Ukraine war, month three, tides are turning
May 17, 2022 9:49 AM   Subscribe

The war continues. The illegal and criminal Russian invasion of Ukraine nears the third month of fighting. It's not going super well for them, with minimal gains in the east and significant withdrawals around Karkhiv, towards the Russian border. Ukraine counterattacks are expected to continue. The USA and many other countries continues to give billions in support and weapons. But Ukraine has suffered intensely as well, losing irreplaceable people and devestating economic blows.

The battle of Mariupol might be ending at long last, with civilian and military evacuations

Pro Russian military bloggers are starting to turn against the war, questioning the huge losses of manpower and material, perhaps as high as an astounding THIRD of the invasion force.

McDonald's is pulling out of Russia after 32 years.

Finland and Sweden change decades and centuries (!) respectively of policy to apply for NATO membership.

Victory Day in Russia passed without any significant action from Moscow.

Russian attempts to annex captured Ukraine lands and cities are accelerating in addition to continued war crimes.
posted by Jacen (604 comments total) 80 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thanks for the new thread!
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:50 AM on May 17 [12 favorites]


Interesting video clip found on Twitter:

In an extremely rare moment of candour on Russian state TV today, defence columnist Mikhail Khodaryonok gave a damning assessment of Russia's war in Ukraine and his country's international isolation. It's fairly long but worth your time so I've added subtitles.

posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:52 AM on May 17 [6 favorites]


Whenever I read the common misspelling of Sweden as per above "Sweeden", I literally cannot finish the word, and instead in my head just say Swee! Like I'm on a swing or rollercoaster. (Or the audio from all those tiktoks)

It's delightful!
posted by Grither at 9:57 AM on May 17 [7 favorites]


I see that Khodaryonok clip was discussed near the end of the prior thread. Sorry, it was getting hard to keep up with.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:10 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


I missed it in all the activity there, and I thank you for reposting it here.
posted by xedrik at 10:11 AM on May 17 [6 favorites]


Pro Russian military bloggers are starting to turn against the war, questioning the huge losses of manpower and material, perhaps as high as an astounding THIRD of the invasion force.

I’d like to read more about this (both parts: the turn in bloggers’ rhetoric and that losses may be as high as a third of the invasion force). Are there links?
posted by eviemath at 10:16 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


(Beyond the one Khodaryonok one, that is)
posted by eviemath at 10:17 AM on May 17


Are there practical or perception differences between annexing vs invading?
posted by Mitheral at 10:22 AM on May 17


Invading means military occupation. Pure unmitigated guys with tanks and guns saying that they are here, they are armed and thus, they make the rules.

Annexation, whether through force, politics, or the will of the citizens, is a much more complicated endeavor involving things such as local leadership, currencies, language, voting systems, political parties, who collects and distributes taxes, school systems.

Invading is putting one country inside another without consent. Annexation is a country, in this case, claiming that the country they invaded is now part of the invading country, and acting like they are the legitimate government of that area.

An invasion can never be anything but an invasion and occupation. Annexation means that the new leadership expects to be legally recognized as in charge.
posted by Jacen at 10:31 AM on May 17 [10 favorites]


From the Institute for the Study of War's excellent Ukraine updates page:

Frictions between Russian occupation administrations and pro-Russian collaborators is growing in occupied areas of Ukraine. The Zaporizhia Oblast Military Administration reported that Russian forces are having serious conflicts with collaborators due to interpersonal power conflicts. A well-known collaborator in Zaporizhia accused the Russian-installed governor of the area of stealing his 10,000 ruble compensation. Advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol Petro Andryshchenko additionally claimed that relatives of those mobilized into the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) are holding a mass protest against mobilization in Donetsk City.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:39 AM on May 17 [5 favorites]


you can also invade a country without an aim to "put it inside yourself". The US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq with an intention to install a friendly government, and while some GWB era hawks would've probably been interested in a neo-colonial empire, the public line was that any foreign occupation was going to be temporary, and folding any of those countries into the US was not a goal.

or to put it another way. Most annexations involve some form of invasion as it is, by definition, one country expanding its borders to include another country illegally (almost always by means of force). Not all invasions result in an annexation. An annexation is often perceived as the milder of the two, but that's because we tend to separate them. The invasion is often the more violent phase, and the annexation is a foregone afterthought; but when they both happen to a country, they should be treated as one unified crime.
posted by bl1nk at 10:44 AM on May 17 [11 favorites]


From The Economist: The inside story of Chernobyl during the Russian Occupation (non-paywall version here).
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:56 AM on May 17 [8 favorites]


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL94hY1sa18&ab_channel=GEOPOP

Discussion of availability of weapons. There were a lot of Javelins (for example) in storage by the standards of not being in the middle of a war, but that's not an infinite supply.

The US has given a quarter of its Javelins. It will take two years to rebuild that many (not sure whether that's a hard limit, but I'm sure it won't be cheap to do better) and hasn't started yet.

The US could run out of Stingers by the end of the year.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:57 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


More bad news for Ukraine's post-war economy as its agricultural seed bank is annihilated
posted by aeshnid at 10:58 AM on May 17 [21 favorites]


While not perfect, some military friends shared this daily SITREP (Situational Report) on Ukraine that I think summarizes important events concisely. I look forward to them
posted by glaucon at 10:59 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the new thread.
Analysis: western military planners believe Russian president is operating at ‘level of a colonel or brigadier’ amid push into Donbas.
Prof Sir Lawrence Freedman from King’s College London, said he judged the military statement about Putin’s level of involvement to be plausible.
Yet claims about Putin goes further still. It brings to mind the idea of a political leader impatient of, or no longer trusting their generals – most notably the downfall of Adolf Hitler.
Lyndon Johnson and his administration began a bombing campaign aimed at communist North Vietnam in 1965 called Rolling Thunder and Saddam Hussein decided that the country’s air force should play no part in the war.
Christopher Steele says that what he is hearing from sources in Russia and elsewhere, is that Putin is, in fact, quite seriously ill. and Blood Cancer has been mentioned.
As with all analysis apply pinch of salt where neccessary.
posted by adamvasco at 11:02 AM on May 17 [6 favorites]


Is there any further details about what Turkey will do w/r/t these new applications to join NATO? My (blatantly newbie) understanding was that membership is an all-or-nothing vote among members and that Turkey had announced they would vote against.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:06 AM on May 17


Frictions between Russian occupation administrations and pro-Russian collaborators is growing

One "advantage" that Zelensky has had is unambiguity, if there had been 20k troop deaths in 2014 Poroshenko would have been at a minimum repulsed by the west. So if the current tide of war keeps pushing into the Donbas is it going to be a mess? Shooting at troops that have wasted a nice little town is morally pretty clear. Clearing out Mariupol will get cheers. But Donbass and Crimea seems potentially fraught.
posted by sammyo at 11:10 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


Christopher Steele says that what he is hearing from sources in Russia and elsewhere, is that Putin is, in fact, quite seriously ill. and Blood Cancer has been mentioned.

The end of the article linked from "Blood Cancer" is a little funny:
In March, officers in the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia's main security agency, were sent a memo to dispel rumors about the president's health, Bellingcat investigator Christo Grozev told New Lines.

"According to a source at one of the regional units who saw the memo, this unprecedented instruction had the opposite effect, with most FSB officers suddenly coming to believe that Putin indeed suffers from a serious medical condition," Grozev said.
posted by meowzilla at 11:10 AM on May 17 [11 favorites]


Downfall
posted by chavenet at 11:24 AM on May 17 [18 favorites]


Regarding the US running out of Stinger missiles, I just finished watching this analysis, which concludes that "yes, probably, but also it doesn't matter". But it goes into more depth about various NATO powers' stockpiles.
posted by confluency at 11:30 AM on May 17 [5 favorites]


Surely part of the view of supplying Ukraine generously is that it's an opportunity to modernize existing stocks. I'm curious how many weapon systems are being allowed to sunset by not replacing them.
posted by fatbird at 11:34 AM on May 17 [7 favorites]


Frictions between Russian occupation administrations and pro-Russian collaborators is growing in occupied areas of Ukraine.

*rubs hands together* Excellent!

So I imagine NATO intelligence services must be stoking this in whatever ways they can.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:35 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Would you consider territories gained by treaty annexed? The US purchased a large fraction of its territory (from other colonial powers). We also use 'annexation' to describe sub-national units merging, like annexing a suburb into a city.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:50 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Yeah, stingers are 40 year old tech that the US doesn't need because it generally has air superiority.

As for Turkey threatening a veto of Sweden and Finland's admission into NATO, I'm guessing that's a negotiating position meant to wring money or other concessions out of Europe and the US. Turkey's economy is in a very bad place.
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:51 AM on May 17 [8 favorites]


A deeper dive into weapons stocks

Addresses matters from a different angle-- I was wondering whether there was enough for Ukraine, but this video is more about whether the supplying nations are putting themselves at risk. (Apparently there are people who are saying that.)

Presumably not at all.

The Stingers and Javelins aren't the newest versions for those types of weapons, and the oldest ones are being supplied first. There are other weapons that serve the same functions. And, after all, these weapons were designed for a war with Russia. It makes a lot of sense to use them when there's a war with Russia instead of keeping them in reserve for who knows what.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 11:51 AM on May 17 [11 favorites]


Any expert understandings of Russian media? Voices only make it on TV because they are allowed to. That one presenter seems to be an allowable contrary voice (he predicted the invasion would go poorly) which probably serves a function internally, like providing someone to disagree with.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:53 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


A well-known collaborator in Zaporizhia accused the Russian-installed governor of the area of stealing his 10,000 ruble compensation.
Imagine selling out your country for $150, only to see the people you sold it to steal it back from you.
posted by Flunkie at 11:55 AM on May 17 [18 favorites]




Would you consider territories gained by treaty annexed? The US purchased a large fraction of its territory (from other colonial powers

It's a derail. The Toledo war is apt but it's not for comparitive 'annex' of the current conflict.
posted by clavdivs at 12:15 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


From last Friday’s Ukraine SITREP, linked by glaucon:

“And speaking of beclowning, Russia has placed new targets on Snake Island, including more air defense vehicles, landing craft, and a barge. It’s like the time they took that airport 8 or 9 times, and kept getting blown up in the exact same spot. At this point, Ukraine is camping them. RU should file a complaint to the GMs for griefing”

Burn! 🔥
posted by Quasirandom at 12:19 PM on May 17 [12 favorites]


Zelenskiy opened the Cannes film festival, referencing Chaplin. I can imagine that being a dream of his in peace time.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:32 PM on May 17 [8 favorites]


As for Turkey threatening a veto of Sweden and Finland's admission into NATO, I'm guessing that's a negotiating position meant to wring money or other concessions out of Europe and the US. Turkey's economy is in a very bad place.

Ah, Turkey, the Joe Manchin of NATO.
posted by credulous at 12:39 PM on May 17 [25 favorites]


Mod note: Several deleted. Can we not make everything about the US please?
posted by loup (staff) at 12:41 PM on May 17 [39 favorites]


I also worried about Turkey's statement on Sweden and Finland. I then remembered that many of the other 29 members are among the richest countries in the world and also the majority of members are very strongly allied to Sweden and Finland through the EU. So if Turkey are amenable to being paid off then that's the more likely outcome. Still keeping my fingers crossed though.
posted by plonkee at 12:44 PM on May 17


eviemath, it looks like your question may have gotten lost in the annexation derail. Regarding the Russian mibloggers, the ISW assessment for the 14th had a couple paragraphs right at the top, though not with any references that I saw, unfortunately.

As far as loss estimates, those vary, but the UK MoD noted in their update from the 15th that they assessed losses at a third of the initial ground forces. This lines up pretty well with data tracked by Oryx of confirmed materiel losses on both sides which, when analyzed against estimates of initial forces, showed hardware losses in the 20 to 30% range as of a couple weeks ago.

Hopefully that gives you some more to go on.
posted by jammer at 12:50 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


(I've seen a number of folks try to estimate how much Oryx is undercounting due to requiring visual confirmation of anything they record. The figure generally being batted around is that they're under-reporting by about 20%. Here's a sample such thread.)
posted by jammer at 12:54 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


The invaders destroyed the National Gene Bank of Plants of Ukraine

Russia (via Putin!) is considered a signatory to 1977 Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, which states in Article 54(2):
It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive
Given the vital importance of hybrid crops to modern agriculture, destroying a large gene and seed bank in a major food-producing country whose agricultural capacity has already been severely damaged by the war would seem to me to fall under that Article. Yet another likely Russian war crime.
posted by jedicus at 12:57 PM on May 17 [28 favorites]


> So if Turkey are amenable to being paid off then that's the more likely outcome.

Another mooted outcome, which I find highly unlikely, but enjoy the thought of in a very Calvinball kind of way: if Turkey won't agree to the accession to NATO of Sweden and Finland, expel Turkey.
posted by jammer at 1:01 PM on May 17 [6 favorites]


...destroying a large gene and seed bank in a major food-producing country whose agricultural capacity has already been severely damaged by the war...

A war which he started, of course. Is that a double war crime?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:02 PM on May 17


Any expert understandings of Russian media? Voices only make it on TV because they are allowed to. That one presenter seems to be an allowable contrary voice (he predicted the invasion would go poorly) which probably serves a function internally, like providing someone to disagree with.

Even in the (post Stalin) USSR, it was often permitted to question implementation, just not fundamental policy. So guys like this and the military bloggers are allowed to say that the war is not going well. What is not permitted is:

1) Criticism of the top leadership - you'll note that a lot of this stuff is "loyal address to the sovereign" and asking Putin to replace His Bad Advisors, as if he's the Tsar being misled by his ministers rather than himself directly responsible for this.

2) Criticise justification - none of these guys doubt the justice of the cause, they're only questioning how well it's being executed.
posted by atrazine at 1:04 PM on May 17 [14 favorites]


Turkey is strategically more important to NATO than Sweden and Finland and Turkish NATO membership also maintains the peace between Greece and Turkey.
posted by atrazine at 1:05 PM on May 17 [10 favorites]


> Turkey is strategically more important to NATO than Sweden and Finland and Turkish NATO membership also maintains the peace between Greece and Turkey.

I didn't say it was a good idea, and I don't think anyone who matters is seriously considering it as anything other than a thought exercise. But at thought exercises go, it's a superficially amusing one.
posted by jammer at 1:09 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


What is the ratio of the value of all military aid being given to Ukraine vs the annual Russian military budget? The Internet says Russia spent $66bn on it's military in 2021.
I know this doesn't necessarily help Ukraine's chances, because there are some other factors involved than simply giving them lots of weapons, but it does seem like it's going to be a factor.
Russia has an economy smaller than that of Italy. Is China backing them up with military aid?
posted by asok at 1:17 PM on May 17


It wouldn't surprise me if Turkey ends up wangling some air force industry and / or procurement promises out of this ; having been kicked out of the F-35 programme for buying S-400 SAMs, noises were being made about buying Su-34 / 57 jets from Russia instead. They're also supposed to be getting a domestic produced stealth combat jet, the TF-X, in service around 2030, but international partnerships for developing that have so far been dealt with in a similarly flip-floppy manner.

Plus the next Turkish presidential elections are June 2023 ; outsider grandstanding on the international stage to appeal to his domestic base has always been one of Erdoğan's favourite pastimes. Fingers crossed the trainwreck he's made of the economy will still more than outweigh that this time next year.

Kicking Turkey out of NATO would be very short-sighted, and almost certainly have not amusing results starting very soon - see the above election date. It's crucial to keep as many mutual lines of engagement with Turkey in place as possible, so that when the political tide is turned there those who bring it about can be rapidly supported in their goal of countering what's been done to their country for the past 20 years.
posted by protorp at 1:21 PM on May 17 [12 favorites]


Speaking of running out of missiles, last month (or even earlier) there were a lot of projections that Russia was close to running out of smart munitions like cruise missiles, and using weapons that they should be holding in reserve (like those missiles with decoys). Has there actually been a decrease in their usage?
posted by meowzilla at 1:21 PM on May 17


There's also the question of how much of the money budgeted for the Russian military actually benefits the Russian military. Those mega yachts don't have much military use.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:22 PM on May 17 [6 favorites]


jammer: if Turkey won't agree to the accession to NATO of Sweden and Finland, expel Turkey.

It's more than "highly unlikely".

No provision in the [NATO] treaty foresees the suspension of membership rights, let alone the expulsion of an ally.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:24 PM on May 17 [6 favorites]


What is the ratio of the value of all military aid being given to Ukraine vs the annual Russian military budget?

Spending post-event is often much higher for the same effect as money spent in preparation. I'd be careful of making too much of that comparison. Just in terms of shipping alone, it's a lot easier/cheaper to move a container overseas in a couple of weeks by commercial freight than it is to put it on a high-capacity military flight with a specialist crew. This is to say nothing of the small legion of functionaries doing clearances in hours rather than a single broker taking days at either end.

The US (and allied) logistical chains are working miracles right now, but that's without worrying too much about costs.
posted by bonehead at 1:27 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]


Kicking Turkey out of NATO would be very short-sighted...

It will never happen. Right now, the Bosporus is closed to any Russian warships (that are not part of RU’s Black Sea fleet). This prevents Russia from moving ships from it’s Mediterranean and Baltic fleets into the Black Sea to support the war.

Kicking Turkey out of NATO would almost certainly result in Turkey opening the Bosporus again, which would not be a good development.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:30 PM on May 17 [7 favorites]


> No provision in the [NATO] treaty foresees the suspension of membership rights, let alone the expulsion of an ally.

The link I shared talks about that and proposes a couple paths by which it could be made to happen given sufficient desire by the rest of the treaty countries. Since international diplomacy is Calvinball a lot of the time anyway, it's feasible it could happen.

But it's not going to.
posted by jammer at 1:31 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


(I think at this point "Turkey being expelled from NATO" is counter-factual enough that debating it further is probably entering derail territory. I don't think anyone here considers it even a remote possibility. Maybe I shouldn't even have mentioned it, but it seemed tangentially relevant, if not to be taken seriously.)
posted by jammer at 1:33 PM on May 17 [14 favorites]


It brings to mind the idea of a political leader impatient of, or no longer trusting their generals – most notably the downfall of Adolf Hitler.
To be fair, Putin has very good reason not to trust his generals.
posted by Flunkie at 1:34 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Nobody will be kicked out of anything. If Erdoğan is serious and not just posturing for whatever domestic play, Turkey will be placated with some sort of a procurement sweetheart deal, much like protorp described above.

A lot of noise, but nothing for Finland or Sweden to be actually concerned about.
posted by Soi-hah at 1:40 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


One suggestion I've heard on other foreign policy forums I frequent: Turkey's not seeking economic placation so much as getting Sweden/Finland to follow USA's lead in terms of not recognizing Kurds/PKK. So basically, behind the scenes, Turkey is trying to get Sweden and Finland to quiet down on Turkey's human rights issues.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 1:59 PM on May 17 [6 favorites]


Probably doesn't hurt Turkey's bid to join the EU either.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 2:03 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


I apologize for asking a super dumb question, but I can't follow battles worth a damn: is Mariupol lost to Russia? Did Russia win that one? Because it...kinda sounds like they did as far as I can interpret from vague phrasing about evacuation :/
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:57 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Russia has had near total control of Mariupol except for the holdouts at the Azovstal steelworks. Those holdouts have apparently been given the order to surrender, with the Ukrainian government having a commitment to prisoner exchanges for the wounded once they have recovered. Status of the remaining folks seems to be a bit up in the air at the moment, with Ukraine saying they have an agreement with Russia to swap the rest, but Russia being... Russia, with people suggesting they do everything up to and including executing every last one of them.

They will soon hold all of Mariupol.
posted by jammer at 3:01 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]


Yes, Mariupol is taken with unbelievably high losses for the Russians.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:03 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Yes. At least, the official defense is to be given up under instructions from the Ukrainian government and military command, in light of the lack of basic supplies and in hopes of saving some of the remaining soldiers' lives. I would expect informal resistance to continue.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:03 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]



I apologize for asking a super dumb question, but I can't follow battles worth a damn: is Mariupol lost to Russia?


If Ukraine can't force the Kerch Straits to become an open international waterway again, then Mariupol isn't lost to Russia. It's just lost. Russia can't rebuild Mariupol. And Ukraine has no practical reason to rebuild that city in the same location.
posted by ocschwar at 3:10 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]


In applying to NATO, Finland and Sweden give the lie to Putin’s claims

"It is also a rebuke to those who argue that NATO shares in the blame for the war. Mr Putin is not alone in arguing that the alliance’s expansion into central and eastern Europe after the cold war somehow made Russia’s position intolerable. Plenty of Western scholars concur. However, the choice of Finland and Sweden suggests that they have the argument upside down. Countries seek to join NATO because they are threatened by Russia, not to antagonise it."
posted by riruro at 3:10 PM on May 17 [8 favorites]


The invaders destroyed the National Gene Bank of Plants of Ukraine

Echoes of the siege of Leningrad, and the efforts to save a seed bank set up by Vavilov
posted by dhruva at 3:14 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


"Countries seek to join NATO because they are threatened by Russia, not to antagonise it."

