The glory and freedom of Ukraine has not yet perished
April 19, 2022 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Ukraine has stood against the Russian invasion for 55 days. In Mariupol the Azovstal Iron and Steelworks remains as one final stronghold against Russian conquest. Ukraine has sunk the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, the missile cruiser Moskva. Russian President Putin has appointed General Aleksandr Dvornikov to try to turn things around. On Monday Russian forces launched a new offensive on a 300 mile long front in eastern Ukraine. The battle of Donbas is underway.

[Previously]
Also if you need to vent feelings there is a Metatalk thread available.
posted by interogative mood (1153 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tragedy Has Never Left Us
Interview with historian Bruno Cabanes about what lies behind the way media outlets have portrayed the war in Ukraine as part of the narrative of Europe during WW2. This ignores the fact that the conflict is part of "a repertoire of violence" from the recent past, seen in places like Yugoslavia, Chechnya and Syria. Be wary of confusing history with strategy or geopolitical analysis, he warns
posted by robbyrobs at 12:14 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


Thanks for making this new post!
posted by adrianhon at 12:16 PM on April 19 [11 favorites]


I deeply appreciate these posts, so thank you, interogative mood, for taking this on.
posted by rocketman at 12:22 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]


Oryx has updated its list of heavy equipment contributed to Ukraine by other nations.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:23 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Oryx has updated its list of heavy equipment contributed to Ukraine by other nations.

Way too few flags of people that should be there and way too few basic heavy weapons like artillery and SAMs. Plenty of radars. Though I get the feeling that Ukrainians are already acutely fucking aware of all the shit coming towards them.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:48 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


20,000 mercenaries, on Russia's payroll, deployed in Donbas, according to The Guardian. I have only dread.
posted by Oyéah at 12:55 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


Unfortunately, Russia never signed the UN Mercenary Convention. Neither did the US, France, UK, or China from what I see, although Germany did. So I guess the big power players of the world think it's totally OK to pay random people from random other countries to go join their "adventure wars" of convenience. Sigh. I'm not exactly surprised that the US has no moral high ground here. Par for the course.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:14 PM on April 19 [8 favorites]


Sorry to sidetrack, but this is something I've been wondering. Any links would be appreciated. What is the logistics of modern warfare? I see lots of pictures of guys with guns, are they engaging the enemy with small arms? My only experience is with watching war movies. The article says Russia is opening a 300 mile front. That is not a front like I can comprehend from WWI, what does it mean? What will the soldiers be doing to defend the front? I would think the notion of "front lines" would be made obsolete by the fact you can hurl missiles at the hinterland from anywhere.

I'm sorry, but I have no clue what people are actually doing in this conflict. ( Except civilians whose plights are well documented.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:17 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


I'm not exactly surprised that the US has no moral high ground here. Par for the course.

Russia hasn't invaded the United States.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:20 PM on April 19 [14 favorites]


Thanks for the new thread. Today I visited my mother, and could tell her a lot of stuff I have learnt from these threads. She was very relieved. Because of the particular configuration of her eye-sight, she can't use the internet anymore, or TV, and her only source of news is her newspaper. It's a relatively good one, but she misses more in-depth analysis and international perspective.

20,000 mercenaries, on Russia's payroll
How long will that last, if they only pay in Rubles, and Rubles buy you shit?
posted by mumimor at 1:20 PM on April 19 [11 favorites]


How long will that last, if they only pay in Rubles.. ?
That probably depends on how good the looting is.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:23 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]


Paul McLeary on Twitter
NEW: @PentagonPresSec said just now Ukraine "have received additional aircraft and the aircraft parts to help them get more more aircraft in the air" recently
CBC News Alerts on Twitter
Canada to send heavy artillery to Ukraine, Justin Trudeau says. The PM made the announcement at an event in New Brunswick today; he says more details will be provided in the coming days.
How long will that last, if they only pay in Rubles, and Rubles buy you shit?

They pay the organizers in gold.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:26 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


What is the logistics of modern warfare?

They're a huge part of modern warfare (as they've always been; battles won by armies, wars won by logistics, army marches on its belly, etc).

Wendover Productions on The Failed Logistics of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

War on the Rocks in 2021 on the Russian 'tooth to tail ratio.'

A 2020 dissertation: Logistics and Military Power: Tooth, Tail, and Territory in Conventional Military Conflict

US Transportation Command is one of the US unified combatant commands.

Here's the US Marine Corps Logistics Manual as of 2018, if you'd like an idea what their doctrine looks like written up.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:31 PM on April 19 [20 favorites]


Greens minister, Jan Albrecht, on Scholz's press conference today:
What I can't stand at all: The clumsy attempt to fool the public into believing that you represent an EU-wide unified position and that everything else is going it alone, when in reality it's exactly the other way around and Germany is far and wide alone. 1/x

The same actors emphasized all the more clearly how important it is to have a united stance with partners and the EU's ability to act together, especially in questions of foreign and security policy. Garnished with the arrogance that only they know how the rest of the EU ticks. 2/x

It was also this form of deception that led the German public to believe for years that Nord Stream 2 was a European energy project, while at the same time massive resistance came from across the EU at an early stage. A complete parallel world 3/x

The fact that the Chancellor then also claimed in today's PK [press conference] that the other EU states had followed Germany's example in supplying weapons tops it all off. At the same time, NL & BE explain themselves in a completely different way. Result: weak EU. 4/x

And what German politicians don't understand, although it should be more than clear to them: Weak EU = weak Germany. Today's (renewed) rejection of an active leadership role in the EU means a bitter loss for the same. The disappointment is great, even here. 5/5
Thankfully there's still some leadership left in the traffic light coalition. Hopefully it can take some action before it becomes too late for Ukraine.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:34 PM on April 19 [18 favorites]


posted by snuffleupagus at 1:31 PM on April 19

Sorry, I knew when writing it the word logistics was the wrong choice, I've been keeping abreast of the difficulties the Russians have created themselves due faulty logistics.

I'm curious what a Ukrainian soldier does. Do they sit in a farmhouse on the "frontlines" shooting at what they see? I do not understand how this war is being fought. Unlike during WW1 with front like trench warfare, two armies facing off, or WW2 with giant set piece battles, how is a modern war fought from the perspective of an individual soldier?
posted by Keith Talent at 1:49 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


What will the soldiers be doing to defend the front? I would think the notion of "front lines" would be made obsolete by the fact you can hurl missiles at the hinterland from anywhere.... how is a modern war fought from the perspective of an individual soldier?

I think WW2 movies are probably mildly representative of the type of combat currently occurring: a mixture of infantry and tanks attacking each other, while indirect fire from artillery and missiles rains down sporadically. You don't have trench systems as in WW1, but you do have defenders behind cover, withstanding indirect fire and then attacking enemy armour with their own armour or manpads. It's less an organized line than a zone of defender density. If you watch Band of Brothers, specifically the attack on Carentan, you might get a sense of how defenders fortify a built up area: by pockets of defenders using buildings both for cover and to channel attackers into kill zones.

If you watch actual combat videos from Ukraine, you'll see something similar: pockets of defenders (or just a UA tank) hiding behind some cover, waiting until Russians cross their line of fire and then opening up. Maybe the Russians retreat after some losses; maybe the pocket retreats after inflicting some damage, past the next pocket or two, and setting up the next defensive position. It's much more fluid than trench warfare in terms of the space occupied.
posted by fatbird at 2:00 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]


Russia made some moves to untank the Ruble. However, I am sure they have other ways, like "giving" planes to Syria, then Syria pays their mercenaries, that was supposed to be a thousand soldiers from them. FRussia.
posted by Oyéah at 2:03 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


how is a modern war fought from the perspective of an individual soldier?

Here's Bret Devereaux on the modern system (he talks about it halfway through the article, scroll down). That's a good description of how Ukraine fights since the post-2014 reforms.

Rather than relying on fixed positions for defense...the modern system relies on cover-and-concealment for survivability and maneuver in the offense (go around, not through your opponent’s overwhelming firepower)... individual small units need to keep moving and maneuvering even when they may not have time to get direct orders from above, and they need the freedom to respond to local conditions and utilize local terrain, often down to the squad or fireteam level. In turn, that means it is really hard to do if your common soldiers are undertrained, simply illiterate, or if (as in an authoritarian regime) you can’t trust your officers with any kind of independence.

posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:12 PM on April 19 [18 favorites]


"Russia hasn't invaded the United States"
Well, unless you count cyber invasion......
posted by johnjohn4011 at 2:17 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]


I'm curious what a Ukrainian soldier does. Do they sit in a farmhouse on the "frontlines" shooting at what they see? I do not understand how this war is being fought. Unlike during WW1 with front like trench warfare, two armies facing off, or WW2 with giant set piece battles, how is a modern war fought from the perspective of an individual soldier?


A combination of the two; depending on where and the type of forces confronting each other. A significant aspect of this conflict is that doctrine is evolving with changing technology; the smart weapons at the squad level and drones and etc are causing major problems for Russia's forces which are behind in modernization (as well as maintenance and training).

For approachable videos on that topic, a good place to start is Binkov's Battlegrounds, which despite the whimsical mascot is fairly pithy.

These might be good, and there are more on his channel if you have questions about specific kinds of equipment in use:

most recent -- What are current Russian military options in Ukraine?

True state of Ukraine's military today

Task & Purpose is another 'infortainment' level channel that covers a lot of this stuff from an "average infrantryman's perspective." Here's their discussion of what fighting in the east of the country might look like.

Given the omnipresence of smartphones, there's also a lot of actual footage on Twitter and Youtube, along with the social networks. Of the current war, previous fighting in the east over the years, or other recent conflicts. We haven't been linking directly to a lot of that stuff here, more to the reports or threads that collect it. But here's one from Sky News that shows a squad of irregulars fighting alongside a fighting vehicle in defense of a village. [CW: firefight]. For other soldiers, their entire war may be sitting in a forest clearing operating an artillery piece.

More in depth material, US centric:

Gen. David Perkins of US Army Training and Doctrine Command on "Multi Domain Battle" (2017 so a little old now)

If you want more recent actual military down in the weeds stuff, Ft. Benning 's Maneuver Warfare Center just put on a conference on "The Changing Character of War", so that YouTube playlist is probably as good a place as any to start. (Keeping in mind that US and NATO capabilities are more advanced than Ukraine's and than Russia's have been revealed to be, though the US has been training Ukraine in the Western doctrine).

I mentioned the first talk below in the previous thread, and there's a lot of rah-rah bombast in it, but maybe start there as it will probably help make sense of whichever of the others interest you.

John Antal | Lessons from Azerbaijan and Armenia

also fairly approachable is John Richard | Modernizing the Division
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:23 PM on April 19 [15 favorites]




The mercenaries are mostly part of a company called “The Wagner Group”. This is basically Putin’s private goon squad / army composed of more professional soldiers. It has a separate chain of command but is otherwise just the Russian army by another name.
posted by interogative mood at 2:44 PM on April 19 [6 favorites]


Here are few more exemplary vids, one is a report from Nov. 2021 showing the WWI-style trenches in the east from the fighting over recent years, with a de facto no mans land across from enemy lines; another showing recent fighting in Kherson between Russian and Ukrainian army units along a highway (a lot more on that channel); and another in which a light Ukrainian fighting vehicle operating in coordination with infantry knocks out a Russian tank with precisely targeted fire in urban fighting.

Here's a tweet with video of an unarmored Ukrainian attack helicopter taking small arms fire (which you can hear bouncing off) while it conducts a rocket attack close to the ground.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:52 PM on April 19


The Pentagon and the UK ministry of Defense have given some early public assessments of the current Russian offensive. The good news is that Russia seems to be struggling to make any progress.

Unfortunately the Pentagon also says that more Russian soldiers are on the way and that the offensive is still ramping up.
posted by interogative mood at 3:24 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but I have no clue what people are actually doing in this conflict.

posted by Keith Talent

Keep in mind that human beings out in the open are very vulnerable, so what both sides are doing is basically hiding and keeping their heads down and launching stuff at each other from what they hope is a safe distance, trying to either kill, stun or make the other side retreat and only then moving ground troops in to secure the ground.

This for many many years has been classic - you crouch down a few miles away and launch all hell at the other side and only then do you advance, hoping that you have successfully hurt them enough that your own ground troops won't get pasted once they become visible. This same technique was standard in WWI. The same set of trenches were being taken and re-taken and re-taken over and over again. Sometimes the defenders would retreat until the firing stopped and then race back to get there first, sometimes they would dig in and hope that their troops survived. The barrage from the other side would of course provide you with something to aim your own artillery at.

The border in the Donbas has been there long enough to have some fortifications and barriers, elsewhere the border is very fluid. This war has brought the use of drones into the forefront. Both sides are using drones and satellites and everything they can in order to figure out where to aim the long range missiles and heavy weapons. Due to the availability of highly portable weapons capable of neutralizing a tank, low flying aircraft, or unwary flagship of the fleet the Russians are having trouble maintaining their ground or advancing.

Some reason for the slaughter in Bucha was because the Russian occupiers suspected, not without reason that the civilians in the area were passing information back to the Ukrainian troops. This meant that they were feeling increasingly threatened and hostile towards the civilians.
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:40 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Biden told reporters today that the US will send Ukraine more artillery.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:46 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


The steel factory in Mariupol is a huge labyrinth of heavy equipment and tunnels. As long as the solders have water, food and ammo, they're going to fight.
I'm really afraid this is where Putin may decide heavy chemical bombardment, or a tactical nuke is worthwhile. You know he wants Mariupol before Victory Day, May 9.
posted by Marky at 4:01 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


They have apparently finally gotten some of the aircraft they needed. Not clear if helicopters or jets, though.
posted by tavella at 4:01 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]




According to Reuters it is jet fighters and spare parts to get more of their fighters back up and running. Helicopters are also on their way.
posted by interogative mood at 4:13 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


From near the end of the last thread:
I’ve stopped reading Galeev. I notice serious factual errors in his Twitter threads, and I don’t know much about Russian history or culture.
I've been leaning towards dropping Galeev from my feed too, in part for the same reason: When he talks about something that I know about, he's pretty often wrong. And when I look up something that he talks about which I know little or nothing about, it seems that he's pretty often wrong then, too. On top of that, he seems super-confident that he's right, and he tends to draw overarching, grandiose conclusions.

I've kept him in my feed for one reason: He often talks about things that sound interesting, which I know little or nothing about, which leads me to investigate those things and learn about them. The fact that I frequently learn that Galeev was wrong about those things is of limited importance, once I came to the conclusion that he can't really be trusted.
posted by Flunkie at 4:19 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]


Russian hardware is crap. Russian logistics are crap. The Russian military is crap. The Russian leadership is crap. But if you have a big and heavy enough sack of crap you can beat someone to death with it. That would seem to be the current game...
posted by jim in austin at 4:25 PM on April 19 [30 favorites]


Certainly, the Brodsky poem in yesterday's Galeev thread was an eye-opener, and reinforcement for the discussion I've seen about how even Russian "liberals" share the contempt and believed superiority over Ukraine. And it fits with the horrendous quotes from both Putin and Russian TV about exterminating the very idea of Ukrainian identity.
posted by tavella at 4:27 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


When he talks about something that I know about, he's pretty often wrong. And when I look up something that he talks about which I know little or nothing about, it seems that he's pretty often wrong then, too.

For this reason, it would be great if he were less often linked, quoted, and discussed. There are excellent, smart, and informed sources, which add much more value.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:34 PM on April 19 [8 favorites]


Certainly, the Brodsky poem in yesterday's Galeev thread was an eye-opener
Wasn't it Mikhail Lermontov? I know there was a suggestion of Brodsky, but I didn't see anything in any online translations of the suggested Brodsky question that resembled Galeev's quote (beyond in general spirit). But the suggestion of Lermontov seemed correct, from what I could tell.
posted by Flunkie at 4:39 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Sorry to sidetrack, but this is something I've been wondering. Any links would be appreciated. What is the logistics of modern warfare? I see lots of pictures of guys with guns, are they engaging the enemy with small arms? My only experience is with watching war movies. The article says Russia is opening a 300 mile front. That is not a front like I can comprehend from WWI, what does it mean? What will the soldiers be doing to defend the front? I would think the notion of "front lines" would be made obsolete by the fact you can hurl missiles at the hinterland from anywhere.

To address the last point first; yes, cruise missiles can be fired from 1500 miles away, but they're also relatively expensive. They're precision(ish) weapons; but you need to fire them at something specific. Cruise missiles are relatively stealthy and hard to shoot down, so they're quite useful for hitting things you can't easily get to any other way, i.e. deep behind enemy lines and behind their anti-air defences, but they need to be fairly static as while cruise missiles can be updated in flight by satellite, they mainly use internal guidance and GPS co-ordinates. (Russia have their own GPS system). So you mostly hit things like weapon depots, HQ buildings, barracks, airports, large static unit concentrations etc. Thing is, that doesn't actually occupy territory, or achieve anything directly - you just degrade the opponent's ability to supply and move their forces.

That's where infantry and tanks come in. If you want to take territory under your control, you basically need to put boots on the ground, and push out opposition infantry. So yes; up to a point, infantry literally need to occupy areas, and shoot rifles at opposition infantry, taking advantage of whatever cover is available as you do so so you don't just get shot. They will also have transport vehicles to move about, and some infantry fighting vehicles; an armoured transport with a cannon that can add additional weight of fire to kill infantry, light vehicles or other IFVs.

Tanks are simply too vulnerable to modern anti-tank missiles or air support to push forward on their own, so they stay back behind the infantry and add additional weight of fire from e.g. a mile back, such as put explosive rounds into enemy defense points, or ambush enemy vehicles, then move on. A lot of modern warfare is mobility within a given area, so infantry and vehicles can move around and support each other, exploit enemy falling back, and taking defensive spaces away from the enemy.

This matters because of the next part of combined arms - fire support. If you just hang around in the same place for a long while on or near the front line, then you can find artillery or nearby air support putting lots of big explosives into your position, and a basic farmhouse isn't going to protect you much. Neither side has air superiority over enemy-controlled areas, which is relatively unsual from a NATO perspective - both sides have a lot of decently functional mobile anti-air systems over their own territory, and man portable anti-air missiles to fire back at planes or helicopters getting too close. The Ukrainians have had a lot of success with Turkish drones; these can loiter in an area for a while, are very stealthy compared to your average warplane, and don't require all the extra resources and support of big planes. They don't have the same sustained hitting power or unsupported long offensive range as a warplane, but for fighting off enemy attacks, ambushing vehicle columns, or attacking vehicles they've proved a real force multiplier. Ukraine could probably use far more of them.

Once you have control of a populated area like a town, and it's definitely inside your area of control, you also need infantry to control the local civilian population, and in Russia's case, rape the women, torture and kill anyone they don't like, or force transport them into Russia (all of these are obviously war crimes).

Part of the 'front' - the line of control - in the Donbas region has been fairly static for years. There, things look a lot more like WW1, with trenches, bunkers, etc etc. And lots of artillery backing it up. So there's a sort of no-mans land between the two, and attacking such a heavily fortified and supported line is very, very costly. So it's a lot of artillery and short range missile being exchanged, but not so much infantry engagement, though I'm sure there will be more of that in the near future as the Russians have to push forward into it to make any progress.

One difference between the Ukrainians is they've been training in western-style tactics for the last 8 years, and it's basically all about devolving control downwards. Experienced NCOs and junior officers have a lot of autonomy - they get told what to achieve, but how they specifically go about it is much more up to them, and they can change approach on the fly as the situation changes, including directly calling for additional support quickly. The Russians, lacking that level of trained experience (and not trusting soldiers to think for themselves), relies much more on advance direct orders - go here, and do this. If that turns out to be a stupid order, you just get a lot of vehicles destroyed and men killed trying to do it, which is partly why Russian casualties have been so high - e.g. you ended up with vehicle formations driving straight into ambushes with no infantry support, so they get slaughtered by anti-tank missiles and ambush tanks. (terrible logistics, terrible training, and deep corruption meaning many resources only exist on paper has also played a significant part). This is also why the Russians have had such a high number of high ranking officers killed; with poor communication, they literally have to get up close to the front lines or even lead formations directly in order to get anything done - where they are prime targets for a drone strike or an infantry ambush with anti-tank missiles.

One area the Russians still have a large advantage is artillery (guns and missile systems) and heavy vehicles. Russian doctrine for taking heavily built up areas is surround it, then basically shell it to pieces, with artillery, indiscriminate rocket systems, ballistic missiles and air-to-ground missiles from planes and helicopters. Once an area is a smouldering ruin and opposition infantry has been badly mauled or forced to retreat deeper in, then you move in infantry and tanks to occupy it, and accept the losses in pushing out the remnants; who can't resupply. It's slow, it slaughters civilians en-masse, but we've seen them use it successfully in Chechnya, Syria, and now nearly completely in Mariupol. It hasn't worked on Kharkiv yet, because they haven't had been able to surround it, but they've certainly been trying.

To hold off heavy attacks, and even push the Russians back, the Ukrainians need a lot more more heavy equipment. Modern tanks, IFVs, howitzer artillery, missile systems (defensive such as anti-air and anti-missile systems, and offensive ones to hit Russian positions beyond the front lines), more planes, helicopters and air-launched missiles. Drones and man portable missiles are all well and good to defend terrain you still hold with motivated infantry, and some ambushes, but you're not going to hold back mass infantry well supported with tanks, artillery and planes working together with those alone easily.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 4:39 PM on April 19 [33 favorites]


Wasn't it Mikhail Lermontov? I know there was a suggestion of Brodsky, but I didn't see anything in any online translations of the suggested Brodsky question that resembled Galeev's quote (beyond in general spirit). But the suggestion of Lermontov seemed correct, from what I could tell.

The spitting in the river to turn it back poem that Galeev quoted from at length was Brodsky. The line you asked about was quoted as though it was Pushkin, but was Lermontov. The video of the dramatic reading is Pushkin, however. The especially brutal line about brass knuckles and killing "whole peoples 'in toilets'' from the 2009 article was Mayakovsky. The article from the 1981 Ukrainian Review quotes similar lines from Gogol, and others.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:47 PM on April 19 [9 favorites]


Wasn't it Mikhail Lermontov?

No, it was Brodsky. Bonus: the New Yorker explaining that of course Brodsky liked the Russian language being imposed everywhere, so it was totally natural and understandable that he would write vile contempt about Ukraine when it opted out.

And about the final lines...
But mark: when it’s your turn to be dragged to graveyards,
You’ll whisper and wheeze, your deathbed mattress a-pushing,
Not Shevchenko’s bullshit but poetry lines from Pushkin
... this observation from a Ukrainian on Dreamwidth felt like a punch:
"In the last lines of his poem Brodsky calls Taras Shevchenko's poetry "bullshit lies", opposing true poetry of Aleksandr Pushkin.

Aleksandr Pushkin was a noble from an old noble family. he lived in a time when nearly all peasants in Russian empire were "krepostnye", the word is translated as "serfs" because Russians don't like to be reminded that Russian empire was a slave empire. Pushkin was a slaveowner. He bought and sold people. He raped slave girls.

Ever since Bohdan Khmelnytsky made a mistake of signing alliance with Moscow, it has been eroding rights and freedoms Ukrainian people had. In 1783 Catherine II made all Ukrainian peasants on the lands controlled by Russia into "serfs", that is, slaves.

Taras Shevchenko was born in 1813 in such a slave family.

So the final lines of the Brodsky's poem also read like "your slave poet's works are bullshit, unlike our rich noble slaveowner's works, which are real poetry" to us Ukrainians."
posted by tavella at 4:48 PM on April 19 [29 favorites]


That is not the same poem. The point of all the various authors is that there is similar language in poems across these poets. (The links are in the previous thread.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:49 PM on April 19


It was the poem *I* was talking about, in terms of finding it eye-opening, that Flunkie for some reason thought was Lermontov.
posted by tavella at 4:51 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


Russia made some moves to untank the Ruble.

We made a lot of jokes about the ruble's fall, but right now it's within 10% of it's pre-invasion value.
posted by meowzilla at 4:51 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


Reuters: Putin signs decree to remove Russian stocks from overseas exchanges in huge blow to the nation's billionaires
In a blow to Russia's richest business people, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on April 16 that requires Russian companies to remove their listings from overseas stock exchanges.

The likes of Vladimir Potanin — Russia's richest man — will now have to adjust the ownership structure of their businesses, Bloomberg reported.

That means Russian billionaires who own the companies listed abroad won't be able to collect foreign-currency dividends from the depository receipts.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:57 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


Thomas C. Theiner posts a "Timeline of 🇩🇪's @OlafScholz's many lies"

I haven't followed German politics much of late so can't speak to how accurate this timeline is. But if this is true, then this is just a remarkable & deliberate failure on Scholz's part. I have no idea why he seems to be working for the Russians and interfering so much with supplying Ukraine. Especially when so many in the country, and even in the party, want to do so.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 4:58 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Mod note: a few flagged comments deleted. snuffleupagus and tavella, if you could please continue this discussion somewhere private, that would be great. Keep in mind that there are other folks here who are wanting to engage in this thread for its intended purposes. Thanks
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 5:47 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


We made a lot of jokes about the ruble's fall, but right now it's within 10% of it's pre-invasion value.

Russia is using 80% of its incoming forex from its exports to buy rubles, has hiked its interest rates up to 17%, and is basically stopping anyone from selling rubles. The currency is functionally useless and has zero liquidity at its market rate. It's basically an endless buying of rubles from the Russian Central Bank using whatever it can lay its grubby paws on. They're destroying their domestic economy and burning a billion dollars of reserves a day for what effectively amounts to a propaganda exercise.

Plus even if the ruble is 80 to the dollar officially, a Russian onshore can't pay for imports at that rate because there's no Western goods coming into the country for love or money. China isn't going to be able to provide a Western standard of living to the Russian economy. All the Russians are going to have coming for consumer goods are overpriced Chinese made stuff and the RCB is running out of CNY reserves. If this goes on much longer Russia are going to have to provide gold for goods to keep even those coming in. China ain't going to be left holding the bag for Russia and their stupid war.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:54 PM on April 19 [26 favorites]


Maybe they'll convert to an oil-for-crypto scheme and run the enconomy on that for a while. Call it BlyatCoin.
posted by bartleby at 6:01 PM on April 19 [9 favorites]


I assume that Russia has told Scholz that if they help Ukraine, Russia will turn off the gas. So he's being obedient.
posted by tavella at 6:59 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Tanks are simply too vulnerable to modern anti-tank missiles or air support to push forward on their own, so they stay back behind the infantry and add additional weight of fire from e.g. a mile back, such as put explosive rounds into enemy defense points, or ambush enemy vehicles, then move on.

This is all correct, but it's probably worth noting that the Russians haven't (as far as I have seen evidence of) actually been doing this.

I've yet to see much footage of Russian infantry actually on the ground, in combat, doing normal combined arms stuff. Such as screening the tanks and armored vehicles from infantry with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).

Armor is surprisingly vulnerable to infantry, particularly when the armor is moving forwards on the offensive towards positions that the defenders have already prepared. So the usual strategy—this is stuff that came out of WWII, in fact some was developed by the Russians themselves, so it's a bit odd they aren't doing it—is to have a mix of infantry and armor make contact together, or at least close enough together that they can support each other.

The Russians don't seem to be doing that. Or at least it doesn't seem like they were in the northwest, during the advance towards Kyiv.

My theory was that they had a whole bunch of fresh-from-BCT conscripts, and none of them wanted to be the ones wandering around dismounted, which on the face of it seems uncomfortably vulnerable. And so they were staying "safely" inside their BMPs/BTRs, rather than dismounting as soon as they made contact. And I'd be willing to bet a significant number of Russian casualties were attributable to guys staying in vehicles when they should have gotten out. Being inside a lightly armored vehicle (and most infantry fighting vehicles / APCs are lightly armored compared to modern weapons) when it gets hit with anything bigger than small arms fire is... no bueno.

However, it's starting to look like maybe the Russians are significantly undermanned. They brought a lot of heavy equipment, but potentially with very green crews (there's some analysis around looking at the way Russian tanks respond to incoming fire, and in particularly the way they slew their turrets around, that's supposedly indicative of one person doing two crew members' jobs; I am no expert on Russian tanks, but it seems plausible). So it could have been that they basically took all available personnel and threw them into vehicles, and headed for Kyiv. Maybe they thought they'd have more psychological impact that way? I'm not really sure.

But the last few weeks have shown what quite a few people have said for decades, which is that armored vehicles in the absence of dismount infantry support are very vulnerable to light infantry with man-portable weapons.

Hopefully the Russians don't learn the lesson when they start invading in the east.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:13 PM on April 19 [18 favorites]


I assume that Russia has told Scholz that if they help Ukraine, Russia will turn off the gas. So he's being obedient.

Why hasn't Russia turned off the pipes already? Because their economy would basically go into freefall without the forex coming in and all that stopped gas production equipment sitting in the literal fucking arctic would freeze over and be ridiculously difficult to start back up again, if it can be started again at all without Western tech helping out.

Call Putin's bluff.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:28 PM on April 19 [18 favorites]


because there's no Western goods coming into the country for love or money

I was just looking at the Yale compilation today and there are some pretty well known companies still doing business as usual. Even more have “suspended new investments” and ((gasp)) “put advertising on hold” but their consumer products are apparently still available. Since the big news story when all the McDonalds shut down, I haven’t seen seen any posts about a shampoo shortage or a run on shoes or buying chocolate on the black market. Where are the empty shelves stories?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:30 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


this is stuff that came out of WWII, in fact some was developed by the Russians themselves, so it's a bit odd they aren't doing it

This is definitely a core part of institutional knowledge in the Russian officer corps; but it's for naught without actually training it, drilling it, living it and breathing it continually. The doesn't mean battle drills every day, and you can safely let some skills slide if, in the preparation for an invasion, you suddenly ramp up the training again. When U.S. forces were building up for the invasion of Iraq, they spent the six months in the desert drilling and practicing maintenance. Russian forces building up around Ukraine apparently did none of that, instead sending scavenging parties into the countryside because they were undersupplied.

Part of the recent history of the Russian army is a combination of corruption, indolence, and being preyed upon by Russian organized crime. Their supplies went to the black market to enrich colonels and local bosses both; whole regiments existed only on paper, the officers having taken bribes to allow conscripts to go home, while they collected the conscript's paychecks themselves; even if troops remained in barracks, they didn't run exercises or drill, though they were sometimes lent out for farm labour. Even if the officers knew what they were supposed to do, it was a wish wrapped in a dream that they could actually execute anything more than the most basic maneuvers once inside their tanks.

That's how you get pictures like the one at the top of this article, where 20 tanks are bunched up in a straight line on one side of a main thoroughfare, the ones in front burning, the ones behind looking around, trying to figure out how to escape.
posted by fatbird at 7:37 PM on April 19 [14 favorites]


My theory was that they had a whole bunch of fresh-from-BCT conscripts, and none of them wanted to be the ones wandering around dismounted, which on the face of it seems uncomfortably vulnerable. And so they were staying "safely" inside their BMPs/BTRs, rather than dismounting as soon as they made contact. And I'd be willing to bet a significant number of Russian casualties were attributable to guys staying in vehicles when they should have gotten out. Being inside a lightly armored vehicle (and most infantry fighting vehicles / APCs are lightly armored compared to modern weapons) when it gets hit with anything bigger than small arms fire is... no bueno.

This. Plus even if the officers force them out, they have no idea what to do and even if they did know what to do they don't appear have the secure comms to properly do the actual job of screening and recon. Watching videos of infantry just walking alongside the Russian armor going down the road. Are there any ZSU in the forest? Who knows? They sure aren't looking.

I was just looking at the Yale compilation today and there are some pretty well known companies still doing business as usual. Even more have “suspended new investments” and ((gasp)) “put advertising on hold” but their consumer products are apparently still available. Since the big news story when all the McDonalds shut down, I haven’t seen seen any posts about a shampoo shortage or a run on shoes or buying chocolate on the black market. Where are the empty shelves stories?

Because the West mostly supplies middle class and luxury goods and the stores/chains are physically closed and not providing those goods. You can't buy an iPhone in Russia right now without paying a huge premium over MSRP because new ones aren't coming in apart from what can be parallel imported from other markets or smuggled in by people physically going to other countries with physical cash. You can't order things from other countries because the credit card networks have been cut and they don't accept domestic Mir transactions. Sure you can find things on the black market but neither of those are capable of keeping up with normal consumer demand and the prices are skyrocketing as a side effect.

It would be like if we only had access to a Dollar General and had to pay domestic eBay scalpers for everything else that wasn't stocked by DG.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:46 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


I’m no expert, but since Russian tanks are clad in reactive armor I wouldn’t want to stand too close to them either for fear of losing an arm or head when a stray 30mm activates a few blocks of explosive armor (there are clips online where this happens to some poor souls).
posted by aramaic at 8:12 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby Holds a Press Briefing

It's a long one but this I think is one of the more interesting parts:
Q: And you said earlier that the Ukrainians have now more fighter aircraft than they had two weeks ago. Can you give us...

MR. KIRBY: More operable fighter aircraft than they had two weeks ago.

Q: So can you give us an idea of – did they receive more? And an idea of how many? Dozens?

MR. KIRBY: I would just say without getting into what other nations are providing that they have received additional platforms and parts to be able to increase their fleet size -- their aircraft fleet size, I think I'd leave it at that.

Platforms and parts.

Q: What is a platform?

MR. KIRBY: Platform is an airplane in this case. They have received additional aircraft and aircraft parts to help them, you know, get more aircraft in the air. Yes.
Seems like ex-Warsaw countries aren't just sending parts, they look to be sending whole airframes which is allowing UA to basically patch together more functional aircraft out of what everyone has. Ditto for the tanks.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:46 PM on April 19 [9 favorites]


This Czech article suggests that the artillery the US is training Ukrainians on there is the self-propelled M777, as seen on this train spotted in Poland on 4/12, not the towed version that the US sent 18 of.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:58 PM on April 19


since Russian tanks are clad in reactive armor I wouldn’t want to stand too close to them

There are a whole bunch of reasons why you don't want to be standing too close to a tank on a battlefield. Reactive armor is definitely one. The muzzle blast of their own weapons is another.

The latest feature of modern tanks are "hard kill" active protection systems. These are automated systems that literally shoot down incoming ATGMs just before they hit the tank. TBH, they're sort of a bonkers idea that I'm genuinely surprised works... but apparently they do. Some work like giant shotguns, while others are more like grenade launchers, and others are flat-panels of shaped explosive sheet. The idea is that when an incoming missile is detected, you fire the grenade or the shotgun right in front of it, when it's about 20-30m away, to deflect or destroy it.

The Russians claimed they had a system that would work not just on ATGMs, but also on APFSDS main-gun rounds from other tanks, which travel much faster. Before the invasion happened, there was speculation that they could potentially render nearly all side-attack ATGMs obsolete.

That was... clearly not the case. In fact, I haven't seen any evidence that they've been used at all.

But I'd expect the next generation of armored vehicles to be much faster, much lighter, and equipped with a much higher ratio of active protection systems to passive armor. We may well have seen the end of the 80-ton MBT.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:17 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


The ground might be shifting on the issue of gas buying. Bloomberg reported last night that “Italy will refuse to comply with new gas-payment terms demanded by Moscow if the European Union concludes that doing so would breach sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine“.

France 24 quoted Italian prime minister Mario Draghi on its liveblog this morning:
"We do not want to depend on Russian gas any longer, because economic dependence must not become political subjection", he said in an interview with the Corriere della Sera daily published on Sunday. "Diversification is possible and can be implemented in a relatively short amount of time – quicker than we imagined just a month ago," he said.
Russia might still alter its payment system, which is what EU lawyers are focusing on, but the uncertainty seems to have pushed some governments to start preparations for a complete divestment from Russian gas. A month ago, the Italian government was estimating that it would take three years to find a replacement for its gas imports from Russia
posted by Kattullus at 10:53 PM on April 19 [17 favorites]


Kadin2048: TBH, they're sort of a bonkers idea that I'm genuinely surprised works... but apparently they do.

So something quite similar to the Goalkeeper system defending ships from incoming missiles, but evidently a bit smaller.

Standing between a tank equipped with such a system, and an incoming ATGM will be unpleasantly bad for your health.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:12 PM on April 19


Well the most mature and advanced protection system is Rafale's Trophy APS (wiki link) which they claim does not pose a threat to dismounted infantry, they developed it specifically for combined arms urban combat against their neighbours where the defenders had anti-tank weapons supplied by Iran or Russia.

Watch slow motion footage of it in action (YouTube link) - the footage is incredible, the way these anti-tank HEAT rounds work is that they detonate a distance away from the tank and the explosion turns the metal liner in the warhead into a sharp jet of superheated metal traveling at 3 kilometers per second, spearing right through solid steel armor as if it were butter. Even in this slow motion footage - where near supersonic weapons travel at a snails pace - when the HEAT round detonates it slashes across the screen in an instant.

Furthermore, the system also pinpoints the origin of the attack, allowing the tank to fire immediately in retaliation.

--- extract from the wiki page ---

Since 2011, the system has achieved 100% success in all low and high-intensity combat events. The system has intercepted a variety of threats, including the Kornet ATGM, RPG-29, etc.

The U.S Army has reported similar success in tests. “I tried to kill the Abrams tank with ATGM 48 times and failed, despite the fact that some of them were supersonic,” said US Army Col. Glenn Dean.

The system uses a miniature EFP which penetrates the threat envelope and disintegrates RPGs at a safe distance from the vehicle. In the ATGM's case, the EFP will affect the chemical energy jet, dramatically decreasing its penetration capability into medium-sized platforms. It has been proven in tests and battle, that such a kill mechanism poses an extremely low risk to dismounts around the vehicle, and therefore does not affect usual combined arms tactics, techniques, and procedures.
posted by xdvesper at 11:52 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


And speaking of the ground shifting, Finland's parliament will open its debate today on whether Finland will join NATO or not. Excerpt:
Helsingin Sanomat previews the start of a Parliamentary debate on Nato membership — scheduled to kick off on Wednesday afternoon — which could lead to a "far-reaching and historic" decision, namely whether or not Finland opts to join the alliance.

In fact, HS believes the writing is already on the wall in terms of which way the debate is likely to go.

"Today, a process will begin in Parliament that will lead to Finland's Nato membership - unless miracles happen," the paper writes.

The debate will be structured around a security policy report submitted by the government to Parliament last week. While the document did not directly take a position on Nato membership, HS notes that such a move was presented "in a rather positive light".

"The report states, among other things, that Finland's and Sweden's membership of NATO would increase the stability of the Baltic Sea region in the long term," HS cites as one example.

Support for an application to Nato will require as "broad support" as possible across the parliamentary parties, but it is as yet unclear whether the decision will need the backing of two-thirds of lawmakers — or whether a simple majority would be enough. That decision will be made at a later date by Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs.

HS also notes that if Finland does decide to apply for Nato membership, the application must be ratified by all 30 current member states — a process that could take between 4 and 12 months. By that point, Finland may have a new government, with parliamentary elections scheduled for next April.

"However, the intention is that whatever is decided now will be adhered to," President Sauli Niinistö told HS.
[Note: "Ihme", the word that YLE News translates as "miracles", doesn't have only a good meaning. The phrase means something like "unless something supernatural happens"]

Since I'm linking to Finnish news, I might as well link to two reports from this weekend, with humans doing good, and humans being idiots, respectively. A foundation supporting Swedish-language literature in Finland owns nearly three hundred rental properties in Helsinki, they will start providing furnished apartments free of charge for Ukrainian refugees for up to a year. So far there are eight ready, but more are being prepared.

In idiot humanity news, restaurants serving Russian food in Helsinki, even though they have no connections to Russia at all, have been receiving threatening phonecalls and messages on social media. Excerpt:
"I am Ukrainian. Our staff are Ukrainian" read a recent Facebook post from Blinit, a casual Russian-style eatery in Helsinki’s Alppila district that has been serving up budget blinis and high-strength Russian beer for over a decade. The owner, Artemy Senko, took to social media to respond to the wave of abuse the restaurant has faced since the war broke out.

Although things have calmed down somewhat since Russia first invaded Ukraine, the restaurant and its staff have been subjected to physical threats, intimidating phone calls, and torrents of one-star reviews on Google.

During a quiet weekday lunch shift, Senko was keen to stress that the anger directed towards him from a "small minority of loud people" is misplaced.

"I am Ukrainian but grew up in Russia. My wife is part-Ukrainian. All our staff are either Ukrainian or have a lot of family there. We do not support that psychopath’s invasion of Ukraine," Senko explained.
Incidentally, if you've never had blinis, they are delicious. They're not specifically Russian, but eaten by most eastern European cultures. I think I might order dinner from Blinit tonight or tomorrow.
posted by Kattullus at 12:28 AM on April 20 [26 favorites]


The first widespread use of the antitank guided missiles NLAW and Javelin in Ukraine has led, once again, to questioning is the tank obsolete? The Chieftain says no. There are jobs that only a tank can accomplish.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:19 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


"We do not want to depend on Russian gas any longer, because economic dependence must not become political subjection" is an excellent quote, thanks Kattullus!

According to The Guardian:
The Russian defence ministry has said it will offer the besieged port city a ceasefire on Wednesday to allow Ukrainian defenders holed up in the Azovstal steelworks to lay down their arms. About 1,000 civilians are reportedly hiding in underground shelters beneath the steel plant in Mariupol, according to the city council. Most of the civilians are believed to be women with children and elderly people. ... Russia said it would begin a ceasefire at 2pm Moscow time on Wednesday (midday BST) and claimed it would let fighters surrender and leave unharmed.

As it happens, 2 pm Moscow time is in roughly 35 minutes as I write this. I am dubious that Russian forces will let Ukrainian forces "leave unharmed." There are hidden horrors waiting for the world to discover, eventually, in Mariupol. I am wondering about the less-hidden horrors that may develop over the next several hours. I hope Putin allows the evacuation of the civilians.

There are no fucking do-overs for this mess. Mariupol, Bucha ... lots of places we don't know about yet will be more examples of how people are massacred over and over and over.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:25 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]


Also from The Guardian: Earlier though, deputy mayor of Mariupol Sergei Orlov spoke to Sky News in the UK, and demonstrated how low trust is between the two sides. He told viewers:

Do not believe in any words from Russia. It would be good if they allowed civilians to leave the Azovstal, but they didn’t allow this for 50 days, why should they allow this now?

posted by Bella Donna at 3:28 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]


Russia said

ah! so they're lying
posted by From Bklyn at 3:29 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]


London's got quite a lot of street art addressing the war in Ukraine right now. Examples I've photographed include graffiti murals, satirical posters, anti-Putin stickers and a red postbox with a lovely knitted hat.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:41 AM on April 20 [15 favorites]


this is stuff that came out of WWII, in fact some was developed by the Russians themselves, so it's a bit odd they aren't doing it

It's really hard to do.

First, it requires infantry to do counterintuitive things like get out of their "safe" BMPs (very unsafe places to be in general and some Russian models are notorious for being difficult to get out of, which is... not great) and move away from the tanks and other vehicles. You need to trust that tank drivers (poor visibility) will not run you over.

You also need to believe that your leadership and communications is good enough that you won't be left behind if you're 200 meters out on the flank as infantry. From what I've seen in videos of Russian performance (and I'm no expert) I'm not sure how confident I would be in my leaders if I was a Russian infantryman.

The theory can be understood by any old fool in an hour but actually doing it requires a lot of training with actual combined arms which uses up fuel, vehicle running hours etc which they're either not funded for or have been stolen by their officers at various levels.
posted by atrazine at 4:34 AM on April 20 [12 favorites]


David Patrikarakos: Passover in war-torn Odessa
posted by Kabanos at 5:41 AM on April 20 [3 favorites]


"One difference between the Ukrainians is they've been training in western-style tactics for the last 8 years, and it's basically all about devolving control downwards. Experienced NCOs and junior officers have a lot of autonomy - they get told what to achieve, but how they specifically go about it is much more up to them, and they can change approach on the fly as the situation changes, including directly calling for additional support quickly. "

Yes. The importance of this cannot be overstated, and it's why the armies of democracies almost always have a significant advantage over autocratic armies. You enlist a bunch of young men and women who basically believe in the state's project and ideals, you train the hell out of them, and then you send them forth equipped to make decisions.

This is really dangerous if you're an autocrat with limited support from your citizens -- you need your army controlled by a handful of loyal officers; you can't allow every single individual soldier to have the skills to know how to make military decisions. Because you run a huge risk that they'll decide to turn on you.

But if you run a country where the military broadly supports the idea of the nation, and its goals, you train every single one of your soldiers in everything you can teach him, and you drop them in on the battlefield with excellent training, give them a goal, and let them get on with it, trusting that they'll figure out how to achieve it ... and if they can't achieve it, they'll know when to return for further orders, and they'll bring back good intel.

This is also the fundamental mistake that the "big manly military" cheerleaders in the West who were convinced that the Russian military would run right over Ukraine and its western allies, because western armies are "too woke." They insist that armies require manliness and bravery, and that letting women, gay people, and trans people in the military reduces readiness because they're not as "brave" as men. And, sure, let's say, arguendo, that cis straight men are inherently more brave than anybody else. It's still a category error by the "manly military" guys, because armies don't win because they're braver -- they win because they're smarter. They win because they're better trained, have better bureaucracies backing them, and have stronger social cohesion with broader society.

One of the things that's fascinating to me about the US military, and I always ask veterans about this, is how much time they spend in the classroom. It's not like, you go through basic, congrats, you may now Do War. No, you get through basic, and then you start training for a specific role. Now you start cross-training on other functions in your unit. Now you start studying the new technology that's coming in the latest version of your vehicle. Now we're deploying you so you need to study a) the local culture where you're going; b) the local strategic situation; and c) likely enemies you'll face and the tactics you'll use. Etc. Etc. Etc.

So you've got the bravest guys in the country who are ready to charge the enemy while roaring a battle cry? Um, that's great and all, but how many classroom hours do they have? War is won by training and logistics, and a heck of a lot of that training happens in classrooms.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:26 AM on April 20 [83 favorites]


German Foreign Minister Baerbock begins Baltic tour with promise of stronger support (DW)
She said that the weapons and Germany "delivered anti-tank Stinger [missiles] and other things that we didn't talk about in public so that the deliveries could be carried out quickly and securely."

She added that the German government is not against sending armored vehicles, and has already signed off on the option, but currently does not have the capacity to send equipment. However, Baerbock said Germany was taking a long-term perspective on assisting Ukraine with military defense.
posted by bleary at 6:40 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


"One difference between the Ukrainians is they've been training in western-style tactics for the last 8 years, and it's basically all about devolving control downwards. Experienced NCOs and junior officers have a lot of autonomy - they get told what to achieve, but how they specifically go about it is much more up to them, and they can change approach on the fly as the situation changes, including directly calling for additional support quickly. "

Yes. The importance of this cannot be overstated, and it's why the armies of democracies almost always have a significant advantage over autocratic armies. You enlist a bunch of young men and women who basically believe in the state's project and ideals, you train the hell out of them, and then you send them forth equipped to make decisions.


I've read that the US learned this lesson in World War II, which gave the Allied forces an edge over the Nazis. Small units could adapt to circumstances up to and including their officers being killed and take initiative accordingly, while the Wehrmacht depended on orders from above and was therefore slower to react.

As bad as Russian infantry training and command and control appears to be, it's small wonder the Ukrainian army is punching above its weight in this conflict.
posted by Gelatin at 6:41 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


First hand account of conditions in Russia.
posted by JohnR at 6:44 AM on April 20 [4 favorites]


Pentagon: Russia has lost about 25% of its combat power originally used in the Ukraine invasion | Stars and Stripes
WASHINGTON — Russia has lost about one-quarter of its troops, weapons and military equipment originally sent to invade Ukraine less than two months ago, a senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday.

“We believe that [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] roughly at 75% of his combat power that he had originally when he started,” the official told reporters at the Pentagon. “This is across all functions: it's infantry, its artillery, its aviation – both fixed and rotary – it's ballistic missiles, cruise missiles [etc.]”


There's been a steady downgrade in estimations of Russian combat strength.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:44 AM on April 20 [4 favorites]


“We believe that [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] roughly at 75% of his combat power that he had originally when he started,” the official told reporters at the Pentagon. “This is across all functions: it's infantry, its artillery, its aviation – both fixed and rotary – it's ballistic missiles, cruise missiles [etc.]”

I wonder how much of that total is accounted for by Ukraine sinking the Moskva alone.
posted by Gelatin at 6:47 AM on April 20


Yes. The importance of this cannot be overstated, and it's why the armies of democracies almost always have a significant advantage over autocratic armies. You enlist a bunch of young men and women who basically believe in the state's project and ideals, you train the hell out of them, and then you send them forth equipped to make decisions.

Well sort of, this doesn't just apply to democracies. The idea of Auftragstaktik was developed by very non-democratic Prussian military aristocrats! That was a system that gave considerable leeway and respect to junior officers (and later to experienced NCOs) without being democratic. I.e. it was still a military elite who were to make decisions, they just spent a lot of effort on training in order to broaden that elite so that it included fresh officers and staff sergeants.

I would very much doubt that it gave the allied forces an edge over German troops in WWII since since the Germans did it much better during WWII than the allies. At least, early in the war, as the war went on control became ever more centralised and doctrinaire until eventually: Stalingrad and Hitler shouting like a lunatic in his bunker about Steiner's counter attack. So you could make the argument that as Germany moved from a military oligarchy (the Junker class collectively, including their sons as junior officers and their trusted senior NCO retainers hold decision making power) to absolute centralism (Hitler moves his little puppets around on a map personally) they lost this flexibility but I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is specific to democracies.
posted by atrazine at 6:58 AM on April 20 [22 favorites]


I would very much doubt that it gave the allied forces an edge over German troops in WWII since since the Germans did it much better during WWII than the allies. At least, early in the war, as the war went on control became ever more centralised and doctrinaire

Forgive me for the US-centric point of view and I stand corrected accordingly. But if memory serves me correctly, Stephen Ambrose's book Citizen Soldiers among others pointed out that by the time of the Normandy invasion, this factor had indeed taken root in the Wehrmacht and the Americans and allies were in general better at using initiative.
posted by Gelatin at 7:10 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


Russia has deployed up to 20,000 mercenaries from Syria, Libya and elsewhere in its new offensive in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
The supplier is the Wagner Group which is not a Russian-made GRU militia, as some have speculated. It’s 100 percent private sector and under an umbrella corporation called Concord, owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch close to Putin who also runs the Troll army.
NATO needs to neutralize the Wagner Group. Think of it as rogue Spetsnaz forces peddling war crimes, false flag operations, and fifth column mayhem.
posted by adamvasco at 7:31 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


Background colour stuff:

(this one is filmed about 2 days before the invasion) Ukrainian Mountain Weavers Refuse To Surrender Their Traditions In War Or Peace

(this one was when Dnipro was still doing relatively ok) Soviets Banned Matzo, Now Ukraine Supplies The $110 Million American Market

From Niki Proshin's channel, three days ago: What news looks like for people in Russia - he covered newspapers, online, tv, and radio during one week.
posted by cendawanita at 7:42 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]


Reading the link in adamvasco’s comment above, I can’t help but wonder why the Wagner group mercenaries haven’t been hired away as proposed in the article. If there’s 15000 of them, and most of them earn 2500 USD/month, it seems it would be much cheaper to give them cushy jobs than to pay for weapons to kill them on the battlefield?
posted by boogieboy at 7:44 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


My sense its that while yeah, they go to war for money, it's not the money that motivates them. There is simply a subset of humans who are built for conflict. They've been trained to it, and they get their fix from it, so they seek it. Just look at the number of westerners volunteering. I don't think the offer of a cushy job is going to sway these folk.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:55 AM on April 20 [3 favorites]


I'm willing to bet that Russia will eventually stiff the mercenaries, and that will get interesting.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 7:59 AM on April 20 [3 favorites]


it was still a military elite who were to make decisions, they just spent a lot of effort on training in order to broaden that elite so that it included fresh officers and staff sergeants.

Where it matters that you are a democracy with at least the promise of upward mobility, is that training is given to everyone. So if all the leadership of your squad is wiped out, SPC Snuffy still knows what to do and how to lead, at least in theory. They'll make mistakes, but not completely - and they're still trained on the laws of war and the Geneva convention, so they'll be able to avoid some of the worst stuff.
posted by corb at 8:10 AM on April 20 [5 favorites]


Reuter's Idrees Ali on Twitter
BERLIN, April 20 (Reuters) - Germany will stop importing oil from Russia by the end of the year, said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock after a meeting with her Baltic counterparts on Wednesday.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:25 AM on April 20 [4 favorites]


A Twitter thread by a Ukrainian open source intelligence person which has been shared by experts, such as Michael Kofman, on the command issues facing the Russian army in the new offensive. Excerpt:
tl;dr: the Russian army has neither the experience nor readily available capability of conducting such a mega-offensive as we seen unfolding right now.

They may still pull it off, but this and other issues will translate into blunders and higher casualties.
posted by Kattullus at 8:35 AM on April 20 [7 favorites]


I'm willing to bet that Russia will eventually stiff the mercenaries, and that will get interesting.

The irony of the Patriarch of Moscow being attacked by stiffed mercenaries on the 6th of May would be too delicious.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:53 AM on April 20 [9 favorites]


But if you run a country where the military broadly supports the idea of the nation, and its goals, you train every single one of your soldiers in everything you can teach him, and you drop them in on the battlefield with excellent training, give them a goal, and let them get on with it, trusting that they'll figure out how to achieve it ... and if they can't achieve it, they'll know when to return for further orders, and they'll bring back good intel.

I read a really interesting article recently about witnessing the transformation in the Ukrainian army from a soviet-style force to a modern one via training exactly like this, while contrasting to the Russian forces which... didn't, by retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, former commander of US Army Europe.

the one thing I keep bearing in mind though is despite the terrible Russian logistics (near half their armoured losses have been to getting stuck in mud or running out of fuel then abandoning them or getting captured), despite terrible training, combined arms skills, corruption and leadership at every level, despite huge losses of men and material that would utterly cripple a normal army (the Russians have lost more tanks than most countries have in active service in total!), despite having to retreat from Kyiv and the north as they weren't getting anywhere - they still have a lot of troops left, an ungodly amount of artillery and missile systems, and are still occupying a large amount of south-eastern Ukraine, including most of the black sea coast east and west of Crimea - *and* are now advancing in some areas, such as southeast of Kharkiv towards the natural gas fields in the Donbas, and are looking very likely to finish taking Mariupol soon, a vital strategic port they've had surrounded since nearly the initial offensive.

Ukraine's infantry has taken full advantage of their light infantry strengths, native weapon production (and saint Javelin!) to blunt and stymy a much larger and (on paper) better equipped Russian army, navy and airforce, and absolutely full credit to them when most everyone thought they'd be overrun in a week. But the toll on Ukrainian civilians, especially in areas besieged or occupied by Russia has been heavy. They still have a mountain to climb, especially if they want to go on the offensive without the armour, air superiority and long-range indirect fire capability you'd normally plan to have and retake the currently Russian occupied territory from Kherson to Mariupol, let alone restore their pre-2014 borders in the Donbas and/or Crimea. Otherwise, the Russians no doubt will have a great temptation to just sit on what they've got, establish a new line of control, run fake referenda saying whatever Russia wants them to and/or carry on force relocation of Ukrainians in those areas, and just wait for the West to get distracted by the next crisis.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 9:41 AM on April 20 [5 favorites]


NATO needs to neutralize the Wagner Group. Think of it as rogue Spetsnaz forces peddling war crimes, false flag operations, and fifth column mayhem.

I commented about mercenaries above but it was replied to with "the US isn't in this war" or similar which, yes, we've all been here for the derails about whether the US' position and involvement is or isn't important, thanks.

My point was that AFAIK there's no law against mercenaries, due in large part to the US and others not ratifying the UN Mercenary Convention. See also non-parties to the International Criminal Court.

Of course NATO or anyone else could just "neutralize" these monsters. But it would be totally arbitrary, wouldn't it? The whole promise of democratic nations in these international bodies is that we strive towards a "rule of law"-based world. However, the big players often have some excuse why they are special and refuse to sign things (US + Middle East bullshit, Israel + Palestine, etc). So when it's time to hold a bad actor's feet to the fire (Russia in this case), it's the pot calling the kettle black and doesn't carry a hell of a lot of weight legally or morally.

That was my point, not "everyone think of the US and our feelings!"
posted by freecellwizard at 9:45 AM on April 20 [11 favorites]


This is absolutely a proxy war for NATO countries.

The danger for everyone is that other powers, Turkey, Iran, India, and worst of all China, get sucked into this too. Then we're in WW3.
posted by bonehead at 9:58 AM on April 20


This is absolutely a proxy war for NATO countries.

I would beg to disagree.

A proxy war is essentially a war where warring entities instigate another state to attack either the warring entity or a state the warring entity supports.

This is a war to prevent genocide. Many people are rightfully horrified by genocide and are asking the democratic leaders of their NATO countries to fucking do something in order to stop genocide.
posted by corb at 10:13 AM on April 20 [59 favorites]


Igor Girkin (wiki) seems to be the only Russian allowed to speak freely on the current course of the war. A translation of his latest remarks appeared on Twitter. In short, he's extremely pessimistic about Russia's offensive in Donbas.

Among Russians, there's still some resistance. Many are refusing to go back to the front or to joing the fight in the first place.

Speaking of not getting paid: "According to Ukrainian intelligence, yesterday, riots of Russian servicemen began in the Polohy district of the region: Russian soldiers do not want to fight because they are not paid their promised salary," he said.

From Twitter & Telegram, a claim that an Army recruitment & processing center was firebombed:
The military recruitment office in Zubova Polyana, Mordovia, Russia was bombarded with Molotov cocktails, according to the telegram channel Caution, News.

A fire burned two floors. Rooms "where the data of conscripts were stored" were damaged. Several computers were destroyed.
If this claim is correct, then it's the second firebombing of a recruitment center in a month.

