues across the world to accompany them in harmony. And I got sent videos from 94 violinists in 29 countries in 48 hours!! An astonishing collaboration forming an international violin choir of support for Ukraine. Illia Bondarenko had to film this between explosions, because he could not hear himself play.

We play an old Ukrainian folk song called Verbovaya Doschechka. Nine other young violinists sheltering in Ukraine join in unison, and are accompanied in harmony by players from London Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, the Hollywood Studios, and top violinists from all over the world including Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium, Georgia, Poland, South Korea, South Africa, Moldova, Denmark, India, and the entire violin section of the Munich Chamber Orchestra!"

They have posted the score so you can participate as well.
posted by Silvery Fish at 6:39 AM on March 14 [23 favorites]


I really wish the rest of the world would make nuclear disarmament a precondition of resuming any of the ties with Russia that have been cut in recent times.

That ship has well and truly sailed. After the west left Ukraine to its own devices despite the Budapest Memorandum -- Ukraine agreed to give up its share of the former Soviet nuclear weapons stockpile, in exchange for assurance from Russia that it would have its territorial integrity respected and assurances from the US and UK that they would make sure Russia respected its territorial integrity.

No rational nation will denuclearize now. Maybe for decades, maybe ever. Not having nukes gets you invaded and your territory dismembered by a country who has them.

The sanctions came 8 years too late. Better late than never, but this time the likelihood of escalation is probably far worse, because Russian leadership has learned that if they thumb their noses to western nations, the western nations eventually come around.

Also, I think it's vastly overstating it that Putin has designs on Europe as a whole, or indefinite expansion. But nobody should be willing to let Russia re-annex the likes of the Baltics, or Finland, two highly plausible new targets for Russian irredentism.
posted by tclark at 7:28 AM on March 14 [19 favorites]


Yeah, which is exactly why making it a condition of having any more contact with the rest of the world than North Korea would be about the only way to force the issue.

But it won't happen anyway. So many Western leaders will be looking for an excuse to get back to buying that cheap oil/gas soon enough, not looking to leverage the combined initiative to isolate Russia.
posted by Dysk at 7:34 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


I keep hearing different things about the Budapest Memorandum -- I had thought the signatories had each agreed, for themselves, not to violate Ukraine's integrity and sovereignty; but not against each other.


My impression was also that a post-Soviet Ukraine had no real way to maintain that arsenal without going rogue (and diverting scant resources DPRK-style). Steven Pifer in 2011; and from a re-examination by the Lugar Center in 2014 (after seizure of Crimea):

The limiting factor on Ukrainian warheads would have been tritium production, for which Ukraine would have needed foreign assistance. No Nuclear Weapon State is likely to have offered to violate its obligations under the NPT to supply heavy water, heavy-water reactors or tritium directly to Ukraine for the purpose of maintaining Soviet warheads in Ukraine, to say nothing of tritium extraction technology. Still, Ukraine could have gone to states outside the NPT for assistance. Over time, Ukraine would have had to seek out technical expertise related to these matters, which would have put it in an even less admirable position than simply keeping Soviet weapons and agreeing to some corresponding reduction and monitoring of them under START I (continuous monitoring of final missile assembly was undertaken at the Pavlograd Machine Plant). But Ukraine’s possession of the weapons would have prevented START I from coming into force after Russia conditioned its ratification of the treaty on Ukraine becoming a Non-Nuclear Weapon State.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:39 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Conversation has moved on, but two nuclear powers can absolutely fight a border dispute without using nuclear weapons. India and China have been doing it since 1959 (India became a nuclear power in 1998):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_of_Actual_Control
posted by subdee at 7:42 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


There were Soviet pilots in direct combat in both the Korean War and Vietnam. But we aren't living in those decades. What matters are the contemporary standards for escalation between the NATO and its counterpart (the role Russia has inherited); as were settled into during the later part of the Cold War. And that confrontation would not be a 'border dispute.'
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:45 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


@terrelljstarr: "One reason why Russian imperialism is so hard for so many in the West to process is that many can't see 'white' Ukrainians as being oppressed--especially by 'white' Russians. Many aren't used to 'white' people being dehumanized in ways similar to Black/Brown peoples."

It's hard for white people to see, because white people have been so artificially inflated over the past few centuries by the idea that this only happens to black/brown peoples. White people not-seeing what they have in common with black/brown people as a species has been the crux of imperial colonialism.

We (i.e. lesser-than-whites) see it happening. Sometimes we try call attention to it out of concern for the species, but no, a whiter face always knows better in our species. If a white person says this is a shock because it only ever happens to black/brown people, then for our species, it must be. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by human ecologist at 7:48 AM on March 14 [15 favorites]


How far escalation would go is just speculation at this point, since it hasn't been seriously tested. I do worry about it, but I also don't think that Putin being willing to make threats means that the west's response should be to automatically back down. Like the Kotkin interview talks about, Putin has gotten a lot of mileage out of those threats, for good reason, but it's not a limitless get out of jail free card for him.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:49 AM on March 14 [5 favorites]


Ukrainians are consoling us by setting an example of how to live
Timothy Snyder

I spent a weekend in Vienna, filled with Ukrainian activities, including discussing "Ukraine and Universal Values" at the Institute for Human Sciences, and attending a reading of Ukrainian (and Russian and Belarusian) texts by Austrian actors at the Volkstheater.

I had never seen actors break down and weep on stage before. The moderator had to leave the stage to collect herself. And rather than inappropriate that seemed just right, even dignified, as if not to cry would have been not to acknowledge the weight of war and the need we have for words that can help us to feel it.

Vienna reminds me of Lviv, in western Ukraine. Its Habsburg cousin is now overflowing with internal refugees. In Vienna I thought of all the flights I have taken to Kyiv, flights that are no longer there, and of the easy train rides thence to Dnipro and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s great eastern cities, now under Russian bombs. These two cities are jewels of Russian-speaking civilization; but they are not Russian but Ukrainian cities, and so Putin must destroy them, for he has decreed that there is no Ukraine.

Of course there is a Ukraine, because Ukrainians are willing to live and die for it. Of course there is a Ukraine, because it is the Ukrainians who are consoling us, rather than the other way around. The whole weekend my Ukrainian friends were both informing me and comforting me. An acquaintance in Kyiv gives me a matter-of-fact description of her day at work. A colleague in Kharkiv tells me of the horror of the Russian bombing of the center of Ukraine’s second city, and then, without pathos, just descriptively, of the solidarity and activity of the local population… It is not that the good undoes the evil, but that we feel better when we know that others are acting, responding, not giving up.

It is just that they are keeping on, doing what needs to be done amidst the death and the destruction. That is what is comforting. Katja Petrowskaja, the author of Maybe Esther, caught this phenomenon in the text of hers read at the Volkstheater. “Amulet for the Ukrainian Resistance" ends with a mention of a video appeal that her mother, who is in Kyiv, made for Russians, which you will find if you follow the link; but the passage I have in mind is about reaching out from Germany to a friend in Kyiv, and it goes like this:

"When I hear the predictions of defeat, I call up my friend in Kyiv, I just say 'Sasha,' and she turns on the video, shows me her little boy, everyone is smiling. They know the predictions too, and it would be indecent of me to question their decision. They are the fortress, the stronghold, their mood is cheerful, they concentrate on what they are doing, they are working at peace and they comfort us when our strength and hope breaks."

Sitting in the dark in the theater my throat caught at those words. I heard a few quick sobs rise up all around me in the dark, right on that sentence, on the words "they comfort us"; and I knew that the people stifling them were the ones who call their friends in Kyiv, in Kharkiv, in Mykolaiv, in the other bombed Ukrainian cities, and who knew that it was true.

They are consoling us. Because Ukrainians are resisting, not just on the battlefield but as a society, they console us all. Every day they act is one when we can reflect, and hope. People do have values. The world is not empty. People do find courage. There are things worth taking risks for.
Source Timothy Snyder Substack
posted by 15L06 at 7:53 AM on March 14 [46 favorites]


Meanwhile the ever wonderful London Met are doing Putin's mates' dirty work for them.
posted by Dysk at 7:57 AM on March 14 [5 favorites]


March 9th episode of "ZDF Magazine Royale"

I believe you mean the March 4th ep, which here on YT , or here on ZDF's own Mediathek.
posted by progosk at 5:59 AM on March 14 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]

(And credit to From Bklyn who originally found the episode)

This has had me crying for 25 minutes (I didn't cry the first five). It is very obviously modelled on Jon Stewart's Daily Shows during the Iraq war, but it is also original with a personal angle and very strong. I couldn't make subtitles in English work, but if you can, it is a good emotional expression of how many of us Europeans feel about this. He also discusses our spineless politicians and the racism implied when refugees that don't look "white" enough are turned away at the borders.
posted by mumimor at 8:10 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


and assurances from the US and UK that they would make sure Russia respected its territorial integrity.

Here is the full English text of the Budapest memorandum:
Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America,

Welcoming the Accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon state,

Taking into account the commitment of Ukraine to eliminate all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time,

Noting the changes in the world-wide security situation, including the end of the Cold War, which have brought about conditions for deep reductions in nuclear forces,

Confirm the following:


The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and The United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.

The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and The United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and The United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the Principles of the CSCE Final Act, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.

The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and The United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.

The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and The United States of America reaffirm, in the case of Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a state in association or alliance with a nuclear weapon state.

Ukraine, The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and The United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.

This Memorandum will become applicable upon signature.
That's it. That's the whole thing. The idea that it ever obligated anybody but Ukraine to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine, except by strongly-worded memos, is plainly wrong. It's absolutely fine for Ukraine to be acting like those obligations existed because it's fighting for its independence, like it's perfectly fine for Ukraine to say lots of other untruthful things that serve its interests in the moment. Lord knows Ukraine's informational and PR war has been really good.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:37 AM on March 14 [24 favorites]


My impression was also that a post-Soviet Ukraine had no real way to maintain that arsenal without going rogue (and diverting scant resources DPRK-style). Steven Pifer in 2011; and from a re-examination by the Lugar Center in 2014 (after seizure of Crimea):
The limiting factor on Ukrainian warheads would have been tritium production, for which Ukraine would have needed foreign assistance. No Nuclear Weapon State is likely to have offered to violate its obligations under the NPT to supply heavy water, heavy-water reactors or tritium directly to Ukraine for the purpose of maintaining Soviet warheads in Ukraine, to say nothing of tritium extraction technology.
It's not quite that simple. The gold standard for pulling tritium out of a reactor is a heavy water reactor (CANDU). Plenty of neutrons being absorbed by deuterium turning into tritium. It's relatively trivial to separate the tritium out. Canada does this all the time and the ITER uses tritium derived from Canada's fleet of CANDU reactors. India's nuclear weapons? Guess what kind of reactor they run? A pressurized heavy water reactor based on CANDU designs. India isn't G7 but they pull tritium out of them just fine.

When one has a light water reactor like the VVER that's used exclusively in Ukraine one only gets a very tiny amount of tritium in the moderator. In those cases one would use something like a tritium-producing burnable absorber rod (TPBAR) which is basically a lithium-6 based aluminate ceramic (LiAlO2) sandwiched between Zircaloy-4 layers similar to what's used in a regular fuel pellet. Neutron hits Li-6, it breaks apart into tritium and an alpha particle, tritium gets absorbed by the ceramic as a hydride to be pulled out when the rod is rotated out. In terms of relative difficulty for a state with only a modicum of civilian nuclear experience? Pretty damn easy.

The rest is essentially correct though. A Ukraine that kept the nukes would have been an international pariah. I guess what I'm trying to say is they could have kept the nukes maintained if they were resourceful and truly determined and their removal was not simply a fait accompli that they should get no credit for which has subsequently been used as justification for the dirty pool the US talking heads have been playing with the semantics of the Budapest Memorandum.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:41 AM on March 14 [10 favorites]


If we come out of this whole clusterfuck with a Siberian Republic, the Republic of Buryatia, and the Republic of Khanty-Mansi, etc and have to do a Budapest Memorandum 2.0 we're going to look pretty fucking stupid asking them to help in the elimination of ex-Russian Federation nukes deployed on their territory little alone handing them back to whatever Muscovite rump state is left.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:51 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


That's it. That's the whole thing. The idea that it ever obligated anybody but Ukraine to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine, except by strongly-worded memos, is plainly wrong.

In that the memorandum creates a whole set of obligations with literally zero mention of any enforcement mechanism, yes. In that strict interpretation, it's essentially meaningless, but it does not create a legal obligation.
posted by Dysk at 9:04 AM on March 14


Two sessions of note this week. There is a (US) House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing scheduled for March 16 regarding Early Signs of War Crimes and Human Rights Abuses Committed by the Russian Military During the Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine.

There will also be an 'extraordinary' meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence the same day. (Note: The recent extraordinary meeting 10 days ago was with Ministers of Foreign Affairs.)
posted by vers at 9:09 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


In that strict interpretation, it's essentially meaningless, but it does not create a legal obligation.

I don't know if there's a point to continuing this close reading, but it does create legal obligations (insofar as any treaty type instrument between sovereigns can, though this is something less than that). It's just that they're mostly negative obligations to refrain from doing things; and the affirmative obligations are extraordinarily weak.

Notably, in light of all of the prognostication about the potential for Putin to use a tactical nuke in Ukraine -- that is one of the explicit prohibitions the memo does recite. (Of course, so was not invading -- but the nuke provisions more directly pertain to the interests of the other nuclear-power signatories.)

Whether there is any value to a legal right where there is no legal remedy is a separate question but it doesn't void the basic obligation.

It should also be considered that this Memo was a part of great power politics and had linkages to START and other treaties and frameworks. Arguably, it was not made for Ukraine's benefit but rather were the conditions imposed upon Ukraine for admission to the post-Cold War international system by compromise of larger powers. In that less comfy view Ukraine isn't so much a party to the agreement as it was its object.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:18 AM on March 14 [6 favorites]




Philip Pullella, writing for Reuters, analyses the growing split in the Orthodox church over the war in Ukraine. He starts with profiling the Russian Patriarch, Kirill. Excerpt:
Kirill, 75, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, sees the war as a bulwark against a West he considers decadent, particularly over the acceptance of homosexuality.

He and Putin share a vision of the "Russkiy Mir", or "Russian World", linking spiritual unity and territorial expansion aimed at parts of the ex-Soviet Union, experts told Reuters.

What Putin sees as a political restoration, Kirill sees as a crusade.
As is to be expected, this attitude doesn't play well outside Russia. Excerpt:
Kirill, who claims Ukraine as an indivisible part of his spiritual jurisdiction, had already severed ties with Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch who acts as a first among equals in the Orthodox world and backs the autonomy of Ukraine's Orthodox Church.

"Some Churches are so angry with Kirill over his position on war that we are facing an upheaval in world Orthodoxy," Tamara Grdzelidze, professor of Religious Studies at Ilia State University in Georgia and a former Georgian ambassador to the Vatican, told Reuters.

In a joint statement, Orthodox theologians from institutions including the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University in New York and the Volos Academy for Theological Studies in Greece condemned those Church leaders "directing their communities to pray in ways that actively encourage hostility".

Other Orthodox leaders who have criticised the war include Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and all Africa, Patriarch Daniel of Romania and Archbishop Leo of Finland.
The whole thing is worth a read. Also, it mentions the Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam, which has broken off relations with the Moscow Patriarchate. Pjotr Sauer, writing for The Guardian, has more on that.
posted by Kattullus at 9:45 AM on March 14 [21 favorites]




About that 40-mile long Russian convoy outside Kyiv (Twitter thread, very informative about logistics). And a sequel today.
posted by vers at 9:59 AM on March 14 [11 favorites]


vers, the Twitter user who posted those convoy threads describes himself as "Author, consultant, motivational speaker. Biggest social media slut in mobile. A mAd vidiot, F1 fan, globetrotting digital [G-word] 007 wannabe. The T Dawg"

Is there any reason to trust him for this kind of analysis more than any other random yahoo on social media?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:03 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Thanks, ChurchHatesTucker, I don’t know how I managed to misplace the link.
posted by Kattullus at 10:04 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


“… bought ‘Dead Souls’” - in the proper spirit of Gogol’s, god bless their larcenous hearts!

(The Böhmermann YT link can be followed with ‘instant translations’ it is a passable translation. )
posted by From Bklyn at 10:06 AM on March 14


I don't know if there's a point to continuing this close reading, but it does create legal obligations (insofar as any treaty type instrument between sovereigns can, though this is something less than that). It's just that they're mostly negative obligations to refrain from doing things

I was responding to a previous comment, and I meant that it created no obligations to react, to defend Ukraine or enforce the memorandum. I should have made that clearer.
posted by Dysk at 10:10 AM on March 14


But yes, if we're talking Russian obligations, they've clearly shat on their promises regarding Ukrainian sovereignty and not to invade.
posted by Dysk at 10:11 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


escape from the potato planet, that is a very valid question that I'm not sure how to answer (but may dig around a bit...). I'm usually more of a skeptic and careful with sources, but I think I got excited to see an analysis of that convoy that seemed to add up.
posted by vers at 10:12 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


Some of the mentions in that Bellingcat interview video reminded me of a dark thought I had about the artillery strike reportedly taking out the International Legion depot -- what are the odds at least some of the people who are live-blogging their participation (and crowdfunding their gear and travel) have failed to turn off all social media geolocation, or scrub photos of metadata? It might not even be safe to store that stuff in the cloud non-publicly, to the extent Russia may have compromised any major hosting platforms, remotely or with humans....
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:13 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


what are the odds at least some of the people who are live-blogging their participation (and crowdfunding their gear and travel) have failed to turn off all social media geolocation, or scrub photos of metadata?

It's 100% certain. And it's unlikely to matter anyway if they're live blogging it with photos.
posted by Dysk at 10:16 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


I suppose, but getting coordinates really takes the guesswork out.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:17 AM on March 14


Well, that's eponstyrical. And has my full respect.
posted by theora55 at 10:17 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


This video from Task & Purpose argues that the convoy was not, in fact, "stalled" – and that it's actually perfectly normal for an advancing column to stop to rest, wait for logistics to catch up, establish a forward command center, etc.

I find Task & Purpose's YouTubey style to be off-puttingly flippant for a topic this serious, and I know nothing about them otherwise, but they are at least a professional media entity focused on military analysis.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:19 AM on March 14


the artillery strike reportedly taking out the International Legion depot

I actually have some suspicions of those reports - they’re not coming from people who are more established and they aren’t coming through folks who would know. Seem much more likely to be Russian propaganda. “Even the “operators” are leaving, what can I do?”
posted by corb at 10:24 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


Yes -- it cuts both ways, you'd expect a bunch of updates from other people there. Although the idea of being taken out by some reckless fool's premium Snapchat update for their supporters is still chilling.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:27 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


My aunt, an academic who studied Russia all her life, sent me this article that discusses the religious background and overtones of this war, relevant to the Orthodox Church discussion above.
posted by brambleboy at 10:34 AM on March 14 [6 favorites]


There was a Buzzfeed interview with one of the guys in the International Legion at the depot, and he indicated that none of them had been killed, mainly because the Ukrainians had done air raid drills in prep. It's possible there were other groups he wasn't aware of, of course.
posted by tavella at 10:43 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Foreign Legion redditor volunteer account of missile strike on barracks
The 'Genetically illiberal Civil Architecture Respecter' who posted this has made some very strange assertions in only the last 24 hours. Not a credible source.
posted by StarkRoads at 10:47 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Bloomberg: Panic selling grips Chinese stocks in biggest plunge since 2008
The broad rout follows a report citing U.S. officials that Russia has asked China for military assistance for its war in Ukraine. Even as China denied the report, traders worry that Beijing’s potential overture toward Vladimir Putin could bring a global backlash against Chinese firms, even sanctions. Sentiment was also hurt by a COVID-induced lockdown in the southern city of Shenzhen, a key tech hub, and the northern province of Jilin.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:53 AM on March 14 [7 favorites]


China surely understands that getting involved in this conflict will effectively turn it into World War 3. One hopes they aren't interested in following Putin off that cliff.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:08 AM on March 14


Genetically illiberal Civil Architecture Respecter
I do at least appreciate when someone provides a one-two on extremely-online white supremacism references in their bio. "super into civil architecture, for some reason has a particular focus on what they see as fallen glory days of the field & what they see as modern decadence" is a pretty common tell, but still in the dog-whistle range where a lot of people don't hear it. (and, less certain, but the "* Respecter" phrasing)
But combine that with "genetically illiberal", and that should be pretty clear even to someone who isn't keeping up with terms.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:09 AM on March 14 [13 favorites]


FSB guys in charge of buying whatever Ukrainians they could instead stole the fucking budget.

This seems to be a common thread in a lot of the apparent readiness fails being experienced by Russia. Going to prove that corruption isn't just bad for the peons it's also directly bad for the state.
posted by Mitheral at 11:27 AM on March 14 [6 favorites]


@olenazelenska_official, two hours ago [CW] (Olena Zelenska, first lady of Ukraine):

It's scary to observe. But we, who are alive, must look at it and never forget — mass graves in Mariupol. This name and these shots are in the world media's front pages, but God forbid anyone such news.

This city is bleeding. More than two thousand people died during 19 days of the war.

Taken under complete siege by Russian troops, it heroically continues to resist with no light, no heat, no water, no food, no medicine. During this time, 72 children were born here. Thirty-five boys and thirty-seven girls. Life in the midst of death. Light in the dark. But how long will these babies survive without help? How long will their little hearts resist?

Once again, the Ukrainian humanitarian convoy is trying to reach Mariupol. Each time, the Russians violate all agreements and fire on the path that must be completely safe. And we have seen such violations of international humanitarian law with the corridors of Polog, Izyum, Energodar, Kyiv region.

It is impossible to watch! Humanitarian corridors must be safe for civilians.

I urge @icrc, @unitednations, OSCE to launch a large-scale work on the organization of humanitarian corridors and do everything possible to ensure their complete security for civilians.

Use your mandates respected by the whole world! Save the peaceful Mariupol!

posted by snuffleupagus at 11:30 AM on March 14 [29 favorites]


Task and Purpose seems to be one guy with a blog and YouTube channel based out of Florida. He's a former army enlisted infantryman. I can't differentiate his random speculation from a million other people who seem to think that surely Russia can't be this incompetent and they've lost 10% of their invasion force on purpose.
posted by interogative mood at 11:56 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


The mayor of Lviv has given a few interviews to Polish television today in Polish. He's Ukrainian but he has the authentic Polish-Ukrainian borderland accent and I never met that great-grandfather of mine from Baranavichy and Odessa, but going by my grandfather's accent he must have sounded exactly like this. I'm by far not the only Polish person with all family hailing from east of the current borders of Poland, to the point Wroclaw is called "West Lviv" because the Polish population was relocated wholesale. As far back as World War I national identities were still coalescing and you could have siblings identifying as different nationalities. There but for the grace of God...

And in refugee news, the tide has definitely slowed with 82 thousand crossing into Poland yesterday, half the peak amount from a week ago. Volunteers are still running most things, but in Warsaw at least the city is doing a lot of organising. Basic supplies are often running low in shops.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:02 PM on March 14 [26 favorites]


I am waiting for the Kadyrov obit. ♤ Meanwhile love these people. Dhaka Braka They live in Kyiv.
posted by Oyéah at 12:20 PM on March 14 [9 favorites]


Kevin Rothrock: "Apparently, a woman just ran onto the stage during a Russian state television news broadcast with a sign that said, 'Stop the war! Don’t believe propaganda! They’re lying to you here!'"
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:24 PM on March 14 [17 favorites]


Task and Purpose is bit more than just one dude's YouTube channel, but it should probably be regarded as an infortainment style site. Still, those can be a source of real news and investigative journalism as with Buzzfeed. About Task & Purpose.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:31 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


China surely understands that getting involved in this conflict will effectively turn it into World War 3.

I doubt that China will directly get involved by putting their actual military in Ukraine. What is very possible is China donating/selling military equipment - especially since they have a large stockpile of locally-made but also Soviet era-grade weapons in storage, that they're more than willing to part with because they've become their own modern arms manufacturer. If the US and European countries can do it, China can too.

If we think Russia failed miserably at logistics, China's likely to fail even more so. They've never fought any kind of modern war, even a small one. And this one is quite far away from their borders. Their equipment/communications is unlikely to work with Russia's. And there's probably some small degree of racism involved.
posted by meowzilla at 12:34 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


If the US and European countries can do it, China can too.

Satellite intelligence and targeting, maybe airborne command and control using planes within Russian airspace (as NATO is doing for Ukraine from within its members airspace). Racism already manages to cope with getting those kinds of services from China for commercial purposes.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:38 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


Got to admire the courage of Maria Ovsiannikova (the women identified as the one holding the sign in mandolin conspiracy's link), what's in store next for her is probably not pleasant at all.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 12:57 PM on March 14 [11 favorites]


Marina Ovsyannikova also made a recorded statement, which is linked and translated in this thread.
posted by confluency at 1:01 PM on March 14 [7 favorites]


A video the TV network employee Maria Ovsyannikova recorded before storming the live Russian state news broadcast with a protest sign is now circulating. In it, she says her father is Ukrainian, her mother is Russian, and blames Putin for the war, calling on Russians to protest. https://t.co/7yICeugRfe
posted by 15L06 at 1:02 PM on March 14 [18 favorites]




@PaulSonne, who posted the Video, works for the Washington Post. On his twitter is also a translation of what she said and more background and what happened afterwards.
posted by 15L06 at 1:06 PM on March 14


Interesting article in Mother Jones on the reaction of the Chess World and the fact that FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich has come out against the war. He is a former Kremlin insider.
posted by interogative mood at 1:07 PM on March 14 [6 favorites]


It’s carnage in Chinese markets today.