Don't tell Chomsky.
posted by tclark at 3:20 PM on May 17 [15 favorites]


Regarding that seed bank, from the post linked above, this is worth focus:
“The destruction appears to have been deliberate, says the researcher, adding they (Russian forces) targeted the facility with exceptional precision.

In a bitter irony, the unique collection that was spared by the German fascists in WWII failed to survive in onslaught of the present-day aggressors.”
posted by corb at 3:24 PM on May 17 [21 favorites]


MilitaryLand.net has also been providing some excellent daily reports on the war.
posted by interogative mood at 3:31 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Mariupol is a Russian victory, but it's worth remembering what a pyrrhic victory it is. At one point, there were 14,000 Russian troops tied up in the city for weeks. That's a high percentage of the 150,000 to 190,000 in the war. In many respects, it's a major Ukrainian success in the context of the wider war.

Speaking of Putin as a major strategist, here's a headline I never expected to see in my lifetime:

Neutral Switzerland leans closer to NATO in response to Russia
The defence ministry is drawing up a report on security options that include joint military exercises with NATO countries and "backfilling" munitions, Paelvi Pulli, head of security policy at the Swiss defence ministry told Reuters.

The details of the policy options under discussion in the government have not been previously reported.

"Ultimately, there could be changes in the way neutrality is interpreted," Pulli said in an interview last week. On a trip to Washington this week, Defence Minister Viola Amherd said Switzerland should work more closely with the U.S.-led military alliance, but not join it, Swiss media reported.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 3:36 PM on May 17 [14 favorites]


Victory Day in Russia passed without any significant action from Moscow.

There was a (small) Victory Day celebration in Mariupol. Which I know because my tankie dad watched the celebration and asked me, "Do they look like they're unhappy?" He's been maintaining all along that Ukraine is a fiction, except maybe for Western Ukraine, and that most people living in Eastern Ukraine would like to be part of Russia.

If you watch the video of the celebration, the Ukrainians do look happy, although there aren't very many of them - a few dozen. It was broadcast on Russian state TV.
posted by subdee at 3:46 PM on May 17 [10 favorites]


Also, for those like me who were worried that Russia would not, after all, exchange the servicemen evacuated from Mariupol....it was right to do so.

Russian Duma is now debating banning exchange of the servicemembers who have already been evacuated. Essentially, they're proposing banning any exchanges for anyone the Russians identify as Azov. Which, given how they've been putting captured international POWs in Azov uniforms in order to make them look worse, is basically "anyone Russia says it is".
posted by corb at 5:29 PM on May 17 [11 favorites]


Partisans who helped to halt Russia’s advance on Kyiv paid with their lives (Archive)
There are many reasons that Russia’s 40-mile column of tanks failed to encircle Kyiv. Anatoliy Kybukevych’s band of partisans is one of them, but they paid a terrible price.

The local home guard chief and his men stayed behind when the Russians seized their village of Andriivka, on the column’s path through the Kyiv countryside. Kybukevych and his men called in Russian positions to Ukrainian forces, aiding a precise and destructive targeting of the column.

The Russian troops’ thrust to Kyiv faltered, then ground to a halt, then they eventually fled north back across the Belarus border, but for the partisans there was no moment of triumph: someone had informed on them.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:09 PM on May 17 [6 favorites]


With one in four Ukrainians over the age of 60, Natalie Vikhrov documents the suffering of the elderly during the siege of the country’s second-biggest city Kharkiv.
Where Would We Go?’
How Ukraine’s Elderly Survive the Onslaught of War

posted by adamvasco at 8:11 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]


Facebook's algorithm has decided to show me stories and ads related to Ukraine.

Which means I get to see the comments.

The troll farms are working double time, at least on Facebook, to chip away at support for Ukraine on Facebook.
posted by ocschwar at 10:03 PM on May 17 [14 favorites]


Neutral Switzerland leans closer to NATO in response to Russia

For a man who has spent so many words on the undesirability of NATO on his country's borders and so much time and energy ramping up online disinformation networks, Putin does seem to have an inexplicable blind spot around the Streisand Effect.
posted by flabdablet at 10:23 PM on May 17 [8 favorites]


flabdablet: For a man who has spent so many words on the undesirability of NATO on his country's borders and so much time and energy ramping up online disinformation networks

NATO says thanks.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:05 AM on May 18 [7 favorites]


Finland and Sweden have formally submitted their application. Russia is saying nbd lol go play with your real friends, at least as of yesterday. In actual light-hearted news, the brand of pen that Finnish foreign minister (and front runner to be next president) Pekka Haavisto used to sign the application letter, has sold out in Finland.
posted by Kattullus at 1:10 AM on May 18 [13 favorites]


IIRC, Turkey considers any advocacy of Kurdish national identity as terrorism, and Sweden as a state sponsor of terrorism. Any Swedish accession to NATO would require full cooperation with Turkey’s security services, including mass arrests and deportations of Swedish citizens of Kurdish background who have violated any Turkish law, such as attending protests, insulting Erdogan online or supporting proscribed Kurdish parties. Which, of course, is a red line Sweden is exceedingly unlikely to cross.

And so, the irresistible force meets the immovable object.
posted by acb at 2:13 AM on May 18 [7 favorites]


In the Atlantic, Maxim Osipov writes about leaving Russia in reaction to the Invasion and war:

Cold, ashamed, relieved. These three words close Defying Hitler, Sebastian Haffner’s memoir about the rise of fascism, written before the Second World War and published posthumously. It was a book that held us rapt last year. In it we sought and found coincidences with our own recent situation. And now many of us who have gone elsewhere—to Yerevan, Tbilisi, Baku, Nur-Sultan, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Samarkand—have also gotten to experience firsthand, on our own skin, those three words: frostig, beschämt, befreit.

We are those who left (escaped, fled) Russia shortly after it invaded Ukraine. We hate war, hate the one who unleashed it, but we also weren’t planning to abandon our homeland (motherland, fatherland)—every word, whichever you choose, starting with whichever letter, capital or lowercase, feels dirty, dishonored.(...)
posted by 15L06 at 2:22 AM on May 18 [10 favorites]


Timothy Snyder on twitter:
It is senseless to shelter Putin from the sense that he is losing. He will figure that out for himself, and he will act to protect himself. 1/17

Link to the full thread threadreader
posted by 15L06 at 3:43 AM on May 18 [22 favorites]


IIRC, Turkey considers any advocacy of Kurdish national identity as terrorism, and Sweden as a state sponsor of terrorism.

It's the same here in Norway, and Turkey is able to live with that. I'm expecting they're playing for some concessions in different areas here, not full Turkish secret police access to Sweden.
posted by Harald74 at 3:47 AM on May 18 [16 favorites]


Any Swedish accession to NATO would require full cooperation with Turkey’s security services, including mass arrests and deportations of Swedish citizens of Kurdish background who have violated any Turkish law, such as attending protests, insulting Erdogan online or supporting proscribed Kurdish parties.

That is a massive, unsupported by facts, leap to make.
posted by nestor_makhno at 4:35 AM on May 18 [31 favorites]


Meanwhile in other news not 1 million miles from Turkish waters, Russian military supplies continue to flow to the Russian Black Sea fleet
posted by aeshnid at 6:45 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


The Russian logistics ship Vsevolod Bobrov, not sunk as was rumoured last week, has been spotted in port with a Pantsir-S air defence system on deck. It looks like it's actually makeshift air defence for the ship itself.
posted by Harald74 at 6:57 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]


That seed bank story is just so fucked. I don't have the words. :(
posted by Pouteria at 7:59 AM on May 18 [15 favorites]


Per the head of NordGen, the Norwegian equivalent, the national coldstore is still intact, but they lost the working collection in Kharkiv. So it's not a total national loss, but per the Kharkiv researcher there were some samples that were lost that existed nowhere else in Europe.
posted by tavella at 10:34 AM on May 18 [14 favorites]


Timothy Snyder on twitter:
It is senseless to shelter Putin from the sense that he is losing. He will figure that out for himself, and he will act to protect himself. 1/17


I recall visiting St. Petersburg what feels like a million years ago. It was January or February around 'election time' and there was a huge billboard in the center of the city featuring Medvedev, who was running for president at the time. Behind him, with that sly look on his face, was Putin in a leather jacket. Just casually standing there photo bombing someone else's campaign posters. We all know who's the real boss here. I think of that when someone suggests an off-ramp for Putin. The man will figure something out. The off-ramp is, and has always been, to declare victory, pack up and go home. Nobody needs to give away a piece of Ukraine. Putin can have someone make a photo collage of himself riding a Siberian tiger shirtless through Kyiv if he wants to. It's up to Russians to decide how much bullshit they can stomach.
posted by UN at 11:17 AM on May 18 [19 favorites]


At the outset some argued that the invasion was the inevitable result of NATO’s expansion, which compelled Russia to seek control of Ukraine as a defensive buffer against feared western aggression.

Has that perspective changed now that the invasion has pushed Finland to apply for membership? If the invasion has backfired, does realpolitik say Russia should pull the plug or what?
posted by lumpy at 11:41 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


3 months.
posted by jammer at 1:30 PM on May 18 [12 favorites]


The off-ramp is, and has always been, to declare victory, pack up and go home.
While this certainly seemed feasible at some point, I'm not really convinced that it still does.

What with the way the war's been going, and the great support that Ukraine has been getting and continues to get from the likes of NATO, it seems like the only way they could almost definitely unilaterally "pack up and go home" would be to leave from not just the gains they've made this year, but also from the Donbas and Crimea. Anything less than that, and it's at least plausible that Ukraine keeps fighting, regardless of Russia's wishes on the matter.*

And if they leave Donbas and Crimea, it seems like it would be extremely difficult to spin that into declaring victory -- especially Crimea, since under Russian law, it's part of Russia.

*: I want to be clear that I'm not saying Ukraine would definitely keep fighting if, say, Russia pulls back to the de facto pre-February borders and "declares victory". Just saying that it doesn't seem like a sure thing that Ukraine would stop in that case.
posted by Flunkie at 3:14 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


This interview with a mortician at Meduza is heartbreaking in how they have had to handle the rising casualties but still honor the dead the best way they could.
We’ve tried to bury every person in a coffin. My store in Mykulichi, the neighboring village, was always open — if I couldn’t be there, people would just come in and take the coffins themselves.

If they could pick up a coffin, they’d also grab a cross. Sometimes, I’d just toss a couple of coffins into the car, just in case, to save that extra trip of five kilometers [about three miles]. If there were no crosses left, I’d just remember who was buried where, and later I’d come back and put up a cross.

When crosses began to run out, we put one cross for two people on the mass graves. In peacetime, the plaque [attached to the crucifix] has place for four lines: surname, name, patronymic, and the dates of birth and death. We would use two lines for one person, and two more for the other.

If we didn’t have all the information about a person (for example, with the bodies brought from Bucha), we’d write simply, “Bucha, (last name), (initials).” And we’d mark an arrow on the plaque to show that the person from Bucha was buried on the right. This one man from the village of Klavdiievo had such an unusual patronymic that we wrote just that on the plaque and marked with an arrow that he is placed on the left.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:40 PM on May 18 [13 favorites]


I don't see Ukraine stopping at the LPR and DPR borders if they have to fight the Russians back to them, it would mean settling for years more of steady bleeding like the last 8, when at that point they'd have a battle-tested million strong army with a NATO supply line and it would be the best chance they'd ever have of finishing the issue. Especially since at that point whatever genuine volunteer LPR/DPR true believers existed would likely be a spent force, given Russia is happy to spend their lives first.

If right now Russia said they'd withdraw to the post-2014 borders, give up Kherson and Melitopol and Mariupol, I suspect Ukraine would take it, because that's many thousands of Ukrainian lives saved. But I think that is quite impossible for Russia in its current configuration.

Crimea is more complicated: easier to block off, harder to invade, much more risk of triggering nukes since Russia claims it as part of themselves. But per a pre-war poll I saw, considerably more desired by the Ukrainians. You'd think it would be the reverse, but apparently lot of Ukrainians see LPR/DPR as some of the most regressive segment of the population having walled themselves off in the shittiest part of the country, allowing the rest of the country to make more political progress because the pro-EU and pro-Russian balance tilted decisively to the EU. Not that they wanted the ongoing war or necessarily wanted to yield part of the country, but at least there were positive aspects from the split. While Crimea of course has many Nice Things, from beaches to prime military positions to hydrocarbon fields.
posted by tavella at 3:51 PM on May 18 [8 favorites]


Timothy Snyder on twitter:
It is senseless to shelter Putin from the sense that he is losing. He will figure that out for himself, and he will act to protect himself. 1/17


I agree with the sentiment that Putin doesn’t need a face-saving off ramp — he just needs to be beaten. That said, the Russian people do need one. Like with Japan post-WW II, where all of the blame was heaped on Tojo, Ukraine and their allies will need to extend some sort of olive branch that holds Russian leadership to account while absolving the larger citizenry.

Even if it isn’t entirely deserved, the fact is a peaceful, prosperous Russia wil l benefit the world at large and make further conflict less likely in the future. No good can come from seeking to inflict maximum punishment.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:32 PM on May 18 [8 favorites]


It wouldn't surprise me if Turkey ends up wangling some air force industry and / or procurement promises out of this.

Some deals done did.

"Turkish Aerospace, Motor Sich ink deal for heavy-class helicopter engines"-June 29, 2021.

"Ukraine may sell 50% stake in Motor Sich to Turkish firm"- April 13, 2021

"How Ukraine Is Helping Turkey To Become A Formidable Military Power"- 2-19-2022


Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 18.

"Russian occupation authorities announced plans to destroy the Azovstal Steel Plant and turn Mariupol into a resort city, depriving Russia of some of the most important economic benefits it hoped to reap by taking the city in the first place."
(add surreal scream here)


"The Kremlin may hope to offset the loss of revenues from Azovstal and other destroyed infrastructure in Ukraine by profiting from the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant that is forces have seized....Khusnullin added that the Zaporihia Nuclear Power Plant will exclusively work for Russia and will sell electricity to Ukraine...This statement is a clear Russian recognition that there will be an independent Ukraine at the end of this war and that Russia seeks to restore its energy leverage over Ukraine and possibly the West more broadly that has been reduced by sanctions and efforts to reduce reliance on Russian energy. It also reinforces the urgency of helping Ukraine regain control of Enerhodar City and the rest of its occupied territory to forestall this renewed economic thralldom. ISW previously reported that Russian forces started digging trenches and blocking highways to Enerhodar City."

Following a few areas of this conflict, Industry is one and this report is just surreal and reaffirms Russia desire to take this quarter of a triilion+ military industry intact while using Nuclear plants for leverage.
posted by clavdivs at 4:32 PM on May 18 [12 favorites]


Like with Japan post-WW II, where all of the blame was heaped on Tojo, Ukraine and their allies will need to extend some sort of olive branch that holds Russian leadership to account while absolving the larger citizenry.

Maybe, but I fear that this might create pretty much identical conditions as the ones that allowed the German stab-in-the-back myth to flourish. Having the Russian population still believe they are owed the power and influence of a Great Power, while they have been betrayed by the current political leadership, does not a lasting peace make.
posted by Harald74 at 9:18 PM on May 18 [7 favorites]


And if they leave Donbas and Crimea, it seems like it would be extremely difficult to spin that into declaring victory -- especially Crimea, since under Russian law, it's part of Russia.

Putin and his followers don't care about Russian law. As Timothy Snyder described in that linked thread, Russians are living in a virtual reality. The story, and the law, can transform into a new one as required. Ordinary Russians get nothing by owning Crimea. They'll move on with their lives. The faithful may be dissatisfied, but won't suddenly rise up, out of all the possible reasons, because Donbas is missing from their hearts or because they no longer see Crimea on TV. They know It's bullshit and those who don't will believe anything.

Victory can be anything from 'We eliminated the Nazis!' to 'The special operation has concluded' to 'NATO ruined everything just as we said they would.' Doesn't matter; virtual reality.
posted by UN at 9:47 PM on May 18 [7 favorites]


...?

I wasn't saying "the faithful" would "suddenly rise up". I was saying that ceding an area that, in their minds and by their law, has been part of their nation for nearly a decade now would not be easy to spin as a victory.
posted by Flunkie at 12:21 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


At the outset some argued that the invasion was the inevitable result of NATO’s expansion, which compelled Russia to seek control of Ukraine as a defensive buffer against feared western aggression.

Has that perspective changed now that the invasion has pushed Finland to apply for membership?
It turns out to have been a word ordering issue.

"The invasion was the inevitable result of NATO's expansion" was supposed to have been "NATO's expansion was the inevitable result of the invasion."
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:13 AM on May 19 [10 favorites]


The Russian tank commander who stands accused of war crimes after shooting a 62 year old civilian, pleaded guilty yesterday. Ukrainian prosecutors are moving fast, with prosecutors risking their own lives in investigations in active combat areas in order to expedite trials, and presumably in order keep the Russian atrocities in the news.

The Guardian
posted by boogieboy at 2:51 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


The Suffering of Crimea’s Tatars, by Riada Asimovic Akyol, is an interview of a Crimean Tatar member of the Ukrainian parliament, Mustafa Dzhemilev. Excerpt:
NL: In your message to the Crimean News Agency a few days ago, you congratulated all Muslims on the Eid al-Fitr holiday. Emphasizing that many Crimean Tatars have had to celebrate the holidays away from their homeland for eight years due to the Russian occupation, you said, “We believe that we will mark the next and future holidays in our own lands.”

I have to be honest and ask you a difficult question: Are you worried about the future of the next generation of Tatars? Is it difficult to keep them attached to the Tatar culture, language and religion as Muslims under constant pressure?

MD: [The Russians] make moves not against [the Tatars’] religion, but against their identity. They’re closing schools. Russification is everywhere — that’s where the danger lies. There is a lot of propaganda. Our people should not be blind, as they were in Chechnya. But you know, we were under Soviet propaganda for more than 70 years, and a few years after perestroika, people’s minds were restored. Now, if there was freedom there, our children, our people would be fine. But it is a pity, of course, that people do not speak in their native language. There is so much discrimination. They are treated like second-class citizens. They are also trying to comply with the laws in order to find a place for themselves, and this causes great harm to the mentality and honor of a people.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the 1944 deportation of 200 thousand Tatars from Crimea.
posted by Kattullus at 5:25 AM on May 19 [15 favorites]


There is video from the ground on the attempted river crossing. Only material damage is shown in the video, as far as I can tell.
posted by Harald74 at 7:37 AM on May 19


I wasn't saying "the faithful" would "suddenly rise up". I was saying that ceding an area that, in their minds and by their law, has been part of their nation for nearly a decade now would not be easy to spin as a victory.

I don't mean to imply that you did, apologies if that's how my comment came across. Those are my arguments as to why things can be spun easily (lack of consequences or pushback = easy spin).
posted by UN at 8:08 AM on May 19


Harald74: Only material damage is shown in the video

That's quite an increase to Oryx' backlog, as he appears to have taken a couple of days off.
posted by Stoneshop at 8:17 AM on May 19


Re: Did NATO provoke Russia into this war?

No.

Geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan predicted this war was inevitable on this time frame. Russia is in the middle of an irreversible demographic implosion on top of their economic one . So beyond trying to take the richest agricultural land in Eastern Europe and the resources that come with it, This is Russia’s last gasp with an army large enough to get the job done. In a generation, they won’t have the manpower to launch anything like this attempt to “plug the gaps”.

Those being the traditional flat, open gateways into the Russian heartland that everyone from the Mongols through the Germans marched their armies through. There are 9 that the Soviets controlled. Today Russia controls 2. The Besarabian Gap is on the far side of Ukraine in Moldova, so that was always going to be a target. Ukraine was never the only target.

Russia sees itself surrounded by enemies with big open doors that the Soviets used to control, but which Russia now no longer control. And their irreversible demographic collapse means this is their last generation big enough to supply sufficient young men for the army.

This was a “Use it or lose it” war for the Russians. This war was going to happen long before Finland even considered joining NATO.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:31 AM on May 19 [21 favorites]


https://www.newsweek.com/fact-check-ukraine-national-seed-bank-destroyed-russia-1707864

The Ukrainian seed bank took some damage, but most of it is alright.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:38 AM on May 19 [20 favorites]


Here’s another good video of Peter Zeihan discussing how Russian demographics relates to the launch of this war.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:54 AM on May 19


The thing I wonder about with Zeihan is that he looks at individual countries which will be running very short of working-age people, but I haven't seen him talk about how they'll compete with each other.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:57 AM on May 19


We’re basically peacekeepers. But you are all f*cked…" 35 days of the Russian occupation of Obukhovychi village - from tragedy to farce

From pravda.com.ua, when the war started, this woman and her family fled Kviv for the husband’s family village near Chernobyl which was soon occupied by Russian soldiers.
It turned out that you can easily do without everything that had been valuable in Kyiv - apartments, cars, new jewellery by Cartier. I changed my mind instantly. In this new life, there was nothing more important than miraculously obtained flour. Because that meant that hunger would end for a while.
There was no electric, no heat, no cell phone, no internet but they had a wood stove and a well. In the end, the village was not bombed. The Russians had dug a trench but left before killing all the inhabitants. The family was able to drive away. She knows they were very lucky.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:14 AM on May 19 [12 favorites]


Another 18 US howitzers heading to Ukraine for a total of 108. Hopefully more M777s.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:54 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


An extensive piece by the Times, with every CW the title implies:
New Evidence Shows How Russian Soldiers Executed Men in Bucha. Witness testimony and videos obtained by the New York Times show how Russian paratroopers executed at least eight Ukrainian men in a Kyiv suburb on March 4, a potential war crime.
It's a thorough and detailed bit of "remote investigation", and touches on for me one of the more notable aspects of this war, which is the degree to which so much of it is exposed for everyone to see. The scale of action, and amount of data, is so vast it will take ages to even start sorting through things, but there is much to be learned from so many different perspectives.