And Ukrainian MoD released an intercepted call in which Russian soldiers expressed their hatred of their leadership and a desire to rebel. In Russian. English Dub.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 10:14 AM on April 20 [10 favorites]


The aggressor in this war also directly interfered with the past 2 elections in the US, and Ukraine has asked the western alliance, from day 1, to provide military aid. This war is not so distant as you imagine.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:16 AM on April 20 [30 favorites]


They still have a mountain to climb, especially if they want to go on the offensive without the armour, air superiority and long-range indirect fire capability you'd normally plan to have and retake the currently Russian occupied territory from Kherson to Mariupol, let alone restore their pre-2014 borders in the Donbas and/or Crimea.

They do have those things and they've proven time and time again they know how to use these tools. They just don't have enough of it and/or enough ammo. The ZSU has 500 pieces of 2S3 self-propelled artillery. The US runs a touch over a thousand its similar model (M777) in total. This is what lets the ZSU take back cities and villages. They pushed the aggressors out of Mykolaiv all the way back to the Kherson Oblast borders. You don't do that without heavy weapons, armor, and denial of air supremacy.

If we give them the tools they'll finish the job. Which is why it's so fucking important to get them all the hardware we want and so utterly gobsmacking that certain people are slow walking or even standing in the way of heavy arms transfers.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:19 AM on April 20 [13 favorites]


Foreign Policy's Jack Detsch on Twitter
NEW: Ukraine has added more than 20 fighter jets available by fixing inoperable aircraft with parts supplied from Europe: senior U.S. defense official

Russia still DOES NOT have air superiority on Day 56 of the war.
The Kyiv Independent on Twitter
⚡️ Ukraine’s intelligence: Russia plans forced mobilization in Zaporizhzhia, Kherson regions.

Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Intelligence Directorate says Russia plans to carry out forced mobilization in occupied territories and send Ukrainians to fight against their own country.
Note that's just ahead of the planned Kherson referendum.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:21 AM on April 20 [4 favorites]


My point was that AFAIK there's no law against mercenaries, due in large part to the US and others not ratifying the UN Mercenary Convention. See also non-parties to the International Criminal Court.

This. People also seem to forget the US has a literal law on the books that basically say it should invade The Hague to get US service members released from the ICC.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:22 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]


retake the currently Russian occupied territory from Kherson to Mariupol, let alone restore their pre-2014 borders in the Donbas and/or Crimea.

Crimea has been formally annexed by Russia, and thus would be defended by Russian nuclear first-strike doctrine. Ukraine getting it back would suggest a partial or total collapse of state power in Russia, and/or a palace coup with the new administration being keen to buy back some good will.
posted by acb at 10:30 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


Crimea has been formally annexed by Russia, and thus would be defended by Russian nuclear first-strike doctrine.

In which case they can expect a response in kind. That pretty new Kerch Strait bridge, for example, looks awfully fragile...
posted by The Tensor at 10:37 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


Crimea has been formally annexed by Russia, and thus would be defended by Russian nuclear first-strike doctrine.

Just because Russia says something doesn't make it so; the rest of the world officially disagrees.
the referendum held in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on 16 March 2014, having no validity, cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea or of the city of Sevastopol
posted by corb at 10:41 AM on April 20 [18 favorites]


You guys are freelance propagandizing yourselves about some distant war.

If the Russians didn't want the Ukrainian defense to look so heroic, they needn't have invaded.

If the Russians didn't want their offense to look simultaneously inept and brutal, they could have trained their military better. (Talk about "propagandizing yourself," losing the flagship of the Black Sea fleet is humiliating.)

If the Russians didn't want the US and the West to perceive them as a threat, they needn't have interfered in US and other elections, run propaganda/psyops against Western democracies, and again, invaded a sovereign Ukraine.

And yet, here we are.
posted by Gelatin at 10:50 AM on April 20 [37 favorites]


This is absolutely a proxy war for NATO countries.

This framing is nominally anti-imperialist, but ultimately buys into a deeply imperialist framework.

It implies that Ukraine exists only as a pawn on a chessboard -- an NPC -- and that Russia and the U.S. are the "real" players.

Russia is certainly a real player here. But Ukraine, not the U.S., is its primary opponent. It's not insightful to see the U.S. as the "real" opponent. That's a pseudo-insight.

The U.S. and other NATO countries are accessories to Ukraine's struggle for its own self-determination, not some kind of puppet masters. Try to center Ukraine and its people. Ask yourself what they want. Isn't that what should matter most here?

The alternative is simply buying into Putin's essentially imperialist framing: that small countries exist only as the playthings of great powers.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:17 AM on April 20 [69 favorites]


You going to trade the Kerch Strait bridge for New York?

No, it's New York for Moscow. (I can't believe I keep having to explain MAD in 2022.)
posted by The Tensor at 11:28 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]


Ukraine won't be invading Crimea or retaking the territory lost in 2014 by force any time soon. They are currently in a defensive posture, with an extremely limited ability to conduct offensive operations. Ukraine is still focused on defending and avoid disasters that would cost them the war. Their "hope" is that they can get back to the 2014 borders and force Russia to negotiate from there. Without getting air superiority and an overwhelming numerical advantage in their ground forces an invasion of Crimea and previously occupied areas would be a bloodbath. Ukraine will need a long time and a lot help to get their army to that strength.
posted by interogative mood at 11:33 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


The status quo for control of Crimea was not entirely stable, as Ukraine had cut off their water supply. If Ukraine is able to recapture and rebuild that dam, and Russia is under severe financial strain from sanctions making it harder to sustain trucking in water from outside, the long term control is uncertain even without trying to take the territory by force.
posted by allegedly at 11:51 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


I can't believe I keep having to explain MAD in 2022.

Maybe you gotta explain how it stops after the Kerch Strait bridge.
posted by Reverend John at 12:01 PM on April 20


‘F*cking Shoot Them’: Chechen Fighters Executed Russian Troops Who Rebelled in Ukraine, Official Says
“According to Ukrainian intelligence, yesterday in the Pologovsky district Russian troops started to rebel: Russia’s soldiers didn’t want to fight because they have not received their promised payouts. [Ramzan] Kadyrov’s men brutally killed three of the instigators of the riot who were ready to lay down their weapons and head home,” Arefyev wrote.
The Kadyrovites, not content to being traitors to their own people, betray others as well.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:06 PM on April 20 [8 favorites]


Maybe you gotta explain how it stops after the Kerch Strait bridge.

it wouldn't take much in the way of conventional bombs to take care of that bridge, so it doesn't start at all

this isn't real useful to talk about
posted by pyramid termite at 12:09 PM on April 20 [5 favorites]


Maybe you gotta explain how it stops after the Kerch Strait bridge.

Whether to escalate in that situation would be up to Russia. Just like it is right this second, and every second for at least the last sixty years.
posted by The Tensor at 12:10 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, regarding the actual war, Swedish news just showed a long row of empty parked buses that, once again, were unable to evacuate anyone out of Mariupol. (Sketchy, well-known former prime minister Carl Bildt debated NATO membership with a former Green Party head who asked what will happen with NATO and is it good for Sweden if it joins NATO and Trump gets re-elected, for example. Good question! End derail)
posted by Bella Donna at 12:27 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


Noose tightens on Russian economy as import options dwindle – Container service down sharply, although MSC and Maersk ships still call in Russia., Greg Miller, FreightWaves > American Shipper, April 19, 2022:
There’s no global trade embargo on Russia. No sanctions barring shipments of most consumer goods or manufacturing components. But you don’t need to target the cargo itself to throw a monkey wrench into a supply chain.

Russia’s import options are dwindling as it becomes more difficult for ships, trucks, planes and railways to move Russian cargo — and as shippers and carriers “self-sanction.” Most Russian-flagged cargo ships were banned from calling at EU ports starting this past Saturday. Russian and Belarusian trucks were barred from EU roads as of Sunday.

The new vessel and trucking restrictions follow earlier bans on Russian planes in EU and U.S. airspace, and U.S. and EU sanctions against Russian Railways, whose network links China with the EU. Meanwhile, most ocean carriers have preemptively suspended Russian bookings. Taken together, it’s still far from a full blockade. But it’s a “death by a thousand cuts” scenario for Russian logistics.

Russian Central Bank Chairwoman Elvira Nabiullina [WP bio] admitted Monday [Google Translate: Russian > English] that sanctions had “primarily affected the financial market but now they will begin to increasingly affect the real sectors of the economy. The main problem will be … restrictions on imports, foreign trade logistics, and in the future, possible restrictions on exports.

“This problem is not yet so strongly felt because there are still reserves in the economy, but we see that sanctions are being tightened almost every day. We see restrictions on the transportation of Russian goods and the work of Russian carriers. The period when the economy can live on reserves is finite.”…
Details and charts follow in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 1:05 PM on April 20 [9 favorites]


So, Russia is hiring desperate men from some of the poorest countries in the world, offering them still low pay, and how it is to be delivered, is anyone's guess. Russia has told them whatever they need to, to get the buy on. Then, these men are being sent into Donbas, on foot, to be killed, and kill in any fashion they can. Mainly they are never going to see pay, and will likely die, so that Russians don't have to die, or explain the deaths. Whatever you buy from Russia, facilitates this, and the deaths of Ukrainians. This is textbook evildoing, I had hoped we were over this, hoped the strength of the worlds organization would have grown sufficiently to make this a thing of the past.

Putin seems to want the past, evil obscured by the censer smoke of Orthodox Patriarchs, and new Monarchists, played by oligarchs, with heavy mystique of culture, and lots of masculine posturing. There are plenty of mirrors of this in The West, but it is always more satisfying to point fingers elsewhere. That business with the shirt off and the horses with expensive bridles, everyone should have seen it coming, the Napeonic neediness and narcissim, anyway.
posted by Oyéah at 1:10 PM on April 20 [21 favorites]


NPR: Meet Patron, a bomb-sniffing Jack Russell terrier who has become a Ukrainian hero
A tiny but mighty Jack Russell terrier has been saving lives in Ukraine and gaining fans around the world.

Two-year-old Patron works with State Emergency Service rescuers in the northern city of Chernihiv, where he sniffs out Russian bombs (in addition to warming laps, nipping sleeves and generally being a good boy).
Includes photos, videos.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:28 PM on April 20 [19 favorites]


it wouldn't take much in the way of conventional bombs to take care of that bridge, so it doesn't start at all

The suggestion of bombing the Kerch Strait bridge was made as a response to Russia using nuclear weapons after possible Ukrainian gains in Crimea, so attacking the Kerch Strait bridge, even conventionally, under those circumstances only heightens the stakes for continued Russian nuclear escalation.

Whether to escalate in that situation would be up to Russia. Just like it is right this second, and every second for at least the last sixty years.

Similarly, your suggestion of bombing the Kerch Strait bridge doesn't address the original problem of Russia using nuclear weapons in response to losing what they, rightly or wrongly, view as part of Russia itself.

One doesn't have to agree with the Russians to see that "bomb the Kerch strait bridge and, duh, MAD will prevent it from getting worse" isn't a serious answer to the problem.
posted by Reverend John at 1:28 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


Concerns about nuclear war are legitimate. However, they can be a bit of a tangent away from the main flow of conversation on this thread. For that reason, there is a thread set up specifically to discuss the risk that the Russo-Ukrainian war might escalate (the nuclear war thread). I'd like to suggest that we take this conversation to that thread.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:34 PM on April 20 [47 favorites]


The Crimean / Kerch Strait Bridge is actually two bridges (a separate road and rail bridge) about 19km long with at least 4 major spans as they connect via at least one island in the middle. They are made of reinforced concrete and steel. Even if they could be damaged/destroyed beyond repair, Destroying them would have little strategic benefit. Russia isn't using these bridges to bring forces into Donbas. It might impact their long term ability to integrate and defend Crimea but Ukraine isn't attacking there now, nor will they have the ability to do that any time soon.
posted by interogative mood at 2:20 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


The ZSU has 500 pieces of 2S3 self-propelled artillery. The US runs a touch over a thousand its similar model (M777) in total

I've been a bit confused about these; maybe from errors in reports (not that the designations matter that much). So far as I can tell, the M777 is the updated towed 155mm piece (replacing the M198). The current US self propelled howitzer is an upgraded variant of the M109 called the 'Paladin'; apparently the modernized one that will replace it is still the same basic design but with enough system upgrades to get a new model number (M1299). Germany's fully modernized equivalent is the well thought of PzH 2000, and it sounds like those may be one of the items the government has waffled on authorizing for sale to Ukraine.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:26 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


@ChristopherJM:
Zelensky tonight: "We are doing more than the maximum to ensure the supply of weapons to our army. Every day, all our diplomats, all our representatives, and I personally work 24/7 through all possible channels – official and unofficial – to speed up the delivery of aid."

Zelensky continued: "And I am very pleased to say, with cautious optimism, that our partners started to understand our needs better. Understand what exactly we need. And when exactly we need all this. Not in weeks, not in a month, but immediately."
posted by gwint at 3:23 PM on April 20 [13 favorites]


Of course NATO or anyone else could just "neutralize" these monsters. But it would be totally arbitrary, wouldn't it? The whole promise of democratic nations in these international bodies is that we strive towards a "rule of law"-based world. However, the big players often have some excuse why they are special and refuse to sign things (US + Middle East bullshit, Israel + Palestine, etc). So when it's time to hold a bad actor's feet to the fire (Russia in this case), it's the pot calling the kettle black and doesn't carry a hell of a lot of weight legally or morally.

Russia came into this conflict believing three things to be true:

First, that we don't really live in a world where international relations are governed by rules and institutions, except in a very narrow set of circumstances for settling minor disputes between countries in the imperial centre itself or in settling disputes between countries in the centre and countries outside of it. I.e. the IMF, international courts, World Bank, WTO etc are all part of a hegemonic order in a system run by the US.

Second, that really powerful countries could simply ignore all of this and do what they wanted by imposing their will through force in the old fashioned way.

Third, that Russia was such a country.

They are regrettably discovering that only the first two points are true. Putin got his monkey's paw and wished that he didn't live in a world of rules but one where powerful countries just did what they wanted, a finger curled, the paw laughed, and his central bank reserved were "illegally" seized. Uh oh. Apparently Russia is going to sue. They're going to discover that they were right all along: powerful countries will do to Russia what they want.

This is absolutely a proxy war for NATO countries.

Sort of, yeah, but it behooves us to remember that every proxy war for one country is also a "real" war for someone else and therefore the statement that something is a proxy war is both banal because always true and ultimately puts certain countries in the centre of the world (since wars on their territory are not described as proxy wars).

Vietnam was a proxy war but it doesn't mean it wasn't pretty real for the Vietnamese. The American war of independence was a proxy war for France and the UK as well as other European powers. WWII was a proxy war for the US until it wasn't. I don't love the proxy war framing because the implication is that it doesn't really matter as it's "just" a proxy war.

Can I also remind everyone that just because we're all writing in English, many of us are a lot closer to the fighting than were I am in London and others are in North America. I happen to think that people are no more required to care about this conflict than they do about many others - typically not at all - but I don't know why this is the place for pointing that out to the rest of us. If you think this is an inconsequential conflict which has nothing to do with you, then great, do something else with your time, surely?

[Bit on escalation deleted so as not to derail the thread]
posted by atrazine at 3:48 PM on April 20 [47 favorites]


Jimmy on Twitter
The Netherlands are to supply Ukraine with extremely effective Panzerhaubitze 2000 heavy self propelled artillery - the Germans will train Ukrainian soldiers to use them (probably in Poland) and supply ammunition.
Includes link to Handelsblatt (German newspaper)

Reminder, we have a nuclear war thread.

posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:16 PM on April 20 [5 favorites]


I've been a bit confused about these; maybe from errors in reports (not that the designations matter that much). So far as I can tell, the M777 is the updated towed 155mm piece (replacing the M198).

Sorry, my bad, the M777 is towed.

For what it's worth, I did find out that the 18 x 155m Howitzers that the US are sending over are older M198s. They apparently had some around and they're sending them over. We still need more.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:27 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]




More US artillery would be good, but it seems the German self-propelled gun is the only one that outranges the Russian counterpart [Marc DeVore of St. Andrews via Twitter]. A pretty significant advantage. This video goes over its capabilities.

That tweet cites another with two sources that least a few are being supplied by the Netherlands, with German training and ammunition. [Marcus Faulkner at King's College]

There seems to be consensus that artillery will be a decisive component in this phase given the geography, making Germany's willingness to allow sale of an immediate factor in the outcome (and in Ukrainian losses, in terms of being able to outrange Russian guns). Netherlands doesn't have many to send compared to the numbers Germany could supply.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:29 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


1420: Do You Think Ukraine is full of Nazis? yt


"I don't know" is a good proxy for "fuck this war."
posted by ocschwar at 5:34 PM on April 20 [5 favorites]


Speech by Elvira Nabiullina at a joint meeting of relevant committees of the State Duma dedicated to the consideration of the Bank of Russia Annual Report for 2021

Central Bank of Russia governor preparing the Duma for what's to come. The most interesting part:
At the moment, perhaps this problem is not yet so strongly felt, because there are still reserves in the economy, but we see that sanctions are being tightened almost every day, and we see restrictions on the transportation of Russian goods and the work of Russian carriers. But the period when the economy can live on reserves is finite. And already in the II-beginning of the III quarter, we will actively enter the period of structural transformation and the search for new business models for many enterprises. And as the Central Bank, we are well aware that this period may be accompanied by a surge in prices for certain goods. Therefore, inflation will be above the target. And you need to understand that such an excess of inflation will be largely due not to high demand, but to restrictions on the supply side of goods, with low supply. Therefore, we will not try to return it lower by any means - this would prevent the business from adapting, for which now restoring the supply of necessary imported components is more difficult and expensive, and this will inevitably affect the price of the final product.
Basically at this point they're running on fumes. They're not getting anything brought in and prices are under control only because the inventory buffers in the supply chain have held out this long probably thanks to massive rate rises curbing spending and limiting access to goods on credit. Those buffers are about to run dry and for a lot more products.

Then the fun begins.

I love the way that they portray that they're choosing to not even try to tame the inflation. There is no choice because it's literally impossible. The ruble will inflate however much it needs to chasing what limited goods are going to make it into Russia. It just becomes a question of how far it will inflate.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:48 PM on April 20 [14 favorites]


Tangental to the war, from earlier today, a young (Niki Proshin) from St Petersburg takes you out shopping in St Petersburg and explains what life is like in Russia all these weeks after the sanctions were imposed.
posted by hippybear at 6:51 PM on April 20 [10 favorites]


Via Slava Malamud: Speaking of songs, some of Ukraine's top celebrities and comedians (and a Romani band) have recorded this rousing hymn to burning Russian military equipment (and to their fear of Ukrainian birds).
The refrain is, of course, "Russian ship, go fuck yourself"


The song: Украïна переможе (English captions available)
posted by cendawanita at 7:17 PM on April 20 [19 favorites]


I’ve been playing that absolutely banging song on repeat for the past two days, ever since it was posted on r/Ukraine. I’m starting to pick up bits of Ukrainian from the lyrics of these songs.

Honestly, it’s such a rousing song, I was ready to pick up a rifle. Then I remember that I’m thousands of miles away, don’t speak Ukrainian, and have COPD. So I don’t think I’d be much help if I did.

It’s extraordinary how much determination and sass Ukrainians are able to muster, given what they’re going through right now. Slava Ukraine!
posted by darkstar at 8:03 PM on April 20 [18 favorites]


That Niki Proshin video was exactly what I was wondering about earlier today re shopping malls (still open) and grocery shelves (still stocked). He talks about the price inflation and the US $ equivalents flash by pretty fast but seems like the new prices are comparable or even cheaper than what I pay and I haven’t been to the supermarket this week. Also, KFC and Burger King, still open.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:31 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


SpaceX shut down a Russian electromagnetic warfare attack in Ukraine last month — and the Pentagon is taking notes
Dave Tremper, director of electronic warfare for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, pointed to SpaceX’s ability last month to swiftly stymie a Russian effort to jam its Starlink satellite broadband service, which was keeping Ukraine connected to the Internet. SpaceX founder Elon Musk steered thousands of Starlink terminals to Ukraine after an official sent him a tweet asking for help keeping the besieged country online.

“The next day [after reports about the Russian jamming effort hit the media], Starlink had slung a line of code and fixed it,” Tremper said. “And suddenly that [Russian jamming attack] was not effective anymore. From [the] EW technologist’s perspective, that is fantastic … and how they did that was eye-watering to me.”

The government, on the other hand, has a “significant timeline to make those types of corrections” as it muddles through analyses of what happened, decides how to fix it and gets a contract in place for the fix.

“We need to be able to have that agility,” Tremper said. “We need to be able to change our electromagnetic posture to be able to change, very dynamically, what we’re trying to do without losing capability along the way.”
It's amazing how quickly a private firm can turn around fixes to work around Russian blocking.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:08 PM on April 20 [7 favorites]


Honestly, it’s such a rousing song, I was ready to pick up a rifle.

I have kind of a weird, dark inner thought that I'm glad I'm old enough not to be roused by things like this. I'm reminded of youtube flooded with videos of American servicepeople returning from Iraq or Afghanistan and surprising their children at school and getting tearful hugs, and thinking that propaganda doesn't have to be fake to be effective, and it's sometimes moreso when it's real.

I can't remember a time when there was as unambiguously right a side in a conflict as Ukraine is. Whatever nuance you might acknowledge in the longer term relationship with Russia, Putin's grotesquely evil invasion sweeps aside all considerations--it's just so wrong that one can't help feeling justified and needed in warring against it. And that thought is scary, and should be scary. We should all be most suspicious just when we're feeling most swept up.
posted by fatbird at 9:16 PM on April 20 [26 favorites]


That Niki Proshin video was exactly what I was wondering about earlier today re shopping malls (still open) and grocery shelves (still stocked). He talks about the price inflation and the US $ equivalents flash by pretty fast but seems like the new prices are comparable or even cheaper than what I pay and I haven’t been to the supermarket this week. Also, KFC and Burger King, still open.

I mean, probably 1/3 of all the stores are closed. Prices for breads and a few staples are roughly stable, like bread and beef, but for anything above that the price increase is +20-+100 percent.

Like, inflation in the US is maybe 10% and it's causing huge problems.

Also consider that St. Petersburg and Moscow are the two most urban and elite centers in Russia. Everything is being done to foist the pain of this conflict on Russia's periphery. Plus, if we are comparing market prices between US and Russia, the mean Russian income is like 7 grand $US a year. In St. Petersburg, one of the most affluent cities in Russia, the average income is like 1,500 $US a month, or 18,000 $US per year.

I think he might be right that Russians are just willing to endure this for longer than we expect, but the idea that the economic squeeze isn't happening is the exact opposite message from the video.
posted by absalom at 9:26 PM on April 20 [7 favorites]


As mentioned before, the POW videos uploaded by Ukraine are sort of grey within the Geneva Conventions, in that even though the soldiers give their consent (and the live calls to family seem real) the videos arguably should not be made public.

That said, one uploaded two weeks ago struck me as meaningful, from a member of the force that assaulted Hostomel Airport at the beginning of the war.

The whole thing is worth watching for the experience of a young 'contract' soldier who didn't expect to be sent to war and winds up being the only survivor of his company; but he calls his mom at the end, and it's an especially arresting moment as she repeats the Russian state line as he talks to her, along with a Ukrainian 'journalist' (who does seem to know a lot about military matters). Here it is cued to that part.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:08 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


.... and gets a contract in place for the fix.

.... It's amazing how quickly a private firm can turn around fixes to work around Russian blocking.


Capture of so many military services by very, very very lucrative contracts that are basically legally mandated indicates the problem isn't "the government can't get their shit together" so much as "lobbyists have made it illegal for the government to get its shit together, think of the poor shareholders."
posted by tclark at 10:09 PM on April 20 [29 favorites]


Likewise capture of talent by SpaceX.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:16 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


The whole thing is worth watching for the experience of a young 'contract' soldier

God that is a harrowing watch. Times that by every surviving POW, at least.
posted by cendawanita at 11:01 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


This week's New Yorker has a four-page Joe Sacco strip produced with Victoria Lomasko, who fled Putin's Russia as the war began: A Russian artist is caught between dictatorship and western sanctions.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:07 PM on April 20 [9 favorites]


it's an especially arresting moment as she repeats the Russian state line as he talks to her, along with a Ukrainian 'journalist'

I am really impressed with that journalist / interrogator / interlocutor guy. The thing about "true" propaganda here really strikes me. It is not just the stories the POWs tell, it is also the understanding, compassion, honest questions that he asks that add vey real value to the propaganda. We will not torture you, we are fair, we are reasonable, we are on the side of right, we just want to understand.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:49 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


I was less impressed by the Ukrainian guy. If this video isn’t against the Geneva convention it should be. It was so painful to watch that young man trying to reason with his mom but that should be private. It was excruciating to me every time the soldier slumped over and his Ukrainian keeper made him sit up again so we could see his face in the video. Make no mistake: This guy is a prisoner. I hope he will be treated well. I hope he is guilty of no war crimes. And I hope the civilians in Mariupol get evacuated soon.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:25 AM on April 21 [10 favorites]


From IWVM Vienna: Reporting on the War in Ukraine:

Journalist Nataliya Gumenyuk is one of the most prominent Ukrainian voices in the Western media. Over the past eight weeks, she has been reporting from places across Ukraine that have come under heavy Russian attack, including Kharkiv, the Donbas, southern Ukraine, and the Kyiv region. Her work foregrounds the human stories of Ukrainians determined to defend and rebuild their country. In this conversation, Gumenyuk will talk about how Ukrainian society is responding to the Russian invasion and the role narrative journalism can play in shaping broader understanding of the war.

This event is part of the IWM's new Documenting Ukraine project, which seeks to contribute to creating a record of the war in Ukraine.

Nataliya Gumenyuk is a Ukrainian author and journalist specializing in foreign affairs and conflict reporting and the founder of the Public Interest Journalism Lab.

She will be in conversation with Katherine Younger, IWM Permanent Fellow and Research Director of the program Ukraine in European Dialogue.


(eta: I wasn't clear - that's the About as written as it was a livestream)
posted by cendawanita at 1:03 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Holy crap, Putin has declared victory in Mariopul but no storming of the steel plant. Declare victory with no victory. Summary from BBC

Summary

Vladimir Putin orders his troops not to storm the Azovstal steel plant, where the last group of Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol is holding out

Instead, the president tells them to seal it up so even a "fly" cannot escape, and says Russia has control of the strategic port city

Some civilians trapped for weeks in the wider south-eastern city have been able to leave, but far fewer than hoped

In the east of Ukraine, where fighting continues a 300-mile front, Russia has not had any major breakthroughs, a think-tank says
Moscow secured "minor gains", including parts of some frontline towns, Institute for the Study of War analysis shows
posted by jadepearl at 1:42 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


Putin has declared victory in Mariopul but no storming of the steel plant.

Instead of the defenders fighting to the last and being remembered as martyred heroes, he's going to make the world watch them starve to death.
posted by automatronic at 2:13 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


And Scholz is still vetoing the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine. Their blood will be on his hands.
posted by acb at 2:24 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


And Scholz is still vetoing the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine. Their blood will be on his hands.
At which point do we start thinking of him as a Russian asset/useful idiot?
Schröder is a good friend isn't he?
posted by fullerine at 2:41 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


The Ukraine propaganda videos are another failure of the Russian army training: the soldiers should be taught to only ever respond with their name, rank, and service number. Even back in the eighties when I was in the Army, our “interpreters” did really convincing propaganda video using responses from soldiers who forgot this (this was during exercises where the most you got subjected to was some sleep deprivation and crappy food).
posted by boogieboy at 3:11 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Victoria Nuland: NATO could be involved in evacuation of civilians from Mariupol

Victoria Nuland seems to go from "Fuck the EU" to Fuck the World. After handpicking Ukianians government members after the coup of 2014, she keeps tying to escalate the conflict. That's some Madeleine Albright level of evilness. Why a neo-con like her is still in place in the current American administration?
posted by - at 3:25 AM on April 21


Salon, Jan 2021: Who is Victoria Nuland? A really bad idea as a key player in Biden's foreign policy team "A Cold War true believer who sabotaged Obama's foreign policy, Nuland is a huge risk at the State Department"
posted by - at 3:36 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Sorry for the multiple posting - but I just found this article from the FT (2014) to be quite prescient:

However, it has left Ms Nuland and the rest of the administration struggling to answer the same question that has stalked them throughout the Ukraine crisis. The US has a strategy for raising the pressure on Russia but it is much less clear on how it plans to end the crisis, short of complete capitulation by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
posted by - at 4:07 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


much less clear on how it plans to end the crisis, short of complete capitulation

That is not a 'plan' that can be said out loud but for many very cynical but functionally crass reasons could be the optimum direction silently acknowledge in backooms. A depleted Russia may be weak enough to reduce nukes and make China nervous about expansionism. Also a weakened Ukraine, the farms will recover quickly, democratic elements may be invigorated. A significant shift in geopolitical balance towards democratic ideals.
posted by sammyo at 4:42 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


> Instead, the president tells them to seal it up so even a "fly" cannot escape, and says Russia has control of the strategic port city

No idea what this could mean, it's a massive facility.

Truly bizarre choice! I thought they were following the standard urban warfare playbook, encircle and level the city, pressing resistance into a smaller and smaller area until you can eliminate them all. This means plenty of civilians die of course and it often takes weeks and weeks to finally eliminate holdouts of resistance from a city, see the American experience in Fallujah and more recently Raqqa. But you don't really have any other choice but to slaughter the defenders down to the last. There's no sealing up a city, the soldiers in Mariupol almost certainly have sporadic supply lines, and if they just leave them there, they're going to be able to sneak out and kill your forces when they think they're safe. This just isn't how you capture a city! They're not going to just live out their remaining lives in the steel plant, they're going to fight. I really have no idea what's going on here now.
posted by dis_integration at 5:21 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Wargaming a Long War: Ukraine Fights On, Modern War Institute (at West Point); James Lacey, Tim Barrick, Nathan Barrick; 04.04.22
In the weeks prior to the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War, Marine Corps University hosted a four-day wargame [War On The Rocks, 03.02.22] to forecast the war’s course. That wargame proved remarkably prescient, accurately predicting almost all of Russia’s major combat movements in the first week of operations. As the war entered its second month, the Marine Corps War College and the Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Future Warfare reopened the wargame with the aim of exploring how the future fight might develop, with a particular emphasis on a national resistance scenario in a Russian-occupied Ukraine.

Our wargame’s advisors came from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, including United States military officers, representatives from NATO countries, two experts on internal Russian decision-making, and a retired Ukrainian colonel with experience on the Ukrainian general staff. The second iteration’s most significant change to gameplay was a switch from each turn representing a single day to three-month turns. This was done to allow us to play out a full year of combat operations within the time allotted to complete the wargame. Lengthening the game turn duration required a higher degree of adjudication abstraction than our previous wargame, but it proved essential to enabling players to look at broader operational and strategic considerations over the duration of a protracted conflict….
Game details and outcomes follow in the article. In the end:
After our first wargame, we had the luxury of looking backward to determine the accuracy of the game’s predictions. The results were good enough to give us the confidence to employ the game to look into a more distant future. Still, this is a wargame, and real-life human interactions in the bloody cauldron of war can easily confound our team’s predictions. Still, the game presents a set of interesting possibilities, all of which require more through examination by policy experts, tasked to prepare answers to a problem that seemed absurd in late February 2022 – that Ukraine would still be holding its own against the Russian colossus a year hence.
posted by cenoxo at 5:36 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


"Some NATO member states want the war in Ukraine to continue for Russia to get weaker, Turkiye’s foreign minister said Wednesday."
posted by - at 5:40 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


No idea what this could mean, it's a massive facility.

It sounds better than "every soldier we ordered to go in refused to do so."
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:36 AM on April 21 [18 favorites]


President Biden Provides an Update on Russia and Ukraine

Another $800 million. "Dozens of howitzers", 144,000 shells for said howitzers, more drones, increasing ATGMs to "10 anti-armor systems for every tank in Ukraine", sharing intelligence.

"Won't always be able to advertise everything" and the US is facilitating more transfers.

Biden putting in a supplementary budget request to go past the drawdown authority to send even more over.

After weeks of dithering, the arsenal of Democracy is finally coming back online.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:14 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


To the extent that it can be "sealed up", welding steel panels over exit points or the like, I presume the Ukrainian soldiers, being soldiers, have some kind of explosives that can blow a hole where ever they want a hole.

Seeing as Putin's lips were moving, it's a lie. Just more propaganda to mislead the Russian public.
posted by VTX at 7:16 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Non-weapons:

Accelerating Ukrainian refugee processing and allowing Ukrainians with US sponsors (family members) to migrate straight from Europe instead of requiring them to apply for asylum on the Mexican border.

More sanctions on more individuals.

No Russian operated, owned, or flagged ship will be able to dock in a US port.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:19 AM on April 21 [10 favorites]


re: Azovstal
But you don't really have any other choice but to slaughter the defenders down to the last. There's no sealing up a city, the soldiers in Mariupol almost certainly have sporadic supply lines, and if they just leave them there, they're going to be able to sneak out and kill your forces when they think they're safe. This just isn't how you capture a city! They're not going to just live out their remaining lives in the steel plant, they're going to fight.
This situation also has strong echoes for me of the Siege of the Sihang Warehouse during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in WWII and the defense of the Brest citadel during the German invasion of the Soviet Union (after the Soviets besieged the Poles there when they first agreed to mutually invade Poland w/ Germany).

Both were propaganda assets for the defenders. Everyone loves an Alamo story with valiant, doomed heroes holding out to the last. Arguably, that story gains power if you martyr everyone with a brutal extermination campaign against that stronghold, but if you leave it alone, yoiu're basically providing the equivalent of a daily interest-bearing account for the defender's propaganda efforts.
posted by bl1nk at 7:32 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


"Some NATO member states want the war in Ukraine to continue for Russia to get weaker, Turkiye’s foreign minister said Wednesday."

Wow. Fuck those folks with a tractor.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:45 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Also, a new poll was publicised today regarding NATO membership for Sweden. For the first time, 51% of the Swedes surveyed were in favour of membership. Sigh.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:46 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


What's interesting about this bit of Putin's theatre, is that he's positioning himself as caring about the lives of his soldiers, not as a tough guy. According to an English-language Russian propaganda outlet:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called off an assault on the Azovstal steel plant in the Black Sea port of Mariupol during a meeting with Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Thursday...

“We always need to think about preserving the lives and health of our soldiers and officers," Putin told the defense chief, adding that, in this particular case, they should not be sent to assault the steel plant.
Putin must be getting concerned about the effect of casualities on Russian public opinion if he's trying to portray himself this way.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:53 AM on April 21 [12 favorites]


For me (a non-citizen who lives in Sweden), the case for Swedish NATO membership would be partly a social-democratic one: to get the sort of defensive capabilities NATO membership would provide whilst remaining independent would cost more than twice as much (the figures I've seen was 4.5% of GDP could provide Sweden with independent defensive capabilities equivalent to 2% of GDP within NATO). So a defensive alliance of democracies like NATO makes sense if you want the extra 2.5% of GDP to spend on maintaining the level of service provision a country like Sweden expects.

The arguments against NATO seem to be rehashed cold-war leftist talking points about yankee-imperialist Mickey Mouse Coca-Colonialism what about Pinochet or whatever, which in 2022 are not helpful.
posted by acb at 7:54 AM on April 21 [24 favorites]


The new NKVD?

Business Insider: Ukraine claims Ramzan Kadyrov's troops killed 3 Russian troops who no longer wanted to fight
A number of Russian soldiers had rioted over a lack of promised pay in Polohy, a district in the southeastern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, according to an official statement attributed to regional military spokesperson Col. Ivan Arefyev.

The statement, posted to Telegram on Wednesday, said that Ukrainian intelligence found that the soldiers in question "were ready to surrender their weapons and go home."

But fighters answering to Kadyrov "brutally killed" three of the Russian soldiers, Arefyev's statement said.

Insider has been unable to verify the incident, and did not immediately receive a response to enquiries to the Russian embassy in London and Chechnya's parliament.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:17 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


So that “dozens” of artillery. The final number is 72(!) 155m howitzers PLUS tactical vehicles to tow them. 5 battalions worth of artillery!
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:22 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]


Hopefully Ukraine will get some of the newer HIMARS systems as well. These are the future of mobile artillery.
posted by interogative mood at 8:47 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


the soldiers should be taught to only ever respond with their name, rank, and service number

This is the truly bizarre thing - like, this is the basics of the requirements of the Geneva Convention, and it should be all you give. Is Russia not just throwing out the Geneva Convention on civilians but like....all of it?
posted by corb at 8:48 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


There is a Russian youtuber I like named Natasha. She lives in the Far East, in Khabarovsk, though she occasionally travels to Vladivostok and Spassk. She's fairly young -- early 20s, I'd reckon? -- but spent some time in the US on a student exchange. Anyway... I like it because she's thoughtful, and clearly somewhat westernized, but she gives a really good glimpse into what daily life is like not just in Russia, but in a part of Russia we rarely hear much about.

She's definitely anti-invasion, but of course needs to be careful how she talks about it. She hasn't done many videos since Frebruary -- she says that it's both because of the restrictions on what she can say, and her own overwhelmed mental state. But she released one a few days ago where she answers some viewer questions and talks more about what current conditions are like there. The thing that chagrined me the most is that the city buses in Khabarovsk have all been liveried with the Z-stika now.

Anyway, I share it in case folks would like a slightly different perspective on what's going on in Russia right now, and in general.
posted by jammer at 8:55 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


For a soldier to hold fast at name-rank-serial, they generally need morale and a conviction that their own people will do anything to get them back in one piece. Brutalised conscript cannon fodder from desperate poverty are... not it.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:00 AM on April 21 [17 favorites]


the final number is 72(!)

I was originally confused by your 72 because I had read many sources claiming 90. But it turns out everyone is correct. 18 howitzers in the first round and 72 in the second for a total of 90. That's really great news!

Also mentioned are 121+ Phoenix Ghost drones. These are very interesting. Brian Everstine wrote:
DOD: "Phoenix Ghost" drones were rapidly developed by USAF in response to Ukrainian requirements. They have 'similar capabilities' to the Switchblades. >121 going to Ukraine. Will require 'minimal training'

Whoa.
Must have been developed in a matter of months. Kinda remarkable.

On a related note, US DoD thinks Ukraine now has more tanks in the country than Russia.

This graph, based on Oryx's compiled OSINT data, backs this up. Graph is from this project by Lee Drake. Contains many other interesting graphs generated from Oryx's data.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:19 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


For a soldier to hold fast at name-rank-serial, they generally need morale and a conviction that their own people will do anything to get them back in one piece. Brutalised conscript cannon fodder from desperate poverty are... not it.

They are getting better food, conditions and compassion then they ever recieved in the Russian Army. Me I would be trying for non-repatriation and UKR or alternate residence. No need for looting when this can be your normal standard of living.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:21 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


This is the truly bizarre thing - like, this is the basics of the requirements of the Geneva Convention, and it should be all you give. Is Russia not just throwing out the Geneva Convention on civilians but like....all of it?

Given the level of combat training even these airborne troops received (basically, none beyond basic training and textbook doctrine, according to this kid) the training for capture may not be much more than "name, rank, and serial number" plus "they'll cut your balls off and then execute you" if you're captured.

When you're then captured after fleeing your doomed unit and the latter doesn't happen; but instead you're fed, given clean clothes, shown atrocities committed down the road with your own eyes, and the Ukrainian "journalist" is the first person to give you information that's compatible with what you've experienced, and who is offering a phone call to your family, it's not hard to imagine your trust swings at least to the middle if not all the way over.

While there's no way around the duress and pressure inherent in being a POW, at a few points the kid gives the kind of answer he expects an interrogator would want, and it's brushed aside. It would have been better to just let the kid slump in reaction to his mom's words (so sadly relatable). There was also that moment when the kid and the interviewer both got frustrated with 'mom' at the same time. This isn't a civil war but in that moment it felt sort of like one.

Also, if you go looking for Russian videos of captured Ukrainians, it's much more what you'd expect from the Geneva prohibition -- forced confessions to a laundry list of crimes. Like Vietnam POW confessions.

Which is the other thing about the Geneva Convention on this -- it's meant to prevent mistreatment of one's own soldiers. If the other side is going to publish confessions extracted by torture, the ethical calculus shifts. It may still be important to adhere to some of the rules out of unilateral moral principle, but what about those that rely on reciprocity to be meaningful?


They are getting better food, conditions and compassion then they ever recieved in the Russian Army. Me I would be trying for non-repatriation and UKR or alternate residence. No need for looting when this can be your normal standard of living.

There was a program like this announced at the beginning of the conflict (surrender and receive a stipend and some kind of Ukrainian citizenship or residency after the war). I haven't heard much about it since.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:25 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


Hopefully Ukraine will get some of the newer HIMARS systems as well. These are the future of mobile artillery.

Polish MoD is talking to the US about procuring more HIMARS among other things, probably because they've apparently been transferring them to Ukraine. So fingers crossed Ukraine might have some already.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:37 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Among the equipment that the US announced they're sending to Ukraine today were 121 "Phoenix Ghost" drones. Apparently, this initially sparked some confusion among some commentators I saw on Twitter since that wasn't a name they had heard before; there was some speculation that it might have been a misnomer of the Ghost 60 drone. However, it turns out that it's not a misnomer or mistake but rather a newly developed drone that was "rapidly developed by the Air Force in response specifically to Ukrainian requirements", according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. There are apparently no firm details about this drone's capabilities or what those "Ukrainian requirements" were specifically but it seems some people are citing some further quotes from an unnamed DoD official that it is similar to the Switchblade in that it is a "one-way drone" and that it "packs a punch".
posted by mhum at 9:55 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Anyone who thinks Putin follows any convention, is lethally misguided. In fact, anyone who attempts to negotiate with Putin, is volunteering to be used and misguided by Putin. Putin's only convention is inside his head, and others are trying to enact his will with poor resources, whether these resources are troops, plans, conventional weapons. Russia has had great success with cyber warfare. I think half the unrest in the US is attributable to Russia. Putin will do anything he gets a mind to. His military, tooled and armed for the suppression of his own populations, didn't plan for a real war.

It is amazing what even a bit of personal freedom, and working ingenuity, will do to change the attitude of a whole society, that of Ukraine. Russia, as a population is still defeated from the effects of Stalin, still lives in visceral memory of WWĺl. There has still not been a liberation of Russia, just the republics who left the USSR. Brutal as they may seem, it is hard for Russia's people to understand the military operation, to oppose it, or to fight it. The grip of information, and sustenance is so strong. Anyway, it is hard to watch both nations suffer from the delusions of one man. I get the lure of oligarchy, but do not admire it. I still also think this is an oil war. The effects in the US, drill, baby, drill.
posted by Oyéah at 10:19 AM on April 21 [10 favorites]


I can't figure out the war can end while Putin is still in power-- he's untrustworthy, so there's no point in getting an agreement from him.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:24 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]


For a soldier to hold fast at name-rank-serial, they generally need morale and a conviction that their own people will do anything to get them back in one piece. Brutalised conscript cannon fodder from desperate poverty are... not it

Yeah, this is true, and I also wonder how much of what Eyebrows said above, about how the US Army is comparatively a classroom army, applies. I know when I was in, we all had to memorize the Code of Conduct for capture. I can't say it line for line anymore, after nearly 15 years, but I can remember every provision.

It also understands that people may break under torture; the specific lines are
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am bound to give only name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. [emphasis mine]
But it very much assumes that you have love and loyalty for your fellow prisoners, your fellow servicemembers, and that the nation you serve will do anything short of compromising with the enemy to get them back. If the Russians aren't even packing home their dead, and leaving them to rot...how much less do they care about the POWs?
posted by corb at 10:29 AM on April 21 [19 favorites]


I can't figure out the war can end while Putin is still in power

We've already seen it, this is an ongoing dimantling / reabsorption programme. Not only Putin leaving, but a large scale reassessment of Russia's role in the world, and specifically a full repudiation of "near abroad" and "Russki Mir" concepts, from the Russian ruling classes, will be needed before any real peace can come.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:31 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Realized I'm mixing up details from two different interviews a bit. Here is the second one in full, which is a little more matter-of-fact in its mood. Grim, in its details, but more about the soldiering and no call home.

Or for those who find watching them at length uncomfortable: the unit was flown to Belarus "for an exercise" where they briefly sit with no further orders. Then on Feb. 24th they're boarded on helicopters for a training mission, after which it is announced midair that they will actually be assaulting Hostomel airfield.

The interviewer elicits his opinion of his unit's readiness and training, the soldier says that within the unit it is understood they are not as elite as they are portrayed to be and were "fucking shocked" to hear where they were going. After landing their initial positions came under air attack, but the only orders and training they had were to dig in ("dig quicker.")

After that there is some discussion of how the unit sat there at Hostomel being shelled and running out of supplies while the resupply by road kept being delayed. When the resupply did arrive, it resulted in units bunching up around the supply trucks, and that lead to concentrated artillery strikes that scattered or shattered the gathered units.

Having lost all of their equipment, the survivors are transferred to a regrouping area, with no further instructions. They wait there until resupplied with equipment remaining from a destroyed unit and are then ordered to advance on a nearby position without any specified objective or task.

The interviewer asks if he had doubts by this time, he says he asked his commander what they were doing there in the first place, and was told he didn't need to know. Asked about the 'denazification' propaganda, he says the unit he served with wasn't told these things in advance, and he only learned of that particular propaganda after capture when shown leaflets that had been recovered from a killed Russian officer.

His capture came when a vehicle loaded with 'casualties' he was in was disabled during a fight. He remained there with wounded without any sign of relief, until he decided he'd had enough, and found shelter in a garage which then came under fire. He then blacked out, and woke up in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers from whom he learns that the rest of his unit was wiped out.

There is then a discussion of what he thinks of Putin's leadership and the war after his experience, and his own participation.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:36 AM on April 21 [16 favorites]


I think the current Russian plan in regards to Azovstal is to treat it like a medieval castle and starve it out. Maybe make fortifications on their side of the siege, have a solid perimeter that supplies can't get through to the Ukraine factory defenders and civilians in the plant. Yeah, that sounds like a war crime.


Anyway, the plant is entirely surrounded by Russian troops, or the sea, deep in Russian invasion held territory. The Ukraine military can't reasonably airlift food and water in for long. The Russians almost certainly control that part of the sea enough to prevent serious supply of food and water getting to the plant. At a certain point, the strategy for the besieged becomes attempt a near suicidal breakout to escape the siege or starve to death.

If the Russians are reasonably convinced of their ability to maintain the siege, why spend lives and resources actually storming the plant? They can't leave it unguarded, of course, but people can't survive long without food and especially water, so the Russian tactics might make sense.

But yeah, Russian invasion go **** yourself. There's going to be mass reports of insane civilian murder in Mariupol . I'm predicting thousands slaughtered, more deported, probably deliberate civilian starvation.
posted by Jacen at 10:51 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Russian soldiers don't get the kind to training provided to US soldiers. The officers get their jobs because of political connections and immediately set about robbing the place. The enlisted men are draftees drawn from the bottom of society -- poor, minorities, the least educated, those with alcohol and drug problems, and and criminals who can do military service or jail. Basic training is mostly hazing and abuse with a very limited amount of weapons training (ammunition is expensive, also easy for the commander to sell -- so they might not even fire the gun until they are deployed). Some subset of the conscripted men end up signing or being forced to sign contracts, to become professional / career soldiers. The best and brightest that couldn't avoid service leave as soon as they can. Many of them go AWOL and are not reported as such because the commanders can just pocket their pay.
posted by interogative mood at 11:03 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


An interview with an executive from DraganFly, one of the companies Using Drones to break Russian Sieges in Ukraine. [CW: there's a clip of counterbattery fire against the operator insecure retail drone -- no injury, but a loud bang. Russia has access to restricted law enforcement software that shows where DJI drones are being operated from.]

Interesting stuff, but not clear how much of this kind of capacity is available.

Amazon theoretically has a bunch of delivery drones involved in Prime Air pilot tests....
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:05 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


On a related note, US DoD thinks Ukraine now has more tanks in the country than Russia.

@PhillipsPOBrien:
Stat of the day that I wasn’t expecting. Russian tank losses have been so high and Ukrainian so low, (and the Ukrainians have received so many new tanks and seized so many working Russian ones) that Ukraine has more tanks available now in country than Russia.

How the heck is Russia supposed to break through Ukrainian lines with fewer tanks, especially once the Ukrainians get all this new artillery and UAVs? It’s impossible to see happening unless the Russians can gain air dominance.

Otherwise it’s hard to see the Russians being any more successful during the Battle of the Donbas than they were during the battle of Kyiv.The Ukrainian military has shown itself to me more motivated, intelligent, resilient and adaptable than the Russians when the Russians had large advantage in equipment numbers. Now that this Russian advantage is wasting away, I wouldn’t want to be a Russian soldier.
The big fear for UKR in Donbas was the terrain was more advantageous to RUS given their equipment advantage. That advantage seems to be dwindling.
posted by gwint at 11:23 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Kamil Galeev is reporting this story [video in the tweet]:

Aerospace defence research institute of the Russian Ministry of Defence burnt down in Tver. "Iskander" and "S-400" missile systems were designed here. Reportedly it was the old wiring and flammable plastic cladding that caused the fire. So far they reported 2 dead and 30 wounded

Tver is along main highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Corroboration from The Telegraph.

Meanwhile, Dmitrievsky Chemical Plant near Moscow is also burning down.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:32 AM on April 21 [10 favorites]


Two major fires like that seem really suspicious. Industrial sabotage?
posted by freecellwizard at 11:42 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Industrial sabotage?

Here's how Ukrainians can play along at home!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:11 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


I shudder to think how many SCADA systems are out there with the default passwords still in place. Those are probably ripe for attack too.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:17 PM on April 21


Biden appointed Retired Retired 3 Star General Terry A. Wolff (biography) to coordinate US military assistance to Ukraine. CNN has more.
posted by interogative mood at 12:34 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


"Some NATO member states want the war in Ukraine to continue for Russia to get weaker, Turkiye’s foreign minister said Wednesday."

Based on the subtext in that article, I'm inclined to believe this may be a misrepresentation of a common approach in some NATO states, especially ones in close proximity to the war ... While some people and countries more friendly to Putin (ie Turkey) may be happy to agree to any ceasefire Putin proposes, other countries are going to be highly skeptical of a ceasefire or peace treaty which likely gives Putin A) a break to simply launch another attack in a few months/years/whenever and B) carves up Ukraine and sows a permanent chaos in the region. So wanting to 'weaken Russia further' most likely means fighting Putin's army until they decide to leave Ukraine and not simply surrender.
posted by UN at 1:18 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


New video of a meeting between Putin and Shoigu released, presumably meant to reassure the public. Instead, Shoigu seems to struggle with getting through a prepared statement; and Putin looks somewhat nervous and wan himself.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:24 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


New video of a meeting between Putin and Shoigu
In the future, could we please get a little notice for links that go to *.ru websites? And I guess *.by too, though I'm not sure if I've ever even seen one.

I understand that I'm probably just being paranoid, and I have some degree of confidence that my anti-malware protection is pretty good, but given Russia's behavior in both the past and the present, I'm paranoid nonetheless.
posted by Flunkie at 1:45 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


I understand that I'm probably just being paranoid, and I have some degree of confidence that my anti-malware protection is pretty good, but given Russia's behavior in both the past and the present, I'm paranoid nonetheless.
Not without reason, to be sure, but that being the case you shouldn't be relying on the ccTLD to protect you.

(ccTLD = country code Top Level Domain, e.g. ".ru", ".by")
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:06 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


I'm not relying on it, as I thought I made clear. But as an additional measure, it can't hurt.
posted by Flunkie at 2:16 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Sinking the Moskva with Neptune missiles in a digital combat simulator (all speculation - albeit informed - but interesting to me as somebody with no idea of what these simulators can do.)
posted by rongorongo at 2:26 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


I've had talks with a few people in the last couple of days about the lack of news from the frontlines.

As far as I can tell, the main reason why there's so little news is that, unlike in the early days of the war, most of the fighting is on a front that has been mostly static since the beginning of the war, and in some cases for years. If you search for videos, you'll find some, but there are a lot fewer than there were in the first month. There aren't that many people around with smartphones, recording what's going on. They've long since fled or, in the case of occupied areas, people's ability to record and upload videos has been suppressed.

Also, and this is probably even more crucial, there are a lot fewer reporters on the ground. So while the fighting might be just as intense, or even more intense, now than it has ever been, it's being fought away from cameras and reporters.
posted by Kattullus at 2:39 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


"I'm not relying on it, as I thought I made clear. But as an additional measure, it can't hurt."

(For some additional peace of mind Virus Total has an interface for running a URL against a bunch of malware scanners at https://www.virustotal.com/gui/home/url)
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:43 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


@Kattalus another reason for fewer video reports could be that with more static positions, geolocation is more valuable. A video going up on Telegram could invite incoming artillery.
posted by Ansible at 2:53 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


For those interested in radio monitoring (especially if you can understand Russian) the 40m and 80m bands are quite active.

This is a web-based software defined radio receiver in Tula. [.ru domain]. I can hear contacts using CW, LSB and USB along with various digital modes and telemetry streams.

And some good old weirdness.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:48 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Here's a quick follow-up to the previous item regarding the new Phoenix Ghost drones the US is sending. The initial characterization was that these drones were developed "for" Ukrainian requirements. Subsequent clarifications from the Pentagon indicate that these drones had been in development prior to the invasion and were "developed for a set of requirements that very closely match what the Ukrainians need right now in Donbas", i.e.: they weren't custom-designed for this specific war.
posted by mhum at 4:01 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


Well, OK, but the conflict in Donbas has been going on for eight years, so it wouldn't be too surprising if the development team's requirements resemblance to Ukraine's requirements is not a coincidence...
posted by The Tensor at 4:12 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


If the Kremlin PR link makes you nervous, here's a still of Putin doing his constipated Skeletor impression via Twitter.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:13 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


From now on, whenever I see a pic of Putin, I will think ‘constipated Skeletor.’ This is a vast improvement in my standard of living. Thank you, snuffie. Thank you.
posted by Quasirandom at 4:17 PM on April 21 [20 favorites]


Ukraine Defense and the Pentagon spokespeople have said that the Russians are still building up for their offensive. They have captured a couple of villages; but mostly Ukraine’s lines are holding. Ukraine has continued to make a little progress near Kherson. Russia missile strikes have declined from the opening month of the war suggesting that Russia might be running out of missiles.
Based on the aid package and the fact that they are adding Wolff to coordinate things; it seems like we expect to build a very capable force to retake Ukrainian territory soon.
posted by interogative mood at 4:48 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Ukrainian officials: Dozens of RF mercenaries from Libya, Syria, Russia killed in Popasna attacks - KyivPost - Ukraine's Global Voice
Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) units operating in and around Popasna on Wednesday destroyed a 25-man unit of probable mercenaries from Libya, based on identification documents and other evidence found with their bodies, said Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s National Security Council, in a late Wednesday evening interview with Novoe Vremya radio.

Although state-controlled Russian media have reported as many as 20,000 foreign fighters have been recruited to take part in the Kremlin’s ongoing offensive in the Donbas region, Ukrainian military intelligence believes no more than 500 mercenaries from Middle Eastern nations are actually on the ground in the sector, Danilov said.
Popasna is in Luhansk Oblast.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:43 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


@Kattalus another reason for fewer video reports could be that with more static positions, geolocation is more valuable.

Yes, I think this is the case - and also there are fewer civilians to take videos, and the ones that do are more cautious about betraying Ukrainian positions. There's still heavy fighting.
posted by corb at 7:01 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


For those, like me, who would like to be armchair physicians in addition to being armchair generals, here’s video of Putin from todays announcement. A sped up version so you can easily see Putin’s movements. Or lack of. From Reddit and not an .ru.

Haven’t seen anyone mention the twin fires today in Russia. One destroyed a military aerospace research office building. One ruined a chemical plant important to the war effort. Probably both accidents with coincidental timing. But I’m hoping it was either Ukrainian saboteurs. Or local Russian resistance.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 7:25 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


here’s video of Putin from todays announcement

That grip on the table corner looks like they worked to get him propped up in a way where he didn't require assistance, and he is just using his hand like a vicegrip to support himself. That is not a normal way to sit at a table.
posted by hippybear at 7:35 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


It's hard to interpret the table video as I don't usually watch sped up videos of people sitting at tables. It might be an illness. But it might also be an attempt at "alpha male" body language, which amongst other things involves sitting still, not fidgeting, and not bringing your arms defensively across your body. So he might be gripping the corners of the table as a reminder not to bring his arms across his body, though in this case it looks weird and worse.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:03 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


i don't have to be an armchair physician to hysterically laugh at the length (or lack of) of that table though.
posted by cendawanita at 8:06 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


i don't have to be an armchair physician to hysterically laugh at the length (or lack of) of that table though.

The armchair physician forbade the usual one.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:20 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


I have no idea what is wrong with him, could be a simple as a bad back, but he certainly doesn't look entirely well there.
posted by tavella at 9:01 PM on April 21


Business Insider: Biden says Putin is 'banking on us losing interest' in continuing sanctions, but the US can aid Ukraine for 'a long time'
But Biden acknowledged that Putin is banking on the US and its allies "losing interest" and said that Putin is betting on Western cooperation to crack.

"Once again, we're going to prove him wrong. ... We're going to continue to stand with the brave and proud people of Ukraine," Biden said.
Foreign Policy's Idrees Ali on Twitter
Is there some fatigue setting in on the war in Ukraine? The networks don’t appear to be showing live Pentagon briefings anymore, even though the information being provided is pretty similar to previous weeks.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:25 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


"Is there some fatigue setting in on the war in Ukraine?"

I don't know if it's fatigue so much as "the first few weeks this was happening, I was mainlining explainers and backgrounders" and now I can just read the daily updates from a relatively good base of knowledge, without having to go on a deep dive about what missiles Russia has or how tank warfare works in urban areas or "wait, where exactly is this city and what river are we talking about?" or whatever.