Some of that may be due to Ukraine, some due to a recent and serious wave of breakthrough Covid cases, despite a "zero infection" policy.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:14 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


These days i often think of Andrei Kurkov (Re spelling, i use what he uses for his Twitter Account @AKurkov )
Kurkov is a renowned Ukrainian author. I once had the honour of meeting him, when arranging an event. He was very gentle and polite, not at all stand-offish, yet direct in what he needed from me (which is very helpful for my work!). i guess that is why i never forgot him.
His twitter account is both touching, eg. he shares about his cat Pepin and rat, Semyon, but also about how war has come to the village where he lives.
This essay by him, in the Guardian, is both moving and upsetting.
Here a passionate appeal, as president of PEN Ukraine.
posted by 15L06 at 1:55 PM on March 14 [13 favorites]


I am waiting for the Kadyrov obit. ♤ Meanwhile love these people. Dhaka Braka They live in Kyiv. posted by Oyéah at 12:20 PM on March 14

wow amazing. thanks so much for posting this -
posted by bluesky43 at 2:12 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


Just wanted to say thank you to all who are contributing to this thread, and a particular shout-out to Silver Fish - that violin recording broke me.

These days, I go to work in the morning and then spend the rest of the day refreshing this thread. That's it.
posted by doggod at 2:14 PM on March 14 [10 favorites]


I wanted to see how Dakha Brakha are doing at this moment. According to their website, they are scheduled to tour in the US, with a first performance in Massachusetts on March 30, so it seems that they are at least physically OK.
posted by brambleboy at 2:43 PM on March 14 [5 favorites]


doggod -

That violin recording broke me, too.

And I have been thinking all day about how to reply to your post. Saying, “I am so sorry you had to live through that” feels like having a single matchstick to try to warm an entire house. But if you have been holding a candle that was extinguished by that experience — maybe we have a place to begin.

What you lived through, bringing it to this conversation, matters so much, and I thank you as much as I weep with you.
posted by Silvery Fish at 3:01 PM on March 14 [8 favorites]


Here's a little new clarity on what Russia is requesting from China. They want non-lethal supplies like MREs. Guess the logistical reports we've all seen are more or less correct.

Though PLA MREs may not be much of a benefit if these reviews are legit.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 3:09 PM on March 14 [4 favorites]


Protest footage from yesterday in Berdyansk. The protests continue to be sizable in occupied areas. The sheer bravery.

Michael Kofman was interviewed by Ryan Evans for the War on the Rocks podcast. It’s a half-hour overview of where things are, both in terms of the conflict on the ground, but also goes into the dangers of nuclear escalation.
posted by Kattullus at 3:10 PM on March 14 [5 favorites]


Here's a little new clarity on what Russia is requesting from China. They want non-lethal supplies like MREs.

Not according to the US-China correspondent at the Financial Times: "US told allies that Russia requested 5 types of military gear from China, including #SurfaceToAirMissiles. Also #drones, armored vehicles, logistics vehicles & intelligence-related equipment. US did not provide underlying intelligence in cables to allies."
posted by gwint at 3:13 PM on March 14 [7 favorites]


Apparently a contradiction floating around in the news. Thanks gwint. I saw that report just after I made my comment. Just my luck. Of course, maybe both are true in their own way. That Russia initially asked for everything. China was reluctant. And then Russia responded with "then just give us food".

That's random speculation on my part, but would make the two stories fit together. Or perhaps China's trying to spin their giving of support by pretending the request was just for non-lethal supplies. That would let Xi prop up Russia while maybe preventing a major western backlash.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 3:27 PM on March 14


Though PLA MREs may not be much of a benefit if these reviews are legit.

The guy who ate a 100+ year old WWI era ration had a rough time with the PLA MRE.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:45 PM on March 14 [10 favorites]


Zepla, the FFXIV streamer I mentioned earlier, posted a follow up stream from her temporary home in Portugal discussing her experience making it there and how the war has continued to impact her and those she knows. Her comment of "maybe I'll be lucky and my home will just get looted and not destroyed" was rather chilling.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:51 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


The guy who ate a 100+ year old WWI era ration had a rough time with the PLA MRE.

Yikes!²
posted by y2karl at 4:23 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


If the PLA MREs are as bad as dwarf bread, so much for the claim about non-lethal supplies.
posted by notoriety public at 4:37 PM on March 14 [6 favorites]


There's very few incentives for China to send over actual useful hardware to Russia. China's arms industry export market is very nascent right now. For a manufacturing economy as big as China's they only pull 5% of market share. If the Chinese arms are sent into battle and do poorly, which is not outside the realm of possibility given Russia's complete logistical incompetence, it could ward off other potential buyers who they're trying to court. This would set the Chinese arms industry back years if not decades of export progress.

That plus the threat of sanctions and the inability of the Russians to pay no more than about $75b worth of stuff using their yuan reserves mean there's no real positive. Plus China is the only relatively large economy that will still deal with Russia. They don't exactly have to sweeten a pot for Russia to come crawling on their hands and knees to trade with the Chinese. There's no hard power to be gained, there's no soft power to be gained. It would basically be lend lease but everyone in the world hates you for doing it.

I know China loves to piss off the West (and we probably deserve it) but it's not 1950 anymore. China, for all its autarky and manufacturing might, is just as beholden to the order of international trade that Russia finds itself strangled by. It can't just go start a war and be alright on its own. 80% of China's iron ore is imported. ~60% of that comes from Australia. You can't keep making lots of steel for heavy industry if you have half of your raw materials up and vanish overnight.

It might happen since this timeline is just complete chaos but I'll be genuinely surprised if anything significant gets sent.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:04 PM on March 14 [16 favorites]


Western leaders and commentators needs to start loudly bemoaning how embarrassing it would be of the Chinese came to Ukraine’s rescue and helped them stop Russia; especially how embarrassing it would be for Biden.
posted by interogative mood at 5:15 PM on March 14 [13 favorites]


I'm gonna keep this one for being more comprehensive...

Upon re-reading, I think this comment is a judiciously fair assessment.
posted by y2karl at 5:15 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]




This by Elon Musk is truly disgusting. I can't remember the last time I felt revolted to this degree.
posted by prefpara at 5:30 PM on March 14 [12 favorites]


Just a reminder for those not satisfied with Task & Purpose that ISW (understandingwar.org) posts a daily analysis of the latest OSINT roundup every day between 3~5 PM EST: here’s today’s. They have a pretty lengthy list of generals, other former .mil and civilian analysts with bios on their “Who We Are” page. Certainly seems like the best one could reasonably hope for in making sense of all this.

@PaulSonne, who posted the Video, works for the Washington Post

It never stops being weird seeing the kid next door pop up in the news every couple days since this began. Small world.
posted by Ryvar at 5:35 PM on March 14 [6 favorites]


Russia accuses Kyiv of deadly missile attack on Donetsk
“The use of such weapons in a city where there are no firing positions of the armed forces is a war crime,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
The hypocrisy is so thick you would need a Ukrainian tractor to tow it away.
posted by meowzilla at 5:47 PM on March 14 [7 favorites]


had a rough time with the PLA MRE

I know this was jokey, but that is specifically for the Type 13. Steve1989MREInfo rather liked the Type 17.

But yeah, why not foist off old stock.
posted by porpoise at 5:55 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


TIL about dwarf bread.
posted by y2karl at 6:17 PM on March 14 [6 favorites]


From NBC, "QAnon, Ukraine and 'biolabs': Russian propaganda efforts boosted by U.S. far right":
Pyrra Technologies, a cybersecurity and threat intelligence company, said the first mention of biolabs came on the far-right social network Gab on Feb. 14, 10 days before the invasion. The user included an awkwardly worded graphic, titled “Exclusive US biolabs in Ukraine, and they are financed at the expense of the US Department of Defense.”

The post largely sat idle for days. Welton Chang, the CEO of Pyrra, said posts about biolabs on the top 15 far-right social networks numbered in the single digits in the days before Russia’s invasion. But on Feb. 24, the day Russia began its invasion, the number of posts about biolabs on English-language far-right websites skyrocketed into the hundreds and only grew in the days after.

Boosted by far-right influencers on the day of the invasion, an anonymous QAnon Twitter account titled @WarClandestine pushed the “biolabs” theory to new heights, using the same “US biolabs” graphic initially included on the Gab post that went largely unshared the week before.

[...]

The biolab conspiracy theory has taken over as the prevailing narrative on pro-Trump and QAnon websites like The Great Awakening and Patriots.Win.

Chang said the rhetoric on pro-Trump sites, which had largely been anti-Putin in the first days of the war, has shifted because of the biolab conspiracy theory.

[...]

Russian and Chinese officials have also boosted the theory. On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry began pushing the conspiracy theory, asking for a “full account” of Ukraine’s “biological military activities at home and abroad.”

By Wednesday, almost two weeks after the invasion, the conspiracy theory had reached [Tucker] Carlson, who led his show claiming that the “Biden administration was funding secret biolabs in Ukraine.”
posted by mhum at 6:25 PM on March 14 [19 favorites]


He liked the Ukranian 24 hour ration a lot more.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:25 PM on March 14


Also,

Miss Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian:

My Intervention with the Gremlin in the Kremlin.
posted by y2karl at 6:29 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]




Glen Greenwald and Elon Musk both doing loathsome things today so I can feel smug about my previous assessments. Is it Christmas? Am I dreaming?
posted by interogative mood at 7:07 PM on March 14 [9 favorites]


i'm no fan of disinformation, quite the opposite, but if you find yourself having to write 1900 word twitter threads debunking something you're losing that battle against the lies.
posted by glonous keming at 7:20 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


Except that's the point of disinformation: orders of magnitude more work needed to debunk it than to just fling the shit. And Greenwald is a world-class bad-faith shit slinger.
posted by tclark at 7:34 PM on March 14 [29 favorites]


The video Maria Ovsyannikova posted before she went on air is haunting. It's hard to stop thinking about it and what may become of her.

To me she had nothing to gain and everything to lose by what she did. She's a relatively attractive woman working in a "cushioned" and "protected" environment (I would say she was on the side of the "haves)

Not to offend MeFites, she had balls to do what she did. I pray that she gets through this safely...and to freedom in the end.

I've watched too many Bond movies
posted by goalyeehah at 7:43 PM on March 14 [10 favorites]


Except that's the point of disinformation: orders of magnitude more work needed to debunk it than to just fling the shit. And Greenwald is a world-class bad-faith shit slinger.

Yes, but also... in this instant, if you believe anybody peddling official Russian lies... you're already beyond hope, no amount of words will bring you back into reality. Doesn't matter if you get there by being leftier-than-thou and following the axiom of "US BAD!" to its illogical end. You can't reason somebody out of a position that wasn't entered through reason.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 7:46 PM on March 14 [5 favorites]


He liked the Ukranian 24 hour ration [yt] a lot more.

Except that he mentions in the PLA ration vid that he thinks the Ukrainian ration put him in the hospital with E. Coli...

(ofc that may have more to do with the dubious provenance of individual ratios acquired online; no disrespect to the chef....)
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:51 PM on March 14


right, i'm not at all saying it shouldn't be debunked, it absolutely should. it's just that long-form debunking is so ineffectual in spaces like twitter that i'm wondering aloud here what would be a better use of that effort, like maybe just a simpler "why are these people (Greenwald, Carlson, et al) carrying water for Vladimir Putin?"

idk it sucks. it all sucks. Vladimir Putin dalenda est.
posted by glonous keming at 7:51 PM on March 14 [7 favorites]


I like to know there is a voice debunking the claims but any pro-Russia claims are assumed false unless/until proven otherwise. Here on Metafilter that's probably not a very extreme position but I don't know that the general populous knows enough about the situation to have that same view even if they haven't willingly embraced Russian propaganda.
posted by VTX at 8:24 PM on March 14 [4 favorites]


A couple days ago I ended up getting a bit too far down the rabbit hole on "Ukraine war military analysis YouTube" stuff. It taught me the algorithm still reliably moves people toward right-wing content. It was an opportunity to learn that Russel Brand has for some reason gone way off the deep end into conspiracy theories. It was also my first introduction to this Task & Purpose channel and I gave them a chance, but the video I watched was several days old by that point, had been contradicted pretty heavily by later events, and was leaning hard on the Putins-five-dimensional-chess interpretation of the Russian military's actions. They also had a pretty heavy U.S. bias which, not to steal a cliche, but it sure sounded like they were fighting the last war in their heads and projected onto the images of this war.
posted by traveler_ at 9:30 PM on March 14 [17 favorites]


Russian claims being assumed false? I wonder why that is given the last 5 years?

Because they seem to all be lies and propaganda bullshit?
posted by Windopaene at 9:33 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Except that he mentions in the PLA ration vid that he thinks the Ukrainian ration put him in the hospital with E. Coli...

That was an old canned version, not the modern 24 hour reviewed above. The PLA video is from 2 years ago, the 24 hour review is contemporary. The old, canned version is discussed in both.
posted by StarkRoads at 9:54 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


So, I don't read Russian, (Cyrillic)...

What was so shitty about what Elon said?
posted by Windopaene at 10:39 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


Fmr. Zelenskyy Advisor Says ‘The Sound Of War Is Changing’ In Kyiv

Igor Novikov always tries to share uplifting anecdotes, something that people really need right now. On this occasion he talks about the plight of pets in Ukraine, many have been left behind as people flee for their lives. There is an attempt to round them up and care for them. One Ukrainian woman undertaking this spotted a husky in a field, and after a chase she managed to catch the very unhappy dog. Despite their protests she managed to get the dog to a vet who told her that they weren't a husky at all, this was a wolf.

How do you conquer people like this?
posted by adept256 at 10:40 PM on March 14 [64 favorites]


but it sure sounded like they were fighting the last war in their heads and projected onto the images of this war.

Perhaps I should listen but no, I'll trust the assessment. The previous war. Which? which is a rhetorical quandary as this is not like other wars, the conventional part is even hard to discern unless one had a satellite. No amount of Sun-Tzu, Clauswitz, Jomini, Machiavelli, Giap, Grant, or Schlieffen, you tube etc. prepares the individual to understand war. A Strategy is not the attack plan but the mulitiple response to the geo-political AO. Tactics are how one fights and this is self-evident. Someone up thread mentioned Andropov. Newly minted KGB chief, allied with the eminece greise, Suslov, did not advise a conventional military approach to Czechoslovakia but used conspiracy, dis-information and mass arrest to "quietly"end dissemination, as Andropov believed opposition was the biggest danger, more then tanks. Carrot and stick, KGB to leadership this influenced Putin. But wait. Putin is minting himself, shedding old influences ideologically and that is the weakness. That's why he's all stick.
"He's said many times: if there is no Russia, why do we need the planet?"
The immuttable law of common sense suggests one man shouldn't be allowed to wage war and further break the world.

The problem is not letting the devil out but how to trick him back into the box.
posted by clavdivs at 10:41 PM on March 14 [5 favorites]


Here's a review of the old Ukrainian rations. Expires in 2014 so made a few years before the war with Russia started. Aside from the packaging (lots of plastic), it could be from WW2.

And thanks, my Youtube suggestions are now 50% MRE reviews.
posted by meowzilla at 10:45 PM on March 14 [12 favorites]


What was so shitty about what Elon said?

He is basically challenging Putin to a duel, winner gets Ukraine.
posted by St. Oops at 11:29 PM on March 14 [6 favorites]


I too am getting these Russell Brand YouTube recommendations but fear feeding the algorithm by clicking on them. What's he arguing?
posted by St. Oops at 11:31 PM on March 14


Just click the three dots that show up when you hover over the item and select "not interested."
posted by rhizome at 11:50 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


Well that's very interesting, apparently Russia has been firing Iskander missiles with their actual penetration aids. That seems like a pretty big fuck up somewhere along the line, and could be a really bad sign for their whole nuclear logistics pipeline.
posted by Carillon at 11:58 PM on March 14 [7 favorites]


Can anyone explain the significance of the Iskander penetration aids observation?
posted by lovelyzoo at 12:13 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]


A NYT piece suggests that partially or fully intact devices can be harvested and studied by Ukraine and NATO countries to learn how the decoys work, which will presumably make it easier to defeat Russian missiles — including nuclear weapons that use the same decoy system.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:25 AM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Can anyone explain the significance of the Iskander penetration aids observation?

My layman understanding is they just gave away their schematics (thru the opportunity to reverse engineer the mechanism) to how they've evaded detection by anti-missile systems.
posted by cendawanita at 12:29 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]




Also, Musk going in 10 days from “Hold Strong Ukraine” to a Wojak meme figure hoiding an Ukraininan flag in front of a scene of LGBT+ flags, captioned “I SUPPORT THE CURRENT THING”. I'm guessing he has clocked that fash consensus has coalesced behind Putin (see also: “Fauci biolabs”) and that given that the fash are a significant part of his online entourage, remaining a supercool online memelord depends on him following from a safe distance and sneering along.
posted by acb at 2:41 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]


Also, Musk...

Not trying to attack you by saying this, but maybe we can just not amplify his bullshit here? I mean, is it in anyway relevant other than he's rich and has shitty opinions?
posted by Alex404 at 3:05 AM on March 15 [60 favorites]


The Polish Ministry of Culture has been scrambling for safe storage of Ukrainian art and cultural treasures. I'm sure we're also sharing the best practices on what to do when your capital gets occupied and/or bombed flat. Just Eastern European things...

New opinion poll has Poles 94% in favour of accepting Ukrainian refugees, with just 3% against. I don't think I've ever seen numbers this one sided in this contrary and divided country.

The Polish prime minister and the leader of the governing party are on a train to Kyiv, together with the prime ministers of Slovenia and Czechia. Brave, but also Kaczyński is a deeply toxic evil git, so maybe he'll have an epiphany and stay to volunteer in a Ukrainian cat sanctuary? A girl can dream.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 3:14 AM on March 15 [45 favorites]


I just want to thank everyone here who has wished me safety and such! Materially, my household is fine, we are (were?) solidly middle class and were able to stock up on some branded toiletries and such that we like that might be out of stock soon. The in laws have a farm that produces in excess of their and our household consumption, so we feel "ok".

Our real fears are more logistical and existential. Like many of the americans remaining in this country, we can return home, but spouses or other family members cannot because the embassy has not been granting visas for about 2 years now (covid) and the embassies in neighboring countries are overwhelmed with appointments, not granting appointments for visas either, or need a different visa to get into the country with a us embassy to get a us visa. That's aside from the travel expenses and logistics which are ever changing right now after already being unstable and disturbed over the course of the pandemic. The basic choice becomes split your family up for some unknown amount of time, likely years or stay and live within the regime. Throw kids in the mix and it gets more complicated - is it better for them to be cut off from their father or grow up in an authoritarian failing state? Lastly I have a senior dog that's been through some shit with me and I really don't want to leave her at this time. I've had her for 11 years and she was estimated to be 1-2 years old when I adopted her.

A lot of the people up and fleeing (the "regular" people, not the ones already fleeing persecution) are able to do so because they have remote work or easily transferable skills. The way our household makes money is the polar opposite of remote and while this work can be done anywhere, it would be a start from 0 in a new third country as there is no network for us, don't know suppliers, standard materials, building codes, what the market is like, are we even legally able to do such work there, insurance, etc. Not to mention that when we moved here we had capital saved up from working previously to get off the ground. Now a lot of money is either devalued or frozen within the country. So right now the strategy is basically to just ...wait a bit i guess? My current status allows me to do that, but I also had an interview with the official assigned to my case at my house in the afternoon on feb 24th and was asked what I thought about the morning's events and I responded that I did not want war because I don't want people killed or sent to kill, which at that point in time, a seemingly ancient 2.5 weeks ago, was a mealy mouthed enough answer to not raise any eyebrows. Things have obviously gone downhill since then.

I'm really glad that Maria Ovsyannikova's message was about lies and propaganda. I can't really totally cut off the inlaws so the topic of the goings on comes up obviously and the one way I've been able to crack through a tiny bit has been: 1. Maintaining that killing people and sending people to do this killing work is immoral and 2. If every other source is lying, what makes you think your source isn't lying or concealing the truth also? Has the govt ever lied to you before or have you had to go above and beyond ($$$) to get normal procedures through? (this works because I know in confidence they have). So while they still follow the leadership, they are at least more open to the idea that there may be...missteps. Any trying to say "they are bombing children" and whatnot just gets passed of as hysterics, or fake news, and I don't have the technical talk to know or describe how to tell if an image is faked or not and whatever. But if you appeal to their inner skeptic (which is already there and aimed at all other sources) it can very slightly be turned against the evening "news".
posted by WeekendJen at 3:32 AM on March 15 [94 favorites]


UK newspapers are quoting unnamed "senior UK defence sources" as saying:
Ukraine has Russia on the run. It is running out of manpower and running out of energy.

As long as we keep pressing they’ve got ten to 14 days before reaching their culminating point. That’s when the strength of Ukraine’s resistance should become greater than Russia’s attacking force.
The latest Understanding War March 14 update seems a lot more cautious, but they're also highlighting some Russian problems.
Russian forces made small territorial gains in Luhansk Oblast on March 14 but did not conduct any major attacks toward Kyiv or in northeastern Ukraine. Russian forces continue to assemble reinforcements and attempt to improve logistical support in both the Kyiv and southern operational directions. Ongoing Russian efforts to replace combat losses with both Russian replacements and non-Russian sources, including Syrian fighters and the Wagner Group, are unlikely to enable Russia to resume major offensive operations within the coming week...

Russia continues to face difficulties replacing combat losses and increasingly seeks to leverage irregular forces including Russian PMCs and Syrian fighters.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:59 AM on March 15 [10 favorites]


At the recently finished Paralympics, Ukraine came in second, behind China, in the medal table, with 11 gold, and 29 medals total, a considerable improvement on four years ago. Which is incredible, considering the incredible turmoil at home [archive link]. Excerpt:
Sushkevych, 67, had polio as a child and moves about in a wheelchair. A lifelong advocate for people with disabilities, he was a Paralympic swimmer and a member of Ukraine’s parliament. He spent the last three years as a commissioner of the government department responsible for the rights of people with disabilities.

He has come to be a kind of patron saint for disabled people in Ukraine, and many have recently reached out to him on social media or in text messages, asking for help.

He said that while in Beijing he received multiple texts from a woman who uses a wheelchair who was trapped on the 17th floor of a building that had been evacuated because the elevator was not operating. He said the texts stopped recently and when he called her, there was no answer. He feared the worst.

“The wheelchair people cannot run from bombs,” he said. “The blind people cannot run from the rockets.”

Sushkevych noted that the invasion was staged after the Olympics but during the Paralympics, “as if to say, it does not matter, we have no value,” he said.
Also, Ukrainian-American Oksana Masters won seven medals, including three gold, to become the most decorated American winter paralympian. Excerpt:
Masters was born in Ukraine with a set of birth defects believed to be caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. She bounced between orphanages for seven years until she was adopted by her mother, Gay Masters, and moved to the United States. Masters later had both legs amputated, her left at age 9 and the right at 14.

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensifying, Masters entered these Winter Paralympics with her birth country on her mind.

“It breaks my heart because half of my heart is Ukrainian,” she told On Her Turf earlier this week. “I feel so selfish, to be honest… I get to go home. I get to go home to my home country, to my mom, to my bed, to safety and peace, and they (the Ukrainian athletes) don’t.”
Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine’s success at the Paralympics was profiled by the New York Times [archive link]. Excerpt:
At the Tokyo Paralympics, which ended Sunday, the Ukrainians finished fifth in the overall medal standings with 98, just six fewer than the United States. Each of the top four countries — China, Britain, Russia and the United States — had more than 220 athletes in Tokyo, while Ukraine brought 139.

“It’s a small country clearly punching above its weight,” said Craig Spence, the International Paralympic Committee’s lead spokesman.

The success has not been matched by Ukraine’s Olympians, who were 16th in the Tokyo overall medal standings last month. They won one gold medal, four fewer than Maksym Krypak, whose seven medals in swimming — five gold, plus one silver and one bronze — made him the most decorated athlete of the Tokyo Paralympics.

Ukraine has been one of the top six countries in the medal count at nine consecutive Paralympic Games, summer and winter, despite consistently being ranked among the poorest countries in Europe and cited by the United Nations as a difficult home for people with disabilities.
posted by Kattullus at 4:34 AM on March 15 [22 favorites]


> I'm by far not the only Polish person with all family hailing from east of the current borders of Poland, to the point Wroclaw is called "West Lviv" because the Polish population was relocated wholesale. As far back as World War I national identities were still coalescing and you could have siblings identifying as different nationalities. There but for the grace of God...

Stanisław Lem:* "Lem turned eighteen in September, 1939, the month that Germany invaded Poland, setting off the Second World War. He had a brand-new driver’s license and was planning to attend engineering school, but, within days, Lwów was beset by both German and Soviet troops. Because Hitler and Stalin had just signed a non-aggression pact, with secret provisions divvying up Eastern Europe, a German bombardment of the city was followed by a Soviet occupation. The Soviets deported and later secretly executed many of Lwów’s defenders, and, in the following months, the N.K.V.D., the Soviet secret police, arrested thousands of the city’s élite, mostly ethnic Poles. Historians estimate that while the Soviets were occupying eastern Poland they deported a million and a half residents. An N.K.V.D. officer was boarded in the Lem family home, and whenever the Lems noticed him hard at work they warned friends to hide."
posted by kliuless at 5:32 AM on March 15 [13 favorites]


Kliuless, I think because much of Europe was relatively peaceful since WWII and much of the more brutal stuff happened behind the Iron Curtain, a lot of people worldwide have no good idea just how savage a place it can be (beyond the equally brutal impact it had on other corners of the world).

It's tragic that it's needed, but reminders such as the one you linked are salutary - because that kind of psychopathic, genocidal viciousness is currently being unleashed again. The Soviets did similar things wherever they went and then continued with slightly more subtle methods after the end of WWII in 'their sphere of influence'. There is a reason Ukrainians are fighting as valiantly as they are.
posted by doggod at 6:07 AM on March 15 [19 favorites]


A drive into the emergence of the "Ukrainian biolabs" lie.
Pyrra Technologies, a cybersecurity and threat intelligence company, said the first mention of biolabs came on the far-right social network Gab on Feb. 14, 10 days before the invasion. The user included an awkwardly worded graphic, titled “Exclusive US biolabs in Ukraine, and they are financed at the expense of the US Department of Defense.”