And, hopefully, one aspect of that will be allowing folks to put together enough pieces to bring many of the perpetrators of atrocities who, in past eras, may have gone completely anonymous to some form of justice.

Fiat justitia ruat caelum.
posted by jammer at 3:03 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]


The Economist:
As in any country, the exact picture depends on the media you consume. For Russians with the desire and a bit of tech-savvy, unofficial information is still accessible. But those who follow the official news, as The Economist did on May 11th, see a world solely of the Kremlin’s making. Here is a day in the life of a follower of The Putin Show.
posted by Kabanos at 3:26 PM on May 19 [22 favorites]


Here is a day in the life of a follower of The Putin Show.

This article is amazing and I recommend to Cabanas that they make it an FPP.
posted by hippybear at 5:21 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I see (much too late) that autocorrect has defeated me. Kabanos. Sorry about that.
posted by hippybear at 8:07 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Noted war criminal Igor Girkin, known as "Strelkov", is despairing at the prospects for the Russian side, full translated text here.
posted by Harald74 at 10:41 PM on May 19 [5 favorites]


That was very interesting Harald74. Igor Girkin's suggestion that "the UAF are not led by morons, but by specialists from NATO" is new to me. Is this widely accepted as fact in Russia? Given how careful NATO had been, I find it exceptionally unlikely that US or European military officers are in Ukraine directly advising, much less leading, any Ukrainian forces.
posted by RichardP at 12:51 AM on May 20


That Economist link from Kabanos is great, thanks for posting it.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:54 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


A harrowing report from Danny Gold of Vanity Fair on one family's experience of the invasion in Hostomel.
posted by rory at 1:35 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


Igor Girkin's suggestion that "the UAF are not led by morons, but by specialists from NATO" is new to me. Is this widely accepted as fact in Russia? Given how careful NATO had been, I find it exceptionally unlikely that US or European military officers are in Ukraine directly advising, much less leading, any Ukrainian forces.
Various NATO countries have been providing training (both in recent months and over the past several years), but if there are any NATO forces actually in Ukraine, let alone in Ukraine and giving orders, then (A) I haven't heard of it, and (B) I'd be... really surprised. I feel obligated to point out that I'm just some doofus with no special inside knowledge or expertise, but still, I'd be... really surprised.

I suspect it's just Russian propaganda (whether directly from this guy, or from the Kremlin via this guy as a messenger, or from the Kremlin via this guy as a successfully propagandized person, or whatever): It's all NATO's fault that the Ukrainians didn't shower us with roses (and simultaneously, it's all NATO's fault that we didn't immediately crush Ukraine).
posted by Flunkie at 1:56 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


That sounds a bit like the ancient-astronaut myth, only specific to Russian biases about Ukraine: “aliens NATO built the pyramids are running the Ukrainian Air Force because there's no way those simple, primitive people could have done this themselves!”
posted by acb at 2:15 AM on May 20 [17 favorites]


Pretty sure NATO is involved in the UAF tactical decisions, given how deeply they are involved in sharing intelligence with the UAF but they are doing it in an advisory role. My guess is that communication sounds something like this

"So our satellite pictures 5/20/22 05:28 hrs shows that there has been an advance of 30 to 40 Russian tanks to the South of {Redacted Ukrainian place name} which we think indicates that they are getting ready to try to straighten the line out. Let us know when you want a refresh on current position coordinates - Since the area is heavily wooded we figure you'll likely want to go with heavy artillery, rather than drone guided Stingers, but that will depend on how many shells you've got available, and how fast your artillery can reposition to avoid their artillery battery west of { Another Redacted Ukrainian place name.} Best of luck. Slava Ukraini! Putin {Redacted slur}."

The UAF is making the decisions, but NATO is being helpful and will point out anything they think the Ukrainians might be missing. Final call is still Ukrainian. Dunno if the Ukrainians can make requests to NATO for specific intelligence, or if they are asking for tactical suggestions, but that too is possible. I'd be inclined to hazard a guess that requests for advice peaked around the second month of war while the tactical commanders were getting enough field experience to feel confident about what they were doing.
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:16 AM on May 20 [10 favorites]


Girkin mentions "specialists from NATO" in the context of identifying encirclement attempts near Popasna.

Which is true, I am sure. Specialists from Twitter have been commenting on it for weeks, so specialists from NATO are prob aware, too.
posted by ryanrs at 4:57 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


I don’t know if this is the case in other countries, but there’s been at least one documented attempt to slander Ukrainian refugees in Finland. Here’s an excerpt from the English language report from YLE about a TikTok video:
The Finnish Immigration Service Migri has said a video that spread on the TikTok social media platform in which a woman calls Ukrainians fleeing their country "ungrateful" is disinformation.

The video, which has since been deleted, shows a woman who claims to be a nurse at a reception centre in the town of Juuka, in Eastern Finland, talking about her apparent experiences of working with Ukrainian families that have arrived in Finland since Russia's invasion of their home country.

The video was heavily criticised on social media because of the woman's comments about Ukrainian people.

Henri Tanskanen, the mayor of Juuka, told Yle that he watched the video after members of the local municipal council contacted him because of the reference to the town. He said he also received a call from the Finnish Immigration Service.

"I saw that there's some confusion here. This person claims to be at the Juuka Reception Centre, but there is no reception centre in Juuka," Tanskanen said.
posted by Kattullus at 5:20 AM on May 20 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter: "Putin {Redacted slur}."
posted by wenestvedt at 5:34 AM on May 20 [15 favorites]


Any expert understandings of Russian media? Voices only make it on TV because they are allowed to. That one presenter seems to be an allowable contrary voice (he predicted the invasion would go poorly) which probably serves a function internally, like providing someone to disagree with.

It's inoculation. Providing very low level exposure to dangerous thoughts and then providing overwhelming "evidence" and social consensus pressure against them is classic manipulation.
posted by srboisvert at 5:37 AM on May 20 [13 favorites]


Geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan predicted this war was inevitable on this time frame yt . Russia is in the middle of an irreversible demographic implosion on top of their economic one . So beyond trying to take the richest agricultural land in Eastern Europe and the resources that come with it, This is Russia’s last gasp with an army large enough to get the job done. In a generation, they won’t have the manpower to launch anything like this attempt to “plug the gaps”.

I find these "demographics made invasion inevitable" arguments completely uncompelling and even disturbing. First, they absolve the key actors of moral agency. Second, they are thinly veiled race arguments along the same lines as Replacement Theory. Third, they fail to account for why most other countries facing very similar demographic situations of population decline and aging don't invade their neighbors. Fourth, just a few years ago it was common to argue the exact opposite - that populations with excess fighting age males needed to go to war (and was predicted for China with it's one-child policy resulting in young men who could not find spouses).

There was no demographic imperative for this invasion.
posted by srboisvert at 6:30 AM on May 20 [26 favorites]


There's no _inherent_ demographic imperative, but I think it can help explain the logic of people like Vladimir Putin. The other approach you could take (and what much of the "West" is doing in fits and starts) is to open your society and encourage immigration, but from an ethnic nationalist authoritarian point of view that's the same as defeat.
posted by borsboom at 7:58 AM on May 20 [7 favorites]


I have no idea whether Putin is aware that he's up against a demographic deadline.

My guess is that he's more aware of his own mortality. Even if an invasion 30 years from now were feasible, it wouldn't have his name on it.

My other guess is that it isn't about deadlines, it's about Dugin and the like telling him that Russia has a sacred destiny.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:07 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]


"Third, they fail to account for why most other countries facing very similar demographic situations of population decline and aging don't invade their neighbors."

To be fair, this particular thinker highlights a bunch of countries that he thinks will get antsy about invading their neighbors to cope with their demographic decline.

" just a few years ago it was common to argue the exact opposite - that populations with excess fighting age males needed to go to war "

It's a subtly different point: Having a LOT of young males isn't the problem; it's having young males with no path to adulthood, which is typically because of an economic problem. There aren't enough jobs to go around, and without jobs, men can't move out of the family home, launch an independent adult life, and start a family. So they Do Crime, and a lot of countries deal with a recession or a depression by finding a war somewhere to send unemployed young men to. (Putin's first war in Chechnya was arguably one of these "we have a recession, the Youths are restless and Doing Crime, let's send them to a war.") It pushes the problem back (and ideally removes it from your cities and puts it in someone else's cities), gives the men a purpose and job and social group, and ideally they come back with some free training in something useful courtesy of the army, and the economy's perked up a bit so they're very employable. Roosevelt's CCC was a FASCINATING twist on this, where the excess young men were shipped off to build national parks, but it was the same basic idea -- they got a purpose and a job and a social cohort, they were away from doing crime in cities, they got job training and earned a little money to send back to their families.

The China example that was common a few years ago was more along the lines of "we're going to have a bunch of men who can't get married, not because the economy is a nightmare but because there are too few women -- we assume that will result in similar social instability." (Because men who get married do a lot less crime and keep a lot more jobs, as a statistical cohort.) But so far, the social malaise of "men who can't find wives because there are too few women" has worked itself out in quieter, weirder ways. (So far!)

I don't know that Putin is thinking about the underlying logic of the demographic decline in Russia. I do think he's thinking, "last best chance" for a declining empire. Part of why that empire is declining is certainly demographic. But loss of technical expertise, decay of infrastructure, oligarchs sucking value out of everything worthwhile, and the rise of China are probably more important in Putin's mind.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:55 AM on May 20 [21 favorites]


US intel skeptical Putin will be swayed by Russian public opinion over war in Ukraine [CNN Lite] - An overview of the current views of various intelligence people on Putin's strength within Russia.

Not a ton of new news, but I feel it a more broader crystalization of a lot of stuff we've talked about over the past months. I summarize:

Putin is intimately involved in the day-to-day management of the conflict, making decisions on minutiae like the location of attack lines and day-to-day operational goals.

Intelligence officials are skeptical that any change in Russian public opinion would have an effect in ending the conflict and they doubt the war will lead to Putin's removal from power any time soon.

Russian public opinion over the war remains high despite the heavy losses, but most don't fully grasp the reality of the war due to the deeply repressive media environment. There is little optimism that Russian views of the war are changing. It is extremely unlikely that there will be a large enough shift in domestic attitudes to forge a popular uprising, but due to the crackdown on dissent it has also become increasingly difficult to measure public opinion from the outside.

Intelligence officials have said publicly that Putin would need to implement mass mobilization to achieve many of his war aims, and that could have an immediate impact on public perceptions, yet again the only opinion Putin is forced to be truly responsive to is the opinion of Russia's security and business elite.

My views: Sanctions do not seem effective at turning public opinion against the war, since the state media spin machine is so powerful. Instead it is probably working to instill a siege mentality amongst the populace, and as the article states, "Putin has primed the nation by insisting the west would have imposed sanctions against Russia no matter what action it took in Ukraine." But I don't think sanctions should be lessened because surely it makes executing the war at least somewhat more difficult, right?

The topic of mobilizations has come up a lot but it didn't really dawn on me until stated in this article that western officials think mobilization would actually allow the Russians to achieve more goals. I suppose I had not given it full thought, writing off the concept as just making an already clusterfucked logistical situation even worse.
posted by glonous keming at 8:55 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


I'm seeing chatter from Ukrainians on Twitter that there's an absolutely trash take from the NYT suggesting they give up territory - does anyone have an archive of it?
posted by corb at 11:57 AM on May 20


I'm seeing chatter from Ukrainians on Twitter that there's an absolutely trash take from the NYT suggesting they give up territory - does anyone have an archive of it?

Yes, I assume from this editorial:
A decisive military victory for Ukraine over Russia, in which Ukraine regains all the territory Russia has seized since 2014, is not a realistic goal. Though Russia’s planning and fighting have been surprisingly sloppy, Russia remains too strong, and Mr. Putin has invested too much personal prestige in the invasion to back down.



In the end, it is the Ukrainians who must make the hard decisions: They are the ones fighting, dying and losing their homes to Russian aggression, and it is they who must decide what an end to the war might look like. If the conflict does lead to real negotiations, it will be Ukrainian leaders who will have to make the painful territorial decisions that any compromise will demand.
The War in Ukraine Is Getting Complicated, and America Isn’t Ready
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:05 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]


Sanctions do not seem effective at turning public opinion against the war, since the state media spin machine is so powerful.

This isn't a criticism of your comment, but a general criticism of the idea which I've seen over and over and over again: that the primary purpose of the sanctions is to sway public opinion on the war.

A populace suffering the effects of sanctions might become hostile to their own government, but just as well could become more hostile to the people imposing the sanctions. I believe so far the latter is by far the more common outcome in Russia right now.

The primary purpose of broad sanctions is to act as an anchor weighing down Russia's economic and materiel capability to further prosecute their invasion. Even specific sanctions against oligarchs are primarily intended to prevent them from applying their vast wealth (or having their vast wealth appropriated) for the purpose of economic, production, and materiel support for the war. They're designed to make it difficult or impossible to build new missiles to replace the ones already launched, to make it difficult or impossible to build new armored vehicles to replace the ones Ukrainian farmers have towed away with their tractors.
posted by tclark at 12:25 PM on May 20 [25 favorites]


From what I’ve read, sanctions take much longer, like six months, to have an impact but at the moment people are not affected.

Also, this fellow Niki from St Petersburg was linked in the last thread. This video from two weeks ago (but mostly reflecting street interviews from last month) describes that he approached around a hundred people. Half brushed him off without listening but the other half listened to what he wanted to talk about. Of those fifty people, only three were willing to come out against the war. A couple more supported it and the vast majority said they were afraid to talk on camera. None of this is new or surprising and of course, these are city people who had more options than joining the army.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:25 PM on May 20


The primary purpose of broad sanctions is to act as an anchor weighing down Russia's economic and materiel capability to further prosecute their invasion.

QFT. And, I might add, it seems to be working, what with Russia apparently running out of smart munitions, for example.
posted by Gelatin at 12:35 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]


Yes, I assume from this editorial:

White people going to the mat to prove that we would sacrifice just about any value we have toward any peace no matter how negative that peace is. Democracy? Human rights? Nah fuck 'em. Jesus Ukraine, can't you just put up with Russian rule so we don't have to hear about you dying?

The fact that the NYT is this country's "newspaper of record" makes me sick.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:37 PM on May 20 [19 favorites]


If the conflict does lead to real negotiations, it will be Ukrainian leaders who will have to make the painful territorial decisions that any compromise will demand.

This is like the discussion of offering Putin an “off-ramp”. And this is a nonsense proposition.

Russia is not interested in conquering Ukraine, or in defending ethnic Russians in Donbas or Transnistria. So trying to get them to negotiate for a smaller piece of something they never wanted in the first place is… a non-starter.

The only territory Russia is interested in is on the far side of Ukraine. Those are the invasion routes in blue between the natural obstacles (mountains and oceans). Russia need to conquer all of Ukraine not for its own sake, but so they can attack Poland and Moldova and the Baltic nations, where (from a Russian security perspective) the meaningful goals are located.

Russia already had Crimea, so the next invasion routes to be plugged are beyond Ukraine’s borders. Because Germany just doubled their military budget, and a central part of Russian culture is commemorating the MASSIVE casualties they suffered the last time Germany up-gunned. Yes, Germany re-armed in response to the invasion. But Russia pretty much seems to have assumed that Germany would have done so sooner or later. Look at history. No peace is forever, and eventually land armies will be marching on the Russian heartland. Again.

And if the “gaps” are not plugged with Russian troops in advance, then the massive open heartland (at least the occupied part that anyone cares about) will be undefendable, especially with with an army that has been hollowed out by a demographic collapse that started back in the early 1990s

Keeping Donbas in exchange for an end to the war gains Russia absolutely nothing. Why in the world would they negotiate if nothing is on the table when they can keep killing people and breaking things, which has a chance of getting them closer to their strategic territorial goals?

Either Russia wins, or they slink back and continue their implosion until they collapse permanently. This is an existential war from their perspective. You don’t negotiate your way out of an existential crisis.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:12 PM on May 20 [10 favorites]


The NYT editorial is dumb and I expect the Biden administration will ignore it. You don’t pre-negotiate by placing constraints on what you will or won’t do and how far you will support Ukraine. Especially not as a public statement.
posted by interogative mood at 1:19 PM on May 20 [8 favorites]


his article is amazing and I recommend to Cabanas that they make it an FPP.

I see (much too late) that autocorrect has defeated me. Kabanos. Sorry about that.


There's always money in the Kabanos Cabana.
posted by Kabanos at 1:53 PM on May 20 [17 favorites]


The only territory Russia is interested in is on the far side of Ukraine. Those are the invasion routes in blue between the natural obstacles (mountains and oceans). Russia need to conquer all of Ukraine not for its own sake, but so they can attack Poland and Moldova and the Baltic nations, where (from a Russian security perspective) the meaningful goals are located

I don't even buy the anti-NATO defence rationalization. Putin wants power and his power comes from Natural Gas. He invaded Ukraine now because they have recently discovered huge natural gas reserves that could threaten Putin's hold on Europe. He wants Donbas (and Snake Island) because he wants the natural gas and the power that gives him. Without Russia's control of Ukraine's reserves Ukraine could out-compete him and simultaneously cut off something like half his pipeline access to Europe. And if Europe gets energy independence then Putin couldn't execute people in the EU with impunity like he currently does which would be a serious threat to his control of Russia's oligarchs who have offshored their wealth and become transnational.
posted by srboisvert at 4:16 PM on May 20 [8 favorites]


Another possible reason for invading Ukraine is that Putin doesn't want an example of a Slav nation is also a democratic and economic success, in stark contrast to the increasingly broken kleptocratic Mafia state that is current Russia.

Putin knows he has completely failed to lift Russia and improve the lives of its people in his 20 year rule, and has no excuses for it, so he must take down Ukraine to prevent the compare and contrast by his own citizens.

I am thinking of the comments from Russian invaders about how Ukrainian houses have modern indoor flush toilets, when they are still shitting in holes in the ground outside in winter back in their villages. And all those expropriated Ukrainian washing machines. You don't try to ship a bulky washing machine large distances back home if they are not scarce and highly prized objects.

I think Putin, and the Russian power elites, are genuinely scared of what will happen if their own people find out just how fucked over they have been by their own leaders. His crackdown on information flow and public debate in Russia isn't just about the war, it is for much broader reasons than that. He has the brutal realities of a failed state under his leadership to hide from them.
posted by Pouteria at 6:35 PM on May 20 [14 favorites]


I don't like the shade in the article, Complicated and America, (Biden,) isn't ready. Nah, I don't buy that at all. I do worry about the planes that Putin dropped off to Syria, a few weeks ago, possibly with some over-sophisticated weaponry. I worry in general about the fact that Russia is ruthless, in this brazen invasion of a sovereign nation, and it makes others, actively involved in the same thing, seem guilty by committing the same actions. So, they are soft shoe shuffling all this, and trying to make reasonable statements about the pragmatic nature of Russia's doings, or this or that.

The propaganda is absolutely amazing these days. Shade everywhere, I have to read carefully and talk back at what I see. There is a whole political spectrum selling the ageist notion that Biden isn't competent. However, we are lucky as can be, that he is. Our government is a slow wheel turning, but a heavy one, with considerable momentum at times.

Ukraine is suffering from the abuses of Russian society, after they stepped away, and the whole world watched them do so, and applauded. I am sure Putin's tail is in the fire for inconveniencing his oligarchs, and then Putin has severely inconvenienced his military, by losing a whole lot of generals. He is failing in so many ways. And, no, his fishing videos, will never be popular in the west, nor his shirtless horseyback rides.
posted by Oyéah at 8:50 PM on May 20 [11 favorites]


Another possible reason for invading Ukraine is that Putin doesn't want an example of a Slav nation is also a democratic and economic success,...

...a Slav nation that is also...
posted by Pouteria at 11:07 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


An interview in the Dutch newspaper NRC: Top economist Sergei Guriev: Russia goes back in time and that is unprecedented.

Guriev was one of Russia's top economists who fled to the west in 2013 and is now a professor of economics at the Instituts d'études politiques in Paris.

While I expect the interview was conducted in English the interviewer is Dutch, hence I doubt there's an English translation online at the moment. But Deepl Translator does a good job of that.
Russia's economy is taking a huge hit from Western sanctions, says leading economist Guriev, who fled Putin in 2013. He dreams of a better future for his homeland, after the Putin era. "Ukraine must win this war."