Like I definitely notice a decrease in the quantity of coverage from my preferred outlets, but as I look back, it's a really similar amount of day-to-day reporting, and a big drop in explainers/backgrounders that dominated the early days of the war. And then when something new or unusual happens -- like the Moskva getting sunk by an audaciously-used Neptune missile -- there'll be a couple big explainers that bulk up the coverage for a few days. And then it's back to the daily updates.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:48 PM on April 21 [19 favorites]


Teegeeack AV Club Secretary: Probably both accidents with coincidental timing.

“Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: 'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action'.”

So saboteurs should always keep the target count at two.

(And not proceed to three. Five is right out)
posted by Stoneshop at 9:59 PM on April 21 [27 favorites]


New Yorker article: Is the Russian Military a Paper Tiger?

The information is familiar to most, examining Russia's mind-boggling lousy performance against Ukraine.
posted by jadepearl at 10:18 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


So saboteurs should always keep the target count at two.

per day
posted by ryanrs at 10:59 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


My read on the weird table grip: Putin's COVID-phobia is what caused him to sit at those comically long tables, but now he's self-conscious about the mockery. So he consented to sit at this much smaller table... but he really doesn't like being that close to another human being who might breathe nasty germs on him.

It's kind of weird, because with a locked-off camera, it would be very easy to shoot Putin sitting on one side of the table, with nobody on the other side, then have Putin leave and shoot Shoigu sitting on the other side, then combine the two of them in post. The shots could be blended together in even basic video editing software in a way that would be pretty much undetectable.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:22 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Haven’t seen anyone mention the twin fires today in Russia. One destroyed a military aerospace research office building. One ruined a chemical plant important to the war effort.

Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: 'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action


This tweet from Ilya Ponomarev shows a fire in an exhibition pavillion across from Moscow townhall in 20 April.

Ponomarev (i don't know him but he is followed / retweeted by several people i know), tweets almost daily dozens of pictures of graffiti and other protest in Russia, against the war.
I cannot read kyrillic letters but use the automatic Google translate function of Twitter ("translate this Tweet).
posted by 15L06 at 11:55 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


hippybear: and he is just using his hand like a vicegrip to support himself.

If he's actually had a stroke as someone in the replies suggests , gripping the edge of the table would be more to prevent his right arm from flopping off the armrest. If that'd happen even only once it would clearly show as another symptom of a stroke.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:19 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Medusa is reporting that during a closed briefing for pro-Kremlin media, the Russian Defense Ministry admitted losses of 13,414 soldiers confirmed dead during the war with 7,000 missing (which would tally quite closely with Ukrainian figures for Russian losses if we don't count POWs, since this morning's report was 21,000). This includes 116 confirmed dead on the Moskva with over a hundred MIA, again tallying up with previous reports from distraught parents.

Wyborcza is reporting that a Russian major general has openly said the current Russian aim is to connect Donbas up with the "oppressed Russian minority" in Transdniestria, which would involve taking over Odesa and cutting Ukraine off from the Black Sea. Considering their luck so far, definitely a reach.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:01 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


Perhaps it was mentioned before, but I wanted to underline how the US vs EU cleavage is getting deeper - not only with Germany and Hungary, but also France: Macron declines to follow Biden and call Russian acts in Ukraine ‘genocide’

"It is a madness what is happening, it is an unheard of brutality (...) but at the same time I look at the facts and I want to try as much as possible to continue to be able to stop this war and to rebuild peace, so I am not sure that the escalation of words serves the cause" ... "The word 'genocide' has a meaning. And the word 'genocide' should be qualified by jurists, not by politicians."
posted by - at 2:44 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


If it turns out in the end that Ukraine was accurate about casualties, that's going to be one of the remarkable minor details of the war. Usually, in any given conflict, the enemy body counts are usually overestimated. Deliberately inflated for propaganda reasons or because someone wants a promotion. Or accidentally inflated because of wishful thinking mixed with the fog of war.

If Ukraine turns out to have been mostly correct all along, then that means they chose to deliberately tell the truth. And they were meticulous enough, even during battles, to get the details right.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 2:46 AM on April 22 [12 favorites]


I am not a soldier, but it seems to me that trying to hold a thin strip of coastline against an inland opponent is a vulnerable position to take(?) Wouldn't the Ukrainian forces have an advantage in that they can retreat if they need to, but Russian retreats would be limited by the coastline?
posted by newdaddy at 3:09 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Yes and no. At the local level yes, but on the grand strategic level having their coasts taken and having Transdnistria linked to Russia, there would be a hostile Russian ring around about 75% of the country.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:16 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


80% if you count Hungary.
posted by acb at 3:21 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


The only problem for the Russians I can think of at the moment would be "You and what army?".
posted by Stoneshop at 3:27 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Plus, the ring would be very thin at some points.
Which, considering the Russian Army likes to drive in massive single file columns may not have struck them as unusually dangerous.
Perhaps it was mentioned before, but I wanted to underline how the US vs EU cleavage is getting deeper - not only with Germany and Hungary, but also France:
The split between US and EU is really a split between Germany, France and reality.
Macron has Le Pen to worry about admittedly but Scholz appears to be two steps away from appearing on Russia Today.

The EU outside of those two (and possibly NL) seems quite aligned with the US and very determined to support Ukraine for however long it takes. Possibly because Ukraine's future is potentially very bright. The hydrocarbon reserves are overblown but they've basically turned their military into a peer level force with Russia and transformed their society in less than a decade. Their arable land and geographic protection from a lot of the climate catastrophe coupled with their nuclear and industrial capacity makes them a Ukrainian Marshall plan away from becoming a pretty strong power within the EU when they join.

Whilst France and Germany are indeed huge economic powers, they're steadily pissing away any soft power by their continued intransigence. They're strong yeah, they're not USA strong and pissing off the rest of Europe will hurt them.

Orban's just a fascist prick and is staring down the barrel of some significant EU penalties for being a fascist prick. The EU seem to have run out of patience with him.
posted by fullerine at 4:20 AM on April 22 [18 favorites]


As I mentioned earlier, also the Italian public is not very happy to send weapons in a war zone - but for the time being, Draghi is holding the Atlanticist line, along with eastern european countries (with the notable exception of Hungary).

I think that from here the EU/US cleavage will only get deeper - but let's see. I am also curious about the right/far-right in Eastern Europe, virtually in power everywhere in EE, how long will it take to align on the Hungarian positions - as soon the massive Ukrainian immigration will be perceived as a problem; or perhaps the far-right will become a major force behind Ukrainian EU integration (it will be ironic, given how euroskeptics they are, but not implausible).

That said, all countries will keep implementing sanctions (with the notable exception of natural gas) and other non-violent solutions: this is true for Hungary as well, they are keeping this line so far.
posted by - at 4:51 AM on April 22


If Putin's entire current plan is to wait for America to get bored, I think he miscounted just how far away the next elections are.
posted by Jacen at 5:14 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Sanctions have their own momentum.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:24 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


if the most visible evidence of a Ukrainian refugee presence remains the disappearance of litter, it might take a while for them to be perceived as a problem.
posted by ocschwar at 5:37 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


I don't really understand why some people are reading a big split between US and EU interests. They're aligned as far as I can see, and diverge only when individual countries have pretty obvious domestic situations and political realities that prevent them from engaging in a way we might otherwise like.

Cost of living is sky rocketing across Europe. We might like to say, "Europeans should just tighten their belts, because at least they're not in Mariupol", and you know, maybe there's truth to that? But... that's just not how politics works. And governments that push that line will crumble fast, and likely be replaced by something we'll like a whole lot less.
posted by Alex404 at 5:43 AM on April 22 [12 favorites]


I fully agree Alex404, but it's indeed different material interests - and geographical position - that create different needs.
posted by - at 5:52 AM on April 22


Indeed, and I guess I would say though that in spite of these divergences, western countries are unanimous in the overarching goal of protecting Ukrainian statehood. There's a lot more grey around how much EU leaders would like to destabilize the current Russian government... but I think that's a very complicated subject. I think people want it to be simple, and a matter of good vs. evil, but ultimately it's not reducible to quips about individual leaders.

I've said this before, but I think a decisive defeat for Russia would be a huge boon for much of the current crop of centrist European leaders, because delegitimating fascism will both harm their political opponents domestically, and strengthen the EU as a whole. But getting to that point without triggering massive political instability in your own country turns out to be extremely difficult. For a whole lot of reasons, that amount to more than Putin's mustache-twirling (table-squeezing?) schemes.
posted by Alex404 at 6:14 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


Wouldn't the Ukrainian forces have an advantage in that they can retreat if they need to, but Russian retreats would be limited by the coastline?

Being on the coast is a mixed situation for Russian forces; despite the loss of Moskva they still have sea control. Although who knows how effectively they can use it to support ground forces at this point, beyond just maintenance and training their coordination of joint forces has been pretty miserable to date.

Orban's just a fascist prick and is staring down the barrel of some significant EU penalties for being a fascist prick. The EU seem to have run out of patience with him.

But when will the Hungarians?

And governments that push that line will crumble fast, and likely be replaced by something we'll like a whole lot less.

Unfortunately, it's important to avoid being Carter Sweatered (especially in an election year).
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:16 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile Japan has started making statements about the Kuril Islands/Northern Territories being “illegally occupied” Japanese territory, as if in anticipation of either the collapse of Russian territorial power in the East or a settling of scores.
posted by acb at 6:29 AM on April 22 [18 favorites]


Alex404: "I've said this before, but I think a decisive defeat for Russia would be a huge boon for much of the current crop of centrist European leaders, because delegitimating fascism will both harm their political opponents domestically, and strengthen the EU as a whole."

eh… I think it's a bit trickier than that - what you say it might be true for western Europe, but it's definitely not true for eastern Europe. So far, right wingers in EE are the big winner - politically - of the current situation; and they white washed (pun not intended) all their shitty politics by keeping a very Atlanticist position. For example, the current Polish government was seen as toxic, and now they are seen as heroes. So, to sum up: I think that's more complicated of what you say, right-wingers and nationalists in EE are winning big, not the contrary.

Edit: btw, it's fun how Orban lose every chance to redeem himself. This guy has real talent.
posted by - at 6:40 AM on April 22 [17 favorites]


The Eastern European and Baltic states have first-hand knowledge of Russian cruelty within living memory. They are supporting Ukraine as much to hurt Russia as to save Ukraine and they are extremely pissed off at Orban.

Yes, the nationalists and fascists in Poland are getting an extremely nice PR makeover but don't mistake that for their primary motivation

They will support Ukraine for as long as it hurts Russia.
posted by fullerine at 7:41 AM on April 22 [12 favorites]


"Yes, the nationalists and fascists in Poland are getting an extremely nice PR makeover but don't mistake that for their primary motivation"

Indeed i never said it was a primary motivation, but an effect. They remain fascist tho.
posted by - at 7:47 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I suspect that Japan's noise about the Kuril Islands is mostly about forcing Russia to keep more forces and equipment in the Russian Far East and thus limit their ability to redeploy some of those resources to Ukraine.
posted by interogative mood at 7:47 AM on April 22 [13 favorites]


That seems likely, although it does give Russian propaganda another direct parallel to WWII to dramatize.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:51 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile Japan has started making statements about the Kuril Islands/Northern Territories being “illegally occupied” Japanese territory

If Putin does lose this war, and Russia descends into chaos, I wonder how much revanchism will spring up? Will Germany want Kaliningrad to be Königsberg? Will Finland want its stolen territories back? Will all the Russian puppet states disappear?
posted by Bee'sWing at 8:04 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Will Germany want Kaliningrad to be Königsberg?

A report on Kaliningrad's historic vote on independence, courtesy of UATV (skewering Russia's manufactured propaganda on false referenda).

Meanwhile, the Russian commander has revealed that the war plan is Putin's vision board.
“Since the beginning of the second phase of the special operation … one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over Donbas and southern Ukraine. This will provide a land corridor to Crimea, as well as affecting vital objects of the Ukrainian economy, Black Sea ports through which agricultural and metallurgical products are supplied to [other] countries,” Minnekayev said on Friday at the annual meeting of the Union of Defence Industry Enterprises of Russia’s Sverdlovsk region.
(Basically the same plan to take the entire coast and connect to Transnistria as Lukashenko let slip with his map.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:12 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


(*this Russian commander, that is; he is in charge of the 'central military district' which is Russia's largest by size but not directly bordering on the war.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:23 AM on April 22


There is AFAIK no path to Kaliningrad being anything other than part of Russia, or a separate Russian-speaking state, without either massive human-rights-violating population transfers or Poland/Lithuania/Germany absorbing a few million new Russian-speaking voters, most with connections to the Putin-era military. So Kaliningrad remains a thorn in the side of whoever borders it for the foreseeable future.

Germany has unambiguously renounced all former territories from before 1945, so East Prussia is even more of a nonstarter. Though if it does end up under new management, perhaps its new stewards should restore the topology of bridges over the Pregel to its historical state, as a gesture to the mathematical community.
posted by acb at 8:31 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


The UK is trading Challenger 2s to Poland to backfill T-72s being sent to Ukraine.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:42 AM on April 22 [11 favorites]


5 Russian Enlistment Offices Hit By Arson Attacks

On a related note, here's Dodging The Draft, Russian Style (2014) -- an excerpt from Peter Pomerantsev's Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible
Every April and October the color khaki seems to suddenly sprout on the streets as bands of young soldiers appear in the cities; skinny, in uniforms either too large or small, with pinched red noses and red ears, scowling at the Maybachs and gold-leaf restaurants.

They hang around at the entrances of metro stations where the warm air gusts up from the underground, shiver while sucking on tepid beer on street corners of major thoroughfares. They come shuffling up stairs and knocking on apartment doors and stalk through parks.

It's the time of year of Russia's great annual hide and seek. The soldiers have been given orders to catch young men dodging the draft and force them to join the army. Military service might be mandatory for healthy males between eighteen and twenty-seven, but anyone who can avoids it.
From WaPo on April 1, 2022: As Russia drafts young men, some fear ending up on Ukraine’s front line
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:01 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


@JackDetsch:
NEW: Russia is stopping Ukrainian civilians from leaving occupied areas of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia ahead of a planned annexation referendum, including military-age men: Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense spox

Russia is blocking relief supplies from being delivered to occupied areas.

@BiannaGolodryga [analyst at CNN]:
"Ukrainian officials warned in recent days that Moscow plans to conduct in coming weeks a sham referendum on severing Kherson from Ukraine and proclaiming a so-called Kherson people’s republic, something done in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk in 2014

posted by snuffleupagus at 9:03 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


In happier news: the badly burned cat from Bucha, called Phoenix for his survival, is now done with vet care and living with his new owner.

(The wording used is that he "signed himself out" of the clinic and it's adorable.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:18 AM on April 22 [17 favorites]


For a steady feed of pet photos and stories from Ukraine, there's UkrARMY cats & dogs.

CW: The vast majority of the posts are either happy photos or stories with happy endings for the pets. But occasionally there will be something upsetting.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:26 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


RUSI has released an excellent report on the wider conflict to date and going forward: Operation Z: The Death Throes of an Imperial Delusion

The actual report is the linked PDF (26pp, six pages are an annex on foreign components Russia relies on.)
So far, Russia’s attempts to expand its available military manpower has rested on pressuring conscripts to sign contracts of service and reducing the requirements for people to join without prior military service. For Russia to significantly increase its numbers it would need to retain its last round of conscripts and call up reserves. Both of these are politically contentious in Russia. Nevertheless, the propaganda narrative and local initiatives to rally support appear to be creating an environment in which 9 May can be used as a fulcrum to mobilise a much larger force. It appears increasingly likely that rather than use it to announce victory, the Russian government will instead use 9 May as the day on which the ‘special military operation’ is officially framed as a ‘war’. The shift towards mobilisation also points to the preparation for a longer struggle. Perhaps the best demonstration of this is that, parallel to the transition in rhetoric about the war, the Russian government also embarked upon a process of transitioning its economy on to a war footing to ensure the long-term supply of critical armaments.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:52 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


Ukraine’s government has officially registered the Moskva cruiser wreck on the Black Sea bottom as a national underwater cultural heritage site

Ukrainian farmer removes snorkel again, goes back to the daily grind of dragging Russian vehicles home.
posted by Stoneshop at 10:05 AM on April 22 [28 favorites]


Russia sends illustious 110 year old Tsarist recovery ship to inspect wet-docked cruiser Moskva.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:09 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Tetyana Chubar, artillery commander and newly minted viral star, has been interviewed by the New Voice of Ukraine.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:50 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


I remember back to ancient times, when Orbán's party ran a campaign with posters proclaiming, in bastardized Russian, "товарищи конец!"

My how the turntables.
posted by tigrrrlily at 11:05 AM on April 22


There is no path for Kaliningrad....without absorbing a few million new Russian-speaking voters
From where?
I know I made a joke about swapping Kaliningrad for Crimea a couple of threads back, but there aren't even a million people in the entire oblast.
Kaliningrad minus the naval base is smaller (in population size) than Oahu without the naval base.

Look, I'm sure there's a bunch of regional politics I'm unaware of. Maybe there are weirdos obsessed with Restoring the Glory That Was Prussia or something. But we're talking about less than half a Havana* worth of people.
Let them have independence, become some sort of economic zone, and rename the place to the free city-state of Port Olga or something. I'm sure they'll do fine.

*speaking of Cuba, I'm sad in advance for what's going to happen when Russian subsidies stop for Transnistria.
posted by bartleby at 11:05 AM on April 22


So, to sum up: I think that's more complicated of what you say, right-wingers and nationalists in EE are winning big, not the contrary.

Poland is Poland and Orban was always oing to win (precise reasons have little to do with this round of Putin), but in my experience this is not at all true of some EE countries (I say this while sitting in one of them, where the right wing doesn't seem to have been appreciably damaged, but is also absolutely not making any headway right now).

Vaccine conspiracies were significantly more important in making right-winger palatable than anything to do with this war has so far, and I think this is true in other EE countries, too.

If anything, they are incurring subtle injuries, which will hopefully snowball in future.
posted by doggod at 11:07 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


Let them have independence, become some sort of economic zone, and rename the place to the free city-state of Port Olga or something. I'm sure they'll do fine.

The thing is, they don't want to. And unlike Putin, the EU is mostly* on the side of self-determination of nations.

* Except Catalonia, Northern Ireland before Brexit, etc, etc.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:13 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


In the previous post on the Ukraine war a Twitter link was mentioned where it was alleged that Russia was running two-men crews (commander/gunner plus driver) on their tanks instead of the standard three (commander, driver, gunner).

A video I saw today shows an Ukrainian drone (likely a multirotor-copter) dropping an antitank grenade right on top of a Russian T-72. After the hit you can see two crew exiting and moving away. Of course this isn't conclusive, the grenade used definitely has the power to penetrate a T-72 turret from above which could easily have killed one of the crew, but the two that come out don't look severely wounded; one isn't moving quite as fast as the other but he's not crawling either.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:14 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


The thing is, they don't want to

They don't want to now, as far as we know. But presumably out of all metropolitan Russians, their daily lives are most intertwined with Europe. So maybe that will change if the war and the sanctions grind on long enough.

Still, with the naval base there it's hard to imagine anything will change short of an actual break-up of Russia. And Moscow would probably still try hard to hold onto it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:15 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


After the hit you can see two crew exiting and moving away.

They both seem to emerge from the turret, which implies a full crew with the driver still inside.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:23 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Let them have independence, become some sort of economic zone, and rename the place to the free city-state of Port Olga or something.

Or like maybe Kingsmount or something.
posted by The Tensor at 11:23 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


At this stage, it looks like the name Putingrad isn't going to be given to anywhere in Ukraine/the Baltic States/the outskirts of Berlin, so the area formerly known as Kaliningrad in what used to be Russia is as good a place as any.
posted by acb at 11:59 AM on April 22


I think the legacy they're going for by seizing Crimea & southeast Ukraine is surrounding the Sea of Azov and renaming it Lake Putin.
(Unless they decide to keep going, and try to take the whole Black Sea by going to war with Turkey. Why not Iran, and take the Caspian too?)
posted by bartleby at 12:11 PM on April 22


bartleby: Unless they decide to keep going, and try to take the whole Black Sea by going to war with Turkey.NATO.

Of which Romania and Bulgaria are members as well.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:33 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


It's fire season in Russia.

Anna 🇺🇦 on Twitter
Fire in Korolyov.
Reportedly it’s, TsNIIMash, Russian rocket and spacecraft scientific center. The Institute is the main analytical center of Roskosmos. Mr. Rogozing, please accept our WARMEST greetings from Ukraine.
Includes video.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:40 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


take the whole Black Sea

That might be tough with the Admiral Kuznetsov in eternal dry dock up north. The two remaining Slava cruisers in the Med won’t last too long if the US and French carrier group there wants to destroy them. And then they would presumably disregard the old treaties, transit the Bosporus and the Black Sea would be controlled by the US Navy.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:42 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Youtube channel 1420 notes that people have been warned against giving further interviews.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:31 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


NME: Les Claypool and Eugene Hütz share tribute song to 'Zelensky: The Man With The Iron Balls'
Called ‘Zelensky: The Man With The Iron Balls’, the charity track also features The Police’s Stewart Copeland on drums, John Lennon’s son Sean on guitar and vocals, Hütz’s bandmate Sergey Ryabtseb on violin and Billy Strings on acoustic guitar.
Video link.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:21 PM on April 22 [10 favorites]


Arestovich is reporting that Ukraine armed forces have taken out a command centre in Kherson region where about 50 officers were present
posted by adamvasco at 5:44 PM on April 22 [11 favorites]


Historian Lesya Khromeychuk (Ukrainian Institute London) with an excellent keynote address, "Where is Ukraine on the Mental Map of the Academic Community?"
posted by Kabanos at 7:21 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Twitter thread from Ilya Kaminsky:
A letter I just got from Kharkiv poet Anastasia Afanasieva:

"We woke up at 5 am on the first day of war b/c of explosions. We run from one room to another, we did not know what to do, we packed our documents into bags and then just sat in our kitchen, absolutely confused"

It was still dark out, we were reading on the news: "Putin announces special operation in Ukraine..." Many cities were shelled at once. I woke my mom up, who is 81 & is hard of hearing, so she was still asleep & I said: "The war began"

In Kharkiv before the war neighbors hardly knew each other, except saying "Hi" occasionally in the yard... Well, we lived in peace. Many of silly past conflicts seem foolish now. Like, if someone's dog pisses on someone's flowers and someone gets angry... Ha! Funny it is.

After the war started we all became one. We sheltered in the basement of our building - 11 people, 5 dogs, later 2 cats joined. The neighbor I hardly knew before was preparing dinner for everyone. We were bringing chairs, tea, coffee, sugar - everything we had.

Everyone brought to the basement what they had - it could be one bulb, canned food, a carrot, a piece of chicken - well, that is what they had left in their refrigerators. All gathered together made a perfect hot soup, which was cooked by our neighbor for all of us.

If someone became upset or desperate, everyone tried to make them laugh, give them faith. The 9 days we spent in the basement were incredible because of this.

Then, one by one, after the shelling became stronger and after the war planes appeared the planes started to drop bombs on civilians - people began to flee our basement. We stayed for 9 days, and then left: my mother, my partner, my dog and my cat. It was an early snowy morning, and the road was sleepy, covered with ice.

We somehow understood that the enemy WILL attack peaceful people, they WILL shoot, we did not use any white stickers on our car, because we thought it will make more probable for us to be shot by Russians if we met them.

We left all our past behind.

We had a bag with us with personal things, two sleeping bags, some canned food, dog and cat food, and my photo camera. That is all my life for now. It is like you lived your life, and then you find yourself in a purgatory: no past left - and no clear future still.

Every day they continue bombing and shelling our home city of Kharkiv, parks, markets, hospitals, schools, houses, every day peaceful people die just because Russian soldiers decided to strike today.
Poems by Anastasia Afanasieva (and here with other Ukrainian poets)
posted by Kattullus at 10:52 PM on April 22 [36 favorites]


There are more poems by Afanasieva on the site I posted to the front page. There are lots of poems by Ukrainian poets in translation on the web, if you find some, please add them to the thread.
posted by Kattullus at 3:12 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


John Sweeney: via Twitter children under siege in Mariupol: stop this evil
Ukrainian soldiers release video from Azovstal bunkers - linked in first comment.
Children 5-14 sheltering for 2 months. On Thursday Putin ordered troops to seal off plant “soa fly can’t fly past.” Ukraine calling for corridor to let them out. “I want to see the sun” says a boy at end.
Meanwhile business people, politicians, lawyers and accountants in the West continue to enable Russia and Putin thus continuing these and other atrocitities to continue.
UK gave sanctioned Russians ‘golden visas’ after first Ukraine invasion in 2014.
When Maltese blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bombing on Oct. 16, 2017, she’d been digging for months into the island’s hugely profitable “passports for sale” program. It wasn’t the only story she was working on, but it was one that involved enough money to pull the entire Maltese economy from deficit to surplus in a few short years, bringing in an estimated €850 million since January 2014.
Golden Passport & Visa Schemes Brought Over €21.8 Billion for the EU Countries Operating Them.
posted by adamvasco at 4:49 AM on April 23 [23 favorites]


Infrastructure in Odesa is under missile attack, however civilian buildings are reported to be hit as well. Naval analyst HI Sutton told The Times that there is "strong circumstantial evidence" [Sutton's 'Covert Shores'] that the launches are being made by submarines from depths of as much as 50m. [Mirror link]

Analyst Michael Kofman [CNA] suggests that without "national mobilization, I think the Donbas is the last major offensive the Russian military can attempt given the current state & availability of forces. Whether it succeeds, or fails, the Russian military will be largely exhausted in terms of offensive potential." Specifically, "The Russian attack thus far seems to be an advance on Slovyansk from Izyum, pressing the Severodonetsk salient, and pushing southwest from Izyum" to attempt a partial envelopment of Ukrainian forces in Donbas.
This is a risky operation. UKR forces have been reinforcing around Kharkiv, and attacking to threaten the Russian ground lines of communication for this offensive. Even if Russian forces make significant gains, they could be pressed to hold territory and vulnerable afterwards...Russian forces have taken heavy losses in manpower and equipment, with far fewer combat effective formations available. Not clear what we are calling ‘BTGs’ at this point and their level of manning. Russian reinforcements are far from sufficient to replace earlier losses....Russian forces in the southwest around Kherson city are struggling to consolidate a defensible perimeter west of the river. The units deployed there are relatively light, and under pressure. They could even be forced over time to retreat east across the Dnipro...Ukraine has been deploying reinforcements to Zaporizhia, Donbas & Kharkiv. Russia has made little effort to disrupt ground lines of communication into the Donbas. This means that a Russian success is at best contingent & UKR could be in position to launch counteroffensives.

Expansion of support to include armor, IFVs, and artillery is going to allow Ukraine to replace losses and equip reserve brigades (esp artillery and ammunition which Ukraine needs). Hence the general trajectory of correlation of forces in this war is not in Russia’s favor....If the Russian military sends units in piecemeal, sticking to roads, with narrow advances – they will be defeated by UKR as they have in other battles. I’ve seen them make adjustments in some areas, but some of the problems are structural....Dvornikov's appointment changes little. There’s not much distinguishing him from other Russian generals. The more pertinent question is how/if the Russian military has reorganized command and control, air support, and logistics for this offensive.

Donbas is a relatively urban region. Russian forces likely need Severodonetsk to control Luhansk and Slovyansk + Kramatorsk in order to claim they have captured Donetsk. These could end up prolonged and costly fights in urban terrain...I think it is fair to say that the decisive period of the war was the first three weeks (maybe even first 4 days). Whatever happens in this next phase, the Russian military is likely to exhaust its offensive potential in the near term. Does this presage a stalemate? Not necessarily. UKR has its own offensive options. Russia may next try to consolidate control over territory held and pressure UKR via blockade. Its too early to predict what the next phase might look like & it depends on what UKR chooses to do.

Ukrainian officials also claim that Russian forces are systematically destroying food storage in Severodonetsk.

Phillips P. O'Brien [St. Andrews] warns against crediting NATO-skeptic predictions of inevitable Russian victory in the east proliferating on social media: "If you want a quick rule to judge whether any reporting on the Battle of the Donbas might be credible; see if it tries to integrate air power. AirPower has been the greatest determinant in battles for more than 80 years. Articles which avoid it are garbage." "Perhaps this Russian army is so skilled, motivated and well equipped that it can make history without air supremacy. Or perhaps it’s not." His further analysis starts here.

(On the other hand, for a measured skeptical view (though a few days out of date), there's Radio War Nerd [4/16])

@JackDetsch reports: "Ukraine's counter-attacks have prevented Russian troops from making ANY major gains in Ukraine in past 24 hours" per "UK Defense Intelligence. Russia has NOT established control of Ukraine's seas or skies, UK assesses "owing to the effectiveness of Ukraine’s air & sea defence."

Annie Applebaum linked to a report by Zona Media that Russia has pressured one of its largest educational publishers to eliminate references to "Ukraine" from textbooks. via Google translate:
On February 24, Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a "special operation", and Russian troops invaded Ukraine. Immediately afterwards, employees of the Enlightenment group of companies, one of the largest and oldest publishers of educational and pedagogical literature in the country, were urged to remove "incorrect" references to Ukraine and Kyiv from all school textbooks. Mediazona spoke with the editors of the publishing house about the "cleansing" of history, geography and literature.


Ukrposta has updated their ship stamps (presumably making the original version more valuable).

A youtuber uploaded a subtitled version of a visit to kids in a basement shelter in the Azovstal Works by Ukrainian soldiers.

A Ukrainian firefighter salvages books from a bombed building.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:18 AM on April 23 [11 favorites]


(*make that a regular twitter user, not a vlogger, providing the translation)
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:24 AM on April 23


Ukraine claims to have killed two more generals. And injured one.

This would bring the general kill count to either 9 or 10. Ukraine claims one which Russia claims is alive. There is recent footage of Schrödinger's General, but the footage's recentness is disputed.

Either way, 9 or 10 is a good count. The estimated total number of Russian generals in Ukraine is thought to be 20. Between the killings and Putin's purges, I'd imagine command is in a rather chaotic state.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:04 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


Have there been purges of military commanders? I’ve only seen coverage of purges of the FSB, which had initial control of the invasion. And there’s been several analysts noting that, along with appointment of a single commander in charge of the whole theater, control was transferred to the department of Defense.
posted by Quasirandom at 8:25 AM on April 23


Mid-March, Putin supposedly fired 8 generals. There's been some arrests too. General Roman Gavrilov was arrested. Most recently, the Black Sea Admiral was arrested after the sinking. And I believe there's been more firings since the mid-March wave, but I'm not finding sources quickly. So I could be wrong about that one.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:45 AM on April 23


Also, Putin regularly purges military generals after wars and military operations. After the wars the generals are at the peak of their power and influence after basically having dictatorial control over the army for a period of time so they're at their most dangerous. Purging them basically resets the power accumulation but at the cost of institutional knowledge so you don't want to purge during a war unless you absolutely have to.

Like after Crimea he dismissed over a dozen generals and after wars Russian generals sure get into a lot of car crashes and shoot themselves a lot.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:49 AM on April 23 [16 favorites]


My new band is Dead Oligarchs [MSNBC clip; graphic details]

Vasily Melnikov
Sergey Protosenya
Alexander Tyulyakov [novyagazeta.ru]
Vadislav Avaev
Mikhail Watford
Leonid Shulman
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:19 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Hypothetically speaking, if you're a Russian general coming home from a completed military operation, what's your best strategy for staying alive? I'm guessing that jumping ship for private industry is not an option, and voluntarily retiring to farm potatoes is not either, and if you defect, they'll send someone with some novichok after you. Are you screwed no matter what you do?
posted by acb at 9:45 AM on April 23


Hypothetically speaking -
With all the burning of putatively important buildings (labs/chemical factories/recruitment offices) and the killing and/or retirement of generals and the surprise, unexpected murder/suicides of various Russian 'oligarchs' and their families -
Overall one does not have the sense that Putin is operating from a position of power, but of reactive desperation. Which is not great for anyone.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:52 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


jumping ship for private industry is not an option

Conceivably, this is why you devote a significant amount of your career to enmeshing yourself in some patron's corruption network and/or currying favor with whoever can help you make that happen (whether industry, or media or something else aligned with a patron)...So you can stay inside the system and remain more useful dead than alive.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:58 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


remain more useful dead than alive.

Presumably the other way around?
posted by notoriety public at 10:05 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


I personally find most russian military officials are more useful dead than alive.
posted by hippybear at 10:08 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]


Turkish air space closed to planes carrying troops from Russia to Syria, broadcaster reports

With the Bosporus closed to Russian military ships I guess that means no more Syrian mercs for Putin.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:19 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


snuffleupagus: (On the other hand, for a measured skeptical view (though a few days out of date), there's Radio War Nerd [4/16])

War Nerd really went downhill after they replaced Gary Brecher with John Dolan.
posted by Kattullus at 10:20 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


Just so no one's confused, Brecher was Dolan's former pseudonym.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:51 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


I regret cluttering up this thread with snark, but I was very frustrated listening to that podcast. Even as the hosts admit how wrong they got a lot of things, they still haven't really examined their own biases. They're still giving equal agency in the war, if not more, to the third banana at the State Department than to Putin. They're so stuck in their Anglophone-centric way of looking at the world, that they cannot imagine that the US isn't the central player.

I will say that I used to read the old War Nerd columns. I gave up on the War Nerd podcast after they started repeating, without challenging, propaganda against the White Helmets humanitarian organization in the Syrian Civil War. By that point the Brecher persona had been set aside.

Dolan is a fine writer, who has a poet's gift of linking together seemingly unrelated things, showing them in unexpected light. And I thought "Gary Brecher" was a really clever way of using an awful persona to talk about the awfulness of war. But as the persona fell away, only the awful remained.
posted by Kattullus at 11:28 AM on April 23 [11 favorites]


Putin's bringing back political officers in state-run agencies and companies. Announcement in Russian (.ru site) And via Google Translate. A summary tweet from Maria Antonova.

They're also bringing back propaganda posters. In my younger and less aware days, I used to be a big fan of socialist realism and the soviet kitsch posters. If they're going to be an evil and totalitarian state, I hope the new posters will at least approximate the artistic quality of the old ones.

I wonder how much longer it will be until Russia is a single-party state. Seems like the next step is either banning other parties, or forcing them all to join together under the United Russia banner.

Also wonder about the introduction of political officers directly to military units. That also seems like a logical next step. Especially if the rumors of riots, desertions, and unit refusals are true.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:51 AM on April 23 [11 favorites]


Growing up in Hungary, one of my early memories is my engineer dad going back to the military for commissar training. Over the years as I grew up and things changed, it became a punchline to the running joke of post-soviet-union Hungary.
Remembering it now, it's gotten far less cute for SO many reasons.
posted by tigrrrlily at 12:09 PM on April 23 [8 favorites]


Raids on Odesa intensify, killing 8, including an infant, and injuring 18 more. Zelensky holds a press conference in which he calls Russians "stinky bastards" (now lighting up the socials).

The US Secretaries of State and Defense will be in Kyiv tomorrow.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:24 PM on April 23 [6 favorites]


And here's the press conference in translation. [Reuters]
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:46 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


English is my first language, and so even though I live in Germany it's hard not to absorb a very anglo-centric perspective (I speak German fluently but it will always take work).

If you read American outlets in particular, it's hard not to get the impression that this is essentially a conflict between the US and Russia. I'm a little forgiving to e.g. the New York Times because this kind of framing is also probably the only way to keep Americans attached to the story. Still, I've been trying to come up with something like a more quantitative understanding of the role of various countries in the war.

I'm not sure if this has been posted somewhere already, but the IFW Kiel is tracking the financial contribution of various countries (it seems legit). The US is indeed the single largest contributor, but of course it's also the single largest economy, and the picture has subtlety even if you only follow the money.

Outside of the money, you have how countries have adapted to a massive influx of refugees, the amount of which appears, unsurprisingly, to correspond to geographic and cultural proximity (i.e. Eastern and Central Europe). I think the support of these players (especially those that share a border with Ukraine) is probably not reducible to only the humanitarian, as I would presume a lot of concerted action is happening at the Ukrainian borders that is very deliberately kept obscure.

Then there's the sanctions and trade war. Here, if you compare trade volumes between Russia and the US vs the EU, the EU is the critical player, the decision making locus of which is tucked away in Brussels. Yet with cost of living spiraling across Europe, this is very much a trade war.

And so an anglo-centric perspective, while justifiable to a degree financially and militarily, can't capture the breadth of the conflict. Anyone who thinks that this is a proxy war with NATO is merely signalling that all they care about is the imperial conflict with Russia, and not the livelihoods of Ukrainians, the state of Ukraine, the responses of Ukrainian border countries, or the economic consequences suffered by all citizens across Europe, and how all of the latter are, in their own way, working to undermine the Russian effort.
posted by Alex404 at 12:50 PM on April 23 [22 favorites]




these people are totally deluded and totally careless of who realizes it by watching them
posted by pyramid termite at 6:41 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Is that video that Tenuki linked to known to be recent? I see that it was posted to YouTube in the past day.

In any case, it seems blatantly delusional, and I'm wondering about the people smirking and laughing - is it "lol this is absurd" or "lol this is gonna be so awesome" or what?
posted by Flunkie at 6:42 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Seems like it must be at least a few months old, given the "Putin's invasion plan of Ukraine" map, which otherwise seems... super-optimistic from the Russian perspective.
posted by Flunkie at 6:43 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


One of the major reasons that Russian internal propaganda since 2014-ish has been slanted toward "bringing Little Russia back into the fold" and only relatively mumbling about reconstituting Imperial Russia's entire European territory or creating a land bridge through the Suwalki Corridor to Kaliningrad oblast is because Ukraine isn't in NATO, and Poland and Lithuania are.
posted by tclark at 6:47 PM on April 23 [13 favorites]




Ukrainian report claims destruction of Russian Kherson command post. Two generals killed, a third critically injured. Reports that 50 senior military personnel were present at the command post at the time of attack.
posted by storybored at 8:35 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


The Russians seems to have the opposite problem of America. In the USA our military constantly talks about how powerful our enemies are and this leads to a huge defense budget and lots of very real, extremely powerful systems. In Russia the military always talks about how strong it is and how it’s enemies are weak, decadent, woke, wimpy westerners who cower before them. This leads to them being weaker than they should be. Ironically they use the same Pentagon assessments the Americans use. We’ve damned them with praise.
posted by interogative mood at 9:09 PM on April 23 [13 favorites]


Defense One: NATO Will Need a Transition Plan If Finland, Sweden Ask to Join
A jointly developed transition plan might have several related elements.

The Alliance would need to expedite its acceptance process for these two NATO partners. Under Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, all 30 NATO nations must approve new members, which in the past has taken up to two years. Traditional preliminary steps like an Intensified Dialogue and a Membership Action Plan would be unnecessary given the high degree of military interoperability that already exists between NATO and these two advanced nations. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who has already expressed support for their application, should design mechanisms to encourage rapid approval. Because Putin will press individual NATO nations to drag their feet, counter actions need to be taken.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:13 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


We’ve damned them with praise.

Regimes who suffer from epistemic closure and subordinate pragmatism entirely to their ideology (because ideologues, populists, and revolutionaries make waves and gain power more often than talented, but boring pragmatists) eventually start believing the bullshit they peddled to gain that power.

Russia is learning a lesson that populist ideologues have to swallow time and again: don't get high on your own supply.
posted by tclark at 9:18 PM on April 23 [7 favorites]


Regarding "NATO transition plan":

Seems like they could just set up temporary bi-or-more-lateral mutual defense agreements with Finland, Sweden, and whatever NATO countries are willing to do it quickly. "This treaty valid until either NATO approves or rejects the potential new member, or the potential new member withdraws, or five years (renewable)" or some such.
posted by Flunkie at 10:12 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]



One of the chemical plant fires from the last 48 hours may grind the war to a halt.


With how targeted these seem to be, I’m genuinely unsure if our side is getting froggy, or the oligarchs that see the “murder-suicides” of other oligarchs and their families are.
posted by corb at 11:02 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


that video that Tenuki linked to
Whether it's newly produced or not those general plans have been known for awhile, thus my concern for friends on Gotland. What I found curious was the use of a digital map with English place names on Russian TV. Can't the Russian propaganda machine at least produce their own maps? If CNN resorted to using maps covered with Cyrillic characters to describe US neighboring countries that would seem incongruous.
posted by St. Oops at 11:05 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


A piece in the WaPo on Byelorussian rail saboteurs.
Starting on Feb. 26, two days after the invasion began, a succession of five sabotage attacks against signaling cabinets brought train traffic to an almost complete halt . . . The saboteurs drew inspiration from an earlier episode in Belarusian history, during World War II, when Belarusians opposed to the Nazi occupation blew up railway lines and train stations to disrupt German supply lines. The Rail War, as it is known, is venerated as a moment of triumph for Belarus . . . Railway employees sympathetic to the partisans have leaked details of Russian movements and the locations of key railway infrastructure to a group called the Community of Railway Workers, which shares them on Telegram channels . . . The deployment of tens of thousands of Russian troops in Belarus in preparation for the invasion of Ukraine triggered widespread domestic opposition and rekindled opposition networks formed during the 2020 protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
posted by mark k at 12:09 AM on April 24 [17 favorites]


Incredibly good article, on the SPD magazine, about what a social-democratic answer to the war should be. The author is Wolfgang Merkel, one of the most renown German political scientists and a global expert on democratization and dictatorship.

Metafilter has a natural tendency to focus an anglo-centric perspective, and marginalize all the others. That's normal, given the nature of the website. Among other factors, there is for sure a language barrier - but translators such as Deepl are getting very good; so I encourage you to give a look:

Wie eine neue Politik gegenüber Russland aussehen sollte (What a new policy towards Russia should look like)

Key points:
Neither the aggression as such, and certainly not the timing of the war of aggression against Ukraine, can be significantly attributed to NATO's eastward expansion. However, a policy of unilateral perspective that does not take into account the subjective perceptions of the counterpart is built on sand. This is also demonstrated by the "sleepwalking" (Christopher Clark) of the European powers into the First World War.
[...]
Therefore, Germany's and Europe's relationship with Ukraine and Russia will have to be clarified. The observation that Putin is a geopolitically expansive aggressor and tramples on international law is central, but it is not a substitute for the orientation of action that must be thought through from the end. The right of a sovereign Ukraine to self-determination is beyond question. Conversely, this does not give the country the right to join military alliances or economic-political alliances of states. It cannot limit the sovereignty of NATO or the EU to decide alone on requests for admission by Ukraine and other countries.
[...]
The fickle tactical game in dealing with Ukraine's NATO membership application since 2008 shows: Even in NATO there are different interests, perceptions and strategies. A temporary moratorium on Ukraine's application for NATO membership should be clearly formulated today.

[...]
The normative insistence on the sovereignty of small and medium-sized states is correct, but it must realistically be linked to the interests of the "great powers" and alliances. For even if one counterfactually dismisses and normatively criticizes the policy of spheres of influence as a relic of the 19th century, it exists and has never been abandoned by the great powers, the United States, China and, because of its nuclear armament, Russia. This is evidenced not only by Putin's war-criminal aggression in Ukraine, but also by the similarly fabricated war of aggression waged by the U.S. against Iraq in 2003.

[...]
Legalization applies mostly to Denmark, Austria and Germany; it has never applied to Russia, China and the United States. Not when it affected their specific power interests. This insight is also part of the new realism. Even if neo-heroism in public discourse is currently silencing the nuances in between, the traditional social democratic combination of détente, interdependence and multilateralism has not become wastepaper overnight.
[...]
the isolation of Russia are necessary today, but already the day after tomorrow this can no longer be a sustainable policy
[...]
Even if this is only painful to think about and even less to practice at the moment of a war of aggression by the "Putin regime," smart politics must not be exhausted in anger, indignation and sanctions.
[...]
Germany, like all of Europe, needs an orderly relationship with Russia. First and foremost, this means curbing Russia's expansionist policy, because this is the root cause of the war. Only when this aggressive expansion has been stopped and the interests of Ukraine and the West have been adequately taken into account, can and must a new cooperation with Russia begin. For Russia's isolation, a sinking of the nuclear power into economic or even political chaos, must be prevented.
[...]
Without a combination of military alliance strength, cooperation and the laborious resumption of détente initiatives, it will not be possible to establish a viable security architecture in Europe in the medium term.
[...]
Russia can be driven into China's arms by war and sanctions. What would be left would be the bipolar confrontation of two camps with the U.S. and Europe on one side and China and Russia on the other.
[...]
As difficult as it is to think now under Putin's unjust rule, Russia must not be abandoned in the medium term, neither politically nor economically. In this context, it is worth recalling the topicality of the strategic thinking of Egon Bahr and Willy Brandt.
posted by - at 2:24 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]




Neither the aggression as such, and certainly not the timing of the war of aggression against Ukraine, can be significantly attributed to NATO's eastward expansion. However, a policy of unilateral perspective that does not take into account the subjective perceptions of the counterpart is built on sand. This is also demonstrated by the "sleepwalking" (Christopher Clark) of the European powers into the First World War.
What kind of joke is this? WW1 was about as close as you can get to a multipolar Europe.
Four spheres of influence collided and the continent was embroiled into a disaster of grinding attrition between fairly matched sides. If there's a unipolar Europe that demands acceptance to a rules based order then any threats to that rules based system will be deterred but also quickly halted when a move is made through an overwhelming economic situation. One may not be able to stop a dictator but they can make it a stupid idea to start being the aggressor. Why hasn't Putin's LGM gone after Estonia's Russian speaking provinces? Because starting shit with the EU/NATO is suicide.
Therefore, Germany's and Europe's relationship with Ukraine and Russia will have to be clarified. The observation that Putin is a geopolitically expansive aggressor and tramples on international law is central, but it is not a substitute for the orientation of action that must be thought through from the end. The right of a sovereign Ukraine to self-determination is beyond question. Conversely, this does not give the country the right to join military alliances or economic-political alliances of states. It cannot limit the sovereignty of NATO or the EU to decide alone on requests for admission by Ukraine and other countries.
"Imperialism is fine as long as it's not the US."

JFC did Putin write this? This is embarrassing. The West has military and economic power. This is a fact. One of the mistakes that leftists and liberals continually make is pretending that power does not or should not exist. We leftists and progressives love to show love to people but love without power is sentimental and anemic. If someone wants to challenge the rules based order then you need to be willing to defend it otherwise we just have appeasement and a slow dismantling of liberal democracy.
The fickle tactical game in dealing with Ukraine's NATO membership application since 2008 shows: Even in NATO there are different interests, perceptions and strategies. A temporary moratorium on Ukraine's application for NATO membership should be clearly formulated today.
NATO is a giant umbrella. If you're not sharing it with the people who would otherwise share it with you then you're just leaving some poor person out in the rain.
The normative insistence on the sovereignty of small and medium-sized states is correct, but it must realistically be linked to the interests of the "great powers" and alliances. For even if one counterfactually dismisses and normatively criticizes the policy of spheres of influence as a relic of the 19th century, it exists and has never been abandoned by the great powers, the United States, China and, because of its nuclear armament, Russia. This is evidenced not only by Putin's war-criminal aggression in Ukraine, but also by the similarly fabricated war of aggression waged by the U.S. against Iraq in 2003.
JFC another Putin Paragraph™. If you go back through the comment history of the site you'll find most of the people here calling for the defense of Ukraine and the defeat of Russia also calling the US invasion of Iraq the most pointless, imperialist adventure. Imperialism in all its forms is bad. If we want a world order not based on might we don't just sit around shrugging our shoulders. We need to make it and defend it.
Germany, like all of Europe, needs an orderly relationship with Russia.
Because without the natural gas, Germany is fucked. This is the lede and it's buried way down in the article. All this bullshit about "meh... Imperialism but what are you gonna do?"

It's all in service to the natural gas.
Russia can be driven into China's arms by war and sanctions. What would be left would be the bipolar confrontation of two camps with the U.S. and Europe on one side and China and Russia on the other.
China isn't starting war without a second front. A single front war with the West would be suicide for the CCP. Ukraine basically embarrassing Russia has made sure that this two front war will not happen in our generation. Eastern Europe can secure its own borders if given the support. "No army may enter that land that is protected by Polish hand unless you are 40:1" is as true now as it is in WW2.
As difficult as it is to think now under Putin's unjust rule, Russia must not be abandoned in the medium term, neither politically nor economically. In this context, it is worth recalling the topicality of the strategic thinking of Egon Bahr and Willy Brandt.
Putin must never be allowed to rejoin the rules based world order. Russia can come back but only after Putin. Rather than appeasement, one might find better success in allowing democratically aligned Russians to find solace within the EU rather than trying to keep autocrats in line. But that won't happen because if there's one thing Western countries are great at, it's not letting anyone in, even if they share their values, unless they can be useful.

This article is an embarrassment to all leftists and progressives. The SPD should hang its head in shame if these are the values it puts forward.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:26 AM on April 24 [37 favorites]


Also on the SPD, another insightful Twitter thread by Alon Levy: Potentially crackpot theory of why Olaf Scholz is like this - hesitant and indecisive about everything, and dishonest about it.. (tl;dr: he's not an ideological Putinist like Schröder, though appears to be beholden to rust-belt industries which depend on cheap Russian gas/oil, making his actions indistinguishable from those of one.)

Levy doesn't mince their words in denouncing pro-Russian Germans as Putinists.
posted by acb at 5:50 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


One of the chemical plant fires from the last 48 hours may grind the war to a halt.

According to the Guardian, the first fire (TVER Air-Space Defence) occurred in the administrative building of the plant, which implies there may not be much loss of function on the manufacturing side. I fear that people may be jumping to conclusions about the extent of damage at both locations.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:16 AM on April 24 [5 favorites]


Care to guess which country is overlooked by the magnificent Dr. Merkel's "Democracy Barometer?"

His "Critical Junctures and the Survival of Dictatorships. Explaining the Stability of Autocratic Regimes" is a dead link, but the precis for his July 2014 article "Is capitalism compatible with democracy?" says
The lower third of developed societies has retreated silently from political participation; thus its preferences are less represented in parliament and government. Deregulated and globalized markets have seriously inhibited the ability of democratic governments to govern. If these challenges are not met with democratic and economic reforms, democracy may slowly transform into an oligarchy, formally legitimized by general elections. It is not the crisis of capitalism that challenges democracy, but its neoliberal triumph.
Where might that have happened? Let's see who Merkle thinks is important in rise of xenophobic right wing parties across Europe in the context of "Illiberalism, populism and democracy in East and West" (2018).

CTL+F "Russia" -- zero hits.

Who funds this guy?
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:17 AM on April 24 [8 favorites]


The right of a sovereign Ukraine to self-determination is beyond question. Conversely, this does not give the country the right to join military alliances or economic-political alliances of states.

I mean, what the everliving hell is sovereignty if not the right to align one's state as one wishes?
posted by stevis23 at 6:26 AM on April 24 [41 favorites]


UK sends AS90 Howitzers and shells to Ukraine to crush Putin
Sources last night confirmed that 45,000 British-made high explosive shells will be sent along with the AS90 self-propelled Howitzers to Poland this week, where Ukrainian forces will be taught to use and maintain them before they are deployed to the front. It comes as all three of Britain's regular tank regiments and its reserve regiment find themselves deployed on Nato's flanks in a robust show of force against Russia.
20 self propelled 155mm howitzers.

Canada announces artillery and other additional military aid for Ukraine
To this end, Canada has now delivered a number of M777 howitzers and associated ammunition to the Security Forces of Ukraine, in conjunction with our American Allies. While this equipment comes from the inventory of the Canadian Armed Forces, the capability will be replenished.

Additionally, Canada has provided Ukraine with a significant number of additional Carl Gustaf anti-armour ammunition, as Ukraine has requested, and this capability will also be replenished.
More 155mm heavy artilery. Shells. More anti-armor.

If you wanted to fight a ground war against Russia this is the shit they need in spades.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:27 AM on April 24 [8 favorites]


However, a policy of unilateral perspective that does not take into account the subjective perceptions of the counterpart is built on sand. This is also demonstrated by the "sleepwalking" (Christopher Clark) of the European powers into the First World War.
* * *
What kind of joke is this? WW1 was about as close as you can get to a multipolar Europe.


Not taking a side on the piece as a whole, as I haven't read it yet, but "unilateral perspective" in this context refers to countries looking to their own interests--foreign, domestic, political--and being indifferent to perceptions of their counterparties, which Clark documents in his book. A "one sided" or "myopic" perspective might be a better translation, without triggering the balance of power associations of "unilateral."
posted by mark k at 6:29 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


It's a direct reference to The Sleepwalkers which is more or less along the lines of The Guns of August; regarding which, from 2014:

Only three days before Mr. Hollande and others invoked the war to indirectly assail Russia’s behavior in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin of Russia offered a different narrative. Opening Russia’s first monument to a conflict that had been largely erased from Soviet history as an “imperial war,” he declared that Russia had, in fact, tried to make peace among the squabbling Europeans but was dragged into the war “to protect the Slavic nation.” Thus the forgotten war of the Soviet era was transformed into a noble mission, a distinct echo of Mr. Putin’s claim that he has been compelled to come to the defense of Russians in Ukraine threatened by Western designs.

These disparate interpretations underscore the inherent hazard of drawing parallels from history or of assigning responsibility and guilt for war. The historian Christopher Clark entitled his detailed study of the outbreak of war “The Sleepwalkers” to reflect how emperors, politicians and nations stumbled through the “obscure and convoluted events” that suddenly erupted into the guns of August. He counts more than 25,000 books and articles trying to explain what happened. So it is no surprise that our own perceptions are shaped by current events. A conflict that during the Cold War may have seemed archaic has taken a far different shape in the welter of xenophobic, religious and geopolitical feuds that have arisen since.

That does not mean we should not study and learn from the great war. The lessons may not be in parallels like those made by Mr. Hollande or Mr. Putin, but rather in reflection on intolerance, political expedience, tribal passions, ambition and all the other forces that combined to lead Europe sleepwalking to self-destruction. And, if nothing else, we owe it to our grandparents and great-grandparents and the millions of others who suffered and died on the battlefields of Europe not to forget their awesome sacrifice.

"The Guns of August," Serge Schmemann, Aug. 6 2014, for NYT OpEd

posted by snuffleupagus at 6:34 AM on April 24 [5 favorites]


Your Childhood Pet Rock, so I guess for you all the left in Europe are either tankies (lol) or a Kremlin assets? I can say for sure, the position of Merkel are becoming the mainstream in Germany with the SDP, in France (if Macron wins - and he is not even lefty - but he is the "left" candidate); in Italy the left of PD and the M5S are also following a similar line of thinking. I don't know about the left in Spain, but I would be very surprised if they have a more atlanticist take.
posted by - at 6:38 AM on April 24


Your Childhood Pet Rock, so I guess for you all the left in Europe are either tankies (lol) or a Kremlin assets?

I don't think it's all the left (lol at us being united about anything) but the anti-anti-imperialist crowd? Looks like a duck, acts like a duck, quacks like a duck.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:47 AM on April 24 [4 favorites]


It's the mainstream, european, center-left...
posted by - at 6:49 AM on April 24


It's the mainstream, european, center-left...

That's joining NATO in Sweden and Finland? The German Greens leaders and SPD voters that are calling for heavy weapons transfers to Ukraine? Uh huh. Tell me more about the mainstream, European center-left...
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:16 AM on April 24 [9 favorites]


it's amazing to me that people talk of considerations of NATO overreach and the limits of association in a multi polar world, but that kind of talk only works when all the powers agree to certain rules, one of which is, don't start shit by invading your neighbors

you violate the rules, people stop listening to you unless you have enough guns to make them
posted by pyramid termite at 7:31 AM on April 24 [13 favorites]


Office of the Governor of West Virginia: Gov. Justice announces West Virginia National Guard to provide Ukraine military with armored vehicles
CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) will aid Ukraine by providing armored personnel carriers for use against continued Russian aggression.

Following a request from the Department of Defense (DOD), the West Virginia Army National Guard will give an undisclosed number of M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) to Ukraine as part of a drawdown of DOD inventories to support the country.
The M113 armored personnel carrier is lightly armored and in the US tends to be used in support roles (armored ambulance, command car, etc.) It is tracked, which may be helpful in Ukraine.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:39 AM on April 24 [7 favorites]


so I guess for you all the left in Europe are either tankies (lol) or a Kremlin assets?

Hey man, you know why we call them tankies? Because when the Soviets sent the tanks rolling in to attack countries that wanted to go their own way or have a little bit more freedom than the Soviets wanted, some on the left were desperate to pretend it was justified, that there was a reason, that the countries being brutally repressed somehow deserved it.

If you are defending Russian tanks rolling into Ukraine, or saying that Ukraine really had it coming because it wanted to join NATO and everyone should have known it was Russia's "sphere of influence", because you're viewing everything in opposition to the US/NATO, and you identify as a leftist, you're a tankie. There's no two ways about it; that's definitionally what it means.

Similarly, if you are repeating Kremlin propaganda, or attempting to say that a group of people within your country believe Kremlin propaganda and they are right to do so, you're a Kremlin asset. Kremlin assets are not all paid; in some cases they are people who have been culturally, politically, or socially primed to repeat their lies and policy positions in their interest. And "nuh uh we need to tie ourselves MORE to the Russian Federation" is absolutely one of those.

But also - all the left in Europe is not on your side on this one. There's leftists in Europe right now who are fighting with the Ukrainian Army to drive out the Russian federation. There's leftists who are saying that in the circumstances, joining NATO is justified for these countries that don't have better options. There's leftists who are siding with the victim of imperialist aggression, rather than the aggressor - because that's actually the correct position. You don't speak for all of the left, and neither does this guy.
posted by corb at 8:38 AM on April 24 [62 favorites]


This article is an embarrassment to all leftists and progressives. The SPD should hang its head in shame if these are the values it puts forward.