The post largely sat idle for days. Welton Chang, the CEO of Pyrra, said posts about biolabs on the top 15 far-right social networks numbered in the single digits in the days before Russia’s invasion. But on Feb. 24, the day Russia began its invasion, the number of posts about biolabs on English-language far-right websites skyrocketed into the hundreds and only grew in the days after.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:43 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]


‘Her anger had been building’: Russian TV protester told friend of plan, a report on Marina Ovsyannikova by Pjotr Sauer and Andrew Roth for The Guardian. Excerpt:
The text exchanges indicate that Ovsyannikova was aware of the consequences her actions could entail. “She is so brave for speaking out. I am very worried for her of course,” said her friend.

The friend, who has known Ovsyannikova for a number of years, described her as a “very big-hearted woman” who “really cares about people, about her friends”.

“At the same time, like someone who has been working for the state, she was extremely scared of the system and losing the life she built up. Until last night.”

Ovsyannikova’s Facebook page indicates that she lived a comfortable life, often posting pictures from beachside resorts across the Mediterranean, as well as her children and golden retrievers.

“She had a very good life, living comfortably and travelling a lot,” added the friend, who said they had not expected Ovsyannikova to go through with her protest.
posted by Kattullus at 7:05 AM on March 15 [19 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler: The Lesson Marina Ovsyannikova Offers to Chuck Todd and Lester Holt
It was an incredibly brave — and because she planned her actions in advance — well-executed protest.

But make no mistake. Ovsyannikova is not, like another brave journalist who spoke up this week, Yevgenia Albats, someone who has criticized the regime in the past, someone whose witness now is a continuation of years of brave reporting.

Rather, Ovsyannikova is someone who, a profile describes, “was a cog in a big machine of Channel One’s news production.” She was part of the the production of official truth. And as she describes, hers is the lesson of regret for that complicity, someone who will forever own a part of Putin’s crimes because she took the comfortable route of contributing to and participating in Putin’s exercise of power. She will almost certainly pay a stiff price for her speech, but she is also someone who did nothing, up till now, as Putin kept raising the price of speaking freely.

While Ovsyannikova’s protest will likely resonate for some time, I would hope that complicit journalists in countries where it’s not too late to defend democracy reflect seriously on Ovsyannikova’s shame. Even as Russia rains bombs down on Ukraine, journalists like Chuck Todd and Lester Holt invited Bill Barr onto their TV to tell lies about Russia’s attack on democracy in the United States, to tell lies about Trump’s extortion of Ukraine, to tell lies about his role in a n attack on democracy. Like Ovsyannikova, Todd and Holt sit, comfortable, polished, and complicit, as Barr told lies that were a direct attack on democracy and rule of law.

And like Ovsyannikova, they are doing nothing to rebut the lies of authoritarianism before it’s too late.
In a choice between lickspittles continuing to be lickspittles or choosing to speak out, we obviously want the latter, but what we really need is more journalists like Yevgenia Albats who were doing the right thing before it was cool.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:29 AM on March 15 [25 favorites]


Tim Mak @timkmak
Good morning from Ukraine.
Kyiv remains in Ukrainian hands, but was subject to airstrikes Tuesday which hit residential buildings areas around the city.
And tension is rising in the city due to a curfew that will begin this evening, and run until Thursday morning.
9:06 AM · Mar 15, 2022

/link to long twitter thread
posted by bluesky43 at 7:55 AM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Tonycpsu, I agree with your comment in borad strokes, but really want to take issue with this:

we really need is more journalists like Yevgenia Albats who were doing the right thing before it was cool.

Please, it is truly not OK to draw an equal sign between what Ovsyannikova did and 'being cool'. I'll just assume that this is a momentary slip, because otherwise it is gross and despicable. This woman has quite possibly risked her life. And now, it does not compare with any American talks show host being cancelled. Please let's keep a sense or proportion.
posted by doggod at 8:23 AM on March 15 [24 favorites]


The BBC is reporting that Ovsyannikova “has been charged with organising an unauthorised public event. The administrative charge could be punished with a fine, community service or up to 10 days in jail.”

Meanwhile, in Mariupol two thousand cars have managed to get out, with another two thousand waiting, and a humanitarian convoy trying to get into the city.
posted by Kattullus at 8:24 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]


Let's hope she wasn't the first and last mutineer on the Death Star.
posted by acb at 8:36 AM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Russia’s Naval Blockade May Starve Millions, gCaptain, Maurice Tamman (Reuters), March 11, 2022. In more peaceful years Ukraine’s agricultural exports find their way onto ships at the Port of Odessa but today, the nation’s biggest ports are essentially blockaded by Russian forces threatening the lives of millions of people in the developing world. Ships once carried fuel and fertilizers to farmers via ports and rivers. Imports that are too heavy to be trucked long distances.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens millions of tiny spring-time sprouts that should emerge from stalks of dormant winter wheat in the coming weeks. If the farmers can’t feed those crops soon, far fewer of the so-called tillers will spout, jeopardizing a national wheat harvest on which millions in the developing world depend.

The wheat was planted last autumn, which, after a brief growing period, fell dormant for the winter. Before the grain returns to life, however, farmers typically spread fertilizer that encourages the tillers to grow off the main stalks. Each stalk can have three or four tillers, increasing the yield per wheat stalk exponentially.

But Ukrainian farmers – who produced a record grain crop last year – say they now are short of fertilizer, as well as pesticides, and herbicides. And even if they had enough of those materials, they can’t get enough fuel to power their equipment, they add.

Elena Neroba, a Kyiv-based business development manager at grain brokerage Maxigrain, said Ukraine’s winter wheat yields could fall by 15% compared to recent years if fertilizers aren’t applied now. Some farmers warn the situation could be much worse.

Some Ukrainian farmers told Reuters their wheat yields could be cut in half, and perhaps by more, which has implications far beyond Ukraine. Countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen and others have come to rely on Ukrainian wheat in recent years. The war has already caused wheat prices to skyrocket – rising by 50% in the last month.

The Ukrainian farming crisis comes as food prices around the world already have been spiking for months amid global supply chain problems attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. World food prices hit a record high in February, and have risen over 24% in a year, the U.N. food agency said last week. Agriculture ministers from the world’s seven largest advanced economies are due Friday to discuss in a virtual meeting the impact of Russia’s invasion on global food security and how best to stabilize food markets.

Ukraine and Russia are major wheat exporters, together accounting for about a third of world exports- almost all of which passes through the Black Sea.

Svein Tore Holsether, president of Norway-based Yara International, the world’s largest maker of nitrogen-based fertilizers, said he is worried that tens of millions of people will suffer food shortages because of the farming crisis in Ukraine. “For me, it’s not whether we are moving into a global food crisis,” he said. “It’s how large the crisis will be.”

Grain exports are a cornerstone of Ukraine’s economy [archive.org link: War in Ukraine will cripple global food markets – The share of incomes spent on staples is about to jump everywhere, The Economist, March 12, 2022]….
More details and examples in the articles. Wartime shortages of fuel, seed, fertilizer, food (and vitamins), transportation, and shipping make a grim cascade.
posted by cenoxo at 8:37 AM on March 15 [16 favorites]




I think because much of Europe was relatively peaceful since WWII and much of the more brutal stuff happened behind the Iron Curtain, a lot of people worldwide have no good idea just how savage a place it can be

I just posted about Bloodlands at the tail end of the thread concerning the logistical failures of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

I'd call it required reading if you're serious about a deep (and horrific) dive into what happened during (and before) World War Two in ...

"not so much Russia. Not so much Germany. But the lands between Berlin and Moscow."

Or you can listen to the whole bloody thing.
posted by philip-random at 8:42 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]


> Please, it is truly not OK to draw an equal sign between what Ovsyannikova did and 'being cool'. I'll just assume that this is a momentary slip, because otherwise it is gross and despicable. This woman has quite possibly risked her life. And now, it does not compare with any American talks show host being cancelled. Please let's keep a sense or proportion.

My sense of proportion tells me that doing the right thing after many years of doing the wrong thing is better than continuing to do the wrong thing, but that the gap between that and consistently doing the right thing is far greater. Ovsyannikova's one act of bravery is braver than anything I'm likely to do in my life, but I don't think it's uncouth to note that she's only now doing it after it's probably too late for it to make a difference, or to take some time to note the work of someone else who showed the bravery when it had a chance of mattering more.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:42 AM on March 15 [11 favorites]


In a massive display of chutzpah, Chelsea FC is whining they can't sell tickets to Chelsea supporters for the tie breaker game at Middlesbrough because of sanctions.

They're requesting the game be played behind closed doors in the name of "sporting integrity" (lol) because there'll be no support for Chelsea FC in the crowd. Because of sanctions on their owner.

Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:44 AM on March 15 [29 favorites]


Oops, that request desk has been relocated to the planning display department. Wear face protection.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:51 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


Lastly I have a senior dog that's been through some shit with me and I really don't want to leave her at this time.

Oh, WeekendJen, do I know this part. We welcome our animals into our families, and whether they grow sweeter or sourer, love them to the end. If we are at all worth our salt. I've heard folks speak of how they've had their pets gently 'put to sleep' -- only to find only the vet's technician, as per usual on that end, was present. Not me. I was there, too. Always. I know what happens. Now that I am old, as much as I'd love to, I am reluctant to take on another. Because I live alone. And who could I trust take care of them after me? My family? Fat chance. My friends? Perhaps. I can't bear the thought. So, oh, how I know and can feel your dilemma. Your heartache. I share your pain.
posted by y2karl at 8:52 AM on March 15 [17 favorites]


WaPo chat: ‘Why are Europe and the U.S. holding back?’: Post reporters answer your questions I liked this question from a 14-year-old wanting to know how to explain the situation to people.
Imagine you have a next-door neighbor. The neighbor’s house is really big. Your house isn’t as big, but it’s charming and you’ve spent a lot of time working on your garden and you love your house because, well, it’s yours. The only downside is the neighbor, who’s a bully. Eight years ago, he moved his fence across a patch of your backyard (Crimea) and then said that was his property now. And on top of that, the neighbor gets really mad every time you try to befriend other people in the neighborhood (NATO/the European Union). The neighbor even says your house and your backyard was never really yours — it was actually always just an extension of his. And of course that’s nonsense, you say. But because you don’t listen to this neighbor and say it’s your right to be friends with whoever you want, one day the neighbor attacks your home. He stomps all over your garden, destroying a lot of the flowers. He wants the house for himself now. Other people in the neighborhood banded together to give you some tools to try to defend yourself from this neighbor, but they’ve decided to cheer you on from afar and stay out of the actual fight. In a way, you’re defending not just your house but the whole neighborhood — because if the neighbor can take your property, won’t he eventually try to take one of theirs?

Here’s another way to explain it, through a Lord of the Rings analogy a Ukrainian battalion commander I embedded with told me: “If you want to understand Russia and Ukraine, we Ukraine are Gondor. Russia is Mordor — very close and very dangerous. We need Gandalf and several hobbits.”
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:56 AM on March 15 [21 favorites]


Ovsyannikova's one act of bravery is braver than anything I'm likely to do in my life

OK. Maybe we can just leave it there, then.

It seems at least worth noting that she had access to that Channel 1 stage only because of those same decisions that Wheeler takes issue with. A morally pure independent journalist would never have the chance.
posted by Not A Thing at 8:59 AM on March 15 [20 favorites]


Totally agree with you, tonycpsu - was just the 'cool' wording I was taking issue with. Fear - and convenience, but particularly fear is a tyrannical master. It's amazing to me when we are wiling to leave convenience behind, travel through fear, and emerge at the other end. But absolutely point taken re. the sooner this is done the better.
posted by doggod at 8:59 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


The Kyiv Independent @KyivIndependent
Russian attack on two residential buildings in Kyiv’s Sviatoshynskyi district in the early morning of March 15 killed at least two people, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

Three EU country leaders take train to Kyiv in show of support for Ukraine (reuters)
The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia were travelling to Kyiv by train on Tuesday to show support for the country on behalf of the EU, the first foreign leaders to visit the Ukrainian capital since Russia invaded last month.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:16 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]




There's a weird thing that I wonder if it's a more modern phenomenon, which is world leaders traveling TO war zones and cities under siege for meetings. Was Churchill going to Paris during WWII?
posted by hippybear at 9:28 AM on March 15 [4 favorites]


I think because much of Europe was relatively peaceful since WWII and much of the more brutal stuff happened behind the Iron Curtain, a lot of people worldwide have no good idea just how savage a place it can be

Agree with philipp-random, it helps to read (or listen to) historians. Don't mean this snarky. Here in Austria, there is little to no European history taught at schools beyond 1918. Only essentials, but very cleaned up.
I feel very lucky that through my work i am confronted with so many sources.
A book i just have ordered is the new edition of Tony Judt's Ill fares the land with a foreword by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Review of the book by Coates (Link to The Atlantic)
Coates and Snyder discussing the book (Link to NYPL)
posted by 15L06 at 9:30 AM on March 15 [11 favorites]


Reading stuff about Saudi Arabia considering doing oil sales to China in something other than dollars, which is interesting and makes me wonder if Trump pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal (which would have stabilized oil prices as they came back into the market) was part of this whole long game with cozying up to Trump and denigrating NATO and other things that felt really bizarre at the time.
posted by hippybear at 9:31 AM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Canadian parliament this morning. Haven't seen a transcript or Hansard entry of his address yet, but here are video links: Reuters/Youtube, CSPAN.

His address starts at about 6 min 30 sec in (after an intro by Trudeau), and ends around the 16 minute mark.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:32 AM on March 15 [6 favorites]


There's a weird thing that I wonder if it's a more modern phenomenon

Parley held in front of a besieged city was once the norm; and in some cases the commanding ruler would have been present with the besieging army.

If anything it's modern total war that requires political leaders to stay far away from fighting (though it was always dangerous to lead from the front); and in this scenario killing NATO members' leaders would be a disaster for Russia, not a coup.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:33 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]


Three EU country leaders take train to Kyiv in show of support for Ukraine (reuters)

Wow that seems incredibly risky! What happens if a stray rocket accidentally destroys the train or something similar and a NATO president/pm is killed? A great show of support but a wildly unpredictable move
posted by dis_integration at 9:35 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]


He wants the house for himself now. Other people in the neighborhood banded together to give you some tools to try to defend yourself from this neighbor, but they’ve decided to cheer you on from afar and stay out of the actual fight. In a way, you’re defending not just your house but the whole neighborhood — because if the neighbor can take your property, won’t he eventually try to take one of theirs?

Except your neighbours won't help you directly is because the bad neighbour is explicitly threatening to nuke the yards of any neighbour that gets directly involved. If the bad neighbour decides to invade or nuke others in the club in an act of aggression they can nuke back but then the whole neighbourhood would be destroyed. They're not afraid of the bully, they're afraid of what the bully can do to everyone out of spite and revenge before they're taken down.

Like it's a good analogy from a simplicity standpoint but it's not quite that simple in real world diplomacy because diplomacy involves people and people misunderstand things, hear things they want to hear, will play their advantage when they see it.

Let's say Biden says tomorrow that he's going to consider Russian incursions into any other state (i.e. Georgia or Moldova) as an attack on a NATO state and worth of Article 5 intervention. Garibashvili could see this as NATO backing him and become increasingly provocative towards Russia and force towards a conflict. Similarly, if Putin does cross that Rubicon and we don't immediately bring the forces of NATO to bear, where does that leave Article 5 members on the periphery? Putin thinks he can start shit in Estonia now because, according to NATO, Article 5 assistance means apparently means jack shit in practice. Plus there's also the whole "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free" aspect of mutual defense and what that encourages. If NATO decides to stop the enemy of my enemy, why do I need to be a part of the group? I only need to keep a mutual enemy.

Nuclear calculus is the worst because the punishment for a mistake is basically civilization ending. If it was purely a conventional war? Hell fucking yes, Western boots of willing nations on Ukrainian soil right fucking now. But when nukes are involved? Putin is a god damn madman who's mentally unsound and being fed falsehoods by a bunch of yes men.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:35 AM on March 15 [13 favorites]


Re "fighters" joining to the international legion: my blood boils at the sheer stupidity and entitlement here. I can only echo twitter: these veterans are in for a surprise when they find themselves on the wrong end of a modern army.

They could definitely help if they were focused on people. I spent this Sunday night shift on the Hungarian - Ukrainian border, helping people with directions, driving refugees to shelters in the city and getting them free tickets from the monolingual assistants. To my greatest surprise I met in Záhony a Russian-American woman from San Francisco who spent the the last last two weeks translating, helping and transporting people with the minivan she rented in Vienna. The "fighters" are LARPing until they get the first air strike into their face - without an army, they could be at most cannon fodder. For the price of their tactical gear and toys, they could help out in the neighbouring countries, really making a difference. Also, mad props to the Indian gentleman (foreign student in Ukraine I guess), fleeing Ukraine but stopping on the border in Hungary to help with translation from Ukrainian to English.

In other news, there is still no official, state level help offered to refugees by the governent. Only what civil society and religious orgs provide + some minor concessions from law enforcement/border guards. Not surprised Orbán is not on that train, shame in him and his corrupt family.
posted by kmt at 9:38 AM on March 15 [22 favorites]


What happens if a stray rocket accidentally destroys the train or something similar and a NATO president/pm is killed? A great show of support but a wildly unpredictable move

Russia has threatened to strike resupply trains sent from neighboring countries once in Ukraine. So perhaps not exactly unpredictable as a signaling response, but definitely gutsy and probably provocative in Russia's view.

Like it's a good analogy from a simplicity standpoint but it's not quite that simple

The neighborhood is located in the bathtub with the madmen.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:39 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


By that token, if Russia marched into the Suwalki Gap, NATO's calculus would be (a) escalate to global thermonuclear war and the end of civilisation, or (b) fold like a card table, reasoning that sacrificing the Baltic states and the idea of defensive security in Europe is the lesser evil to mass human extinction. From which it follows that, in practice, if given enough of a push, NATO is a paper tiger.
posted by acb at 9:49 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]


So the penetration aids are a huge deal as I understand it because they are usually only seen on ICBMs or things of that ilk, and two tend to be highly top secret. So just seeing one laying around isn't something that you'd expect to see for a short range missile. It's not a good sign for a couple of reasons but essentially it's something that likely shouldn't have been used where it was and is highly top secret. It ties into the nuclear deterrence effect too as the more info and insight you're able to gather about them the more likely you then become to be able to target the warheads on a mirv fo rinstance. My understanding is that people have built their career speculating and working on what the Russian ones might look like and what they might do, never expecting to see one in the wild. So someone just finding one and tweeting it out is a huge deal.
posted by Carillon at 9:51 AM on March 15 [19 favorites]


If any Russian forces kill a leader of a NATO country accidently or otherwise, NATO will be at war with Russia and nobody wants that. It might not even been done in secrecy just so that Russia would know where they are to make sure they don't accidentally do anything to bring NATO fully into the war.

If they were confident enough to make the trip, I would assume they were confident in their own safety both in practical and political terms.
posted by VTX at 9:52 AM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Just noticed that i somehow lost the last Line of my above comment.
The book Ta-Nehisi Coates references, Tony Judt's Postwar is well worth reading for an overview of European history after 1945, but heavy, in the best sense.
posted by 15L06 at 9:53 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]


15L06, thanks, just ordered it after checking the book based on your previous comment.
posted by kmt at 9:55 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


By that token, if Russia marched into the Suwalki Gap, NATO's calculus would be (a) escalate to global thermonuclear war and the end of civilisation, or (b) fold like a card table,

Well...yes? See also Fulda Gap?

Though that calculus has perhaps changed in that it now seems like feared countless armored formations might not actually require nukes to resist. (But then inviting a tactical nuclear response from Russia...)
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:06 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


Wow that seems incredibly risky! What happens if a stray rocket accidentally destroys the train or something similar and a NATO president/pm is killed? A great show of support but a wildly unpredictable move

A move like this says a lot to Putin. I'm pretty sure the Polish are itching to get into this war and help end Putin's aggression once and for all with so much of Russia's army tied up in this clusterfuck but for a non-nuclear state to engage in armed combat with a nuclear state is effectively suicide and I'm 99% sure Poland realizes this too. Polish troops walking into the Ukraine to help push the Russians back would effectively stop the assault but if NATO disclaims the military action they take and that NATO won't respond in kind to anything Russia throws back at Poland, Putin could see this as a green light to escalate to launching tactical nukes at the incoming Polish forces since NATO won't fire back and the Poles can't.

It also tests the reaction of the US and raises question of where Article 5 support will be given. If the US says something like "we're not going to help Poland if they voluntarily bite off more than they can chew but will respond to an escalatory nuclear strike on Poland as a nuclear strike on the US" it would both give the green light for Eastern European and Baltic forces to assist on Ukrainian soil while simultaneously making sure Poland isn't plunging headlong the afore mentioned suicide.

By that token, if Russia marched into the Suwalki Gap, NATO's calculus would be (a) escalate to global thermonuclear war and the end of civilisation, or (b) fold like a card table, reasoning that sacrificing the Baltic states and the idea of defensive security in Europe is the lesser evil to mass human extinction.

It's not that simple because if NATO folds then US power projection is over. China invades Taiwan and most likely the rest of SE Asia after that. World War III would start anyway. Similarly, NATO isn't going to immediately jump to nuking anyone over Russians walking into Poland. The whole point of NATO is that any direct conflict between two nuclear powers presents the possibility of a series of escalations once total conventional war begins that could end in a nuclear confrontation. Someone decides to use tactical nukes because they're just so effective at destroying so many soldiers at once and then all bets are off.

Plus Putin doesn't have the soldiers to just walk into the Suwalki Gap even if he wanted to start a war with NATO. He doesn't even have enough to hold Ukraine even if he takes Kyiv and most of the Russian army is tied up in Ukraine right now with ~120 of their ~168 BTGs engaged. He's already had to pull soldiers from his internal clownfuckery and the FSB are working overtime in those areas trying to do the work of the missing Russian soldiers and stop internal conflicts flaring up. Any mobilization threat like mass conscription which would be needed to field enough troops, and the time it would take to get them equipped and transported, little alone trained, would give NATO forces more than enough time to be surrounding Kaliningrad and meet Russia on the eastern flanks of the Baltics.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:09 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]


I understand the impulse to try to work out the implications of escalation, I’ve done it plenty enough times in my head and in conversations with friends and family, but please keep in mind that this isn’t simply a thought exercise for those of us living in countries bordering Russia.
posted by Kattullus at 10:15 AM on March 15 [58 favorites]


thank you Kattulus.. it's like we can't help ourselves from spinning into these speculative whirlpools and I catch myself.. the thing is, we are reasoning through scenarios but I ask you: what reason drives this invasion? Perhaps there is/are reason/s, but tell that to bombed out apartments and the dead bodies of someone who was probably going to buy bread and milk in the beginning of February, maybe stop in and visit a pal. Now, reason?
edit to say: I ask "you" as in me, whoever, not specifically Kattulus if that wasn't clear
posted by elkevelvet at 10:19 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]


"Was Churchill going to Paris during WWII?"

I don't know if he went to Paris (apparently yes), but Churchill was all the fuck over the place holding meetings in foreign cities during WWII. Washington, D.C., Moscow, Tehran, Cairo, Yalta, Casablanca (French Morocco), Turkey, Quebec, Malta ... The only reason Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill got together in those famous pictures was that that was Churchill's whole THING, meeting personally with foreign leaders rather than sending delegates. (Roosevelt found travel difficult and painful because of his disability; Stalin refused to fly and didn't like leaving Russia.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:20 AM on March 15 [6 favorites]


but please keep in mind that this isn’t simply a thought exercise for those of us living in countries bordering Russia.

you're being far too polite here.

I have an impassioned yet articulate rant to follow this up with, but I don't see how it aids the discussion here. So I'll just bite my already bleeding tongue and go back to the overwhelming challenge of cleaning my f***ing apartment.
posted by philip-random at 10:34 AM on March 15 [11 favorites]


The "fighters" are LARPing until they get the first air strike into their face - without an army, they could be at most cannon fodder.

Your contempt is not justified. International volunteers have already been hit by Russian airstrikes. They are not acting without an army; they are serving as part of the Ukrainian army under Ukrainian command at Ukrainian request.

Agreed that volunteering to help refugees is noble and worthy of the highest respect. Thank you for the good work you have been doing. It is amazing. However, preventing more people from becoming refugees by standing between civilians and an invading army is also noble and worthy of the highest respect.

According to the maps I've seen, a ~brigade strength unit (numbering in the low thousands) of international volunteers has been deployed at the front line in north Kyiv. "Cannon fodder," as you say. They can expect high casualties. They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old, a risk they knowingly accept.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:36 AM on March 15 [51 favorites]


Re "fighters" joining to the international legion: my blood boils at the sheer stupidity and entitlement here. I can only echo twitter: these veterans are in for a surprise when they find themselves on the wrong end of a modern army.

I think this is really uncharitable and absolutely unfair, particularly as they are largely doing this at the direct and personal request of Zelensky and Ukrainians.

I personally know a number of folks who have left for Ukraine to fight. All of them are very aware that they are highly likely to die. Most of them are going with tactical gear they either already possessed or have taken up collections from other veterans to see what gear they had left over. Many have been personally either requested or encouraged by other Ukrainians.

I think it’s hard for people to understand that someone may solemnly and soberly be willing to die - be walking into being “cannon fodder” with their eyes open - to try to stop what’s happening. But I assure you it is absolutely real and thousands of veterans are doing so. Many for their own reasons, but it’s largely not “war tourism”. Some of them want to expiate their sins, or quiet their nightmares by participating in a morally righteous conflict. Many are genuinely outraged at the depth of civilian casualties of Russia’s targeting and war crimes. But it’s a deep mistake to assume they will be surprised and run when they see the brutality of combat.
posted by corb at 10:36 AM on March 15 [147 favorites]


please keep in mind that this isn’t simply a thought exercise for those of us living in countries bordering Russia.