Sergei Guriev was left with an extremely unpleasant feeling. In the spring of 2013, the top Russian economist was visited in his Moscow office by a senior investigator from the Russian Prosecutor's Office. "I was not threatened with violence, but it was clear that the person on the other side of the table could use anything I said against me". His e-mails were confiscated, his hard disk copied.

Guriev (50) speaks by Zoom from Paris, where he is a professor, about the conversation that made him decide to leave Russia. The economist, at the time rector of the economic institute NES, had maintained good relations with the Kremlin not long before. He had been an advisor to President Dmitri Medvedev (2008-2012). When Vladimir Putin returned to power in 2012, the authorities began "harassing" Guriev. He suspects why: he had written a critical analysis on the conviction of the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a rival of Putin. Guriev and his wife had also expressed their support for up-and-coming opposition leader Aleksey Navalny, and he had publicly criticised Putin.

After the grim interrogation, Guriev called a few "friends, high-ranking officials". "They told me: you have to go buy a plane ticket now. One-way. That's what I did."
Like tclark notes: The primary purpose of broad sanctions is to act as an anchor weighing down Russia's economic and materiel capability to further prosecute their invasion. , Guriev is of the opinion that the sanctions are primarily targeted at the industry and to some extent at the oligargs, disrupting Russia's capability to continue this war and reach Putin's goals, whatever they are. But they will be felt by everyone: food and medicine prices going up, careers for the middle class workers who held a job at a Western company stopped dead in their tracks, science and technology cut off from at least the West.

The final paragraph:
Beunderman: That reconstruction will therefore be enormously expensive. The EU and the US are proposing to finance it by confiscating frozen Russian assets, including those of the Russian Central Bank. Is this psychologically wise? It is reminiscent of the Treaty of Versailles, by which the Allies punished Germany after World War I with forced reparations. Germany felt humiliated by this.

Guriev: We, too, write in our blueprint that this must happen. If you think about it from a Ukrainian perspective: Ukraine will sue Russia and demand reparations. As long as Putin is in power, Russia will refuse. Almost certainly the frozen Russian money will then come into play.

"Your point about 'Versailles' is relevant, but in a different way. Namely: what will happen to Russia when Putin is gone? I do not foresee that the country will be physically devastated, but economically. Through isolation, through corruption. It will need help, just as Germany did after 1945. It is in everyone's interest that Russia, like Germany, is built as a peaceful and democratic country. The lessons of Versailles must be learned.

"The priority now is Ukraine. It must be rebuilt, the refugees must return. Ukraine must win this war. So send Ukraine financial aid and weapons. But post-Putin Russia must also be supported."
posted by Stoneshop at 1:43 AM on May 21 [12 favorites]


I think Putin, and the Russian power elites, are genuinely scared of what will happen if their own people find out just how fucked over they have been by their own leaders.

It's not that I disagree, but then the logic of sending a huge contingent of your young poor and undereducated men to witness that firsthand...?
posted by Meatbomb at 2:12 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb: It's not that I disagree, but then the logic of sending a huge contingent of your young poor and undereducated men to witness that firsthand...?

I'd guess that they know they're undereducated and disadvantaged and not having the amenities that even those in the next bigger city over might have, but at least they'll get offered the chance to loot a washing machine and a toilet and bring them home (and then find they should have taken the plumbing as well).

The chance that they may not be coming home at all, given the propaganda they've been subjected to, is likely something they only will come to realise once they're seeing actual fighting instead of welcoming.
posted by Stoneshop at 3:35 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


In the wake of all the backlash about the [New York Times] editorial, the Kyiv Independent asked Ukraine’s former defense minister, director of the Kyiv-based Center for Defense Strategies Andriy Zagorodnyuk, whether Ukraine really can’t prevail over Russia.

The Kyiv Independent: And why do you think many in the West insist on saying that Ukraine can’t win?

Andriy Zagorodnyuk: In America, for a long time, there has been an idea that NATO should not enter a fight against Russia to avoid escalating the situation into a world war. Also, there was this word “escalation” they feared, and there was the term World War III. We are absolutely sure that this point, along with the word “escalation” has completely sputtered out. Just because we see it very clearly that Russia has already reached the limits of its capabilities. They can’t do anything drastically bigger.

They’re already drawing the last reserves. There’s an interesting thing now — they’re mobilizing untrained reserves. They’re forming up some company and battalion tactical groups, all they can, without any collective training. And they send them into battle. Of course, their combat effectiveness is non-existent. And it demonstrates that they are out of options.

Of course, they have reserves at home, but they just can’t send them all to Ukraine, otherwise, they will end up having no military at all.

posted by UN at 1:36 PM on May 21 [6 favorites]


Russia has already reached the limits of its capabilities. They can’t do anything drastically bigger.

Cool... but are these the excellent prognosticators that were sure Ukraine could not withstand Russia? The way it's going seems incredible but does anyone really know?
posted by sammyo at 4:21 PM on May 21


That should probably be “its conventional capabilities”.
posted by acb at 5:14 PM on May 21 [7 favorites]


Cool... but are these the excellent prognosticators that were sure Ukraine could not withstand Russia?

No. He's former defense minister of Ukraine, so preparing Ukraine and its allies to withstand Russia was his job. He makes a number of interesting points in that interview.

Here he's interviewed prior to the invasion:

“We don’t see a political endgame here,” he said. “If Putin seizes Kyiv, there will be full-scale war. The Ukrainian army forces will fight. There will be enormous resistance for all time. Why would you do that?

“Ukraine is not going to say: ‘Let’s join Russia.’ This is understood. Unless, of course, Putin is totally delusional and has his own understanding of reality. There will be blood, sanctions. Nobody needs that kind of international war in Europe right now.”

posted by UN at 5:37 PM on May 21 [7 favorites]


Also, there was this word “escalation” they feared, and there was the term World War III. We are absolutely sure that this point, along with the word “escalation” has completely sputtered out. Just because we see it very clearly that Russia has already reached the limits of its capabilities. They can’t do anything drastically bigger.
... is Ukraine’s former defense minister, director of the Kyiv-based Center for Defense Strategies Andriy Zagorodnyuk a Mefite? Because it sure seems like he wants to ignore the ten megaton elephant in the room.
posted by Flunkie at 6:03 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


It's a derail even if one does not recognize it.
posted by UN at 6:45 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


re: Russian Oligarchs

They come in two varieties; The first group are the ones who got rich in the early 90s when the Soviet Union collapsed. Full on “robber barons”.

This first crowd was told by Putin.
“Stay out of politics, and you can keep your riches.”
Mikhail Khordokovsky tried to get into Politics, and Putin took all his money and threw him in jail. These are the ones who have most of their money in foreign bank accounts. This makes them easier to sanction personally.

The second group of oligarchs are the ones who came to power under Putin, and who owe everything they have to Putin’s patronage. Most of these oligarchs don’t have their money abroad., It’s stuck in Russia. these guys are much harder to sanction personally because of that.

The first group of oligarchs have no access to Putin, and have no influence on him. The second group will never give him up, because if he goes down they go down with him.

This is why calling them “oligarchs” doesn’t even really fit, because most of them have only riches, but no political influence.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:11 PM on May 21 [13 favorites]


The first group of oligarchs have no access to Putin, and have no influence on him. The second group will never give him up, because if he goes down they go down with him.

Every former dictator was firmly in power until they weren't.
posted by Etrigan at 7:25 PM on May 21 [11 favorites]


... is Ukraine’s former defense minister, director of the Kyiv-based Center for Defense Strategies Andriy Zagorodnyuk a Mefite? Because it sure seems like he wants to ignore the ten megaton elephant in the room.

If Russia even drops a tac nuke on empty forest to try and cajole surrender, best case scenario they will lose just about every non-aligned country in the world. At that point the West will force them to choose. No more fence sitting. Either you're with a country that uses nuclear weapons in a war of aggression or you're against them.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:02 AM on May 22 [12 favorites]


The USA/France/Italy/India/Brazil and all other countries if the world should kneel and obey Putin's orders because he can strike any of those countries at any time. But no, those countries do no such thing. Why not? You're just a button press away from doom: obey!

For some reason leaders and former leaders of the country getting bombed daily are the naive ones, and not, say, Macron, who claimed Putin would never strike Ukraine, he was just 'testing' NATO. No, it's the people who said invasion was a serious possibility, were right about the resistance Moscow would face, and were and continue to be correct (knock on wood) that defending Ukraine does not guarantee an ever-spiraling escalation from Moscow -- those are the naive fools here.
posted by UN at 9:56 AM on May 22 [7 favorites]


To be fair to invasion-skeptics, which included the Ukrainian government, the most convincing argument that Russia wasn’t going to invade Ukraine was that the task was beyond the capabilities of the Russian armed forces, while people who believed the invasion was going to happen, thought the Russian army would take most of Ukraine over without much trouble. Turned out both were half-right.
posted by Kattullus at 12:35 PM on May 22 [9 favorites]


Really am not sure where the people who thought Russia would take over any of Ukraine without much trouble were even half-right in their assessment.
posted by hippybear at 12:37 PM on May 22


The half-right part is that they believed an invasion would happen; the other group was half-right that a *successful* invasion was beyond the capabilities of the Russian armed forces.
posted by sagc at 12:51 PM on May 22 [8 favorites]


Michael Kofman, who wrote the article in my second link, did admit he got it wrong very early on, within days of the invasion starting, and has gone to some trouble to dig into the errors he, and other military analysts, made. If I understand it correctly, it turned out that the nominal and actual strength of individual regiments varied wildly. In peacetime, they were supposed to have something like 70% of wartime manpower, but it turned out to be considerably less, ranging from 10-30% fewer troops than there should’ve been. This shortfall appears to have been largely due to a lack of infantry privates. I haven’t heard a good explanation why, but there seems to have been a culture of valuing other soldiers more, so perhaps recruits tried to get other assignments than being regular soldiers.
posted by Kattullus at 12:57 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Western militaries have a strong tradition of non-commissioned officers (a.k.a. “sergeants“) being informed on the plan of attack, and given the freedom and indeed the responsibility to make decisions if they get cut off from specific orders.
“I can’t get through to to my officer, but I know what the general plan of attack is so I’m going to take the squad that way.“
The Russian army apparently has no such tradition. Sergeants are just another rank, they have no initiative no responsibility and just follow orders. The Russian military is intensely top down.

This is part of why so many high-level officers including generals are getting killed on the Russian side; they don’t trust their soldiers enough to execute a plan they’re given, so they have to stay close to the front and direct things personally.

And now that the Ukrainians have American howitzers with the Excalibur rocket assisted guided munitions, that can be paired with high-quality western intelligence about the location of high-level officers in the field.

And that allows the Ukrainians to assassinate Russian generals with cannons. Decapitation strategy.

And given that the Russian military is top down and can’t function without orders, every time you kill a superior officer a Junior one Hass to take over and the farther down the ranks you go, the less effective they are.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:05 PM on May 22 [7 favorites]


The USA/France/Italy/India/Brazil and all other countries if the world should kneel and obey Putin's orders because he can strike any of those countries at any time. But no, those countries do no such thing. Why not? You're just a button press away from doom: obey!
I was saying that "Russia has reached the limits of its capabilities, they can't do anything bigger" is a fundamentally absurd statement. I was not saying that we should all quake in our boots, abandon Ukraine, and let Putin do whatever he wants wherever he wants whenever he wants.
posted by Flunkie at 6:14 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


I mean, especially in the context, which is that this guy was explicitly saying because Russia (supposedly) can't do anything bigger, everybody who has ever been worried about escalation leading to WWIII was way off base.

Anyway, I'll drop it, but "Oh, so you think we should just obey Putin" frankly seems like a bad faith interpretation of what I said, and honestly I find it rich coming, unprovoked, from someone who said that I was derailing.
posted by Flunkie at 6:23 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Mefi favorite Bret Devereaux did a follow up on his initial Ukraine post
posted by Jacen at 8:46 PM on May 22 [7 favorites]


Devereaux has some thoughts that have been in the back of my head as well the last months: That ought to be a humbling caution both for the United States as it seeks to compete with China in the Pacific (‘What if all of their kit works to everyone’s surprise, the way ours did in 1991?’) and for China doing much the same (‘what if it turns out that our authoritarian, corrupt and information-suppressing regime has the same military performance problems as Putin’s authoritarian, corrupt and information-suppressing regime?’).

I hope we don't get to find out...
posted by Harald74 at 12:37 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]


Every former dictator was firmly in power until they weren't.

Even if an oligarch thought it was time for Putin go to, they lack any means of making that happen. It wasn't money that started or ended the soviet coup of 1991. It was the military and security apparatus, whom the oligarchs are largely separated from. And it wasn't the CEO of Gazprom that shelled the White House in '93.
posted by pwnguin at 12:45 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


With all the shakeups in the FSB, I'm guessing it's difficult to tell who is in position to do what from inside the security apparatus. And the armed forces have been purposefully neutered politically for 20 years now, so I don't know if they can affect any change.

It seems like Western intelligence agencies probably are back in the old days of "Kremlinology".
posted by Harald74 at 1:36 AM on May 23


pwnguin: And it wasn't the CEO of Gazprom that shelled the White House in '93.

While this is correct, and your broader point is absolutely true, I just wanted to add that the Prime Minister at the time of the Russian constitutional crisis was Viktor Chernomyrdin, the founder of Gazprom, and until 1992, its CEO.
posted by Kattullus at 1:45 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


Journalist John Sweeney having a chat on "LBC = Leading Britain's Conversation." Quality talking and opinion-mongering and some interesting insights on the whole horrible war.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:49 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


Every former dictator was firmly in power until they weren't.

Even if an oligarch thought it was time for Putin go to, they lack any means of making that happen.


Money and power are like water: they have a tendency to find their way into and out of places that everyone was absolutely certain that they couldn’t.

I’m not saying that I know the date, the month, or even the year that the Putin regime falls. I’m not even saying it won’t last more than a day or a month or a year past Putin himself. But I am saying that I’m uncomfortable with these grand declarations that he has discovered The Unassailable Method of staying in power.
posted by Etrigan at 3:49 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]


Hmm seems our pro-insurrection faction was right.

Head of Ukrainian Intelligence Budanov: Putin was assaulted
posted by sammyo at 5:21 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


You know what they say about what to do 'if at first you don't succeed'...
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:55 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


What would be the Slavic-folklore equivalent of “Operation Valkyrie”?
posted by acb at 6:20 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


And then there's this:
waste russian time.today a website that sets up a conference call between two (or more?) parties in the Russian Gov/bureaucracy for the single purpose of wasting their time and distract them from war stuff. An ingenious bit of subversion electronic sabotage (where the sabot is the telephone).
posted by From Bklyn at 8:21 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


After reading the Meduza article about the Buddhist funerals for dead soldiers in a Buryatian village, I wanted to learn more about why so many young people from a Siberian republic were invading Ukraine and dying in Putin's war. This Moscow Times article included the voices of Buryats against the war.
Of all Russia’s regions, only the majority Muslim North Caucasus republic of Dagestan had a higher death toll than Buryatia, according to the independent Mediazona news website.

“This war,” Vyushkova said, “is like a vampire. It sucks the young blood out of Buryatia.”

Garmazhapova’s group also provides help for Buryat servicemen who do not want to fight in Ukraine. “What we can do here is put the families of the soldiers in touch with lawyers and human rights organizations,” she said. So far, about 20 people have contacted the foundation in connection with this issue.
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:21 AM on May 23 [9 favorites]


But I am saying that I’m uncomfortable with these grand declarations that he has discovered The Unassailable Method of staying in power.

I'm not saying Putin is unassailable. Rather that if he is deposed, it will be because the army leadership wants him replaced with someone on board with their ambitions. It is absurdly optimistic to expect a sudden outburst of Western style liberal democracy the moment Putin is ousted by the army.

Think about it: if you are a general in charge of the Ground Forces, or the Strategic Rocket forces, going to the effort of recruiting a cabal to overthrow the leadership because the war in Ukraine isn't going well, sends a signal of weakness to all the wrong people. It tells the Western world that you are weak. It tells the soldiers that what they did (under your command!) was immoral. It tells the people rebelling against your autocratic allies in Kazakhstan and elsewhere that you are too weak to support them.

Some day, Putin will die. But his successor will not be chosen by oligarchs, any more than the previous oligarchs chose Putin.
posted by pwnguin at 9:39 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


This entire situation is becoming rapidly unsustainable for everyone involved. NPR had a story this morning about the impacts of the spike in diesel prices and what that will mean for our supply chains and farms.
There is growing pressure to see this war concluded quickly and there are two political factions emerging IMO. The hawks will push for a gloves off approach where the west sends aircraft and other advanced weapons we’ve held off sending, along with private military contractors. The other faction wants to see a ceasefire as soon as possible along the existing lines of control. They want to blunt the current offensive and then call it some kind of victory. Finland lost half its territory in the winter war they’ll say.
posted by interogative mood at 9:50 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]


It is absurdly optimistic to expect a sudden outburst of Western style liberal democracy the moment Putin is ousted by the army.

I don't see anyone here -- or really anywhere -- who's remotely claiming this and being taken seriously by anyone.

Think about it: if you are a general in charge of the Ground Forces, or the Strategic Rocket forces, going to the effort of recruiting a cabal to overthrow the leadership because the war in Ukraine isn't going well, sends a signal of weakness to all the wrong people.

If a general leads a coup in the summer of 2022, it will absolutely be because the war is going badly, and it will of course be blamed on Putin rather than the brave young lads of the armed forces, who clearly could have won the war in a mere week if not for the deposed oligarch who only cared about his yachts and blah blah blah. There will be many people who swear up and down that they were in the room for meetings between Putin and General Coupleader where the good general demanded that Putin unleash the full fury of the greatest fighting force the world has ever known, and Putin dithered and lied and believed some other general who clearly was himself stealing money and materiel from the Russian people (and who has also been taken into custody, of course).
posted by Etrigan at 10:50 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]


There will be many people who swear up and down that they were in the room for meetings between Putin and General Coupleader where the good general demanded that Putin unleash the full fury of the greatest fighting force the world has ever known, and Putin dithered and lied and believed some other general who clearly was himself stealing money and materiel from the Russian people (and who has also been taken into custody, of course).

In this scenario, you think the change in leadership ends the war? It seems more likely to escalate it.
posted by pwnguin at 11:41 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


interrogative mood: Finland lost half its territory in the winter war they’ll say.

I see this claim sometimes, but it’s based on a misreading. Finland ceded half of Finnish Karelia, its easternmost province. In total Finland lost about ten percent of its territory after the Winter War and Continuation War.
posted by Kattullus at 11:54 AM on May 23 [14 favorites]


In this scenario, you think the change in leadership ends the war? It seems more likely to escalate it.

I honestly don't know how you're getting anything you think I'm saying from the words I'm actually using. So please take another look at the part you quoted where the leader of the coup will claim that he wanted to escalate the war all along but Putin refused to.
posted by Etrigan at 11:54 AM on May 23


We're getting into a lot of conjecture about how a coup in Russia would work and whether that would end the war ... that isn't really news about the war, just a tangental hypothesizing about one part of it
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 12:34 PM on May 23 [17 favorites]


Per the NY Times, Starbucks, which had suspended operations, is now pulling out of Russia completely, following the example of McDonald’s and Renault.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:36 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]


I was just thinking to myself, "You know, there are probably like TWO people in the whole entire world who will have correctly guess if and how the Putin regime falls and I very much doubt it will be something that I ever hear about."

I'm pretty confident none of them will be metafilter members, not that any of you lack the capability, just playing the odds.

This situation is highly volatile and trying to predict what will happen is a fool's errand (and a derail besides).

I very much appreciate analysis from folks that know the politics of the area that might make some guess as to what might happen if various other things happen. There was some unconfirmed (so far?) reports that someone took a shot at Putin so a, "Here are the things likely to happen if the next plot actually kills ol' Vlad*......" and some supporting evidence and/or rationale has some decent value to me but after that we're getting into pure conjecture and that's just bound to be wrong.

* It's the wrong shortened version on purpose 'cause fuck him, that's why. :)
posted by VTX at 12:47 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]


For my dollar, this thread is at its best when there are a ton on links being posted of reports from the field and progress and stuff, and less interesting when people are speculating for more than a sentence or two.
posted by hippybear at 12:51 PM on May 23 [36 favorites]


'Ashamed' Russian diplomat quits over invasion of Russia: "In a scathing email, veteran diplomat Boris Bondarev called the invasion "a crime," said those who launched the war care only about power, palaces and yachts."

Bondarev was "a counselor in Russia’s mission to the United Nations office in Geneva since 2019."
posted by jedicus at 1:27 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]


More details on how effing desperate many of the Russian soldiers are:
The Russian soldiers who spoke to The Moscow Times said they were also putting together their own first-aid kits.

“The one they issue has bandages, iodine and a tourniquet,” said the Rosgvardia serviceman. “They tell you ahead of time that it won't save you if you’re wounded. But putting one together costs more money.”