Right below that (ridiculous) article is another denouncing those authors' views as folklore. So at least there's disagreement. The SPD appears to be sleepwalking into a crisis, not just within their coalition with the Greens and FDP but, possibility, within their party. A few days ago the former foreign minister (SPD) managed to start a dumb Twitter spat with the Ukranian ambassador to Germany — and somehow doesn't see why that's a problem.
posted by UN at 8:41 AM on April 24 [12 favorites]


A glance at the aforementioned Mr. Merkel's twitter feed* has led me to Fran Hirsch*, an historian and author of a book on the Soviet contributions to the establishment of the Nuremberg Trials (and thus international war crime law): a Sept 2021 NPR interview, no transcript; a June 2020 book review by Beth Van Schaack.

Much of Hirsch's feed at the moment is focused on contextualizing and laying bare Russia's current genocidal and totalitarian actions.

* nitter links; replace domain with twitter dot com as desired
posted by to wound the autumnal city at 8:50 AM on April 24 [5 favorites]


The SPD appears to be sleepwalking into a crisis, not just within their coalition with the Greens and FDP but, possibility, within their party.

I only follow German politics to the extent that it lets me understand their political satire, but my impression is that "sleepwalking" is a good description of the SPD for at least the last ten years.
posted by Slothrup at 8:52 AM on April 24 [4 favorites]


The M113 armored personnel carrier is lightly armored and in the US tends to be used in support roles (armored ambulance, command car, etc.) It is tracked, which may be helpful in Ukraine.

I don't know if we're doing them a favor with the M113; but if so US police departments should use this opportunity to patriotically unburden themselves of all the expensively-maintained surplus MRAPs and etc. they've been chumping it up with.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:00 AM on April 24 [20 favorites]


Meduza's Kevin Rothrock on Twitter
The publisher that supplies most of Russia’s classroom textbooks is purging the next editions of its history & lit textbooks of virtually all mentions of Ukraine and Kyiv. This is the same publisher now supplying books to schools in occupied territories.
The Kyiv Independent on Twitter
⚡️ Russia forcibly deports almost one million Ukrainians.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported that since the start of a full-scale invasion, 951,000 Ukrainians had been forcibly deported to Russia from occupied Ukrainian territories.

This number includes 174,689 children.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:06 AM on April 24 [9 favorites]


corb, nobody is defending Russian tanks rolling into Ukraine - where in the article Merkel said so? Nor he is arguing to "tie ourselves MORE" to Russia.

But he knows that Russia is not going anywhere - again: you cannot change geography. And we have to deal with it somehow. And it's not wise to drive Russia "into China's arms".

And also, history taught us that American gov is never the good guys. It is the most imperialist government in existence, and they care about nothing if not strictly their imperial ambition. They are partially responsible for the crisis; and they have a terrible tack record when it comes to their interventions. I am not surprised European leftists are a bit weary of American militarism. As this article from 2014 was pointing out, what's the final goal of this foreign policy? World peace?
posted by - at 9:21 AM on April 24


And also, history taught us that American gov is never the good guys. It is the most imperialist government in existence, and they care about nothing if not strictly their imperial ambition.

And there it is.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:34 AM on April 24 [40 favorites]


I only follow German politics to the extent that it lets me understand their political satire, but my impression is that "sleepwalking" is a good description of the SPD for at least the last ten years.

After hitting the post button, I thought 'sleepwalking' is far too generous. As everyone knows, at least one former chancellor I'd working right now as in today directly for Putin with 'no regrets' and remains a member of the party. Does Scholz have a cushy job lined up, or what? It's infuriating.
posted by UN at 9:40 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


As this article from 2014 was pointing out

The article's conclusion aged poorly:
Ever since Russia annexed Crimea in March and began supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, Ms Nuland – together with Daniel Fried, another career diplomat prominent in the Bush administration – has been the architect of the increasingly tough sanctions policy. Ms Nuland told the Senate last month that “we are working to leave the door open for diplomatic de-escalation should Russia change course”. However, critics say the administration is placing too much emphasis on penalties and not enough on a diplomatic process that could provide Mr Putin a way of saving face. “It is clear that her whole approach is to push Russia so hard that it has no choice but to accommodate the US,” says Dimitri Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest in Washington DC. “That can work up to a point. But a realistic strategy would be to have some form of modus vivendi with Russia, especially at a time when China is becoming much more important for the US.”
--

what's the final goal of this foreign policy? World peace?

What's yours? Dugin's chaos-magic "multipolarity" under which Russia gets to re-establish its local empire instead? By leveling cities and executing people in the street in the name of its own linguistic and cultural nationalisms? That's better? Anything but America, eh?
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:59 AM on April 24 [27 favorites]


Kremlin propaganda is very evident in the way you're responding, - . I'm not saying you personally are intentionally doing this; propaganda is insidious. But I will break it down piece by piece.

Russia is not going anywhere - again: you cannot change geography. And we have to deal with it somehow. And it's not wise to drive Russia "into China's arms".

Russia is already closest to China. There is no amount of diplomacy on the part of Europe that will make the Russian Federation back away from China, and the idea that there is, that if everyone else doesn't give in to whatever the Kremlin wants they will cosy 'more', is a piece of propaganda leaked by the RF, in an attempt to scare people into appeasement. When you repeat it, you are repeating the line that appeasement is the safest course. This benefits the Kremlin, who naturally, wants to get what it wants. But an important thing that's missing from this analysis - Russia is not the Russian Federation. The geographical boundary of Russia and the current Russian state are not the same. One must be dealt with; the other not necessarily.


And also, history taught us that American gov is never the good guys. It is the most imperialist government in existence

This is a Russian Federation talking point that is used to dismiss and downplay war crimes and to gain more support for their murderous and imperialist policies.
"The US is the REAL bad imperialist" as they occupy Transnistria.
"The US is the REAL bad imperialist" as they peeled Abkhazia off of Georgia.
"The US is the REAL bad imperialist" as RF brutalized Chechnya.
"The US is the REAL bad imperialist" as they gobble up South Ossetia from Georgia.
"The US is the REAL bad imperialist" as RF commits war crimes in Syria.
"The US is the REAL bad imperialist" as they annex Crimea and Donetsk and Luhansk.
"The US is the REAL bad imperialist" as they try to take out democratic Ukraine while attempting to erase the very name of the country from their textbooks.

They are playing you, and you're letting them. Focus on the imperialist you're used to hating, not the new rise of Imperial Russia. That's what the Kremlin wants, and that's what you're doing.

and they care about nothing if not strictly their imperial ambition.

This is what RF says when they want to pretend war crimes aren't happening. "There are no real war crimes, they're just made up, we're all po-mo now and no one cares about anything, people and states are just pretending to care!" is a really great cover for committing genocide. And the Russian Federation is, in fact, committing genocide in Ukraine. And even shitty, terrible states and their citizens can not want to see genocide happening. To pretend otherwise is Kremlin propaganda.

They are partially responsible for the crisis

Even now, you're not calling it what it is: a Russian Federation imperialist invasion of a sovereign democratic country. You're calling it a "crisis" - that's what RF would certainly prefer, because it makes them look better. But it's not - it's an invasion. It's an occupation. Except those are words that leftists know to condemn, so people who are supportive or semi-supportive of Russia don't like to use them.

The only state responsible for Russia's invasion and occupation of Ukraine is the Russian Federation. That's it. To pretend otherwise is to repeat Kremlin propaganda and to engage in victim-blaming, that it's all Ukraine's fault for calling for help.
posted by corb at 10:28 AM on April 24 [117 favorites]


About Dimitri Simes, author of that article, by the by:
In February 2015, Dimitri Simes met with Russian president Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials in Moscow. As publisher of The National Interest, Simes was also involved in arranging Trump's April 27, 2016, speech at the Mayflower Hotel. In the speech, Trump outlined his vision for American foreign policy and called for greater cooperation with Russia.

In September 2018, historian Yuri Felshtinsky published an article about Simes' past encounters with unregistered Russian agent Maria Butina.

Simes resides in Washington, DC, but remotely serves as a moderator of the Moscow-based political program Большая игра ("Big Game") on Channel One Russia, together with Vyacheslav Nikonov.

These are your bedfellows? "Sad."

More a puppet than an asset though. Assets have value.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:32 AM on April 24 [13 favorites]


Good Time Bad Times on YouTube presents Has Ukraine already won? [25m], an interesting outline from Ukrainian author Mykola Susuiev which talks a lot about the social changes that have happened in Ukraine since 2014 and how new, unexpected side effects of the war have likely changed the geopolitical stance of Eastern Europe and the West in general forever.
posted by hippybear at 10:35 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Can we not be so binary about definitions? If someone says the US is imperialist, it doesn't ipso facto make them a tankie. If they're implying that somehow justifies Russian aggression, that's a different story, but noting that fact other than as a rhetorical ploy shouldn't be problematic.

Consider the statements:
Russian aggression in the Ukraine is unsupportable.
Russian is committing genocide in the Ukraine.
The United States is an imperial power.

All three can be (and I believe are) true. Of course, it's true that Russia is an imperial power, as is China, UK, France, etc. In fact, if you look at a list of countries with military bases outside their own border, every single one of them could be classified as imperialist on those grounds.

A better point might be that who is imperialist isn't really the issue. The issue is who's being aggressive and why. So bringing up imperialism might be showing bad faith.

Of course, imperialism does matter because it's part of history, and people operate in a historical context. That might, for example, explain why Iran has a troubled history with the US, Algeria with France, but it's totally not an excuse for Russia's actions in the Ukraine since Ukraine has done nothing to provoke Russia. If the US had established a military base there, it might, but that's not the case, so all the blame lies completely with Putin at this point.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:01 AM on April 24 [6 favorites]


Plus from an Eastern European perspective, RUSSIA IS AN EMPIRE. We'd need a historian to weigh in on the final tally, but just taking into account the major atrocities (e.g. Holodomor: up to 5 million; the 1791 butchery of Praga in Warsaw: up to 20 thousand in six freaking hours) I wouldn't be surprised if the lead in blood offerings isn't highly contested just counting from the formal creation of the US. And that's not even taking into account the cultural genocide - ask any Ukrainian for how long their very language was banned in schools; in Poland it was for half a century until we got our brief independence. Colonisation? Exploitation? Fighting proxy wars in the Middle East like, say, Syria? Damn, damn close there. And Russians definitely lead in forced population displacement, with whole nations exiled to the most inhospitable reaches of Siberia and the Far East.

So if empires are bad, if you support Russia you're stanning one!
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:15 AM on April 24 [22 favorites]


Can we not be so binary about definitions? If someone says the US is imperialist, it doesn't ipso facto make them a tankie. If they're implying that somehow justifies Russian aggression, that's a different story,

That is in actuality the story here. Not "imperialist" but "most imperialist government in existence" -- including right now, amidst this war. After Bucha, Mariupol and Sumy. (And the depraved indifference towards the loss of Russian youth when the country is already in demographic crisis.)

And then an endorsement of the 2014 artice's conclusion (which the mods deleted): "a realistic strategy would be to have some form of modus vivendi with Russia," as the policy that might have prevented the war. i.e., appeasing Putin. Which turns out to have been written by someone who went on to personally cozy up to Putin, have a relationship with a FSB agent and get enmeshed in the whole Trump/Russia affair.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:15 AM on April 24 [15 favorites]


If I had a f*cking kopeck for every time I heard someone try to downplay russian aggression/ authoritarianism / state censorship by pointing out that one time someone, somewhere, did something bad too, I'd have enough money to make putin my personal toe sucker and fund the rebuilding of Ukraine. More than one thing can be bad and wrong! The russian invasion of Ukraine is very bad and wrong, full stop, no lessening of the bad because of other bads in the past. It's really some childish playground logic, I mean the US could just say it's doing bad stuff because russia was being bad before the US even existed so it has a lot of catching up to do.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:25 AM on April 24 [49 favorites]


-*, you've repeatedly tried to re-focus Russia as the real victim in these threads. If you were a random western leftie, I wouldn't be so surprised - we are all fed half-truth (or at least get half-truth, weather intentionally or not) about other parts of the world. But you are not - you should know better! I wonder why you don't...

To live in the shaddow of Russia/ the former USSR and have the gall to ignore its vicious, bestial history of colonialism and harp on about some other, worse imperialism... the systematic, intentional, programatic, decades long genocide silently and efficiently perpetrated by Russia ... no, I would say the US has not done anything remotly like that for a long time - pretty much since the genocide it perpetrated against the original inhabitants of the continent it colonised and later against the people brought from Africa against their will and into slavery. Nothing since even remotely compares to what the URSS/ Russia have done in the last century, and what they are slavering at the mouth to do again. And unlike someone from the West, you know this.

What a tough user name to address!
posted by doggod at 12:01 PM on April 24 [19 favorites]


from an Eastern European perspective, RUSSIA IS AN EMPIRE

Also from a central Asian perspective, where Russia practiced settler colonialism. Centuries long expansion to the east and south, stopping only when they hit the Pacific Ocean. Genocide after genocide of the peoples they overran.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:03 PM on April 24 [13 favorites]


Mod note: -, you've amply demonstrated your willingness to repeat Kremlin talking points as laundered through useful idiots in the West, and there's plenty of evidence in this thread for users to judge your views for themselves. I think we can put a line under that discussion and move on.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 12:16 PM on April 24 [26 favorites]


eventually start believing the bullshit they peddled to gain that power.

Very true. Case in point:
“Putin sincerely believes in the nonsense he hears on [Russian] television and he wants to win big,” said a person briefed on the talks.
From FT: Putin abandons hopes of Ukraine deal and shifts to land-grab strategy (archive)
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 1:12 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


From FT: Putin abandons hopes of Ukraine deal and shifts to land-grab strategy (archive)

I think the biggest problem with that strategy is that once the Russian Army culminates it's going to withdraw quickly and Russia will sue for peace/a ceasefire on an expedited basis. But by that time there's not going to be any incentive for UA to hold peace talks, even with threats of withdrawal of military support from the West. UA is fast accumulating all the equipment and ammo it needs to prosecute a longer war and they have the morale to keep going. The EU might find in 1-2 months that Zelenskyy is not interested in stopping at the 2014 borders (nor should he) and boy will shit get *ahem* interesting *ahem* at that time.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:20 PM on April 24 [10 favorites]


I'd say that stopping things from getting "interesting" is a good reason that Ukraine should stop at the pre-February 2022 borders. If it comes to that point, Ukraine will have completely won, even judging by the most optimistic expectations at the beginning of the invasion, and Russia will have been utterly humiliated an unable to have any hope of being a conventional threat to Ukraine or anyone else for quite a while. The sanctions on Russia can be used as pressure to come to some reasonable negotiated settlement regarding Crimea and the Donbas.

I completely sympathize with Ukraine, and I'd love to see them drive all the way to Moscow and arrest Putin personally and put him on trial for war crimes. But even Ukraine's most committed western backers shouldn't be too eager to risk a desperate, "interesting" response from Putin by pushing too far.
posted by Reverend John at 1:58 PM on April 24 [4 favorites]


Pre-Feb 2022 still involves occupied Donbass and Crimea. If Russia culminates they should be pushed entirely out of UA. We need to get back to pre-2014 borders. The "interesting" part is Crimea which was unilaterally annexed and not recognized by the majority of nations, not actual Russian soil and how far Russia would go to defend it.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:02 PM on April 24 [16 favorites]


All of that may hinge on how long this goes on, how many Crimean lives Russia spends, and how the Crimeans feel about that when the matter is actually at issue in peace talks.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:08 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Deutsche Welle has a pretty good, and fairly critical, explainer on where the German government is currently at, in terms of supplying arms to Ukraine. Excerpt:
"There are some heavy weapons on the list, but definitely not tanks. So, tanks seem to be a red line for the German government right now. Whether we can keep the red line depends, of course, very much on the development of the war in the coming weeks or months," said Masala.

The criticism of Germany's foot-dragging appears to have made an impression. On Thursday, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at a press conference in Estonia that "there are no taboos for us with regard to armored vehicles and other weaponry that Ukraine needs," a reference to the possible supply of Marder vehicles.

The workaround for Germany appears to be a plan to backfill the stocks of allied countries that have weaponry to spare with modern German-made gear. As Germany's stocks are reportedly depleted, Eastern European NATO countries that still have Soviet-era weapons in their possession would "make these weapons available, as has already happened in several cases," said retired Bundeswehr Colonel Wolfgang Richter, a senior associate with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on Thursday confirmed the planned exchange with NATO and the EU. "We're talking about tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, it's about different options that individual countries have that they can hand over. We're in talks and it's happening very quickly now," Lambrecht told commercial broadcaster RTL.

One option the government is working on is an exchange with Slovenia. The NATO partner would send several of its Soviet-era T-72 battle tanks to Ukraine; to compensate, Germany would then provide Slovenia with Marders from its own supplies.

Another creative workaround is reportedly being arranged with the Netherlands. "The Netherlands are going to send the self-propelled howitzer 2000, an extremely modern German weapon, and we're going to provide [the Ukrainians] with ammunition and the training, probably on German soil," said Masala.

This approach could relieve some of the pressure and deflect criticism. However, as Masala pointed out, it won't last long.
Politico EU also has a fairly long article about the transformation of the Greens into a hawkish party. Excerpt:
KIEL, Germany — As German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck took the stage at an election rally on a recent sunny evening, a small group of demonstrators honked air horns, blew whistles and chanted: “Warmonger! Warmonger!”

That accusation is very much a fringe view, voiced in the northern city of Kiel by a few dozen protesters with far-right and pro-Russian sympathies. But it reflects a major shift: Russia’s war in Ukraine has prompted Germany’s Greens to take another big step away from their pacifist roots and emerge as the most hawkish members of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition government.

Habeck, the economy and climate minister, and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock — the Cabinet’s leading Greens — helped overturn a long-standing policy, of both Germany and their own party, to send defensive weapons to Ukraine. And they have since gone significantly further — pushing Social Democrat Scholz publicly and privately to send heavy weapons to aid Kyiv.

The shift is the latest chapter in the relatively short history of a party that grew out of environmental, pacifist and anti-nuclear movements in the late 1970s and early 1980s and has now begun its second spell in national government.

“In this situation, where people are defending their lives, their democracy and their freedom, Germany and also the Greens must be ready to deal with the reality — and this reality is a reality that must reject an aggressor,” Habeck told the hecklers in a market square in Kiel.

“The people in Ukraine are also dying for freedom and democracy, to be not overrun by armed force,” he added, winning applause from the other participants at the rally.

The Greens’ stance is striking a chord across Germany, too. Habeck, who is also at the forefront of efforts to wean Germany off its dependency on Russian energy, has become the country’s most popular politician, according to an Insa poll last week. Baerbock came second in that ranking — ahead of Scholz, who topped the chart not so long ago.
posted by Kattullus at 2:09 PM on April 24 [23 favorites]


Well, yes. Unfortunately we live in a complicated, "interesting" world. How far will Russia go to defend it's hold on Crimea and the Donbas is the big question. I think if the answer was "willing to continue to endure western sanctions indefinitely", then we would be foolish to probe further.

In the cold war we sat through decades of a divided, unjust, half-authoritarian Europe. It isn't fair to Ukraine to ask them to remain separated, but tolerating unfairness is the price of living in this "interesting" world. If the world wasn't so interesting we would have already long ago intervened directly in helping Ukraine restore its borders.
posted by Reverend John at 2:11 PM on April 24


This tweet led me to this remarkable bit of reportage/storytelling/tech – a slideshow of 3D scans of a bunch of locations in Ukraine (and some beyond), mostly destroyed: apartment buildings, a bus, a russian tank. High-def but falling apart; both from bombs here and the ai imprecisions and inventions of the mappings.

There are so many ways to bear witness these days and I'm grateful for everyone who does.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:32 PM on April 24 [12 favorites]


FWIW, when I say "the Donbas", I'm only referring to the area that Russia was already occupying pre-Feb 2022. And, of course, in a just world they would be driven even from there (and Crimea) with no concessions or negotiations.
posted by Reverend John at 2:34 PM on April 24


Indeed, and if we aren't concerned about justice, why not let them keep even more of what they've taken? If you know anything about negotiations, the mistake you're currently making is called "anchoring low". Why are you conceding a single fucking inch at this point, before even going to the table?
posted by notoriety public at 2:38 PM on April 24 [13 favorites]


tolerating unfairness is the price of living in this "interesting" world.

I think, regardless of what I think about that sentiment, this all looks very different after Bucha, after the kidnapping of children and murdering of civilians. The Russian Federation has shown they have no barriers in what they are willing to do. To allow them to remain there is to condemn everyone who remains behind to torture, kidnapping, rape, and murder.
posted by corb at 2:39 PM on April 24 [23 favorites]


Why are you conceding a single fucking inch at this point, before even going to the table?

Ukraine's leadership should at this point be credited with enough savvy not to negotiate itself into a postwar insurgency by holding onto territories that really do still want to be Russian after all this, a point that we haven't reached yet; balanced against internal politics and traumatized reaction that I can't hope to fully understand. How much flexibility to telegraph in advance of negotiations is also a tactical concern. Googling will reveal that Zelenskyy has been triangulating the issue and choosing his words carefully for now. That seems wise to me.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:46 PM on April 24 [6 favorites]


I'm not really a big fan of the whole sporadically and seemingly selectively enforced "We don't speak of America" and "Stop talking about hypotheticals" thing in the first place, but...

... if we're going to pretend that we're really doing that, how about we try to avoid simultaneously blaming the perfidious West for (A) the fact that they're obviously going to force Ukraine to keep fighting until Donbas and Crimea are reclaimed, and (B) the fact that they're obviously going to force Ukraine to stop fighting even though Donbas and Crimea haven't been reclaimed?
posted by Flunkie at 2:50 PM on April 24 [6 favorites]


It would be better to wait and see how events in Ukraine directed by Ukrainians actually play themselves out and talk about reporting on that than to try to project from anywhere outside Ukraine how anything might/should/could play out.
posted by hippybear at 2:53 PM on April 24 [19 favorites]


It's still (unwanted?) speculation, but I don't think I can fault people for thinking out loud. Not about 'how the war should go', but about 'what the (lasting) peace would look like'.

If one is priveleged enough to be viewing this all from a distance, either physically or abstractly, as if writing a future World History textbook, one ends up asking questions like:
So 'Russia', under its various guises, has been trying to acquire the Crimean Peninsula ever since its primary exports were amber and furs. If what it takes to finally stop the murderous behavior of Hetman, Khans, Tsars, Commissars, and Presidents-for-Life is either:
a) they get it and that's settled
b) they are left in a state where they can't get it, like trying to steal with two broken arms

Then you're talking about Ukraine suing for peace on its own, vs NATO getting into something with Russia that looks like the post WWII 'Look, you tried to take over Europe/the Pacific. Not cool. And you lost. Now we can be friends again - but understandably, you don't get to have a military for a while.'
That second one is not an option for Ukraine acting alone.
posted by bartleby at 3:34 PM on April 24


We are, of course, concerned about justice. So, of course, we are supporting Ukraine militarily. And currently Ukraine isn't poised to enter areas occupied by Russia prior to February 2022, so the threat of a Russian nuclear response, while not zero, is low.

However, given that Russia has said they would use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory, and given that they have publicly stated, whether you think its valid or not, that they consider Crimea to be a part of Russia, the chances of a Russian nuclear response to Ukraine attempting to retake Crimea or the previously occupied parts of the Donbas are much higher.

Also, as I've repeatedly said, we should maintain sanctions on Russia while they are occupying Crimea and the Donbas.

And, of course, I'm just a commenter on Metafilter, not a US negotiator. I'm responding to statements here that if Zelensky can keep going that he should keep going. I'd hope officials from the US, EU, and NATO would communicate their opposition to potentially risky courses of action to him less publicly.

But ultimately, while my heart completely agrees that after Bucha and other Russian war crimes we can't trust Russia to not mistreat civilians who would remain under their control, my head says that provoking a use of nuclear weapons risks a far greater calamity for civilians even if the attacks were "only" limited to Ukraine.

One could also imagine compromises on Crimea and the Donbas that could potentially be acceptable to both sides to end the war, e.g. leaving Crimea nominally under Russian control but demilitarizing it and allowing Ukrainians displaced from there to return and come and go freely from the rest of Ukraine.
posted by Reverend John at 4:20 PM on April 24


Ukraine should be prepared to take advantage of further Russian fuckups.

Should Russia fall back in a chaotic retreat, Ukraine should try to push them out of Donbas and Crimea.
posted by ryanrs at 4:37 PM on April 24 [6 favorites]


Given that Ukraine seems to have superiority insofar as war vehicles of various types go, and soon will have more missiles in their hands than they've ever had before, I do see it could happen that they push forward. I haven't seen much news out of the country so far today, so maybe Easter has things settled down a tad.
posted by hippybear at 4:45 PM on April 24


Oil refinery is apparently on fire in Bryansk.

Not sure yet if Ukrainian caused, sabotage, or general incompetence.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:37 PM on April 24 [5 favorites]


Bryansk is about 70 miles from the Ukrainian boarder in the direction of Moscow, and it seems to be two seperate and separated fires.
posted by sammyo at 5:42 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


my biggest worry is that there may be a civil insurrection or worse in russia and if it's bad enough, the war in ukraine and the split in russia may start to run together

i'm not 100% sure that ukraine intelligence is behind all the fires and sabotage that's been going on - if something like this were to happen, this could well be the beginning of it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:01 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Well, keeping the war contained has been a concern from the beginning. And while we don't know the source of all these fires (wow, a lot of them), regardless of the source it means the conflict is spreading and that can only end up being bad in the end.
posted by hippybear at 6:07 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


personally i hope the conflict expands all the way into Putin's bunker and the conflict drags him out of it into the light of day and the conflict puts him and his underlings on trial for genocide and/or crimes against humanity and/or whatever else they can pin on those wretched shitmen, and i also hope the conflict does so as quickly as possible so that more innocent civilians aren't tortured, raped, and murdered.
posted by glonous keming at 6:14 PM on April 24 [8 favorites]


Oil refinery and chemical plants catch fire a lot; Russia has a reputation for poor safety controls. So it is hard to know if some of the recent fires are accidents or sabotage. Much like when Russia initially claimed that an accidental fire in the Moskva caused it to sink.
posted by interogative mood at 6:17 PM on April 24 [6 favorites]


So it is hard to know if some of the recent fires are accidents or sabotage.

When you cut so many corners on safety and maintenance, sometimes it's really, really easy to just nudge it over the edge. it's entirely possible that this and other examples of sabotage prove impossible to determine who did the nudging (fifth columnists or interlopers), with margins likely being so razor thin.
posted by tclark at 6:24 PM on April 24 [4 favorites]


Much about this war seems to be about Russia setting itself up for failure with even the slightest sideways move, so it wouldn't surprise me if much of it was opportunist.
posted by hippybear at 6:26 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Could be attacks on SCADA systems (or in person sabotage); or maybe it could be from pushing these centralized production facilities too hard to make up for discovered material shortfalls and sudden demand? Especially if they're already operating near or outside of safe limits in capacity, maintenance, people, etc.

either way, it's quite dramatic
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:27 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


One of the fires is at a depot/refinery serviced by the Druzhba pipeline, the only pipeline that sends Russian oil to Europe. Still trying to find out whether oil transit through the pipeline has been affected.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:31 PM on April 24


i'm not 100% sure that ukraine intelligence is behind all the fires and sabotage that's been going on - if something like this were to happen, this could well be the beginning of it


Lots of families are split by the Russian Ukrainian border, and not all family members on the Russian side are drinking the kool aid.
posted by ocschwar at 7:42 PM on April 24 [5 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent on Twitter
⚡️U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Zelensky in Kyiv on April 24, according to adviser Oleksiy Arestovych.

The meeting, which the U.S. hasn’t yet confirmed, is the highest-level visit by U.S. officials since Russia's war began.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:57 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Russia initially claimed that an accidental fire in the Moskva caused it to sink.

It was finally explained to me why they would claim that: it's because they were claiming to control all the territory in eastern Ukraine that could have launched a Neptune rocket at the Moskva.
posted by ocschwar at 7:58 PM on April 24 [4 favorites]


Remember that video with Putin holding onto the table? He was tapping his thumb. Do Russians Morse Code? Or is he in contact with a strike force of some kind who views video from outside the room, when he has tough meetings with staff? Anyway, it was such a persistent gesture.
posted by Oyéah at 8:03 PM on April 24


Someone would have to watch the video in real time and record the taps and see if it means anything. I don't know what the equivalent of Morse Code is for Russian operatives, but I'm certain they would have one.
posted by hippybear at 8:15 PM on April 24


Alternatively, he fidgets. He tapped his foot a bunch too and it looked kinda random kid rhythmic.

There are probably a couple of weird things going on with that interview/video. The size of the table clearly has something to do with the long table memes and he sits weird.

But the long tables might have started as a COVID thing that he leaned into in the same way alt-right a-holes in the US wear poorly fitting suits on purpose. Similarly the short table is easily explained as him playing with the meme.

So basically just a bunch of dumbass posturing that only means anything to immature dipshits. Serious people don't really give a shit about that sort of thing. The weird sitting stuff probably has an equally dumb explanation. Like, even pro public speakers get nervous, some people fidget nervous or not it's just a thing my wife people do. Maybe he was sick or had a stroke or maybe wedging himself up is just more comfortable in long ass meetings where he has to be on camera the whole time.

Regardless, I would bet on mundane or outright stupid explanations before anything else. I really hope the sitting bit indications he's in poor health. I would prefer a life-long time-out where he can think about what he did or failing that the Rasputin ending but I'll take what I can get.
posted by VTX at 8:29 PM on April 24 [4 favorites]


In the cold war we sat through decades of a divided, unjust, half-authoritarian Europe

You mean you and other Americans sat through it, while Poles and other Eastern Europeans who happily grabbed for independence after WWI endured Russian occupation for half a century. The last time Western powers negotiated territory directly with Russians got us the Yalta betrayal. Thankfully Zelenskiy is aware of it, which is why Ukraine is so careful to emphasise its sovereignty and agency - US negotiators aren't going to be deciding anything not directly related to lifting US sanctions. Because we know how easy Americans find it to trade away people sufficiently far away.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 8:36 PM on April 24 [41 favorites]


I would not.

The weirdness is a cover for something.

That being said is due to a decade or so of unexplained weirdness from Russia.
posted by Windopaene at 8:38 PM on April 24


A decade or so? Lordy, from the late 40s up until about 1991, there was an entire field of study devoted to trying to decode the non-communications coming from inside the USSR. It was called Kremlinology [Wikipedia], and it was people sitting around with a network of spies and information at their disposal trying to do exactly what we're doing here.
posted by hippybear at 8:43 PM on April 24 [6 favorites]


I would be interested to know what some of the folks who did stuff the CIA analysed thought about the conclusions they came to. Most of it seems akin to talking heads making claims about the state of Beyonce and Jay Z's relationship from video of them walking about a store (I do NOT miss cable TV).

According to wikipedia, that was because that was about the only source of info available. I don't think that's as true any more and I think Putin gets taken much more seriously that he should. He's brutal, vicious and ruthless but not particularly bright and kind of a weirdo about a lot. I don't know how much he believes what he appears to and claims to believe but he does weird stuff for weird reasons that only kinda make sense or work out but not at all for the reasons he thought.

If US intelligence was confident about their assessment of the invasion down to the day they're relying on better sources of info than frame by frame analysis how how the man taps his foot. At least I certainly hope so!
posted by VTX at 8:56 PM on April 24 [7 favorites]


PBS's Nick Schifrin on Twitter
BREAKING: Embargo lifted:
@SecBlinken and @SecDef conclude trip to #Ukraine. Senior officials announce US diplomats will return to Ukraine “as early as this week,” with day trips to Lviv. And @USAmbSlovakia will be nominated as next US Ambassador to Kyiv

Bridget Brink’s name was given to Kyiv before the invasion, so this means Kyiv has signed off on her.

Blinken and Austin will hold a press conference at 0130 eastern.

More from senior State, Defense officials via pool producer @Abs_NBC: US announcing
- $713 million in Foreign Military Financing for 16 European countries, including $322 million for Ukraine
- Foreign military sale $165 million for non-US/NATO, i.e., Russian
ammunition to Ukraine

- First round of 6-day training to 50 Ukrainian artillerymen is complete. They will return to Ukraine as another 50 leave Ukraine for training. And officials say more training sites could be added
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:32 PM on April 24 [4 favorites]


Mod note: Deleted a Kissinger derail; not a US politics thread
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:08 PM on April 24 [4 favorites]


I think Putin gets taken much more seriously that he should. He's brutal, vicious and ruthless but not particularly bright and kind of a weirdo about a lot. I don't know how much he believes what he appears to and claims to believe but he does weird stuff for weird reasons that only kinda make sense or work out but not at all for the reasons he thought.

I tend to agree, but on the other hand, you can kinda say the same thing about Hitler basically any time before, oh, 1933 or so. Brutal, vicious, ruthless, not very smart, definitely a weirdo, lots of strange personality quirks and tics, does bizarre stuff for obscure reasons, gives himself too much credit... and a whole bunch of people pretty much figured he'd burn himself out if they just gave him enough room and time. (Which, I guess he technically did, but I can think we can agree the costs were unacceptably high in the interim.)

So, okay, we need to be careful not to drink the dictatorial kool-aid and start believing whatever propaganda comes out of a state that's on the fast-track to fascism. But on the other hand, when a brutal dictator lays out their Grand Plan, maybe we should take them at their word? At least until the capability to do that has been definitively taken away from them for good.

I think one of the worst possible outcomes from the current war in Ukraine would be a Putinist Russia that's merely wounded but not dead, and a Europe that's content to just declare victory and leave, keeping some halfassed and poorly-enforced sanctions, continuing to burn Russian natural gas and generally taking a knee (or two) for any rich oligarch with money to spend. Because if it turns out that Putin doesn't have metastatic cancer or an inoperable brain tumor or one of the other dead-man-walking theories, it seems unlikely that he's the kind of guy who'll just shrug and say "well, that was a bad call on my part!" and fade into retirement. Rather, it seems more likely that he'll push the limits on every front, try even harder to exert influence over Western governments through propaganda and financial chicanery, evade sanctions, rearm, and eventually come back to settle scores. And if that happened, I doubt he'd make the same mistakes over again. Perhaps he'd make new and different mistakes, but they might be ones that are harder for the Ukrainians and the rest of Europe to take advantage of.

It's doubtful that Ukraine will have as good an opportunity to define its borders with Russia as it will have, if things continue to go their way, in the next few weeks or months. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that is being paid for with blood.

If the West (really, everyone opposed to strongman authoritarianism) doesn't both allow and assist Ukraine to push Russia back as far as is necessary to ensure a defensible border—perhaps including a demilitarized zone that keeps Ukrainian cities and civil/industrial assets away from border scuffles and limit-pushing—I think the risk is very high that we'll all be watching this happen again within a generation.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:19 PM on April 24 [21 favorites]


And while we don't know the source of all these fires (wow, a lot of them), regardless of the source it means the conflict is spreading and that can only end up being bad in the end.

If it brings the war and Putin's regime to an end it is an unalloyed good. I hope the Ukrainians are exploring all options and exploiting all possibilities for bringing the war to Russia.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:22 PM on April 24 [5 favorites]


In this bit of security cam footage you can hear (at 12 seconds in) the apparent sound of rocket or jet engine of a missile or air strike in Bryansk at the same moment a gigantic fireball appears (the second explosion, judging by the far right background in the frame). Sound on, obviously, but it is quite loud.
posted by Rumple at 11:42 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Enter the darkness and find people in it. Why do Russians support the war? Shura Burtin's research. (Google translate into English link).

A journalist goes cafe to cafe talking to ordinary Russians about the war. A long and insightful read with abundant testimony from Russians.
"This guy surprised me. He understood that a real war was going on, civilians were dying and that war was terrible. At the same time, he fully supported the "operation". He was aware that he was being shown a propaganda picture on TV, but he believed it. These conflicting understandings seemed to live in different parts of his consciousness, not clinging to each other and not giving rise to any doubts.

People could not admit the thought that we had unleashed a terrible war, and were ready to invent any explanation in order to protect the image of good selves. Why were they so reluctant? Why was it unbearable for them to be wrong? It seemed to me that this is due to the ancient belief in a just world. The lack of justice seemed to deprive them of hope for happiness.

It was clear that they live in a picture of absolute rightness, which becomes more armored, the more terrible everything around becomes. To defend their case, they have to present everything in black and white.

I myself, when I heard about the war, had exactly the same reaction - only from the other side. I also found myself reluctant to listen to testimonies that do not agree well with my views: for example, about residents who are really happy about the invasion, or about Ukrainian soldiers shooting wounded prisoners. The nuances destroyed the psyche, they were physically ill. In this situation, simplicity was needed.

I was very afraid of being wrong. It seemed to devalue all my ideals. I was afraid that some strangers would forcefully impose on me. It seems to me that everyone now feels this threat and defends themselves as best they can."
posted by Rumple at 12:26 AM on April 25 [15 favorites]


If it brings the war and Putin's regime to an end it is an unalloyed good. I hope the Ukrainians are exploring all options and exploiting all possibilities for bringing the war to Russia.

This attitude is why the US haS been loathe to agree to a no fly zone or hand over air frames. As Putin says, it's really not all that far from northeast Ukraine to Moscow, and taking the war there would be simultaneously just and catastrophic. Fortunately I don't think Ukrainian leadership is quite as brash as you are today.
posted by pwnguin at 12:33 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


In addition to the fires, Ukrainians (or local resistance) sabotaged rail lines inside of Russia. Again.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:48 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Well, it seems either the Ukrainians are feeling a bit more "brash" today than previously, or there's a very significant and escalating problem with Russian industrial fire safety.

Tonight's fire is in Bryansk, about 65mi from the Ukrainian border. That's well within range of a Scarab B, of which Ukraine may have hundreds (and has seemingly not used heavily so far).

Or it could just be "bad wiring" again...
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:58 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]


One of the fires is at a depot/refinery serviced by the Druzhba pipeline, the only pipeline that sends Russian oil to Europe.

Well, we can probably rule out German involvement there.
posted by acb at 1:12 AM on April 25 [5 favorites]


Fortunately I don't think Ukrainian leadership is quite as brash as you are today

This thinking pushes responsibility of keeping the destruction within the borders of Ukraine unfairly onto Ukraine. Other nations may have an interest in keeping the war 'neat', but, precisely because of that, Ukraine has few choices: it's between a rock and a hard place.

Additionally, the war is already in Moscow. The war began there, it continues there; the war is Moscow and Moscow is the war.
posted by UN at 1:28 AM on April 25 [23 favorites]


I was wondering earlier how vulnerable those oil and gas pipelines are. Is it hard to severely disrupt them? I know that i.e. railroads are easy to disrupt, but are also quick and easy to repair, provided you don't blow up bridges or tunnels or mess up the signalling system. How about those pipelines?
posted by Harald74 at 1:42 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Belsat is reporting that the mother of a Ukrainian POV got a ransom demand (5K euro) from his Russian captors or the next video will be of his execution. One of Zelenskiy's advisors commented that the Russian Army is more and more like ISIS every day.

(Content warning: video of the young Ukrainian POV giving his name and rank plus showing that he's being held in very spartan conditions.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:47 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Harald74 I posted a comment re exactly this a while back. Thete was some constructive comments following
posted by unearthed at 2:07 AM on April 25


Harald74: Is it hard to severely disrupt them?

The vital parts of those pipe lines are the pumping (oil) / compressor (gas) stations. Damage anywhere along the pipes itself, unless you blow up several kilometers of them, is a comparatively minor repair. Shut off the oil/gas flow, cut out the damaged section, weld a new length of pipe in place, resume operations. Of course that would still take several days at least, and a week or two or more if the area is hard to access. Pipes, even of the sizes used, are pretty generic and are more or less 'off the shelf' parts (obviously you would need a big shelf). Even making a pipe of the required size is quite straightforward, and stocking sufficient lengths of the most common sizes is not a costly affair.

Destroying compressors and pumps, and their peripheral infrastructure is much more disruptive. Especially if they are large capacity, which means powerful, which means expensive. Russia may have sufficient replacement units, but not in one place and near the damaged site. On the other hand, those pumping stations usually have some transport infrastructure, making it easier to bring replacement gear in than when fixing a pipe break beyond трахнуть бомжа, Magadan oblast.
posted by Stoneshop at 2:36 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]


… the eventual history of this conflict, provided we hear all of it, or at least much more of what has gone on on both sides, is going to be fascinating. In the meantime, I’m happy not to know all the details, especially if that helps maintain any kind of OpSec. My sincere hope (which I believe is a majority opinion here and perhaps generally outside of Russia) is for Ukraine to destroy the Russian army and help precipitate the overthrow of Putin. If that takes not talking about rocket strikes in Russia or other sabotage actions, I’m cool like that. (Also it’s a kinda fucked double standard, right, riding on the implicate threat of the nooks, that ‘we’ can invade ‘you’ but ‘you’re’ not ‘allowed’ to attack us. No, fuck that and Putin and his miserable army.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:04 AM on April 25 [7 favorites]


Enter the darkness and find people in it. Why do Russians support the war? Shura Burtin's research. (Google translate into English link).

An important read, even if the Google translation is sometimes a little stilted. This closing observation will sit with me for a while:

People in Russia are accustomed to consider war as a sacred experience that can wash away everything and return them to some kind of true meaning, to themselves. They think that the war will free them from what they find themselves in. The whole country repeats the words about "denazification", "demilitarization" and "liberation". The thought arises that these words did not arise by chance. People really subconsciously want it, but they can't get it. And they express it in the form of aggression towards those whom they consider as similar to themselves as possible. Russia is doing to Ukraine what it would like to do to itself.
posted by rory at 5:39 AM on April 25 [20 favorites]


How about those pipelines?

The Druzhba pipeline runs through Ukraine or Poland. It'll have pumping stations along the whole length. Disrupting the flow is as simple as turning off a valve at any of those stations.
posted by Mitheral at 5:49 AM on April 25


Pipeline Operating Fundamentals - Assoc. of Oil Pipelines

Animated explainer on Natural Gas Pipeline Operations (including control centers, from Spectra Energy)
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:56 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I know that i.e. railroads are easy to disrupt

Derailed train!
In addition to the fire at the arms depot and munitions storage in Bryansk, it appears that the part of the railway that transports Russian armor into Ukraine was damaged as well

Notes in the replies suggest this is due to inadequate drainage, not sabotage.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:07 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


The Druzhba pipeline runs through Ukraine or Poland. It'll have pumping stations along the whole length. Disrupting the flow is as simple as turning off a valve at any of those stations.

Only the Southern Druzhba runs through Ukraine. The pipeline is a single pipeline in Russia and Belarus until Mazyr where it splits into the northern and southern segments. The southern flows into Ukraine, on to Brody and beyond through Ukraine but the northern keeps to Belarus before entering Poland.

If Ukraine wants to unilaterally stop Russian oil flows on both pipelines it has to stop it before Mazyr.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:07 AM on April 25


Your Childhood Pet Rock: If Ukraine wants to unilaterally stop Russian oil flows on both pipelines it has to stop it before Mazyr.

Mazyr is about 400km west of Bryansk, so downstream.

It's as yet unclear whether it's a pumping station in Bryansk which was hit, or a refinery/storage facility which would be on a branch and not part of the flow.
posted by Stoneshop at 6:21 AM on April 25


Five railway stations in central and western Ukraine were hit by Russian airstrikes in the space of one hour on Monday, as the war grinds on relentlessly in the south and east of the country. From The Guardian
posted by Bella Donna at 6:31 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


on the other hand, you can kinda say the same thing about Hitler basically any time before, oh, 1933 or so.

I think we're basically on the same page. Putin seems to be in about that mid-1930s Hitler stage and he is definitely the same kind of threat. His action definitely need to be taken seriously, probably more seriously because he's not smart enough to see the writing on the wall and his delicate little ego won't let him change course.

But on the individual level this guy is bathing in antler juice, sitting at comically long and comically short tables, and keeps making blunder after blunder. Costly, senseless blunders, but blunders nonetheless. The weird table stuff is either weird on purpose or just weird because Putin has weird ideas about how the world works and places great importance on dumb shit that does not matter. This guy thinks he's playing 3D chess but he's just playing checkers.

If he's doing something weird, I think explanations that assume he's just kinda dumb and very weird fit better than secret messages in Morse code or subtle manipulations that only make sense once the master plan is revealed.

Hippos are weird, big, dumb, and violent. That's what makes them so dangerous.
posted by VTX at 6:58 AM on April 25 [9 favorites]


@HansWorldTravis:
#Bryansk oil/fuel depots explosions APR 24...

1. At RU military depot (fuel tanks)

2. Rail Tanker Car Loading Faility for oil ... this serviced by tap pipeline & pumping station off the main Druhzba Pipeline network that continues to the #Mazryr refinery in #Belarus.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:58 AM on April 25


The NYT has a nice article on railway sabotage by pro-Ukraine activists in Belarus.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:58 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Maybe Putin is a shrewd strategist, but the brain tumour that has been gradually taking over from him is not.
posted by acb at 7:09 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Claimed Kremlin leak that Putin's attendance of Easter service -- which is being scrutinized by tabloid [Daily Mail; fair warning] and Internet diagnosticians for signs of infirmity-- was separately filmed and composited. Of course, that could be for security purposes too. (or this could be dress rehearsal.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:14 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


@UAWeapons, which I've seen on a number of respectable Twitter lists and seems to be fairly accurate, is indicating that they think, based on info from their "sources", that the Bryansk fires were caused by our old friend the Bayraktar. Short thread.
posted by jammer at 7:18 AM on April 25


This morning's fire is brought to you by the letter У, for the Air Force base in Ussuriysk, Russia.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:23 AM on April 25


can't read that without a login, snuffleupagus, what's it say?
posted by tigrrrlily at 7:30 AM on April 25


Fire at a base just outside of Vladivostok. Move by Japan?
posted by sammyo at 7:35 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


The base is home to the 322nd Aircraft Repair Plant.

Newsvl.ru story (2019)
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:49 AM on April 25


@spook_info * :Explosions at the State Security committee building in Tiraspol, Transnistria. Direct image link.

*CW: this account posts a great deal of graphic material.

I'm reading increasing speculation that some of these may be false flags to justify some kind of further escalation.
(Such as this one, or the distant airbase.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:45 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Fire at a base just outside of Vladivostok. Move by Japan?

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.
posted by Stoneshop at 9:34 AM on April 25 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I wonder how much room for explodey fires there is when you start rummaging around your military stores that you haven't maintained for a decade, and if that's what's causing some of it...

Claimed Kremlin leak that Putin's attendance of Easter service -- which is being scrutinized by tabloid [Daily Mail; fair warning] and Internet diagnosticians for signs of infirmity-- was separately filmed and composited. Of course, that could be for security purposes too.

Unlikely, since there are corroborating photographs.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:39 AM on April 25 [5 favorites]


Zelensky's powerful Easter speech and prayer, inside Kyiv's St. Sophia's Cathedral:
[Original] [Lower quality but with English subtitles]
posted by Kabanos at 10:04 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Another fire in Bryansk....

agricultural product plant this time. possibly spread of the other fires?
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:15 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]




The Sims games have been targeted in Russia for LGBTQ content. I could see them wanting to associate them with Nazis. Decadent weak West, etc. (that said I can't read Russian so it could be as funny as that)
posted by tigrrrlily at 10:29 AM on April 25 [4 favorites]


AP: Live updates | UN chief, Turkish leader discuss Ukraine

The interesting bit is under "Other Developments"
STOCKHOLM — Two newspapers - one Swedish, the other one Finnish - are reporting that the governments of Sweden and Finland have agreed to submit NATO applications at the same time and that it will happen in the middle of next month.

The Finnish newspaper Iltalehti said that the Swedish government has expressed a wish to Finland that they apply together in the week starting May 22 and Swedish government sources confirmed the information to Sweden’s Expressen tabloid
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:41 AM on April 25 [6 favorites]


Admittedly oil refineries do catch on fire more often than you probably hear about. The one in Philadelphia was on fire twice, without making the news, a few days before it dramatically exploded, but they were unrelated. So I could imagine some (not all) of these are just getting attention because people are looking for fires that no one paid attention to previously.
posted by sepviva at 10:56 AM on April 25 [12 favorites]


Is it wrong that I kind of want to see an entire unit comprised of only LGBTQ soldiers and officers get together and go rampaging through Russian lines? It's not necessary but it would be poetic.
posted by VTX at 11:25 AM on April 25 [6 favorites]


Chuck Tingle is working on Pounded in the Butt by the Fabulous Brigade as we speak.
posted by fatbird at 11:30 AM on April 25 [7 favorites]


Is it wrong that I kind of want to see an entire unit comprised of only LGBTQ soldiers and officers get together and go rampaging through Russian lines? It's not necessary but it would be poetic.

We're here. We're queer. Get used to… being treated fairly under the Geneva Conventions.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:32 AM on April 25 [31 favorites]


> false flags to justify some kind of further escalation

To justify what, a ground invasion? Indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure? Bombing a maternity hospital?

If the Russians are conducting false-flag attacks it would seem to be indicative of a significant escalation in concern over perceptions of the war at home.

Personally I think the "false flag!" thing is overplayed. I think the two more likely scenarios are (1) it actually is related to Ukraine in some way, and is being caused by (1A) Ukrainian assets doing their jobs very well, or (1B) very unhappy Russians; however the other scenario that should be considered is (2) pure confirmation bias. Nobody was paying attention to industrial fires in Russia prior to the last few weeks, so there's really no baseline for how common these things are. Russia is a big place, and apparently they don't do sprinkler systems (I guess). Shit seems to just catch on fire there a lot.

Also as an addendum to scenario 1B (unhappy Russians), apparently the aircraft repair facility outside Vladivostok just went to a mandatory 2-day workweek and laid off a significant number of personnel. So they could also have some unhappy former employees with knowledge of the plant and an interest in watching it burn just out of spite.

When you cut off all other avenues for protest and airing of grievances, eventually an overturned bucket of paint thinner and a match starts to look awful attractive.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:33 AM on April 25 [19 favorites]


To justify what, a ground invasion? Indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure? Bombing a maternity hospital?

General mobilization.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:37 AM on April 25 [11 favorites]


Does this mean that military bases, weapons stockpiles, weapons research facilities, oil refineries and such in Russia been catching fire and exploding due to corruption/poor maintenance/miscellaneous dysfunction since the Yeltsin years, only we haven't noticed because Russia wasn't waging full-scale wars in neighbouring countries, only growling menacingly, hosting troll farms and ransomware gangs, and running the odd frozen conflict somewhere?

If a Russian military facility explodes when there's no war on, does it make a sound?
posted by acb at 11:53 AM on April 25 [12 favorites]


when there's no war on, does it make a sound?

This is a good point -- but wouldn't that suddenly elevated attention have been in place since the invasion? Maybe the more serious OSINT operations are looking at that now (like bellingcat).

But the Air Force and space institute, plus a reported grenade launcher attack in Transnistria? Frayed wiring doesn't launch RPGs.

I do think 1(B) is a real possibility. They can't stand it, and they know who planned it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:00 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Is it wrong that I kind of want to see an entire unit comprised of only LGBTQ soldiers and officers get together and go rampaging through Russian lines? It's not necessary but it would be poetic.


I want Zelenskyy to play a piano in his own special way in Sevastopol at the conclusion of this war.
posted by ocschwar at 12:00 PM on April 25 [7 favorites]


À propos of domestic explosions, let’s not forget the special operations that materially “justified” the war to raize Chechnya…
posted by progosk at 12:33 PM on April 25 [11 favorites]


Let's face it, that piano number was immensely more entertaining than Putin singing Blueberry Hill. One of these men has a sense of timing and it's not Putin.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:36 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


flagged as WTF?!!
posted by mazola at 12:45 PM on April 25


acb: If a Russian military facility explodes when there's no war on, does it make a sound?

Krasnoyarsk definitely did. As well as the Tyuratam catastrophe, although there was a 30-year delay between that explosion and its sound.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:50 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Refugee update, since it's been a while: 1 million people have applied for Polish ID numbers, necessary to access most public services (though not urgent healthcare), so that's a good measure of how many people are foreseeing staying in Poland for more than a few months. You hear a lot of Ukrainian everywhere. The big influx is over, but the fatigue is setting in, like when people were overambitious with hosting big families in their own small flats, so the host-match organisations are still busy finding new spaces for refugees, especially since the big relief centres are supposed to close by the end of April.

The biggest metropolitan governments in Poland ordered a geotrapping study that revealed Warsaw is still leading with 266 thousand new people, but it's also the biggest town so the strain on services of an extra 15% of population is nowhere as big as in Rzeszów, which with 100 thousand Ukrainians ballooned by half its pre-war size. Wrocław's population grew by a third with 187 thousand Ukrainians joining the victims of post-WWII mandatory population movement from what is now Ukraine - Wrocław is known as West Lviv for that reason. The other post-WWII migration destination was Gdansk, which has now welcomed 157 thousand Ukrainians.

As a result of the war, after many years of slow decline Poland's population has exceeded 40 million for the first time ever. It previously peaked at 38.6 in 2000 - it was 34.8 before WWII, and it took us until the mid-70s to make up for the 11 million citizens lost to fighting, war crimes, Shoah, deportations, political exile and changing borders.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:59 PM on April 25 [29 favorites]


Maybe this is a silly question, but not understanding the subtleties of some of the forms, I am curious: has Ukraine declared war on Russia in response to its invasion?

Obviously, by any reasonable assessment a state of war exists between the two nations, but Russia insists on describing it as a "Special Military Operation".

I can see obvious disadvantages to officially declaring war on a belligerent nuclear power, but I can also see some advantages in undercutting the official Russian propaganda line. However, I suspect the question of whether to make it official is in fact a very complicated one. Can anyone tell me what would be the likely effects of such a declaration?
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:00 PM on April 25


Declarations of war were typically required by the aggressor or initiator or the war. There's little reason for Ukraine to make one except to go beyond what self-defense would allow; and by doing so Ukraine would relieve Russia of whatever self-imposed restraints it is operating under to maintain the pretense of this being a 'special operation.'
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:11 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Nerd of the North: but I can also see some advantages in undercutting the official Russian propaganda line.

Russian domestic messaging will change to "Now those filthy gay Nazis have declared war on us! How dare they! We were fully justified trying to get ahead of that!"

And except for the incorrigible Tankies the Western world will see it as just an official label on what's already a de-facto war. Maybe there's some political details that will now matter more, or less, but seeing what is already being done I doubt it'll make a lot of difference in practice.

Declarations of war were typically required by the aggressor or initiator or the war.

Om 10 May 1940 the Netherlands and Belgium declared war on Germany after German forces had entered their territories without, as far as I understand it, a formal declaration of war on their part. Denmark and Norway had been invaded by Germany earlier, also without a formal declaration of war, and the USSR too had a habit of shooting first and declaring war later.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:46 PM on April 25


Russian domestic messaging will change to "Now those filthy gay Nazis have declared war on us! How dare they! We were fully justified trying to get ahead of that!"
Well, the alternative, if Ukraine acts against any strategic resources inside Russian territory (rail infrastructure, roads and bridges, power or gas substations, supply depots, etc) is that Russian propaganda will be vehemently denouncing "Ukrainian terrorists" and their dastardly unprovoked attacks upon the Holy Russian Motherland. Since there are inklings of this happening with the rash of unexplained fires, my curiosity has been piqued.

Of course the Russian propaganda is already completely unhinged, so it's not as though they are incapable of pushing either of those narratives, or any other, regardless of facts on the ground.

Presumably refraining from a declaration plays into Ukrainian strategic objectives or they would have done otherwise by now.. They seem to be waging a very savvy war on the international media front so I must conclude they have considered many options and decided on this for reasons. I just am interested in what those reasons might be.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:11 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Netherlands and Belgium declared war on Germany after German forces had entered their territories without, as far as I understand it, a formal declaration of war on their part.

Indeed, but defenders aren't obliged to declare war to defend themselves. Under older customary rules there may have been advantages to doing so; the establishment of the UN theoretically did away with the need, unless you wanted to abandon that system and formally declare your own war aims beyond self defense, along with the causus belli beyond defense (broadly speaking). The other reason would be to invoke defense treaty obligations that allies don't have to honor without formal declaration by at least one side.

---

Kyiv Independent -- Ukrainian intelligence: Russia behind false-flag operation in Transnistria.


@Liveuamap -- Russian FM Lavrov has asserted that NATO is engaged in a proxy war with Russia by the extent of its material support for Ukraine, such as provision of Mi-17 helicopters among other items.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:27 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


The Kyiv Independent
⚡️Lavrov: 'Real risk' of nuclear war.

The risk of a nuclear war shouldn’t be underestimated, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state-controlled media. Lavrov earlier said that if World War III were to take place, it would involve nuclear weapons and be destructive.
posted by clavdivs at 2:57 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Re: declarations of war, I think folks tend to put a bit too much meaning into them. There's a somewhat romantic mental image of the Good Old Days when respectable peoples would go "... and for these reasons, we hereby declare war upon you!" before initiating combat, but historically, even during more chivalrous times, cases where that happened are far outnumbered by those where it didn't.

By my understanding, the main international agreement relating to declarations of war is the 1907 Hague Convention Relative to the Opening of Hostilities, which is a rather terse document that basically states that hostilities must not commence without explicit previous warning. That's about it.

Folks sometimes talk about a formal declaration of war being required to, eg, gain the protections of the Geneva Conventions, but I think most or all of them contain wording of a form similar to, "the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them"

Similarly, nothing relating to declaration of war pertains to your status as a lawful or "unlawful combatant", unless you take a very generous interpretation of Article 4 of the convention on POWs which says that to gain that protected state you must, inter alia, conduct your "operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war".

Beyond all else, I think, a declaration of war is a propaganda tool, to be used when advantageous and discarded when not. The question of whether a "declared war" exists between Ukraine and Russia, and what merits and demerits of Ukraine issuing a formal declaration would be is an interesting one, but again, purely from the perspective of propaganda.