This was an interesting thing when being an exchange student in (then West) Germany back in 1986-87. There was a whole Space Defence Initiave "Star Wars" Missile Defence System being proposed across eastern Europe, but it was being done by the US and was being stationed in countries that hadn't necessarily signed up for that, and they were objecting to being turned into targets in a war they didn't want to be involved with.

The whole state of potential nuclear war AT ANY FUCKING MOMENT was really intense, and was that way for maybe a decade during my life, most of the 80s basically. The level to which tensions between the US and the USSR had ratcheted up was really mind-spinning, and a lot of Europe (not the Europe we know today, truly) felt like they were players and pawns in a larger game, with them as sacrificial fodder in between.

The transition I had to make, as someone from the US coming to Europe, between the theoretical threat of war and the real possibility of conventional weapons (not nuclear, not intercontinental) being able to appear at any moment... Yeah, it's not an intellectual exercise.
posted by hippybear at 10:41 AM on March 15 [13 favorites]


Flagged as fantastic, corb.
posted by Gelatin at 10:42 AM on March 15 [4 favorites]


From what I've seen around, the Ukrainian embassies are screening volunteers pretty thoroughly for prior military experience, which I would suppose includes knowing what they're in for. A tacticool cosplayer panicking in the middle of a warzone would be a bigger impediment for their own side, so it's in their interest to make sure only serious veterans join up.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:46 AM on March 15 [6 favorites]


When a huge part of your skillset is "killing the enemy", it makes sense to me that that's the skillset a person would turn to when figuring out how they can make an impact.

My skills are in US banking regulation and QA and picking up heavy things. Those aren't really helpful to Ukrainians on the ground so going over there to help isn't the best way I can make an impact which is why I've stayed here.

I've also assumed that the folks going to fight will end up "fighting" in the way that's most appropriate for their skillset. If an experience mechanic from the US shows up, it's probably best to keep them working as a mechanic than to shoot a gun.

I'm sure some of the folks going are going for the wrong reasons and will regret having gone but there's no reason to assume that's representative of everyone going.
posted by VTX at 10:47 AM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Without getting into how many of the international volunteers are seasoned veterans who understand what they're doing, it would be good to see some kind of international relief corps stood up to do explicitly non-combat things, and under civilian rather than military command. In the Lindybeige interview linked previously the volunteer explicitly wanted to be a stretcher-bearer, but there was no way to sign up for just that.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:50 AM on March 15 [4 favorites]


It's also interesting that as well Abu TOW there's also Wali who was an international fighter with the Kurds against Isis in Syria.

Supposed he's been KIA twenty minutes after entering combat. Could just be disinfo, though.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:50 AM on March 15


Another shitty day in Ukraine. Swedish Television is reporting that an American journalist and photographer, Pierre Zakrzewski, was killed in Kyiv (Swedish link). The Swedish prime minister flew to London to meet Boris Johnson (sigh) and work on strengthening Swedish-UK relations (because we are not in NATO, so need friends). Also, it is not just Ukrainian farmers who are going to suffer because of the war. Apparently so are Swedish and other farmers. So many ripples spreading out...


My local newscast said the UN claims there are now 3 million refugees from the war. A suburb in Stockholm is trying to hire 70 new employees to help process the refugees; that office could process only 137 yesterday. (I was heartened by the entirely volunteer effort in my region that took two busses to the Ukraine border and brought back as many people as fit in the buses and has plenty of other volunteers to house them.)

Today I also discovered that Sweden has an unusual conscription format. Everyone between 16 and 70 who is a Swedish citizen OR Swedish resident is obligated to serve in one of three ways if there is a crisis and the authorities call on our services. This duty is not based on gender. You might serve in the military, you might serve in a civil function, or you might serve in a more general kind of preparation way. This was total news and all I know. Apparently the Swedish public is being reminded of this fact by the media and government thanks to the war. I am not yet 70, so ...

But this thread is supposed to focus on the war in Ukraine, not Sweden. So I will stop here, except for this heartfelt request/reminder:

Please STOP SPECULATING ABOUT NUCLEAR ANYTHING. For fuck's sake, start a new thread if you want to worry, pontificate, or speculate about that shit. Thank you.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:57 AM on March 15 [29 favorites]


I personally know a number of folks who have left for Ukraine to fight. All of them are very aware that they are highly likely to die. Most of them are going with tactical gear they either already possessed or have taken up collections from other veterans to see what gear they had left over. Many have been personally either requested or encouraged by other Ukrainians.

We think well of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and the others who fought in the Spanish Civil War. A reasonable number of anarchists went to Rojava to fight and some of them have been killed. There were foreign volunteers in the US Civil war (on both sides but mostly for the Union) in addition to a lot of recent immigrant volunteers - and they connected this explicitly with anti-slavery sentiment.

I'm not surprised at all the people are going to Ukraine and I expect that most of them will do their best. Especially now when the pandemic makes everything so horrible, disrupting the ties that might keep people at home, and corruption everywhere has become so open and widespread - it seems pretty normal that some people would see it as pretty attractive to do something high stakes where there is, sort of, in the short term, a right side. Early in his career David Graeber wrote a big article about how a lot of people who joined the US military had altruistic motivations and then had those crushed.
posted by Frowner at 10:58 AM on March 15 [21 favorites]


Again, can we please get off the nuclear speculation and scenario's. It's tiring and, honestly, privileged. It's been reiterated many times, people who read this are living near or in the war zones. It only contributes to their trauma and fear.
posted by goalyeehah at 10:58 AM on March 15 [8 favorites]


I don't see an issue with bracketing nuclear speculation, but I am confused a bit in that it seems like the thing that threatens everyone -- it's speculation about trying to fight a conventional WWIII in the Baltics and Balkans that feels privileged to me.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:06 AM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Bernard Smith, who is covering the Russian economy for Al Jazeera, is doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on Reddit starting about now (thread started earlier to seed questions.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:06 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]


I personally know a number of folks who have left for Ukraine to fight.

This whole comment reminds me of someone I used to know, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn if he went to volunteer for Ukraine, and he's probably in his late 50s now.

He was a US Army Ranger that did two tours, which came after his initial service as enlisted or however that goes.

Then that wasn't enough so he signed up for the French Foreign Legion. Twice. Basically no one ever does that. Once is usually more than enough. Most people who do the Foreign Legion do it just once and get their citizenship and call it quits. He went back for more because he liked it so much.

He probably wouldn't disagree that he was essentially a mercenary for hire.

He definitely had demons to exorcise and had a ton of problems being an adrenaline junky - but I also knew him as someone who cared a lot about other people, he hated bullies, and he had a practically scary zen like calm about him until someone threatened his friends.

Like he was so chill and so nice to everyone around him right up until the point someone was threatening his friends or hurting people and it was like a switch got flipped and he was 100% pissed off badger.

I once saw him have a very serious discussion with someone in our neighborhood who was stealing from my friends house, beating his partner and generally being a piece of shit.

And when the calm but firm discussions failed he somehow managed to fly boots first across an entire room from a standing jump like he suddenly had the ability to fly like a comic book hero or villain and it was one of the most shocking, physics defying things I've ever seen in my life and I've seen some really crazy shit.

He was definitely not LARPing or playing or glorifying violence for the sake of violence. He didn't play video games. He wasn't an airsoft combat sports nerd. He knew what war and combat really meant.

Though I'm essentially a pacifist and I hate all war for the failure that it is - my point is that for better or worse good soldiers like this still exist. People who are protectors willing to risk their life to protect the weak. People willing to go into active combat and do that dirty work.

Spider, if you're out there? Good hunting. Give them hell.
posted by loquacious at 11:07 AM on March 15 [35 favorites]


Supposed he's been KIA twenty minutes after entering combat. Could just be disinfo, though.

@W1V3Az: "Yesterday, Chinese online forums and media spread rumors ^ Canada's top sniper Wali went to Ukraine to fight for less than 20 minutes and was killed by the Russians before he could find a sniper position, then Wali issued an article clarifying that he was alive"

The rumour then was that he was killed in the airstrike near where a bunch of the internationals were stationed (and potentially 35+ killed), and his Facebook post was saying he was OK after that. The current rumour is that Russian special forces got him, but both rumours go in on the "only 20 minutes", suggesting the latest may just be an evolution of the former.
posted by Buntix at 11:13 AM on March 15 [4 favorites]


WaPo: A day after she burst onto a live news broadcast on Russian state television holding a sign denouncing the war in Ukraine, producer Marina Ovsyannikova has been found guilty of organizing an illegal protest and fined 30,000 rubles (about $280), although it’s not clear if further charges will be pursued against her.


CNN
.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:23 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


RE: Speculation.

I totally get that it's something some people find uncomfortable and the reasons why are obvious.

On the other end, gaming out potential scenarios like this is how a lot of other people cope. I'm as safe as anyone else over here in the US but that really doesn't feel as safe as it usually does right now. Reading and thinking about different scenarios and the reasoning behind why someone thinks a particular scenario will play out as they claim is a great comfort to me and I really don't want to lose that. I don't have any other places to talk about this. It's caused too much drama in other online communities I'm a member of and talking about it makes me wife really anxious while it has the opposite affect on me.

Just cutting off all nuclear of the speculating and nuclear talk will 'cause anxiety for me in the same way that talking about it does for you. Though in my case it's to a much lesser degree I still have a TON of anxiety about the war. I hope a solution can be reached that makes everyone happy because I really need this right now.
posted by VTX at 11:24 AM on March 15 [6 favorites]


I don’t want to come across as the village scold, but the discussion about foreign fighters, especially when it entails dismissing the testimony of someone who is doing volunteer work on the Ukraine border, serves to center the concerns and perspectives of people far away from Ukraine.
posted by Kattullus at 11:27 AM on March 15 [21 favorites]


We've had threads branch off before (historical context and logistics-wargaming). Please feel free to post a nuclear-speculation / doomsaying one and respect the many people, me included, who have repeatedly said that it makes them deeply uncomfortable to have it in the main Ukraine thread / taking over the discussion.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:28 AM on March 15 [34 favorites]


it's speculation about trying to fight a conventional WWIII in the Baltics and Balkans that feels privileged to me.

hard not to agree with this. Which makes comments along the lines of "... can't do that [speculated thing] because it raises the probability of things going nuclear" okay with me. The speculations I'd like to annihilate are the ones that try to imagine a nuclear escalation that doesn't more or less end all life everywhere forever (or certainly civilization as we know it) -- they betray both a profound lack of imagination and a poor grasp of facts.

[for perspective, I'm currently sitting about as far away from Ukraine as could be without being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and/or in the southern hemisphere. Nevertheless, yrrr nuclear postulations terrify me.]
posted by philip-random at 11:30 AM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Kyiv Independent⚡️Russia announces leaving the Council of Europe, hours before its expected expulsion.

It means that Russian citizens will not be able to bring cases to the European Court of Human Rights, and the Russian government can re-introduce the death penalty.
posted by cendawanita at 11:39 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]


From one of the author's twitter (which has a summary of the piece): Inside Chernobyl, 200 Exhausted Staff Toil Round the Clock at Russian Gunpoint
posted by cendawanita at 11:48 AM on March 15 [6 favorites]


By that token, if Russia marched into the Suwalki Gap, NATO's calculus would be (a) escalate to global thermonuclear war and the end of civilisation, or (b) fold like a card table, reasoning that sacrificing the Baltic states and the idea of defensive security in Europe is the lesser evil to mass human extinction. From which it follows that, in practice, if given enough of a push, NATO is a paper tiger.

We saw how that would end up in the 1991 Gulf War on the highway of death when the elite of the Iraqi army was obliterated by allied air power. There wouldn't be a nuclear escalation by NATO to stop the Russian hordes, because any Russian offensive against a NATO country would be like the charge of the light brigade for the Russians.

Russia has an economy the size of Spain and military spending at levels 1/10th the US. On top of this their spending is further reduced relative to the US because they have much higher levels of corruption. They are unable to secure air superiority over Ukraine with its extremely limited air defense capabilities. They do not have the capability to achieve air superiority over any NATO country, especially after the recent deployments in response to their actions in Ukraine.

Consider the 2003 US lead invasion of Iraq. In the first 48 hours we used about 3000 smart bombs and missiles. During the first month the coalition flew over 41,000 sorties with over 1800 aircraft. We had close to 500,000 soldiers and they were well supplied and equipped throughout. The Russians have not demonstrated the ability to operate at those kinds of numbers in their recent operations. Their claimed strength of close to a million soldiers but that number includes a lot of people who have little to no recent military training. A lot of those reservists are ghost soldiers, who are fictional people invented by military officers to pad their salaries. The fact that they already have to bring in mercenaries to supplement their combat forces speaks to their limited ability to field these claimed reserves.
posted by interogative mood at 11:52 AM on March 15 [13 favorites]


Mirror: Inside Chernobyl, 200 Exhausted Staff Toil Round the Clock at Russian Gunpoint
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:53 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]


What I find frustrating about the speculations of nuclear war is that it takes a brutal conflict that's happening right now in Ukraine, and makes it about us (people not in Ukraine, or otherwise very directly affected). It's kind of egocentric.

I mean, I live in Germany, and this conflict will probably directly affect my material well being, but it's still pretty abstract, and I can afford a hike in my energy bill. I come to this thread not to assuage my own fears, but to understand what's going on in Ukraine, and to hear from those who are more directly impacted. I personally find the speculations about nuclear exchanges to be a distraction.
posted by Alex404 at 12:07 PM on March 15 [33 favorites]


Living in Vienna, Austria, both speculations of nuclear war and/or nonnuclear WWIII in the Westbalkans come across as tonedeaf to me.
The Ukrainian - Slovak Border is less than 600km (400 Miles?) away. Zagreb, Croatia, where the misguided drone landed last Friday, less than 400km (300 Miles?).
My friend who escaped Sarajevo is in outright panic, as are many of her community.
I am not panicking as i did not have this experience.
However, born in 1965, i have vivid memories of 1986 when Chernobyl melted. And of the Balkan wars, and fear.
Growing up the nuclear threat and WWIII was like the elephant in the room, my father and mother (Born 1939 and 1941) were both traumatized as young children. airplane noise made them flinch, as did sirens. Talk about where to flee to and what to take etc was common. In 1975 my father moved us to a very rural place where we could be selfsufficient.
Anyway, i only share this in the hope that through sharing i turn human, rather than words.

I can (and do) scroll past the speculations, but if they become domineering the thread that is hard.
posted by 15L06 at 12:10 PM on March 15 [29 favorites]


The situation really does look to me something like this: an injured man is picked up from the ground, and they start using his head as a battering ram to break down the door of his neighbour’s house.

Belarusian writer Alhierd Bacharevič: Dear Ukrainians, we have a common enemy – dictatorship. Let’s not be divided
posted by doggod at 12:44 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


It's kind of egocentric.

Picard: "Slim Pickens at the end of Doctor Strangelove"
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 12:44 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


Mod note: moorooka, stop linking to random fascists' twitter accounts
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 1:28 PM on March 15 [24 favorites]


News from @AKurkov 's cat Pepin keep me calm.
posted by 15L06 at 1:51 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


On the humans-doing-good-smart-things front, Radio Sweden is now broadcasting in Russian about the war in Ukraine.
posted by vers at 2:00 PM on March 15 [16 favorites]


corb, justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow I think I understand where your comments are coming from. I maximally respect those who volunteer to fight and then stay on. But when I read with an american ex-soldier where he states:
“I survived because the missiles struck the hard structures instead of the tents where I was,” Hieu said. “The Ukrainians offered to take anyone who didn’t want to keep fighting after the missile strike back to the border.”

Of the 23 volunteers that had been staying in his tent, only seven decided to remain, Hieu said, adding he chose to stay because he still believes in the Ukrainians and wants to help.
and
“Some were professional soldiers and are still competent,” Hieu said. “Others are drunks, people with the most marginal military experience, and people who really should not have come at all.”
or when I read the article linked upthread:
The group decided to leave the base and go to Lviv in order to clear their heads and get away from the mayhem. They said they were asked to turn in their weapons before they left the base.

One of the Brits said he’s now torn between staying with the foreign legion and trying to join a humanitarian organization to focus exclusively on providing aid to people. The rest of the guys are still hell-bent on helping Ukraine fight against Russia.
I don't get the sense that the (1) vetting process was diligent and (2) that they fight as part of the Ukrainian army. The article states that they have no contract and they can just leave a training camp.

Or, here's an interview in the Irish Sun (I'm ambivalent linking to it, but found no other interview with this guy - hope they didn't made it up):
Jason and ten soldiers from the Georgian Legion took cover in woodland. Jason, who served with the Mercian Regiment, added: “We got very close to getting whacked. I’ve never experienced firepower like that, I don’t think anyone of this generation ever has.

Iraq and Afghanistan was totally different. The Russians are a conventional modern army.”
Then again, I know that people voluntered for the struggle in Rojava and I maximally respect them. My point is that there is a huge amount of entitlement and hypocrisy in jumping into a conflict then running away when it turns out that it's not the "usual" middle eastern insurgency, when your enemy has an air force and not just IEDs and some old AKs.

Hope it was just an unlucky constellation of me being too sensitive about hipocrisy, and finding some articles at the worst moment to come to this hasty and incorrect conclusion. I really hope! And I really don't want to shit on the real heroes who stay! But I think that calling out cowards who previously were killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan with impunity only to run away when they face a real army is justified.

ps. I don't want to derail this thread about foreign fighters and don't want to start or pick fights - mods, feel free to delete this comment as you see fit.
posted by kmt at 2:37 PM on March 15 [10 favorites]


It's probably just small sample bias and the story being more provocative than "Competent soldiers soldier competently". Those stories probably exist and just haven't been told or gained traction yet. There are enough volunteers that I feel confident in asserting there is a wide range competence, commitment, and motivations

In conclusion, volunteering to fight for a foreign army is a land of contrasts.
posted by VTX at 2:54 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


I mentioned earlier that a Fox journalist was killed in Kyvi. Tragically, so was his 24-year-old Ukrainian producer.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:19 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]




I don't get the sense that the (1) vetting process was diligent and (2) that they fight as part of the Ukrainian army. The article states that they have no contract and they can just leave a training camp.

No, I'm actually totally happy to explain this from what I'm seeing, which is going to be a mix of knowledge and analysis - I'll try to flag when I'm relying on each to make it clearer what's accurate and what's my informed speculation - there's a /lot/ of confusion around this particular issue.

So: first and foremost: Zelensky and the Ukraine Ministry of Defence put out a call for foreign volunteers to come, and they announced they were standing up what is alternately called the Foreign Legion, the International Legion, or the International Foreign Legion depending on who's translating. All of these are the same thing. The initial call was for anyone interested, regardless of experience. My informed speculation is that they did this with the understanding that they might see a few volunteers, and it was partially intended to be a real fighting force, and partially a propaganda vehicle. The embassies set up forms and started preparing for volunteers, created packing lists, etc.

Then an unprecedented numbers of volunteers started trying to come - so many that many of the Ukranian embassies have been absolutely overwhelmed by any attempt to do vetting themselves and have tried to centralize it. Even then, they are seeing literally thousands upon thousands of applications from veterans alone. The Ukranians are attempting to sort specifically for combat experience, but must also go through verification, criminal background checks, ensuring that they're not accidentally taking people's active military, checking people's social media to ensure they're not a psychopath, etc. This process takes time.

People vetted by the Ukranian embassies, by this process, or by a few of the alternate processes going on are largely solid volunteers. However - the Ukranian embassies do not have time, largely, to send out rejection emails. Many people are getting impatient not hearing back, and the people that are getting impatient are largely the people who are the bottom of the pile - the people with very little to no military experience. Those people, unfortunately, are sometimes making the decision to "just head for the front". And it's important to note that these are not all bad people. They see that the Ukranians are overwhelmed with processing, they haven't gotten a rejection letter back, so they're like "I'll help them out, I'll just head to the front so they know I'm serious and help from there."

So there are essentially two streams of volunteers, both intending to join "the foreign legion", heading for Ukraine - people who are solid, vetted, have experience and a plan, and are already approved, and people who are anxious, worried, and heading there solo without approval. The latter are not a part of the foreign legion.You do not become a part of the foreign legion by being a foreigner willing to fight who is crossing the border. However, the Ukranian border guards are not really trying to keep people out and it's not their job to try to differentiate between the two. And again - I want to stress that the unapproved people are still very brave even to be heading there in the first place, and I don't think it's their fault. It's the nature of a war that things will be chaotic, and they're trying to do their best.

What the latter groups are doing is forming militias. When people aren't approved to join the actual foreign legion forces - and those are absolutely signing contracts, and they are committing to stay until the war is over - then they are often forming up with groups of other people who are there who they happen to get along with, and picking up a rifle somewhere and just kind of helping out as 'combat volunteers'. You'll note, for example, that the article linked above said, "the groups of six interviewed by BuzzFeed News received what they described to be better weapons from a third party." Again, I don't want to besmirch them, these people are very brave, but they're not foreign legion, they're not getting the training that the foreign legion is getting, they're just kind of there and likely (this is an informed speculation piece) getting "please don't shoot Ukranians or otherwise get in our way" training.

Now added to that is the complex mix is the fact that most journalists are not at the front lines right now. Most journalists, in part because of the destruction of news funding, do not have their own war reporter departments, and so journalists are trying to get information from twitter, some of which is correct and some of which is incorrect. And some of what's on twitter is absolutely (my informed speculation here) Russian propaganda. Because it's in Russia's interests that incoming volunteers think this is too scary for hardcore dudes, or alternatively, that they'll be serving with a bunch of whiny pretenders.

I agree with you that anyone coming who's freaking out at the notion of Russian artillery, to whatever extent that may be true, is probably not a good fit and they should head back across the border and tend to refugees. But I don't think that's a large portion of who's there, and it's certainly not reflective, in my view, of actual international legion troops, if that helps.
posted by corb at 3:38 PM on March 15 [69 favorites]


The fact that worrying about animals in Ukraine can be a pathway to action re: Ukraine is both delightful and a slightly upsetting commentary on the limits of human empathy. Stepan the cat (original is Instagram, there is now a Twitter).
@MiaoCollective: Stepan fans taking action out of shared love for a fancy cat is the most wholesome thing out there.
Hope him and his humans are safe… 😿

Quote Tweet
Save Stepan the Cat of #Kharkiv #Харькoв 💙 💛 @loveyoustepan
Please write to your representatives, people working for diplomatic organisations, and big companies in your country that operate in or trade with #Russia. Never underestimate the persuasiveness of the Cutest and Coolest Cat #LoveYouStepan.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:43 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Just to reiterate what folks have been saying about nuclear war speculation: Please keep your comments focused on what’s happening presently and let's keep away from further speculating about nuclear war. This thread is not the place for that.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 3:48 PM on March 15 [18 favorites]


Again, thank you, corb!!!!
posted by goalyeehah at 3:52 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


John Green added some historical context which others may appreciate as I did.
posted by Glinn at 4:31 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


Very interesting perspective on China’s strategic calculus wrt Russia and Ukraine, from a Chinese academic.
China’s Strategic Choice

1. China cannot be tied to Putin and needs to be cut off as soon as possible. In the sense that an escalation of conflict between Russia and the West helps divert U.S. attention from China, China should rejoice with and even support Putin, but only if Russia does not fall. Being in the same boat with Putin will impact China should he lose power. Unless Putin can secure victory with China’s backing, a prospect which looks bleak at the moment, China does not have the clout to back Russia. […] At present, it is estimated that there is still a window period of one or two weeks before China loses its wiggle room. China must act decisively.

2. China should avoid playing both sides in the same boat, give up being neutral, and choose the mainstream position in the world. […] In some cases, apparent neutrality is a sensible choice, but it does not apply to this war, where China has nothing to gain. Given that China has always advocated respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, it can avoid further isolation only by standing with the majority of the countries in the world. This position is also conducive to the settlement of the Taiwan issue.

3. China should achieve the greatest possible strategic breakthrough and not be further isolated by the West. […] Under such circumstances, China’s top priority is to make appropriate strategic adjustments accordingly, to change the hostile American attitudes towards China, and to save itself from isolation. The bottom line is to prevent the U.S. and the West from imposing joint sanctions on China.

4. China should prevent the outbreak of world wars and nuclear wars and make irreplaceable contributions to world peace. […] Putin’s departure from China’s support will most likely end the war, or at least not dare to escalate the war. As a result, China will surely win widespread international praise for maintaining world peace, which may help China prevent isolation but also find an opportunity to improve its relations with the United States and the West.
The article has resulted in the USCNPM (part of the Carter Centre) being completely blocked in China in both its EN and CN language editions. That could be because of its suggestions around Taiwan alone, but as a result, it’s hard to know how representative this perspective might be of the PRC leadership’s thinking.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 4:34 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


What corb describes reminds me of when I would go into New York or Alabama to do hurricane reconstruction work. I always went with an organized charity that coordinated with local relief agencies and town government to find people in need of help, arrange a plan with those residents and homeowners and then assign a team to help gut their house or install drywall or do a muckout.

But it was always common to run into crewd of friends who would be in a pickup with tools and ask if they can help with work or heard of someone who needed help. And I would invariably give them the number for our intake coordinator and tell them to work with our organizers. But I could not escape the impression that these were a bunch of locals who were at loose ends who had some sledgehammers and shovels, and just wanted to demo someone's home. Not bad people. Just folks whose desire for help outweighed their need to have a plan.
posted by bl1nk at 4:34 PM on March 15 [23 favorites]


Hope it was just an unlucky constellation of me being too sensitive about hipocrisy, and finding some articles at the worst moment to come to this hasty and incorrect conclusion. I really hope! And I really don't want to shit on the real heroes who stay! But I think that calling out cowards who previously were killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan with impunity only to run away when they face a real army is justified.

I wish the decision as to who is a hero and who is a coward should be so easy...