Avito seller Ilya confirmed that the medical situation at the front is problematic. “I put a kit together for 20,000 rubles ($325), and that's the bare minimum: antibiotics, tourniquets, an alexipharmic, trauma pad, syringes, coagulants. If you don't pack your own first aid kit, no one will save you. On the battlefield you can't staunch blood with iodine,” he said.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:51 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Has nobody told these soldiers about direct pressure? I mean, that's first aid 101.
posted by hippybear at 3:07 PM on May 23


There was a guerilla attack/assassination attempt/insurgency bombing against the head of the Russian occupational force in Enerhodar, the city next to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Kyiv Post

Kinda crazy that the guy targeted, Andriy Shevchuk, used to be in the Ukrainian government. Also goes into some details about the active insurgency against the Russians.
posted by meowzilla at 3:09 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I talked to a combat medic that served in Afghanistan and he said that if nothing else if available, put some dirt on it. The bleeding is killing the now worry about the infection later. Though that assume ready access to antibiotics which...is probably a bit of an issue for Russian soldiers right now.
posted by VTX at 5:09 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Beautiful sunny day, lovely countryside, out for a drive in Donbas.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:16 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]



More details on how effing desperate many of the Russian soldiers are:


posted by spamandkimchi

I remember when the US soldiers being deployed for the invasion and occupation of Iraq were scouring stores for communications equipment. Apparently they had military wives fanning out to be sure they hit every single Radio Shack in the States to buy up every unit there was and were systematically getting them to as many guys as they could before they were shipped out, and mailing the rest.

It was a feel good story, of course, when I read about it in the US news.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:43 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


I'm pretty confident none of them will be metafilter members, not that any of you lack the capability, just playing the odds.

I'm sure your correct. But generals do not led coups in Russia, never have. A coup will be led by the people, organized by a loose confederation of business and government. Their weapon is a strike and sooner, 3 months, then later. As Putin has extraordinary powers due to special nuclear alert status, his locale is static but hardened. The '91 coup had all the old guard, Yazov even but they weren't the heart of the military.

RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, May 23, 2022


"Russian nationalist figures are increasingly criticizing the failures of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine and are calling for further mobilization that the Kremlin likely remains unwilling and unable to pursue in the short term....

The Assembly’s letter may be a leading indicator of elements of the Russian government and society setting informational conditions to declare partial mobilization. However, the Kremlin has so far declined to take this step likely due to concerns over domestic backlash and flaws in Russia’s mobilization systems."

These are the sounds of severe discontent. Putin can't deliver this war to a win with a mobilisation so folks are upping the game, upping Putin's chances at failure.
posted by clavdivs at 7:19 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Can't find a link now but some Russian first aid kits recovered by Ukrainians were from the 80s, definitely raiding the bottom of the warehouses. Nonsterile because the paper packaging disintegrated, no meds, Potemkin's first aid kits.

And direct pressure on a wound means tying up one more soldier until better aid comes, which does not involve American style evacuation by helicopter. Or you know, until Ukrainians overrun them and apply proper modern battlefield first aid - the collections in Poland had mile-long lists of needed equipment that were very close to what a paramedic told me he carried in his own ambulance. Might be the best chance for poor Buriat boys.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:56 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]


You can now purchase a 9€/Month public transportation pass for all of Germany.

The EU appears to be close to finalizing an embargo on Russian gas.
posted by UN at 1:27 AM on May 24 [7 favorites]


The EU appears to be close to finalizing an embargo on Russian gas

Not to quibble, but the article only mentions Russian oil…
posted by progosk at 3:38 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]


My mistake, oil is what I meant, to juxtapose with the attempt to get more people to ride public transport. About 1/3rd of Germany's oil (heating, gasoline, diesel, etc.) is imported from Russia.
posted by UN at 4:36 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]


It seems like the Russians are moving westwards a bit every day now, however they are possibly tiring themselves out doing so. Ukraine has traded terrain for time before, maybe that's what's happening at the moment as well.

And there's a video out of a whole DPR battallion that wants to go home.
posted by Harald74 at 6:01 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Jomini of the West released his summary of the Ukrainian TVD, Day 80-88.

TLDR:
  • The Ukrainian counteroffensive has likely stalled due to recent Russian spoiling attacks in the Ternova & Rubizhne area.
  • Russian forces retain a shallow 10km strip of occupied territory on the border within artillery range of Kharkiv.
  • Despite continued heavy losses in the Severodonetsk-Donetsk OD, Russian forces have successfully achieved a localized breakthrough in the Popasna area.
  • Partisan activity remains active and disruptive in Russian occupied areas, particularly Melitopol & Enerhodar.
  • Anecdotal reporting and generalized statements by Ukrainian/Russian officials of combat losses along the Izium-Lyman-Severdonetsk-Popasna line of operation state a high rate of losses in both troops & equipment among Russian & Ukrainian forces.
  • Overall Assessment. Russia’s push against Severodonetsk will likely determine the success or failure of this current phase of the war. Russian failure to secure the borders of Luhansk & at least make a meaningful advance into Donetsk risks not achieving the Kremlin’s aims.
Nothing really earth-shattering there for folks who've been keeping up with the daily details, but it's good to see it laid out alongside detailed maps for those who appreciate that.

The constant creep around Popasna has been making me nervous, and seeing it now referred to as a "breakthrough" by someone whose analyses I have come to respect just cranks that up a notch. If the Russians manage to fully cut off the Severodonetsk salient it could potentially be a really negative inflection point for the Ukrainians.

It's definitely not an operational high point for the defenders, especially paired with the recent surrender of Azovstal. But we always knew this part of the fight was going to be a brutal grind. Hopefully the supporting nations will keep up the flow of assistance and the Ukrainians can hold out against whatever localized onslaughts occur long enough for the attritional differences to take a heavier toll on Russia.

I think if anyone has shown they're capable of it, it's the Ukrainian heroes.
posted by jammer at 6:07 AM on May 24 [9 favorites]


A further, related, thought that's been on my mind, since I'm being pessimistic anxious: This is a slower period of the war where gains and losses will be mostly incremental, and it's coming at a time when Russia is somewhat getting its shit together a bit more than it has in the past. Jomini notes increased operational coherency and better logistical support around Popasna as the key reason for the success there.

(I think that same slowing is evident here, in the recent comments about off-topic or overly speculative posts. When there's a bit of a vacuum, folks tend to make noise to fill it. We should be careful to follow our own rules about keeping discussion as informational as possible, and not just talk to be talking.)

Granted, that will (hopefully) not last forever, but this conflict is entering its fourth month, and especially when the flow of "dramatic" news starts to slow I worry that global attention -- and even patience -- will start to wane and the kind of public passion that's driven Western governments to the often unprecedented lengths they have gone to in support of Ukraine might begin to lessen. Combine this with growing global economic instability as this drags on, and the powerful moneyed forces that I'm sure want nothing more than for the "recent ugliness" to be over so we can go back to not giving a fuck about tyrants and dictators as long as they make us money...

Well. I'll heed my own words about speculation and try to avoid undue catastrophizing. I just hope folks globally can be convinced to keep in mind that war deferred is not peace, and everything other than Russian defeat here is just that -- war deferred, and misery unceasing.
posted by jammer at 6:19 AM on May 24 [9 favorites]


Here's a nice visualization of where the fighting is now vs. earlier. Shows how the Russians are able to concentrate their forces and gain this small victory despite massive losses.

And this reply to that tweet gives a good visualization of how Russia's ambitions have been reduced over the course of the war.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 7:34 AM on May 24 [5 favorites]


A further, related, thought that's been on my mind, since I'm being pessimistic anxious: This is a slower period of the war where gains and losses will be mostly incremental, and it's coming at a time when Russia is somewhat getting its shit together a bit more than it has in the past. Jomini notes increased operational coherency and better logistical support around Popasna as the key reason for the success there.

The problem for Russia is that Ukraine has been continually mobilizing and continues to. I'd wager there are more UAF in the field than RAF right now. The only advantage that Russia has is that Ukraine needs to keep units everywhere and Ukraine is a big place. Even so, as the war drags on the veterancy of the UAF continues to go through the roof and Russian morale continues to plummet. Even if Russia could force every incoming conscript soldier into becoming a contract soldier, 134.5K green troops are just going to get slaughtered by the battle hardened Territorial Defense Forces little alone tangling with ZSU proper.

The lines are long and Russia can use that pin a lot of Ukrainian units in place. But that's at the expense of more manpower and equipment which Russia are fast running out of whereas Ukraine has been getting fresh weapons well outside of what a country of its size and GDP should be able to produce. Even if the West decided tomorrow to stop supplying Ukraine, they have enough artillery, shells, small arms, ammo, armor, and mechanized equipment to prosecute multiple years of a war of attrition. Every day the war goes on Russia's position erodes even further and Putin's lack of mobilization now may ensure a culmination that cannot be averted, even with a massive emergency general mobilization.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:28 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Henry Kissinger: Ukraine must give Russia territory. [Archived.] Henry Kissinger has urged the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine. The veteran US statesman said that it would have disastrous consequences for the long term stability of Europe.

Counterpoint: Russia must give Ukraine back every inch of stolen territory. Inflicting a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine is essential for the long term stability of Europe. Humiliation is the very least that Putin and his supporters deserve.
posted by rory at 8:39 AM on May 24 [20 favorites]


Why do we care what war criminal HK has to say?
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:47 AM on May 24 [34 favorites]


I haven't been commenting much in these threads, but I wanted to point out that Henry Kissinger can go and fuck himself, why is he still alive and if he has to be then why isn't he in the Hague
posted by echo target at 8:58 AM on May 24 [31 favorites]


Yet another Russian general ubit'. Depending on sources that's #10 confirmed or #12 overall. Shot down in a fighter jet, natch.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:22 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]


This general was apparently retired. I'm guessing it's not just a case of the Ukrainians taking a shot at an old man taking a trip down memory lane, though. Is Russia running so low on experienced commanders that they have to press retirees back into front-line service?
posted by acb at 9:40 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Maybe he believed the propaganda, and wanted to come out of retirement to help Russia win the war, perhaps not fully aware of the reality on the ground.

The same could be true of the general.
posted by ryanrs at 10:28 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]


> I claim sanctuary: "Shot down in a fighter jet, natch."

Do (non-retired) generals typically fly fighter jets? Like, even if this guy hadn't come back out of retirement, would it have be normal for an officer of that rank to be in the cockpit of an SU-25? I don't know much about air forces in general or the Russian air force in particular, but I would have imagined fighter pilot to be a job for someone a bit... less senior.
posted by mhum at 10:31 AM on May 24 [5 favorites]






The fact that a retired Russian general was flying a combat mission suggests that the shortage isn’t in commanders it’s in pilots. This matches up with other stuff I’ve read that suggests Russian military aviation prior to the war was having significant problems retaining trained pilots and given them enough flight hours to stay certified. A pilot needs to fly a minimum number of hours a month to remain proficient. Each hour they fly costs the military thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in fuel, parts and maintenance. Russia doesn’t have the budget, especially when a lot of jet fuel and aircraft parts go missing from corruption.
posted by interogative mood at 10:58 AM on May 24 [8 favorites]


It also points to significant aviation losses taking out what trained pilots they did have. Does make Ukraine's numbers on Russian losses more believable. As of today they're listed at 205 planes.

Also Orban has ordered a state of emergency in Hungary connected to the Ukrainian situation. Judging by his previous state-of-emergencies it might be about some economic measures and good PR. Of course he's still blocking an EU-wide ban on Russian oil and gas.

And the Russian 58 Army has gone completely to pieces, with some companies having no surviving soldiers according to communication intercepted by Ukrainian intelligence and published on Telegram.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:38 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


We must stop letting Russia define the terms of the Ukraine crisis by Slavoj Žižek

Yes, the liberal west is hypocritical, applying its high standards very selectively. But hypocrisy means you violate the standards you proclaim, and in this way you open yourself up to inherent criticism – when we criticize the liberal west, we use its own standards. What Russia is offering is a world without hypocrisy – because it is without global ethical standards, practicing just pragmatic “respect” for differences.
posted by riruro at 12:54 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]



We must stop letting Russia define the terms of the Ukraine crisis by Slavoj Žižek


heartbreaking: the worst person you know just made a great point
etc
no but the piece is quite good
everything true in it is obvious to a child of ten, which is all the more reason to say it slowly and clearly and repeatedly to an audience of adults. since adults like to rest all their excuses for inaction and wrong action on the idea that anything true is complex, and ideally too complex to ever have to explain. but this is not so.
posted by queenofbithynia at 1:15 PM on May 24 [7 favorites]


Žižek's take is a lot less cooked than I expected it to be.

Orban's state of emergency (specifically being a wartime state of emergency) is a worry. If Hungary is at war, then which side is it on?

Also in worrying geopolitical news, Erdogan has reportedly followed up his hard veto of Swedish NATO membership with cutting off all ties between Turkey and Greece.
posted by acb at 1:20 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


It does seem that the Russians may be on the verge of encircling some of the Ukrainian army in Lysychansk in the far eastern portion of the country. Russia seems to have gotten to a vital supply road at Bakhmut after throwing everything they have at this offensive. I don't know how significant this gain is and to what degree Ukraine will be able to counter attack in the coming days and weeks.
posted by interogative mood at 1:20 PM on May 24


One key to a successful sustained counter-attack is making the enemy repay for ground lost during intial invasion. Ukraine is paying a price but the Russians lost ground will cost them 5× war material and personel. The 'static intuitive' strategy is not working as reallocation, and concentrative force has been hindered by Ukrainian counter-attacks and special/ specific targets that are vital to Russian C@C, Air and Naval forces. in short, Ukraine is using a fluid strategy while maintaining tactical advantage even in a limited capacity to match or out manuever Russian Forces shifting strategy.
The nation's who interceded are know interfering with Putin's war in the form of diplomatic/business disruption to sending heavy weaponry.

Side note: Since the invasion, Metafilter has done alot of things well in war threads, the bestest IMO is that I have read little to none, in these threads about hatred toward the Russian people, as a whole.
posted by clavdivs at 1:34 PM on May 24 [14 favorites]


Russian troops gain experience just like Ukrainian ones. There are hard times ahead.

This isn't the Battle of Kyiv where an overconfident and over-extended Russian advance outran its supply lines and were surrounded by hostile citizens. The cities in the east have been held by Russia for months, the supply lines are shorter and fortified, and the partisans may have already been killed or deported. Russia may have ignored the the 3:1 attacker:defender ratio in the past, but now it's going to apply to the Ukrainians.
posted by meowzilla at 1:41 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Russian troops gain experience just like Ukrainian ones. There are hard times ahead.

The problem is that Russia has no fresh replacements coming in to either relieve or spread the losses so the ones dying are, by a vast majority, their most experienced, battle hardened vets. Compared to Ukraine where if they are taking losses they're going to be a mix of green and vet. Russia are also losing vets rapidly too. Even at the most conservative estimates of somewhere around ~100 KIA/day for ~300 troops a day KIA/WIA with 100,000 troops is 300 days.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:08 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Russia is attempting to grab as much land as possible before the Ukrainian counter attack begins in full — perhaps sometime in June or July. Ukraine has about 700,000 soldiers now in training or in the field with a goal of getting that to a million before the end of the year. They are just starting to get major deliveries of heavy weapons.
Russia will finish this current operation if they can and then attempt to press for a ceasefire before Ukraine can get itself ready for a counter attack . Russia will attempt to split NATO politically with this offer and attempt to get the allies to force Ukraine to take the ceasefire.

The statements by Henry Kissenger and The NY Times Editorial Board may reflect some of the establishment view in DC foreign policy and national security circles about the willingness of the US to push Ukraine to accept a ceasefire. I hope Biden will reject their advice; but we’ll see.
posted by interogative mood at 2:46 PM on May 24 [17 favorites]


Russia will finish this current operation if they can and then attempt to press for a ceasefire before Ukraine can get itself ready for a counter attack.

I suspect the plan isn't ceasefire, but just enough breathing room for the Duma to "acknowledge the will" of the people of their occupied territories to formally join Russia as (probably) 3 new Russian republics so that a Ukrainian counterattack would be presented (and accepted by dupes worldwide) as an invasion of Russia.
posted by tclark at 5:42 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


cease fire allows putin to hold in place and to re-enforce./re-coup with advantage of re-newing offensive. cease fire is meant to be serious with negotiated draw back of force in an AO only. Add that to Ukraines counter moves which would be more advantageous as it is familiar terrain or home.
posted by clavdivs at 8:05 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I think regardless of the West's feelings about the situation, Ukraine is going to make its own decisions about this war. The idea that suddenly the flow of arms and support will stop because Ukraine is not giving up territory feels somehow impossible.
posted by hippybear at 8:46 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


After so many war crimes and repeated filtration, I honestly wonder if any Ukraine citizens will be left in Mariupol soon.
posted by Jacen at 9:03 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


mhum: but I would have imagined fighter pilot to be a job for someone a bit... less senior.

Browsing the combat aircraft section of Oryx' list there are several entries for destroyed aircraft as documented by published obits, all of those for lieutenant-colonels (and in one case a lt-col plus a captain). Major-General is two ranks above those, so while remarkable (also for his returning from retirement) it's apparently not utterly unprecedented.

A propos, while there is already a well over 3:1 ratio of (documented) Russian to Ukrainian equipment losses, the last couple of days I've seen the count for Russia increasing by about 100 per day, with Ukraine merely in the single digits. So Russia is clearly winning that contest.
posted by Stoneshop at 10:31 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


From Meduza:
'He dedicated his youth to Ukraine’ Meduza’s interview with the wives and mothers of three Azov soldiers who defended Mariupol to the end

(...) Russia attacked Ukraine eight years ago, not three months ago. My husband has been on the front since the very beginning [of the war]. He’s literally been in the war continuously. Every time we met, I knew it might be the last time we’d see each other. Of course the situation is especially tense and tragic right now. But I understand why he’s there. We share the same values. The same idea of what freedom is. The same vision for the future of Ukraine, of our country.

I married him because he’s a passionate person; he’s always ready to fight to defend me, our country, and our values. That knowledge helps me stay strong and to do everything possible to help him. To help get him out of there, and to make him proud of me back here at home.
posted by 15L06 at 11:27 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]


Here's a map (using Google Maps) of where the Russian dead came from. It's based on obits and other publicly available information.

Dachas, houses, and other property of Putin & the Oligarchs is also marked on the map. All of the text is in Russian but I think the map is useful even if you can't read Cyrillic.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:39 PM on May 24 [13 favorites]


Here's a map (using Google Maps) of where the Russian dead came from. It's based on obits and other publicly available information.

There appear to be countless tiny villages with a higher death toll than St. Petersburg or Moscow. This has been described in previous threads, but it’s something else to see it on a map.

Also, for all the kids who had nothing else,

.
posted by UN at 12:53 AM on May 25 [9 favorites]


There appear to be countless tiny villages with a higher death toll than St. Petersburg or Moscow.


That map makes it look like most deaths are not from the heartlands. This doesn't seem to be a war just against Ukraine, but also a genocidal war against Russia's own minorities.
posted by doggod at 12:57 AM on May 25 [8 favorites]


Teegeeack AV Club Secretary: Here's a map (using Google Maps) of where the Russian dead came from. It's based on obits and other publicly available information.

Official Russian casualties during a special operation
This is an interactive map, by clicking on the skull you can see information about the deceased, a photo, and a link to the proof of death.

All the evidence is collected from funerals in the media and social networks, based on information from Goryushko's TG-channel (https://t.me/pechalbeda200). In other words, all the dead soldiers here are officially confirmed.

The skulls are arranged according to the localities where the soldiers were born or lived. Those with high ranks who died are marked in red.

Also on the map represented the property of the main politicians and propagandists of the Russian Federation, which will also be replenished. By clicking on property - you can see evidence that they own one or another politician.

The unidentified dead will be placed near this property. As for example near Putin's palace - the shards that could not be identified by place of residence or birth are collected.

Are you Russians ready to keep dying?
... for the palace of mad Putin?
... for the yacht of Usmanov and Abramovich?
... for the assets of Timchenko and Rotenberg?

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
posted by Stoneshop at 1:18 AM on May 25 [11 favorites]


The Duma have abolished the age limit on contract soldiers and foreign soldiers.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:49 AM on May 25


Another interesting article in the Dutch newspaper NRC: In Russia, the blackballing has begun. Not Putin but the army chiefs are blamed for the failed invasion. The first three paragraphs:
Sergei Kisel, commander of the Russian First Tank Army is suspended. Igor Osipov, commander of the Black Sea Fleet probably also. Russia's top military officer, Valeri Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff, is still in office but no one knows what trust President Putin still has in him.

In Russia, the blackballing has begun over the setbacks in Ukraine. Such as the failed siege of Kiev and Kharkov; the sinking of the cruiser Moskva; and the virtually stalled offensive in the Donbas where terrain gains are small, losses persistently high, and time for a breakthrough is running out. It is clear who is to blame: not the man who gave the order and says that the operation is proceeding according to "the plan drawn up by the General Staff."