(Which, I think, is the spirit in which the question was raised, and the international law aspect may be orthogonal to that. But I figured I'd mention the above here in case discussions started to wander further into the legal areas that might be affected by such a declaration. And because I'm a nerd about such things. But I'm not a diplomat or expert on international law, just an interested amateur, so everything I say here should be taken with that against it.)
posted by jammer at 3:11 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


Also sort of beside the point, but playing a role in which wars were or weren't declared historically, are domestic considerations -- a nation's internal law, military structure & forces available w/o mobilizing, money for the war, politics. Go back far enough and there were probably religious considerations, though that's not something I know much about. (Except that Rome gets mad when you go around declaring on other nations in Crusader Kings.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:19 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's a good point, and similar to one I meant to make then forgot about and didn't want to repeat-post over. There may well be some domestic relevance within a state itself to a declaration of war. (Sort of like how in the US, under the War Powers Act, the President has limited room to maneuver without authorization of Congress, but that authorization isn't required to be a formal Declaration of War. The last time the US Congress issued a document with those words specifically was WW2).

Another thing worth mentioning might be possible mutual defense treaties between nations that may require a formal declaration to trigger, but that's probably getting into so many special cases it would be hard to talk definitively about them in the space available, and without significant research. :D
posted by jammer at 3:32 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


kind of want to see an entire unit comprised of only LGBTQ soldiers

There’s no dedicated unit, but the Ukrainian government has gone out of their way to celebrate the diversity of their soldiers. Including their gay soldiers. Zelenskyy has made efforts, even prewar, to push back on homophobia in the country.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 3:36 PM on April 25 [14 favorites]


Another thing worth mentioning might be possible mutual defense treaties between nations that may require a formal declaration to trigger

Some of those treaties have been historically secret or kept in the shadows. One example is Lend-lease, another, the current war in Ukraine were many countries are furnishing weapons without a formal defence alliance. Declaration of war is obsolete since the Japanese delivered thier formal Declaration two hours after Pearl. They intended to deliver it but we're having communication problems in decoding.
posted by clavdivs at 3:53 PM on April 25


Here is an interesting interview with a military analyst from Azerbaijan. He suggests that Ukraine might be shifting to offensive operations in a few as 2 weeks time. He also think Russia will not be able to organize any significant offensive in the Donbas anytime soon. He notes that organizing 100,000 soldiers to be able to do anything effectively isn’t a quick process, not something they can assemble in a few days after pulling out of Kyiv. He also noted that the tunnels under the Astoval Steel mill were built by the Soviets to withstand a siege and a nuclear strike. Finally he thinks that Russia won’t be able to mobilize any more soldiers without shifting to a total national mobilizations — something that is probably too expensive to be possible to pull off
posted by interogative mood at 3:54 PM on April 25 [11 favorites]


Here's an unfortunate incident to add to the list of "accidents". The Ukrainian town of Kreminna fell to the Russians a few days ago. Occupiers and collaborators held a meeting in the mayor's office. Sadly, the gas lines were faulty and the meeting was interrupted by an explosion. Which killed most of the attendees.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 4:03 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


One of the things I've found myself wondering about was how "we" (meaning the US in particular, but NATO nations in general) are able to provide so much non-NATO materiel to Ukraine. Do we have warehouses of Soviet-spec munitions sitting around waiting for such a case?

Turns out the answer, naturally, is defense contractors who specialize in brokering deals with manufacturers of legacy Soviet-era weaponry in former eastern bloc nations for the armies of our various client states.

Apparently, Romania, Bosnia, Serbia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Bulgaria provide about 90% of "non-standard ammunition" purchased by the Pentagon. TIL.
posted by jammer at 4:32 PM on April 25 [11 favorites]


And except for the incorrigible Tankies the Western world will see it as just an official label on what's already a de-facto war. Maybe there's some political details that will now matter more, or less, but seeing what is already being done I doubt it'll make a lot of difference in practice.
A while back, I read somewhere that a formal declaration of war would allow Russia (by their own law) to do things like call up more troops and retain those conscripts who otherwise would have just left after their (pretty short, IIRC) mandatory service time was up.

Of course, several caveats (e.g. don't remember where I read this; don't know if it's even true or not; lol @ the idea of "Russian law" applying to Russia), but it seems like that, together with riling up the "we are under attack" mentality of the population further, would not be nothing.
posted by Flunkie at 4:32 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Since it seems potentially relevant to Lavrov's latest noisemaking and the question of whether any of these incidents may be false flags, from what I can see under Russia's system the Duma has to approve a declaration of martial law and that enables general mobilization (as Ukraine did). It's not linked to a diplomatic or parliamentary declaration of war as with the US Constitution (which even the War Powers Act provides avenues around in a 'real' war by letting Congress fund it and continue it without declaring it).

Here's an explainer from March 2022; and a longer 2016 Chatham house paper on what 'mobilization' means for Russia, its date in mind.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:08 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Had not noticed the term 'tankies' prior to this thread/event. It still took several comments before the implication sunk in, but as much as it disturbs me I also started visualizing them as characters in Thomas the Tank Engine universe. (Mean Misguided Tankies, bumped by Thomas)
posted by sammyo at 5:13 PM on April 25 [9 favorites]


Declaration of war is obsolete since the Japanese delivered thier formal Declaration two hours after Pearl.

Well, except for that whole pesky "the last time the US actually declared war was after Pearl Harbor when they entered into WWII" thing.

Everything else since then hasn't actually been "a war". Officially, anyway.

(Was the post 9/11 declaration one of war, or one of retribution and military action? I forget at this point.)
posted by hippybear at 5:15 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


That's correct, the US hasn't formally declared war since WWII; when FDR insisted. Everything else has been various forms of an authorization of military action.

From that Chatham House paper:
"Mobilization preparation is also illustrated in the February 2013 article by Valeriy Gerasimov, which many in the West have interpreted as the centrepiece of the so-called ‘Gerasimov doctrine’ and a portent of ‘hybrid war’. At the start of the article, he suggests that in the 21st century the world has ‘seen a tendency towards blurring the lines between the states of war and peace. Wars are no longer declared’. Yet as he indicates later in the article, this is not new: he quotes the Soviet military theoretician Georgy Isserson, who stated before the Second World War that ‘war in general is not declared, it simply begins with already developed military forces’"
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:22 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


The governor of Luhansk Oblast: "Light, gas and water supply can no longer be restored in Popasna, Rubizhne, part of the villages of the Mountain Community - the infrastructure there is almost destroyed." Kyiv Independent; CNN.

A woman fleeing Popasna, a city of 20,000: "Popasna city is completely destroyed. We have nowhere to go back. ... We had everything, now we have nothing. Nothing. No buildings, nothing. The city is completely destroyed. The city is flattened. When we were evacuating it was terrifying."
posted by rory at 5:30 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


Maybe this is better as an Ask, but I'll risk it for the informed audience.
Watching recommended YouTube 'Russia has already lost the war' videos the other day, I heard a word I hadn't heard in a while: Intermarium.
In the context of 'not only have they blown it with their Russkiy Mir plan, but they've made it worse for themselves by increasing support for things like the Three Seas Initiative*'.

What is/would be local opinions on Ukraine becoming part of the TSI, post war? Would that be overestimating de-russified Slavic brotherhood?

*the axis of Western European infrastructure and power mostly runs horizontally east-west; Eastern Europe often gets left out because it goes vertical north-south. The Three Seas Initiative is an idea to develop transport, trade, and communications links between the countries of the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black seas.
Less a defense Reverse Warsaw Pact than an Eastern European Union, pooling resources to build up railways, highways, and fiber optic cables all along the way between Talinn and Tirana. Belarus tractors increasing yields in Moldovan vineyards, producing wine for Lithuanians honeymooning in Split; a Polish airline with Ukrainian jet engines, Romanian avionics and Czech flight crews.
Is that just wishful thinking?
posted by bartleby at 5:33 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


Yes “we” as in NATO / America have warehouses of old Soviet stuff sitting around. The former Warsaw Pact members that have joined NATO inherited tons of prepositioned equipment when the USSR collapsed. We also bought a lot of Russian and Soviet stuff to give to the Iraqis and the Afghans because they were familiar with those weapons. The ammo and helicopters intended for Afghanistan has been rerouted to Ukraine.
posted by interogative mood at 5:44 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


The Luhansk mayors statement; which coroborates reports that have trickled in on Twitter:
Light, gas and water supply can no longer be restored in Popasna, Rubizhne, part of the villages of the Mountain Community - the infrastructure there is almost destroyed. The Russians are destroying substations and pumping stations, seizing settlements, and then they can't repair anything there. "Russian Peace" deprives locals of gas, water and light - they live these months and a half, like most Russians all their lives. So, yesterday the enemy damaged a high-voltage line with a voltage of 300 kV. The accident is quite serious - the light disappeared in more than 200 settlements, temporarily occupied. Light, gas and water supply will no longer be restored in Popasna, Rubizhne, and parts of the villages of the Mountain Community controlled by Ukraine - the infrastructure there is almost destroyed. [Can] not repair until the end of hostilities.


Deputy Ukrainian PM Iryna Vereshchuk (via Denis Kazakiewicz, @Den_2042):
“We expected more support from the Red Cross, the UN and the OSCE”
"The OSCE staff cannot perform their duties "sitting in Lviv".
"There is now a humanitarian catastrophe in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk regns: there is no water, electricity and food..."


I've heard some mention between Europeans on Twitter that there are political issues within Bulgaria as to what they're willing to supply.

Bloomberg's article: NATO Member Bulgaria Sits Out Race to Ship Weapons to Ukraine [4/21]
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:04 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Would Russian forces respect a relief convoy made up of UN blue helmets? Any history there?
posted by bartleby at 6:11 PM on April 25


Would Russian forces respect
Lemme stop you right there.
posted by Flunkie at 6:18 PM on April 25 [34 favorites]


"The OSCE staff cannot perform their duties "sitting in Lviv".

So one of the things that we are really seeing is that the multitude of non-governmental organizations that have sprung up in kind of the last 50 years or so have really grown accustomed to a certain collection of circumstances, and the war in Ukraine is making it obvious how much those circumstances are an absolute failure - definitely in Ukraine, but probably also for other areas that are not as comfortable speaking up.

He's polite about it, but the brutality of this war and the asks from donors for a shift in focus to Ukraine has meant that an absolute metric fuck ton of organizations have shifted operations to Lviv, and are talking about how they are "helping the Ukrainian people" - most of which are in need outside of Lviv, which is currently very much comparatively safe.

This is for a couple reasons, and some of them I think are understandable, and some of them I think are less so.

First: a number of these organizations get their donations by essentially promising to go the furthest, the hardest, to the most dangerous places. So of course, their donors are like 'why aren't you there? Go there!' But in many cases, their funding model relies on these places not actually being as dangerous for their volunteers and primary staff as people think they are. They usually go to areas with unevenly applied forces, where the major combatant power has no need to attack them, except by accident. The current war in Ukraine is incredibly dangerous for people who are even heading near the front lines. Indiscriminate artillery. The Russians attacking rail stations and regular villages. The Russians shooting at cars with press and medical support. It is intensely and immensely dangerous - and these organizations cannot be certain that if they set up in a forward location, that their entire forward operation will not be destroyed in one go. So you get these organizations fundraising on the basis of Ukraine, but using tricky legal shifts to ensure that they don't have to actually spend those funds in Ukraine (Doctors Without Borders, for example, says 'We can't guarantee your funds go to Ukraine but donate to our emergency fund!) - because they can't, because they don't have major operations active in Ukraine.

Secondly, these organizations, in my opinion, mainly rely on serving a population that cannot communicate their grievances in English with a wide social media reach. I'm sure there have been a ton of complaints about these organizations in other areas - but a lot of Ukrainians speak English and they are pros at social media, currently calling out these organizations for promising the world and not delivering. They're right to ask where the International Red Cross is. They're right to ask why humanitarian food supplies are not being delivered to places that need them. Most likely other people would have been right too - but they wouldn't have been able to communicate as loudly.

Most of the real bravery that I've seen from NGOs in this war has been small operations that started as a few people with a plan and took themselves in their on a dime and a dream. They don't have to answer to donors, they don't have to guarantee they'll be bringing in more funds than they spend, and they're all voluntarily risking their lives. Heroyam slava - but those are not the institutions.
posted by corb at 6:25 PM on April 25 [34 favorites]


UN blue helmets? Any history there?

No blue helmet mission is going to be authorized by the Security Council without a veto, and overriding it requires 2/3 of the General Assembly....Ruling out NATO acting as NATO, that leaves the EU as the existing international body that has at least the theoretical framework for such a mission.

But the EU has its own spoilers; including at least Germany, Hungary and Austria. Sounds like Bulgaria too. And since Ukraine is not a member, I don't know how international law would view even a humanitarian mission if done unilaterally. (Russia would obviously call it veiled colonial imperialism, evidence of ingrained European Rusophobia, etc. -- but I don't know if they would actually be willing to strike EU relief convoys; I guess maybe Berlin is history there.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:29 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


Less a defense Reverse Warsaw Pact than an Eastern European Union, pooling resources to build up railways, highways, and fiber optic cables all along the way between Talinn and Tirana. Belarus tractors increasing yields in Moldovan vineyards, producing wine for Lithuanians honeymooning in Split; a Polish airline with Ukrainian jet engines, Romanian avionics and Czech flight crews.
Is that just wishful thinking?


There's only one thing about this idea that's not made immensely better by just joining those nations into the EU itself: the euro. An intermarium lets them have a customs union without their interest rate policies being decided in Brussels.

Everything else: why not have Belarussian tractors improving yields in Portugal? Danish honeymooners in Split? Irish airline with Ukie engines et cetera. The whole region merged into Schengen? There's one good reason not to: the euro. And one bad reason: Russian veto.
posted by ocschwar at 6:37 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


these organizations cannot be certain that if they set up in a forward location, that their entire forward operation will not be destroyed in one go.

One encouraging example, at least: @natemook, update on 4/16 after a World Central Kitchen location in Kharkiv was hit by a missile. The org has not left Kharkiv, and distributed treats on Easter despite continued attacks. (Although they do seem to be more active in Kyiv, Odesa and Lviv.)

the euro

better than the rouble! (or crypto.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:42 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


corb, that reminds me of several interviews with people in the Ukrainian foreign legion. Not even the ones who got a quick look and went home, but people who were staying to fight. They seemed unanimous that it was an intensity of fighting they had never experienced, despite having substantial combat time in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. So I'm not surprised the big international organizations are staying out of the contested areas... but of course, those are areas where people desperately need help.
posted by tavella at 7:19 PM on April 25 [8 favorites]


tavella, do you have links to any of those handy? I'd be very interested in seeing commentary from trained warriors who have the perspective of both fighting there and in other contemporary conflicts to get a real feel for how this one is "different", beyond the things that are obvious at a distance.
posted by jammer at 7:25 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Add to the ever-growing list of atrocities: the use of flechette ammunition against civilian targets.
posted by jammer at 7:41 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]



Okay, I have no mouth and I must scream. (Or, I'm too tired and strung out to be writing this properly, but I must write this.)

I've been in renewables since 2015. Which means I've taken some professional interest in power grid and smart grid security issues since about that time. And just before the war I finally got my chance to be doing something in the far vague periphery of that space, which mean studying the Kyiv hacks of 2015/2016 now. So about that stuff...

SCADA sabotage is not an easy thing to arrange. It's one thing to get a shell on a computer and exfiltrate data. It's particularely easty when it's a consumer grade computer and you know exactly where to find the data of interest. But using a SCADA system to cause physical damage requires a lot of local knowledge, and in this context security by obscurity does work. SCADA systems are designed to perform a narrow range of operations. That range is then narrowed further on installation for a local context. A SCADA instruction that is outside the normal operating range of a system will generally receive a resonse code ranging from
E_LOL_SRSLY, E_LOL_WHUT, E_NOPE_NOPE_NOPE, or E_RUSSIAN_SCRIPT_KIDDIE_GO_FUCK_YOURSELF.

To actually break things with a tampered SCADA system, you have to replicate the environment you want to work in, with as much fidelty as you can, get the most educated guess you can on the range of operations the SCADA system is configured to allow, and then test, test, test. Otherwise, your attack will go off like a damp squib.

Russia needed an environment in which to test that kind of capability for military operations. THey chose Ukraine, which is the worst possible environment they could have chosen with which to try out this kind of attack. They chose Ukraine because Russians appear to have a serious problem with the idea that Ukrainians have agency.

Hacking into Ukrainian facilities in order to develop those skills resulted in Ukrainians taking detailed notes on how to defend against these attacks. Those notes have been shared far and wide. I can only access crumbs from the table that is hosting a feast of lessons learned in Fort Meade and Kyiv. And the harm in Ukraine? A few hours of blackout in a country that is accustomed to them.

That's my main takeaway from this. The more I read about Ukrainian history, the more I note that they spent a few centuries ruled by aristocracies from the Ronaovs, Hapsburgs, and the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth. Instead of forming a nation around an indigenous aristocracy, they formed one around a newborn intelligencia. That explains why they elected as president a man who grew up in the Soviet era rabbit warren in which his parents still live, and who makes a point of wearing military fatigues when and if he needs them, and never with a wall of unearned decorations on his chest. It also explains why Yanukovich had to hide the luxurious house he had before the revolution, while Trump and Putin openly flaunt the same way of life.

It also explains the Russian attitudes. The distinction between Russian and Ukrainian identity has to do not just with location and language but also class. Ukrainians tilled the earth. Russians oversaw it. As a result they are not able to grasp the idea of Ukrainians exercising free agency.
So instead of developing a fearsome offensive capability with SCADA tampering, they ruined their own arsenal of methods by attacking Kyiv too early.

Meanwhile, forget all I said about SCADA systems if they're on Russian soil. With so many corners cut on safety in industrial facilities around the Russian Federation, I suppose their SCADA systems are fully empowered to move fast abd break things, and may be that is the issue behind some recent events.
posted by ocschwar at 7:42 PM on April 25 [43 favorites]


the euro
the Russian veto

Maybe that was part of what I was thinking.
If everyone's tiptoeing around Russian threats of 'ah see, now you've gone and joined the EU/NATO - this of course makes you puppets of the Germans, which means we're going to have to have another Great Patriotic War to liberate and re-Russify you', AND Western European biases*...
Maybe a solution to both might be a Slavs Are Doing It For Themselves buffer zone. (To which Russia is not invited until they can stop pulling a gun everytime someone at the club talks to 'their' girl.)

*I was a bit disturbed by some remarks in an early thread like 'Slavs are used to not being White' and 'I can spot a Slav from 100 meters'. Maybe I'm reading too much into it. I'm sure the tourist income is nice; but I'm less concerned with Danish honeymooners or UK stag parties finding that Eastern Europe has been sufficiently gentrified to standards they find acceptable, than I am about middle-class Lithuanians packing into the family Niva and taking the scenic Trans-Carpathian Highway for a beach holiday in Bulgaria. There's a certain amount of keeping the money re-circulating around the local community, rather than 'you make a Euro from the Germans and then spend it with the French' involved.

If a Euro controlled by Brussels is a problem, how about a Groš or Monero controlled from Prague? Any reason those zones can't overlap?
Trade deals between Slovenia and Slovakia without first needing approval from either Berlin or Moscow?
I'm just ignorantly brainstorming, looking for reasons why 'that'll never work because X'.
posted by bartleby at 8:05 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


ocschwar: you might appreciate this video, Medieval History Of Ukraine [20m], which covers a lot of history (it starts earlier than you expect) and explains a lot about how this area came to have its own identity long before Moscow was even a blip on the world stage.
posted by hippybear at 8:10 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


I'm just ignorantly brainstorming, looking for reasons why 'that'll never work because X'.

EU countries cannot enter trade deals.
posted by ryanrs at 8:13 PM on April 25 [9 favorites]


CNN's Clarissa Ward on Twitter
We spent the day with Kharkiv's incredibly courageous first responders and saw a Russian "double tap" in real time. Watch how they maintain their focus and calm as rockets slam into the building. With incredible team
@BrentSwailsCNN @scottycnn @maria_avdv Richie Deakins


Includes somewhat graphic video.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:37 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]



ocschwar: you might appreciate this video, Medieval History Of Ukraine yt [20m], which covers a lot of history (it starts earlier than you expect) and explains a lot about how this area came to have its own identity long before Moscow was even a blip on the world stage.
posted by hippybear at 8:10 PM on April 25 [1 favorite +] [!]


To be quite honest, I don't care. Even if Ukraine really was just a bunch of Russians who got the chance to nope out and get a good thing going, that would still be reason enough to support them to the hilt.
posted by ocschwar at 8:46 PM on April 25 [15 favorites]


Quite.

From Volodymyr Yermolenko (@yermolenko_v, "Ukrainian philosopher, analyst & journalist, chief editor at @ukraine_world; explaining Ukrainian politics & society in English"):

Some thoughts about Russian imperialism and how naively it is sometimes perceived in the world. A short thread.

[Click to expand]
"I've read recently one famous French philosopher, whom I respect, but who said the following:
1. let's support brave Ukrainian people, but
2. let's not turn away from the great Russian culture: Dostoievsky, Tolstoy, Peter I, Catherine II."

"This is a European naivete in a nutshell.
1. there's a need to critically screen the "great Russian culture" similarly as Western academics screen Western culture. Why? Because you will find a lot more of "imperialism", "colonialism", "orientalism" than you expect.
2.there's an urgent need to look at Russian imperial expansionism soberly and see what it was: cruel, cynical, erasing autochtone cultures, erasing freedom."

"Case study: let's look how "great" Catherine destroyed freedom of Poles, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in a matter of several years, from the 1st partition of Poland (1772), beginning of the 1st annexation of Crimea (1774) to destruction of Ukrainian Zaporizhian Sich (1775)."

"Conclusion: we should stop looking at the history of Eastern Europe with Russian eyes, and through Russian textbooks. Russia is not a nation state but an empire whose cruelty towards its subjects was well documented by these subjects for centuries. It's time to listen to them."
---

A commenter pointed out that when Merkel was leading Germany, her office decorations included a small portrait of Catherine II, as observed here.

posted by snuffleupagus at 8:57 PM on April 25 [14 favorites]


Jammer, I'm afraid I don't have any links handy, these were mostly interviews from a few weeks ago. Possibly you might find some stuff if you google for Ukraine International Legion?
posted by tavella at 9:06 PM on April 25


Nerd of the North: Of course the Russian propaganda is already completely unhinged, so it's not as though they are incapable of pushing either of those narratives, or any other, regardless of facts on the ground.

Either? All of them, and probably simultaneously too.
posted by Stoneshop at 10:23 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


So: from what I'm hearing, a lot of it is about the artillery - Russian artillery can lay down a hurt from over 40 miles away. I know for a lot of us that's "a commute to work", but that's actually an enormous, enormous way in war miles - it means that artillery can shoot from far behind the lines, impervious to anything but other artillery or air attack. Artillery makes it brutally, brutally painful to advance, and means people can die at any time without having ever done a single thing wrong. It also causes massive damage even to the people it doesn't hit - deafening them, causing traumatic brain injury, etc.

...sorry, I don't mean to be depressing, I actually came here to post about the new #natowave on Youtube! Go check it out, it's far more upbeat than my first paragraph.
posted by corb at 10:31 PM on April 25 [13 favorites]


interogative mood: The ammo and helicopters intended for Afghanistan has been rerouted to Ukraine.

Occasionally you can see screens on gear like missile guidance systems operated by Ukrainian forces showing Arab script. But I guess the numbers (and of course the target image) are the relevant part of the info, so it's a good thing we've been using Arab numbers for centuries already.
posted by Stoneshop at 10:51 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


At the risk of being chatty, corb I really appreciate your contributions since, forever.

I've appreciated them as reality checks especially for downstream unintended (more like "unexamined") effects. Thank you.
posted by porpoise at 10:51 PM on April 25 [18 favorites]


I don't know how much of it has been pushed up yet, but a number of the systems supplied recently outrage Russian artillery. Including the PzH 2000, and the Caesar, both which are self propelled (and can shoot and scoot very quickly). And I believe they are both capable of 'multiple round, simultaneous impact' firing (the PzH definitely is). At least one other system too, I forget whose. Sweden's, maybe. They can fire the recent smart artillery shells too, but not sure how much of that is being sent.

There's also the Phoenix Ghost UAV -- which sounds like it's meant to capitalize on the lessons of the Armenian-Azeri war. The elimination of those artillery positions by TB-2 corrected fires was nothing short of brutally one-sided. Disturbing to see even in IR, tbh.

There's also been a lot of speculation that at least some Western MLRS systems are being supplied as well; I don't know if that's been confirmed yet.

And then there's all the towed pieces that have been supplied; plus the surplus Warsaw Pact that is being sent, that Ukraine already had or it has captured. (Including some of the TOS hyberbaric stuff.)

Here's a relevant Oryx update from today, with more details (including about counterbattery radars). Its conclusion: "Ukraine is rapidly assembling one of the most unique artillery arsenals on the planet, showcasing the resolve of NATO members in supporting Ukraine's sovereignty against Russia's belligerence."

Hopefully the Ukrainians will be the ones shooting from out of range of their enemies more often than not.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:52 PM on April 25 [7 favorites]


From CEPA: Vicious Blame Game Erupts Among Putin’s Security Forces

The war in Ukraine sharply divided Russian society. As journalists, we expected to lose many of our contacts in the Russian military and secret services after the invasion began on February 24. After all, it’s one thing to complain to a journalist about corruption in one’s agency, and it’s quite another to speak about the war with those who have taken a public antiwar stand. And indeed, in the first month of the war, some sources refused to answer our calls and messages.

But the situation has now changed dramatically. Last week we began to receive more and more calls and messages from our contacts in the military and in the FSB commenting on our reporting about Sergei Beseda, one of the heads of the Fifth Service of the FSB, who gathers political intelligence on Ukraine and cultivates the pro-Kremlin opposition in Kyiv. The general was sent to the infamous Lefortovo prison in Moscow, which has had a horrible reputation since the Stalin purges — innumerable victims have been murdered in the building’s basement.

The Kremlin has made frantic efforts to hide the details of Beseda’s arrest, going as far as to change the general’s name in prison records. (The Investigative Committee, Russia’s main investigative authority, went so far as to deny the fact of Beseda’s criminal prosecution.)

“Well done!” was a message from our old contacts in Russian Spetsnaz (special forces in the Russian military intelligence.) “All true!” we were told by our contact in the Service of Economic Security of the FSB. Videos about Beseda’s plight have recorded millions of views on Russian YouTube, and were widely debated on pro-Kremlin telegram channels. The rumor mill went wild suggesting that compromising material on Beseda was provided by its rival agency, the foreign intelligence service, the SVR.

posted by cendawanita at 11:07 PM on April 25 [11 favorites]


So: from what I'm hearing, a lot of it is about the artillery
I think so, and would recommend Trent Telenko's giant thread on the subject.
posted by rongorongo at 12:01 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


On the topic of artillery/Ukraine:

What I haven't seen mentioned in the threads is something a combat veteran of a recent war mentioned to me a few weeks ago. In previous wars, artillery strikes were called in by soldiers in close proximity to the enemy. This carries a big risk: give the wrong coordinates and you may get hit yourself. You can ask artillery to figure it out, but the same issue applies. It makes many of those soldiers nervous about giving coordinates that require math/map skills. Those are, however, skills that the artillery folks do have. The difference in Ukraine: drones, even off the shelf consumer versions, let those people aim for the enemy on their own; they can see their targets live. This is why we're seeing drone footage of moving tanks being hit by artillery. It improves their capabilities/accuracy/speed dramatically.
posted by UN at 1:29 AM on April 26 [11 favorites]


"America as arch imperialist" is the anti-imperialism of fools. It reminds me of that /SelfAwareWolves subreddit where people come so close to really understanding something.

Or like when a fascist colonial settler state (Argentina) occupied the Falkland Islands by force but people with no foundations for their "anti-imperialism" sided with the occupying state.

If you're committed to the vague idea of being against "imperialism" but you have poor training in history and have never studied the theory behind anti-imperialism then there is the risk of falling into a sort of sloppy heuristic pattern matching. If you train your pattern recognition on a really limited set of events and never really think about what is going on, you're going to have a wildly inconsistent set of political opinions.

It's literally sophomoric in the sense that its an opinion that is compatible with having taken My First History class but doesn't stand up to deeper scrutiny except that for some reason people never move beyond this view.

To come back to something I said in a previous thread:

Mixing and matching realpolitik frameworks that seek to understand what can be done and frameworks of justice that seek to determine what should be done leads to very confused (sometimes deliberately so) reasoning.

In particular, realist frameworks will start with the reality of Russian nuclear power, European dependence on Russian gas (and other raw materials), and the strong desire to avoid a complete and chaotic collapse of the Russian state and its nuclear arsenal and work from there. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The problem comes when those realist frameworks do a little costume change and dress up their "is" as an "ought". When that happens, we get reasoning like "Russia is a nuclear power... therefore their invasion is justified", "Ukraine is in Russia's sphere of influence, therefore proposing NATO membership is provocative". Obviously there is no possible idea of justice, of rules based international order rooted in national sovereignty that could justify the idea that a sovereign country cannot join military and economic alliances however it wants to.

This is also where a lot of the moral nullity about NATO "expansion" comes from.

I think that foreign policy realists owe it to the sensibilities of justice to very carefully caveat and explain their thinking, in particular in the midst of a conflict. You can use IR realism to "explain" why Japan had to attack Pearl Harbor and why Germany "had to" seize all the land to the Urals. Sure, but don't go to a memorial to the victims of that violence to explain it, you know? Similarly, geopolitical realism led to the cold war separation of Europe but that was effectively a half century long military occupation of millions of people. We do not say, "well look, at the end of the day, New World settler states economic imperatives required the Atlantic slave trade, so.... *shrug*"" Even though we might seek to understand the economics underlying this horror as part of our history, we carefully compartmentalise and treat that analysis as secondary - nobody would ever lead with the economics and then throw in the moral angle as an afterthought.

There's a part of me that would love to see Ukrainian troops drowning Putin and his cabinet in the Moscva and driving all the way to Vladivostok. Obviously that isn't going to happen.

The appropriate fusion of the "is" and the "ought" is that Ukraine's military success and the credible durability of Western Alliance sanctions will set the parameters for what is possible in negotiations. I think it is clear that the Russian ultimate deterrent means that there is no scenario that ends with Putin in chains but is it possible that all of the Donbas could be recovered? Crimea? Or just a return to the status quo ante bellum (made almost impossible in the Ukrainian domestic context by the beastly conduct of the Russian forces)? It is simultaneously completely inappropriate for anyone that isn't Ukrainian to state what "ought" to happen and realistic for people to speculate on what might be achievable given a particular configuration of forces.

On SCADA systems:

Yes, I agree with that as well. Most SCADA systems are configured to turn specific things on and off, there isn't a relay setup that's connected to "destroy substation" and in fact, in most cases the emergency protection for both chemical processes and grid substations are setup to be mostly automatic and not remotely reconfigurable. So a high-high limit trigger on a fuel tank doesn't just trigger an alarm at the control room but may close an in-flow valve. Depending on how interlocks are configured, it may not be possible to use SCADA commands to re-open it while the level is above the trigger. Effectively, in most systems to destroy them using remote commands you first need to analyse the system and then find flaws in the configuration that, if exploited, could cause permanent damage.
posted by atrazine at 5:57 AM on April 26 [38 favorites]


Reports here on official UA Telegram channels that #Russia has taken out the railway bridge over the Dniester near Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky.

If so, this looks like it could be the start of a concerted push for Besarabia, which encompasses Moldova & the south Odesa region.
New Budzhak axis incoming? There's barely over a thousand soldiers in Transnistria though and no way to reinforce them without going through hostile territory or closed airspace.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:07 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


A thousand soldiers? So, about three days' worth?
posted by acb at 6:37 AM on April 26 [4 favorites]


Moldova is not a power by any means, but why would Russia bring another country into direct conflict of itself while it already has more of its hands full with Ukraine? If Russia directly attacks Moldova, Ukraine and Moldova can straight up share all resources as co-belligerents to fight off Russian forces, which will almost certainly see the removal of "Transnistria" and the Russian troops there.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:46 AM on April 26 [6 favorites]


atrazine, part way into your comment I started thinking who I should send it to... then further realized few that 'should' read it would be able to grasp the meaning.... sigh... huge frustrating sigh...

completely inappropriate for anyone that isn't Ukrainian to state what "ought" to happen

Hear hear, very much. But from a few UR tweets like (all russianish) streets getting renamed from 'pushkin st' to a ukrainian figure, it will be very difficult for people to be openly pro-russian for a long long time. When the russian army is pushed out of the Donbas region, whew, very possible severe cultural adjustment during reconstruction.
posted by sammyo at 6:56 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


The mind reels -- are they this deluded, or are they willing to attempt the kind of operation it would take to seize or even bottle up Odesa? Russia is fully aware of its catacombs. And Transitria is between 4 and 15 miles wide at various river-crossing chokepoints (depending on whether you measure along roads or across fields, and from the demarcated border or the Dnister.). 6 miles just north of the Tirasapol airport, which is on a plain.

Another forboding sign -- HI Sutton reported on "lots of movement of landing ships" in Sevastapol. Maybe they would attempt to land in the lagoons SW of Odesa, towards Izmail, and cut off access to Romania?

On the other hand, maybe the idea is to force use of the E87 highway through Moldova to allow more international shoe-pounding theater?
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:59 AM on April 26


The area around Odessa must certainly be riddled with anti-ship Neptune and Harpoon missiles. If they try this it's going to be a wet one for them.
posted by atrazine at 7:19 AM on April 26 [4 favorites]


snuffleupagus: On the other hand, maybe the idea is to force use of the E87 highway through Moldova to allow more international shoe-pounding theater?

That looks to me to be the primary target: NATO and ex-USSR gear from Romania and Bulgaria destined for Odesa would now either have to nip into Moldova for a couple km, or take the long way round the north. Otherwise taking out that bridge makes little sense; the coast west of Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky is probably not strongly defended so easy-ish to land there and take it, but any Russian forces there would be similarly cut off from Odesa. Although they're quite unlikely to refrain from staying out of Moldova, even getting some help from their forces in Transnistria.
posted by Stoneshop at 7:44 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


A YouTuber with a channel formerly focused on video games named Perun has been killing it with some well put together deep dives on various military/ economic topics in the Russia - Ukraine Conflict. posted by interogative mood at 7:52 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


Christo Grozev on Twitter
The two most powerful AM transmitters in Europe were in Transnistria, and Russia was using them to cover Ukraine with Russian propaganda. Ujtol today. Apparently this morning someone bombed out these two transmitter sites, with no casualties. Say @tass_agency.

Previously these transmitters were used by Evangelical broadcaster Transworld Radio, but Russia requisitioned them for war propaganda. So the attack came either from the Ukrainians or from God.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:15 AM on April 26 [28 favorites]


Could they be trying to expand Transnistria into Ukraine onto the Dniester river without taking a land bridge? That would explain the bombing of that bridge.
posted by ocschwar at 8:39 AM on April 26


OSINT Aggregator has visual confirmation of the transmitter attack and the bridge destruction, along with a video of the missile strike. Seems like legit reporting on these.
posted by jammer at 8:42 AM on April 26


The International Ice Hockey Federation has withdrawn the hosting rights for the 2023 World Championship from Russia. The IIHF had previously withdrawn the 2023 World Junior Championship as well.
posted by Etrigan at 8:53 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Could they be trying to expand Transnistria into Ukraine onto the Dniester river without taking a land bridge? That would explain the bombing of that bridge.

More like annex the whole of Bessarabia.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:55 AM on April 26 [4 favorites]




According to Onet Russia just stopped delivering gas in the Yamal pipeline. The deadline to pay for April's invoices just passed and both Germany and Poland refused to pay in roubles.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:00 AM on April 26 [6 favorites]


More like annex the whole of Bessarabia

Which would put the Russian forces eyeball-to-eyeball with NATO on the Romanian border. Checkpoint Carol.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:18 AM on April 26


“Battle gays” sounds completely badass, which was presumably not their intention.
posted by acb at 9:49 AM on April 26 [16 favorites]


“Battle gays are attacking Belarus from the Baltics”

Welcome to The Onionski.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:54 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


The Battle Gays can be expected to work closely with all of the village people to swiftly assert dominance along the old town road. This homophobic 'Z formation' is nothing new to them. The Battle Gays will show their true colors in this battle; they want to break free and deserve more than a little respect. Raise your glass to the Battle Gays as they come ever closer to freedom. If you think you're going to go west and beat them, well, you need to calm down.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:09 AM on April 26 [40 favorites]


Relax. Don't do it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:12 AM on April 26 [14 favorites]


Is it wrong that I kind of want to see an entire unit comprised of only LGBTQ soldiers and officers get together and go rampaging through Russian lines? It's not necessary but it would be poetic.

I like "Battle Gays" as a potential name for this unit. That it started off as a disparaging term the Russian propaganda machine used makes it better. Sure, joke about it now, you will come to fear the Battle Gays.

I mean, it's probably better that the Ukraine army treats all it's soldiers as soldiers and their orientation has nothing to do with their soldiering but the idea of a Battle Gays unit makes me happy.
posted by VTX at 10:12 AM on April 26 [7 favorites]


The Battle Gays are really only about 2/3 combat-effective, but the attached engineer and transport assets are powerful combat multipliers.
posted by Etrigan at 10:42 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


So what AI do you all think russia is using to generate it's propaganda headlines? Is it open source somewhere?
posted by WeekendJen at 10:53 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


More like annex the whole of Bessarabia.

Putin needs a win, and my limited understanding this is a place that acually will collapse / surrender soon after being invaded. They should have united with the Motherland when they had the chance but hindsight is 20/20.

The benefits of encircling Ukraine are just an added benefit, it is the fact that he can win somewhere that matters and why Moldova is now in play.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:57 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


I really want to keep riffing on this Battle Gays thing but I think it's a derail for this particular thread.
posted by VTX at 10:58 AM on April 26 [6 favorites]


Aleхei Navalny's team has put together an ongoing list of 6,000 Russian corrupt officials and warmongers all of whom need bringing to account. Similarily any individuals who have had any dealings with those named should be also be exposed.
posted by adamvasco at 11:04 AM on April 26 [4 favorites]


I like "Battle Gays" as a potential name for this unit.

Reminds me of those "Nasty Woman" T-shirts Full Frontal produced after Trump used the term to describe Hillary Clinton.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:11 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


FT's max seddon on Twitter
Putin says Russia won't sign a peace deal with Ukraine unless it first agrees to "solve the issues of Crimea and Donbas" at least on the working level, meaning accepting losing those parts of its territory for good.

So what AI do you all think russia is using to generate it's propaganda headlines?

A dog-eared copy of Mad Libs.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:11 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Stalinbot.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:18 AM on April 26


FYI, in case anyone else missed it (like I did at first), the Battle Gays tweet that Pyrogenesis linked is from May 2021. I was wondering if it was somehow related to some kind of internal Belarussian sabotage operations (e.g.: the rail signalling system) or prelude to some false flag, but no, it's from last year.
posted by mhum at 11:22 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


From The Guardian: Amid a flurry of diplomatic activity in Moscow and Germany, a fresh wave of civilian deaths were reported across eastern Ukraine as Vladimir Putin’s forces escalated their barrage of key targets on Tuesday and appeared to renege once again on giving safe passage to women and children.

Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, the besieged port city on the Sea of Azov where the remaining Ukrainian forces and civilians have been hiding out in a steel works, said the latest attempt to get people out had failed.

Andryushchenko claimed that agreement on a humanitarian corridor out of the Azovstal steelworks had proven to be a “trap”, with Russian forces firing their artillery on the exit zone just moments after announcing through loudspeakers that a green corridor had been opened.

posted by Bella Donna at 11:25 AM on April 26 [8 favorites]


the Battle Gays tweet that Pyrogenesis linked is from May 2021.

Today: Francis Scarr on Twitter
Russian state TV says it has discovered an "organisation of gays and lesbians" in a building in Mariupol where Ukrainian "nationalist battalions" had been based

It was apparently "funded by USAID" and "virtually under the patronage of the US President and Congress"
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:30 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


According to Onet Russia just stopped delivering gas in the Yamal pipeline. The deadline to pay for April's invoices just passed and both Germany and Poland refused to pay in roubles.

Why Poland though and not Germany? Germany's Russian supply is mostly via Nord Stream. Also, the pipeline has been running at only 20% capacity for months now. Why pick now to stop? It could be that Germany and Poland just inked a deal to pipe tanker imported oil from Gdansk terminals via the Pomeranian pipeline to Germany in place of Russian flows from Druzhba. There's going to be plenty of tankers looking for work since they've abandoned Russian oil transport and plenty of oil producers looking to capitalize on the higher prices.

Germany and Poland are completely outmaneuvering Russia and Russia is freaking the fuck out. They can't unilaterally turn off Nord Stream because for starters the gas payments are the only thing keeping the ruble afloat even with capital controls. Secondly they would have to shut down production at the Yuzhno-Russkoye field and if production stops the equipment might freeze over and Russia might not ever get it started again, especially with sanctions on Western energy tech and expertise.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:31 AM on April 26 [13 favorites]


They could, of course, avoid the freezing issue by just venting the natural gas into the atmosphere. Which would be a climate catastrophe as methane is about a hundred times worse than CO2 in the short term. But hey, it’s not like they give a shit about that. Presumably that even adds to the appeal, as another angle of leverage.
posted by notoriety public at 11:52 AM on April 26 [7 favorites]


Russian state TV says it has discovered an "organisation of gays and lesbians" in a building in Mariupol where Ukrainian "nationalist battalions" had been based... "virtually under the patronage of the US President and Congress"

Don't threaten me with a good time, but also, tragically, I know the President and Congress are not that cool.
posted by corb at 11:55 AM on April 26 [23 favorites]


Germany will deliver anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine. Excerpt:
German Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht announced the move during opening remarks at the Ramstein air base in Germany, coming at the start of a US-hosted defense conference on Ukraine.

"Yesterday we decided that Germany will make the delivery of 'Gepard' anti-aircraft tanks possible to Ukraine," Lambrecht said in a transcript of her speech seen by DW. The confirmation came after German media reported on the move.

The "Gepard" anti-aircraft system was developed in the 1960-1970s, but has been upgraded several times with the latest electronics.

"The German army has taken them out of use almost a decade ago, not because they were obsolete, but because at that time the Bundeswehr was scaling down and they had no use for it anymore," defense journalist Thomas Wiegold told DW.

Lambrecht also said that Berlin was working to train Ukrainian soldiers on German soil. "We are working together with our American friends in training Ukrainian troops on artillery systems on German soil," the minister said.
Also, I think it’s been mentioned only in passing, but France is supplying Ukraine with the Caesar Howitzer, which is long-range, rapid deployment artillery, which is very much exactly what the Armed Forces of Ukraine need now.
posted by Kattullus at 12:28 PM on April 26 [15 favorites]


Now that the news is officially confirmed, it does sound like Russia is turning off Yamal to Poland precisely because it's already throttled and low-volume - a way to put pressure on Germany to pay up in roubles to avoid Nord Stream getting throttled or turned off. It doesn't sound like Poland's in danger because of it - reserves are at 80%, plus we're getting a connection to the Lithuanian LNG terminal literally this Sunday. Plenty to tide us over until October and the start of the pipeline to Norwegian gas, especially since Poland barely uses gas in power plants.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:41 PM on April 26 [16 favorites]


Apparently Russia is cutting off Bulgaria too. That should go well for its fence-sitting pro-Russia faction....

“We are delivering significant equipment, from Milan to Caesar,” Macron said, referring to anti-tank missiles and Howitzers respectively.

Zelenskyy's writers would not have let this setup go to the dogs.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:43 PM on April 26 [15 favorites]


...and remember the Russian soldier who got permission from his wife to rape Ukrainian women, which broke two weeks ago? He just got captured by Ukrainians near Izyum.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:47 PM on April 26 [15 favorites]


Battle Gays insignia is two crossed He-Man swords
posted by Kabanos at 2:04 PM on April 26 [4 favorites]


Reuters: Swiss veto German request to re-export tank ammunition to Ukraine
The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) confirmed a report by broadcaster SRF that it had blocked Germany from sending munitions for the Gepard tank to Ukraine.


It sounds like they're not the only supplier, so I'm not sure how much of a problem this is.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:08 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


I wonder if it's not also a pro forma denial of permission to keep the Swiss happy in their official pose of neutrality.
posted by fatbird at 2:23 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Switzerland is where many of Russia's oligarchs have their business operations headquartered.
posted by acb at 2:58 PM on April 26 [6 favorites]


Igor Sushko posted the 16th FSB letter. I'm not weighing in on whether or not the letters are authentic. I have no idea. But I'm linking this one because it had some interesting analysis.

This letter focuses almost solely on Kadyrov and his personal army. To summarize: The Kadyrovites have been widely mocked as a "Tik-Tok Army". Showing up only for flashy filmed maneuvers that end up on Tik Tok and then leaving when the real fighting starts. But there may be a long-term motive.

Nesting a long quote:
Kadyrov himself couldn't care less about Ukraine, about Donbass, or about this whole war-operation.
He has transcended this framework; he is already thinking in a different reality where war/operation is just an element for his plans.

While he was considered just a fool with great power resources, he turned out to be much more cunning [I won't yet say anything about "wiser-smarter"].

...

In essence, he will be the main beneficiary of Russia's military failure: in the coming Donbass meat grinder, he is guaranteed to keep his forces intact, while in any outcome of the battle, the rest of the Russian forces will be severely depleted and exhausted.

His loud declarations about "marching on Kiev" are a wind-up of the supporters of war in Russian society, who can absolutely no longer satiate their appetites through any theoretically possible outcome.

...

In any event, Kadyrov can't help but realize that after the battle of Donbass he will have the most powerful and combat-ready military force in the country. But then a great turmoil could ensue, in which everything would be unclear.

...

Turmoil gives a chance to those who before it had no chance and who will turn out to be situationally ready for it.

Even if the letter was inauthentic and just made up by Shushko, it's still an interesting viewpoint. Kadyrov does seem to keep his army in good shape and out of combat. His strident "patriotic" speeches about taking Kyiv would fool Putin et al. Especially since the Kremlin is apparently ill-informed about everything, and gullible enough to believe their own propaganda. And the Kadyrovites might very well be the most powerful units left in Russia after all the heavy losses. Will be interesting to see what Kadyrov does with all of this.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 4:11 PM on April 26 [6 favorites]


Yeah, those FSB letters are always interesting reading. As you say, the analysis seems thorough no matter who is writing them.
posted by Horselover Fat at 4:33 PM on April 26


Foreign Affairs has some words on what might happen if Putin "suddenly" leaves office and on the fates of personalist autocracies after the death of the founding autocrat. (Spoiler: they're a lot more durable than I would have thought.)
posted by jammer at 4:34 PM on April 26 [9 favorites]


I haven't seen any new reports of fires today, but maybe those just haven't been filtered through in my direction yet.
posted by hippybear at 6:52 PM on April 26


Well, there's this: Michael Elgort: Another Vice President of Gazprombank Igor Volobuev escaped to Ukraine, joined territorial defense forces there and gave this interview to the Insider, claiming there that recent family murder and then suicide of Gazprombank top manager Avaev were staged and it was a murder. Wow

The interview itself is in Russian but machine translation is decent.
posted by cendawanita at 7:09 PM on April 26 [5 favorites]


Avaev, Protosenya, Melnikov, Watford, Tyulyakov, Shulman. Even not counting Melnikov, energy company exec is the most hazardous profession in Russia.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:22 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Explosion at ammunition depot in Luhansk.

Explosion at Ammunition depot in Belgorod. Confirmed by governor.


UkraineWorld [@ukraine_world]:

"Our sources say the Russians are confiscating agricultural equipment, grain and seeds in the occupied Kherson region. Planting crops is at risk. Last time they did this was in early 1930s. This led to Holodomor, famine that killed at least 4 mln of Ukrainian peasants in 1932-33."
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:29 PM on April 26 [13 favorites]


The Chornobyl NPP's official YouTube channel, which was quite active prior to the invasion, has posted its first video since - ChNPP under Occupation: Interview of Witnesses.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:57 PM on April 26 [4 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent on Twitter
⚡️Ukrainian Armed forces strike Russian positions on Snake Island.

Ukrainian Operational Command South reported on April 26 that its forces struck at Russian positions on Snake Island, hitting the command post and destroying a Strela-10 anti-aircraft missile system.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:20 PM on April 26 [3 favorites]


Ammunition warehouse burning in Belgorod, 40 km into Russia from the Ukrainian border. The mayor apparently stressed that there was no civilian damage or casualties, which I can't help but read as covert criticism of the Russian Army's operations. 40 km away from the border, I bet a lot of people have Ukrainian relatives and friends.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:04 PM on April 26 [3 favorites]


After all the attacks in Belgorod, the FSB is lashing out:
The FSB has detained two Russian citizens in Belgorod, accusing them of sending information about Russian servicemen to the Ukrainian Myrovorets website that tracks Russian soldiers who have fought in Ukraine. They were also accused of planning sabotage.
Rob Lee's Tweet : Source Article (in Russian) from ria.ru
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:08 AM on April 27


Jason Stanley, author of How Fascism Works, on the impact that Russia's genocide in Ukraine will have on Russian identity.
posted by rory at 4:40 AM on April 27 [6 favorites]


rongorongo: I think so, and would recommend Trent Telenko's giant thread on the subject.

Summary: Russian artillery uses impact fuzes on their grenades and rockets. Explosives, the fuzes themselves and rocket propellants age, resulting in a higher percentage of duds and rockets that fall short of their intended targets. One more sign of the lack of care and feeding of Russia's equipment and arsenal.
posted by Stoneshop at 5:05 AM on April 27 [4 favorites]


Jason Stanley's view of Pushkin seems to be more charitable than Kamil Galeev's indictment of him as an ideologue of Russian imperialism.

OTOH, in Germany, there's a publishing house named after him specialising in translated literature; whereas, in Russia, there's a genocidal mercenary group named after Wagner, who wasn't even alive to see Nazism.
posted by acb at 5:20 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]




Operator Starsky [UA MoD Public Affairs] -- Interview from Hell: Rubizhne, Donbas (with a rapid response brigade member). [CW: combat footage]

CNN interview with a freed captive who discusses Russia's civilian abductions and deportations. The interviewee was captured while working with the Red Cross to provide aid. Previously, Russia shaved the heads of captured Ukrainian women soldiers. [Kyiv Independent, 4/3/22]

Adreas Lipschitz of The Houston Project [@lipschz, via auto-translation]: "CSTO countries refused to fight against Ukraine - military intelligence of Ukraine. All CSTO member states, except for the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, are neutral about a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. None of the countries recognized the annexation of Crimea and the independence of the L/DPR."

HI Sutton [@CovertShores]: Ukraine appears to have recommenced limited naval (more like coast guard) operations off Odesa. A ship spotted on the horizon off the harbor by citizens appears to be a tanker that was attacked earlier in the war.

@Liveaumap: Russia is actively suppressing protests in Kherson against illegitimate referendum on annexation.

Vladimir Klitschko [@Klitschko]: Ukrainians are taking down Soviet monuments to former Russian and Ukrainian 'brotherhood and friendship.' "You don't kill your brother. You don't rape your sister. You don't destroy your friend's country. That's why today we dismantled this monument once created as a sign of friendship between Ukraine and Russia."

@DAlperovitch: Ukraine believes Russia has expended at least half of its long range missiles, and cannot continue at this pace due to the requirement to maintain reserves in the event the war expands against NATO or otherwise; manufacturing more challenged by sanctions and general electronics shortage.

Analyst Rob Lee [@RALee85]: "Many people have been asking why so many Russian senior officers have been getting killed. Well, if we extrapolate from this article, "Ukrainian forces have used specific coordinates shared by the U.S. to direct fire on Russian positions,” might have something to do with it." (He also notes that article's specific claim of large troop transports being shot down is widely doubted as no such crash sites or wreckage have been seen.)

Plane watchers spotted a FSB transport formerly used in high profile detentions make a trip to Ankara in Turkey. It was shortly afterwards announced by the Biden Administration that Trevor Reed, a former Marine from Texas, was exchanged for Konstantin Yaroshenko."

UK MoD: UK, Estonia, France and Denmark have been conducting battle drills on Exercise BOLD DRAGON.

Space News OpEd: Russia could spread the war to space


Meanwhile, Transnistria looks to join the drone war with its own dubious achievement.

A few days ago, a Russian Mi-28N helicopter was shot down over New York.... No, the other one [wiki]:
German-speaking Mennonites bought the settlement in 1889, and in 1892 formed the colony of New York from seven settlements.n 1941 all Germans still living in New York were deported to Kazakhstan."
Lithuanian pianist Darius Mažintas plays Chopin's works at the ruins of the House of Culture in Irpin. [@ukraine_world]
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:26 AM on April 27 [12 favorites]


re: the article on Russia’s Genocidal Identity, I’m not sure that’s a given. It’s been posted or linked here that the difference is Germany (and Japan) were bombed and occupied post-war. That’s not going to happen this time unless Russia escalates to a nuclear attack. Sanctions that make life difficult for ordinary Russians, they blame the West, not Putin, and then they hunker down because that’s what they’ve always done.

This might have been linked before, an Italian newspaper interview with Sergei Karaganov, presidential advisor.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:40 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]


Also of note is that there have been long traffic jams from Transnistrians trying to leave the contested area and enter Moldovan territory for the last couple of days.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:41 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]


The Germans are ashamed of their past because they've had their noses rubbed in it. That is more the exception than the rule, which is to rationalise things away (see also: the US South, or Japan).

If a prime block outside the Kremlin becomes a Monument to the Murdered Ukrainians, and all Russian schoolchildren are taken on a tour of the “filtration camps”, now preserved as a monument to Russian atrocities against Ukraine (and possibly Chechnya, Georgia, Syria and such), then perhaps Russia will be known as a country whose football supporters don't wave flags in stadiums. Though otherwise probably not.
posted by acb at 8:20 AM on April 27 [6 favorites]


The Article shared by Rob Lee that snuffleupagus linked above notes that amongst the intel the US has been sharing with Ukraine is timely information on inbound ground strikes on aircraft and counter-battery fire. It says:
Ukraine continues to move air defenses and aircraft nearly every day with the help of American intelligence, which is one reason Russia has not been able to establish air dominance. In some cases, Ukraine moved the targeted air defense systems or planes just in time, the officials said.
Which pairs very will with this brief video of a Ukrainian plane taking off just as inbound fire starts hitting around it. I wonder if this was one of those very situations.
posted by jammer at 8:33 AM on April 27 [3 favorites]


Meant to add: I'm very disgruntled with the overall situation in my own country (the US) right now, but one of the things I've been impressed with is the quiet way we've been both leading our European allies and providing critical intelligence aid to the Ukrainians that has given them a crucial edge on the battlefield -- and done it without excessive bragging or strutting like our previous administration would likely have done. (Ignoring the fact that the previous administration was demonstrably pro-Russia and wouldn't have been helping anyway.) It allows the focus to stay on Ukraine itself and both the strength and courage they're showing, and the help they still desperately need.

I definitely don't want to make this about the US, because it's not -- we're not the ones killing and dying to protect our homes from brutal invaders -- but as someone who's often very critical of my country and its leadership, it's nice to feel proud about something it does every now and then. That's all.
posted by jammer at 8:38 AM on April 27 [28 favorites]


jammer: but one of the things I've been impressed with is the quiet way we've been both leading our European allies and providing critical intelligence aid to the Ukrainians that has given them a crucial edge on the battlefield

I have to say, it doesn't feel like leading from here. To me, it feels more like 'working with' or 'collaborating with'. Which is a good thing, mind you.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:49 AM on April 27 [22 favorites]


one of the things I've been impressed with is the quiet way we've been both leading our European allies and providing critical intelligence aid to the Ukrainians that has given them a crucial edge on the battlefield

fucking amen. Now explain this to all the 'MAGassholes' out there. Seriously, how do you explain in a way that people can understand this really very simple fact? Don't answer in thread, please contact your local - or national - Dem Party office and tell them because this should be a fucking home run.

Really all of 'The West' has responded with remarkable alacrity and effectiveness - enough that one might be led to think it was revenge for all the shit Putin et al have been pulling for the last ten+ years.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:50 AM on April 27 [7 favorites]


> I have to say, it doesn't feel like leading from here. To me, it feels more like 'working with' or 'collaborating with'. Which is a good thing, mind you.

Yeah... I thought about the verb there, and hesitated on using "leading", but in the end went with that. If you read some of the backgrounders on the diplomatic work that went on before the war, it seems like the US had a much higher degree of certainty based on its intelligence and analysis about what was going to happen and worked to convince Europe that it needed to do something. Since then, there have been an number of points, such as the invitation of 40 nations to Germany recently to discuss what aid can be provided, where it was the US saying "come on guys, let's do this".

I agree, it's not been a one-country show, and that's a very good thing. But I think it'd be a tough argument to say that the US hasn't been dragging some, if not all, partner nations along with it. Thus I say "leading". Perhaps in a way that doesn't look obviously like it, which is great.
posted by jammer at 8:54 AM on April 27 [10 favorites]


Russia has access to restricted law enforcement software that shows where DJI drones are being operated from.

China drone-maker DJI halts Russia, Ukraine sales
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:56 AM on April 27 [4 favorites]


On the morning MSNBC show there was commentary by a diplomat(ish person) that the allies in the recent Ukraine-aid-meetings were feeling like the folks from usa were treating them like allies.
posted by sammyo at 9:11 AM on April 27 [4 favorites]


One extremely important factor in the kinds of shells discussed in the tweets is that the ones Russian troops are largely using are not good vs infantry in trenches and other defenses. The fancy shells use sensors and stuff to explode over the trenches and shotgun shrapnel down on the defenders, much more effective in clearing out the people who are ruining your fancy tanks. Of course the fancy shells are harder and more technically complicated to produce, so Russia's out of luck
posted by Jacen at 9:17 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]


"Jason Stanley's view of Pushkin seems to be more charitable than Kamil Galeev's indictment of him as an ideologue of Russian imperialism."