So far today in this thread I've read Marina Ovsyannikova's act yesterday dismissed as meaningless
and the intentions/capability/grit behind volunteers for Ukraine being questioned.

For me there is one thing to sit in judgement of at this time. That which is obvious and in my face. Ukranians dying as the result of an invasion by a corrupt, authoritarian leader and government with the majority of it's culture supporting it.

Mods, delete if necessary. I am angry that of everything I've read in this discussion today, this is what lingers for me.
posted by goalyeehah at 4:38 PM on March 15 [27 favorites]


Incidentally, I was posting quickly and I misread the point being made about Taiwan. Hu Wei seems to be suggesting that being a good global citizen would make other countries more sympathetic to China’s claims on Taiwan, which I think is unlikely to say the least. But the article (and entire US-China Perceptions Monitor site!) was presumably censored because of the general political sensitivity around the conflict and what China’s role should be, rather than anything regarding Taiwan specifically.

Anyway, to reiterate, it’s one random (very brave) scholar and shouldn’t be taken as representative of Chinese leadership thinking or predictive of how China will respond, but it’s an interesting take nevertheless.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 4:49 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


What corb describes matches up with what I know from the people who've applied or did go, it's not a simple process.

It's also not cheap, the one person I'm aware of IRL, a veteran, who went(is) there had to essentially auction off their life, find someone to sublease their apartment on short notice, sell their car, put their normal life on hold for a period of time they cannot plan for, and then also travel.

Another person I know of (also a veteran), but third hand, sounds very much like they got to the 'waiting on accepted' stage, but weren't a combat veteran, (navy nuclear reactor engineer, I guess? Thought he could help. Almost certainly wrong.) so time passed and they doubted and maybe would have gone regardless except for the whole uprooting your life without a real plan for why and how thing.

Which is to say, I sincerely doubt there are significant numbers of actual combat veterans who have been accepted, have done all the work at home to go volunteer in a war, and then flee at the first sign of danger. Some, maybe, sure, I've never experienced it, I can't know.

I don't really know the guy who joined up all that well, went to school with them, friends with an ex of his. I know he was overseas but I don't know what his experience was, other than army. I have no idea how he'd stand up under bombardment, don't feel qualified to question that either. I don't know why he went, 'do my duty' is an inscrutable phrase. It does not sound like he expects to come back. I don't think I'll ever know.
posted by neonrev at 5:35 PM on March 15 [11 favorites]


In the last five days I've increasingly been watching YouTube videos by Russian content creators. I think the algorithm served me one by a pregnant twenty-something who, with her husband and young child, fled Russia for wherever they could manage. (Uzbekistan, for the moment.) Then that led to more recommendations of other Russian content creators. I didn't set out to watch Russian YouTubers, but I'm glad I have.

I feel a little weird about it because, so far, I've only come across a few Ukrainian YouTubers and generally I feel my focus should primarily be on Ukraine and Ukrainians.

But, regardless, I've found many of these videos to be very moving. Only occasionally, in a "Russian on the street interview" channel, do I come across someone/something upsetting or infuriating. Although... it's educational, I think. There does seem to be a notable young/old divide.

What I've been thinking about and grappling with and wanting to express/discuss here, is how it's both odd and very moving to see and hear and feel close to the people of an agressor nation who are struggling with the morality of it, how they are affected by it, what they can or can't do, and to what degrees they are or feel they cannot say what they think and feel.

There's one man who I've thought about a lot who's very articulate and pretty fluent in English. He has a family and they are somewhat well-off, but he suspects he'll be unemployed sooner or later. What's really affecting about him is that he is very upset and angry about the invasion of Ukraine. He has to be careful about what he says, but his sentiments are crystal clear. Sunday he did a livestream where he asked a series of six very pointed questions about the invasion — I suppose this gives him some amount of deniability.

BTW, most of these Russian content creators who have primarily foreign audiences are less worried about censorship and punishment than they would be if they had a domestic audience. I found this interesting, though it should have been unsurprising. Also, all views from within Russia have been demonitized but the foreign views remain monetized. Although these creators don't seem to be sure they'll get their money.

Anyway, I can't quite explain how I feel when, especially, these folks are almost in tears as they describe (elliptically) their feelings about the invasion and (explicitly) their sadness and fears about what's happening in Russia. The young mother I mentioned above said that the main impetus for their (sudden) decision to leave Russia was that she just didn't want her children to grow up in such a hateful, intolerant, and repressive environment.

While a lot of the YouTubers in Russia seem to be getting more and more circumspect, the man I just mentioned seems to come closer to crossing the line into trouble every day.

I'm talking about this, I guess, because, like most people, I'm naturally very sympathetic to the Ukrainians I see and hear and learn about, but not so much with Russians. I mean, I am, because I tend not to "other" people and I assume ordinary people everywhere are, you know, people; but, even so, having this view into the lives of ordinary people of an agressor nation that basically the whole world is shunning seems really new to me, at least insofar as it's so easily available.

The video comments are a mixed-bag, of course. There's a lot to be alarmed at: Americans who think Russia is still communist, Americans who seem to like Putin, people who sincerely or otherwise spout Russian propoganda (usually provocatively divisive), people who villify all Russians, people who seem to expect a YouTuber to lead a revolution and belittle them for failing to do so, whataboutism and glib moral equivocation, platitudes about everybody "really" just wanting to get along, conspiracy theories. But a surprising number of commenters, including Americans, make a point of saying that they aren't angry at ordinary Russians and that they hope the Russian YouTubers are okay.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:46 PM on March 15 [30 favorites]


The Ukranians are attempting to sort specifically for combat experience, but must also go through verification, criminal background checks, ensuring that they're not accidentally taking people's active military, checking people's social media to ensure they're not a psychopath, etc.

They're have people handle that who have been with out there for a long time...

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/b3c41f16-a208-11ec-a1de-983f3d5a1668?shareToken=d9e2e3ece859dfc31f524a233b78e7bb
Garrett, who works with another British army veteran who gave his name only as Tony, has based himself alongside the Georgian National Legion, which was founded in 2014 in the Donbas by ethnic Georgians to fight the separatists and has since been incorporated into the 62nd brigade of the Ukrainian territorial defence force.

Over the past week he has personally welcomed 50 or so Britons, a few of whom have gone on to join the new international force, which is still in the process of being set up. Most have opted instead to go with the Georgians, whose legion has always been open to foreign fighters.

Before potential recruits who contact him set off from Britain, Garrett vets them to make sure that they are not serving soldiers or barred for other reasons from fighting for Ukraine. He also establishes whether they have useful military skills.

“It doesn’t take long to pick out the people that have come here because they play too many computer games,” he said. “And we then ask them to leave because they become more of a hindrance to us and a threat to the other people they are working with.”
Also
Both men insisted that anyone coming should also be in no doubt about the heavy fighting they are likely to face, which is more reminiscent of Second World War battles than more recent military campaigns. “Even those who have served in the British army have never seen a conflict like this,” said Garrett. “There are cruise missiles being thrown at us; air strikes. This isn’t Afghanistan or Iraq. It is very different.”
So there are essentially two streams of volunteers
Three, really, there's a lot of Ukrainian civilians without any military experience or ability going back.

(well, 4 or 5 if you count the volunteers from places like Georgia who have been fighting Russians for the last 30 odd years, and the PMC types quitting their day jobs to do better).

Quite a few politicians from nearby countries, and kids of them from further away

6 types. I forgot about the Finns.
LVIV, Ukraine, March 7 (Reuters) - Michael Ferkol, who once served as a supply specialist with engineer battalions in the U.S. Army, had been in Rome studying archaeology when he heard the Ukrainian president's appeal for foreign fighters.

Within days, Ferkol said, he presented himself at a military recruiting office in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, hoping to be taken on as a frontline paramedic.

"I told them I wanted to triage patients," said the 29-year- old, who has no combat experience. "There was a Finnish guy there too, and he was like, 'I just want to kill Russians.'"
posted by Buntix at 5:54 PM on March 15 [13 favorites]


METAFILTER: Not bad people. Just folks whose desire for help outweighed their need to have a plan.
posted by philip-random at 6:01 PM on March 15 [37 favorites]


¡CW! - the description is accurate.

@ELINTNews:
Video from
@ZDFfrontal
showing Russian soldiers shooting dead Ukrainian civilians on a highway, west of Kyiv

Probably not unlike what’s happened to journalists north of Kyiv
Translation (typed from a screenshot, not my translation, probably my typos).
The E40 expressway, a few kilometres west of Kyiv. A Ukrainian surveillance drone filming a gas station, right next to it a Russian tank position. It's March 7th, 2022 around 2pm. Some private cars are on their way downtown. The first drivers apparently notice the tanks, then a terrible things happen. A civilian gets out of the car with his hands up and get shot. The perpetrators - apparently Russian soldiers, they are recognisable by their white ribbons on their uniforms.

The video was leaked head-on via an anonymous contact. To check it, we are looking for the drone pilot. We find him in a kyiv basement. Zanoza is a volunteer in the Ukrainian army and describes what he recorded with his drone:

"The driver got out of the car and put his hands up and was simply shot by the Russian soldiers."

We can verify the location and time of the recordings and view more drone images.

"Apparently this is a way crime. A civilian has been shot, and his wife and possibly his daughter or son - you cant' really see it on the video, which gender - were then led away by Russian soldiers."

The pictures from March 7 prove: Putin's claim that his so-called special operation would not meeting (?) civilians is nothing more than a lie.
(which is to say, after 35 years of having a Finnish best friend and thinking they were a bit weird about Russians, I get it now).
posted by Buntix at 6:28 PM on March 15 [21 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent @KyivIndependent 5h
⚡️Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny predicts that the war with Ukraine, "planned by crazy old men," will lead to the collapse of Russia.

The Kyiv Independent @KyivIndependent 6h
⚡️U.S. President Joe Biden signed the bill providing $13.6 billion in emergency military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

The Kyiv Independent @KyivIndependent 6h
⚡️Russian warships shelled Ukrainian coast in Odesa Oblast on March 15, leaving 2 people injured, according to Odesa authorities.
Satellite images showed 14 ships of the Russian fleet sailing towards the city of Odesa, among them a 120-meter landing ship Pyotr Morgunov.

The Kyiv Independent @KyivIndependent 7h
⚡️Russia announces leaving the Council of Europe, hours before its expected expulsion.
It means that Russian citizens will not be able to bring cases to the European Court of Human Rights, and the Russian government can re-introduce the death penalty.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:05 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


corb, I just want to take a moment and say that you are truly a treasure. Having a voice with experiences outside of the 'mainstream' of metafilter is so valuable. I'm glad you're here, and I'm glad you are sharing your knowledge (although obviously I wish you didn't need to).
posted by zug at 7:09 PM on March 15 [35 favorites]


Reuter's Idrees Ali on Twitter
Russia has imposed sanctions on U.S. President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, Defense Secretary Austin, NSA Sullivan, CIA Chief Burns and others - Foreign ministry
USAToday's Courtney Subramanian on Twitter
On Russian sanctions, @PressSec notes that Biden is a junior, which means the Kremlin may have inadvertently sanctioned his father.
Hillary Clinton on Twitter
I want to thank the Russian Academy for this Lifetime Achievement Award.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:13 PM on March 15 [31 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: What I've been thinking about and grappling with and wanting to express/discuss here, is how it's both odd and very moving to see and hear and feel close to the people of an agressor nation who are struggling with the morality of it, how they are affected by it, what they can or can't do, and to what degrees they are or feel they cannot say what they think and feel.

As a citizen of the USA, I keep thinking how easily it could have been MY nation brutally bombing another nation and threatening nuclear war.

During the previous administration, I was constantly afraid the US president was going to start a war, completely impetuously, and very possibly detonate nuclear weapons.

Just like Russia today, a big chunk of the US population supported that president's contempt for other nations. Just like Russia today, a surprising number of people protested regularly and took a variety of actions to try to rein in the autocrat. (Needless to say, US citizens have FAR greater human rights and civil rights protections than Russians, and, despite the excessive response to US protests, US citizens were risking far less than Russians are.)

I think about Russian citizens, powerless to stop the autocrat in charge of their government, and I can't stop thinking about how easily that could have been me, horrified and crushed by guilt at the actions of someone I actively opposed.

We all, as citizens of the world, need (and deserve) a planet where delusional autocrats can't harm their neighbors - or their own citizens. I have no idea how we could ever get there, but we can't let this happen again.
posted by kristi at 7:15 PM on March 15 [46 favorites]


Almost 400 Companies Have Withdrawn from Russia—But Some Remain (Yale SOM)

The complete, current list of companies that have curtailed operations in Russia as well as those that remain, as of March 15, can be seen below. The list is updated continuously by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his research team at the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute to reflect new announcements from companies in as close to real time as possible.
posted by bluesky43 at 7:24 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


I should say, btw, that the charity that I worked with was founded by two travelers who were in Thailand during the 2004 tsunami and wanted to help but saw how NGOs struggled with managing, screening, and coordinating volunteers, so they specifically setup a disaster relief group that was all about taking in random people who wanted to help and finding a good use for their skills. You could sign up to help for a weekend or for months. You didn't need any specific skills, but they would provide you with food and shelter, and put you to work on stuff that needed to be done, and train you as they went. You couldn't be picky about jobs, so one day it might be learning how to remediate mold in a home that's been stripped to the studs, another day it's standing in knee deep flood water trying to clean out a flooded basement before demo can actually occur, and other days it's helping a church sort out random pallets of donated goods. The stuff could be menial, but it all went some way to making life better in the area.

They've evolved a little more towards the voluntourism side of the equation, which is unfortunate, but they're still the first place that comes to mind when I have some time to give and a desire to help.

This all to say that the urge to help even without a plan is a common human impulse and it shouldn't be discouraged, but it should be channeled. I hope that the people who volunteered to go support Ukraine may choose to work in a refugee camp or assist with warehouse logistics even if being in the trenches wasn't the right place for them. It's not glorious in the same way that being in a trench is, taking the battle to the fascists, but we've spent too much energy valorizing that shit anyway, and we ought to also be celebrating the people making sure folks get fed and don't get cholera.
posted by bl1nk at 7:32 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


Selo i Ludy (previously) are still managing to get out live streams from Kharkiv. Here's the one they did yesterday (timestamp link to jump over dead air to when Alex Goncharov starts talking). He answers some chat questions between songs - they're streaming via a mobile phone that's sitting outside since they're in a basement.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:35 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


> Almost 400 Companies Have Withdrawn from Russia—But Some Remain

Subway. Eat fash.
posted by glonous keming at 7:36 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


I suspect there will also be many opportunities to volunteer to help rebuild Ukraine, after the fighting stops.
posted by ryanrs at 8:24 PM on March 15 [8 favorites]


that's pretty much what i said when i emailed the embassy a while back. i have no combat training but i hope they call me when it's time to re-cable some new datacenters or whatever. it's not like there's anything keeping me where i am other than no one wants me anywhere else.
posted by glonous keming at 8:34 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Well I guess I'm boycotting Subway then.

I mean, I guess I was already boycotting then for the last five years because their sandwiches are goddamned terrible, but now I'm boycotting then because of Russia, too.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:35 PM on March 15 [14 favorites]


Into the war zone: What firefighters, medics and EMTs should consider before going to Ukraine – From freelancing to insurance, there are several factors that should impact go/no-go deployment decisions; Greg Friese, Editorial Director; EMS1 [about], March 14, 2022:
"What can I do to help the people of Ukraine?” is a question people around the world, including firefighters, EMTs and paramedics, are asking themselves as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. Some are answering that question by traveling to Ukraine to join the fight or care for the injured.

Arthur Curry, 27, who has worked as an EMT and a volunteer firefighter, has applied to join the International Legion of Defense of Ukraine, a volunteer foreign legion military unit created by the Government of Ukraine. A Massachusetts paramedic [bad url] is in Poland giving medical care to refugees. Greg (full name not revealed as a safety precaution), a Colorado paramedic with no combat experience, has acquired body armor and raised more than $1,000 to travel to Ukraine to provide medical care. I am sure there are other first responders, especially those with tactical or special forces experience, who are quietly reviewing opportunities for assignments inside Ukraine.

There is much we can do to show support for the people of Ukraine without leaving our homes, jobs, friends and families. Dozens of organizations, like Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross, are accepting donations for their ongoing medical missions. Your elected officials want to know your opinions on current sanctions and additional actions the federal government might take.

For those first responders who feel compelled to respond in person, I ask that you pause to consider the following:…
Subtopics include: 1.What’s your why?, 2.Don’t freelance., 3.Experience matters., 4.Expedition gear list., 5.Cash to be self-sufficient., and 6.Insurance.

The article’s International sidebar lists additional stories about EMS personnel and material going to Ukraine.
posted by cenoxo at 8:45 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent
@KyivIndependent 5m
CNN: Ukrainian military strikes number of Russian military helicopters at Kherson International Airport.

According to new satellite images from Planet Labs, the strike set on fire, or destroyed, at least three helicopters and military vehicles stationed at the airport.
posted by clavdivs at 8:49 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


Ezra Klein's new podcast episode is with Tim Snyder, on "the Myths the Blinded the West to Putin's Plans."
“Americans and Europeans were guided through the new century by a tale about ‘the end of history,’ by what I will call the politics of inevitability, a sense that the future is just more of the present, that the laws of progress are known, that there are no alternatives, and therefore nothing really to be done,” writes the Yale historian Timothy Snyder in his 2018 book, “The Road to Unfreedom.”

The central thesis of “The Road to Unfreedom” is that different understandings of the past, its myths, histories and memories create radically different politics. Snyder wrote the book as a way of understanding Vladimir Putin’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and the West’s response, but its argument has become only more salient in recent weeks. You can’t understand Putin’s recent invasion of Ukraine without understanding his metaphysical attachment to the era of empire, his mythological telling of Russian-Ukrainian history, and his semi-mystical construction of what constitutes the Russian nation.

But Snyder’s more radical argument is that the West is also operating under its own mythological understanding of time — one that is so deeply ingrained in our collective psyche that it masquerades as common sense. And that understanding the influence of the “politics of inevitability” is essential to make sense of everything from the West’s misreading of Putin’s motivations to the internal fracturing of the European Union to the decline of liberal democracy across the globe.

So that’s where we start: with the central myths at the heart of the modern Western project — and the blind spots they have created. But Snyder is also a renowned historian of European great-power conflict who has written six books entirely or partly about Ukraine. So we also discuss the chasm between the radicalness of European integration and the tedium of European governance, why Snyder thinks Putin’s invasion is fundamentally the product of a Russian identity crisis, Ukraine’s unique history as a battleground for a great-power war, how Ukrainian identity transcends ethnicity and language, why Western leaders and analysts consistently fail to decipher Putin’s intentions, the huge difference between a Russian nation premised on myth and a Ukrainian nation forged by collective action, how Ukrainian resistance could inspire a Western vision for the future and more.
Previously, Masha Gessen on Putin’s 'Profoundly Anti-Modern’ Worldview [Mar. 11] and Fiona Hill on the War Putin Is Really Fighting [Mar 8] .
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:02 PM on March 15 [19 favorites]


I don't believe that it's true the West was at all "blind" to Putin's plans, which were being broadcast in flashing red lights for many years, and even previewed in the 2008 attack on Georgia. A huge array of former officials, diplomats and academics from across the political spectrum have warned of this outcome, over and over. It might have been easy to believe that Putin was bluffing, but to stake the fate of a huge country on this belief was incredibly irresponsible. Unless in fact this outcome was not in fact undesired, which might make sense from a certain type of strategic perspective.
posted by moorooka at 11:13 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


I don't believe that it's true the West was at all "blind" to Putin's plans, which were being broadcast in flashing red lights for many years, and even previewed in the 2008 attack on Georgia. A huge array of former officials, diplomats and academics from across the political spectrum have warned of this outcome, over and over.

Your link goes to an array of imperialist thinkers thinking imperialist. The typical board-game of spheres of influence and whatnot. There's not a single thought I saw that predicted this specific outcome - namely that Putin would start an ethno-fascist war of expansion and try to annex a major country.

Even then, the claim that somehow the West was not blind to this due to some thinkers (and I use the term generously) playing out their dumb Stratego just doesn't follow. In the majority of Western democracies, this type of cold-blooded aggression was simply not on the radar of political leaders. These people have grown up in a post-war Europe that was specifically built to make such wars unthinkable. I mean Germany did wind down large parts of their military capacity - a course they are now hastily planning to reverse - do you really think they did this while "they knew"?
posted by patrick54 at 12:08 AM on March 16 [11 favorites]


Former Ambassador to Ukrain Yovanovitch was on “Fresh Air” (NPR radio).
Well worth a lesson (the smart people in government are so bracingly smart… as the craven are bracingly craven, I guess …)

On being asked to pledge loyalty to President Trump:

It was just like, What do I do with this? I'm an American citizen. We don't pledge loyalty to an individual. We stopped that in 1776. For us, it's the Constitution.

And it really is as simple as that.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:53 AM on March 16 [24 favorites]


Your link goes to an array of imperialist thinkers thinking imperialist. The typical board-game of spheres of influence and whatnot. There's not a single thought I saw that predicted this specific outcome - namely that Putin would start an ethno-fascist war of expansion and try to annex a major country.

I don't think that's a fair judgment in context of Snyder's interview. Snyder's radical thesis was that Western hegemony (what he calls the inevitable politics) created blind spots in Western political knowledge. So take mooroka's example's first quote, by Kennan:

There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.

That's a pretty clear critique against the politics of inevitability, not for it. Kennan himself was a historian as well as diplomat to Russia, and looking at Wikipedia, "Soon after his concepts had become U.S. policy, Kennan began to criticize the foreign policies that he had helped articulate.", it looks like he himself changed his mind on his imperialist thinking.
posted by polymodus at 1:23 AM on March 16


Your link goes to an array of imperialist thinkers thinking imperialist.

It's a rather broader assortment than that. But the question certainly arises as to whether the likes of a Kissinger can be reasonably be characterised as a Russian propagandist. Or perhaps "Kremlin talking points" are difficult to distinguish from the dispassionate and amoral evaluation of the balance of great power interests, motives and capabilities.

At the risk of being accused of repeating propaganda (which I am not, as this can easily be fact-checked in e.g. Reuters): Russia has laid out terms for peace which involve an agreement that 1) Ukraine will not join NATO or the EU, 2) independence of the Donbass PRs will be recognised and 3) Crimea's annexation to Russia will be recognised. Yes, many Russian ideologues, Putin included, do not perceive Ukraine as a legitimate state. However that does not mean that Russia's objective in this war is to annex Ukraine.

Unless the assumption is that Russia's stated terms are fake, then it should be possible to acknowledge that these concessions could end the war tomorrow, justly or unjustly. This war is an atrocity, but it is not an undertaking to annex the whole country, or even to change the regime. Facts are facts and highlighting the objective and verifiable facts of what is going on is different from apologia.
posted by moorooka at 1:50 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Genocide, the word and the idea, is colloquially understood to describe an effort to exterminate members of a definable identity group through targeted killings. Because the best-known cases involve staggering death tolls—the extirpation of Native Americans and Indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada, of Armenians under the Ottomans, of European Jews in the Holocaust, of Rwandan Tutsis at the hands of Hutu Power in 1994—genocide is often assumed to mean mass slaughter, and to have drastic demographic consequences. But, in international law, genocide has nothing explicitly to do with the enormity of criminal acts. Rather, according to the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, it is defined by the enormity of criminal intent:

Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

By this standard, Putin’s war of obliteration comes readily into focus as genocidal, if not—to date, anyway—as comprehensive genocide. His apparent objective is to extinguish Ukraine as an independent nation, and to subsume it and its surviving population into Russia, where he claims it naturally belongs. As he prepared to attack, massing his forces on Ukraine’s borders, and pretending to engage in diplomatic brinkmanship, he seemed to imagine that the threat of overwhelming force might inspire Ukraine’s leaders to capitulate and surrender preëmptively to his diktat. In early February, after President Emmanuel Macron, of France, flew to Moscow to try to reason with him, they held a joint press conference in which Putin said, as if addressing Ukraine directly, “Like it or not, take it, my beauty.” The line was immediately recognized as a reference to a luridly menacing song about necrophiliac rape by the punk band Red Mold. The Kremlin and its press organs airbrushed the taunt out of the official transcripts. But Putin had made himself clear: he viewed Ukraine as a corpse, and would have his way with it.
Is It Time to Call Putin’s War in Ukraine Genocide?
posted by y2karl at 1:55 AM on March 16 [23 favorites]


The BBC on companies not leaving Russia.

tl;dr, "complex franchising agreements" that can't easily be broken means their hands are tied and they can't just leave Russia.

You know, in the same sense and way that Russia can't just send troops into Ukraine.
posted by Dysk at 2:06 AM on March 16 [8 favorites]


moorooka, while you can fact check what words came out of russian leader's mouths, you cannot fact check their true intentions, motivations, or wants because they lie then lie again then cook up a new lie and serve it with a side of lies and for dessert there will be lies. For example Lavrov said that "russia did not attack Ukraine". It is a fact, he said that. But despite the words that fall out of his jowls, russia did, in fact, attack Ukraine.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:08 AM on March 16 [65 favorites]


Another way of looking at it is that these companies are betting that the reputational damage and loss of business from continuing to operate in Russia will be less than the financial penalty from getting sued by a few franchisees.

We can collectively prove that assumption wrong.
posted by Dysk at 2:11 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


At the risk of being accused of repeating propaganda (which I am not, as this can easily be fact-checked in e.g. Reuters): Russia has laid out terms for peace which involve an agreement that 1) Ukraine will not join NATO or the EU, 2) independence of the Donbass PRs will be recognised and 3) Crimea's annexation to Russia will be recognised. Yes, many Russian ideologues, Putin included, do not perceive Ukraine as a legitimate state. However that does not mean that Russia's objective in this war is to annex Ukraine.