Even a Russian analyst and former colonel, who warned of a debacle in Ukraine even before the invasion, last week cited military mistakes as the cause and did not openly point the finger at the Kremlin. The analyst, Mikhail Khodarjonok, wrote in the Russian trade magazine NVO as recently as early February that "some representatives of the Russian political class" believe that Russia can inflict "a crushing defeat" on Ukrainian forces with lightning speed. And that the Ukrainians would welcome their "liberators" with "bread, salt and flowers. But "the liberation campaign will fail completely," Chodarjonok wrote. After which he enumerated what problems Russia would face on the battlefield if the proponents of an invasion did not give up "their fantasies of hatred." It turned out exactly that way.
There are a couple of worthwhile links in the article, and www.DeepL.com/Translator does a nearly flawless job if your Dutch is not up to it.
posted by Stoneshop at 6:55 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


The problem is that Russia has no fresh replacements coming in to either relieve or spread the losses so the ones dying are, by a vast majority, their most experienced, battle hardened vets.

On Twitter, Michael Koffman has had several discussions about the "halfway measures" the Russians are taking to increase manpower without using a full mobilization. Here is a recent example (link is to the first in a series of tweets); his takeaway is that Russia can sustain the war at the current level for the long term, potentially using interim solutions like reactivating people were recently demobilized, but this won't be sufficient to change the overall balance.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:03 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Here is a recent example (link is to the first in a series of tweets); his takeaway is that Russia can sustain the war at the current level for the long term, potentially using interim solutions like reactivating people were recently demobilized, but this won't be sufficient to change the overall balance.

I think he's right to an extent. The problem being that even with "limited war aims" and achieving those goals, Ukraine can still tell Russia to fuck off. Russia could very well finding itself in a situation of wanting to freeze the conflict in a cease fire or peace treaty before culmination and completely unable to bring Ukraine to the table. This is the danger in not mobilizing. Russia may take Sievierodonetsk and think they're done but Ukraine certainly won't be.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:12 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Continued recruitment in Russia's non-Slavic periphery per Moscow Times article Russia Scrambles for Soldiers Amid Ukraine War Manpower Shortage:
A delivery of mobile enlistment offices was reported to Russia’s Far East Military District in March, with men to be recruited across eastern and southern Siberia.

...

A military recruiter in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya last month offered a reporter posing as someone interested in joining up a first-month salary of 300,000 rubles ($5,200) after enlistment.
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:12 AM on May 25


Sometimes it's the details of war that break through my numbness.

— If someone is looking for a soldier in their family who’s gone missing in Ukraine, what options do they have?

— First, we recommend calling the Defense Ministry hotline and reporting that you haven’t heard from a soldier for a certain amount of time. Provide the number of his unit.

If you’ve heard anything from his fellow soldiers, you should ask the officers on the hotline to record that information.

We also asked people to look at the Ukrainian lists of prisoners. They’re very detailed, and they're openly accessible. If none of that helps, it’s time to write to the [Russian Investigative Committee’s] military investigation department.

— What are the odds of finding a deceased soldier?

— They vary. Sometimes when a soldier dies, the Russian unit fails to retrieve his body, but he still has his documents on him. In that case, the Ukrainian side tries to bury [the body] and add it to their lists.

But it all depends on the situation. If it’s not in an inhabited area and nobody finds the body, or if there aren’t any documents, it’s a very sad situation. It’s practically impossible to find soldiers in that case.

Also in the linked article there is a photo captioned:
A message from a Russian soldier left on a refrigerator: “Forgive us, we didn’t want to, but that’s fucking politics!!!” Chernihiv region, Ukraine.
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:20 AM on May 25 [6 favorites]


The most recent podcast discussion between Michael Kofman and Ryan Evans about the military situation in Donbas is fairly sobering. Kofman posted a Twitter thread today making some of the same points.
posted by Kattullus at 1:52 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


In his traditional dinner speech on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain town of Davos, the Hungarian-born investor and philanthropist said the war has "shaken Europe to its core."

"The invasion may have been the beginning of the Third World War and our civilization may not survive it," Soros said.

"We must mobilise all our resources to bring the war to an early end. The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin as soon as possible," he said.

...

"I think Putin has been very clever in sort of blackmailing Europe, threatening to cut off the gas, but actually his case is much less strong than he pretends," Soros said.

"He's actually in a crisis and he has managed somehow to terrify Europe," he said.

He said Putin put gas in storage last year instead of exporting it to Europe, creating a shortage that raised prices and made Russia "a lot of money."

But storage facilities will be full in July and Russia has no other place to ship the gas than Europe as it is its only market, he said.

posted by UN at 2:05 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


Russia is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, in return for the lifting of some sanctions, the Interfax news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying on Wednesday.
Further, A senior U.N. official is due to visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss reviving fertilizer exports, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Wednesday, stressing that the talks were not linked to a resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments.
posted by adamvasco at 2:27 PM on May 25


With the recent Russian advance in Donbas it is important to zoom the map out and look at how much territory Ukraine has managed to recapture in the last two months. No one wants to see Ukraine lose more territory; but strategically the important things are the overall picture and the fact that Russia will have a hard time sustaining these costs. Ukraine’s forces are gaining experience and equipment. They are growing in number and strength; while Russia is scraping the bottom of the barrel .
posted by interogative mood at 2:31 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, in return for the lifting of some sanctions,

In other words extortion.

President Zelensky will likely address that with his talks to other governments and have quite a good case that it is a bad idea for everyone long term, or medium term or sooner. I thought there was going to be some NATO convoys of vessels.
posted by sammyo at 2:57 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


Of COURSE Soros wants the war to end. This isn't good for his bottom line.

Zelensky is the only one who should be making any calls about this progression of this war. Everyone else needs to let him do his job that they've called him to do.
posted by hippybear at 3:40 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


I'm happy to see a billionaire in a room full of billionaires defining the early end of the war as "defeat Putin as soon as possible."

I see 3 primary viewpoints:
1. This war is inconvenient and expensive. It will end when Ukraine gives in.
2. War is full of opportunity. Let's make money!
3. War is fucking awful. Putin needs to utterly lose ASAP.

I'm so completely opposed to 1 and 2 that just about any despicable asshole gets safe sweet passage in my thoughts while they are expressing #3.
posted by droomoord at 4:27 PM on May 25 [9 favorites]


I mean, the quote is "We must mobilise all our resources to bring the war to an early end. The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin as soon as possible". That's not "appease Russia" or "accept whatever lousy deal you can" -- it's pretty much what's Zelenskiy's been saying?

(Soros is no angel, but I feel like there's more than enough Soros-bashing out there for reasons other than the substance of what he says, as well as for the substance of what he says -- which tends to be pretty stridently anti-fascist, which is not the traditional position of people concerned above all with their bottom line...)
posted by trig at 4:28 PM on May 25 [17 favorites]


TBF to point 1, at this point it seems Ukraine will give in when they're good and ready.

He's just straight up calling for Putin's defeat, that's good, we all want that. He wants Putin's defeat to come as quickly as possible and is calling for ALL our resources (troops? Maybe he means troops too.) towards that end.

I don't care what his motivations are, I agree with everything he said. The more voices saying that kind of stuff the better. Dog follows the command well, dog gets a treat pure and simple.
posted by VTX at 4:42 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


(Apparently this isn't a new angle for the guy either - here's wikipedia on his response to Russia's invasion in 2014. I'm kind of annoyed I felt the need to qualify that he's no angel; there are a lot of reasons the right likes to paint him as Public Enemy Number One, and I don't feel like supporting their narrative.)
posted by trig at 4:47 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


America should get some bulk carriers, have them fly the American flag, sail them into Odessa and pickup the grain. Dare the Russians to sink one. We did this during the Iran-Iraq war for oil. No reason we can’t do this for food.
posted by interogative mood at 5:08 PM on May 25 [10 favorites]


It would have to be something like that, because so far the Russian military track record with “humanitarian corridors” in Ukraine does not give anyone any reason to trust such a claim.
posted by eviemath at 5:53 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


America should get some bulk carriers, have them fly the American flag, sail them into Odessa and pickup the grain. Dare the Russians to sink one. We did this during the Iran-Iraq war for oil. No reason we can’t do this for food.

Breaching a blockade makes a merchant vessel a legitimate target no matter whether they fly a neutral flag so this would be ill advised. Russia would sink that merchant vessel and would sink it without a second thought or regard for it flying an American flag.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:57 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Seems like this would be a good time to at least start training Ukrainians on flying and maintaining F-15's and F-16's.
posted by Reverend John at 6:29 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Russia would absolutely think twice. The United States does not care if Russia thinks it’s a legitimate target or if Russia is technically correct under the customs and laws of war. The United States has substantial military capabilities to provide a protection to merchant vessels. Russia would have to consider how America would defend and how we would respond to such an attack, even if it failed.
posted by interogative mood at 6:32 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


Can the US put any military ships in the Black Sea right now without violating the Montreux Convention?
posted by Reverend John at 6:43 PM on May 25


No.
posted by ryanrs at 6:44 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


The United States has substantial military capabilities to provide a protection to merchant vessels. Russia would have to consider how America would defend

This is exactly how you escalate conflict. Set up situations in which they have no choice but to attack you, and you have no choice but to defend.
posted by ctmf at 6:53 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


Russia would absolutely think twice. The United States does not care if Russia thinks it’s a legitimate target or if Russia is technically correct under the customs and laws of war. The United States has substantial military capabilities to provide a protection to merchant vessels. Russia would have to consider how America would defend and how we would respond to such an attack, even if it failed.

Yes, but would this be beyond Putin's red line? Would he take this as a existential threat to Russia? Or would his response merely be conventional?

It is exactly this which keeps any of these ideas from being tested.
posted by hippybear at 6:55 PM on May 25


Actually this kind of operation is under active consideration as noted in the Wall Street Journal.
posted by interogative mood at 8:37 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Russia is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine, in return for the lifting of some sanctions, the Interfax news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying on Wednesday.

This would honestly be a terrible idea. It makes sense that Russia would propose it - they get to lower the crippling economic impact while not actually giving in anything that makes the war easier on Ukrainians. But NATO/the EU should not accept it.
posted by corb at 8:41 PM on May 25 [11 favorites]


The "Just send a ship in to provide humanitarian support, dare them to sink it" thing seems like something that Vatican City should be doing (if any nation). Pope at the helm. Here's his big chance to be martyred and/or sainted, or at least have his part in this remembered for something better than his well-NATO-was-barking-at-Putin's-door commentary.
posted by Flunkie at 10:30 PM on May 25 [11 favorites]


Of COURSE Soros wants the war to end. This isn't good for his bottom line.

What in the Q is wrong with you? JFC what a disappointing sentiment to read here. Soros, with his personal history of escaping the Holocaust in Hungary has done far more for "open society" than your shitposting; whereas other people with his kind of money tend to make other choices. Do you really think he needs more money? He's barely alive at this point. He's speaking about the things that really matter to him and have been the center of his work.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:37 PM on May 25 [30 favorites]


Once again, can we just stop the simplistic "[any country but Ukraine] should do this or that to achieve [goal]" and especially "America* should just do this or that".

This war in its entirety, nor any problem-of-the-moment in it, is not a matter to solve with "obvious" actions to take. The governments involved: Ukraine first, all of NATO, and several others, have entire departments working with way more brainpower, operational intelligence and historical knowledge to try to end this shit.

* What? The entirety of both continents?
posted by Stoneshop at 1:18 AM on May 26 [8 favorites]


I wonder if we could gift Romania and/or Bulgaria a fleet capable of standing up to the Russian Black Sea Fleet? They might be able to bring in ships under the Montreux Convention.
posted by Reverend John at 6:19 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Do we Fitzcarraldo the ships across from the Adriatic?
posted by acb at 6:38 AM on May 26 [9 favorites]


The immediate candidates would be the Littoral Combat Ships that are being retired because they turned out to have serious defects and will never be properly mission capable, and the USS Kitty Hawk, a diesel aircraft carrier now on its way to being dismantled, that would be at once an extremely aggressive thing to transfer, a big finger to environmental concerns and an invitation to produce a more dramatic sinking than Moskva. Not to mention you'd also have to transfer a bunch of F-18s with it.

As the retired Colonel said on Russia One, putting men on ships doesn't make them sailors. By the same token, putting a flag on a bunch of clapped-out ships the USN wants rid of doesn't make much of a Navy.

The uncomfortable reality for now is that the NATO power in the Black Sea is Turkey. With all of that baggage.

On the other hand, more anti-ship and anti-sub systems for Romania and Bulgaria seems like a good idea.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:40 AM on May 26


But, while we're at it, my fantasy along those lines is UA leasing the USN basing in either Odesa or on (lol) Snake Island.

Of course if open hostilities between NATO and Russia every jump off, the USN won't need any fictions and the Sixth Fleet can clean the Black Sea Fleet's clock any day of the week.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:57 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


But, while we're at it, my fantasy along those lines is UA leasing the USN basing in either Odesa or on (lol) Snake Island.

The end result of this is a Ukraine that has neither Russian or American bases in it. The answer to Russian expansion should not be American expansion.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:06 AM on May 26 [7 favorites]


Even if that's what Ukraine decides it wants? Do you think the residents of Odesa might like to see a US flattop (and its air wing) parked in the harbor? Maybe they'd like to join the club of nations that gets to point out the overreach of US imperialism from within its protection? As opposed to being murdered in their own basements or having to mass-mobilize the civilian population for territorial defense?

When last polled, 70% of Ukrainians wanted to join NATO and that was 2017. Call them NATO bases if you like, but the reality is the same given the size of the USN versus other members' fleets.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:26 AM on May 26 [7 favorites]


The answer to Russian expansion should not be American expansion.

Okay, so name something else that has prevented Russian expansion in the last century or so.
posted by Etrigan at 9:39 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Perestroika
posted by pwnguin at 9:49 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Japan.
posted by clavdivs at 9:59 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


There is something so goddamn 18th century? 19th century? imperial throwback about recruiting young people from impoverished hinterlands to go fight in an expansionist war and then having those soldiers send home loot, as mentioned in the linked article, mostly Siberia and Tyva (better known as Tuva for Tuvan throat singing). Of course, now it's done during the war, using a corporate delivery company.
Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine have sent home at least 58 metric tons of looted goods since the start of the invasion in late February, according to an investigation published by independent news site Mediazona.

The outlet analyzed packages sent from 46 branches of delivery firm SDEK located close to the Ukrainian border in Russia and Belarus, as well as in the annexed Crimea

...

The town of Urga in Siberia’s coal-mining region of Kemerovo received the largest number of packages, weighing a total of 5.8 tons. Mediazona linked the high number of deliveries to the Urga-based 74th Motorized Rifle Brigade, which was deployed in the Ukrainian towns of Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin where mass atrocities committed by the Russian army took place.

Other Russian cities identified by Mediazona as receiving large numbers of looted items include the town of Chebarkul in the Chelyabinsk region, Kyzyl, the capital city of the Republic of Tyva; and the de-facto capital of Siberia, Novosibirsk.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:00 AM on May 26 [6 favorites]


The reality is that America has a 800 military bases in 70 countries, and those military bases serve US foreign policy needs, and if you haven't noticed, the foreign policy of the United States tends to be garbage.

I'm not saying supporting Ukraine is bad. I'm saying that turning Ukraine into another country that has a US base to advance US interests is bad. It's rare that the US military leaves a place. I want a free Ukraine that is able to chart its own course, and that means that it should be free of all foreign powers. Do what is necessary to end the invasion, but no more imperial hegemony for anyone.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:03 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Per the mood of Russian people:
Sales of “1984” in Russia grew 30% in bookstores and 75% online in March [2022] compared to the same period last year. Quotes from the novel have been widely used among anti-war activists in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and other Russian cities.

However, Orwell’s novel has always been popular in Putin’s Russia: it was one of the decade’s best-selling books between 2010 and 2019, selling 1.8 million physical copies. The novel even made Russia’s top 10 bestsellers in 2015, a year after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

...

Lawyer Anastasia Rudenko and businessman Dmitry Silin began distributing free copies of “1984” last month [April 2022] to passersby in the city of Ivanovo, northeast of Moscow.

The pair spent about $1,500 on copies of “1984,” giving them away in the town’s parks and squares. They have distributed 500 copies so far this month.

But the pair were detained and charged with discrediting the Russian army, which is punishable with a jail term of 15 years in prison.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:04 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


Okay, so name something else that has prevented Russian expansion in the last century or so.

Well, I'm not sure anything has stopped American imperialism and neo-imperialism over the last century.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:04 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


I'm saying that turning Ukraine into another country that has a US base to advance US interests is bad.

I think that one of the things that often bites us in the ass is we like to believe that as the years go by, that things are constantly improving and getting more enlightened, and that moral force, or democracy, can stave off badness.

What we are seeing with Ukraine is that is simply not the case. No amount of democracy or freedom could stop Russia invading. A lot of ink has been spilled about "well, we didn't actually PROMISE we would defend them when they gave up their nukes", but like: unfortunately, the situation with Ukraine has shown that disarmament is a fool's game.

And I hate it. I really do! I want a world that is less able to brutally destroy other segments of itself. But I also want a world without mothers starving to death and their six year olds leaving canned food in front of their graves.

If Ukraine wants the US military, or any other country, to create a base in it and make a speedbump that will give nearby imperialist nations qualms about invading, then I don't think it is bad even if the US is also advancing their interests by doing so.
posted by corb at 10:12 AM on May 26 [11 favorites]


I'm saying that turning Ukraine into another country that has a US base to advance US interests is bad. It's rare that the US military leaves a place. I want a free Ukraine that is able to chart its own course, and that means that it should be free of all foreign powers.

I know, it sucks that at this particular moment in time, the U.S. might just not be the worst thing imaginable, especially as regards this one particular country that's currently actually fighting against imperialism. I hope that the U.S. supports Ukraine's vision of how they want to move forward as regards their largest neighbor that has already invaded them twice in this century.
posted by Etrigan at 10:26 AM on May 26 [11 favorites]


If the question is about picking which global power to be a part of, Ukraine has already made their choice clear. And it does want to be part of something bigger. It's neither Russia nor the US ... It's the EU.

Ukraine submitted their application for EU membership just weeks ago. If they're successful, which I hope they will be, an American military base would play a small role compared to the huge changes that EU membership would bring to the country. That's not to say a hypothetical US base wouldn't play an important role in Ukraine's security, of course.
posted by UN at 10:44 AM on May 26 [15 favorites]


If there had been an airbase just east of Kharkiv it's quite likely thousands of children and tens of thousands of adults (both Ukrainian and Kazakh, Kyrgyzs, Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek's and other "Russian"s) would be alive and/or significantly less injured.

So yes, let us not go down an evil empire derail please.
posted by sammyo at 10:58 AM on May 26 [7 favorites]


Even if that's what Ukraine decides it wants? Do you think the residents of Odesa might like to see a US flattop (and its air wing) parked in the harbor? Maybe they'd like to join the club of nations that gets to point out the overreach of US imperialism from within its protection?

I can't speak for Ukraine, but I grew up in a neighbouring country (with 90% percent Sovjet influence), and I can say that GENERATIONS have waited for the US to finally come and save us. What US imperialism has been from some people commenting on this site - well, that's what Russian/ Sovjet imperialism has been for us (and previously Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, etc). The US have been our best hope out of terror.

Because this:

I'm saying that turning Ukraine into another country that has a US base to advance US interests is bad. It's rare that the US military leaves a place. I want a free Ukraine that is able to chart its own course, and that means that it should be free of all foreign powers

is clearly spoken by someone who has grown up in a world power. For countries who are not world powers but neighbours (or otherwise targets) of one, this is a pipedream. If you're lucky, you choose who you align yourself with amongst world powers to ensure your survival. For Ukraine, at this moment in history, this might be the EU, as per UN above. Any other ideological niceties are luxuries available to people who are not under your specific direct threat. For a less powerful country with a more powerful enemy, the only alliance that makes sense is the one that threatens you least.

I am aware that in other parts of the world the US has acted similarly to how Russia/ the Sovjet Union has acted in my corner of Europe, but for many of us living here, the US is (or was, I mean perceptions change with time) largely a liberator and Biden is celebrated by many as co-saviour of this part of Europe. And we know what it would mean for us if we had no US/ NATO support. It would mean that probably right about now my country would be in a similar state as Ukraine.

Ukraine is saving Europe's ass and they take (hopefully) all the help they can get from wheverever they get it.

BTW, there are relatively new NATO bases in my country and it is one of my most ardent hopes that they stay here forever. Or as long as Russia exists - because as long as that is the case its neighbours will be insecure and vulnerable.
posted by doggod at 11:05 AM on May 26 [48 favorites]


Also, I would like to protest the equivalence between the US and NATO. Whatever US role plays in NATO, there are many other member countries and we also bear responsibililty where that is the case and put out people's lives on the line at times. NATO is not the US and the US is not NATO.
posted by doggod at 11:07 AM on May 26 [31 favorites]


I can't speak for Ukraine, but I grew up in a neighbouring country (with 90% percent Sovjet influence), and I can say that GENERATIONS have waited for the US to finally come and save us. What US imperialism has been from some people commenting on this site - well, that's what Russian/ Sovjet imperialism has been for us (and previously Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, etc). The US have been our best hope out of terror.

This.