In typical Galeev vashion ... somewhere in the vicinity, but not on the mark. Pushkin is a world-historically great poet with an incisive eye and a deeply humanist perspective on individual lives. And yeah, he grew up in the Russian Empire, and (naturally, IMO) some of his earlier work in particular is about how awesome it is to be young, good at art, living in St. Petersburg, and feeling like the king of the world. Part and parcel of that, along with many other young intellectuals in St. Pete, was a belief in the rising power of Russia as a great country and culture. HOWEVER, by the time he's 21, the government is giving him the stink-eye for being involved with reform groups; he spent two years under house arrest beginning when he was 24 for anti-regime activities; and for the entire rest of his life his works were subject to personal censorship by the Tsar, because they were much too popular among people who wanted to overthrow the Tsars.

Because a lot of his subject matter is epic poems about historic events, showing great/tragic Tsars doing great/tragic things, there's a lot of grist for the imperalist mill and certainly 20th- and 21st-century Russian leaders have used Pushkin in imperialist ways. But his own 19th-century contemporaries viewed him as a reformer, a poet of liberation, and a danger to the regime of such intensity that the Tsar kept him close and personally controlled his publication and his travel (or lack thereof; the Tsar mostly didn't let him go places).

So if you're gonna read Pushkin, you're going to find some stuff that reminds you of Kipling (in the gross colonialist way). But more of it will remind you of Shakespeare, in that Pushkin is less interested in forwarding the politics of the characters in his historical epics, and much more interested in examining the human passions and errors that lead great men to inevitable downfalls, looking at and imagining the human people in these otherwise-distant historical events, finding the man amid the epic.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:26 AM on April 27 [31 favorites]


Of course the fancy shells are harder and more technically complicated to produce, so Russia's out of luck

Which means they''re relying on sheer quantity instead, hence the carpet shelling.
posted by ocschwar at 10:15 AM on April 27 [3 favorites]


Executive Vice President of the European Commission for An Economy that Works for People (actual title) Valdis Dombrovskis on Twitter
🔴 UNPRECEDENTED: EU grants #Ukraine zero-tariff, zero-quota trade.

These measures will boost trade & keep its economy going. This is vital to win the war and recover post-war.

This shows 🇪🇺's unwavering commitment to helping 🇺🇦 in its hour of need.
👉 http://europa.eu/!kWRt6t
That's the main benefit of actually joining the EU.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:00 AM on April 27 [34 favorites]


Per TASS on Twitter, Putin has agan announced that all tasks of the special military operation in Ukraine will be unconditionally fulfilled and will ensure the security of Donbas, Crimea and all of Russia in the future. "If someone intervenes in the situation in Ukraine from outside, the answer will be lightning fast, Putin said. The President added that Russia, in the event of a threat to it, will use in response means that its opponents do not yet have."


NEW: Ashleigh Stewart [@Ash_Stewart_] : NEW: Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary:
--Plays it very coy when asked about attacks on Russian soil in Byansk on Monday: Says “Russians smoking cigarettes” must have been behind the 2 blazes at oil depots near the Ukrainian border.
- Zelenskyy has now faced 4 assassination attempts. Says they ‘annoy’ him
- Russians are terrorists, asks why Al-Qaeda & Hezbollah aren’t on UN Security Council
- Kyiv actively preparing for nuclear war
...and more


Bloomberg: EU warns companies that paying for Russian energy in roubles will violate sanctions

Per OSINT naval spotters; France has sortied all three of its mission ready ballistic missile submarines. (One remains in port receiving maintenance.) Of the nuclear-armed NATO governments it is the only nation that has been observed to advance its posture beyond statements.

---

From Mark Galeotti [@MarkGaleotti, RUSI and others]: Nikolai Patrushev, hawk’s hawk and a man I described as ‘the most dangerous man in Russia’ has given an interview [.ru link] to govt newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta. A lengthy thread... unrolled here.

Sergey Radchenko responds: "Btw here’s what’s interesting about this rhetoric. It exceeds in viciousness the most brutal Soviet propaganda. I don’t think we had such shrillness even at the height of Soviets-US tensions. Can’t escape the impression that much of this is a bad theater production."


CEPA: A blame game is eruptiong amongst the 'Siloviki:' "The security institutions, the ‘siloviki', that are key to propping up the regime are exchanging recriminations for a growing list of failures in the war on Ukraine."


Despite traditional Irish neutrality dating from the Cold War, an RTE journalist gave the Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yuri Filatov an unsparing grilling in this interview.

----

Notes on Transnistria -- there have been additional attacks or "foiled attacks," under unclear circumstances.

"10 explosive devices have been found at a radio and television studio in Transnistria." via a shared Telegram report.

Including reported but not yet confirmed attacks on the large post-Warsaw pact ammo dump at Cobasna in Transnistria that some have suggested is an issue -- either that Russia may want to access its contents; or that Moldova and/or UA may need to act to secure it. However, many of the munitions there will be expired (and likely unstable) and given the shady business run from the territory it is also likely a significant portion of the stocks there could have been sold on illegally over the past few decades.

From various live OSINT discussions; Transnistria has served for some years as a hub for Russia to mine crypto powered by the energy it sells to Moldova, at Moldova's expense (as it cannot cutoff power to Transnistria without provoking a crisis), and for money laundering and smuggling generally. Russia's seemingly irrational renewed threat of the area may lie in part in those functions.


----

The cyber war:

NPR - How does Ukraine keep intercepting Russian military communications?

FT video: Ukraine's Battle of the Airwaves

The Intercept - RUSSIA IS LOSING A WAR AGAINST HACKERS STEALING HUGE AMOUNTS OF DATA: "Dozens of Russian companies and government agencies have been hacked in apparent retribution for the invasion of Ukraine."

Cyberscoop: Microsoft on Wednesday tied a January data-wiping malware attack in Ukraine to notorious Russian hacking group Sandworm.


Direkt36 (of Hungary): ICYMI -- Russia hacked the Hungarian MFA’s [foreign ministry/state dept.] IT network, compromised internal correspondence & the secure channel that transmits classified information. Since we published our @direkt36 investigation, Orbán admitted that "all ministries are under attack."
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:34 PM on April 27 [16 favorites]


an RTE journalist gave the Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yuri Filatov an unsparing grilling in this interview.

He doesn't appear to have fared any better than his last shameful appearance.
posted by Kabanos at 12:55 PM on April 27 [1 favorite]


Finnish Security Service researcher Veli-Pekka Kivimäki on Twitter
Finnish government is selling bitcoin confiscated by Customs, and donating the proceeds to help Ukraine. Total in tens of millions.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:55 PM on April 27 [11 favorites]


Trent Telenko has another logistics thread, this one about those fancy missiles.
posted by Harald74 at 12:58 PM on April 27 [4 favorites]


More news on Germany oil substitution news.

Germany has announced with the Polish Pomeranian pipeline deal that they're down to a 12% dependence on Russian oil. The last remaining stumbling block is the Rosneft refinery in Schwedt which is both owned by the Russian state and basically running on Russian oil. Should the output of that refinery decline for whatever reason in the disconnection of Russian oil, Germany would struggle to keep fuel supplied in the north east, especially Berlin and the airline industry.

The Federal Cabinet has seen the passing of new laws which effectively give Rosneft an ultimatum: Use non-Russian oil or face nationalization.
• In addition, a new part of the Energy Security Act creates the legal basis for special measures to prevent crises, which can be applied under certain and clearly defined conditions before an immediate threat or disruption to the energy supply occurs. The aim here is to prevent such a dangerous situation.
• First and foremost, it is about being able to order special measures if there is a risk that operators of critical infrastructures will no longer be able to adequately fulfill their tasks and there is a risk of the security of supply being impaired. For these cases, the possibility of a trust administration via companies in the critical infrastructure and, as a last resort, also created the possibility of expropriation .
I think Habeck seems to be pushing insanely hard from inside the coalition. The Greens seem to want the economic connection to Russia gone ASAP.

To be a fly on the wall of the SPD party room right now. The Seeheimer Kreis faction must be absolutely fuming.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:00 PM on April 27 [15 favorites]


Also in Germany: 9€/month public transport passes starting from June. Currently that's the cost for a single day pass in many places.
posted by UN at 2:20 PM on April 27 [15 favorites]




The M777 howitzer is a Rolls-Royce of a gun. Extensive use of titanium in its construction cut its weight so much that you can load two of them on a C-130 cargo plane instead of just one of the previous model. Since the US is surrounded by large oceans, it always has to think about how it is going to transport weapons long distances. This is the perfect gun to get to Ukraine right now.
posted by Bee'sWing at 2:55 PM on April 27 [15 favorites]


Hotnews.ro: Ukrainian presidential advisor Aleksei Arestovich told a Romanian reporter "Ukraine is able to resolve the Transnistrian issue "in the blink of an eye", but the Moldovan authorities must ask for its help." He also says that Chisinau could have big problems and should also ask for Romania's help, because "they are the same people."

Meanwhile, the news crew on Russia's Channel 1 went on a bit of an insane Strangelovian rant noting that Russia would likely lose the conflict because it us unable to disarm NATO without starting WWIII, which was more likely than losing "knowing us and our leader;" but that it would be fine because "we will all go to heaven, and they will just croak."
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:30 PM on April 27 [5 favorites]


Meduza in English on Twitter
Scoop: The Kremlin has delayed “referendums” on the Donbas “people’s republics” joining Russia due to the military’s failures in Ukraine, sources close to Putin’s administration told Meduza.
From the linked article:
According to three Meduza sources close to Putin’s administration, the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” (the DNR and LNR) may be set to hold Kremlin-engineered referendums on joining the Russian Federation in mid-May. Two of these people even gave specific dates for the planned “votes” — May 14 and 15, 2022.

That would be about the same time the Kherson independence "referendum" is currently scheduled. Although the dates may be moved again.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:44 PM on April 27 [2 favorites]


U.S. Mission to OSCE: @USAmbOSCE speaks with @cnni's @biannagolodryga about Russia's plans to fabricate a sham referendum in Kherson in an attempt to legitimize its occupation of the city.

Speaking of which, large explosion tonight in Kherson near the TV tower, after which Russian broadcasts ceased. More explosions were heard.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:57 PM on April 27 [4 favorites]


I heard that the US House rules committee has just approved the Senate Lend Lease bill without changes and it is expected to pass unanimously tomorrow with a rapid signing ceremony to follow.
posted by interogative mood at 6:48 PM on April 27 [8 favorites]


The Irish Times: Finland prepared to join Nato without Sweden, says minister

“Currently I think the mood in parliament, if you look at the majority of MPs supporting the decision, is that yes, it includes the possibility to go without Sweden,” Mr Haavisto told The Irish Times. “It would be good to do the same things at the same time as Sweden, but that depends on Swedish decisions. It is too early to guess the date but I think before the summer we are proceeding.”
Mr. Haavisto is the FM of Finland.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:49 PM on April 27 [8 favorites]


Well, this didn't take long after the gas was turned off. Putin remains a master strategist.

Christo Grozev [@christogrozev]:
Major shake-up in Bulgaria, as the leading coalition partner - previously seen as dependent on the "pacifist" president Radev - took a clear pro-Ukraine stance today and attacked the president in "presuming that Russia will win this war, while we think Ukraine will win." The main party in Parliament, PP, unexpectedly emancipated from the president, said it will vote in favor of direct and open arms sales to Ukraine - to be voted in parliament on Monday.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:06 PM on April 27 [19 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: Finland prepared to join Nato without Sweden, says minister

Foreign Minister Haavisto was talking about a hypothetical, incidentally. As far as I’ve seen in Finnish media, at least, it’s still the likeliest outcome that both Finland and Sweden join at the same time.
posted by Kattullus at 10:28 PM on April 27 [8 favorites]


And speaking of Finland, there was an interesting article in YLE (the Finnish public broadcaster) about how the Somali community in Finland is reacting to the war in Ukraine and the prospects of Finland joining NATO. As is to be expected, the people who grew up in Finland have broadly speaking the same views as wider society, while refugees who remember the war in Somalia are spooked. Excerpt:
Based on the background interviews conducted for this article, people who have first hand experience of the war in Somalia are more concerned about Finland potentially joining Nato than their counterparts born in Finland.

Youths with Somalian backgrounds are eager to defend Finland, especially those who have served in the country's army, Kaafi Halane adds.

"If Russia attacks, young people say they will join the army," he says.

[…]

Turku-based Alas Ali arrived in Finland in 1992 at the age of 17, having traveled alone to Moscow to escape the civil war that ravaged his home country. A few months after arriving in Finland, Ali learned that his father, who had remained in Somalia, had been killed.

"Unfortunately, many Somalis have experienced war. Many wonder if they will have to flee war again. Are we safe anywhere?" Ali describes the feelings among the Somali community that have been evoked by the war in Ukraine.

Ali is an entrepreneur and municipal politician representing the Social Democratic Party, which is why he knows a lot of people. He says he has listened to their thoughts about the ongoing war in Ukraine. Some people have told him that they have difficulty sleeping because of those concerns.
[Note: The bit I cut out was a subheadline, which looked confusing in the context of a MetaFilter comment]
posted by Kattullus at 10:39 PM on April 27 [11 favorites]


The FT is reporting that gas buyers in a number of countries including Germany, Italy, and Austria are preparing to use the Russian Gazprombank Euros for Roubles swap mechanism setup to evade sanctions. The EC view is that this is a sanctions breach but company lawyers are not so sure.

Note that Gazprombank hasn't been sanctioned since this bank is used to pay for gas in Euros which continues to be allowed.

It's really an interesting strategic position for Russia. On the one hand, given the stakes for them of this war, it seems strange that they're still selling, effectively their enemies, gas in vast quantities. It's even being shipped through Ukraine, for which Ukraine continues to receive transit fees.

On the other hand, they must be keenly aware that:

1) The EU is by far their biggest and most profitable customer, it will cost them vastly more to ship by pipeline to China (the only other possible large offtaker) or as LNG to the rest of Asia. This will also take years, even at breakneck speed to be able to do.

2) This is not the 1980s and they are not Saudi Arabia. There actually are alternatives to gas for power production and domestic heating and there could be alternatives in many industrial contexts as well (chiefly hydrogen or biogas although neither are trivial to produce in sufficient quantity).

3) All of the investments to get off either RU gas specifically or methane more generally are capital in nature. In other words they will take a few years to be made but once made, lock in that path. Germany, having spent to build LNG import terminals, will use those terminals. Properties converted to heat pumps, will stay on heat pumps, if vast GWs of hydrogen producing electrolysers are produced for industrial purposes or processes are re-engineered to use high temperature heat pumps [you can get up to 150C with commercially available and 180C with prototype which covers most of the drying, curing, and sterilising demand] then those processes, having spent massive capital to convert, will stay converted. In other words, demand destruction of gas when it comes from capital spending is permanent.

4) It is easier to motivate people to sacrifice and invest immediately in response to an immediate threat than it is to a far-away, slow growing one. This is why that Don't Look Up film wasn't very insightful. We know what the response to an acute threat looks like, the frantic throw-everything-against-the-wall tactics of the early days of the Covid pandemic. What this means is that long-proposed and necessary-anyway investment in transition away from gas is now being brought forward by a decade or more.

5) Changes in consumption which are capital investment driven are slow at first, and then get real fast. Again, we saw that with Covid. There was a period of a few months where additional PPE simply wasn't obtainable at any cost. Even over-paying by a factor of 5x or 10x or more on the usual price barely moved the needle. Every dose of vaccine in the first few months of production was precious. Now? More PPE than we know what to do with, more vaccine production than anyone can use. Thus will it be with the transition away from Russian gas. This year we will see mostly tactical / operational changes like turning down temperatures in swimming pools. Five years from now, a juggernaut will have been set in motion that makes us wonder why we ever needed the stuff.
posted by atrazine at 5:34 AM on April 28 [32 favorites]


Another, weirder, news story from Finland. Given Finland’s long history with Russia, it’s not surprising that it can be complicated for Finnish businesses and municipalities to disentangle themselves from Russia. However, here’s kind of a weird one.

So, the Russian consulate in Turku, and the Finnish consulate in St. Petersburg, have long standing agreements with their respective municipalities for recreational benefits. For example, the Finns had use of a lakeside cabin in Zelenogorsk, and the Russians a similar arrangement with the city of Turku. Disentangling that set of agreements is fairly complicated. That’s the relatively simple part.

The more complicated issue is that the Russian consulate has a chapel, which is on the grounds of a museum. The weird bit is there are scant records about how or why that came to be. Furthermore, the Finnish Orthodox Church, which is autocephalous, had no idea it was there, as it was founded by the Moscow patriarchate, which it absolutely shouldn’t do.

You can read more in the pretty good Google Translate version of the Helsingin Sanomat article.
posted by Kattullus at 5:35 AM on April 28 [11 favorites]


" Furthermore, the Finnish Orthodox Church, which is autocephalous, had no idea it was there, as it was founded by the Moscow patriarchate, which it absolutely shouldn’t do."

Ooooh, yeah, this is really really bad. Territorial authority matters a lot to Orthodox and Catholic churches (less so to Protestants). One bishop - one diocese - one area of geographic authority. After WWII, in general, most Eastern Orthodox churches are okay-ish with Catholic churches operating in an overlapping fashion, and vice versa (even though each group claims exclusive geographical rights).

The Moscow Patriarchate, however, has been extremely unfriendly to the Catholic Church over the past millennium, and has repeatedly expelled bishops and priests in the 21st century. The Catholic bishop of Irkutsk was stripped of his visa and expelled in 2002; state-sponsored meetings of the "traditional faiths of Russia" includes the Orthodox, Jews, Buddhists, and Muslims, but pointedly excludes Catholics. The Eastern-Rite Catholic Church (Catholics who celebrate Mass like the Orthodox, basically) is not allowed to operate in Russia. They view the operation of Catholics within Russia as absolutely a precursor to Western invasion. (Other Orthodox Christians are invited to be Russian Orthodox, or to depart either the country or this mortal coil.)

Anyway, this is all to give some context to say, the Moscow Patriarchate establishing a church within Finland's territory is absolutely an imperialist act, one that makes clear they do not believe the Finnish Orthodox Church has authority or that its borders (and by implication, Finland's borders) should be respected; it's a klaxon saying they think Finland is part of the Russian sphere of influence ("Russky Mir," as we've all learned). And it's straight out of the imperialist playbook of both the Tsarist Russian empire and of the USSR. Planting your own Orthodox Churches is a beachhead, and it's kind-of a good one, since Western European and North American countries tend to be like, "Whatever, we have 6200 different religious groups here, they can all just set up churches, it's fine" and not read it as the provocation it is. But for Moscow to go into the territory of another autocephalus Orthodox Church and plunk down a church? That's a declaration of intent, and it's a declaration of intent they've been using for 500 years. Putting a secret, unauthorized church in Finland is legitimately really scary.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:16 AM on April 28 [46 favorites]




Finland is moving to donate "tens of millions" of proceeds from auction of seized bitcoin to Ukraine. Helsingin Sanomat, via google translate: The government has outlined exceptional additional assistance to Ukraine: Funds come from confiscated bitcoins

Advisor to Zelenskyy, @Podolyak_M: "Germany has said its word. 586 votes for providing Ukraine with heavy weapons! Impressive unity of the Bundestag. This vote will go down in history as one of the last nails in the coffin of Putin's lobbying in Europe and as the return of 🇩🇪 leadership."

A thread from Phillips O'Brien on why Russia may struggle to mobilize further.

@jackdetsch: US has information that Russia is planning for a forced capitulation of Ukraine’s democratic elected government “dissolving all local municipal governments”...


More explosions and fires in Kherson today. In a wooded area, but dark smoke.

@avalaina: Russia bombed Azovstal all night. The military hospital collapsed, burying wounded.

One of the rail links to Crimea (from Melitopol) has been disabled by a Ukrainian SOF attack on a rail bridge.

Russia has commenced trucking Ukraine's harvest out of the country under military guard. I can't imagine how it must feel for Ukrainians to see another Holodomor being attempted so nakedly.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:53 AM on April 28 [22 favorites]


Sabotage or just Thursday?

Ukraine War SitRep 🇺🇦 on Twitter
⚡️Today in Moscow on Kustanayskaya street, several explosions were heard due to seven burning cars. No one was hurt, the fire was extinguished, all the circumstances are being investigated now. 👉 Ax Live #Ukraine #UkraineWar #Russia


Includes video.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:11 AM on April 28


Eyebrows McGee: Putting a secret, unauthorized church in Finland is legitimately really scary.

I think the timing of when it was set up, in 2003 during the patriarchate of Alexy II, who was somewhat loosey-goosey with the rules, as opposed to pointedly breaking them like the current patriarch, Kirill, makes me think that this kinda weird guy discussed in the article, Dobronravov, wanted to be a priest, and either bribed someone or pulled strings to secure an appointment.

No one in the Turku municipality thought to ask the local Finnish orthodox diocese if they knew about it. And even though people probably noticed the onion dome after it was installed, the fact this was on the grounds of a kind of museum, made sure that no passerby thought too much about it. Museums are strange places, after all.
posted by Kattullus at 8:30 AM on April 28 [10 favorites]


UA intelligence seems to think Gerasimov is in UA:

Gerasimov will personally command the racists near Izyum, Dvornikov was "pushed" into the background
From Defense Express's own sources, it became known that the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov will personally lead the offensive of Russian troops in the Izyum direction.

This character allegedly has already arrived at the checkpoint of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, located near the city of Izyum.
If that's true he's probably going to be the target of every UA sniper within a 40 mile radius.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:33 AM on April 28 [5 favorites]


From Defense Express's own sources, it became known that the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov will personally lead the offensive of Russian troops in the Izyum direction.

By God, is that Bayraktar's music?
posted by atrazine at 8:56 AM on April 28 [18 favorites]


...the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov will personally lead the offensive of Russian troops in the Izyum direction.

Wow. Seems like a really bad idea which could easily turn into a fatally bad idea.
Have the Russian's sorted out their com's issue? Because this guy's gotta be the only thing a big chunk of the UA armed forces are now number one interested in.

I would buy a crate of champagne/donate that money to the charity of their choice - to whoever sends the General to his just reward. And I bet I'm not the only one thinking that. Holy crap that would be a hell of a coup.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:21 AM on April 28 [6 favorites]


From NPR, Biden asks Congress for $33 billion in aid for Ukraine as war drags on:
The Biden administration is asking Congress for $33 billion in funding to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than double the $14 billion in support authorized so far.

[...]

The bulk of the request is for military and security assistance, a total of $20 billion to provide weapons to Ukraine, replenish U.S. arms stockpiles and help other countries shift away from a dependence on Russian weapons, the officials said.

An additional $8.5 billion is being requested in economic assistance to the Ukrainian government and another $3 billion for humanitarian and food security funding, including supporting refugees from Ukraine and countries who are taking them in.

Biden administration officials said they are also requesting funds to address global economic stress due to the war, in part to increase U.S. production of wheat and soybeans, as well as using the Defense Production Act to expand reserves of critical minerals needed in the manufacture of defense machinery, automobiles and more.
As a point of comparison, Russia's total military expenditures in 2021 were just under $66B.
posted by mhum at 9:28 AM on April 28 [7 favorites]




...the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov will personally lead the offensive of Russian troops in the Izyum direction.
Wow. Seems like a really bad idea which could easily turn into a fatally bad idea.
I don't know; for a while now, I've been half-seriously thinking that given Russia's performance in this war so far, all these dead Russian generals might be a net positive from the Russian military's point of view.
posted by Flunkie at 10:14 AM on April 28 [5 favorites]


Or perhaps the good General delivered unwelcome news. Still, seems most likely a reaction to bad information being passed up; or declining confidence in the reliability of intermediate commanders.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:20 AM on April 28


By God, is that Bayraktar's music?

This comment is a recent example (not to pick on you specifically or solely) of a style of comment that has been sitting uncomfortably with me. I would argue that the taking of life and environmental destruction involved in Ukrainian missile attacks on Russian military targets is undeniably necessary self defence. And given what has come out about the war crimes committed by Russian soldiers, a certain schadenfreude in their destruction is understandable - I would tend toward grim relief rather than celebration per se, but have negative 100% interest in policing the emotional reactions of anyone personally affected by the conflict. I think that we can, and should, draw a line at fetishizing the tools of this self-defence effort (which can, in other contexts, become tools of aggression instead), however.
posted by eviemath at 10:25 AM on April 28 [15 favorites]


Sending generals to the front is a punishment for failure maybe. But also its a convenient way to get rid of any potential rebel leaders, without going through the trouble of a show trial and firing squad.
posted by Ansible at 10:26 AM on April 28 [6 favorites]


I think that we can, and should, draw a line at fetishizing the tools of this self-defence effort (which can, in other contexts, become tools of aggression instead), however.

Would you say that to the person who wrote the song? Or the soldiers playing it? I would think that maybe we should hesitate before applying the standard lens we apply to most things here at Metafilter to an openly genocidal war and the people running it at the highest levels.

It's hardly as if the discussion lacks other substance.

negative 100% interest in policing the emotional reactions of anyone personally affected by the conflict


how about just expanding that to not policing who gets to feel personally affected? Or do we need another MeTa on that topic?
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:45 AM on April 28 [11 favorites]


RUSI's Samuel Ramani on Twitter
Transnistria has stopped all men of fighting age from leaving its territory

Moldova views this move as a concerning escalation
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:47 AM on April 28 [8 favorites]


Missile strikes reported in Kyiv amid the UN Secretary-General's press conference w/Zelenskyy.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:54 AM on April 28 [2 favorites]


US House of Represebtatives voting on and debating the lend lease bill now. (PBS) live stream.
posted by interogative mood at 11:09 AM on April 28


There are two votes today. The first will be a vote on the rules of the debate for the bill (H Res 1065). The proposed rules are that there are 2 hours or debate (1 hour for the majority leader to allocate and 1 hour for the minority leader). The bill must be passed as read with no amendments. A lot of republicans will vote against 1065 because they would like to load this bill up with amendments since it is popular and try to force democrats to vote down some popular things that have nothing to do with Ukraine like ending mask mandates.
posted by interogative mood at 11:17 AM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Flunkie: all these dead Russian generals might be a net positive from the Russian military's point of view.

In my ideal scenario a guy like Gerasimov will find his command vehicle, and its escorts, encountering bezdorizhzhya, Marshall Mud, their comms getting jammed or disabled (so no calling for assistance, which would get stuck too anyway), Ukrainian artillery then reducing most of the group to yet more scrap while Gerasimov's exit hatch gets jammed.

In comes the Ukrainian farmer, hitches a towing cable to G's vehicle, drags it back to well behind Ukrainian side of the front line, G gets extracted, mugshot sent to Putin, G taken to the Kyiv post office and is sent, correctly packed and with sufficient postage (there seems to be an utterly appropriate stamp available), straight to The Hague.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:46 AM on April 28 [9 favorites]


Slight typo above. The leaders get to split 1 hour between them, so each party gets 30 minutes to parcel out to members for speeches. There probably won't be any opposition speeches to the bill because both parties want it, and even if some members will vote against it; they are not going to get floor time.
posted by interogative mood at 11:46 AM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Would you say that to the person who wrote the song?

Wut?

Bayrakter is a Ukrainian military drone, not a band.
posted by eviemath at 12:04 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


have negative 100% interest in policing the emotional reactions of anyone personally affected by the conflict. I think that we can, and should, draw a line at fetishizing the tools of this self-defence effort

I want to very gently remind you (because I like you and think you're coming from a good and kind place, as you often are!) that these two are not always able to coexist and we just have to figure out some kind of balance.

I've been a little coy about this, but among others I love, a member of my close family is currently fighting, on the front lines, in the Ukrainian forces. Every day, I have a different calculation of his survival. Has there been an artillery barrage? What am I reading in the news? I read the tea leaves of Twitter and any other source I can see. I am prepared for (even if paralyzed by) the grief.

I am the last person who I thought would ever fetishize a weapon. I get the criticisms and fears of lingering militarism. I've always found it weird and concerning. But right now, even just the word Bayraktar makes me happy - because it reminds me that there are some ways to strike back that the Russians can't deal with. It reminds me that the people who are committing the war crimes my family member is seeing are not invulnerable, and can be struck at any time.

I don't know a way to make everyone happy, but I hope we can find it.
posted by corb at 12:08 PM on April 28 [53 favorites]


Bayrakter is a Ukrainian military drone, not a band.

It's a Turkish drone and the Ukranians soldier Taras Borovok wrote a pop song about it which went viral in the first weeks of the war. [Cite]
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:09 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


As a point of comparison, Russia's total military expenditures in 2021 were just under $66B.

Russia is about to find out why the US doesn't have universal health care.
posted by Jarcat at 12:09 PM on April 28 [35 favorites]


It's a Turkish drone and the Ukranians soldier Taras Borovok wrote a pop song about it yt which went viral in the first weeks of the war

And most of the videos circulating feature Ukrainian soldiers singing and playing it. The lyrics are instructive and I wonder if the same approbation would be expressed it were a war song, in the style of a folk song, from a more stereotypically post-colonial people.

There's nothing wrong with hoping one of the architects of this war and who most responsible for its atrocities and waste of life dies in it too; especially in a targeted way. It would shorten the war and spare lives. It's better not to have to kill all the general's soldiers to kill the general. It's better for Ukrainian soldiers not to have to put themselves at risk and die in larger numbers.

This is a war. The Ukrainians need to win it. With weapons.

Russia is about to find out why the US doesn't have universal health care.

As meme'd.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:31 PM on April 28 [16 favorites]


“Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022” just passed by voice vote with no voice objection at all.

They've still called for a vote count. Probably so that whoever has the gall to vote no (4 so far: I'm guessing Gaetz, Cawthorn, Greene, and Gosar) can be beaten over the head with it in the media as being Putin stooges.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:55 PM on April 28 [14 favorites]


DJI insisted drone-tracking AeroScope signals were encrypted — now it admits they aren’t. This means: governments and others with technical ability may not need an AeroScope to see the exact position of every DJI drone and the exact location of every pilot nearby.


posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:57 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


A different bill, presumably:

UPI: The House has passed a bill asking President Joe Biden to seize assets from sanctioned Russian oligarchs and use them to benefit Ukraine, but eight members of the chamber voted against the measure -- four Republicans and four Democrats.

Those who voted against seizing oligarchs' assets were Reps. Cori Bush, D-Mo.; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C.; Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.; Thomas Massie; R-Ky.; and Chip Roy, R-Texas.

...

The vote saw an unusual merging of House lawmakers who are widely considered to be farthest apart on the political spectrum...None of those who voted "nay" immediately indicated why they opposed the bill.


For the Squad it might have been this last bit:

The actions also include new authorities for forfeiting Russian-linked property and strengthening law enforcement tools.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:00 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

--Dwight D. Eisenhower

This war is simply making the world worse, the dead people, the destroyed infrastructure, the loss of food, and everything that goes into the weapons which could have gone into making life better instead of, hopefully, in some cases, making life less worse.

And it isn't going to stop with *this* war-- a lot of nations are going to be better armed for a long time. I can hope there won't be more wars somehow resulting from this one.

None of which keeps me from thinking that Bayraktar is a fine song.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 1:01 PM on April 28 [19 favorites]


For the Squad it might have been this last bit:

I'm not surprised. Civil forfeiture is a huge issue for progressives since it has been used by police to seize from some of the most vulnerable members of the community simply for carrying a large amount of cash.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:02 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


417-10.

All Democratic Party members voted yes, 10 Republicans voted no.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:25 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


Civil forfeiture is a huge issue for progressives since it has been used by police to seize from some of the most vulnerable members of the community simply for carrying a large amount of cash.

It's misuse in other settings does not detract from my desire to see oligarchs having their assets seized. In my fantasy world, I'd like to see the program expanded to oligarchs in general -- we have a number of them in this country who could do with some forcible asset seizures, too.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:32 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


Ah, I had been unaware of the song. I couldn’t figure out exactly what snugfleupagus was saying, lacking that context, but that clarifies it helpfully.

I am distinguishing between finding something necessary and finding something pleasurable: specifically, between (a) finding comfort or relief in the fact of the deaths of Russian generals and soldiers, (b) finding joy in the fact of the deaths of Russian generals and soldiers, and (c) finding joy in the process of the deaths of Russian generals and soldiers. (b) is the thing that, while not my thing, I’m not going to admonish anyone else for. (c) is what leads to militarism and I think, while understandable in context, is a dangerous line that we should be highly wary of. It is entirely possible to support a war of self defence, and even to celebrate victories within that war, without taking joy in the necessary process of conducting that war.

(And I thought better of and deleted the comparison the the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that zoo had typed out; I don’t want to completely drone strike this thread into derail annihilation!)
posted by eviemath at 1:38 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


Roll call is up.

No votes:

Andy Biggs (R-AZ)
Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)
Tom Massie (R-KY)
Dan Bishop (R-NC)
Warren Davidson (R-OH)
Scott Perry (R-PA)
Ralph Norman (R-SC)
Tom Tiffany (R-WI)

Putin's pocket House members. Only real surprise is Cawthorn voted yes.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:43 PM on April 28 [15 favorites]


Inside Zelensky's World is a long profile in Time Magazine of the Ukrainian president during wartime by Simon Shuster. Excerpt:
In the first weeks of the invasion, when the Russian artillery was within striking distance of Kyiv, Zelensky seldom waited for sunrise before calling his top general for a status report. Their first call usually took place around 5 a.m., before the light began peeking through the sandbags in the windows of the compound. Later they moved the conversation back by a couple of hours, enough time for Zelensky to have breakfast—invariably eggs— and to make his way to the presidential chambers.

This set of rooms changed little after the invasion. It remained a cocoon of gold leaf and palatial furniture that Zelensky’s staff find oppressive. (“At least if the place gets bombed,” one of them joked, “we won’t have to look at this stuff anymore.”) But the streets around the compound became a maze of checkpoints and barricades. Civilian cars cannot get close, and soldiers ask pedestrians for secret passwords that change daily, often nonsense phrases, like coffee cup suitor, that would be hard for a Russian to pronounce.

Beyond the checkpoints is the government district, known as the Triangle, which Russian forces tried to seize at the start of the invasion. When those first hours came up in our interview, Zelensky warned me the memories exist “in a fragmented way,” a disjointed set of images and sounds. Among the most vivid took place before sunrise on Feb. 24, when he and his wife Olena Zelenska went to tell their children the bombing had started, and to prepare them to flee their home. Their daughter is 17 and their son is 9, both old enough to understand they were in danger. “We woke them up,” Zelensky told me, his eyes turning inward. “It was loud. There were explosions over there.”

It soon became clear the presidential offices were not the safest place to be. The military informed Zelensky that Russian strike teams had parachuted into Kyiv to kill or capture him and his family. “Before that night, we had only ever seen such things in the movies,” says Andriy Yermak, the President’s chief of staff.

As Ukrainian troops fought the Russians back in the streets, the presidential guard tried to seal the compound with whatever they could find. A gate at the rear entrance was blocked with a pile of police barricades and plywood boards, resembling a mound of junkyard scrap more than a fortification.
[Warning: There are some distressing descriptions and at least one picture of a deceased person]
posted by Kattullus at 1:43 PM on April 28 [11 favorites]


finding joy in the process of the deaths of Russian generals and soldiers...is what leads to militarism and I think, while understandable in context, is a dangerous line that we should be highly wary of.

Reasonable, but so far as that is concerned consider the death of Admiral Yamamoto as the goal of Operation Vengence as an important event in WWII. In terms of how the song came up here; i.e. the announcement (!?!) that they're sending Gerasimov to the front after losing a remarkable number of officers in combat and to drone strikes.

Anyway, to the extent this is about feelings about how other people feel and how they express it here, there is also the feelings thread. (Where there are also felines.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:49 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


Eh, my point was about how we focus (or don’t) the conversation in this thread, not about feelings. It was a political point, harkening back to a comment I made in one of the first threads in discussion of the role of the Azov Battalion and how caution or discussion about the pitfalls of being at war, even on the right side of a conflict where which side is right and just is unusually clear, does have a time and place, despite the need to be aware of and not feed into Russian propaganda. I do like felines though.
posted by eviemath at 2:35 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


Bulgaria has made a major change in its policies in the last couple of days . It has gone from a pacifist stance of being generally against the war but opposing deeper EU involvement to agreeing to provide repair facilities and use its ports to help export Ukrainian grain.
posted by interogative mood at 2:42 PM on April 28 [21 favorites]


Only real surprise is Cawthorn voted yes.

Cawthorn is in some very deep shit (the first rule of Cocaine Orgy Party Club is you do not talk about Cocaine Orgy Party Club) and probably needs to bolster his reputation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:05 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


Illia Ponomarenko: How Russia killed 3 cities of my life [Kyiv Independent, April 29, 2022]:

“Mom, you just have to get out,” I was saying into the phone, again and again.

“I’ve bought you a ticket, take the night train and come to Kyiv. It’s for your safety, just leave the town for some time. Nobody knows if the worst is to happen soon.”

But my mother Iryna wouldn’t listen. I was breaking into her quiet and very routine world of living in the town of Volnovakha in Donbas and working as a mid-ranking clerk.

I was begging her to leave this comfortable routine because of something that made no sense to her ears — the gathering storm of a big war.

“You just lost your mind,” she would argue every evening.

“Nothing’s happening to this place. It’s all quiet and fine. Stop fooling around, I am perfectly fine here.”

But I was worried. As a defense reporter, I was seeing that the insanity of Russia’s war crisis was quickly tipping over into the worst scenario.

Anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russia was flaming up every single day. Exalted propaganda was reveling in blood and fury, demanding that Ukraine be eliminated as an independent nation for the sake of “historical justice.”

[...]

...by March 12, the local authorities admitted that Volnovakha effectively ceased to exist as a human settlement. It was turned into a heap of lifeless ruins, with not a single building left intact.

Volnovakha was spoken of across the world again.

But that was just the beginning.

Next, it was Mariupol’s turn.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:49 PM on April 28 [19 favorites]


The Time article is genuinely fascinating. There was a quote from Zelenskyy early on that was something like 'we'll fight and die with our soldiers if necessary', which I thought at the time was more a theoretical thing, the risk was there but not immediate. But no, there was a point the first night where Zelenskyy and his crew were carrying automatic weapons and wearing body armor, because Russian infiltrators were literally fighting in the government quarter and made two attempts to storm the at the time not very well fortified presidential office building. The "this may be the last time you see me alive" line to the EU council was made by the man who had faced potentially fighting to the death the night before.
posted by tavella at 10:48 PM on April 28 [23 favorites]




The Atlantic: Putin is Just Following the Manual

Putin's thinking about re-establishing a Russian empire may have been inspired, or been influenced by, the SF novel by Mikhail Yuriev, entitled The Third Empire: Russia As It Ought to Be. That Atlantic article is worth your time (and it really creeped me out.)
posted by newdaddy at 9:23 AM on April 29 [7 favorites]


the SF novel by Mikhail Yuriev, entitled The Third Empire: Russia As It Ought to Be

"Empire" basically translates into German as "Reich". And yes, that piece is creepy.
posted by Slothrup at 9:40 AM on April 29


That is so interesting Newdaddy. I also found it chilling. One part particularly interesting was that in the novel the author of the article you linked mentioned a quote that said the Russians would go to heaven and the Americans would croak. WELL on Russian television the other day, as reported in the daily mail, the presenter quoted this novel- she said this was going nuclear and they would go to heaven and we would all croak (although I only understand that now I read your article!)
posted by pairofshades at 9:45 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]




The Third what now?
posted by Reverend John at 10:02 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


There's also Okkupert (Occupied) [Netflix], re: a fictional Russian slow-motion 'silk-glove' takeover of Norway through similar energy politics.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:19 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


I suspect the "Third Empire" thing is referring to Russia's longstanding idea that it is "the Third Rome" (i.e. after Rome and Constantinople), not to the Third Reich.
posted by Flunkie at 10:27 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


IIRC, the First Reich was the Roman Empire, and the Second Reich, the (German) Holy Roman Empire. History might not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
posted by acb at 10:33 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


Though now that I actually look at the article, it claims it's referring to part 3 of "1. Tsars and crap; 2. Soviets and crap; 3. ???? and crap". Still not 100% clear to me if that's what the author of the book is referring to or just what the author of the article about the book assumes the author of the book is referring to, but I guess it's probably both.

Anyway, the "Third Rome" thing is a real thing too.
posted by Flunkie at 10:33 AM on April 29


IIRC, the First Reich was the Roman Empire, and the Second Reich, the (German) Holy Roman Empire. History might not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
I'm fairly sure that the First Reich was supposed to be the HRE, and the Second the German Empire.
posted by Flunkie at 10:35 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


"Empire" basically translates into German as "Reich".

Reich is realm. Kaiser is emperor. Kaiserreich is emperor's realm which is what we colloquially call an empire.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:58 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Both "kaiser" and "czar" are derived from "caesar".

Echoes of Rome in many nations and languages.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:03 AM on April 29 [10 favorites]


There's also Okkupert (Occupied) [Netflix], re: a fictional Russian slow-motion 'silk-glove' takeover of Norway through similar energy politics.


The Russian occupation force is far less brutal and far more intelligent on the show.
posted by ocschwar at 12:22 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Per Times of London [Mirror]; Ukraine says the Ghost of Kiev was a real pilot, and more can be said now that "he has been shot down."

The Russian occupation force is far less brutal and far more intelligent on the show.

Certainly; it was more a reaction to the 'little green men' and how things went in Crimea, Transnistria, etc. (Though there is not the same boldness imagined in Okkupert.) From Politico in 2016, "The Norwegian TV series that’s enraged the Kremlin and why you should watch it."
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:33 PM on April 29 [6 favorites]


.
posted by acb at 12:34 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Europe ratchets up preparation for Russian oil embargo next week. Excerpt:
The embargo is likely to affect Russian oil transported by tankers more quickly than oil coming by pipeline, which could take a matter of months. In both cases, however, it is likely that the bloc will allow its members to wind down existing contracts with Russian oil companies as it did with its coal ban, which was given four months to be fully put in place.

Germany’s position has been critical in finalizing the new measure; the country, the bloc’s economic leader, was importing about a third of its oil from Russia at the time of the Ukraine invasion. But its influential energy minister, Robert Habeck, said this week that Germany had been able to cut that to just 12 percent in recent weeks, making a full embargo “manageable.”

“The problem that seemed very large for Germany only a few weeks ago has become much smaller,” Mr. Habeck told the news media during a visit to Warsaw on Tuesday. He added, “Germany has come very, very close to independence from Russian oil imports.” But he did not explain how it was able to accomplish that so quickly.

Russia is Europe’s biggest oil supplier, providing about one quarter of the bloc’s yearly needs, according to 2020 data, about half of Russia’s total exports. As the oil embargo is phased in, officials said the bloc would seek to make up the shortfall by increasing imports from other sources, like Persian Gulf countries, Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
posted by Kattullus at 1:27 PM on April 29 [13 favorites]


Habeck is the boss. Like, maybe not quite entirely literally but he is definitely the brain of the government right now. A bunch of people, before the last election, had told me that he was the guy who should win it but he didn't have the 'charm' / political charisma. Looks like he has moved himself into a politically weighty position anyway. Poor Olaf, he spent so much time studying how Frau Merkel's posed her hands that he lost track of the real prize. Thankfully he has not really stood much in the way of actually getting things done - he has said, 'the Regierung is going to do this, but not that' but not actually done much of anything to see it through. Which is fine, as he's been kinda wrong about everything after his initial - revolutionary - shift.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:46 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Apologies for this request but:
Per Times of London [Mirror]; Ukraine says the Ghost of Kiev was a real pilot, and more can be said now that "he has been shot down."

Even the mirror version only shows a version that needs a login (I wonder why?). Could anyone excerpt the relevant bits or maybe the whole article if it's not too long?
posted by cendawanita at 4:19 PM on April 29


Sometimes it works with the Times of London articles; sometimes it doesn't. Here's the NY Post's version.

In other awful news:

Olga Tokariuk [@olgatokariuk]: Pope Francis reached out to Putin three times asking to allow the ship with a Vatican flag to evacuate civilians trapped in Mariupol's Azovstal steel mill, but all three times his requests were rejected, according to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:51 PM on April 29 [5 favorites]


With the Russian Orthodox churches general disagreements with Rome, and with the current poitical/propaganda situation within Russia, this rejection of anything from Francis is entirely within form.
posted by hippybear at 5:50 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


I am all about the bromance between US Secretary of Defense Austin and Ukraine Minister of Defense Reznikov.

Howiztzers > bro hugs --> victory! Bro hugs 1, 2 3
posted by peeedro at 6:00 PM on April 29 [4 favorites]


this rejection of anything from Francis is entirely within form.

I mean yes, but it makes it more naked what they’re doing. The ostensible reason no one has been allowed to evacuate civilians is because they might be supplying weapons. That kind of falls down when it comes to the Vatican.
posted by corb at 11:48 PM on April 29 [12 favorites]


Quite a fire reported on by Russian media today, this time in the turbine room of Sakhalin TPP GRES-2 power station. (The Sakhalin Islands are the same chain Japan calls the Kurils.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:03 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


(The Sakhalin Islands are the same chain Japan calls the Kurils.)
I admit that I am not entirely familiar with the details of the Japanese territorial claims but I think you are conflating Sakhalin Island (where the power station in question is located) and Sakhalin Oblast, which administers both Sakhalin Island and the Russian-occupied Kuril Islands, some of which are claimed by Japan. But to the best of my understanding, Sakhalin Island is not one of the Kurils, nor do the Japanese currently assert any territorial claim over it.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:23 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


corb: That kind of falls down when it comes to the Vatican.

You think the Vatican is neutral? Hah, just look at their Swiss Guards who are basically clothed in the Ukrainian flag, and those halberds are really like the Ukrainian trident if you squint a bit a lot are myopic.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:47 AM on April 30




The island the plant is on is not disputed; they're still part of the same island chain, so far as I can tell. Wiki:

The Island's name derived from the Manchu word Sahaliyan. Sakhalin was once part of China during the Qing dynasty, although Chinese control was relaxed at times. Sakhalin was later claimed by both Russia and Japan over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. These disputes sometimes involved military conflicts and divisions of the island between the two powers. In 1875, Japan ceded its claims to Russia in exchange for the northern Kuril Islands. In 1905, following the Russo-Japanese War, the island was divided, with the south going to Japan. Russia has held all of the island since seizing the Japanese portion—as well as all the Kuril Islands—in the final days of World War II in 1945. Japan no longer claims any of Sakhalin, although it does still claim the southern Kuril Islands.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:31 AM on April 30


Reliable intelligence from the ground is that Cancel was not with a private company but that his family misunderstood that the Legion is part of the Ukrainian Army and is thus paid.

.
posted by corb at 7:08 AM on April 30 [5 favorites]


this probably speaks to my ignorance of such matters but since Russia confirmed on Friday that Putin will personally attend the G20 meeting in November [CNN Lite], leading to a bout of hand-wringing among US officials as to how to handle Biden's own attendance, i'm just like, "great! we have until then to complete all the groundwork necessary to arrest his ass and send him to the Hague."
posted by glonous keming at 7:18 AM on April 30 [10 favorites]


Nobody better drink anything that isn't sealed that they didn't bring themselves, and touching doorknobs is also ill advised.
posted by hippybear at 7:21 AM on April 30 [6 favorites]


"great! we have until then to complete all the groundwork necessary to arrest his ass...

Fucking -A!

Nobody better drink anything that isn't sealed that they didn't bring themselves, and touching doorknobs is also ill advised.
posted by hippybear at 7:21 AM on April 30 [+] [!]


... which is a crazy statement, right? Like you go to a party and someone says, "Hey, see that guy over there? Don't get caught in the same room alone with him." "Oh?" "Yeah, he's a full-on psycho killer." "Shit, well, why is he here at the party?" ... and anything that comes after that is silly talk. When Guterres was in Kiev and Putin literally lobs bombs at him! Like, I feel like I've gone a little insane - this is a wild, out of control action to take, one that should lead to Putin/Russia's immediate and aggressive censure from the UN, from... the grown-ups ultimately. So that ultimately Putin's defeat (kind of like the former President's) is a putting of the world closer to some kind of moral righteousness... "Welcome to the party, you brought your own, right? Because there's a good chance all the drinks are spiked with strychnine and don't touch anything, same reason, really. OK, have fun! Glad you could make it!"

it's like some kind of fantasy, bad fantasy, talk.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:37 AM on April 30 [8 favorites]


Can you get a three piece suit in Tyvek?
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:38 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


The Other Front Lines is an episode of This American Life focused on Ukraine. The four people in focus are Katia, who lives on the outskirts of Kyiv with her parents and dog; Yevgenia Belorusets, whose diaries, which I linked to a few times, are read by an actress; Munachi Nnadi, a Nigerian medical student who was in Odessa; and Alyona, a young Russian anti-war protester whose lifelong best friend is a Russian soldier fighting in Ukraine. You can also read the transcript.
posted by Kattullus at 7:56 AM on April 30 [6 favorites]


I don’t get why Russia is still invited to the G20. It’s not like the UN Security Council where the charter prevents that, is it?
posted by freecellwizard at 8:44 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Someone is surely discussing whether they could kidnap Putin at the G20 and send him to the Hague, I hope.
posted by fatbird at 8:46 AM on April 30


The White House is realistic the G20 will not collectively remove Russia from its ranks, since the decision would likely require consensus and China has been clear it doesn't support such a move. That makes this a different scenario than when Russia was expelled from the G8 after its annexation of Crimea.
emphasis mine, from the CNN article i linked above
posted by glonous keming at 8:51 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I don’t get why Russia is still invited to the G20.

He was invited by the host country, Indonesia, which was a big supporter of Trump, and very spread out geographically so probably a likely survivor/winner of a large nuclear war anyway.
posted by sammyo at 9:02 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


(sorry wrong thread for that last predicate,)
posted by sammyo at 9:07 AM on April 30


Odesa airport's tarmac destroyed by missiles; airport not presently usable. There's pretty wide consensus that Russia must be, at this point, getting into the last of these missiles they can expend without compromising the ability to fight an expanded war -- so targeting is meaningful.

The surveillance aircraft FORTE1 has been orbiting along the presumed line of contact with Russian subs in the black sea; speculation is that it is providing early warning (and perhaps targeting if Ukraine has anything capable of reaching that far).

Meanwhile, Italy is regularly operating manned surveillance aircraft to monitor Transnistria, and other NATO assets conduct similar missions in the area .

A game of naval cat and mouse is developing in the Med, despite the relative unlikeliness of direct conflict there.

Sergej Sumlenny [@sumlenny]: In Russian Krasnoyarsk region, Siberia, local parliament voted for “expropriation of excessive wheat produced by Kherson farmers” [translation] in Russia-occupied Ukrainian, and for bringing the grain to Russia. This is exactly Holodomor wording and politics. They ARE repeating it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:27 AM on April 30 [15 favorites]


So what does Ukraine get access to with the lend-lease act...
M1A2 Abrams (Main Battle Tank)
M2A3 Bradley (Infantry Fighting Vehicle)
M109A6 Paladin (Self-Propelled Howitzer)
M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (a.k.a HIMARS)
M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (!!! 300km range !!!)
NASAMS 2 (Surface to Air Missile System)
MIM-104 Patriot (SAM/Anti-Ballistic Missle)
F-16 C/D Fighting Falcon (Air Superiority Fighter)
Not sure of the numbers yet but JFC if you have to fight a ground war against Russia, you can't really get much better in terms of heavy weapons. Giving Ukraine the Patriots and M270s is going to be a game changer for them.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:43 AM on April 30 [8 favorites]


If they're pulling from AMARC for F-16Cs then pilots will be the limit. There are over 100 ( w/'current' info) per the listings here.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:08 AM on April 30


Much as I'd like to see Putin hauled off to the Hague, is it a good idea to attack people when they're (even if insincerely) doing diplomacy? Is it important if diplomacy is made harder in the future?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:46 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


I just read Cargo 200 (Extreme CW: No visual gore, but multiple B&W photos of exhumed corpses and very distressing text). It follows a war-crimes prosecutor investigating civilian deaths in Bucha, and tells the stories of a few of the exhumed and their surviving loved ones.

Human tongues lack sufficient words to express the depth of tragedy here in just these five stories among thousands. A thousand stories, a thousand tragedies, each reaching out to a web of people who need to live with the loss in the aftermath.

One of the sucky things about being an atheist sometimes is there's no power above to call out to and beseech for mercy on another's behalf. But my human spirit desperately reaches out to these people and hopes, somewhere, they find comfort and quietude.

.
posted by jammer at 10:49 AM on April 30 [21 favorites]


is it a good idea to attack people when they're (even if insincerely) doing diplomacy?

Perhaps not, but it's also not a good idea to sit down and discuss economic issues with someone you've credibly accused of committing war crimes during the most naked war of aggression we've seen in decades. For Putin to participate normally in the G20 at this point would make a mockery of the world's stance against the invasion of Ukraine.

I mean, unless it's an opportunity to pointedly not talk to him, to leave the room if he starts speaking, to make a tangible display of isolating him. Or to not go so that the meeting becomes the G-14 through 17 instead.
posted by fatbird at 10:54 AM on April 30 [7 favorites]


is it a good idea to attack people when they're (even if insincerely) doing diplomacy?

This is why you get 'em on the way back. After they, surprise surprise, didn't actually do any diplomacy.

Also -- with regard to the F-16Cs -- one of the potential covert advantages of choosing it is its ubiquity among NATO forces. As the Soviets demonstrated in Korea and Vietnam, it's hard to tell who's actually in a plane's cockpit without capturing the pilot...

MiG Alley? Welcome to the Viper Pit.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:59 AM on April 30 [5 favorites]






The next week or so is a big vacation time. Monday and Tuesday are off for most jobs for Labor Day and then next Monday and Tuesday are off for Victory Day, the anticipated May 9th when there should be some announcement. So a lot of people take off those other 3 days. Some think he may mobilize the nation, but I'm starting to think that after a week of negligible gains and large losses while the citizens are largely maybe not paying as much attention to things at the dacha / in the banya for a week, maybe he will declare Numberwang! Victory! and we will never again hear (officially) about any conflict as he tries and fails to hold the controlled areas over the next few months. The news will shift to farmer's almanac type updates and recipes to make overly complicated salads out of diced root vegetables with performances from local kindergarten choirs because life is good, everything went swimmingly, and the problem is solved, there is definitely nothing going on.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:57 PM on April 30 [21 favorites]


Some think their job is to prevent other russian troops from deserting... by shooting the russians from behind.

The Tsars had Cossack troops on hand because they were more likely to be comfortable shooting into crowds of Russians when needed. I guess Putin keeps Chechens for the same function?
posted by Bee'sWing at 2:57 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Today's campaign update from the ISW is out, and seems to match a trend in reporting that says the Donbas offensive is really going... quite poorly?
Further Russian reinforcements to the Izyum axis are unlikely to enable stalled Russian forces to achieve substantial advances. Elements of unspecified Eastern Military District units and several air-defense assets are reportedly deploying from Belgorod to the Izyum front to support likely degraded Russian units attempting to advance south of the city. These forces are unlikely to enable Russian forces to break the current deadlock, as Russian attacks remain confined to two major highways (toward Slovyansk and Barvinkove) and cannot leverage greater numbers. Several successful Ukrainian counterattacks out of Kharkiv city in the last 72 hours have additionally recaptured a ring of suburbs north and east of the city and may additionally force Russian forces to redeploy units intended for the Izyum axis to hold these positions. Russian forces appear increasingly unlikely to achieve any major advances in eastern Ukraine, and Ukrainian forces may be able to conduct wider counterattacks in the coming days.
posted by jammer at 4:03 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I think it is important to take diplomatic meetings as being sacrosanct, so yeah, "Kidnap Putin at the G20 and send him to the Hague" doesn't seem all that great to me except in a (satisfying) knee-jerk sense. However, I also think it's not a good idea to assume that Putin would take a diplomatic meeting as sacrosanct. I'd prefer if other members of the G20 just decline the invite.

Another benefit to that would be the schadenfreude associated with a G20 conference whose only attendees were Russia and Indonesia.
posted by Flunkie at 4:06 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


I'm starting to think that after a week of negligible gains and large losses while the citizens are largely maybe not paying as much attention to things at the dacha / in the banya for a week, maybe he will declare Numberwang! Victory!

If all the artillery flooding into the Donbas fight leaves the BTGs effectively unable to advance, maybe.

But all the weird preparations directed at Odesa, the decision to bypass Azovstal and permit at least some evacuation, and cutting all internet to Kherson while forcing a vote on annexation makes me feel like at least some last push along the coast inevitable.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:38 PM on April 30


very weird to hear the potential arrest of a formally accused war criminal & his transportation by cooperating nations to the ICC detention center to await his trial for war crimes called an "attack" or kidnapping. under the hypothetical situation put forward, which I dare say is not going to happen but really ought to, an arrest warrant will have been issued by the ICC. Other nations doing the practical physical work of laying hands on Putin & getting him to where he needs to be isn't some crazy-go-bonkers violation of sacrosanct whatever-the-fuck, it's the only way the ICC works.

https://www.icc-cpi.int/about/how-the-court-works

("As a judicial institution, the ICC does not have its own police force or enforcement body; thus, it relies on cooperation with countries worldwide for support, particularly for making arrests, transferring arrested persons to the ICC detention centre in The Hague, freezing suspects’ assets, and enforcing sentences.")
posted by queenofbithynia at 4:43 PM on April 30 [11 favorites]


The reality is that international law stops where statecraft starts. "Kidnapping" or "abduction" is just a description in that context. Eichmann was abducted by Mossad.

The question is how close in space and time you can get to the diplomatic summit in taking direct action without undermining diplomacy in a way that might make conflict harder to avert in the future, or ushering in someone even worse and less rational in Russia (hard to imagine now, but a real possibility).
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:52 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


There's no arrest warrant at this time, is there? And in any case, I could easily be mistaken, but I'm guessing that (arrest warrant or no) the only nation that could legally arrest someone in Indonesia is Indonesia. Presumably, Indonesia is not interested in doing so? So, unless one of my assumptions here is incorrect, I really don't see why "kidnapping" or "abduction" would not be appropriate words to use.