No, just big chunks of it. For now.
posted by Dysk at 2:12 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Mod note: moorooka, we've clearly and directly asked you to stop posting and forwarding Kremlin propaganda talking points, and we are now closing your account.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:14 AM on March 16 [61 favorites]


It's a bit obsolete now, but Bret Devereaux of ACOUP's 25th Feb article pointed out some things:
Instead, the clearest understanding of Putin’s complaints about NATO is that they are reflections of his real fears, but that as diplomatic negotiating tools, they were red herrings, designed to create exactly the sort of smokescreen that some media personalities worked to create and exploit domestically. The ‘tell’ here in many ways were the initial demands, which amounted to rolling back NATO positions to pre-1997 status; such demands would be utterly unacceptable to NATO countries (like Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland) who would thus be left outside NATO’s line of protection. Putin – and the Russian Foreign Ministry – knew those demands were obvious non-starters, that’s why they made them – presumably to generate that smokescreen and to try to divide NATO internally. But the demands themselves were never serious, as Putin’s actions this week prove.
Here and elsewhere I keep seeing the talking point that the war could have been avoided, or could now be stopped, by a few small concessions. That might (or might not) be true now that Putin has found the conquest to be far harder than he thought. It was certainly not true before the war when the concessions he was demanding were, deliberately, completely impossible. NATO could not have credibility as a defensive alliance if it threw out its weaker members at the first saber-rattling.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:22 AM on March 16 [28 favorites]


I mean Germany did wind down large parts of their military capacity - a course they are now hastily planning to reverse - do you really think they did this while "they knew"?

I think it's fair to say that among European countries, German leadership has been one of the most vocal in acknowledging Putin's concerns wrt. NATO & Ukraine. Partly because of economic opportunities; partly in recognition of the dangers of a humiliated Putin lashing out (perhaps informed by what happened in Germany after the ruinous WWI "peace" treaty).

So while it may be true that no-one (perhaps including Putin) anticipated this horrible, savage war, certainly it was clear to many that Putin would not simply acquiesce, and certainly there were many, many warnings that he would not eschew the use of military force (first and foremost being the annexation of Crimea). So, yeah, I think a lot of people knew, or should have had an inkling.
posted by dmh at 3:03 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


If you want to dive into the rabbit hole, Re inevitability as quoted above :
(...) Americans and Europeans were guided through the new century by a tale about ‘the end of history,’ by what I will call the politics of inevitability, a sense that the future is just more of the present, that the laws of progress are known, that there are no alternatives, and therefore nothing really to be done,” writes the Yale historian Timothy Snyder in his 2018 book, “The Road to Unfreedom.”(...)
David Graeber's and David Wengrow's "The Dawn of Everything" is a clear call to question the politics of inevitability.

I am about halfway through and it is an amazing book, tackling issues of interpretation of early human history which lead to this thinking head on.
posted by 15L06 at 3:06 AM on March 16 [9 favorites]


"There's not a single thought I saw that predicted this specific outcome - namely that Putin would start an ethno-fascist war of expansion and try to annex a major country."

The Gaslit Nation podcast has been talking about this very thing for years.
posted by kokaku at 3:13 AM on March 16 [12 favorites]


I’m not criticizing your comment, 15L06, which I think is interesting and valuable, but the wider discussion about foreign fighters in this thread. That discussion is cluttering up this otherwise very useful resource for news and analysis of the situation in Ukraine, Russia and the countries dealing with the humanitarian catastrophe.

Foreign fighters are of marginal importance to the Ukrainian forces fighting the Russian invasion, and are even less important to the larger story. I think it would be a good idea to make a new post about foreign fighters, so that discussion could be focused there.

Furthermore, to the wider community… can MeFites who live far away from Ukraine please not dismiss the perspectives of MeFites who are close to Ukraine, and can bear witness to what is going on? Westplaining isn’t helpful to anyone, not to the people in Eastern Europe, nor to other westerners trying to understand events in Ukraine and Russia, or what is happening to the millions of refugees currently in Europe.
posted by Kattullus at 3:39 AM on March 16 [27 favorites]


Reuters reports: Ukraine says it launches counteroffensives against Russian forces

There have been rumors of a big operation perhaps north of Kyiv on various social media places but details are being withheld for operational security reasons.
posted by interogative mood at 3:43 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


The Gaslit Nation podcast has been talking about this very thing for years.

Sarah Kendzior has been right so often, I've had to stop listening to her because of the constant anxiety attacks I was having. She's writing the kind of historical analysis we usually get 50 years later -- in real time. If Maddow's leaving, I don't know anyone who would be better to give a national network show to.
posted by mikelieman at 3:53 AM on March 16 [19 favorites]


Sarah Kendzior has been right so often

Not to forget everything A. Chalupa brings to GN “clairvoyance”, too.
posted by progosk at 3:59 AM on March 16 [9 favorites]


Mod note: A couple deleted. As Kattullus suggests, please make a different post for discussion of foreign fighters, and please try to center discussion on "useful resource for news and analysis of the situation in Ukraine, Russia and the countries dealing with the humanitarian catastrophe."
posted by taz (staff) at 4:06 AM on March 16 [12 favorites]


Ukraine Strikes Back: Barrage Leaves Russian-Occupied Kherson Airbase In Flames – Satellite images show multiple aircraft were destroyed in a Ukrainian attack on Russia's forward operating near Kherson., Joseph Trevithick & Tyler Rogoway, The War Zone, March 15, 2022.
A satellite image The War Zone has obtained from Planet Labs confirms that Ukrainian forces have damaged and destroyed a number of Russian helicopters, and caused other damage, in an attack on Kherson Airbase in the southern part of the country today. This is the second major Ukrainian attack in as many weeks on this base. Russian forces first claimed to have taken control of Kherson, which occupies a strategic location on the northern shore of the Dnieper River, some two weeks ago.
Related images and videos in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 4:46 AM on March 16 [8 favorites]


Related images and videos in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 5:12 AM on March 16


Ukraine: We have feelings is a new post in MetaTalk for folks who want to share their feelings and perspectives in a way that is not appropriate for this thread.

Unrelated: Thanks to the many thoughtful contributors here. I truly appreciate your efforts.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:13 AM on March 16 [21 favorites]


Hopeful developments in terms of negotiations. First, this from last night in The Guardian: Zelenskiy says Russia’s position in negotiations is becoming ‘more realistic’. Excerpt:
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said he sees possible room for compromise in talks with Russia ahead of a fresh round of discussions, despite Moscow’s stepped up bombardment Kyiv and as fears for the port city of Mariupol deepened.

“The meetings continue, and, I am informed, the positions during the negotiations already sound more realistic. But time is still needed for the decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said in a video address early on Wednesday.

“Efforts are still needed, patience is needed,” he said. “Any war ends with an agreement.”

The leading Ukrainian negotiator, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, said there were “fundamental contradictions” between the two sides but added that “there is certainly room for compromise.”

Another aide to Zelenskiy, Ihor Zhovkva, said negotiations had become “more constructive” and that Russia had softened its stand by no longer airing its demands that Ukraine surrender. Talks were set to resume via video link on Wednesday.
This was followed up by another report, again in the Guardian: Russia and Ukraine ‘close to agreeing’ on neutral status, says Sergei Lavrov. Excerpt:
A deal with Kyiv on “neutral status” for Ukraine as part of a peace agreement could be close, Russia’s foreign minister has said, as Ukrainian forces launched a wave of counterattacks against Russian forces.

Sergei Lavrov suggested in a media interview that talks with Kyiv were making ground despite the continued bloodshed, echoing cautiously optimistic comments overnight from Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“The negotiations are not easy for obvious reasons,” Lavrov told RBC news. “But nevertheless, there is some hope of reaching a compromise.

“Neutral status is now being seriously discussed seriously along, of course, with security guarantees. This is what is now being discussed at the talks. There are absolutely specific wordings and in my view, the sides are close to agreeing on them.”
Then Mykhailo Podolyak, who is on Ukraine's negotiations team, posted this on Twitter:
[Ukrainian] model of security guarantees is on the negotiating table. What does this mean? A rigid agreement with a number of guarantor states undertaking clear legal obligations to actively prevent attacks on [Ukraine]. Details:
Which then linked to this Telegram post in Ukrainian. Here is the Google translation:
Undoubtedly, we understand the attempt of our partners to remain an initiative party in the negotiation process. Hence the words about the Swedish or Austrian model of neutrality. But Ukraine is now in a state of direct war with Russia. Therefore, the model can only be Ukrainian and only about legally verified security guarantees. And no other models or options.

What does it mean? First, absolute security guarantees. Effective, not protocol or "Budapest". This means that the signatories of the guarantees do not stand aside in the event of an attack on Ukraine, as today. But they take an active part on the side of Ukraine in the conflict and officially provide us with an immediate supply of the necessary amount of weapons. And, secondly, Ukraine no longer wants to depend on bureaucratic procedures that allow or do not allow to close the sky from the same cruise missiles. We need direct and firm guarantees that the sky will be closed.

I will add that Ukraine has never been a militaristic state that attacks or plans to attack its neighbors. Unlike these neighbors. That is why today Ukraine wants to have a really strong pool of allies with clearly defined security guarantees.
Of course, this could fall apart at any moment, for any number of reasons, but there is, at least for now, some hope of peace.
posted by Kattullus at 6:48 AM on March 16 [29 favorites]


Kadyrov wasn't actually in Ukraine after all
According to UE sources in the SBU, Kadyrov uses two phone numbers. According to Ukrainian mobile operators, over the past 7 days, these Kadyrov numbers have not been connected to Ukrainian communication towers in roaming.

[...]

We wrote a message to Kadyrov in the Telegram messenger, introduced ourselves as a journalist of RIA Novosti and added a link to the article on the very day when, according to Kadyrov, he was in Ukraine and near Kiev.

The service found such geolocation of Kadyrov: Russian Federation, city of Grozny.
Chickenshit traitor isn't leaving his fortified bunker.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:34 AM on March 16 [22 favorites]


President Zelenskyy addressed Congress just a while ago, asking Joe Biden to take more leadership and he presented a video which was graphic and intense and concluded with "close the sky over Ukraine".

Ukraine President Zelenskyy invokes Pearl Harbor, Sept. 11 in asking U.S. Congress to help fight Russia invasion
posted by mikelieman at 7:43 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Paul Kirby, BBC, "Russia's state TV hit by stream of resignations":
Hours after Marina Ovsyannikova's on-screen resignation, three other resignations came to light.

Channel One colleague Zhanna Agalakova quit her job as Europe correspondent while two journalists have left rival NTV. Lilia Gildeyeva had worked for the channel as a presenter since 2006 and Vadim Glusker had been at NTV for almost 30 years.
The article includes a roundup of numerous other resignations from Russian state media since the war began, including at VGTRK, RT, and Ruptly.
posted by jedicus at 7:53 AM on March 16 [13 favorites]


snuffleupagus suggested:
Ezra Klein's new podcast episode is with Tim Snyder, on "the Myths the Blinded the West to Putin's Plans."
I listened to this early yesterday, along with the Masha Gessen and Fiona Hill interviews that Ezra Klein has had recently. I know that a lot of folks here on the blue like to shit on Ezra for his relatively milquetoast technocratic interviewing style, but I found this trio of podcast episodes useful for synthesizing some of the current conversation around Ukraine. The hour long format allows for a deeper exploration of history and background than what one might get from your typical Atlantic or Foreign Policy six page longread. I particularly appreciate Snyder's observation that when you look at the way nations weave their identity myths, Russia and Germany have their own version of the myth of Ukraine and modern Ukraine now has chosen to reject any narratives that have been tainted by the various invaders who have ruled it and, instead, are trying to make their identity myth about "what are you doing right now for the nation?"

This is why Zelensky's statement: "The fight is here. I don't need a ride. I need ammunition." has been such an inspirational moment. The mayors of towns like Kharkiv and Mariupol have not fled. The refugees who have sought safety are being buoyed by Ukrainian expats who have flooded back to help in the border zones. Your identity as a Ukrainian is not about your forefathers being Viking mercenaries who carved out a small empire to trade slaves to the Byzantines, but about what you have done now in this moment of your nation's history.

I've long admired the way that Canadian and American identity is rooted in some sense of earning your place into a society that was carved out of the wilderness by hard work (and genocide), and the continuous reminders that democracy is not a form of government but a daily practice. I hope that Ukraine gets added to the canon of positive civic identities and becomes a model that other people will be impressed and inspired by.
posted by bl1nk at 8:16 AM on March 16 [37 favorites]


ft.com How is Ukraine using western weapons to exploit Russian weaknesses?: Moscow’s failure to make a lightning advance and capture major cities owes much to the use of compact equipment - This is a detailed article that describes how much of the Russian army is organized into BTG's ("battalion tactical groups") and why a combination of logistics failures and new tech on the UKR side (like shoulder launched anti-tank weapons and the Turkish TB2 drone) has contributed to Ukrainian successes is slowing the Russian advance.
posted by gwint at 8:21 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


It feels like Ukrainians are being seen in a lot of places where they have long been present but not well-known. And I like that!

Last Sunday we held a joint Court of Honor for my two sons, who had both earned Eagle Scout. (One of them has been waiting two years -- thanks, COVID.) Our Congressman, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), stopped by before it started, to press the flesh and chat. He couldn't stay because he was off to an event with a Ukrainian cultural group.

I said that I hadn't known that northern Rhode Island (which is heavily French-Canadian) had many Ukrainians, but I'd been to a funeral at a Ukrainian church in nearby Woonsocket a few years ago. There are two churches there (both named St. Michael, of course) across the street from each other -- one Ukrainian Orthodox and one Ukrainian Catholic. Woonsocket only has like 41,000 residents, but enough of them are Ukrainian that they can sustain two parishes!

Anyway, a few years ago I wouldn't ever have imagined there are Ukrainians in a state so homogenous, but now I am curious to see what other communities we have. It's a good thing..
posted by wenestvedt at 8:43 AM on March 16 [8 favorites]


Warning: the video is graphic.

KT CounterIntelligence @KremlinTrolls
Here's the video Zelinskyy played for U.S. Congress a short time ago:
posted by bluesky43 at 9:09 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Ukraine and Russia draw up neutrality plan to end war, according to the Financial Times [archive link]. Excerpt:
Ukraine and Russia have made significant progress on a tentative 15-point peace plan including a ceasefire and Russian withdrawal if Kyiv declares neutrality and accepts limits on its armed forces, according to three people involved in the talks.

The proposed deal, which Ukrainian and Russian negotiators discussed in full for the first time on Monday, would involve Kyiv renouncing its ambitions to join Nato and promising not to host foreign military bases or weaponry in exchange for protection from allies such as the US, UK and Turkey, the people said.

The nature of western guarantees for Ukrainian security — and their acceptability to Moscow — could yet prove to be a big obstacle to any deal, as could the status of Ukrainian territories seized by Russia and its proxies in 2014. A 1994 agreement underpinning Ukrainian security failed to prevent Russian aggression against its neighbour.

Although Moscow and Kyiv both said on Wednesday that they had made progress on the terms of a deal, Ukrainian officials remain sceptical Russian President Vladimir Putin is fully committed to peace and worry that Moscow could be buying time to regroup its forces and resume its offensive.
Also, short interview clip with negotiator Podolyak from PBS Newshour.
posted by Kattullus at 9:10 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


Kamil Kazani had an interesting thread that touched on that. It's mostly about Russia and why they will lose the war (posted February 27th, mind you), but the end talks about how you can't understand a war without the mythological dimension, and how that plays into Russia's history and how a new one is being born for Ukraine.

"Clausewitz pointed out that it's important not only if you lost independence but *how* you lost it. If you submitted without a fight, you saved lives. But you killed your mythos. You'll be digested by the conqueror. But if you lost after the brutal and bloody fight your mythos is alive. The memory of the last battle will live through the ages. It will shape the mythological space your descendants live in and they'll attempt to restore independence at the first opportunity."

Zelenskyy clearly understood this from the start and that is the battlefield he has been fighting on, the mythological one. Both for his own people and to rally the West to help them.
posted by tavella at 9:15 AM on March 16 [26 favorites]


Ukraine and Russia draw up neutrality plan to end war

So Russia has won this war?
posted by acb at 9:23 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


If Ukraine continues to be able to self-determine their future (NATO membership aside) then that's no loss.

How a Putin-led Russia enters back into normal relations with the bulk of the world is the real head-scratcher.
posted by mazola at 9:26 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


A fully or partly demilitarised Ukraine with neutrality written into its constitution will be a tethered lamb in a lion's den. Russia will be free to tear strips off it with only a chorus of tutting to fear.
posted by acb at 9:31 AM on March 16 [13 favorites]


So Russia has won this war?

perhaps in the 21st century we can come to accept that wars are not won. no sane person would say "Russia won this war" or "Ukraine won this war" or any of that nonsense. We all lost, believe me. How is this not obvious

for all our sakes, I hope Ukraine does not lose too much and the sooner dying stops and we can start rebuilding, the better. if Ukrainans emerge with the capacity to determine their own future, then that is something.
posted by elkevelvet at 9:31 AM on March 16 [18 favorites]


So Russia has won this war?

Not if Zelenskyy remains in power. But if Putin takes it as face saving, at least it could be the way out which has been hard to imagine until this point.

Where are the eastern and southern borders of neutral Ukraine?

Russia will be free to tear strips off it with only a chorus of tutting to fear.

Changing the border would kick in the protection guarantees?
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 9:35 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


So Russia has won this war?

I think the most simple way of looking at things is that if this peace plan is accurate they lost the battle, won the war, but lost the empire. The Ukrainians have utterly destroy the Russia military mythos. If he's lucky Putin might get to keep Donbas/Crimea and get normal relations with the world but there's no way he's coming out of this being able to rebuild the Russian army in time, if it's even possible to root out all that corruption, before he dies to dare try again.

How a Purlin-led Russia enters back into normal relations with the bulk of the world is the real head-scratcher.

I want no sanctions lifted until he's fully out of Crimea and Donbas. Every Russia troop out of pre-2014 borders. But if there's one thing I'll place an extremely large bet on it's that Germany will be at the forefront of normalizing relations ASAP.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:38 AM on March 16 [15 favorites]


acb: A fully or partly demilitarised Ukraine with neutrality written into its constitution will be a tethered lamb in a lion's den.

That is absolutely not what is happening.

As far as I can make out, this is Ukraine saying it is neutral, while getting binding security guarantees from various NATO member states. Ukraine will probably be free to join the EU as well, with its attendant defense guarantees.

If the terms reported are anything close to the actual deal, this is a face-saving deal for Russia, so that Putin can tell the Russian public that the Russian army did what they came to do.

Ukraine would be in a much stronger position than before the war, and Russia in a weaker position.
posted by Kattullus at 9:38 AM on March 16 [17 favorites]


Ukraine doesn't have to join NATO to enter into a treaty to which multiple western powers are a party that provides military-action guarantees of Ukraine's territorial integrity. I find it difficult to believe that Russia would agree to a treaty that requires western nations to intervene militarily for any future attempts at dismemberment or partition of Ukraine, and I'm pretty sure a pinky-swear not to invade again in the future without a hard trigger on western military intervention would be unacceptable to Ukraine.

A "neutrality" that's guaranteed with a force response might be one way out, but another flimsy Budapest Memorandum is almost definitely a non-starter.
posted by tclark at 9:40 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


If Ukraine continues to be able to self-determine their future (NATO membership aside) then that's no loss.

Being able to self determine your own future includes being able to decide your own level of military forces, join military defensive alliances, and decide what other organizations, such as the EU, you are joining. To lose any of that is a loss. It may be the best loss that Ukraine is able to accomplish, it may be a loss that saves their people. But it would, in fact, still be a loss.

It is possible that Ukraine or its leadership have made the determination that with neither NATO nor the EU willing to actually enter the fight, that it is the best loss that it can accomplish, given that Putin cannot go home to his people without a 'win', and is likely to continue the war until he gets one. A loss that preserves the future of your nation and its children is ultimately a good loss. But that doesn't make it less of a loss, and if this is an accurate representation of the peace deal, I absolutely blame the countries that did not provide the aid that Zelensky has been asking for for weeks.
posted by corb at 9:41 AM on March 16 [20 favorites]


I absolutely blame the countries that did not provide the aid that Zelensky has been asking for for weeks.

This. It's March fucking 16th and we're only just sending in more SAMs.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:44 AM on March 16 [5 favorites]


Will the defence guarantees be any more effective than the current thoughts and prayers, if the guarantors are averse to going to war with a nuclear-armed Russia? Also, will Russia pay reparations for the death and destruction it wrought, or will a line be drawn under that in the name of peace?
posted by acb at 9:45 AM on March 16 [5 favorites]




did Russia beat Finland in WW2?

the easy answer is yes and no. Yes, on the battlefield ... eventually. But no, in the aftermath of WW2, Finland did not end up behind the Iron Curtain.

it's complicated
posted by philip-random at 9:51 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


Will the defence guarantees be any more effective than the current thoughts and prayers, if the guarantors are averse to going to war with a nuclear-armed Russia?

One of the problems that Ukraine faced in the Crimean annexation is that their military was in shambles. They could pull maybe 5,000 men together to resist Russian aggression hence the Russians walked in and took the place. No amount of weapons being funneled to the country on short notice can fix that. In the past 8 years the Ukrainian government has focused on the restoration of the practical military strength and the results have been nothing but astounding. Ukraine has proven they can fight and that they can pull themselves together. Modern weapons can help defeat a numerically superior force when the defenders have the manpower, logistics, professionalism, and resolve to be able to use them. Look at the pictures of the lines of soldiers each with anti-armor capability on their back. They know how to use them and they're using them effectively.

Sending those same weapons to a circa-2014 UA army? It would have been more hardware for the Russians to capture in warehouses and more scrap for them to collect after the war.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:52 AM on March 16 [10 favorites]


Vivid reporting, but does veer close to war porn (including images of dead soldiers) if that's a thing you'd rather avoid: A Ukrainian Town Deals Russia One of the War’s Most Decisive Routs (wsj | archive):
A rapid Russian advance into the strategic southern town of 35,000 people, a gateway to a Ukrainian nuclear power station and pathway to attack Odessa from the back, would have showcased the Russian military’s abilities and severed Ukraine’s key communications lines.

Instead, the two-day battle of Voznesensk, details of which are only now emerging, turned decisively against the Russians. Judging from the destroyed and abandoned armor, Ukrainian forces, which comprised local volunteers and the professional military, eliminated most of a Russian battalion tactical group on March 2 and 3.
posted by peeedro at 9:54 AM on March 16 [10 favorites]


Changing the border would kick in the protection guarantees?

Enforced by? We'd be back in the same sad state of affairs.

And if there's a peace agreement, what happens to sanctions, Ukraine doesn't control those. We go back to normal after what Russia has done? If not what's the trigger that stop the sanctions?

And I should not have watched that video, little bits at a time over weeks was hard, all of it back to back... that just crushed me.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 9:55 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Statement from Podolyak, one of the Ukrainian negotiatiors on the Financial Times report:
Briefly. FT published a draft, which represents the requesting position of the Russian side. Nothing more. The [Ukrainian] side has its own positions. The only thing we confirm at this stage is a ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops and security guarantees from a number of countries.
I don't like linking to my own comments, but the Ukrainians had already made it clear that the interpretations many have jumped to, which would make this a disastrous deal for Ukraine, are not something Ukraine would accept.
posted by Kattullus at 9:56 AM on March 16 [17 favorites]


🚨🚨🚨 FEDOROV RELEASED! 🚨🚨🚨
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:08 AM on March 16 [26 favorites]


The thing is... joining NATO was something they weren't going to get in the first place, so if they can give up something they were not going to get for real on the ground results like getting withdrawal from places like Kherson and the encirclement of Mariupol, then that's useful for Ukraine. It's Sun Tzu's golden bridge for a very low price.
posted by tavella at 10:09 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


If there are binding promises by much of NATO and the EU (or at least the major powers in those organizations) to back up Ukraine if its borders are ever contested again... isn't that basically them joining NATO and receiving Article 5 in practice if nothing else?
posted by hippybear at 10:26 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Are there other demilitarized countries (not regions) that have been stable? I can only think of two:

- Germany, post WW1 (didn't go well)
- Japan, post WW2 (slowly being dismantled)
posted by meowzilla at 10:27 AM on March 16


Japan has militarily been a US client state, to the point of hosting large permanent US bases. The agreement the Russians want specifically precludes foreign bases in a demilitarised Ukraine.
posted by acb at 10:32 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


"Are there other demilitarized countries (not regions) that have been stable?"

Costa Rica abolished its military after the 1948 Civil War, and it is the most politically stable country in the region.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:36 AM on March 16 [10 favorites]


Iceland has never had an army but who, other than those of us who’re from there or settle there, really wants to go to war over a storm-swept, surf-beaten, volcano-infested rock on the freezing edge of nowhere?
posted by Kattullus at 10:47 AM on March 16 [15 favorites]


I dunno; I imagine that a number of countries have been eyeing Iceland's strategic twee-experimental-indie-pop reserves.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:15 AM on March 16 [38 favorites]


Regarding how a peace agreement could be enforced without NATO in a way Ukraine would accept, one answer is to dust off the blue helmets once more. Resolution via the Security Council was the intended result of a violation of the Budapest Memorandum.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:34 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


something something -- let's please not slide into pop culture characterizations of entire cultures.

Iceland never having a standing army is a fact not a pop culture characterization. The closest thing they have to any sort of standing military are a tiny reserve para-military of normally full-time civilians trained by Norway and a coast guard.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:35 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Sanctions for nukes. Don't talk to Putin, but let the "oligarchs" and middle class of Russia know that if they want to resume a nice economy that it'll take reducing the the nuke footprint.
posted by sammyo at 11:36 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Zelensky's presentation to congress today reminded me of the famous Nayirah testimony by Kuwait before Congress in the run up to the 1991 Gulf War. NOTE: I think there is a huge difference in that Nayirah WAS LYING, ZELENKSY WAS TELLING THE TRUTH. With that warning out of the way, I think it is worth considering how public opinion is shaped by these kinds of moments and how that has driven the actions of our elected leaders. I suspect this speech before Congress will have lasting consequences for US Policy in Eastern Europe for decades and could very well mark the moment where America was set on a course of direct involvement in the war.
posted by interogative mood at 11:39 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Whatever terms of demilitarization and neutrality are made with Ukraine should also apply to Belarus.
posted by Reverend John at 11:40 AM on March 16 [5 favorites]


I think it is worth considering how public opinion is shaped by these kinds of moments and how that has driven the actions of our elected leaders.