I think MLK said it best:
Love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
For everything bad about US imperialism, everything good we want to do will require similar sorts of power or we will just be sitting on the side lines speaking about how awful everything is for the people who are subjected to terror and tyranny. I will never support the imperialist war of aggressions like Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, but we need to stop turning away from power where we can use it wisely to ensure the liberty and freedom of others. We can demand that power implement justice.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:50 AM on May 26 [24 favorites]


May I humbly suggest that this is not the place to argue for or against US military expansion? As UN noted above, Ukraine have made it fairly clear through their actions which hegemony they are most interested in joining at the moment. That should be all that matters here.
posted by jammer at 1:03 PM on May 26 [14 favorites]


Military powers are, of course, seen differently across the world, depending the historical interactions between military powers and other countries. As doggod points out, peoples who've had to deal with Russian imperialism, will view opposed military powers more favorably. There was an interesting analysis of this in terms of the US and the Middle East on the London School of Economics blog a couple of years ago, about how US military interventions increased anti-Americanism across the board in countries on the business end of said interventions.

I've observed a similar thing happen here in Finland. Opinions on Russia existed on a spectrum, from hostility to admiration, with the largest swathe of people clustered around the center-to-mildly-hostile range. Since the invasion, there's been a sharp shift towards the hostile end. People who I never heard talk about Russia are bringing up all kinds of old stories, both personal and political. It didn't happen quite overnight, but it happened fairly quickly. The most obvious manifestation of the shift is the application to join NATO.

I'll be going back to Iceland, if all goes according to plan, on Monday, and I'll be interested to get a feel for how Russia is being seen there. For various historical reasons, Icelanders aren't particularly invested in Russia, either way, so I don't know how deeply felt the hostility to Russia is there, though I will note that the solidarity with Ukraine is really strong.

In Sweden, which hasn't had the same kind of history with Russia Finland has had, the emotions are less raw. Few Swedes had fairly strong feelings one way or another about Russia, and so there wasn't as much pent up energy to fuel the kind of societal attitudinal shift that has happened here in Finland.

Every person is shaped by their society, and societies are shaped by their history.
posted by Kattullus at 1:18 PM on May 26 [28 favorites]


US preparing to approve advanced long-range rocket system for Ukraine

Meanwhile in Germany, Tanks, but no ammo, the Gepard antiaircraft tanks promised four weeks ago won't arrive until July because of a lack of ammunition.
posted by peeedro at 4:10 PM on May 26 [5 favorites]


Sales of “1984” in Russia grew 30% in bookstores and 75% online in March [2022] compared to the same period last year. Quotes from the novel have been widely used among anti-war activists in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and other Russian cities.

@francis_scarr:
At a Q and A session in Yekaterinburg today, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was asked how Russians should respond to friends and family abroad who tell them that Russia has become like Orwell's 1984. Her answer is just something else:

"For many years we thought Orwell had been describing totalitarianism. That's one of the world's fakes. Orwell was writing about the end of liberalism. He wrote about how liberalism would drive humanity into a dead end. He wasn't writing about the USSR, he was writing about the society in which he was living, about the collapse of the idea of liberalism. But the notion has been imposed on you that he was writing about you.

So tell them that he wasn't writing about us, but about them. Tell them, ‘it's you abroad who are living in a fantasy world, where people can get cancelled."
posted by Kabanos at 4:16 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


Israel turned down a U.S. request to allow Berlin to supply Ukraine with anti-tank missiles produced in Germany with Israeli technology under an Israeli license, two U.S. and Israeli officials said..
posted by adamvasco at 5:15 PM on May 26 [3 favorites]


War is peace, freedom is slavery, totalitarianism is liberalism.
posted by acb at 5:55 PM on May 26 [9 favorites]


I have seen the enemy and it is us... at least according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
posted by sammyo at 6:30 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


I wonder if we could gift Romania and/or Bulgaria a fleet capable of standing up to the Russian Black Sea Fleet?

Possibly, but there haven't been any large-scale ship-to-ship naval battles in a long time. I don't really believe that anyone knows what one of them would look like with modern armaments. It could be that all non-stealthy surface ships are basically submarine targets, and it's unlikely that the US is going to give Ukraine (or anyone else) a stealthy naval ship, given that we can barely produce the damn things ourselves, at tremendous cost and expense. (There's also the small boat risk, which I don't think most major navies have really figured out yet.)

Also, large surface ships are all about power projection. You don't need capital ships to guard your own coastline. Missile batteries on shore are much more effective at that, and they're cheaper, and (big bonus) they don't sink. If an enemy hits a missile battery on shore, you might lose a launcher and a few dozen people—not good, certainly, but very different from losing a guided missile destroyer and 300+ crew.

Providing Ukraine with a continuous supply of modern anti-ship missiles, like the Harpoon, ought to let them keep the Russian Navy at arms' length—particularly if it's combined with continuous intelligence feeds from US/NATO satellites and airborne reconnaissance systems to help them find/fix/kill targets.

My understanding is that in the past few weeks the Russians seem to have changed tactics and are now firing more missiles from submarines and fewer from surface ships, presumably because they don't want to have a repeat of the Moskva incident. If that continues, then the question will be how to provide Ukraine a credible anti-submarine capability, which is a harder task than locating and destroying an inherently fragile steel ship loaded full of explosives, sitting on the surface.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:37 PM on May 26 [3 favorites]


Youtuber (and defense economist) Perun: Russia's greatest defeat? Finland and Sweden joining NATO and what it means for Europe.

"NATO is stronger than it has been in living memory and that is a titanic geopolitical defeat for a Russia that is learning that you cannot make friends with artillery barrages or at least not the sort of friends that you might want. Whatever happens in Ukraine... here on out, Russia has already suffered an incredible strategic reverse with Finland and Sweden pivoting to NATO. Even I would say in a scenario where they somehow prevail upon Turkey to block this membership, Finland and Sweden's hearts are now in NATO and if they're blocked from joining, I expect there'll be a whole bunch of additional bilateral security agreements or multilateral security agreements that basically mean Finland and Sweden end up joining NATO-lite anyway by any other name they've already put themselves under the UK's nuclear umbrella and signed a treaty there...Russia's border with NATO has expanded. NATO has gotten stronger at exactly the same time that Russia's conventional military strength is being ground down in Ukraine and at the same time that its military industry and wider economy is being hollowed out by sanctions. Basically if the idea was to weaken NATO, divide NATO and prevent its expansion, Putin has achieved NATO's unification and its expansion at the same time that Russia has been dramatically weakened.
Congratulations, Vladimir you are NATO's best ally...
posted by storybored at 9:04 PM on May 26 [7 favorites]


Zelenskyy's response to Kissinger and his ilk is masterly, as always:

Mr. Kissinger emerges from the deep past and says that a piece of Ukraine should be given to Russia. So that there is no alienation of Russia from Europe. It seems that Mr. Kissinger's calendar is not 2022, but 1938, and he thought he was talking to an audience not in Davos, but in Munich of that time. By the way, in the real year 1938, when Mr. Kissinger's family was fleeing Nazi Germany, he was 15 years old, and he understood everything perfectly. And nobody heard from him then that it was necessary to adapt to the Nazis instead of fleeing them or fighting them.

Symptomatic editorials began to appear in some Western media stating that Ukraine must allegedly accept so-called difficult compromises by giving up territory in exchange for peace. Perhaps The New York Times in 1938 also wrote something similar. But now, let me remind you, it is 2022.

And behind all these geopolitical speculations of those who advise Ukraine to give away something to Russia, "great geopoliticians" are always unwilling to see ordinary people. Ordinary Ukrainians. Millions of those who actually live in the territory they propose to exchange for the illusion of peace. You must always see people. And remember that values are not just a word.

That is why I pay such attention to international platforms, addresses to parliamentarians, to parliaments, to the people of other countries, to communication with the expert community, with journalists, with students. We must do everything possible for the world to get a permanent habit of taking Ukraine into account. So that the interests of Ukrainians are not overlapped by the interests of those who are in a hurry for another meeting with the dictator.

posted by rory at 4:09 AM on May 27 [61 favorites]




there haven't been any large-scale ship-to-ship naval battles in a long time. I don't really believe that anyone knows what one of them would look like with modern armaments.

There was the Falklands War. And even though it was a long time ago, a submarine sunk a cruiser and Exocet missiles launched from planes sank four frigates and two support vessels.
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:17 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Sweden might not be joining NATO any time soon. Sweden is not going to throw the YPG (i.e., the secular anarchx-feminists of Rojava) to the wolves, especially not in an election year when all parties need the vote of the significant number of Swedes of Kurdish background. However, it does look like Sweden will be continuing its cooperation with NATO in operational areas, and is covered by bilateral mutual-defence agreements with a number of NATO members, which is likely to increase, so “Sweden is not a member of NATO” could become an increasingly meaningless legal fiction. And having “non-NATO” Sweden and Finland be treated as NATO members in waiting for the rest of Erdogan's life could be more pragmatic than either screwing over the Kurds/democratic opposition in Turkey or seeing how many hundreds of billions in bribes it would take to convince the Sultan that, if you look at it a certain way, Sweden is not supporting “terrorists”.
posted by acb at 4:49 AM on May 27 [9 favorites]


Ukrainian solder calmly making a video call from an intense firefight near Lyman. I just... Bless these people and their courage.
posted by jammer at 6:06 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


NY Times Op Ed, Turkey Shows What NATO Really Is.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:35 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Man, the world is a fucking complicated place.
posted by Reverend John at 7:00 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]




Bee'sWing: There was the Falklands War. And even though it was a long time ago, a submarine sunk a cruiser and Exocet missiles launched from planes sank four frigates and two support vessels.

Those were not ship-to-ship naval battles. Apart from that the Falkland war was four decades ago, which given the weapons developments since then might as well be rated medieval.
posted by Stoneshop at 8:30 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Following Kissenger’s remarks at Davis to say the US State Department has responded to inquiries from Ukrainian media. US policy is that Ukraine gets to decide its future. The US believes Ukraine will win against Russia. The US is committed to helping Ukraine win as long as it takes.
posted by interogative mood at 8:59 AM on May 27 [9 favorites]


“car” parts presumably in the non-purist definition of “car” which also encompasses tanks and cruise missiles.
posted by acb at 9:27 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


well they both have sat nav and carry hundreds of pounds of explosive
posted by ryanrs at 9:46 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Natasha Bertrand:
News: The Biden admin is preparing to send Ukraine advanced, long-range rocket systems—known as MLRS and HIMARS—that are now the top request from Ukrainian officials, multiple officials say.

Approval could be announced as soon as next week.
The US had previously balked at providing MLRS.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:59 AM on May 27 [6 favorites]


"...for many of us living here, the US is (or was, I mean perceptions change with time) largely a liberator and Biden is celebrated by many as co-saviour of this part of Europe."

Not that doggod's comment wasn't authoritative enough, but I just wanted to add that I was in Romania in the early 90s and heard much the same sentiment (well, excluding the Biden part) from some people I met. Basically, I was told that all through the soviet era they were hoping the Americans would somehow do something and save them from the Russians.

I was also told the Russians had blocked Moldova's one shipping route to the Black Sea by sinking a ship crosswise in the middle of the channel. They said it was to sabotage the Moldovan's economy because the very vindictive Russians wanted to punish Moldova for going independent. They also mentioned that the job was done so well that Jacques Cousteau's people had given up on their attempt to clear the channel.

Despite how upset that tweet from a fellow Canuck made me, multumesc to all the contributors in this thread and its priors. Back to lurking...
posted by house-goblin at 11:27 AM on May 27 [13 favorites]


there haven't been any large-scale ship-to-ship naval battles in a long time. I don't really believe that anyone knows what one of them would look like with modern armaments.

The only ship in the U.S. Navy inventory that has sunk another ship is the USS Constitution.
posted by Etrigan at 12:02 PM on May 27 [10 favorites]


The USS Simpson was the last, but was decommissioned in 2015.

But you are not wrong
posted by Windopaene at 1:17 PM on May 27


Intentionally. (*cough* Greeneville)
posted by ctmf at 2:46 PM on May 27


Operation Praying Mantis

Operation Prime Chance

Action in the Gulf of Sidra (1986)

Action of 18 March 2006

The last thing Ukraine needs is A U.S. carrier group near or in the Black Sea.
posted by clavdivs at 3:03 PM on May 27


Also, not wrong
posted by Windopaene at 3:06 PM on May 27




Those HIMARS are insane. According to Wikipedia, maximum range: 310 miles. That's with the maximum-ranged ammo, which I don't know if Ukraine is getting, but even without it: 180 miles.

It's also the "maximum" as opposed to "effective" range, which I guess means that between the two, some arbitrary accuracy threshold has been exceeded. "Effective" is on the order of dozens of miles rather than hundreds. Still though:

For perspective, open up Google Earth and draw a circle centered on where you live with radius 310 miles, and see what a HIMARS parked in your driveway could shoot at. For example, if you're in St. Louis:
  • The entirety of Missouri.
  • The entirety of Illinois.
  • Almost all of Indiana.
  • Like half of Iowa.
  • Like half of Kentucky.
  • Like half of Tennessee.
  • Like half of Arkansas.
  • Parts of Wisconsin.
  • Parts of Michigan.
  • Parts of Ohio.
  • Parts of Alabama.
  • Parts of Mississippi.
  • Parts of Oklahoma.
  • Parts of Kansas.
  • Parts of Nebraska.
posted by Flunkie at 3:19 PM on May 27 [4 favorites]


Technically I guess it’s a boat, but the USS Greenville is an active US navy sub and it sunk the Ehime Maru.
posted by interogative mood at 3:37 PM on May 27


The HIMARS doesn’t actually have a range of 310 miles unless it is equipped with a special missile that costs $5 million. The rockets we are sending will probably have a range of 80-130km.
posted by interogative mood at 3:41 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


We're apparently running out of Javelins to send, but we're trying to ramp up production, which is more complicated than just hiring workers because it's a non-trivial task that requires training.

Also, Ukraine loves the Javelin so much there's a hit song there about the missile [content warning: war imagery of various sorts]
posted by hippybear at 4:13 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Technically I guess it’s a boat

If you ask a submariner the question about what counts as a ship versus a boat, they will tell you: a submarine is a boat, and everything else is a target.
posted by automatronic at 4:19 PM on May 27 [7 favorites]


An Independent Legal Analysis of the Russian Federation’s Breaches of the Genocide Convention in Ukraine and the Duty to Prevent
May2022
By The New Lines Institute and Raoul Wallenberg Centre
download the full report here

This report is the first to address one of the more contentious and consequential questions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: whether the war is genocidal in character. With fighting still ongoing, modern tools have made it vital that this question be examined and its truth made known.

With the word genocide so commonly used — and similarly disputed — allowing for a looseness of definition is unhelpful. A clear reckoning of the facts using the opportunities of modern methods of investigation together with legal analysis pursuant to applicable law is essential.

This is a project of the New Lines Institute and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, which assembled three teams of experts to assess the subject. This included a team of legal scholars and genocide experts, a second group of open-source intelligence investigators, and linguists who were able to make use of the extensive primary source record this war has already created — of communications intercepts and testimonials.

The New Lines Institute and Raoul Wallenberg Centre have done extensive work on the Rohingya and Uyghur genocides — including producing the first report to make a determination of genocide in Xinjiang applying the 1948 Genocide Convention.

This report reasonably concludes that Russia bears State responsibility for breaches of Article II and Article III (c) of the Genocide Convention to which it is bound. The report also concludes that there exists undoubtedly a very serious risk of genocide, triggering States’ duty to prevent under Article I of the Genocide Convention.

This is the first report of its kind, but not the final word on the subject. We hope more will follow.
Dr Azeem Ibrahim
Director, Special Initiatives

posted by 15L06 at 5:11 PM on May 27 [10 favorites]


"That is why I pay such attention to international platforms, addresses to parliamentarians, to parliaments, to the people of other countries, to communication with the expert community, with journalists, with students. We must do everything possible for the world to get a permanent habit of taking Ukraine into account. So that the interests of Ukrainians are not overlapped by the interests of those who are in a hurry for another meeting with the dictator."

He and his speech writers and PR people are so very good at this. It's extremely satisfying to have someone fairly directly say the things most politicians talk vaguely around, but to still say it in a way that it's pretty difficult to give a "Well, I just don't like his tone" argument.

His wife partnered with him as a writer while they were still entertainers. I wonder if she's done any writing for his speeches. I certainly wouldn't be surprised. She would know better than almost anyone what his emotional/expressive range is and would be able to most closely choose the words that he would be able to make the most of while speaking.

It's incredibly satisfying to see a needed thing done, and done well. Tremendous craftsmanship from all involved. I don't mean that cynically. These things MUST be crafted or they fulfill little purpose and can be twisted into a weapon to use against the cause being advocated for.

Watching the PR messaging from Ukraine is the thing at the very beginning that allowed me to have a lot of hope for the outcome. When you win hearts and minds, you win effective and motivated allies. Ukraine needed effective and motivated allies, and they gained them almost immediately. Almost entirely because of how Zelenskyy spoke and who he spoke to. It was incredible to watch the international representatives react emotionally to his speeches and then act on those emotions. He is an absolutely masterful communicator.
posted by tllaya at 6:48 PM on May 27 [36 favorites]


Ukraine won’t run out of Javelins before Russia runs out of tanks. Russia has started deploying their reserves of T-62s from the Far East. These are 50+ year old tanks. Javelins are also older technology. The new gear we’re sending them is even better. I expect by Mid-late July we’re going to see Russia in full retreat.
posted by interogative mood at 9:04 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Regardless of who writes his speeches, Zelensky is an orator of the highest order. I know others have credited his career as an actor, and I'm certain that helps, although I can certainly imagine a slew of actors who wouldn't be able to do what he does.

I'm not sure if it's a credit to him or Ukraine's electorate or just luck, but he seems to have been the exact right person, in the right place, at the right time, for what was direly needed.

I do hope though, that when the war is over and Ukraine has recovered its territory, that he can see his way to stepping down and handing things over to a peacetime government to begin the rebuilding effort with alacrity. That will take a much different set of skills, and ones that—if most reports are to be believed—were perhaps not as strongly in evidence in his role as a politician before the invasion.

And the worst thing that a national hero can become is a politician.


Ukraine won’t run out of Javelins before Russia runs out of tanks. […] I expect by Mid-late July we’re going to see Russia in full retreat.

Possibly, but I think a very possible scenario is that the Russians expend their tanks (and maybe a good portion of their air force's combat power as well), but do so slowly enough that they have time to dig in and really fortify a line of control in the east, that's still well into Ukrainian territory. History has not been kind to fixed, heavy fortifications in the era of maneuver warfare, but it would be time-consuming to defeat in detail (and might require entering Russian territory to flank/bypass).

So what I'd sort of expect, is for the Russians to try and slow-roll the military defeat while putting the hard press on the West by any means (financial pressure on the klept, diplomatic pressure and coercion on nonaligned states, propaganda and information operations to influence public opinion, the whole nine yards), in the hopes of getting a Kissinger-type split-the-baby solution.

The longer it goes on, the more desperate I suspect the worldwide propaganda and influence operations will get.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:32 PM on May 27 [7 favorites]


The news coming out of the battle for Donbas is bad.

From The Guardian, Russian forces close to encircling Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine. Excerpt:
The besieged Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk appears to be almost completely surrounded by attacking Russian forces, as the Kremlin continued to make incremental gains in its offensive in the Donbas region, backed by withering shell fire.

“The Russians are pounding residential neighbourhoods relentlessly,” regional governor, Serhiy Haidai, wrote in a Telegram post on Friday. “The residents of Sievierodonetsk have forgotten when was the last time there was silence in the city for at least half an hour.”

As the cities of Kharkiv to the north and Dnipro to the south also came under attack, analysts said the main Russian effort appeared still to be focused to the east, while Russian attacks elsewhere appeared to be aimed at consolidating their positions and tying down Ukrainian defenders who could otherwise be redeployed.
There are some very sobering quotes from Zelenskyy and foreign minister Kuleba in the article. The Guardian also published an article explaining the change of Russian tactics, Russia’s ‘cauldron’ tactic may be tipping Donbas battle in its favour.

Meanwhile, according to the independent news site Meduza, the Kremlin is considering another assault on Kyiv and planning victory in Ukraine by the fall, so at least the Russian government is still at risk of getting high on its own supply of bullshit.
posted by Kattullus at 11:37 PM on May 27 [4 favorites]


interogative mood: it sunk the Ehime Maru.

That's merely an unfortunate collision between a Navy vessel and a civilian one.

If you're talking hot war naval encounters with an US vessel involved, probably the most recent one with ship engaging ship, one leaves the area downwards, is the USS Washington versus the IJN Kirishima November 1942. And no, it wasn't a couple of hits an *boom*, it's gone, but not unlike the Moskva the Kirishima took heavy damage, with crucial pumps out of action it started listing, then sunk a couple of hours after the battle.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:18 AM on May 28


I would just like to say that I am appreciative of everyone still following this thread as the news cycle is propelled elsewhere for differently intolerable reasons (especially in the US context, but not solely).
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:36 AM on May 28 [21 favorites]


Here's an article on the current state of domestic media in Ukraine: ‘Death to the enemy’: Ukraine’s news channels unite to cover war

Always interesting to me how a free country's news services handle these things. And how they manage the line between being factual and keeping morale up. But there's some slightly disturbing things in the article about the news "telemarathon" which could possibly get worse in a long war.