But anyway, yeah, speaking for myself, I was just using "kidnap" as a loose, offhand description of grabbing some dude (echoing its use earlier in the thread in this same context), not as some legally meaningful statement.
posted by Flunkie at 5:58 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I don’t quite get the idea that a post-Putin regime would be worse. Putin is a murderous psychopath who has been consolidating power for 20 years. Isn’t the worst case alternative a murderous psychopath who is not nearly as powerful?
posted by snofoam at 6:00 PM on April 30 [6 favorites]


Kaiser Wilhelm to Hitler. But, Nuclear Hitler.

Putin is doing Holodomor II now, so it's not a perfect comparison; but we're talking about humans. It can get worse. Trust.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:08 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


"Rendition," might be the word that you're looking for Flunkie.
posted by porpoise at 6:32 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Is it still too early (there are still airworthy and sovereign worthy aircraft) for Putin to be forced to take a train to North Korea and bum a lift on one of Kim's jets to Indonesia?
posted by porpoise at 6:38 PM on April 30




I don’t quite get the idea that a post-Putin regime would be worse. Putin is a murderous psychopath who has been consolidating power for 20 years. Isn’t the worst case alternative a murderous psychopath who is not nearly as powerful?

Or a murderous psychopath who Putin was only able to keep partially in check on behalf of the oligarch faction is no longer restrained. Or you have a bloody civil war between five such generals competing for power, some of whom believe in a doctrine of limited escalation with access to enough nukes to roast the world five times over. It's not like the military is about to call the war off, allow Alexi Navalni to run in an open election, and surrender themselves to the ICC.
posted by pwnguin at 9:20 PM on April 30 [7 favorites]


I don’t quite get the idea that a post-Putin regime would be worse. Putin is a murderous psychopath who has been consolidating power for 20 years. Isn’t the worst case alternative a murderous psychopath who is not nearly as powerful?
posted by snofoam


Unless there's a total paradigm shift, a new leader will be working with supports that are just as corrupt as putin has, but I think there will be more outspoken dissent because putin definitely has that star power, similar to trump and how the gop seems to be having trouble getting someone with his nationwide magnetism (barf!). a new guy will just be the effin new guy and won't have the respect necessary to keep the oppression going, especially inheriting a depressed economy and worthless currency.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:27 PM on April 30 [13 favorites]


However, I also think it's not a good idea to assume that Putin would take a diplomatic meeting as sacrosanct.

I would be exactly zero surprised to hear he has released some kind of chemical-warfare agent in his wake. Seriously, he has shown us who he is, he has told us who he is. Believe him.

Call it rendition, arrest, detention, whatever you want in brut practical terms I t’s simply self-defense
posted by From Bklyn at 4:05 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


I have to say, I'm only just starting on that list of propaganda books linked just above here, and that is a bizarre journey into an alternate reality. This has apparently been going on for years.
posted by hippybear at 5:30 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]


There's unconfirmed reports from reporters in UA going around that UA managed to hit the Russian HQ in Izium. Possibly up to 20 high ranking officers KIA and Gerasimov is wounded.

As soon as I get confirmation from somewhere reputable I'll post it.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:04 AM on May 1 [9 favorites]


It's the same attack that killed Simonov; Ukrainian sources are revealing the additional information that it wounded Gerasimov.

From the same journalist, Victor Kovalenko [@MrKovalenko]; tomorrow's Transnistria news, today:

The #Transnistria pro-Russian enclave btw #Moldova & #Ukraine printed a newspaper dated May 2, 2022 (tomorrow) with breaking news on bloody terror acts that "have happened there" with dozens of killed civilians + call to Putin to "save us & invade". Source: Intel Dept of UAF.

posted by snuffleupagus at 7:12 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]


After Putin, I predict one of two outcomes. The first will be a period of a central committee style government from his former lieutenants for a few years until one of them consolidates power. This is what happened after Stalin died. The second would be a civil war.

I’m not that the first scenario is possible without an institution like the army being strong enough to put down any outsider groups that oppose it. There is no General Zuhkov and a victorious red army who can hold it together.

The second scenario would emerge with Chechen leader Kadyrov declaring independence and deciding to add Dagestan and other adjacent territory. Then you might see other republics inside Russia follow suit; and with a weakened FSB from purges and a defeated army things could get very dicey in Russia. Multiple factions could end up with nuclear weapons, selling nuclear weapons, etc. It is a nightmare. Perhaps this nightmare is what would make the first scenario workable — no one wants to see a nuclear civil war, so maybe they work it out.
posted by interogative mood at 7:18 AM on May 1 [4 favorites]


Panic buying of sunflower oil in Europe because so much of it is grown in Ukraine, where farming is disrupted, and Russia, which is under sanction. Sunflower oil is widely used for deep frying in restaurants.

I spent a summer at my brother's house as a teen in the Texas pan handle, surrounded by fields of ten foot tall sunflowers. They were cool and weird.
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:52 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


I have some faith that if we armchair geopolitical experts /s can think through scenarios like this there are people with their hands on the levers of power and those that work for them thinking about it too and making contingency plans, preparing relevant resources, etc.

Metafilter being Metafilter there will generally be a higher level of armchair analysis than most places and I'm sure there is at least one member reading this and not commenting because they're working on exactly that at the US state dept right now. Metafilter is like that. ;)

These things don't exist in a vacuum so there is a chance that the rest of the international community would help facilitate a more peaceful transition if asked or at least mitigate some of the violence.
posted by VTX at 8:10 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


Agreed. But, the "international community" hasn't been able to stop Russia's attack on Ukraine, despite sanctions, weapons, etc. They may have been able to defeat Russia, but hasn't stopped all the horrible behavior. If Putin goes, what makes you think that the international community could do much about the infighting that would happen in the aftermath of Putin's demise?
posted by Windopaene at 8:45 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, another military facility in Russia has caught fire, this time in Belgorod Oblast.

Oh dear, how unfortunate.
posted by acb at 9:01 AM on May 1 [12 favorites]


And a railway bridge down in Kursk oblast, admitted by the oblast governor as sabotage. Another road bridge over the Donets (in Belgorod, natch) has been closed down, possibly for a bomb check.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:05 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]




(Although, on second thought, I think that the portrait framing works well in this particular composition... it accentuates the seemingly endless road full of mourners.)
posted by jammer at 9:34 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]


Putin might be succeded by Kadyrov.
posted by 15L06 at 10:05 AM on May 1


No chance in hell. Ethnic Russians would burn the country to the ground before being ruled by a Chechen.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:15 AM on May 1 [11 favorites]


Plus frankly Kadyrov is too stupid. He's a useful idiot to Putin, half the psycho henchman and half the puppet in Chechnya (where the locals would gladly blow him up just like they did his rather smarter dad). He might want the post, but he's nowhere near any plausible succession line.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:36 AM on May 1 [6 favorites]


Kadyrov is stupid. He might get his emirate. He'll never rule Russia unless things get bad and weird beyond all reasonable predictions. Which means he might have a slight chance since history often gets weirder than what anyone predicted.

But, I can't get over the fact he might have the most intact, and therefore the most powerful, military units in the country at some point in this war's progression. Even as dumb as he is, that's going to present an opportunity he'd find difficult to resist.

Another General seems to be dead. Russian Maj. Gen. Andrei Simonov was killed on April 30. Many of you might have seen the video of the command post near Izyum being hit. The Kyiv Post claims this is General #10. I was thinking the count was 11, but I guess not.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:07 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]


...what makes you think that the international community could do much about the infighting that would happen in the aftermath of Putin's demise?

Continued faith in humanity despite...history. My belief is just that "the arch of history bends towards justice" because there are more people pushing it harder that way than the other.

I don't expect miracles but I do think something will be done to mitigate the chaos, hopefully something, something that bends the arch of history more towards justice than away.

Stupid fucking hope.
posted by VTX at 11:08 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


The attack in the ‚command Post‘ in Izyum narrowly missed killing Gen. Gerasimov. Twitter is buzzing that he was ‘lightly injured’ maybe in the same way the Moskva was lightly damaged.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:13 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Russians are confiscating agricultural equipment, grain and seeds

They may still have the grain, but the equipment theft didn't work out so well.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:20 AM on May 1 [7 favorites]


Simonov was also the guy in charge of electronic warfare, which is quite the poetic flourish.

Also, I don't know if we noted it here but apparently Poland is sending Ukraine the bulk of it's remaining T-72 tanks. . "At least 240" more tanks.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:27 AM on May 1 [4 favorites]


The tiny — very tiny — benefits of excessive IP protection.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:29 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


This is pretty interesting: Kings And Generals usually do historical documentaries, but here is How Ukraine Won The First Phase Of The War [34m], covering Feb 24-Apr 7, and which I'm finding quite interesting to watch as a summary with maps and stuff.
posted by hippybear at 11:35 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


CheeseDigestsAll: but the equipment theft didn't work out so well.

Opening that link, the first thing I see is a green tractor, and the words "remotely disabled".

Several lines down the article indeed notes the Chechens plundered a John Deere dealership.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:49 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


The Polish Army has put out an official message that there will be increased troop and equipment movements in May in half the country, from the western borders (zachodniopomorskie, wielkopolskie) right through the middle to lubelskie in the east, which is one of two regions bordering Ukraine. Message says planned NATO exercises, and please don't photograph stuff and post it online. I suspect those would be the tanks from Poland and the rest of NATO happily rolling eastwards.

(Re: number of dead generals, I think Russia managed to produce undated later footage of one of them, so the Ukrainians took him off their score pending confirmation.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:38 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]


I have some faith that if we armchair geopolitical experts /s can think through scenarios like this there are people with their hands on the levers of power and those that work for them thinking about it too and making contingency plans, preparing relevant resources, etc.

Yeah, back in the first week, Bret Devereaux tweeted something like (paraphrasing) "For all the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, it looks like the American institutions that were designed and optimized to spy on the USSR are still working well at spying on the Russians. Makes sense." And, for my part, I'll add that for all the failures of the American political system, the civil service and military seem to have been pretty insulated and are still functioning as they should, and this is very much the kind of situation they've been optimized to address.

So yes, I feel confident there are many bureaus full of people who haven't gotten any sleep for the past six weeks (or six years) because they're gaming out scenarios and possibilities and contingency plans. Just like us but with classified information and a budget.

News: Pelosi leads a congressional delegation to Kyiv and Poland (CNN); seems like an odd choice and maybe not particularly helpful, but what do I know. If the Secret Service won't let Biden do a state visit then this is pretty close.

(Zelensky in that picture has gotta be the rattiest I've ever seen an actor look. It looks like he hasn't had a haircut or a shave since the war started. It looks EXACTLY like he's been in a warzone for six weeks. I like it.)

Civilians evacuated from the Azovstal bunkers in Mariupol (Reuters): The "U.N. confirms that a safe passage operation is ongoing in Azovstal steel plant, in coordination with the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and the parties to the conflict," U.N. spokesperson Saviano Abreu said. "At this point, and as the operations are underway, we will not share further details, as it could jeopardize the safety of the civilians and the convoy."

First I heard it was 25 or 30 people; this particular story says 100 and more to come. Jesus wept.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 12:48 PM on May 1 [6 favorites]


> Zelensky in that picture has gotta be the rattiest I've ever seen an actor look.

I've been oddly fascinated with Zelensky's presentation since the start of this. If you read about his current status, like in the Time article linked earlier in this thread, he seems to have about as normal a routine right now as one can have as the leader of a country at war. Kyiv is secure enough that the administration are mostly working in their own offices, albeit with some anti-sniper precautions. There's no reason he couldn't spend a few minutes a day, even with a busy schedule, to stay "politician groomed" if he wanted to. They do it all the time. The entire look -- the scruffiness, the olive tshirts and cargo pants, the whole living in a bunker thing is something he's striving for. It's a deliberate choice.

And I think that's great. Combined with his confidence and occasional swagger, the absolute certainty he shows (whether or not he actually has it) that his country will prevail, it gives off a really determined scrappy underdog vibe that perfectly fits the situation and the overall media approach they've taken. But beyond that, I think we've all had the uncomfortable experience of being under-dressed for an occasion -- it's not great. I can't imagine that meeting world leaders, shined up and dressed to the nines as always, while wearing casual wear like he does is a very comfortable thing. I wonder how much his experience as an actor plays into his ability to manage that situation with the smoothness that he has, as though it were just another role. I don't think a typical politician could manage it.

I'd say it's an almost an embarrassingly superficial thing to consider the man's sartorial condition while his country is busy fighting for its very existence. But in this case, I think it really matters, because the whole "Zelensky fandom", as cringeworthy as it may be at times, doubtless has a fair bit to do with how much support they've been getting from the world. I don't know if this whole affair would have captured peoples' attention, and engagement, as much as it has without him playing the role he has.

Maybe there are some tangible benefits, other than novelty, to having an actor as president. In the right time, anyway, and this is inarguably his time.
posted by jammer at 1:16 PM on May 1 [20 favorites]


"Oddly fascinated" is exactly the right turn of phrase. I have been holding in SO MANY thoughts about Zelensky, his old show Servant of the People/Sluga Naroda, just everything about him, so I'm gonna limit it to exactly two thoughts. Speaking as someone who was going to be a TV journalist.

One: Sluga Naroda, within the comedy, presents a serious political platform in a serious way. This TV show very seriously was Zelensky's presidential campaign. It began production immediately after the Maidan, clearly written directly in response to it; it ran for three years; when Zelensky actually legally ran for president, it was still airing its final run, and he did not actually do any of the usual campaigning things like ... attend debates. He did not attend the presidential debates. And he won with 70% of the vote because the TV show did the talking for him.

To make it clear, I'm saying the TV show was a three year long political ad that probably turned a profit, and it worked. I also think it is interesting in a social science kind of way that a TV show and a political campaign could achieve such similar effects.

Thought Two: The very first element of that political platform is presented by the skewering of oligarchs; visualizing privilege and corruption, etc., but more interestingly it also acutely analyzes the creation of images - like the literal creation of photo shoots and news coverage and ceremonies. The oligarchs focus intensely on creating the images of a ruling class. The politicians focus in the same way on creating the images of government and politics without ever creating the real thing. Also, there's a lot of 19c aristocracy/monarchy/nobility imagery, which has gotta be saying something that I'm not European enough to understand.

Zelensky's character's response is to literally channel Che Guevara (but in a good way?) and insist that politicians are not a ruling class, but are instead servants of the people, hired to do a job, and they should act and look like it. That's the first plank in the TV show's political platform, mostly in its own words. And he deliberately tries to create a different image of government; he changes the location of Parliament to a smaller office building and makes them all take the bus to work, for example.

Addendum thought: Most of the photos of the "RU and UA diplomats meet for peace talks" stories showed one side all in suits and the other side in more casual clothing. On the one hand, yeah, one side came from a warzone ... but on the other hand, they very much could have borrowed some suits along the way. They wanted to look like people who just came from a fucking warzone. And it also makes the other guys look like oligarchs.

Conclusion: Zelensky and his team are demonstrably skilled at creating images to communicate specific things and evoke specific emotions, because they have the skillsets of filmmakers. Zelensky's image is the product of many people's focused effort. It is intentionally and deliberately communicating lots of things, among which is a total absence of rank, privilege, or luxury.

Also Sluga Naroda is the product of a truly skilled and insightful writer and filmmaker, and if that person isn't Zelensky, it's someone on his team. It's an interesting piece of art with serious things to say.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 4:00 PM on May 1 [61 favorites]


Whole-heartedly with you on all of that, Rainbo Vagrant. I've been avoiding going too deeply into it here, while they're actually fighting, because it distracts from the importance and urgency of that. But I think there is a whole freaking lot of interesting social, political, and media analysis that can be done of the Zelensky administration's management (both literal and stage-) of the entire crisis.

And I hope those books will be written, and look forward to reading them when the time is right, once Ukraine has beaten its would-be oppressors and can rebuild in peace and glory.
posted by jammer at 5:18 PM on May 1 [6 favorites]


There's something going down in Belgorod right now. Videos of a plane, alleged to be UA, caused a big boom somewhere and then got the fuck out pretty quickly firing flares on its way out. No idea what's been hit as of yet.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:19 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


Just another general.
posted by sammyo at 6:24 PM on May 1 [5 favorites]


The Kyiv Independent
@KyivIndependent 6 min
⚡️'UN: Russian blockade prevents export of 4.5 million tons of Ukrainian wheat.

As a result of Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports, sea routes cannot be accessed to export Ukrainian grains'.
posted by clavdivs at 6:53 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Pre war grain exports were running at 5 million tons a month.
Ukrainian Agrarian Policy and Food Minister Mykola Solskyi, Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Kęstutis Navickas and EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski have discussed the possibility of exporting Ukrainian-produced grain via Lithuania’s Klaipėda Port.
Disrupting Ukraine’s export route to the Middle East and North Africa is a serious problem. Also, there are fears that interrupted wheat supplies may cause some tension and issues in the aforementioned regions.
posted by adamvasco at 8:10 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Ukraine acknowledges that the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ is a myth. (NYTimes, May 1 2022)
He shot down numerous Russian planes, survived enemy attacks and became a symbol of Ukraine’s surprisingly effective air defenses, earning a bold wartime moniker: The Ghost of Kyiv.

He is also, it turns out, a myth.

“The ghost of Kyiv is a superhero-legend, whose character was created by Ukrainians!” Ukraine’s Air Force Command wrote on Facebook on Saturday, dispelling a monthslong rumor — fueled by Ukrainian authorities themselves — that had invigorated the resistance to Russia’s invasion.

The Ukrainian statement came after some news outlets, including the Times of London, identified the Ghost of Kyiv as Major Stepan Tarabalka, an actual 29-year-old who died in an air battle in March. The claim echoed across social media and tabloid publications in Ukraine and the West, seeming to confirm that the story of the heroic fighter was real.

Instead, it has turned out to be one of the more successful pieces of propaganda in an information war that, at times, Ukraine has fought as fiercely as it has on the battlefield.
archive.org link
posted by Ahmad Khani at 8:33 PM on May 1 [9 favorites]


UN: Russian blockade prevents export of 4.5 million tons of Ukrainian wheat.

Let’s talk about the state of the war and one of the most under-reported yet crucially important issues: Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports and resulting strangulation of the country’s economy 🧵 by Dmitri Alperovitch

Prior to the war, about 40% of Ukraine's GDP came from maritime exports via the Black Sea. Just now those exports are blockaded by the Russians. Ukraine can still export over-land but not at a competitive price. So the blockade is a major obstacle to Ukraine ability to operate normally as an economic player. We can speculate about whether it can be broken and how.
posted by rongorongo at 11:21 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]


> I am the last person who I thought would ever fetishize a weapon. I get the criticisms and fears of lingering militarism. I've always found it weird and concerning. But right now, even just the word Bayraktar makes me happy - because it reminds me that there are some ways to strike back that the Russians can't deal with. It reminds me that the people who are committing the war crimes my family member is seeing are not invulnerable, and can be struck at any time.

@ChrisO_wiki: "By now, many will have seen the video of a Ukrainian drone dropping a small bomb through the sunscreen (!) of a car driven by Russian soldiers. Here's a short thread on how it was done..."

fwiw...
Death From a Distance - "What's the nature of collaboration? Humans are the only species that can kill other members of the species from range... this ability to actually kill members of our own species from range without a threat of harm to ourselves created essentially mutually assured destruction where we had to evolve cooperation."[1,2]

also btw...
Life and Times of Georgy Voronoi - "Georgy Theodosiyovych Voronoi (1868-1908) is famous for his seminal contributions to number theory, perhaps mostly those involving quadratic forms and Voronoi tessellations. He was born and grew up in the town of Zhuravka in the Ukraine, at the time part of the Russian Empire."[3] (pdf; via)
It says something about the personality of Georgy Voronoi that in these student years he confided his doubts to his diary. Fortunately, this diary has been partially preserved. Along with his descriptions of everyday experiences and events, it is a sincere self-confession of a young man. It discloses his character, his inner world, the process of his creative growth and self-consciousness. The author is active and sensitive and cannot remain indifferent to the events around him. He also tries to help when necessary. At times he is hot-tempered, for which he later expresses regret. He states "I am merrily gazing at God's world and to everything I touch I submit myself with rapture". Georgy aims "to reach everything by heart, and not just by intellect" and tries to look at himself from the outside...

The author has a rather melancholic view of contemporary society: "Our times are hard, we are victims of a terrible regime. The most innocent things cannot be said. Otherwise one gets into the hands of the custodians of hearts. We are characterized by mistrust. We distrust each other." The false feelings and hypocrisy that reigned around him led him to seclude himself from social life.
posted by kliuless at 11:47 PM on May 1 [4 favorites]


Ukraine can still export over-land but not at a competitive price. So the blockade is a major obstacle to Ukraine ability to operate normally as an economic player. We can speculate about whether it can be broken and how.

First Ukrainian corn cargo leaves Romanian Black Sea port - "With Ukraine's sea ports blocked since the war started more than two months ago, the world's fourth-largest grain exporter has been forced to send shipments by train via its western border or through its small Danube river ports into Romania... Earlier in the week, the operator finished loading around 35,000 tonnes of Ukrainian iron ore, with a second ship expected to be loaded around May 15, he said."

Acute wheat shortage warning - "The war in Ukraine has hit the country's agricultural sector hard. UN officials warn that an acute wheat shortage could ripple through the rest of the world. Marco Werman interviews Nikolay Gorbachov, president of the Ukrainian Grain Association, about the wheat harvest's prospects."
posted by kliuless at 11:59 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Trent Telenko has a Twitter thread on the differing design philosophies of Russian and US gear, and why it is more nuanced than "Russian gear is crap".
posted by Harald74 at 12:28 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


more nuanced than "Russian gear is crap"

To be fair, “in Russia, life is cheap” isn't that much more nuanced.
posted by acb at 1:43 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Pace Terry Pratchett: "Death is cheap. Life is often very expensive."
posted by Grangousier at 1:48 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


To be fair, “in Russia, life is cheap” isn't that much more nuanced.

There's also the short war vs long war perspectives outlined in the thread.
posted by Harald74 at 3:12 AM on May 2




Trent Telenko has a Twitter thread on the differing design philosophies of Russian and US gear, and why it is more nuanced than "Russian gear is crap".

Tangential to one of Telenko’s points:

Whenever the US Army starts accepting bids for a new generation of tanks, the defense contractors inevitably suggest autoloaders. This makes the tank more efficient, allowing for a three-person crew rather than four.

And then some old tanker in the back of the room stage-whispers Like fuck am I gonna pull eight goddamn hours of guard duty instead of six. If that doesn’t work, then a different old tanker stands up and points out more delicately, “You know, folks, if I lose one tanker out of four, I can still shoot, move, and communicate. If I lose one tanker out of three, then I gotta pick two of those things.”

“Shoot, move, communicate” are holy words in the US Army. Picking two means you’re having a very, very bad day. And that’s why the US doesn’t use autoloaders.
posted by Etrigan at 5:25 AM on May 2 [27 favorites]


Mariupol evacuee recounts terror in bunkers below Azovstal steelworks (there is also a very affecting video). Excerpt:
“We didn’t see the sun for so long,” [Natalia Usmanova] said, speaking in the village of Bezimenne in an area of Donetsk under the control of Russia-backed separatists about 30km east of Mariupol.

Usmanova was among dozens of civilians evacuated from the plant in Mariupol, a southern port city that has been besieged by Russian forces for weeks and left a wasteland.

She said she joked with her husband on the bus ride out, in a convoy agreed by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross, that they would no longer have to go to the lavatory with a torch.

“You just can’t imagine what we have been through – the terror,” Usmanova said. “I lived there, worked there all my life, but what we saw there was just terrible.”
It's odd how little details in photos can be so affecting. When I saw how far the artificial nails had grown on the women in the video still at the top, it was brought home to me, on an almost bodily level, just how long she'd been in the bunker.
posted by Kattullus at 5:39 AM on May 2 [7 favorites]


Tweet by Andrei Kurkov, photo of “defiant cat that survived russian bombardment”.

It is very defiant.
posted by Kattullus at 6:05 AM on May 2 [24 favorites]


A 20-minute documentary from Voice of America about a 69 year old Russian citizen and former Los Angeles times reporter now serving in the Ukraine military in defense outside Kyiv. I highly recommend watching it. There are surprises until and including the last minutes of the video.
posted by ferdydurke at 6:57 AM on May 2 [7 favorites]


That Telenko thread was a fine read. However at the end of it he says: "The Abrams was built as a tank which will save its crew for winning a long war of attrition. The battlefield results of these different design choices are what we are seeing in Ukraine today."

But AFAIK, the Ukrainians don't have Abrams tanks? Both sides are using Russian tank kit right?
posted by storybored at 8:18 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


That's correct, no Abrams yet -- I think there's particular escalation anxiety associated with those (though some Euro tanks are being received now).

Telenko's thread is about the larger context of Western vs. Warsaw Pact equipment (and post-Soviet Russian modernized variants).

Here is a similar analysis of the BMD-4 infantry fighting vehicle; Ukraine is already receiving Western IFVs.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:27 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Well, we still don't know how bad Ukrainian casualties are. We do however know that they are not being blowup with Javelins and NLAWs.
posted by ocschwar at 8:28 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


But AFAIK, the Ukrainians don't have Abrams tanks? Both sides are using Russian tank kit right?

The Ukrainians haven't been using that many tanks in general, so this is more about how killable the Russian tank crews (and their equipment) is. In general, the use of Russian tanks during this war of attrition has been a glaring weak spot for the Russian Army. Ukrainians are using anti-tank weapons to wipe out what should be hardened targets.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:34 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


We do however know that they are not being blowup with Javelins and NLAWs.

Or Bayraktars, which may soon be (or already have been) joined by larger drones firing regular air to surface missiles, as would strike fighters.

Nothing's been said about larger drones officially, but in one of its releases the UK obliquely mentioned sending Brimstone missiles. I'd think those are too big for TB-2s, and not compatible with MiGs. There is also a sea-launched version, but Ukraine doesn't have much in the way of ships at the moment (and it seems Russia is mostly using subs to launch its cruise missiles)....
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:37 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Escalation, and also the Abrams are apparently real fuel pigs compared to the older Russian tanks. Fuel use is already straining Ukrainian logistics due to refineries and depots being taken out.
posted by tavella at 8:37 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


The Ukrainians haven't been using that many tanks in general, so this is more about how killable the Russian tank crews (and their equipment) is. In general, the use of Russian tanks during this war of attrition has been a glaring weak spot for the Russian Army. Ukrainians are using anti-tank weapons to wipe out what should be hardened targets.

Ukraine is very much using tanks. They have six tank brigades, the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 14th, and 17th.

Nothing's been said about larger drones officially, but in one of its releases the UK obliquely mentioned sending Brimstone missiles. I'd think those are too big for TB-2s, and not compatible with MiGs. There is also a sea-launched version, but Ukraine doesn't have much in the way of ships at the moment.....

They've been sending the ground launched version.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:09 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


> Here is a similar analysis of the BMD-4

Wow, this image comparing the sizes of the Abrams and T-72 really surprised me. I knew the M1 was a larger tank, but I didn't realize it was that much larger.
posted by jammer at 9:12 AM on May 2 [8 favorites]




Here's an interview with Zelensky from 60 Minutes Australia that aired May 1, 2022. [25m, typical war coverage content warnings]
posted by hippybear at 10:17 AM on May 2


The Abrams is also a logistical challenge; it's a weapon that assumes it is the pointy end of a long spear, the shaft of which extends all the way back to the US industrial base. This affects its design, particularly its use of high-performance turbine engines, which are more similar to those of a helicopter than the reciprocating-piston engines of Russian tanks. They chug fuel (particularly at idle), but enable the tank to be huge and heavily-armored and still move faster than almost anything else on the ground. The engines are maintenance-intensive and require frequent overhaul (compared to traditional piston diesels), but are made to be almost "hot swappable", arranged in an "engine pack" that can be pulled from the tank and replaced in the field (if you have the appropriate logistics / support vehicles and personnel, and parts, etc.).

It wouldn't make a lot of sense to just send a bunch of Abrams without the supporting infrastructure they are made to work with. They might pack a punch for a few weeks, but eventually they'd become very expensive pillboxes, and in the end, scrap metal. (And that's without even getting into the training necessary to use them effectively. US equipment generally assumes extensive training on the part of its operators. US allies/clients typically pay more for training of their personnel than they do for actual US equipment.)

Obviously, none of this is news to anyone in the US military or diplomatic corps... so if we do see Abrams start to show up in Ukraine, it would mean there is a very significant and ongoing commitment of the US to the back-end logistics and training of those combat elements.

>> To justify what [sort of Russian escalation], a ground invasion?
> General mobilization.

After pondering it for a few days, this might actually be the best path forwards for Ukraine, in terms of actually defeating Putin politically as well as the Russian military on the battlefield. (And a military victory without a correspondingly decisive political one would probably result only in a temporary end to hostilities.)

One of the only scenarios where I can see the Putin regime being felled internally by popular resistance would be in the case of a general mobilization or levée en masse that essentially involved Russia's male population being force-fed into a meat grinder.

And that's how a general mobilization would work out. There's no place on the modern battlefield for minimally-trained conscripts, at least in offensive operations. Putin and his pet Chechens would be better off just shooting them in their villages and saving the fuel transporting them to Ukraine to die.

Russians seem to love memorializing the Great Patriotic War (well, the end of it, anyway; the beginning is somewhat… less often discussed), but seem to have missed the part where they're playing the opposite role this time. Putin's "De-Nazification" is more Operation Barbarossa than the Defense of Stalingrad.

Good propaganda and control of the media may prevent the public from noticing that as long as casualty numbers are kept low and restricted to professional soldiers (kontraktniki), but not when trainloads of men are being sent to the front and only corpses (or less) come back the other way. People tend to notice, and start asking pointed questions, when their sons or husbands disappear without a trace.

Putin might inadvertently create the conditions for a decisive Ukrainian political victory, and the end of his own career, by invoking a general mobilization. Were this to occur, the optimal strategy by Ukraine and its allies would likely be to aim for maximum Russian personnel losses (not simply "mission kills" or forced retreat, but actual personnel death or capture) and rapid attrition, rather than territorial control. Strategic retrogrades in key areas might provide Russian leaders—who are presumably highly motivated to show progress, lest they have sudden "heart attacks"—the opportunity to commit unforced errors and commit troops into areas where they could be surrounded and destroyed.

The Russians ought to know better than to fall for this, but they don't seem to be operating entirely rationally.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:17 AM on May 2 [18 favorites]


re: Abrams - time to train tank crews from scratch is 22 weeks. Unclear how much portable knowledge a T-72 tank crew would bring with them. Thinking about this doesn't effective use of tanks requires coordination across multiple crews in battlefield situations? Training Ukrainian crews would mean taking manpower away from the front.
posted by storybored at 10:34 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


One of the only scenarios where I can see the Putin regime being felled internally by popular resistance would be in the case of a general mobilization or levée en masse that essentially involved Russia's male population being force-fed into a meat grinder.

General mobilization would be a disaster for Russia in terms of long term economic devastation but I think you're overestimating just how much combat losses would affect war sentiment and Putin's hold on power. Putin's power base are Karen-esque babushkas and middle aged Russian men who want to recapture the mythical glory days. Basically the Russian equivalent of MAGA nuts. They won't care how many young men die in the conflict, especially if they're not ethnic Russians.

If Russia loses on the other hand...
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:42 AM on May 2 [6 favorites]


Training Ukrainian crews would mean taking manpower away from the front.

The war has gone on long enough that it's important to rotate soldiers away from the front so that they still remain functional, so rotating them to training could be part of that. It depends how many new soldiers Ukraine has trained up, or veterans that are through their refresher training.
posted by tavella at 10:55 AM on May 2 [7 favorites]


Per @MSchreoder77 on Twitter:
Whoa. The Ukrainian government is claiming that they disrupted a Russian false flag operation to shoot down a passenger plane over Russia or Belarus using an illicitly-acquired US Stinger MANPADS [...]

https://ssu.gov.ua/en/novyny/sbu-zneshkodyla-vorozhu-drh-yaka-hotuvala-terakt-zbyralasia-zbyty-pasazhyrskyi-litak-video
posted by newdaddy at 11:17 AM on May 2 [6 favorites]


The Ukrainian government is claiming that they disrupted a Russian false flag operation to shoot down a passenger plane over Russia or Belarus using an illicitly-acquired US Stinger

It would have to be a Russian airliner because no Western airlines are flying in the area. But, I guess that's par for the course for Putin.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:30 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


A bit out of date, but there was more traffic than that over Belarus in March.

A Chinese airliner would be a provocative target.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:48 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Turkish planes I believe are still flying to/from Moscow…
posted by progosk at 2:31 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I think it would need to be a Russian flight. To sell the whole "Ukrainians are targeting civilians!!!" thing and inspire fear in the population.

That's the rumor surrounding the downing of MH17 by the Russians. They meant to take down an Aeroflot aircraft as a justification for expanding the war back in 2014. But hit the wrong plane and had to back down.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 2:31 PM on May 2 [9 favorites]


A brand of beer, a chant and a hashtag on social media, "Путін—хуйло", pronounced "Putin—Khuylo" (or "Putin—Huylo"), is a catchphrase that pokes fun and expresses anger at Vladimir Putin in equal measure.
Those of a sensitive disposition may want to turn away now, but the phrase could be rendered as "Putin is a d***head"—although it carries far more vitriol in Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian.
"Think of the worst, most obscene possible expression for a very bad person—and that's the word you need," American-born Russian translator, Michele Berdy told Newsweek.


I look forward to seeing this on many craft products in the future!
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:48 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


I think I saw it here on metafilter that it could also be translated as "Putin The D***head" -- as in Peter The Great, Ivan The Terrible, etc. So it implies that that will be how Putin will be regarded in the history books.

Now where to find the Путін—хуйло beer....
posted by phliar at 2:58 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


In the US this word would start with a c and have 4 letters. It's not nearly as horrid in the UK.
posted by hippybear at 2:58 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


jenfullmoon, it's even better; it's become a Homeric epithet.

I know at least one person who's producing patches with that slogan on them.
posted by bink at 3:00 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


OF COURSE THERE IS A CROSS STITCH AT THAT LINK!!!
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:45 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


According to the Speaker of Ukraine's Rada Stefanchuk: "In his anti-Semitic statements, Lavrov confirmed that the missiles having been fired by 🇷🇺 on Babyn Yar in 🇺🇦 in the first days of war were not accidental. #Israel should reconsider its attitude towards Putin and 🇷🇺 to prevent what they "can repeat"."

Previously, Russian troops also destroyed Drobytsky Yar Holocaust memorial near Kharkiv.

@tomayac: FSB now filtering and monitoring internet service in occupied zones.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:09 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Wait ... Which side is supposed to have the Nazis, again?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:18 PM on May 2 [7 favorites]


Another Trent Telenko thread about TIRES!
posted by Kabanos at 5:12 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


This article on the failure of Russian military modernization by a Swedish academic is a great read.
posted by interogative mood at 9:59 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


Russia Doubles Down, Says Israel 'Supports neo-Nazi Regime in Ukraine' from a newspaper that I do not know. On my phone; please flag for a moderator to delete if it is a shitty source.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:36 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]


It's a good thing for Russia that Israel is not known for its military technologies. Imagine if they had battle-tested antimissile systems or manufactured military drones or something.
posted by acb at 2:56 AM on May 3 [19 favorites]


Haaretz is the left-leaning main English daily in Israel and they are reputable within the constraints of all those things. As much as any other mainstream Anglophone paper, let's say.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:06 AM on May 3 [15 favorites]


A newly released video from the Azov deputy commander bunkered up in Azovstal. Sounds like the night of heavy bombardment that killed 2 civilian women may have been preparatory to a concentrated assault:
As of this moment, a powerful assault on the territory of the Azovstal plant is underway. With the support of armored vehicles, tanks, attempts to land by boats, and a large number of infantry. We will do everything possible to repel this assault... Mariupol is Ukraine.
posted by jammer at 7:43 AM on May 3 [4 favorites]


Not good: Mariupol: only 3 of 14 buses with evacuees have reached Zaporizhzhia - Mayor
IRYNA BALACHUK — TUESDAY, 3 MAY 2022, 14:18

Only 3 buses out of the 14 with residents of Mariupol were able to reach territory controlled by Ukraine. The fate of the people in the remaining 11 buses is unknown; more than a thousand city residents are still awaiting evacuation.
This is the evacuation organized by the Red Cross with some UN involvement. Best guess is that the missing are being held or processed in “filtration centers”.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:21 AM on May 3 [8 favorites]


A report on an interview the with Pope in an Italian newspaper (Corrirere Della Sera), in which the Pope explains why he is seeking a direct meeting with Putin but not Zelenskyy, how "Nato barking at Russia’s gate" might have "compelled Putin to unleash the invasion of Ukraine" and whether his "rage has been provoked" or "facilitated by the West's attitude."

His Holiness was unable to answer questions about whether arms should be supplied by the West, because "I live too far away, I don’t know if it is the right thing to supply the Ukrainian fighters."

No word on whether the reporter asked the Pope if he knows where London and Washington are.

What the Pope does find "indisputable is that in that country both sides are trying out new weapons. The Russians have just found out that tanks are useless and they might be developing new weapons. Wars are fought for this reason too: to test your arsenals. This is what happened in the Spanish Civil War, before the Second World War. The production and the sale of armaments is a disgrace, but few are bold enough to stand up against it."

No word on whether the Pope was then asked whether the Ukrainians might in fact be fighting this war to preserve their basic existence, despite that the Pope kept redirecting the interview "to turn back to what is right."

And 'what is right' notably does not include a visit by the Pope himself to Kyiv: "'I am not ready to travel to Kiev, not yet', he explains. 'I have sent my envoy, Cardinal Michael Czerny (head of the Department for the Promotion of Human Development) and Cardinal Konrad Krajewski (the Pope’s Almoner). The latter has just visited Kiev for the fourth time. But I feel that I shouldn’t go there. Not yet. First, I must go to Moscow, I want to meet Putin first of all.'"

So far as his relations with Patriarch Kirill are concerned, the Pope has admonished him "we are not state clerics, we shouldn’t speak the language of politics, but rather the language of Jesus. We are shepherds of the same holy flock of God. For this reason we must look for a path to peace, we must stop the fighting. A Patriarch can’t lower himself to become Putin’s altar boy. I had a meeting with him, scheduled for June 14, in Jerusalem. It would have been our second face-to-face, nothing to do with the war. But we called it off, we agreed that it could send the wrong message."

No word on whether the Pope was asked if he might invite Patriach Filaret instead, or whether that would also be a 'wrong' message.

Charitably, the Pope does allow that the Ukrainians "can't be blamed for fighting back" after the occupation of the Donbas -- after all they are "very touchy people."

The Pope also mentions that "When I met Orban, he told me that the Russians have a precise plan, and that the war will end on May 9th. I sure hope so, that would explain the speed of the military operations in the last few days."

What a complete ethical and moral embarrassment from someone with Pope Francis' cultivated image. Liberation theology, my ass.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:34 AM on May 3 [48 favorites]


"We are not state clerics", says the cleric-slash-absolute monarch.
posted by Flunkie at 9:07 AM on May 3 [7 favorites]


there are 1.5 million latin catholics in ukraine and perhaps 700k in russia - seeing as russia has a long history of crimes against humanity and religious groups, i think he has to be careful

also, i don't think a bunch of funny looking guys with hatchets are going to be much of a contribution to the fight
posted by pyramid termite at 9:08 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


snuffleupagus: The Pope also mentions that "When I met Orban, he told me that the Russians have a precise plan,

Helmuth von Moltke would like a word there. "No plan of operations reaches with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy's main force."

From what I've seen that statement is quite applicable here still, and sticking to a plan that has already gone off the rails is unlikely to improve matters.
posted by Stoneshop at 9:16 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]


The point is not the remark's predictive worth, it was the Pope's willingness to express his "hope" that Putin would succeed in whatever overwhelming operations were planned for that window. I doubt the above-mentioned 1.5m latin catholics in Ukraine share his hope for them.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:35 AM on May 3 [12 favorites]


I went to one of the first re-opened businesses to exit the ru market today. German home improvement supermarket OBI closed all stores in march and from my understanding the ru head of the ru market division was against this and said no! we will remain open, which they did for a few days before corporate cut off their POS and inventory systems, so they closed. Their webstore is not up and running, but their stores reopened this week and they basically seem to have the same inventory as before they closed with the exception of plants in the garden department, so I'm curious to see how it sustains because while they seem to have gotten a POS system in place I have no idea if they will be able to source and stock as an amputated limb from the corporate structure. Here's a small write up about an investor taking over or something. The German company says they are not operating in the country and did not give permission for its name / logo use.

I also went recently to a consultation for vision correction surgery as it seems like a good thing to blow worthless paper money on if I can get over the mental image of my eyeballs being sliced. Went to a private clinic, considered the best in the region (they do LASIK and SMILE) and spoke with the director after my appointment and they told me that a lot of people have been booking elective surgeries (this clinic also has other branches for gynecology, plastics, oto laro, gastro, etc.) for similar reasons and their main issue is that their machines will fall out of license. When they buy or lease machines for diagnostics and surgery they come with support from the manufacturers for maintenance and parts for some contracted period of time and now with sanctions the machines may not be able to be maintained. Most of the diagnostic machines in my consultation were Zeiss. I imagine this would also affect things like mammogram machines, those cameras they use to look in your nose and throat, the eyeball lasers, etc. Basically fears that the medical sphere could see issues like the airline sphere is seeing, except people won't be killed by the machines but lots of missed dx.

I also was one of the first people to see some dissident graffiti at a bus stop and was a bit disheartened to see it was hastily removed but today I saw some graffiti at another stop that was done by a different dissident. So that was nice, but I also saw my first z t shirt wearing person walking around and it was a 20 something woman in the mall.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:51 AM on May 3 [36 favorites]


Meduza: Feeling Around for Something Human -- Why do Russians support the war against Ukraine?
[Originally published in Russian on 4/24]

For more than two months now, many Russians have openly supported the Kremlin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine — choosing to close their eyes to executions and rapes, the shelling of peaceful cities, unthinkable destruction, and millions of people losing their homes. Journalist Shura Burtin spent several weeks talking to Russian citizens about their thoughts and feelings about the war. For Meduza, Burtin recounts how fear and a sense of humiliation defeated Russians’ humanity.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:04 AM on May 3 [7 favorites]


From the article by Stefan Hedlund, linked by interrogative mood above: "agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB) sent to Ukraine to recruit pro-Russian elements for a new government reportedly had pocketed the funds provided and submitted false reports"

I don't want to cast aspersions on a well-argued article, but it's been really fascinating to follow how the story about the corrupt FSB agents started as a rumor, became a theory, and is now treated as fact.

There are many other possible explanations for the reported purge of the FSB's fifth service (e.g. they could've been duped by Ukrainians claiming to represent pro-Russian forces; or the ostensibly pro-Russian forces felt a whole lot less pro-Russian once the invasion happened; or the pro-Russian forces were real, but hopelessly ineffective due to the all-round bungling of the invasion) but this one has become completely dominant. It's really interesting to see a process like this happen in real time.
posted by Kattullus at 1:37 PM on May 3 [8 favorites]


This video, an interview with 87-year old Elvira Borts is so touching and makes one wish to meet her. So fragile yet so strong. Like a small bird.
posted by 15L06 at 3:15 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


rumor, became a theory, and is now treated as fact.
The FSB story is interesting. The 5th is Putin's sandbox gang. I believe they were blown, coupled with half-assed operations and co-ordination failure. To have the 5th symied sends the strongest message to other Intel branches who might become disloyal. besides, the Ukrainians have a better counter-intelligence game going.
posted by clavdivs at 3:41 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


From Visegrad24 on Twitter:

Remember the publishing house “Prosveshchenie”?

They provide Russian schools with textbooks and they announced recently that they will erase the word “Ukraine” from all their history books.

Their warehouse was set on fire last night.

How unlucky...

posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:47 PM on May 3 [11 favorites]


The Pope Francis interview is genuinely bizarre, from an outsider perspective. Especially the bit where he sure sounds like he's saying 'I hope Putin finishes crushing them by May 9th'
posted by tavella at 7:34 PM on May 3 [7 favorites]


I do truly feel like that Francis interview is coming from a universe that doesn't intersect with my own, and I am struggling to build a sympathetic worldview to bring where I am and what he is expressing into any kind of reconciliation.
posted by hippybear at 8:02 PM on May 3 [7 favorites]


"The Pope Francis interview is genuinely bizarre, from an outsider perspective. "

Yeah, I didn't really think it was worth deconstructing here, but I guess I'll do a bit (update: lies. I did a lot). Tl;dr -- it's publicity, propaganda, and photo ops to try to create a diplomatic opening or an off-ramp for Putin; the article itself is hot garbage by a guy who doesn't know what he's doing; and the high-ranking churchmen involved are more important than you'd think.

It's a lot of inside messaging and public diplomacy, and not a lot of direct statements. Like, the Vatican's sent some pretty high-ranking officials who are engaging in some pretty ballsy direct aid actions in Ukraine. The Pope spoke with Zelenskyy on day 1 and has been clear about his calls for peace. I don't know that the Pope is a particular fan of NATO (it's a military alliance and he's a peace guy; he's also Argentine and lacking the direct experience of Russian aggression that John Paul II and Benedict XVI had as younger men). The point of all the "I'm not ready to go to Kiev, I want to go to Moscow first" is that they're playing the odds that Putin will become so eager for a photo op with leader respected in the West that he'll invite the Pope to Moscow, and the Pope can use that wedge to negotiate -- which Popes did several times in the 20th century, most notably and successfully JPII.

Sometimes if the Pope is spending a lot of time playing up his neutrality and "I'm not on either side, a pox on everybody's houses, grr," what he's actually trying to do is to get a dictator to agree to let him visit so the dictator can get a photo op with the Pope (worldwide press pop!), and in return the Pope gets to bring with him an entire diplomatic staff AND the persuasive power of the Papacy. I mean, John Paul II was notably, consistently, vocally anti-communist, and communist dictators relatively regularly agreed to let him visit so they could get a photo op, and he'd go sit in a room with them and hand out some blessing and when he left he'd have gotten a western embassy reopened or political prisoners released or partial, semi-free worship restored or even just a couple bishops allowed to stay in the country (and clearly, in certain cases, hand over intelligence to western countries). But the thing is, Putin getting a friendly photo op with the Pope is good press for Putin but diplomatically worthless for Putin because the Pope has no secular authority. Putin would rather have a photo op where he looks like he's intimidating Macron or being buddy-buddy with him, obviously, because that's actual diplomatic messaging. For Putin, a photo with the Pope is good publicity, no diplomacy gains. But for the Pope, it's neutral or even negative publicity ... with the potential for diplomatic gains. And a surprising number of dictators have been willing to trade actual diplomatic concessions for the good publicity of a Papal visit.

It's obviously a really different play for a Pope to go to Romania or Poland or Cuba than to go to Russia. But then, Francis convinced Turkey to let him visit, which was a big deal. (Heck, Elizabeth II went to Ireland ... sometimes symbolic shit matters.) It's also notable that this interview comes after repeated attempts by the Vatican to be allowed to open a humanitarian corridor to the Avostal plant (such as the Vatican-flagged ship, which is -- I must say -- totally crazytown) failed. The Vatican offered to send among the highest-ranked cardinals in the curia personally, physically into Mariupol to open the corridor. It's like, "Look, we're peace-loving priests, we're not bringing any guns or mines or spies, we won't even bring cell phones, we'll send one of our top officials to risk bodily harm as a guarantee, they'll walk in with a Vatican flag and walk out with civilians, that's ALL." So I think this is the next diplomatic tactic by the Vatican, saying, "Look, peace is good, but we really feel like we need to talk to Putin personally. Putin's obviously the big man here. Russia's the world power. We're not propping up these little guys in Ukraine; we're waiting to talk to the big man in Moscow." They don't like Putin. They don't think Kirill's going to work with them. They're just shifting tactics in the hopes of finding one where Putin says "FINE I WILL TALK TO THE POPE" so they can use that as an opening for negotiations. Moral admonishment failed, abject begging for humanitarian reasons failed; now they're trying flattery and distancing themselves from NATO.

Anyway, I don't think Putin is desperate enough yet to let the Pope visit Moscow. But the worse the war goes for him, the more willing he may be to grasp at that straw, invite the Pope to Moscow, and use the Pope to provide some face-saving image rehabilitation for Putin personally. Putin will never be willing to go to NATO hat-in-hand and say "I surrender." But he may be willing, at some future point, to use a photo op of Francis -- or more probably Francis and Kirill together, with Putin presiding over them, maybe like this photo -- that lets Putin look like a peacemaker, lets him save face in Russia, gives him a dramatic photo for the worldwide press and the history books. And lets him go to NATO and say, "Look, you're all a bunch of assholes and I hate you, but the Pope -- who also hates you -- makes a good point about pointless death and destruction. I am only here because Patriarch Kirill convinced Pope Francis that we are people of peace who have been badly misunderstood."

Basically, because the Vatican's power is only symbolic, it can give bad actors symbolic victories that allow those bad actors to take face-saving off-ramps from confrontations. That's the underlying thing that's happening here. (And honestly, be mad about it -- the madder Westerners get at Francis, the more attractive the offer is to Putin.)

Also, and from a purely "this article is hot garbage" perspective, Luciano Fontana is the editor of Corriere, not their Vatican reporter, and not a Vaticanista who routinely reports on the Vatican; this is a "the important editor man with no actual expertise in this topic got to sit down with the important world leader." It's not an "interview" per se. They've also made some very strange choices about where to quote and where to paraphrase, and that's true in Italian; it's not just an artifact of translation. It's a garbage, garbled interview, that's not getting taken very seriously by actual Vaticanisti, because Fontana did a really bad job repackaging the PR messaging (which is pretty clearly what it was supposed to be), and doesn't know enough to engage in the "Vaticanology" (like Kremlinology) that would be required if you were actually trying to glean important information from the interview. (Vaticanisti are paying more attention to an interview from a couple weeks ago that Francis gave to La Nación, an Argentinian daily, which he's given scoops to before. Not that there's anything world-shattering in that interview, but it's being taken a lot more seriously.)

(Also, not for nothing, but Francis's almoner -- one of the guys mentioned above -- is frequently how Francis gets up to some shit. He's also well-respected by Orthodox leadership and has some personal relationships there. Different Popes use different offices as their heavies or their chaos agents or their anger translators; Francis, kinda hilariously and very pointedly, chose Almoner. So when you see Krajewski doing almoner things in the news, Francis is doing an end run around his own curia, tweaking his cardinals' noses, or -- as in this case -- doing really important, really personal work using Krajewski as his trusted representative. I saw the two cardinals mentioned in the article, and I was like, "Whoa, they are hella serious about this humanitarian corridor, those are heavy hitters.")
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:56 PM on May 3 [66 favorites]


To be clear, I think this strategy by the Vatican has basically zero chance of working and I'm not convinced it's a good strategy when the alternative is continuing to harshly condemn Moscow for a chosen war of aggression. (Google "Mit Brennender Sorge" for the historical reference I keep thinking of; basically, failure to condemn the Nazis in part because of a misplaced attempt at persuasion.) But I understand the strategy from years of Vatican watching. I'm not defending it; I just trying to explain what I think they think they're doing. And it's possible diplomatic conditions could shift enough that maybe it starts to have a non-zero chance of working, I could be wrong.

(Also Francis's Almoner maybe probably helped him sneak out of the Vatican without bodyguards past security when they were refusing to let him talk to regular people without being in the bulletproof Popemobile. Which forced the Swiss Guards to capitulate and let Francis actually talk to randos, because otherwise he was going to act like a high school student sneaking out. Francis has also used his Almoner to bypass the curia when he's like "I want to help $despised group" and the curia's like "great idea, fill out 2700 forms, we'll get to it in 3 years by which I mean never" and Francis goes, "oh wait I'll just use my Almoner" and the curia goes YOU CAN'T DO THAT, IT HASN'T BEEN DONE THAT WAY IN 1500 YEARS and Francis goes "oh well, too late, already did it.")
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:09 PM on May 3 [30 favorites]


The story of the FSB agents pocketing the money by inventing a fake underground reminds me of John le Carre’s Tailor of Panama. Where a corrupt way and a British migrant, a tailor, invent a whole revolution and Chinese plot with the current government in a similar report. Ultimately the reports result in a US invasion.
posted by interogative mood at 9:22 PM on May 3 [4 favorites]


You'd think Krajewski would tell Francis just how badly this is flying in Eastern Europe. Diplomacy with an established dictator over things he's doing in his own country, okay, but there are actual live Ukrainian people whose suffering in an unjust war he's minimising to appeal to Putin's ego. I wonder if it's a factor that Francis's experience is with civil wars in South America, where propping up both sides actually is the pathway to reconciliation because neither side has a different place to go. In this case Ukrainians and their Eastern European allies would be much obliged if the Russians would follow the directions given back on February 24 on Snake Island. The Moskva already did.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:39 PM on May 3 [15 favorites]


snuffleupagus: The point is not the remark's predictive worth,

Well, there's the content of the interview itself of course, and there's the reinforcement of what we know is the Kremlin's Befehlstaktik ("We have a perfect plan and we're going to carry it out as planned") as well as Orban still being Putin's loyal mouthpiece, which should of course surprise exactly no one.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:07 PM on May 3


Orphaned girl taken by Russian soldiers reunited with grandfather. Excerpt:
In the early weeks of Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation”, Kira had been sheltering with her father, Evgeny, and his partner, Anya, and her children, in the basement of a neighbour’s house in Mariupol.

The building was hit directly, and while Kira and the others were dragged from the rubble by rescuers, Evgeny did not survive, leaving the young girl, whose mother died two weeks after her birth, an orphan.

In the days after, Anya decided she had to try to get Kira and the other children out of Mariupol, but as the group walked through the debris of the shattered city, one of them stood on a mine.

In the subsequent chaos, Kira ended up in the hands of Russian soldiers who took her, bleeding from shrapnel wounds to the face and body, to Donetsk’s regional hospital in a separatist-controlled part of the Donbas region.

In the coming weeks, Kira even featured on Russian state television as an example of a Ukrainian civilian who was being well treated.
posted by Kattullus at 1:11 AM on May 4 [4 favorites]


Speaking of our problematic allies in Budapest, Putin informed the Hungarian authorities of his full-scale invasion plans in advance.

I wonder if there's any path to expelling Hungary from the EU and/or NATO. If Orbán wishes to be a vassal of the glorious Czar, let him take his seat alongside Lukashenko and Kadyrov rather than sabotaging things in Brussels.
posted by acb at 1:14 AM on May 4 [14 favorites]


This thread sums up in more detail what I said in a previous comment about my victory day announcement prediction.
posted by WeekendJen at 3:59 AM on May 4 [9 favorites]


Edit to add: found out that a distant connection is a (slavic) army officer in Voronezh (less than 4 hours driving from Belgorod) has not been sent to the war. Really hammered home how they are trying to conceal casualties by using people from the backwaters.
posted by WeekendJen at 4:07 AM on May 4 [15 favorites]


US M32A1s (40mm grenade launcher) showing up in Ukraine.

The guy looks like a kid on Christmas with that thing.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:51 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


AP Evidence points to 600 dead in Mariupol theatre bombing on March 16. An extremely harrowing account by eye witnesses of the bombing of the city’s main shelter which had a field kitchen set up outside. The report includes a video footage taken inside the shelter on March 8 and details how they arrived at the fatality count which is double original estimates. The Russian army controls the neighborhood now and they’ve been dismantling the ruin. Whatever bodies that weren’t pulverized by the bomb have been cleared away.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:02 AM on May 4 [4 favorites]


I wonder if there's any path to expelling Hungary from the EU and/or NATO.

No provisions for expulsion from either. Some EU member state privileges can be suspended. NATO doesn't have a suspension mechanism.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:02 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


RU Channel One is at it again:

“The opponents of the letter Z must understand that they will not be spared. Everything is serious here: concentration camps, re-education, sterilization!”

-- Karen Shakhnazarov, the celebrated Director General of Mosfilm, and a descendent of the last of the rulers of Nagorno-Karabakh; which is presently the Russian-supported, Armenian-held breakaway of Artsakh -- the one that just lost ground in a drone war to the Azeris using Bayraktars after a long freeze.

[via @Gerashchenko_en, an adviser to the UA Interior Ministry.]

Some comments that this may have been a response to a hypothetical; or a projection of the West's expected conduct -- looking for the longer clip.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:29 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


Horrifying exposé of Russian soldiers' public and apparently systematic rape of Ukrainian girls and women, in a Finnish newspaper that I often read for international perspective. (At least on my Mac, I can automatically have Google Translate translate it into English right on the article page itself. FYI, I'm assuming that Finnish has non-gendered third-person pronouns: the automatic translation says "he" when in English we'd say "she"; there's some other funky translation in there, but the article is in the aggregate very intelligible.)
posted by ClaireBear at 8:17 AM on May 4 [10 favorites]


Bunch of A-10s in Gander yesterday. (tiktok). It's definitely Gander airport and yesterday's weather was indeed overcast/rainy.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:57 AM on May 4




(Gander is a fueling stop for a transatlantic crossing.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:23 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


Obliged quick reminder that Gander is the setting for the musical Come From Away, about the local community's generous response to the grounding of international flights after the World Trade Center bombing. Welcome to the Rock! Previously on FanFare May still be on AppleTV and as of now, there's a fan loaded version on Youtube
posted by beaning at 9:44 AM on May 4 [5 favorites]


ClaireBear: I can't get that page to prompt me for a translation when directly clicked, and when I put it into Google and click "translate", it doesn't seem to load.

Does anyone have an English translation that they would be willing to share?
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:53 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


Here's a link to the G-translated version dumped to PDF.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:00 AM on May 4 [4 favorites]


Just a reminder that not everything reported is necessarily true. The Ukrainian claim that Moscow shared its invasion plans with Hungary has been denied by Hungary. At the moment, the claim has not been confirmed by a third party. (Sorry for the lack of links, they are a pain in the ass to do on my phone.)
posted by Bella Donna at 12:07 PM on May 4 [6 favorites]




That Finnish article is a harrowing read. I’m very sad.
posted by pairofshades at 12:19 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]




"Diplomacy with an established dictator over things he's doing in his own country, okay, but there are actual live Ukrainian people whose suffering in an unjust war he's minimising to appeal to Putin's ego."