There are reports that many congress members were moved to tears during the vide Zelensky presented today.
posted by gwint at 11:46 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Interfax-Ukraine: Zelensky proposes to create new intl association of states U24 – United for Peace
"And we propose to create an association - U-24. United for Peace. A union of responsible states with the strength and conscience to stop conflicts. Immediately. Provide all necessary assistance within 24 hours. If necessary, with weapons. If necessary, with sanctions, humanitarian support, political support, money. Everything we need to keep the peace," he said.

In addition, Zelensky said such an association "could provide assistance to those who are experiencing natural disasters, man-made disasters, who have become victims of a humanitarian crisis or an epidemic."

Remember, he also said, "how difficult it was for the world to do the simplest thing – just give everyone vaccines. COVID vaccines. To save life. To prevent new strains."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:53 AM on March 16 [21 favorites]


The luke-warm applause at the end of Zelenskyy's speech from Marjorie Traytor Greene was quite telling. The rest of Congress was acting like they were at a Beatles concert and she keep looking off to the right like she was waiting for her handlers to give her guidance on what to do. She looked quite uncomfortable
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 11:55 AM on March 16 [24 favorites]


Resolution via the Security Council was the intended result of a violation of the Budapest Memorandum.

Which did not (and will continue to not) go so well because the invading country has a permanent seat at the Security Council.
posted by meowzilla at 11:58 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]


@nexta_tv: "Drama Theater from the inside before the #Russian bombing

Just look at how many children are there..."

Just a walk through by someone taking video, doesn't show the bombing. But...

The Russian military are apparently contradictorily claiming it was occupied by Azov, who blew it up themselves.
posted by Buntix at 11:58 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Obviously the Budapest Memo has been thoroughly trampled on by Russia in the invasion. But that it always looked to the Security Council for teeth is significant, with the vetoes that always plainly included. We're talking about what be possible to end the war, which implies Russian agreement. Once a UN Peacekeeping mission is established, a single Security Council member can't just unravel it at a whim (so far as I'm aware). So there's your tripwire force, sans NATO.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:07 PM on March 16


The two countries i see most often mentioned as possible models of neutrality of Ukraine, are Austria and Sweden.
Both are in the EU, neither is in NATO. Austria is in the UN, and does send professional soldiers (eg trained, paid and on a contract) to armed peace-keeping missions.
Austria has a tiny, bare minimum army, with officers that are professional soldiers, and compulsory service of 6 months at age 18, of which you can opt out and do community service instead.
No non-Austrian military bases, but Nato is in occasion granted passage or overflights for maneuvers involving our neighbours.
Currently there is a heavily politizised public debate around giving up neutrality, triggered by the war in Ukraine.
More in Austrian neutrality
posted by 15L06 at 12:16 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


I would hope that the western powers would take “finlandization” of Ukraine off the table, I don’t see how a functional, binding intervention guarantee would be acceptable to Russia (and probably not to the west, interlocking agreements make a tough calculus when there’s nukes involved), and I don’t see how anything less than such an agreement could be acceptable to Ukraine. And on top of that the eastern regions and Crimea.

I wonder if any thing lesser than “germanization” in post-WWII terms is an acceptable way to treat Russia at this point. And of course that’s unthinkable, again due to nukes.
posted by boogieboy at 12:36 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


It seems like the the Russian's are calling their list of demands a "draft agreement" because that sounds like some kind of joint work product representing things the parties have mostly agreed to and are just finalizing the finer points and details.
posted by interogative mood at 12:57 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]




Not to rain on anyone's negotiation hopes, but the ailing steward gave an unhinged speech today which seemed to be calling for basically civil war within ru. This twitter gives a translation of the most overt parts and links to the kremlin transcript (translated part is 75% or so through the page). He literally warns all the old ladies that their sons will sell them to turn west. Some have interpreted it as being more pointed to people in government unhappy with the invasion, but to me it seems like a broad callout in a speech televised at dinnertime.

That is to say I don't get the sense he'll come out of his bunker for a peace deal signing / photo op soon.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:12 PM on March 16 [31 favorites]


If there's some sort of treaty obligating Europe to intervene if Russia tries this again, isn't that just kind of "NATO-lite"? All the nice things about being able to obligate various European countries to come to your defense and start shooting at the invading Russians without actually being in NATO?
posted by BungaDunga at 1:32 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Such a telling speech by Putin. The decadent, homosexual West, which morally pure Russians must reject. Associating wealth and comfort with foreign corruption, so that the deepening poverty experienced by the Russian people is a point of pride and of distinction from the other. The reference to society cleansing itself is horrible.
posted by prefpara at 1:44 PM on March 16 [26 favorites]


Putin, from WeekendJen's link : "But any people, and moreover the Russian people, can always distinguish the true patriots from the scum and traitors, and simply spit them out, like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouth, spit them out on the panel. I am convinced that this natural and necessary self-cleansing of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to meet any challenge."

This kind of thinking was really at the heart of the Cambodian genocide.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:46 PM on March 16 [31 favorites]


Not to rain on anyone's negotiation hopes, but the ailing steward gave an unhinged speech today which seemed to be calling for basically civil war within ru.

he sounded like he was desperately trying to get help from the russian elites, especially those who just so happen to be overseas right now - they're not going to do shit for him especially if they're somewhere else and really don't have to

one is reminded of how the sheriff begged and begged the townspeople to help him fight the invading gang in high noon - except that putin is no gary cooper
posted by pyramid termite at 1:47 PM on March 16


One might hope that the Russian public will conclude that the real traitor is the guy who got their sons killed in an unprovoked war, wrecked the Russian military, and flushed their economy down the toilet.
posted by Reverend John at 1:50 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


I am with kaibutsu. This rhetoric from Putin is really scary. He is appealing to disgust and setting up the Russian opposition as decadent, corrupt, and sexually and morally impure. This is very dangerous.
posted by prefpara at 1:51 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


One might hope that the Russian public will conclude that the real traitor is the guy who got their sons killed in an unprovoked war, wrecked the Russian military, and flushed their economy down the toilet.

My (intelligent, Jewish) grandmother cried when Stalin died.
posted by prefpara at 1:52 PM on March 16 [11 favorites]


It’s so interesting to me that Putin tried and failed to send a fifth column into Ukraine, reportedly, and now he is flipping that around. And he’s talking about the decadent West but we’ve seen images of some of his fancy fancy palaces that do not technically belong to him but somehow he is the boss of them and everything else anyway.

Creepy scary speech. Thanks for the link
posted by Bella Donna at 1:58 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


Such a telling speech by Putin. The decadent, homosexual West, which morally pure Russians must reject. Associating wealth and comfort with foreign corruption, so that the deepening poverty experienced by the Russian people is a point of pride and of distinction from the other. The reference to society cleansing itself is horrible.

Have the oligarchs tried to get him to stop? Because really, its the only people he could be targeting with these kind of words. That's certainly not Navalny or Kasparov.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 2:00 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Say what you want about the tenets of Stalinism, but at least he fought actual Nazis.

This is ahistorical. Stalin agreed to a pact of non-aggression with Nazi Germany in 1939, in which Russia and Germany each claimed certain spheres of influence (in places where, you understand, other sovereign nations were located). Stalin then cheerfully proceeded to invade multiple countries and annex territory. The pact was terminated only because Germany turned on Russia and invaded it. So you can't even say that Stalin ever decided not to ally himself with Hitler after all.
posted by prefpara at 2:02 PM on March 16 [36 favorites]


Have the oligarchs tried to get him to stop?

I think the consensus view is that Russian oligarchs are not like Western rich people who have individual power and, therefore, influence. Rather, Russian oligarchs derive their wealth and any influence they have from the state (from Putin, essentially) and if they tried to use it against Putin, they would simply lose it.

I am still strongly in favor of taking their yachts, obviously. But it's unclear how they could save Ukraine/us/Russia/anything, even if they wanted to.
posted by prefpara at 2:06 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


one is reminded of how the sheriff begged and begged the townspeople to help him fight the invading gang in high noon

I'm getting more of a Stalin meets Scarface vibe.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:19 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Say what you want about the tenets of Stalinism, but at least he fought actual Nazis.

WTF? Did I wake up in a world where the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is ahistorical? Did we not do Operation Barbarossa in this timeline?

If anything Stalin was oblivious about having to fight Hitler even as the allies pushed Barbarossa intelligence including the exact date the Nazis would attack. If Hitler didn't invade the USSR then Stalin would have been content to watch the capitalists and imperialists throw themselves desperately at the Nazi war machine.

If anything Stalin is a warning of allying yourself with a fascist, even temporarily. Because fascists won't hesitate to stab you in the back once you've outlived your usefulness as an ally.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:32 PM on March 16 [30 favorites]


In all sincerity I am not sure anything you can negotiate with Putin will hold. If anything he will feel more wronged and do an internal purge first to deal with his perceived domestic betrayal and then “right” his wrongs with another throw of much better rigged dice. He will view needing another Trump in office as essential to either negate NATO or be passive at the next round. This is not limited to the US but to other nations as well in Europe. All the guarantees by the EU and NATO mean squat if you eliminate the will to enforce.
posted by jadepearl at 2:35 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Say what you want about the tenets of Stalinism, but at least he fought actual Nazis

Co’mon - it was a great allusion to:
Walter Sobchak: You can say what you want about the tenets of national socialism but at least it's an ethos.

At least I laughed. Chortled. Heh-heh-Ed.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:39 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Reuters: The word 'children' was painted in large Russian script on the ground outside the Mariupol Drama Theatre, Maxar satellite images collected on March 14 showed.

Bombing that theatre was an atrocity. I don't know what meaning justice has in the face of acts like that, but I hope one day, there will be some measure of justice done.
posted by prefpara at 2:39 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


The joke was out of its element.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:42 PM on March 16 [22 favorites]


If anything Stalin is a warning of allying yourself with a fascist, even temporarily.

Well, the line between Stalinsim and fascism was whether you were party loyal or not, vs whether you were racially pure or not. Or am I misunderstanding? Not that Nazi's didn't also have a party loyalty test, but it was different, esp after the end of the war and during the height of Stalinism.

Honestly at some point hard communism/authoritarianism/serve the state things become indistinguishable to me from hard fascist things, and I know they're "supposed" to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
posted by hippybear at 2:42 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Thomas Piketty The western elite is preventing us from going after the assets of Russia’s hyper-rich Why has no progress been made on an international financial registry? One simple reason: wealthy westerners don’t want one
posted by adamvasco at 2:52 PM on March 16 [25 favorites]


we're starting to discuss/debate WWI and WWII history and there have been 800+ comments, is that sufficient reason to consider a new thread?

I appreciate adamvasco's comment.. like we needed a reminder that any distinctions between this oligarch, that oligarch.. when anyone surpasses a level of wealth, you really think there are important distinctions to be made? I guess Warren Buffett is one of the "good ones"

screw these people, that level of private wealth is obscene anywhere it exists
posted by elkevelvet at 2:58 PM on March 16 [16 favorites]


I think the consensus view is that Russian oligarchs are not like Western rich people who have individual power and, therefore, influence. Rather, Russian oligarchs derive their wealth and any influence they have from the state (from Putin, essentially) and if they tried to use it against Putin, they would simply lose it.

That’s what I had read too, so I’m a bit surprised why he’s going with that tangent if they have no power over him why bother, setting them up for later scapegoating? In other translated bits he was railing about foie gras and those wishing to live in the Côte D’Azur that has nothing to do with your average Russian citizen but sure seems to fit with a certain Russian elite.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 3:10 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


He's laying the groundwork for a stab-in-the-back story.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:14 PM on March 16 [15 favorites]


Also, even if Stalin had intended to fight the Nazis, there's no "at least" about it. Nazi Germany murdered about 17 million people, including a genocide of about 6 million Jews. Stalin's USSR murdered about the same number of people, including a genocide of about 6 million Ukrainians. They're both evil, murderous ideologies that happened to be in conflict with each other.
posted by biogeo at 3:30 PM on March 16 [27 favorites]


I’ve linked to Yevgenia Belorusets’ diary from Kyiv before, but today’s entry (about yesterday), hit me pretty hard. Here’s an excerpt:
An acquaintance of mine, a Ukrainian art scholar, fled from Irpin to Kyiv and on to Vinnytsia in central Ukraine. From there, she has written impeccably on Facebook about her grandmother, who lives in a beautiful little house in Irpin with a well-tended flower garden. I assumed she too had fled to Kyiv by now, and I wanted to inquire about her wellbeing and ask if she needed any help. I learned that she absolutely refused to leave her house in Irpin. She can’t imagine living anywhere else. My acquaintance tries to call her several times a day, but the number remains unreachable.

Is the celebratory mood in Kyiv today related to the humanitarian corridors that are finally open? Or is it the reassuring, almost hopeful thoughts about the outcome of the war expressed by these many experts?

The number of victims is already so high that it is difficult to comprehend. Again and again, I hear the air defense over Kyiv catching Russian shells mid-flight, thundering and popping. In war, one thinks almost only of war. The concepts of big politics—abstract discussions about the “theater of war,” about what belongs to “the West” and what to Russia and Ukraine—serve as mental refuges within war’s own intolerability. One recovers in the space of analytical thought, a space where these lofty, immaterial questions are discussed, where it is no longer about concrete human lives, but about states whose strategies are often described as self-destiny, manifestations of their national traits.

Before curfew, I wanted to see the subway station that was shelled last night. I had to pass through checkpoints and take detours to get a glimpse of the wreckage. Shards of glass lay in a shockingly large radius around the station. A roof had caved in, plastic doors were deformed by the blast wave; hundreds of broken windows stared blackly into the street. A circle of silence formed around this place, where several houses and dozens of smaller stores were damaged in one fell swoop.

The ruins formed an eerie scene. I saw some women standing in front of the damaged buildings for several minutes, looking at the destroyed section of the street, as if they wanted to memorize every crack, every broken windowpane, forever.
posted by Kattullus at 3:30 PM on March 16 [28 favorites]


That’s what I had read too, so I’m a bit surprised why he’s going with that tangent if they have no power over him why bother

Authoritarians need enemies (and this campaign is very obviously not going well so someone needs to be blamed).
posted by mazola at 3:35 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Solid observation, thatwhichfalls!
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 4:22 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Both are in the EU, neither is in NATO.

The consensus in Sweden (from people I've spoken to) seems to be that, as soon as Finland joins NATO, Sweden will follow. There's no significant ideological opposition to NATO in the corridors of power here, given that Sweden has been de facto allied with NATO for decades.
posted by acb at 4:27 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


"Well, the line between Stalinsim and fascism was whether you were party loyal or not, vs whether you were racially pure or not."

Ultimately the philosophies of Stalinism and Fascism are non-different. The side of the line they are both on is that they both condone and practice wholesale torturer and murder of innocent people.
posted by chance at 4:54 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent @KyivIndependent

⚡️US grants temporary “humanitarian parole” to Ukrainians crossing border from Mexico.

As reported by Reuters on March 16, American border officials are permitting Ukrainians fleeing the war to remain in the U.S. until 2023, albeit on a case-by-case basis.
This is so bittersweet. It's a relief for the USG to finally be acting swiftly and humanely towards refugees for a change. But we all know they're getting straight in because they're "middle class" white passing.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:46 PM on March 16 [16 favorites]


One cannot morally, consistently give "humanitarian parole" to Ukrainian refugees and not do so for Haitian and Central American ones.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:53 PM on March 16 [48 favorites]


The Guardian: ‘A line has been drawn’: Olga Smirnova quits Bolshoi Ballet over Ukraine war
The prima ballerina Olga Smirnova, one of Russia’s biggest dance stars, has quit the Bolshoi Ballet company in Moscow after denouncing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It was announced on Wednesday that Smirnova, who was born and raised in St Petersburg, has now joined the Dutch National Ballet, where she will start immediately alongside the Brazilian soloist Victor Caixeta, who has left the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg in response to the war.
BBC: Russia's state TV hit by stream of resignations
Hours after Marina Ovsyannikova's on-screen protest, three resignations came to light.

Channel One colleague Zhanna Agalakova quit her job as Europe correspondent while two journalists have left rival NTV. Lilia Gildeyeva had worked for the channel as a presenter since 2006 and Vadim Glusker had been at NTV for almost 30 years.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:10 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


One cannot morally, consistently give "humanitarian parole" to Ukrainian refugees and not do so for Haitian and Central American ones.

Oh, this gets even weirder when you consider the history of American Exceptionalism and interventions, literal banana republics and propping up unsavory dictatorships and so much more.
posted by loquacious at 6:17 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


we've talked about it before but it really does look like Russia is simply going to keep all the leased planes [CNN Lite]. 12.4 billion dollars worth. it feels weird for me to be remarking on this while they're already intentionally out there blowing up children and murdering people in their beds so i apologize for that, but it all just seems so insanely irrational in the abstract. like if they're gonna keep the stupid jets they are basically saying they never expect or intend to participate in a global economy ever again in any way whatsoever.
posted by glonous keming at 6:35 PM on March 16 [19 favorites]


I wonder what kind of insurance arrangements the owners of the planes have in place. Presumably someone will buy the debt for the aircraft at a fraction of the paper value and then Russia will have to settle that debt before it can get back into international credit markets. Oil, gas and mining are capital intensive up front and they’ll need to borrow money to sustain production and buy specialized equipment from countries that currently sanction them. They’ll have to pay cash for everything in hard currency because no one is going to take their paper.
posted by interogative mood at 7:03 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


'Why, why, why?' Ukraine's Mariupol descends into despair. [Graphic photo warning]
Two Associated Press journalists have been the only international media present in Mariupol, chronicling its fall into chaos and despair. The city is encircled by Russian soldiers, who are slowly squeezing the life out of it, one blast at a time.

This is a horrible, harrowing read. And it's from yesterday, even before the horrific bombing of civilians in the Mariupol theatre.
posted by Kabanos at 7:13 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


Oil, gas and mining are capital intensive up front and they’ll need to borrow money to sustain production

And only going to get worse...

The ground beneath gas pipelines may subside up to half a meter in places over the next 20 years, according to the group’s permafrost projections. A soil slump of even 10 centimeters can be enough to inflict damage on pipelines.
Projection: $110 Billion in Repairs for Russian Pipelines on Permafrost
posted by thatwhichfalls at 7:13 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


like if they're gonna keep the stupid jets they are basically saying they never expect or intend to participate in a global economy ever again in any way whatsoever.

Putting aside the whole stupidly insane war and invasion, this is part of the whole equation I find to be extremely alarming and worrisome.

It's like Putin is personally pissed off that his giant, moldy, unfinished palace with it's private underground ice hocky rink and other alarmingly ostentatious features on the Black Sea just isn't enough and he's willing to starve his own entire country and every shred of international good will and burn every last bridge to prop up his fragile ego.

It's everything like watching a totally sick and twisted abusive spouse - who also just happens to be some kind of milquetoast mob boss, no coincidence surely - burn down and intentionally hurt a living family and everyone around them on a global scale, even if it means the whole family starves or ends up destitute and ruined.
posted by loquacious at 7:20 PM on March 16 [16 favorites]


Former Ukrainian Journalist: Victor Kovalenko 🇺🇲🇺🇦 on Twitter
The last loophole for passenger air commute from Russia to Europe had been closed. The state Serbia airline Air Serbia announced that it cancelled flights to #Russia.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:55 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


>It's everything like watching a totally sick and twisted abusive spouse - who also just happens to be some kind of milquetoast mob boss, no coincidence surely - burn down and intentionally hurt a living family and everyone around them on a global scale, even if it means the whole family starves or ends up destitute and ruined.


There's been the discussion that Putin's been looking at old maps and wants to conquer and colonialize a Russian empire again.

And for Putin, with his deep ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, it might be more useful to consider that he sees himself fighting a holy war for Russia's soul:

https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/the-best-of-christian-compassion?s=r"


https://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/comment/2022/02/16/essay-on-vladimir-putin


https://baptistnews.com/article/as-putin-bombs-children-russian-orthodox-patriarch-names-the-root-of-ukraines-sin-gay-pride-parades/#.YjKlAVMpBPw

posted by sebastienbailard at 8:11 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


I wonder what kind of insurance arrangements the owners of the planes have in place.

A new Russian law on leased aircraft showed Moscow could "confiscate" planes and such a move might help it claim insurance, Air Lease Corp (AL.N) said at a time when leasing firms risk writing off jets stranded in the sanction-hit country.


Leasing companies generally are pretty well insured; Russia outright confiscating the planes will help them claim the losses. Insurance companies (and reinsurers) will take a hit obviously, and insurance rates will rise, but I've seen previously that the lease companies are not particularly exposed in Russia as they only make up a relatively small amount of their leased planes (around 5% iirc).

Thing is, those planes will rapidly become useless even for domestic flights due to the loss of access to internationally sourced spare parts and maintenance, and the value of the jet plummets rapidly if you don't have the regular maintenance logs - those logs are more important than the plane. So Russia will rapidly end up with $10-12 billion of planes they can't safely fly* and are near worthless, carriers that can barely find a landing spot outside of small regional allies, and the insurance company agents chasing to get the money back from the russian state.

* chances are they intend to fly them without maintenance anyway; flying Aeroflot is soon to get a lot more um, exciting on top of the other factors.

Then you add on Russia threatening to just appropriate the stranded assets of lots of other western companies that have suspended operations. Those hundreds of billions of frozen Russian central bank assets in UK/EU banks? They're gonna get claimed by all the companies getting *their* assets appropriated, or their insurers.

Putin is basically doubling down on Russia never dealing with the outside world again; if there's not a peace deal with Ukraine soon, Russia is going to be an international pariah for a generation while the financial impacts ripple out. It's not just the poor sods in Ukraine who are going to be paying the costs of Putin's meglomania.

And dear god, the costs in Ukraine. There's a before and after picture of a 9 year old girl, Sasha, going round, who had to have her arm amputated - after her family's fleeing car was shot at in a Kyiv suburb, her dad killed, and the remnants of the family hid out in a cellar for 2 days before she was carried through the warzone to a hospital, which itself has come under attack.
The first thing Sasha said to me was; 'please be honest do I have a left hand or not?'
'I didn't know what to say. I didn't know whether not to say anything, to lie or to tell her the truth.
'What do you say to a child who is in pain but who knows that she put up with it.
'She asked if she would be healthy and if she can have a new pink artificial arm coloured with flowers.
This just broke me so damn hard. All this misery and death, for what, the ego of one man?

Warning; distressing pictures in the story. (the Daily Mail broke the story, so I will, for once, link to them)
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 8:25 PM on March 16 [27 favorites]


So, I watched Zelenskyy's speech just after it happened this morning, and have been mulling it over for most of the rest of the day. Didn't get a whole lot of real work done.

It was a brilliant speech. He started off by emphasizing the shared values of the American and Ukrainian people—he made what I thought was a strong moral, as well as political, case for why the US should aid Ukraine. There was something striking about this to me; I guess it's because I've gotten so used to politics boiling down to either blood-and-soil ethnic chauvinism or cynical, amoral "realpolitik", that it was jarring to hear someone make the case for democracy and liberalism so earnestly, on such a grand stage.

Then he moved into his 'asks' of the US, literally saying: "is this too much to ask?"

First, he restated the request for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. This... confused me a bit. He must know that this is a non-starter—it literally is too much to ask. Not because the US might not want to do it, but because there's just no way to enforce it, at least that I can conceive of at present, without having the US military literally shoot Russian planes from the sky, with all the consequences that could entail. So, either he thinks there's some way to make it work without triggering WWIII (as Biden keeps insisting it would), or it's a bit of a negotiation tactic. Lead with the big ask, even though you know you're not going to get it, and hope to get more of what's actually on the table..?

He quickly followed the NFZ call with "if not that..." and alluded to other systems that Ukraine needs. One presumes that at least some of these are the items Biden announced Ukraine would be receiving.

The request for new sanctions on all Russian government officials down to the state Duma level was interesting. That sounds like something that might have real teeth, particularly for the oligarchs who have made ample use of lower-level minions to stash their wealth. Not sure what the political opposition would be, except for the usual klept-aligned suspects.

He pretty bluntly called out multilateral Western institutions for failing, which is something that seems pretty bloody obvious at this point, but nobody in the West seems to want to admit. What, really, is the purpose of NATO, if not to protect European democracy from authoritarian aggression emanating from Moscow? If NATO cannot under any circumstances be expanded to include a democratic state like Ukraine, as it apparently cannot, then what purpose does it really serve? We've been avoiding answering that question for a while, because the obvious answer is that NATO is—somewhat perversely—more or less what the Russians claim it is: at best a Cold War relic, at worst a self-serving instrument for the preservation of the status quo by the top dogs of the postwar order. Awkward.

Zelenskyy explicitly alludes to the need for "new institutions" and "new alliances", which seems to be a pretty direct call for a NATO replacement/alternative, perhaps (one hopes) something more inclusive that is actually grounded in shared values and philosophy, rather than geopolitical enemy-of-my-enemy convenience. (Glances meaningfully at Turkey.)

The video was... impactful. My first reaction was that, if I only had a limited number of minutes in front of the US Congress, I probably wouldn't spend any of them livestreaming a canned video, but I think it probably helps certain members of Congress not just dismiss the entire conflict as "talk". Some people need to see things to really get them, and sending the video along as 'homework' probably wouldn't have gotten it in front of the eyeballs that really need to see it. So perhaps it was time well spent.

And of course at the end, his personal appeal, with its references to King, and to Zelenskyy's by-US-Congress-standards young age. Here is someone who is almost 40 years younger than Nancy Pelosi and 35 younger than Biden, ready to throw all those decades of life away, as so many other Ukrainians are, for ideals the US government claims to stand for, and arguably derives its very legitimacy from. What are we, if we refuse to take a stand?