Morally I am 100% in agreement with you, and I personally think this is far more likely to be damaging to the Vatican than helpful to Ukraine. But on the flip side, if you need to send One Western Leader to keep lines of communication open with Putin, better it be the Pope who has actually zero power than literally any NATO leader. Biden talking to Putin at this moment lends Putin legitimacy; Francis talking to him is like, "Well, nice photo op."

The hope is absolutely that Francis gets Putin to agree to engage in talks, and Putin approaches Macron or Niinistö and says, "Patriarch Kirill invited Pope Francis to Moscow, they talked, Kirill explained to Francis that we are a peaceful people with no war in our hearts, and Francis promised to take personal assurances to Catholic NATO leaders like Biden, Draghi, Morawiecki, and (kinda) Macron and Trudeau, who have agreed to meet with us after Kirill's persuasion of Francis." And without going into "Kennedy is a front for the Pope!" conspiracy thinking, I do think Biden's Catholicism actually gives more persuasive power to Pope Francis here. I don't think literally anyone thinks "Biden takes his direction from Rome" -- that's nuts -- but I DO think if Pope Francis calls up Joe Biden, the Biden White House is taking that call and taking it seriously. So if Francis can go to Moscow, and Putin says "I want Biden to promise not to assassinate me" and Francis calls Biden, that is probably a guarantee that is going to happen. (ALSO, it takes 24 months MINIMUM to arrange to put a Pope on the ground in your peaceful, well-secured, Pope-liking country in Western Europe or North or South America. The Pope saying "I WILL GO TO MOSCOW TOMORROW" is a huuuuuuuuge hardcore offer to negotiate; you don't sent Popes places without 24 months of preliminary planning, and definitely not to unstable countries with a lot of violence and bad state protection authorities.)

"I wonder if it's a factor that Francis's experience is with civil wars in South America, where propping up both sides actually is the pathway to reconciliation because neither side has a different place to go."

I think this is a huge factor, and I think it's currently underreported by the Vaticanisti. John Paul II was a teenager and young man resisting the Nazis in Poland, and that informed the entire rest of his adult life, and was part of why he entered the priesthood. Benedict XVI's family opposed the Nazis but Benedict himself was drafted into the Hitler Youth (allegedly by law). They were both deeply, DEEPLY formed by World War II, by Nazism, and by Stalinism after that, and they were both deeply informed by Western communist resistance after WWII.

Francis was 10 when WWII ended, and he lived in Argentina, and he was 40 when the Dirty War began. His experience of the international order is just wildly, wildly different as a child who grew up in post-war Argentina rather than a young man who suffered through Naziism and the Iron Curtain. I think the Vaticanisti are a bit too eager to make all Popes Italian, because they themselves tend to have an Italian mindset, and the Curia remains largely Italian, and they have a tendency to declare people/things/rules as "basically Italian" (when they mean "basically European" but also just don't want to deal with things that are not Italian). It was easy enough to say "John Paul II was basically Italian, but for all his Polish stuff where he wanted to talk to Jews and was really concerned about communists." And easy enough to say "Benedict XVI was really Italian, except for all his German stuff where he gets uptight about the rules and wants to talk a lot about Russian aggression." I think a lot of them want to say "Francis is basically Italian, except ..." except that Francis is NOT basically Italian (by which they totally mean 'basically European'), he is basically SOUTH AMERICAN and has a wildly different orientation than most of the curial cardinals reporting to him and most of the Vaticanisti reporting on him.

Also, please to enjoy a true story that is also a joke and is also a painfully correct commentary on the Vatican: The Vatican got upset that Latin competency was falling off (itself hilarious as Vatican officials speak "Latalian" which is basically colloquial Italian with a lot of Latin words sprinkled in, which literally any idiot who speaks any Romantic or Germanic language can do), so it issued an order to all the Pontificial Universities that they begin teaching in Latin ASAP. So the Italian Pontifical University faculty said, "Oh, that's amazing, we completely agree, everyone should speak Latin, this is awesome!" and continued to completely ignore the directive. The German Pontifical University faculty just immediately began teaching in Latin despite the fact that few of their faculty and none of their students spoke it; they just began trudging along in Latin as instructed. The Americans, however, produced a 40-page memo on how they intended to conform to the decree over a two-year period, instituted tables in the cafeteria segregated by Latin proficiency, began an enormous round of Latin proficiency classes for students, instituted new language requirements for incoming students, etc. When you tell this joke in English, the Germans are the butt of it, for immediately conforming to the letter of the law, no matter how impossible. But when you tell it in Italian, the AMERICANS are the butt of it, for acting like a Vatican directive should be taken seriously and producing and executing an entire freaking action plan that would actually result in Latin competency. Which was SO not the point of the directive; the point of the directive was to say "Latin is important," not to make anybody actually speak Latin. ANYWAY, the point is, Francis is "not-Italian" in really deep ways that the Curia struggles to understand, and he would probably totally issue a 40-page memo about it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:47 PM on May 4 [40 favorites]


U.S. intelligence is helping Ukraine kill Russian generals, officials say (New York Times report).
The targeting help is part of a classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine. That intelligence also includes anticipated Russian troop movements gleaned from recent U.S. assessments of Moscow’s secret battle plan for the fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the officials said.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:01 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]


The most recent in the series of "Ukrainian journalist Volodymyr Zolkin interviews POW and then they call mom."

Funny to me the shift in attitude... less production quality, seems nobody gives much of a shit. I think he's just tired of hearing "I don't know, I am not a politician" from every POW and mom he talks to.

Untranslated at end, with a very tired look on his face, "Let's go, let's have a smoke," to the cameraman.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:08 AM on May 5


Such a coincidence that none of these POWs did any raping or pillaging! That guy was in country for a month, his hands are not clean.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:08 AM on May 5






The only significant territorial gains since the start of this Donbas offensive by Russia have been on the Ukrainian side around Kharkiv.
posted by interogative mood at 5:34 AM on May 5 [7 favorites]


The head of Ukraine’s army forces says they are going on the attack. They are working to push Russian forces back from Kharkiv and recapture Izyum. Here is some analysis on Twitter from an
Australian based researcher on Twitter .
posted by interogative mood at 8:51 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Hopefully I'm not just adding noise to this thread, but can someone explain what I'm sure are the very good reasons why, if they've known for so long (weeks?) that the steel plant, with all the citizens and soldiers still inside (even though some have now been bussed out), is a primary target the Russians probably want to flatten, that there is/was nothing that could be done to provide reinforcements or something with all the newly acquired weaponry, drones, etc? (Or maybe they are and it's not being reported, also probably for good reasons.)
posted by Glinn at 9:23 AM on May 5


It's hard to provide reinforcements to a target that's surrounded by enemy forces when you do not have air superiority.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 9:25 AM on May 5 [8 favorites]


The UK is apparently providing Ukraine with cargo drones which I suspect would be very useful in this scenario.

I also suspect that the cordon around the steel plant has not been 100% watertight, and that they have been able to smuggle in at least something, but are understandably keeping very quiet about it.
posted by Harald74 at 9:41 AM on May 5 [5 favorites]


Mariupol was more or less cut off for weeks, not just the Azovstal plant. But there were reportedly some (insanely dangerous) resupplies here and there:
But officials in Kyiv struggled to resupply the Mariupol garrison. Some efforts succeeded. The 36th Brigade claimed it received 50 122-millimeter artillery pieces plus a Starlink satellite-internet system. But for more than a month, no ammo arrived, according to the Facebook poster.

The apparent brigade writer claimed the unit was promised a helicopter but “it never flew.” There have been attempts to get rotorcraft into and out of Mariupol, however. One mission to evacuate wounded troops via Mi-8 helicopter ended in tragedy on or around March 31 when the Russians shot down one of the helicopters, reportedly killing the occupants.

An apparent subsequent shoot-down of another Ukrainian helicopter around Mariupol the first week of April highlighted Kyiv’s continuing effort to resupply the city’s garrison—as well as the extreme danger involved.
I assume the Starlink system is how the defenders have been sharing video etc from inside.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:41 AM on May 5 [12 favorites]


Kamil Galeev going out on a limb with some predictions, but I found the talk about forced mobilization in the occupied territories interesting. And heartbreaking.
posted by Harald74 at 9:45 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


The targeting help is part of a classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine. That intelligence also includes anticipated Russian troop movements gleaned from recent U.S. assessments of Moscow’s secret battle plan for the fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the officials said.

It's very interesting that U.S. officials are willingly, albeit anonymously, publicizing this. But we should note that the headline was probably not what the administration was hoping for. The article has been amended with this update:

After this article published, Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement that the battlefield intelligence was not provided to the Ukrainians “with the intent to kill Russian generals.”

Still, the fact that the U.S. is making no secret of its extensive intel-sharing with the Ukrainians is striking. It seems, perhaps, to be of a piece with the airing of intelligence assessments going back to before the invasion. Perhaps it's just a way of telling Putin: We have our eyes on you. We are paying attention.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:30 AM on May 5 [6 favorites]


Still, the fact that the U.S. is making no secret of its extensive intel-sharing with the Ukrainians is striking. It seems, perhaps, to be of a piece with the airing of intelligence assessments going back to before the invasion. Perhaps it's just a way of telling Putin: We have our eyes on you. We are paying attention.

Military intelligence gets up its own ass a lot when it comes to "We know that they know that we know that they know that we know", but that blade cuts both ways, and Russian intel people all the way up and down the chain are now desperately checking how compromised their various assets are.
posted by Etrigan at 10:43 AM on May 5 [7 favorites]


Ukrainians joke: “It sucks that so many of us have to live in evacuation with parents. It’s like being a teen again. Mom keeps asking to clean your room. Cause you never know when a Russian rocket hits your apartment nowadays. Do you want the whole world to see your mess?”
posted by Kabanos at 11:05 AM on May 5 [22 favorites]


Funny to me the shift in attitude... less production quality, seems nobody gives much of a shit. I think he's just tired of hearing "I don't know, I am not a politician" from every POW and mom he talks to. Untranslated at end, with a very tired look on his face, "Let's go, let's have a smoke," to the cameraman.

There's another version of this I've seen with the asides translated. I haven't gone back to compare the interviewer's clothes across videos or note when the POWs say they were captured, but I think a bunch of these tend to be made on the same day; so there may be that kind of fatigue too.

As the interviewes get more brusque it does become plainer that there are conditions to the call -- the caller is expected to engage his family member on the false Russian narrative, denounce Putin, urge the family member to protest the war, etc. and if not enough of that happens or the family member doesn't respond that's when the interviewer tends to interrupt.

It seems to me the exchanges between the interviewer and the family members could be managed better both in terms of sowing doubt and wider messaging, but skipping the excoriation is probably asking an awful lot under the circumstances.

The interview panels done in the Interfax press room are differently interesting (mostly from mid-March it seems); in terms of what different units were told by commanders, or how they were deployed at the outset of the invasion. Also what people at different ranks say.

Major from Crimean separatist forces, formerly a Ukrainian officer; and other officers [live translator and autotranslated subtitles] -- the major is the oldest and most senior officer I think I've seen in any of these.
Motorized rifle platoon [hard subtitles]
Mixed group of soldiers and officers [hard subtitles]
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:13 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


Ukraine has managed some resupply missions by daring helicopter flights. It is very risky though because they have to get through a lot of air defenses and low flying helicopters are susceptible to pretty much everything.
It is also important to note that this is actually a huge industrial sight about the size of midtown Manhattan. The Soviets built bunkers and tunnels under it with the idea that it could be a refuge and defensive stronghold in the event of nuclear war or Western invasion. There are lots of weapons and supplies cached there.
No one really knows the real state of the supply situation or even how many defenders are there.
posted by interogative mood at 11:30 AM on May 5 [7 favorites]


The International Donors Conference for Ukraine hosted in Warsaw by Poland and Sweden has wrapped up with pledges of 6.5 billion of additional international funding. Highlights included Hungary holding themselves as Putin opponents with the dazzling 37 million euro of aid they've given thus far. No-one punched them but I can imagine the looks that got.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:30 AM on May 5 [12 favorites]


Here's a tweet by journalist Jack Detsch:
Ukrainian troops took American military training "to heart," building an effective [non-commisioned officer] corps and simulations for large-scale combat: U.S. general

"The worst thing the Russians did was give us eight years to prepare," said Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Hilbert of 7th Army training command
This garnered this very interesting response from military analyst Jack Watling. I'll just quote the whole thread here:
I'd agree the [Ukrainian Armed Forced] took the importance of NCO's to heart but Brig Gen Hilbert is I think mistaken that the Ukrainian military had built an effective NCO corps by the time the war started. Important not to draw false lessons. Some observations... 1/13

Just before the conflict Nick Reynolds and I had long interviews ranging from junior enlisted on the line of contact to the deputy chair of the national security and defence council about the structure, planning, and preparations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 2/13

We haven't published a lot of the material because much of it could have been useful to the Russians just prior to the invasion. However, I heard very consistent messages on NCOs and junior leadership from all ranks. 3/13

While the UAF aspired to have a professional NCO corps it was very nascent. There was not a strong [professional military education] structure for their NCOs. Nor was the exact role of these personnel consistent across formations given a lack of institutional culture. 4/13

Furthermore, before the conflict the UAF had significant retention problems, especially among enlisted personnel who had received specialist training, which included many junior NCOs. However... 5/13

What the Ukrainians did have was a large body of older troops who had experienced fighting in 2014/2015 - and in some cases going back to Afghanistan - who were serving across all ranks. If you went to UAF units you would find 20 year olds and 40 years at the same rank. 6/13

In addition, because of the retention problem, and therefore training more specialists than normal, there was a large body of experienced military personnel in civilian roles who could be mobilised. 7/13

Another aspect to this was that commanders kept rollerdexes of old comrades with specialist skills in areas like signals and logs and when their unit was rotated into the [Joint Forces Operation] - for example - would call them up and issue short term contracts. 8/13

So in many respects, roles that in a NATO military would be the preserve of a long service NCO were actually being filled by very motivated and experienced short-notice reservists (without said reservist being afflicted by stupid quantities of pointless paperwork). 9/13

The result however is that UAF units have lots of very experienced troops serving next to and at the same rank as newly mobilised troops, and this is not concentrated in a few formations but actually distributed across a lot of the force. 10/13

The UAF were enthusiastic about training provided by the US, UK and Canada (and it was a package at ascending echelons so the aid by these three countries can't really be separated out). But the Ukrainians entered this war at the beginning of reforming the force. 11/13

There is a false narrative that UAF success is because of NATO training. NATO training helped. But in many ways the 'eight years' that Brig Gen Hilbert speaks of both shows how much impact training can have, and how much more could have been achieved. 12/13

There is an interesting lesson here about avoiding self-replication when providing training. The Ukrainian model has proven successful, but resembles Finland's approach more than the US. NATO should be cautious about telling Finns about 'best practice' if it joins. 13/13
posted by Kattullus at 1:38 PM on May 5 [26 favorites]


Hopefully I'm not just adding noise to this thread, but can someone explain what I'm sure are the very good reasons why, if they've known for so long (weeks?) that the steel plant, with all the citizens and soldiers still inside (even though some have now been bussed out), is a primary target the Russians probably want to flatten, that there is/was nothing that could be done to provide reinforcements or something with all the newly acquired weaponry, drones, etc? (Or maybe they are and it's not being reported, also probably for good reasons.)

Without really answering the question, it's worth reframing this and noting that the bunkers underneath the Azovstal plant have been, and probably still are, the safest place in the Mariupol area. I couldn't find the news report I was looking for but I found this story of defenders being evacuated from the Mariupol port district to Azovstal (useful map included) two weeks ago, just before Russia announced their control of the city. Note how we've continued to get news updates and videos from people inside the bunkers, so they still have electricity and internet, not to mention food and water stockpiles (although those are obviously running low) and the military command structure is intact and still in communication.

Moreover, because these are Soviet era bunkers, the Russians have all the old engineering documents in a bureau somewhere, so there's no guesswork and no point in posturing; both UA and RU know exactly what size can opener would be needed to crack them open and actually threaten the people within, both know that the other know, etc. It's within the realm of possibility that Russia does not actually possess a bomb big enough. If they do, they're definitely not willing to use it yet. I heard (from a Latvian journalist on the podcast The Eastern Border) that certain parts of the production line are still operational, and have been the whole time. If that's true, the plant itself is not yet destroyed as a productive asset, and both sides have an interest in keeping it that way (just like both sides have incentives to let Russia's gas flow through Ukraine's pipelines).

Finally, I think it's likely that the soldiers holed up in the bunkers are spent/exhausted and not presently useful for offensive operations. Modern warfare doctrine absolutely does not recommend spending two months straight in active combat with poor rations. Thta's exactly what you're supposed to NOT do.

So that's the situation that has to be considered in context of the entire eastern front. I have no idea how Ukraine's decision makers are weighing risk, cost and benefit. I do know there's a lot going on, a lot of bombs falling all over the place, and most of those places actually have less protection than the folks in Azovstal.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 1:51 PM on May 5 [6 favorites]


'nother megayacht siezed, this one of a Suleiman Kerimov AKA "the Russian Gatsby"
posted by glonous keming at 2:26 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Shared on Twitter by The Kyiv Independent’s defense reporter Illia Ponomarenko, the image, dated May 4, shows what appears to be the remnants of a T-90M tank, still smoldering after a direct hit somewhere within Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv Oblast.
The first confirmed loss of Russia’s most advanced operational tank is another blow to the Russian Army’s eroded image.
posted by adamvasco at 5:34 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]


While battles still rage across the Donbas, it's been a quiet day or two in terms of new-news, and this is mirrored in the latest ISW campaign assessment. But even on the "quiet" days recently, there seems to be a slow but steady spread of "counteroffensive blue" on their maps that's heartening to see.
posted by jammer at 5:55 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]


It's within the realm of possibility that Russia does not actually possess a bomb big enough [to destroy the Azovstal bunkers]

This seems reasonably likely to be the case. The Russian focus on warfighting with tactical nuclear weapons—or at least, not fighting specifically without access to nuclear weapons—may result in a gap in conventional ultralarge bunker-busting weapons.

The US answer to hitting bunkers like those at Azovstal (really, Iran's underground enrichment facilities) without resorting to nukes is the GBU-57 MOP, which weighs 30,000 pounds, is made with rather exotic steel alloys, and can currently only be carried by the B-2 Spirit. AFAICT, the Russians don't have anything in that category. Their largest conventional bunker-busters are the KAB-1500LPR, weighing a measly (by comparison) 3,300 lbs, and even with rocket-assisted penetration are likely unable to damage a facility like Azovstal's bunkers. They seem more designed for producing deep craters in reinforced-concrete runways rather than hitting nuclear-airburst-hardened bunkers.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:25 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


This garnered this very interesting response from military analyst Jack Watling.

The training provided by the US and its NATO partners was necessary, but not sufficient. How do we know this? Because we spent a decade providing the same training in Iraq, and two decades providing it in Afghanistan, and it didn't work in either of those places.

People have asked me over the last couple of months We've heard the NCO corps described as the backbone of the US military a lot, so why doesn't every other (advanced) military have something similar?, and I've told them something to the effect of:

Because it's fucking hard to trust your NCOs, to recruit and train and staff and equip them to the point that you can trust them and make them the backbone of your military. It's not a matter of promoting the corporals you like to sergeant, hanging up some motivational posters, and bang, there's your professional NCO corps. It took the US military an entire generation to do it -- basically, the time between Vietnam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And by "an entire generation", what I really mean is closer to three generations in military time, because a good NCO only lasts about a decade between the time they become capable of leading troops and the time they either retire or they're never going to be directly leading troops again. And we didn't even do it right. There was never at any time between the end of the draft and the day we rolled into Baghdad a guarantee that it was definitely going to work.

So yeah, it's pretty impressive that even with access to all the lessons learned by other powers in how to form a professional 21st Century military, Ukraine managed to do it in less than one generation in military time. It's an absolute miracle.
posted by Etrigan at 8:26 PM on May 5 [20 favorites]


Russia has a seven ton MOAB counterpart ("FOAB") that is four times as destructive (equal to 44 tons of TNT vs MOAB's 11). It's a thermobaric weapon, perhaps not suitable for attacking Azovstal; but it's meant to produce a supersonic shockwave as does a nuke.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:32 PM on May 5


Is it even possible to sell these megayachts? Who would the buyers be, if all the Russian oligarks are out of the picture? Can they be re-purposed to anything useful? I'm guessing just a few of them could, those with icebreaker hulls and helipads, possibly.
posted by Harald74 at 10:41 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]


Etrigan, I think some of the same issues are valid wrt logistics: "Why don't everyone build a logistics system like the US?". Because it's f'n hard, that's why. Also it doesn't look impressive on parades or in lists of tanks, guns and fighter jets. Basically you give a lot of money and power to guys with clipboards and glasses who obsess about numbers and tables and stuff. And then you end up with a fleet of trucks and forklifts that looks pretty much like any old truck and forklift, but for some explicable reason needs to be more expensive, and who wants that instead of another battalion with tanks. Tanks are cool and everyone knows you can use them to clobber your enemies with. Trucks? Who knows.
posted by Harald74 at 11:03 PM on May 5 [13 favorites]


Interesting video from Danish analyst, Anders Puck Nielsen on a possible cause of the sinking of the Moskova: Bad design can kill: Missile defence and user fatigue. - his theory is that having a 1980s era radar screen which must be monitored for hours and hours of nothing, under conditions of war - makes the odds of noticing and reacting to incoming missiles, pretty low.

As with the issue of NCO empowerment - the idea of taking care to design good UIs for devices which will be used by lowly operators - is probably a particularly big challenge for a rigid, command and control Russian military.
posted by rongorongo at 1:12 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


One more for the Fire Season List: Large fire breaks out at oil depot in Russian-controlled area in Donetsk

Said to be an Ukrainian missile strike, in which case the local anti-missile defenses clearly aren't quite up to snuff. But the site looks to be maybe 20km from the Donetsk frontline, and while I can't find reliable info on whether Ukraine is already operating Western artillery near the front, some of their USSR-era artillery as well as their own developments can also reach well more than those 20km.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:52 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


rongorongo, that analysis comes just in time as the rumours are buzzing that another major surface combatant has been hit. We'll see if there is confirmation soon.
posted by Harald74 at 3:26 AM on May 6


Because we spent a decade providing the same training in Iraq, and two decades providing it in Afghanistan, and it didn't work in either of those places.

I don't know, the Afghanis the US trained to fight invading Imperialists in 80s Afghanistan have had significant success with small tactical group command structures.
posted by Mitheral at 6:00 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


Not sure if this has been posted, from the Kyiv Post
Kremlin to family members of Moskva cruiser crew: Ship sank by accident, no war compensation
posted by achrise at 6:36 AM on May 6 [14 favorites]


Admiral Grigorovich class frigate is reported to be on fire off Zmiiny island in Black Sea.
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:45 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Is it even possible to sell these megayachts? Who would the buyers be, if all the Russian oligarks are out of the picture? Can they be re-purposed to anything useful? I'm guessing just a few of them could, those with icebreaker hulls and helipads, possibly.

Russia's oligarchs are not the world's only plutocrats. Maybe they could be transferred to some kind of Ukrainian tourism concern for charters or leasing, but the math on operating these kinds of monuments to ego isn't really aimed at profit (or utility).

The Russian ship potentially on fire is the Admiral Makarov, of a much newer class than Moskva.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:49 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


@KevinRothrock: Despite the Kremlin spox saying full-scale mobilization rumors are “nonsense,” Russian state agencies (from the post office to the tax inspectors) have started flooding online job portals with listings for “mobilization experts.”
posted by gwint at 7:50 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Alleged video of the Admiral Makarov on fire after allegedly being hit by Ukrainian Armed Forces, allegedly with Neptune missiles.

I've learned to wait for further confirmation, but crossing my fingers I can ignore all those "allegedly"s soon.
posted by Kabanos at 7:53 AM on May 6 [7 favorites]




In one of the previous threads it was mentioned that those mega yachts are wildly impractical as ships. It takes extensive resources to maintain and operate. And it's basically by design. It's meant to be an ostentatious display of wealth. You have to be incredibly wealthy just to own the things. They're a monsterous waste of resources and I don't think there is much to be down with them other than breaking them down for parts and scrap.
posted by VTX at 8:13 AM on May 6 [6 favorites]


Could it be worth docking megayachts near the shore and use them for sightseeing? At least some of them?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:48 AM on May 6


Use them as liveaboards for refugees.
posted by ocschwar at 8:49 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


They're not cruise ships, and warehousing refugees on ocean liners without a plan on what to do next has a not so great history anyway.

The status of the seized ships will be tied up in court for a long time; the rule of law may be suspended in Ukraine, but the entire world is not at war.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:52 AM on May 6 [5 favorites]


One or two of them could be used as museums/exhibits; a Museum of the Post-Soviet Kleptocracy is one possibility, though moving one to land, stripping/deconstructing it and using it as a shell to exhibit artefacts from Russian military atrocities in Ukraine/Syria/Georgia could be a dramatic usage.

Though such use cases would be relatively few, and unless billionaires elsewhere buy them, most of them would be destined for the scrap heap. Perhaps if sunk in the right place, they could serve as the core of artificial reefs.
posted by acb at 9:14 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


I've learned to wait for further confirmation, but crossing my fingers I can ignore all those "allegedly"s soon.

There have been twitter replies saying the footage is actually from a video game, but at this point who knows.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:36 AM on May 6


USNI News: Warship Moskva was Blind to Ukrainian Missile Attack, Analysis Shows

The photos of the burning ship seem to show the fire direction radars that would be used for missile defense in their parked and stowed configuration.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:43 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Introducing the 'Russia fires' thread
I did my best to class them by chronological order
There can be more than one tweet by fire
I may have missed some of them
This is a just a list of the fires, not claiming to know how each occured
TL;DR: There's a sh*tload of them
posted by adamvasco at 10:30 AM on May 6 [12 favorites]


Could it be worth docking megayachts near the shore and use them for sightseeing? At least some of them?

Maybe they could dock one beside the fake Galleon ship that was part of Yanukovych's Mezhyhirya estate [virtual tour] on the Dnipro. It could all just be a museum of kleptocracy.

(That is, until "Putin's Palace" becomes available).
posted by Kabanos at 10:39 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Wait, there's a fires thread here? Link? I think there needs to be a spreadsheet. War just messes the head so bad, watching the daily recap is so mechanical but a few days ago there was a blip of +400, usually 1-2 hundred daily. Seemingly not noted, but on any other news cycle, 400 people dead no matter how bad/nasty/evil people they are, would be headlines for days.

Anyway, big boats are repurposed, it's a big expensive endeavor and if they are sold for something other than another billionaires playground will be specialized one offs in each case.
posted by sammyo at 10:49 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


The “Russia fires” thread is on Twitter; link was in the comment above.

(Here’s a link to the start of the thread instead of the end.)
posted by mbrubeck at 12:24 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Adopted the freezing decree of the boat Scheherazade

Putin's personal superyacht seized by the Italians.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:06 PM on May 6 [8 favorites]


(A Venn diagram, with three circles, labelled "Vladimir Putin", "H.P. Lovecraft" and "Pokey the Penguin"; the intersection reads “Persecuted by the Italians”.)
posted by acb at 3:09 PM on May 6 [16 favorites]


Inside the battle on the Eastern Front
The closer we get to the front the more the world morphs into something profoundly alien. Almost all the vehicles on the road are military. We breeze through a succession of checkpoints manned by soldiers hardened by war. The Ukrainians have been fighting here for eight years. We pass through several villages. On each side of me I see small, perfectly kept houses with immaculate gardens. I’m told it’s a Ukrainian thing. Even war is no excuse to let standards slip.
posted by adamvasco at 3:23 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


The Makarov might not have sunk, but Ukrainians got a landing craft near Snake Island via Bayraktar. The craft was delivering a surface to air missile system to protect from natch, Bayraktars.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 4:01 AM on May 7 [8 favorites]


I was wondering if that small landing craft was important in some way. There were apparently only two of those in the Black Sea Fleet, so I guess the Russian room for manoeuvre or surprise landings suddenly shrank a bit.
posted by Harald74 at 4:32 AM on May 7


And when thinking about bang for the buck, I wonder what one of those Bayraktar bombs would do to a docked submarine? I suspect repairs would take weeks if not months, and be quite the morale victory for the Ukrainians (the subs are apparently at port reloading cruise missiles from time to time, that's why I think it would be within the realm of possibility to hit them).
posted by Harald74 at 4:35 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Getting a TB-2 over the sub pens at Sevastopol (or the docks there more generally) would require a truly flabbergasting lapse on the part of the Russians. The base is in range of the large rockets the HIMARS MLRS can fire, but I don't know how accurate those are and Ukraine may have more important and easier to hit fixed targets for them. Like the Kerch Strait bridge, or strategic targets within Russia. The role of subs in the Black Sea is basically launching Kalibr missiles, which can be done from other platforms and they are not in unlimited supply.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:16 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


If Russia declares victory on the 9th and converts the “special operation” into a standard-issue Abkhazia/Transnistria-style frozen conflict to bleed Ukraine, its subs could be used to enforce a sea blockade to starve Ukraine into submission.

One way or another, Ukraine will need anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
posted by acb at 5:32 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I was wondering if that small landing craft was important in some way.

The loss of it sure makes Odesa seem safer.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:16 AM on May 7




...frozen conflict to bleed Ukraine.

Considering all the sanctions that would continue to be enforced I would hope Russia will bleed out well before Ukraine.

(shudders) I.....think I'm done with the bleed metaphor now though. Feels kinda squicky considering all the folks literally bleeding right now.
posted by VTX at 7:19 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


>Inside the Battle on the Eastern Front: I was given access to a secret Ukrainian base

What a great article, excellent reporting and really moving.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:39 AM on May 7


I ask him why the Russians have fought so badly. “For the reason the guy who looks after their tanks shot himself,” he replies. “Me and Dima were buying equipment from those fucks for ten times less than it was worth. Thanks to their very effective corruption we very effectively killed their own guys.”
Russians getting hoisted on their own corruption petard. Fucking brilliant.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:53 AM on May 7 [8 favorites]


The targeting help is part of a classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine. That intelligence also includes anticipated Russian troop movements gleaned from recent U.S. assessments of Moscow’s secret battle plan for the fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the officials said.

US intelligence told to keep quiet over role in Ukraine military triumphs – CIA veterans advise successors against ‘unwise’ intelligence boasts that could trigger escalation from Russia, Julian Borger in Washington, The Guardian, 7 May 2022:
Former US intelligence officers are advising their successors currently in office to shut up and stop boasting about their role in Ukraine’s military successes.

Two stories surfaced in as many days in the American press this week, citing unnamed officials as saying that US intelligence was instrumental in the targeting of Russian generals on the battlefield and in the sinking of the Moskva flagship cruiser on the Black Sea.

[US shared location of cruiser Moskva with Ukraine prior to sinking]

As a general rule, espionage is carried out in secret, though western intelligence agencies have turned that rule on its head over the past few months by going public with what they knew about Russian preparations for invasion, and then with daily reports on the battlefield and from behind Russian lines.

The new disclosures are different however, as they concern what the US espionage agencies themselves have been doing, rather than commenting on the state of the war. In both cases, the US was claiming a hand in historic humiliations for Moscow and for Vladimir Putin, triggering warnings of unintended consequences….
More in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 9:52 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I don't like all the stories about how the US helped Ukraine do XYZ. We should be doing it but don't talk about it. I'm sure on some level there's an element of "Don't fuck with Ukraine cause they have the full backing of US intelligence and Russia should know what that means" but I'd rather the support be behind the scenes as much as possible. No reason to give Russia any more propaganda.
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:27 AM on May 7 [13 favorites]


‘I Simply Refuse’: Wiretaps Catch Putin’s Troops Breaking Own Tanks in Sabotage Scheme
In one regiment, one Russian soldier allegedly said they’ve been pouring sand into the tanks’ fuel systems to clog them up.

“I don't follow stupid orders, I simply refuse,” one fighter can be heard telling a comrade. “The motherf*cker sent me to tanks, motherf*cking piece of shit. I f*cked it up and that's it.”
They don't have enough troops to win the offensive. Even if they pulled off a miracle and won, they still don't have enough troops for the occupation. A portion of their too-few troops are actively sabotaging equipment. And others are taking advantage of the "special operation" status to legally refuse to go.

The latter point is one that flabbergasts me. As long as the situation isn't a declared war, contract troops can legally refuse to fight. They can even resign while on the front lines. It's basically legal desertion. Even in Putin's dictatorship, there's no serious legal penalties. They can be fired with a note of "cowardice" put in their permanent record. But this would only keep them from getting a government job in the future. It will probably have zero effect on any other aspect of their lives.

Compare that to what the US did during the War on Terror when there was high reluctance among soldiers to being deployed. Use of stop-loss to extend enlistment periods. Veterans were involuntarily called back to service. And of course, no soldier could openly refuse to go without facing court martial, dishonorable discharge which would affect their civilian employment, and possible brig time.

It's just very strange to me that the authoritarian regime, which treats its conscripts so cruelly, would have options for soldiers to get out relatively easily.

A declaration of war will close those options.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:37 AM on May 7 [11 favorites]


No reason to give Russia any more propaganda.

When have the facts ever stopped Russian propaganda before?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:42 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]


The Russian's have been staging a propaganda war against Ukraine for about 20 years, with an endless stream of media of all sorts about how Ukraine isn't a real country, it's full of Nazis, it needs to be reined in to be made to rejoin the Russian Brotherhood.

This whole thing is like if Fox News had started talking about Canada being not a real country back when it was formed. Or, equally valid, its mouth-foaming rabidity about immigrants, having gone on for so long it's taken as fact by its viewers. If every channel were that... (which is is in Russia)...
posted by hippybear at 12:53 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


The troops themselves are disobeying orders and sabotaging the war effort on purpose.
God bless those guys, they deserve a medal, no joke. When this is all over I hope Russians who opposed this war and others like the Belarusian railway workers who sabotaged the invasion logistics get their full due. Even if its out of a sense of self-preservation and wanting to avoid battle, they're doing the right thing. They'll be able to hold their heads up high when others who supported this crime live in shame.
posted by Reverend John at 1:06 PM on May 7 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I don't like all the stories about how the US helped Ukraine do XYZ. We should be doing it but don't talk about it. I'm sure on some level there's an element of "Don't fuck with Ukraine cause they have the full backing of US intelligence and Russia should know what that means" but I'd rather the support be behind the scenes as much as possible.
As one of my former writing teachers used to constantly advise: "Show, don't tell.."
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:20 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Connoisseurs of Soviet humor will be familiar with the “Radio Yerevan” joke, where Armenian State Radio would answer listener question. The Wikipedia page for Radio Yerevan jokes has been updated with some more current examples:
This is Radio Yerevan. Our listeners ask us: “According to Putin, what is going on in Ukraine is a battle between Russia and Nato, and what is at stake is world domination. What is the situation there in the war?”
We answer: “Russia has lost 14,000 soldiers, 100 fighter planes, 100 helicopters, 500 tanks, 1500 armored vehicles, 3 ships, 230 guns and 6 generals. NATO hasn’t shown up yet.”

This is Radio Yerevan. Our listener asks us: “If Putin, Lavrov, Shoigu, Medvedev and Peskov were in a ship that was sinking, who would be the most likely survivor?”
We answer: “Russia.”

Radio Yerevan was asked: "Is it true that Russia captured a Ukrainian base?"
Radio Yerevan answered: "In principle, yes. Only it was not a base, it was a ship. And it was not Ukrainian, it was Russian. And it was not captured, it sank. The rest is true."
posted by Kattullus at 1:41 PM on May 7 [59 favorites]


Yeah, I don't like all the stories about how the US helped Ukraine do XYZ. We should be doing it but don't talk about it. I'm sure on some level there's an element of "Don't fuck with Ukraine cause they have the full backing of US intelligence and Russia should know what that means" but I'd rather the support be behind the scenes as much as possible. No reason to give Russia any more propaganda.

The reason that these stories are coming out is so everyone in the Russian chain of command knows that if they take out their aggressions on [insert country here] next, well, then [insert country here] may also suddenly start overachieving as regards its intelligence-gathering and targeting capabilities.
posted by Etrigan at 1:48 PM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Getting a TB-2 over the sub pens at Sevastopol (or the docks there more generally) would require a truly flabbergasting lapse on the part of the Russians.
sounds good for ukraine, then
posted by Flunkie at 2:21 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


one Russian soldier allegedly said they’ve been pouring sand into the tanks’ fuel systems to clog them up

I encourage Russia to go pound sand.
posted by SPrintF at 2:41 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


The entire way this is unfolding is a level of humiliation for Putin that I'm not sure he will be able to forgive or overcome. I hope he doesn't entirely unhinge because of all this, but I'm beginning to think it's not unlikely.

The success of Ukraine has been astonishing, and the idea that they're putting out there the idea they will recapture previously claimed territory is well beyond what I'd ever thought about for this war.
posted by hippybear at 2:50 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]




Seldom seen but still operative Ukrainian SU-27s struck Russian emplacements on Snake Island, as observed from a TB-2 (after a TB-2 attacked the air defense, as mentioned).
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:07 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Here's that Snake Island video for those without a Twitter login
posted by tigrrrlily at 3:12 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Putin sends Mariupol survivors to remote corners of Russia as investigation reveals network of 66 camps
An investigation analysing Russian local news reports has identified 66 camps for Ukrainians in a network of former Soviet sanatoriums and other sites – and reveals how an underground network of Russians is helping people escape.
posted by adamvasco at 3:39 PM on May 7 [18 favorites]




Also good news:
The Ukrainian counteroffensive northeast of Kharkiv is making significant progress and will likely advance to the Russian border in the coming days or weeks. Russian forces may be conducting a limited withdrawal in the face of successful Ukrainian attacks and reportedly destroyed three bridges to slow the Ukrainian advance. Armies generally only destroy bridges if they have largely decided they will not attempt to cross the river in the other direction anytime soon; Russian forces are therefore unlikely to launch operations to retake the northeast outskirts of Kharkiv liberated by Ukrainian forces in the near future.
posted by jammer at 6:24 PM on May 7 [13 favorites]


Vesnyanka. (Bryats band)
posted by clavdivs at 7:23 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


M109s spotted in Norway being pulled out of storage and moved while a UA An-124 is seen in Oslo

Norway looks to be donating some of its older heavy weapons on the quiet. The US having sent tens of thousands of 155mm artillery shells and Biden talking about the US helping in ways he can't talk about is starting to click into place.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:55 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Taras Bilous (who wrote A letter to the Western Left from Kyiv) shared on Twitter, as “a really good example of left-wing criticism of Western policies, as opposed to what campists and pseudo-humanists are writing to call on the West not to support Ukrainian resistance, or even to force Ukraine to capitulate”, the following piece by Gilbert Achcar, Irresponsible Braggadocio Won’t Help Ukrainians. Excerpt:
NATO countries, for their part, have no right to dictate to them the terms of a peace deal with Russia and compel them to surrender, or conversely to sabotage the prospect of a compromise and pressure them to continue to fight until exhaustion, thus turning them into a disposable NATO proxy. The statement made by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Poland on 25 April that “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine” expectedly drew a lot of attention.

Was it “carefully orchestrated … to set up President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine with what one senior State Department official called ‘the strongest possible hand’ for what they expect will be some kind of cease-fire negotiations in coming months,” as David Sanger explained in the New York Times? Or was it the expression of a shift in U.S. goals towards cynically pressuring the Ukrainians to fight until Washington deems Russia weakened enough? We’ll know from Washington’s attitude over the next few weeks if it is exerting maximum pressure in order to bring the war to a close more rapidly, thus shortening the Ukrainians’ suffering and limiting the damage caused by the war to the U.S. and global economy, or if it is continuing to dangerously play with fire.

The matter is much less open to question in the case of British warmongering. Beyond Boris Johnson’s obvious headlong rush into the war in the hope that its blast would cover the noise of the many scandals that he provoked, the prime minister and his cabinet have been engaging in a highly dangerous game of one-upmanship. Unlike discreet purveyors of weapons to Ukraine like the French or the German governments, they have publicly boasted about every item they have delivered and every form of military assistance they have provided to the embattled nation. Boris Johnson even brought upon himself a scathing rebuke from a former head of the Polish army who accused him of “tempting evil” after he bragged that “we are currently training Ukrainians in Poland in the use of anti-aircraft defence”.

More recklessly still, statements by members of the British governments have been quite more provocative than those made in Washington, let alone those of EU member states. Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on 25 April, the UK minister for the armed forces, James Heappey, made a flabbergasting response to the question of whether it is acceptable for British weapons to be used by the Ukrainians against military targets inside Russian territory. The minister asserted that “it is entirely legitimate to go after military targets in the depth of your opponents to disrupt their logistics and supply lines, just as, to be frank, provided the Russians don’t target civilians, which unfortunately they’ve not taken too much regard for thus far, it is perfectly legitimate for them to be striking targets in Western Ukraine to disrupt Ukrainian supply lines.”
posted by Kattullus at 2:04 AM on May 8 [9 favorites]


From the article above: NATO countries, for their part, have no right to dictate to them the terms of a peace deal with Russia and compel them to surrender, or conversely to sabotage the prospect of a compromise and pressure them to continue to fight until exhaustion, thus turning them into a disposable NATO proxy.

Ukraine: cannot handle pressure from Boris Johnson; decides to continue fighting Russian army.
posted by UN at 8:35 AM on May 8 [16 favorites]


if it is exerting maximum pressure in order to bring the war to a close more rapidly, thus shortening the Ukrainians’ suffering and limiting the damage caused by the war to the U.S. and global economy, or if it is continuing to dangerously play with fire.

God this fucking article. First it's like "what if the Ukrainians are only fighting because the West tells them so", then it's like "why isn't the West putting maximum pressure on Ukraine to surrender". Tell me you're a Russian stooge without telling me you're a Russian stooge, I guess (not you Katullus but this fucking author).

Ukraine doesn't need any "pressure" to continue fighting Russia that Bucha and Mariupol didn't provide. This is fucking existential. The Russians are violating literally dozens if not hundreds of the rules of the Geneva convention, engaging in targeted mass rape, creating concentration camps - and this guy is arguing that surrendering to Russia "shortens their suffering"? Fuck him, man.
posted by corb at 9:05 AM on May 8 [44 favorites]




Snake Island is turning into a nightmare for Russian forces. Today there is more video of two more boats and a Mi-8 helicopter disembarking troops getting blown up. I’m not going to link the videos because people getting blown up.

Russia would like to station anti-ship and anti-aircraft systems and radars on the island to put pressure on Odesa the southern coast of Ukraine. They can also monitor operations along the Romanian coastline.

The downside is that the island is really hard to defend. It’s nothing more than a bit of rock less than 1/5 of a square km poking above the waves. It lacks any fresh water sources — all supplies have to be brought in from the mainland.
posted by interogative mood at 9:29 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


If only the Russians had some sort of ship with radars and SAMs...

The sinking of the Moskva has let the Ukrainians have a field day with their Su-27s and TB2s.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:34 AM on May 8 [9 favorites]


NATO countries, for their part, have no right to dictate to them the terms

Why the fuck is dictating anything? maybe being closed doors, NATO is telling Ukraine how much of a territorial advance they will support and how much will lead to a withdrawal of support, but NATO is saying jack shit in public and rightly so.

And who the fuck is Achkar?
posted by ocschwar at 1:11 PM on May 8 [14 favorites]


Zelensky's office has released a 2-part video on Twitter about today's anniversary of the surrender of the Nazis in WWII. In black-and-white, comparing WWII Nazi bombing to Russian bombing in Ukraine.

In non-war-related Ukrainian news, turns out Ukraine helped rescue Afghan journalists last year. I called the Ukrainian number that had messaged Sharif about the plan. It was answered by a man named “Markus” who I would later learn was a high-ranking member of Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence service. (Because of his profession, The Globe is only identifying him by his code name.) The rescue had been ordered by the office of President Volodymyr Zelensky, after a request from The Globe for assistance.

Markus sounded groggy – I had awakened him from a pre-mission sleep – but surprisingly confident. “We are coming,” he said nonchalantly.

I asked him if they could also collect Jawed Haqmal, a translator who had been left behind by the Canadian military he served. Markus – to my shock – said just to send him the new names so he could add them to Ukraine’s evacuation list. “It is a humanitarian mission,” he explained. “Just tell them to be at the [hotel] at 0600.”


This is from an award-winning report from September 2021 by Mark MacKinnon in Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. It is the story of how Mark and others did their best to rescue their Afghan colleagues but got nowhere until, at last, they asked Ukraine for help. "Ukraine is happy to help, but wonders why, if they’re so useful in a crisis, they can’t join NATO."

The whole thing is a great (scary, horrifying, sad) read. Apologies if this is a total derail; just found it fascinating that these big powerful countries (Canada, US, etc.) could not come through but Ukraine did.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:37 PM on May 8 [18 favorites]


Interview with Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist who has covered the country’s shadowy security services for decades. Why The 'Failure' Of Russian Spies, Generals Is Leading To 'Apocalyptic' Thinking In The Kremlin
What is your sense about why this view is being adopted? Is this to justify pushing for mobilization across Russia, as some people have theorized could be coming, or do you see something else driving it?

Soldatov: I think it's not only the [prospect of] mobilization, it's also about the feeling [from the military and intelligence services] that they have picked a fight with NATO, but in the wrong place, because [they] are sustaining high casualties but are not in a position to inflict any damage [in return] on NATO. This is a source of big frustration [for] the military. They’re fighting in Ukraine and suffering very high losses while losing lots [of] equipment, [but] are not in a position to fight back as they believe they should.
posted by adamvasco at 1:53 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


@OSINT88: General mobilization orders reportedly being received by Russian men of all ages. Unclear whether it's legit.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:54 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


There's a mechanical translation in the replies. Someone in the replies is claiming it's an invitation to join the part-time forces and not a draft notice. That there's nothing compelling the recipient's presence.

Which would make sense to me. I wouldn't think notices would go out until after the official announcement. But it's always possible there was a snafu in the bureaucracy and notices were accidentally sent out early.

I'm still not sure whether or not to expect general mobilization. It would be remarkably dumb and ineffective. But that would be par for the course for Russia. I do expect a declaration of war. That actually might be effective because it would end the currently legal refusal by thousands of contract soldiers.

I just wonder if you can have a declaration without mobilization. Seems like the two go together and might not be separated.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 2:35 PM on May 8


I could see them doing a declaration tomorrow for their Victory Day, or the day after for "we didn't have a Victory Day" or whatever. Putin seems to have committed his country to a genocidal mindset toward Ukraine, and it's hard to pull that kind of brainwashing/propaganda back once you've gotten it rolling. We're still fighting Jim Crow in the US after how many decades?
posted by hippybear at 2:45 PM on May 8


Can I run this by people here: Getting all the civilians out of Azovstal must have been a really serious diplomatic lift, right? Because it frankly helps the Azovstal defenders, because it's fewer people eating supplies. So Russia had real good solid incentives not to do it. Right? This seems like, against-all-the-odds news to me. Is this actually, idunno, a reasonable thing we expect responsible and ethical warmongers to do when they wage semi-genocidal war?

either way, it's weep-in-relief news.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 3:22 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


Except that there are a lot of reports that most of the final evacuees were disappeared to Russian 'filtration' camps. Euromaidan Press.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:30 PM on May 8 [5 favorites]


Is this actually, idunno, a reasonable thing we expect responsible and ethical warmongers to do when they wage semi-genocidal war?

I mean, responsible and ethical warmongers would be following the Geneva convention in the first place. But also: Russia moving civilians out also means they may feel more free to use nonstandard weapons without worrying about, say, livestreams of children choking on poison gas. Also, tragically, just because a lot of these people got out of the steel plant does not mean they escaped Russia - the "filtration" camps hit many evacuees.
posted by corb at 4:34 PM on May 8 [7 favorites]


Also, Putin's aim may be to assert nominal control of the coast up to Kherson so as to be able to assert that the primary aims have been achieved; and anyone mobilized now is being sent to defend territory rather than take it. (Especially if Russia goes so far as to annex it in its own name.) The presence of a handful of stay-behinds in the steelworks doesn't create problems for that in the way that suffering civilians with Starlink do.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:51 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: responsible and ethical warmongers

(sorry Rainbo Vagrant, not attacking you, the 'rules of war' are on a whole different modality than most of even the most cynical of us can comprehend. there seem utterly differing cultural mindsets between the western world and the attackers in this war. what does "weaponizing rape" even mean? is stealing washing machine really happening, what does that mean for that culture? do the lives of Putin's solders matter to the defenders when their lives seem cheap and trivial to other russians and certainly unimportant to Putin and the generals?)
posted by sammyo at 5:00 PM on May 8


no, that's a very deliberate joke of a phrase. "War Crimes" as a legal concept and judicial framework is cool, it's great, but the fundamental truth is that war is a crime. This kind of destruction is inherently obscene.

uh, i've been getting really weepy about Mariupol, to be honest. it feels a little like, not on the same scale, but kinda like watching the Hiroshima bomb in slow motion.

So anyway I'd been reasoning "this doesn't make the soldiers left behind any less secure," but yeah, in some ways it might, and it lowers the tension of the situation. That makes sense.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 5:12 PM on May 8 [4 favorites]


Question: has anyone here seen a text on general mobilization and how it would work to Putin's advantage? What would be the intended goal/strategy?

Is there some kind of statistic where 'Lose X number of tanks to enemy fire and sand-in-the-fuel-tank per week, win war anyway' starts to make sense? Would it not take months to train people before sending them out? If their weaponry and production is in as bad shape as it has shown to be, what will they fight with?
posted by UN at 10:30 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


downtohisturtles: No reason to give Russia any more propaganda.

They'll fabricate their propaganda out of whole cloth anyway, and if that's found to be 'inexplicably missing' from their Whole Cloth warehouses they'll just use thin air.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:09 PM on May 8 [6 favorites]


Ukraine’s mine-sniffing dog Patron awarded medal by Zelensky (and Trudeau was there). Excerpt:
President Volodymyr Zelensky presented Ukraine’s famous mine-sniffing dog Patron and his owner with a medal on Sunday to recognize their dedicated service since Russia’s invasion.

The pint-size Jack Russell terrier has been credited with detecting more than 200 explosives and preventing their detonation since the start of the war on Feb. 24, quickly becoming a canine symbol of Ukrainian patriotism.

Zelensky made the award at a news conference in Kyiv with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Patron barked and wagged his tail, prompting laughter from the audience. Trudeau patted his pockets as though looking for a dog treat.
Here is a short video clip from the ceremony.
posted by Kattullus at 1:24 AM on May 9 [17 favorites]


Moscow Victory Day parades and Putin's speech have happened. Here's John Sweeney's summary:
Vladimir Putin - a blanket on his knees, his cheeks full, a hamster stuffed with steroids - cuts a weak and enfeebled figure as Russian Army rolls past the Kremlin. No declaration of big war; no call-up; no General Gerasimov.

Listen: you can hear the knives being sharpened.
Was a little surprising there was essentially nothing. I wasn't really expecting mobilization, but I was kinda expecting the declaration. Was also expecting some arbitrary line claimed as a big victory. But, none of that.

Not even aircraft showed up. There was supposed to be a "Z" formation of fighters. But this was canceled due to "inclement weather". From the photos and videos, it looked like a nice sunny spring day in Moscow. Very strange.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 3:05 AM on May 9 [12 favorites]


The Russian embassy always leaves flowers at the Red Army monument in Warsaw on May 9. It didn't end well today. Red paint this time, to symbolise blood.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 4:02 AM on May 9 [18 favorites]


On this day of Victory for Russia, we interrupt our TV programmes to bring you this Important Message.
posted by Stoneshop at 5:27 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]




Tell me it's a performance of Swan Lake.
posted by acb at 5:45 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


A powerful video address from Zelensky on Victory Day:
[There] is a textbook on the history of Ukraine. We would not have grief if all our enemies could read [it] and draw the right conclusions. Every occupier who comes to our land treads [on the same rake]. We've been through different wars, but they've all had the same [end]. Our land was sown with bullets and shells but no enemy was able to take root here. Enemy chariots and tanks drove through our fields, but [they] did not bear fruit... We have never fought against anyone. We always fight for ourselves. For our freedom. For our independence. So that the victory of our ancestors was not in vain... We will never forget what our ancestors did in World War II, where more than eight million Ukrainians died and every fifth Ukrainian didn't return home. In total the war claimed at least 50 million lives. We do not say "we can repeat", because only a madman can wish to repeat the 2,194 days of war. The one who is repeating the horrific crimes of Hitler's regime today, following Nazi philosophy, copying everything they did: he is doomed, because he was cursed by millions of ancestors when he began to imitate their killer. And therefore he will lose everything. And very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine. And someone will not even have one left. We won then, we will win now, too, and Khreshchatyk will see the parade of victory. Congratulations on the Victory Day over Nazism. Slava Ukraina.
posted by jammer at 6:09 AM on May 9 [27 favorites]


Stoneshop: On this day of Victory for Russia, we interrupt our TV programmes to bring you this Important Message.

Lenta.ru briefly filled with anti-war, anti-Putin content. It’s a pro-government website, and two employees, Egor Polyakov and Alexandra Miroshnikova, took credit. The list of articles is something else.
posted by Kattullus at 6:17 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


And both of the persons responsible have fortunately left the country.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:23 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


(I had to look it up, others probably will too: Khreschatyk is the main street of Kyiv, and is presumably the street Zelenksy was walking down in that video. Apparently, during World War II, almost every building on the street was mined by the retreating Red Army and subsequently blown up by the occupying forces. Knowing how good Zelensky's team are at this sort of thing, I very much suspect the poetic resonance there is not accidental.)
posted by jammer at 6:30 AM on May 9 [7 favorites]


The Zelensky address is something to behold. Lincoln talked about rising with the occasion and Zelensky has done so and then some. As inspiring as any I've heard, Churchill included.
posted by From Bklyn at 6:59 AM on May 9 [7 favorites]


John Sweeney: "Vladimir Putin - a blanket on his knees, his cheeks full, a hamster stuffed with steroids - cuts a weak and enfeebled figure as Russian Army rolls past the Kremlin. No declaration of big war; no call-up; no General Gerasimov. Listen: you can hear the knives being sharpened."

The parodies are rolling in: soldiers with loot, tanks with loot, zombie army

Meanwhile the parade in Yekaterinburg was not a parody but might have been.

According to Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko [@lesiavasylenko], "11K soldiers in parade in #Moscow. 25.6 K #Russia soldiers lie dead in #Ukraine soil. That’s 25 650 to be exact. Twice as much as on that parade of shame." And at the same time as it makes its display, Russia refuses to accept the bodies of its dead soldiers stacked in refrigerated trains.

Despite hype in the leadup, May 9th air displays have been cancelled across Russia. Presumably the forecast called for a chance of missiles.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:00 AM on May 9 [6 favorites]




"I am obsessed with Victory Day salads (‘for men’). I think it is a combination of sincere effort and inappropriateness as a means of commemoration/celebration" @Jade McGlynn

the ghost of woman's day from the 60s called - they want their salads back
posted by pyramid termite at 7:37 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


Was a little surprising there was essentially nothing. I wasn't really expecting mobilization, but I was kinda expecting the declaration. Was also expecting some arbitrary line claimed as a big victory. But, none of that.

I'm not sure what Putin is thinking at this point. From my vantage point the Russian army is sleepwalking to culmination while Ukrainian forces just keep mobilizing and gaining more and more experience and veterancy. Even if he does start mobilizing now, even if he does throw a large fraction of the incoming conscripts into the meat grinder of Eastern Ukraine, what can he hope to achieve? A Zerg rush?

One thing that I think people have overlooked as the war has dragged on, is that the Territorial Defense Forces have become increasingly more adept at being able to hold against Russian advances thanks to basically all their infantry being potentially able to take our Russian armor. Because the Territorial Defense Forces can hold positions this takes pressure off the Armed Forces proper which allows them to strike back against Russian positions. Russian advances on the Izium axis has come to an almost complete standstill. Meanwhile the ZSU pushing out from Kharkiv are so close to Kupiansk that it's almost in range of those shiny new M777s. Russians are also blowing bridges as they're being forced back from Kharkiv which means they don't intend to come back.

The Ukrainians are already within spitting distance of Vovchansk too. If Ukraine captures Vovchansk all of the gear going to the Izium axis has to be routed through Valuyki. This means the line between Valuki and Kupiansk has to perform double duty making Kupiansk more vulnerable. If Ukraine captures Vovchansk and Kupiansk then the Izium axis basically collapses.

I can't see how this turns for Russia. All Ukraine has to do at this point is not run out of ammo and the US just sent them enough artillery shells to prosecute a years long war. The Ukrainians are prosecuting this methodically and impeccably.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:57 AM on May 9 [11 favorites]


Whose victory day? Autotranslated update from Andreas Lipschitz:

1. Russian troops have been pushed back from the settlements around Kharkov and now control only a small strip near the border, west of the Donets River.

2. Ukrainian DRGs pursue Russian forces near Izyum.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute map around Kharkiv and Izyum.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:30 AM on May 9


How Putin's myth of 2022 differs from the history of 1945
Timothy Snyder, May 9, 2022
(Full essay in his substack, no paid subscription required for reading)
How can Putin carry out obviously fascist policies, such as a genocidal war of destruction in Ukraine, while claiming the mantle of anti-fascism? As we saw again today in his Victory Day speech, Putin identifies Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War. The past becomes a way for the aggressor to claim victimhood, as well as the right to commit any crime. How does that work?
Full essay here
posted by 15L06 at 9:19 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


Oops, posted to quickly.
What i appreciate very much about Snyder's Essay is his deep foundation as a historian, and personal dedication to Ukraine.
posted by 15L06 at 9:21 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Also, Snyder describes, in a separate substack posting, his current project:
Documenting Ukraine
A project to support Ukrainians who are recording the horrors of war.

He writes: (...)My colleagues and I had all of this in mind -- the world war, the cold war, our Institute's traditions, the war of 2014, the Russian atrocities of 2022 -- when we established a new program: "Documenting Ukra