Biden's followup afterwards was... Biden-y. It was fine. He's a cautious President doing cautious stuff, and the arms package he outlined was basically just that: useful stuff, enough to send a lot of young Russians home in body bags, but nothing that really seems like a game-changer, or that's going to give the Ukrainians living under constant bombardment any relief, or Ukrainian negotiators much new leverage. No Patriot batteries, no THAAD, no advisors, no US overflights. There's nothing wrong with what they're getting, but it looks suspiciously like the "Mujāhidūn Package", ideal for when you're being used as cannon fodder to bleed an adversary in the Great Game. Probably comes with some deniable CIA operators, but nothing that might look like a tripwire. The message seems clear: the US is happy to supply the lawyers, guns, and money, but it's Ukrainians that are going to be doing the dying on the behalf of democracy.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:44 PM on March 16 [44 favorites]


He has to ask for air interdiction even if he knows they won’t get it. If you were being bombed and he was your President that’s what you’d want to hear him say. There are signs in the streets calling for it and I’m sure Ukrainians were listening too.

NATO could’ve been expanded to include Ukraine and probably should’ve been but hindsight is 20/20 and to do so now is a declaration of war. And we’re not doing nuke talk here, so…
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:54 PM on March 16 [12 favorites]


>but nothing that really seems like a game-changer


Wouldn't a game-changer cross one of Putin's lines in the sand? And that's why we didn't, or couldn't, hand over the Polish jets?
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:07 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


What, really, is the purpose of NATO, if not to protect European democracy from authoritarian aggression emanating from Moscow?

It's purpose is to protect NATO members, which so far (knocks wood) it has been doing.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:12 PM on March 16 [23 favorites]


!!!WARNING!!! VERY LONG COMMENT about the theological/historical background of Russian Orthodoxy w/r/t this conflict, feel free to skip ahead! !!!WARNING!!!

I appreciate and recommend the links upthread to the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in all of this. Putin's co-opting of the Russian Orthodox Church has been a) hella smart and b) a huge part of his propaganda strategy. Russian Orthodox leadership, after decades in the wilderness under secular communist forces, was completely unable to resist the return to cultural authority Putin offered them, even though it was clear from the very beginning that it was a poison apple he was offering. "Yes, you return to cultural primacy," Putin promised them. "But in return, you will sanctify my politics and describe them as God's will." (Again, for Americans, really not so different from the corruption of evangelical leaders who acquiesced to Trump.)

Patriarch Kirill, in particular, has been all too ready to do so. He came to the Patriarchate in 2009, and he arrived with dreams of ecumenism -- he met with the Pope! It was bananas! And met with (mostly-Catholic) religious leaders throughout areas of the former USSR and Warsaw Pact, including Poland, and warmed up relations considerably. For the last 400 years or so, Eastern Orthodox leadership has been really pissy about engaging in ecumenical dialogue with Western Catholic leadership, and a huge part of this is because the Catholic Church has paid SO much attention to ecumenical dialogue with what more than one Orthodox patriarch has called -- and this is a quote -- "a minor German heresy" (i.e., all of Protestantism). It really burns their biscuits that instead of being focused on the Church Universal "breathing with two lungs" (i.e., Eastern and Western, Orthodox and Catholic, Greek and Latin Rites; it's also a reference to the Holy Spirit, or pneuma, as in pneumonia ... breath and lungs), Rome is spending its time in dialogue with "minor German heretics." (Orthodox leaders literally release sulky, pointed press statements whenever the Pope meets with Protestant leaders. It's a huge point of contention!)

Kirill also made significant administrative reforms, mostly in an admirable direction (probably that would prevent pre-Patriarch Kirill from importing millions of dollars of cigarettes, selling them, and embezzling the money, which he did). But Kirill was chosen as patriarch because he was an ally of Putin, and he clearly values Putin, not just as an ally and patron, but because Putin favors a sort of muscular, sexually-conservative Orthodoxy that Kirill believes in, and offers Kirill the opportunity to "restore" the Russian Orthodox Church to its primary place.

This requires us to back up a bit. The early Church, once the Roman Empire okay'd it, was run by five Patriarchates, five particularly important holy cities whose churches were believed to have been founded by apostles. These were called the "Pentarchy," and they were Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem (in that order of primacy, although that's obviously a bit mad as Jerusalem was clearly founded first). Obviously lots of messy historical stuff and no neat dividing lines, but -- after the fall of Rome and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, Constantinople declared itself a religious "New Rome" (as Constantine had declared it a political New Rome when he moved his capital there).

Vladimir I (or Volodymyr I, if you prefer), ruler of Kievan Rus', the predecessor state to Russia, was converted to Orthodoxy Christianity in the late 900s, in Crimea. He returned to Kiev, his capitol, built the first stone church in Kiev, and converted his realm to Orthodoxy. (Moscow was a nameless muddy village in Tartar Mongol territory; it doesn't even get incorporated into proto-Russian territory or given a name for another 150 years.) So it's REALLY IMPORTANT for anybody making a claim to Russian Orthodoxy to control Crimea and Kiev, which are the cradles of Orthodoxy in Russia.

When Constantinople fell in 1453, the Byzantine Emperor was Constantine XI Palaiologos. The crown theoretically passed to his last surviving brother, Thomas Palaiologos (who converted to Catholicism in the hopes of keeping some of his land/driving out the Ottomans). He had two sons, one of whom died without legitimate issue; the other had two sons, of whom one died, and one converted to Islam. His eldest daughter married a Catholic monarch. But Zoe -- Sophia -- was married to Ivan III, Grand Prince of Moscow and Grand Prince of All Rus' (at which point she immediately returned to the Orthodoxy of her birth). Their grandson was Ivan the Terrible. Russian Orthodox Patriarchs and princes began describing Moscow as the Third Rome (or, as theologians prefer, because we're hilarious, "New New Rome"). The true home of Christianity, now that Rome and Byzantium had both fallen; the center of Orthodoxy; and the only true line of the Roman Emperor remaining. (And this is part of why some people are so fuckin' invested in Anastasia having survived the execution of the Tsar's family ... she'd be the only direct heir of the Roman Emperors, which is also important for reasons I'll explain in the NEXT couple paragraphs ...)

The largest cleavage in Christianity is the one that divides the Latin-speaking Western Christian (Roman/Catholic) Church from the Greek-speaking Eastern Christian (Orthodox) Church. When people specify someone is ROMAN Catholic, as opposed to Ukrainian Catholic -- they're both Catholic, both in communion with the Bishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope). But the Roman Catholic is a Catholic of the Roman Rite, who celebrates the (vernacular Mass based on the) Latin Mass. Ukrainian Catholics use the Byzantine Rite for their Masses, which is basically the same as a Russian or Greek Orthodox service. There are a number of Rites other than the Roman Rite -- Alexandrian, Armenian, Byzantine, East Syriac, West Syriac -- and a lot of those break down into further subidivisions (West Syriac includes Maronite, Syro-Malankara, and Syriac -- Maronites are Lebanese Catholics and there's a lot of them in the Midwestern US; Syro-Malankara Catholics are "Thomas Christians" on the west coast of India, allegedly formed when the Apostle (doubting) Thomas went there and converted people (but probably most likely a combination of a very early, very small community of converts + Portuguese traders arriving).

(There are also other forms of the Latin Rite: Popes who want to make a fuckin' point about liturgy often choose to celebrate the Ambrosian Rite, a Mass instituted by St. Ambrose of Milan and mostly celebrated in Milan; there's a Mozarabic Rite mostly celebrated in Toledo, Spain; etc.) (Fun new game when you get tired of US politics: Study the politics of Popes celebrating the MANY AND VARIOUS Catholic Rites available to them, because they ALWAYS have a point when they do not-Roman-Rite.)

The Orthodox Churches are not STRICTLY Greek-speaking; when the Roman Empire split, "Rome" became the religious authority for basically the entire Western Roman Empire, but there was still a Tetrarchy in the Eastern Roman Empire, where Constantinople was now the first among equals. Buuuuut in general we simplify "Latin" and "Greek" Churches, or "Catholic" and "Orthodox" Churches, although it's a bit more complex than that. (Note also that Catholics and Orthodox are both Chalcedonian Christian groups, who accept the decisions of the Second Council of Chalcedon in 451 -- this, too, is about to get important later. The "Assyrian Church of the East" quit in 431 (first Chalcedon), choosing what your history classes probably called "the Nestorian heresy" (honestly, have fun; Christological heresies are The Obscurest!). "Oriental Orthodox" Churches rage-quit in 451 because they rejected the council's teaching that Jesus was one person with TWO natures (human and divine); instead believing Jesus was one person with ONE nature (both human and divine). People literally had riots where they threw rocks in the streets at each other over this, because the 400s were clearly mad boring. (My brother-in-law is Oriental Orthodox (Armenian Orthodox, specifically) and me and his priest like to GET INTO IT at all family gatherings -- my sister has given up and just seats us next to each other so we can bicker about theology for three hours at social events because WE LOVES IT, WE DO -- and I am miaphysite-understanding enough that I got to be matron of honor AND godmother in Armenian services.)

Okay! We're coming back up towards the modern era.

Bishops have territory. You can't just name someone a bishop; they have to be a bishop OF a place, a specific place, with geographical boundaries. If you live in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles (California) (aka Archidiœcesis Angelorum in California), you have a current Catholic Archbishop (José Horacio Gómez), but you also have auxiliary bishops, who are helper bishops, but they are bishops of imaginary places. Well, not imaginary, per se, but places where no Catholics live anymore. Auxiliary Bishop Alejandro Aclan, for example, is actually the bishop of Rusicade, in Algeria. But there's no Catholics there, so he can go helper-bishop Los Angeles. (I was confirmed by an auxiliary bishop of Chicago whose official diocese had been desertified by the Saharan desert, and literally NOBODY lived in his technical geographical diocese, although he prayed for the rare camel trains that crossed it.)

One of the things that happened when the Western Roman Empire collapsed was that the Bishop of Rome (aka The Pope) acquired the power to name bishops, because there was no emperor to do it. In the Eastern Roman Empire, this was still the Emperor's business. More importantly, Emperors began calling ecumenical councils in 325 (First Nicaea), when Constantine was like "OMG GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER I DON'T CARE HOW." When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, they were left with a quandary -- we have a lot of complaints, but who will now call the Council? The Latin-Rite Christians said, "You know, there's like a whole Council of Jerusalem in the Book of Acts, I think that means successors to the apostles, such as the Bishop of Rome, can probably call councils. Let's do that." Eastern-Rite Christians were like THE FUCK YOU SAY, we have a perfectly good Roman Emperor right here. So a huge, huge difference between the "two lungs" in the modern era is Catholics can call councils whenever they have a bug up their butts -- the post-Reformation Council of Trent, the mostly-modern Vatican I and very modern Vatican II. THE ORTHODOX CAN'T. They accept ecumenical councils up to 2nd Nicaea (787), and most accept Emperor-called councils up through 5th Constantinople (1351). But after that there's no Emperors and everything is just synods, and synods are bullshit. (Also, amusingly, 2 of the 3 post-imperial synods were about complaining Protestantism wasn't a real thing anybody should pay attention to.)

These two things -- that bishops have territories and that ecumenical councils must be called by Emperors -- have created MASSIVE problems. Orthodox Christianity still uses the Julian calendar because there's no Emperor to call a council to declare the Gregorian calendar is better. So Russian rulers -- even after the Tsars -- have often viewed themselves as the only legitimate heirs of the Roman Emperors who could call ecumenical councils, and Russian Patriarchs have often viewed themselves as the keepers of that imperial legacy. But Orthodox Christianity basically CAN'T call a council to deal with THE WHOLE OF MODERNITY, because there's no emperor to call it. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, Catholic Christians were seen as weak, subjected as they were to the uncertain authority of the Pope and his kinda fuckin' random bishopric borders, rather than the clear authority of national rulers whose church heads were equal to the Patriarch in Constantinople. But in the longterm aftermath (like literally the 1500 years aftermath), it's clear that the transnational model of Catholicism has been stronger and more robust than the bishop-of-a-nation-state model of Orthodoxy. A lot of this has to do with specifics of history! It's not necessarily a better model on its own merits!

So, bishops have territory. For Catholics, Roman-Rite bishops are generally the ones who have the little local areas -- the Archbishop of Chicago is a Roman-Rite bishop. But I ALSO live in the Ukrainian (Catholic) Eparchy of St. Nicholas of Chicago, which is EVERYTHING in the US west of the Ohio River. And the Syro-Malabar (Catholic) Eparchy of St. Thomas of Chicago (literally all Syro-Malabar Catholics in North America). So non-Roman-Rite Catholics are allowed to have "overlays" over Roman-Rite dioceses.

But Orthodoxy continues to insist on one territory, one bishop. One nation, one autocephalus patriarch. Autocephalus = self-heading -- a self-run church equal in dignity to Constantinople. Autonomous churches are national churches that are SUBJECT to an autocephalus church. The Russian Orthodox Church (autocephalus) desperately wants the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to be autonomous and under the ROC; the Ukrainian Orthodox Church wants to be autocephalus. (What makes a church autocephalus? Enough recognition from other autocephalus Orthodox Churches, basically.)

This is a super-long-time dispute. It's been more than 30 years now that the Orthodox Church in America has been seeking recognition as an autocephalus church, but some Orthodox leadership DOES NOT WANT there to be an autocephalus OCA in the New World, even though there are 1 million Orthodox believers in the US. They variously want the Greek or Russian bishops to have authority over the Orthodox in the US. (Russian bishops only recognized autocephaly for North America because they granted it, and Constantinople immediately said, "You are not us and you do not have the right to grant it, WE GRANTED IT TO YOU, and only because we are NICE, you're not a REAL Christian location.")

For the Russian Orthodox Church, any Ukrainian Orthodox Christians who declare allegiance to the Ukrainian Church are suspect and/or traitors -- the only legitimate church, to the ROC, is a Ukrainian Church that considers itself completely subject to the Patriarch in Moscow. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is WORSE, because they're basically Byzantine-rite Christians who decided the POPE was a good idea, which is SO offensive. And like, obviously, if your power is co-terminus with your geographical area, and you are the Patriarch of Moscow, obviously you want to insist that your land is not just Russia but Ukraine.

These are splits that have been looming since literally 1453, so it's hard to call them "sudden." But they are HUGE splits in Orthodoxy, ENORMOUS disputations that have been lurking in the background since 1453 and now those medieval disputes are erupting fully-formed into modern view. Can Moscow create a new autocephalus church? WHO THE FUCK KNOWS? But we all definitely know that there's a MASSIVE INVASION OF RUSSIAN CHRISTIANS AGAINST ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS IN UKRAINE in an attempt to prove that Moscow has that power (by virtue of its military) while Constantinople doesn't (by virtue of it ... existing on pain of Turkish sufferance). Anyway, Moscow would like to be the New Boss Church that gets to create other churches, and decide which ones are Orthodox. Constantinople would like to cordially invite them to shove it up their ass.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:37 PM on March 16 [138 favorites]


I'm sorry if I haven't been paying attention, I do get exposed to a lot of the stories going on here, but I don't get the feeling that Putin has a plan. The simplest story seems that he's deep into Tyson's Law and just sort of casting about. Beating up on some children, not sticking his neck out too far, and really just in grinding mode.

The only real offense he has is escalation, but for whatever reason he's not going Total War. I suppose the upshot would be that he did get punched in the mouth, after all, and the overtures about a Sweden Model compromise and whatnot could be a headfake, could be a sign of weakness.

I think at the end of the day, justice will (or should) be comprised of imprisoning if not executing Putin (hopefully that's not over the line), and perhaps most importantly, destroying all Russian nukes and development programs.
posted by rhizome at 9:47 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


The only real offense he has is escalation, but for whatever reason he's not going Total War.

He's not? The Russian Army are shelling cities more or less indiscriminately, if not actively targeting civilians and civilian architecture. Ideologically, Russia are fighting the Ukrainian nation, not just military. If that isn't total war, what is?
posted by Dysk at 10:38 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]


If that isn't total war, what is?

I don’t think you’re really trying to troll people into comments that will be deleted, but goddamn. Anyway: pretty obviously tactical nukes used on mid-sized cities until Zelensky surrenders. Recapitulate the surrender of Japan. Putin betting the US won’t fire strategic weapons first.
posted by Ryvar at 11:18 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


>Wouldn't a game-changer cross one of Putin's lines in the sand? And that's why we didn't, or couldn't, hand over the Polish jets?

I've read some analysis which suggests jets aren't a particular bottleneck for Ukraine right now. Even the Russians don't seem to want to fly their jets over Ukraine - with both sides armed to the teeth with cheap, man-portable anti-aircraft weaponry, both sides flying similar jets against each other, and without clearly defined lines of advance and units operating behind enemy lines... the chance of friendly fire is pretty high. Even a high tech, multi million dollar missile system like the BUK shot down a Malaysian airliner there by mistake.

I don't think there's anything that could be a "game changer" on its own. Ukraine has a pretty impressive domestic arms industry, the Western equipment is more advanced, but it would be hampered by their lack of familiarity with the systems, and no one in the West wants to commit troops on the ground to go fight for them.

Their domestic Stugna-P ATGM is less advanced than the US Javelin but it gets the job done. Footage of it destroying a Russian vehicle. Even though it's 1/5 the cost per missile, it has several advantages - twice the effective range, able to hit targets out to 5km, the launcher is set up on a ridge and is basically invisible, while the operator uses the briefcase unit in a ditch nearby. Great for ambushes and defensive engagements - which is what they're doing most of the time. Most importantly, the troops there are familiar with it and have fired it many times in the past, you don't want to be trying to read the manual on a new high tech piece of equipment in a language you may not be familiar with.

Even the cheap, locally produced RPG-7s will eventually take out a tank with enough hits. Footage of a T-64 BV in Mariupol resisting the first two hits before succumbing to the third.

Would a more advanced weapon like the UK / Swedish NLAW be a game changer? It is designed to take out tanks in a single hit with its top attack mode, eg this footage of a single NLAW shot taking out the lead tank on the highway outside Kyiv, about 10km from the city.

Even the the Ukrainian BTR-4 is holding up in combat: capable of traveling at 110kmph and armed with a 30mm autocannon, it can engage in hit and run combat with other lighter targets and even possibly cripple a tank. Footage of the BTR-4 engaging a T-72 and a BMP-1 in Mariupol.
posted by xdvesper at 11:30 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


So, the story I read about some nobody stepping up to be a Tzar in Russia, has roots in Religious manipulations? You think Putin wants to create a new Russian Emperor, to gain full control of the Eastern Orthodox church, for Russia? One too many mushrooms indeed. Russia deserves better than the robbery of the oligarchs, and the murderous cruel delusions of Putin.

None of the Currently living Romanovs look to be candidates, but one male is Russian Orthodox, speaks Russian and has visited at length in Russia, participated in cultural exchange, and is a Prince. One other participated in the reburial of the Romanovs.
posted by Oyéah at 11:52 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


If that isn't total war, what is?, with all respect I think Dysk is horrified by events, it is hard to go through the day now for many, I know it is for me; I (naïvely) hoped this was gone having grown up in a target-rich part of Europe, and not having felt the need to read about Russia for 20 years.
posted by unearthed at 12:18 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


Wouldn't a game-changer cross one of Putin's lines in the sand? And that's why we didn't, or couldn't, hand over the Polish jets?

I think that's an open question at this point, and likely one people will argue over later.

The "official" US line is that the JCS (basically, the "US military") determined that the MiG-29s wouldn't change the strategic picture enough to make adding them worthwhile. Obviously, this has a silent "for the US" tacked onto the end of it. But it doesn't mean it's not an accurate statement; it's not clear that adding more aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force's mostly-grounded current fleet would do much. Apparently they run several sorties a day with their current planes, but aren't at maximum tempo. I get the impression the Pentagon's response was less a hard "no" than more of "so, tell us again why you need these?"

Also, the US was basically being looped in to what could have been a purely Poland/Ukraine deal, in order to provide cover for Poland. I mean, it doesn't make a ton of sense to fly Polish planes west, to a US airbase in Germany, in order to hand them over to Ukrainian pilots who had to travel past them to get there, and who are presumably going to immediately fly them back east. Seems like you could save a lot of gas by, you know, not doing that. But doing things that way was, reportedly, a non-negotiable by Poland. I guess because it gives them some sort of diplomatic figleaf to hide behind when Putin inevitably wants to retaliate..? (Honestly I'm not sure what they think they're gaining by going to Germany to "sign the paperwork"; Putin doesn't seem likely to care about such technicalities when he's picking aimpoints for missiles.)

Anyway: the US didn't block Poland from transferring MiG-29s to Ukraine, and it's sort of unfair to the US (and a credit to Ukraine's control of the narrative) that it's frequently being reported that way. If Poland wants to give MiG-29s to Ukraine, they can do so at any time they want. The US just said that it wasn't going to get involved as a middleman. The pressure campaign should logically be directed at Polish leaders, not American ones.

I'm a bit surprised that Zelenskyy didn't ask specifically for something that the US (and only the US) could give, like the MQ-9 Reaper to augment their much-celebrated Bayraktars. Which would have the side benefit, vs. manned craft, of potentially letting US pilots operate them on the sly, freeing up personnel in Ukraine for their manned fleet.

There are presumably reasons for why everyone involved is doing what they're doing, but I think we're (at least I am) basically unable able to see the forest for the trees.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:35 AM on March 17 [13 favorites]


Just a note that the second of xdvesper's links goes to a subreddit that quite rightly flags the footage with strong content warnings. It is utterly brutal, and will no doubt be shown in armour training courses around the world for years to come as a dire warning about what can happen to tanks - and their crews - in built-up areas that haven't been cleared of opposing infantry.
posted by Major Clanger at 1:32 AM on March 17 [8 favorites]


Re Poland, please don't discount how incompetent the current government is. See the Tuesday prime ministerial jaunt, which was not coordinated at EU level, didn't come with any aid or evacuating refugees despite running a special train. Just a pale copy of the other Kaczyński's Tbilisi trip in 2008, which at least grabbed the headlines, and no added value for Ukraine.

And today, half of the Polish train network signals centers are down in what is rumoured to be a cyber attack. Fun.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:40 AM on March 17 [12 favorites]


One small mercy today: it's reported that the bomb shelter under the Mariupol theater remained intact, and they have been able to dig out the entrance (no thanks to the Russians, who have been periodically shelling) and are evacuating people.
posted by tavella at 1:45 AM on March 17 [30 favorites]


Nikkei Asia (Japanese newspaper) reports on its liveblog:
China's ambassador to Ukraine this week assured the head of the Lviv military administration that his country would "never attack Ukraine," according to media reports and a translated news release from the website of the Lviv Regional State Administration. Praising the "unity" of the Ukrainian people, Ambassador Fan Xianrong is quoted as saying: "I can responsibly say that China will forever be a good force for Ukraine, both economically and politically. We will always respect your state, we will develop relations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. We will respect the path chosen by Ukrainians, because this is the sovereign right of every nation."
Which, if nothing else, shows that China’s diplomatic corps is judging that Ukraine will still be around as an independent country in the foreseeable future.
posted by Kattullus at 1:59 AM on March 17 [14 favorites]


Can anyone explain the significance of the Iskander penetration aids observation?

Russia’s Use Of Iskander Ballistic Missiles In Ukraine Exposes Secret Decoy Capability – The novel decoy, ejected from the base of the missile, is designed to confuse hostile radar and interceptor missiles., Thomas Newdick, The War Zone, March 15, 2022:
Russian Ground Forces Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles, known in the West as SS-26 Stone, have been using an apparently previously unseen decoy, in an effort to spoof Ukrainian air defenses as heavy fighting continues in the wake of the Russian invasion that began late last month. Penetration aids, or PENAIDs, of a broadly similar kind, have previously been associated with much longer-range strategic missile systems, namely intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). However, these decoy munitions now point to Russian efforts to ensure that its short-range battlefield ballistic missiles, too, are better able to defeat increasingly sophisticated anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defenses. What’s especially surprising is that Russia has now revealed this potentially significant aspect of the Iskander-M, one that it had previously managed to keep under wraps, at least from the general public, during the conflict in Ukraine where it isn’t likely even needed.

Photos of the then-mysterious decoys, originally identified as submunitions of some kind, began to appear earlier this month. They were brought to wider attention by Collective Awareness to Unexploded Ordnance, or CAT-UXO [website, Twitter], an organization that brings together the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) community in order to collate information and awareness. Roughly 16 inches long, dart-shaped, and with white bodies and orange tails, the purpose of these objects was at first unclear...
Analysis and photographs follow in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 3:33 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


The painfully slow process of relocating the millions of Ukrainian refugees from the border countries to other parts of the European Union hasn’t been much reported on, but it is underway, if still woefully behind where it should be. Here in Finland around four thousand refugees have arrived. Excerpt:
Hundreds of Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war in their home country are arriving into the Finnish capital Helsinki every day, according to unofficial estimates.

The Estonian Broadcasting Corporation (ERR) reported earlier this week that almost 20,000 Ukrainians had arrived in Estonia, with shipping companies adding that many are continuing their journey by boat to Finland.

"The proportion of Ukrainians among the passengers has clearly increased, and hundreds of them arrive in Finland from Estonia every day. On Tuesday there were about 350 Ukrainian passengers and the day before 450," said Marika Nöjd, Communications Director at Tallink Silja.
posted by Kattullus at 4:19 AM on March 17 [11 favorites]


Honestly at some point hard communism/authoritarianism/serve the state things become indistinguishable to me from hard fascist things, and I know they're "supposed" to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Which was another of Orwell's points.
posted by Gelatin at 4:31 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


Horseshoe Theory (Wikipedia).
posted by cenoxo at 4:51 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Alarm over - the Polish railway signalling failure is due to Bombardier (currently owned by Alstom) signalling centers dealing with a time formatting error, p