Speaking of which, there's now an outspoken Ukrainian reporter who's been kicked out of the Donbas front by the UAF. His detractors claim he's violating opsec, and it sounds like he is. Posting videos online near instantly rather than the typical time-delayed posts that have been cleared by a commander. His supporters say he's the only one providing unvarnished reports of what's really going on. This is what the reporter himself is claiming. He's accusing the army of censorship. Of hiding how badly the fighting is going.

Normally, I wouldn't mention a story without a link. But I can't seem to find the series of tweets discussing him. Hope this mention will jog someone's memory and they can provide a link. I'm mentioning it because this is the typical military vs. journalist we've seen many times in American conflicts. But this is relatively new in this war. Most Ukrainian journalists and the UAF seem to work well together.

And it's an interesting question: how far should a journalist go in criticizing their own side when their country is defending against an existential, genocidal aggressor?
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 1:09 AM on May 28 [4 favorites]


Looks like Ukraine has decided to hold & reinforce the pocket. For a time, it looked like they were going to retreat.

Philip O'Brien posted a thread:
Ukrainian strategy in the Donbas has certainly been the subject of some discussion--primarily because they have taken the decision to fight for what seems like a shrinking pocket which the Russians are clearly trying to encircle.
The rhetoric coming from the military and Zelenskyy was near-apocalyptic over the past week regarding Donbas. But lately, they're striking a more optimistic tone. Maybe the rate of Russian losses makes them think they can hold the line. It's going to be a hell of a gamble.

Speaking of losses, according to today's Ukrainian estimates, Russia has now lost 30,000 soldiers. Even though that number is almost certainly not accurate, it still feels like a milestone. Such a massive waste of human lives and for absolutely nothing that will benefit Russia in any way.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 1:27 AM on May 28 [5 favorites]




An organised protest against Russian wartime rape took place in front of Russian embassies and consulates around the world including many cities in Poland as well as Ottawa, Washington DC, London, Brisbane and many others. (Warning: semi drastic photos since protesters posed in underwear marked with red paint to simulate blood and injuries.) Ukrainian authorities have been sharing more information about the more egregious cases lately and it's damn hard reading, especially when it involved infants who very often did not survive.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:46 PM on May 28 [9 favorites]


The rhetoric coming from the military and Zelenskyy was near-apocalyptic over the past week regarding Donbas

I think that what a lot of the world is not prepared for is that it's much harder to push back entrenched positions than it is to repel invasion. And this is really going to be the true test - will the world keep up the support as the war moves into a slow slog? Because success will in fact be dependent on the ability to match arms - and with a country where all production has been destroyed, that's going to be on the rest of the world.
posted by corb at 1:05 PM on May 28 [12 favorites]


Better news today. Looks like the Ukrainians managed to hold and even take some territory back in Donbas. They’ve also made a push in the Kherson region.
posted by interogative mood at 1:32 PM on May 28 [9 favorites]


RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, MAY 28

key takeaways

"Russian forces pressed the ground assault on Severodonetsk and its environs, making limited gains.
Russian forces in Kharkiv continue to focus efforts on preventing a Ukrainian counteroffensive from reaching the international border between Kharkiv and Belgorod.

Ukrainian forces began a counteroffensive near the Kherson-Mykolaiv oblast border approximately 70 km to the northeast of Kherson City that may have crossed the Inhulets River.

Russia’s use of stored T-62 tanks in the southern axis indicates Russia’s continued materiel and force generation problems.

Ukrainian partisan activity continues to impose costs on Russian occupation forces in Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts."

Even with partial mobilization, Putin can't field enough troops to strike Kyiv. CC is something
Ukraine is doing well.
posted by clavdivs at 6:53 PM on May 28 [5 favorites]


An important thread on language in Ukraine:

I’ve only recently realised that many non-Ukrainians mistakenly see Russian-speaking Ukrainians as some sort of marginalised social group which has never learned Ukrainian and, not being able to speak or understand it, is left without access to services provided in Ukrainian. That’s… really far off from what is actually happening.
posted by rory at 11:50 PM on May 28 [16 favorites]


This quote by Zelenskyy has been all over the media this morning:

"I do not believe that we can restore all of our territory by military means. If we decide to go that way, we will lose hundreds of thousands of people"

And it’s always identified as being from last night’s television address, but I can’t find it in the translated transcript, and a Google translate of the Ukrainian transcript didn’t give me anything close to it either.

In the news reports, such as this one by the Guardian and this one from Deutsche Welle, they’re always juxtaposed with other quotes from last night’s speech, so there clearly isn’t another speech that’s meant.

Can anyone find the source? Was it an adlibbed line?
posted by Kattullus at 1:43 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]


Defederating Russia
by Alexandre Etkind
April 18, 2022

"I am not calling for the collapse of the Russian Federation — I am predicting it..."
posted by mikelieman at 5:39 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Can anyone find the source? Was it an adlibbed line?

It was from a TV interview, not his address. This tweet links to a Telegram post timestamped 5.28 PM yesterday. Here's the text of that post run through Google translate:

"The United States warned of an attack on [by?] Russia": the main thing from the interview of Zelensky to the Dutch channel NOS

- They say that our country's accession to the EU will take several years. I do not believe in this, because I also heard that Russia will capture Kyiv in three days.

- It was known that Russia was planning an attack. The United States proposed evacuating people long before the war. We decided not to panic. I think the decision was the right one.

- The Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte should explain his position on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union.

- Putin will be forced to sit down at the negotiating table if Ukraine rejects Russia on February 23.

- For me, victory is the restoration of territorial integrity. Absolutely all territories. I do not believe that we can completely rebuild our entire territory by military means. If we decide to follow this path, we will lose hundreds of thousands of people.

posted by rory at 7:55 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]


Poland has now given Ukraine 18 self-propelled Krab howitzers - 15% of the total amount we own. They're quite new (mass production since 2016) with a firing range of 30-40 km. The main advantage is that they can be delivered quickly.

And Lithuanians have crowd funded a Bayraktar drone in under 4 days. For the non-Europeans, that's a country with the same population as Chicago and a GDP per capita 75% lower than the US.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 8:08 AM on May 29 [17 favorites]




The territories that belonged to other national entities before becoming part of Russia after the Second World War (East Prussia, parts of Karelia, the Kuril Islands) will leave the Federation with undisguised pleasure: they will know who to connect with.

East Prussia? Germany has renounced all claims to it, Poland would be unhappy (to say the least) with a new Land of Königsberg appearing to its northeast and demographically, Kaliningrad is as close to a purely Russian territory as can be, having been all but sterilised in 1945. If Russia implodes leaving a vacuum, I can see it becoming a vaguely Hanseatic, Baltic-centred Russian-speaking ministate, and ultimately being lumped in with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, or otherwise being absorbed into Poland and/or Lithuania (with the question of its Russian population to be sorted out).

As for the Kurils, I imagine China might want to grab them, partly to prevent Japan from extending its territory (and to give it force-projection capability).

Not sure about Karelia; I imagine there's no Finnish-speaking culture there any more (Stalin was nothing if not thorough), though retaking Vyborg and restoring it to Alvar Aalto's high-modernist vision could be a project for Finland.
posted by acb at 8:52 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]


My rented office space here in Helsinki is in the Karelian House, which is the headquarters of the association of Karelians in Finland. There’s a lot done to help Karelians connect with their roots, and given that around 350 thousand Karelians had settled in Finland as refugees by the late 1940s, there are lots of people with Karelian roots. For example, three of my wife’s grandparents were Karelians.

So there are people who dream about reintegrating Karelia into Finland, and there still around 60-70 thousand Karelians living in Russia. But, there at least 10 times that number of Russians living in the area, so practically there’s not much interest in getting the land back. Not even Viipuri, as Vyborg is known as in Finnish.
posted by Kattullus at 11:27 AM on May 29 [5 favorites]


I think many countries might be happy to have the land back, but none of them want the Russians that would come with it, because that's just asking for future misery. And since they are modern nations (unlike Russia), expelling millions of people who have lived there all their lives is not viewed as acceptable.
posted by tavella at 12:22 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


For Russian-Speaking Ukrainians, Language Clubs Offer Way to Defy Invaders (NY Times)

Many Ukraine citizens speak Russian as their first language. Volunteer organizations are helping them improve their Ukrainian and abandon “the occupiers’ language.”

The clubs are mainly in Western Ukraine. About 1 in 3 Ukrainians speak Russian at home. Zelensky himself grew up speaking Russian, but switched to Ukrainian when he ran for office.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:10 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


In the Donetsk region, 115 miners remained underground in two mines due to power outages.

Source : the head of the Donetsk Regional State Administration Pavlo Kyrylenko in Telegram

Kyrylenko's direct speech : "115 Toretsk miners remained underground: 112 at the Tsentralnaya mine, 3 at the Toretskaya mine. The administrations are taking the necessary measures to raise the miners to the surface.

(link in Ukrainian)

So the Donbas region is just going along as if there is no war a couple hour drive away? So much missing backstory to this local news article, were the miners forced by the occupiers to continue work? Is the community there totally Russian? If the russian army fails and leaves will the UA roll through to reclaim, will they then run into partisans?
posted by sammyo at 1:35 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


I repeat my curiosity that in all the propaganda and information warfare, the one faction whose narrative hasn't reached me is that of the Donbas Separatists.
Do they have reasons for wanting to leave Ukraine and join Russia? What are they? Are they valid?
Or conversely, do these people even exist? If they exist, is it as a population group? Or just a few 'useful idiots' and a lot of 'little green men'?

We don't really have an internationally recognised mechanism for moving/changing borders. Usually ends up getting settled by having a war, and redrawing as part of peace settlements.
I suppose it's too late now, with war already in progress. But I would have at least been willing to hear a 'we in the far East want to be on the other side of the fence, because XYZ'. Even if XYZ is that they're revanchist loonies who think the USSR is coming back. At least I'd know what they were fighting for, even if it was delusional.

I still don't think I've heard any of that.
Why not?
posted by bartleby at 2:41 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


In the tidal wave of Russian propaganda, manipulation, and psyops, the opinions of a few people at a particular time, are going to get buried, or simply won't be believed.

As for a recognized mechanism for moving/changing borders, I think it happens fairly often, but by mutual agreement between two countries in a friendly manner. Otherwise, it is decided by the victors after cataclysmic wars, or by colonial powers on their way out. So much mischief was done by the British after the first World War and as they exited their empire after the Second World War. And by Stalin's machinations to stay in power.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:17 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Re Donbas, you might want to check out this collection of materials on the war in Donbas written by members of the IWM community since the initial Russian invasion in 2014:

The Donbas has become the main arena of Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine, as Russian forces attempt to control the entirety of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. With this new phase, the region that has already endured eight years of war is once again under assault. The renewed focus on the Donbas brings into acute focus many of the issues that have been explored by Ukrainian scholars, writers, and journalists over the past eight years. This week we present a small selection of materials written by members of the IWM community since the initial Russian invasion in 2014, putting the war in its broader context.
posted by 15L06 at 3:20 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]




The premise of that "Defederating Russia" article is something that's been annoying me for a while now:
By losing territories and part of its population, Russia has already gone through several stages of reincarnation: the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Federation. This testifies to its historical instability and the inevitability of more metamorphoses to come.
You got that? It's inevitable. Because it happened before. Not just once! Twice! In case you still are willfully ignorant about the ironclad fact that it is inevitable, let me repeat that:

It has happened twice!
posted by Flunkie at 12:06 AM on May 30 [7 favorites]


It is a strange premise, especially when you consider that the same is true for almost every country in the world, not least in Europe.
posted by trig at 2:24 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


Big picture overview of the current state of the war from Task & Purpose. I found it a helpful explanation and the host was less annoying than he can be sometimes.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:45 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


It could be true for every country in the world, and still true for Russia. I think it's tempting to think of countries as solid things, and they aren't. However, it's important to also know that what they control mostly changes slowly in terms of human lifetimes.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 3:45 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


> YouTuber Niki Proshin posted an interview today with a friend living in far eastern Russia about life since the start of the war.

That friend, Natasha, has her own youtube channel. I've linked it before in a prior thread, but it seems worth doing again in a new one. She's a very thoughtful young lady who lives, IIRC, near Khabarovsk, and has done a lot of "slice of life" videos since long before the war. They're pretty good for getting a perspective on a part of the country we usually hear very little about.

(I hadn't realized just how much Japanese and Korean food was in far east Russian supermarkets, but it makes a lot of sense in retrospect.)

She's not posted as much since the start of the war, and has definitely had a down-beat tone. She said in one video (this one, I think) that she's been really struggling with the emotions of it, and in finding ways to express herself that don't have the potential to get her in trouble.

More recently it sounds like she's thinking very seriously about leaving the country.

At any rate, I really like her content, and her back catalog is definitely worth a watch, IMO, along with her more recent wartime commentary.
posted by jammer at 8:05 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


> I found it a helpful explanation and the host was less annoying than he can be sometimes.

Man, I'm almost afraid to check out his other videos if that was "less annoying". But, if you can get past the YouTube Lulz moments, and his apparent utter lack of attention to properly pronouncing Ukrainian place names -- or, at least, using their approximate English counterparts -- that does seem like a decent high-level overview.

Really, though, unless you truly prefer video to textual content, I'd suggest that the best way to get an overview of the current situation on any given day is to check out the daily campaign assessments at ISW. (The host of that video even refers to them a number of times). The updates can be lengthy, but there's always a bolded "Key Takeaways" section at the top that gives you half a dozen bullet points, and if you want to dig deeper they clearly outline each operational direction, broken up into Main, Subordinate, and Supporting efforts, so you can dive into as much -- or as little -- as you want and get some idea of how they inter-relate. They have maps of each area, too, to help with geographic understanding.

Those updates have become a daily read for me, and comparing those to the firehose of information on the various war-related Twitter lists I follow, they seem to do a really good job of being accurate and timely, and of boiling things down to just the key points. Good for those days when I just don't have Twitter-levels of energy to pay attention.

I guess the one thing the daily updates may lack, if I'm looking at them with the eye of someone who isn't following things closely, it a more strategic but condensed view of why what happens in Karkhiv and Kherson matters to Severodonetsk, and vice-versa. You can get that from the updates if you read them in detail, but for that it this dude's video may be more useful.

Anyway, just a suggestion for folks who want news capsules on a daily basis at a level that's deeper than what you get on general news sites.
posted by jammer at 8:50 AM on May 30 [10 favorites]


I'll combine two items of interest here, since I've already posted twice in a row and I don't want to crowd other folks out.

First, a thread by Phillips O'Brian which notes that there has recently been an overall decrease in Russian equipment losses, to the lowest level since the Battle of Donbas started. He combines this with the apparent failure to significantly exploit the breakthrough at Popasna and seemingly illogical (by standard military thought) preference for an assault on Sieverodonetsk before a full encirclement, to suggest that the reason for the reduction in losses is that the Russians are running into a problem where their artillery can punch holes but they do not have the equipment and/or logistics to actually exploit them.

So, instead, they're throwing everything into a direct assault on the city. It's not a show of strength, it's one of desperation, is the thought. I think there are probably some elements of truth to that, but I feel like he oversells the "Russians are running out of things to throw at the fight" a little bit. Dunno. I guess time will tell, but it's a slightly more positive interpretation of some recent more desperate-sounding news. (Which, in a way, makes me more skeptical of it.)

Second, and much less verbosely, I don't think I've seen 360war.in.ua here before, or if so not recently. They have "after" panoramas of the destruction in various parts of the country in really high resolution. Worth checking out if you're in the mood.
posted by jammer at 9:48 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


This long piece by Luke Mogelson, from the New Yorker, about the Hospitallers, Ukrainian volunteer combat medics, is quite something. There are a lot of stories in it, but this one’s played on my mind since I read it:
On April 6th, another Hospitaller called me to say that he was en route to the church in Bucha with the mass graves. “I can’t say why,” he told me. I was already in the area and got to the church a few minutes before several ambulances and vans arrived. One of the priests from St. Michael’s was there. His name was Ivan Sydor, and at the monastery I had interviewed him about the night of December 11, 2013—three weeks after President Viktor Yanukovych, acquiescing to Russia, had cancelled the E.U. agreement. Father Sydor had been a seminary student at the time. At around 1 a.m., he began receiving panicked calls. Hundreds of security forces had stormed the protesters encamped at Independence Square. Until then, the demonstrations had largely been tolerated. Now the government had resolved to quash them.

“They were asking me to ring the bells,” Father Sydor had recalled. The tower at St. Michael’s contained dozens of cast-bronze bells linked to a keyboard of wooden batons—a carillon—and Father Sydor served as the bell ringer. Typically, the carillon was played for brief interludes in advance of morning services and prayers. But there was also a form of bell ringing called nabat, which heralded grave danger and was extremely rare. The last known instance of nabat at St. Michael’s had been in 1240, when the Mongols laid siege to Kyiv.

After securing approval from the abbot, Father Sydor and five other priests-in-training had climbed the tower and taken turns pounding the batons of the carillon with their fists. They did not stop until 5 a.m. Then they descended the tower and walked down the hill to Independence Square. The protesters were still there; the battered security forces were leaving.

“We had won,” he told me.

In Bucha, Father Sydor stood beside an older man with a long graying beard, a black clerical robe, and a tall cylindrical headdress. I recognized him as Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Photographs of Epiphanius, often with foreign dignitaries, were hung throughout St. Michael’s, and I’d seen him address a group of journalists in the cathedral. When a reporter had asked whether he had a message for Putin, Epiphanius had said, “I don’t want to address this person—he’s the Antichrist. When you see our destroyed cities, you realize that only the Devil is capable of such things, or someone in league with the Devil.”

While Father Halavin greeted Sydor and Epiphanius, a medic helped Yana Zinkevych, the leader of the Hospitallers, into her wheelchair. Everyone then proceeded to the pit. Standing at the edge, the three clergymen intoned a dirge, in a low, melodious chant. Walking the length of the trench, Epiphanius sprinkled holy water, from a silver basin, over the heaped-up corpses.

It was a private ceremony, and only a handful of medics attended. August—the “Band of Brothers” fan—was among them. A month earlier, I’d run into August at St. Michael’s while he was putting on his ammo vest and flak jacket. Grinning broadly and emanating excitement, he’d told me, “I’m going to the war!” That person was no more. He looked sombre and exhausted. Older, too.

“How are you?” I said, when the ritual had ended.

“Angry,” August answered.

He and Orest, the arborist, had spent the past two weeks fifty miles east of Kyiv, in Nova Basan—another town from which Russian forces had withdrawn. Civilians had been executed there, too: “They were just left in the street. Many old people—grandmothers and grandfathers.” When the Russians left Nova Basan, August said, they took several young girls with them. He had met with their families, who had no idea what had happened to them or if they were alive.

As if in consolation, he took out his phone and showed me a photograph of himself standing over a dead soldier. “Good Russian,” August said. But the joke failed to amuse even him, and he quickly put the phone away.
posted by Kattullus at 10:43 AM on May 30 [18 favorites]


Gazprom suspends gas deliveries to Dutch trader GasTerra:

GasTerra will no longer receive gas from Russia's Gazprom from May 31 after refusing to agree to Moscow's demands for payment in roubles, the two companies said on Monday.
posted by Pendragon at 11:05 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


Polish car mechanics, experienced in making the worst Western European cars look brand new even if they've been crushed to bits, have put their skills to good use on a shot up wreck from Mariupol.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:30 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Gazprom suspends gas deliveries to Dutch trader GasTerra

Is this because non-rouble payments would be immediately frozen, or because the messed up exchange rate with the rouble makes the whole trade unprofitable or something?
posted by fatbird at 1:51 PM on May 30


Seems like it is just bullying extortion. Do what we say, or NO GAS FOR YOU!

Maybe it is more subtle than that. I doubt it.
posted by Windopaene at 3:24 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


There's a reluctance to change currency into roubles because doing that 1) provides Russia with foreign currency, and 2) helps provide support for the value of the rouble. The point of boycotting the rouble and locking down currency exchanges is to rob the rouble of value and cripple Russia's ability to do business with other countries. Russia is mirroring this back by saying "you can only use OUR currency to buy our products".

As we get further into the agricultural seasons this may become more trying as Russian fertilizer issued by a large portion of the world that grows food.
posted by hippybear at 3:42 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


Do what we say, or NO GAS FOR YOU!

It does seem like that, but from a bully with basically no leverage. Before the invasion, gas companies would be afraid of passing on the pain to consumers, but now they have wide licence to do so by turning down Russian gas. There's a limit to the pain consumers will accept though, unless Russia forces the point itself, providing extra ammunition to their customers.

I mean, I see the benefit of making their customers pay in roubles, unless it drives those customers away, which it's doing and was the predictable outcome. Russia should be trying to hang onto any foreign sales it can, under any conditions.
posted by fatbird at 9:43 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Someone finally sat on Orban long enough that the EU authorized a partial ban on Russian oil (progressive, starting at 2/3 of imports and rising to 90% by end of the year as contracts wind down) and kicked Sberbank out of SWIFT. Definitely better than the nothing they've been doing all May.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:02 PM on May 30 [9 favorites]


helps provide support for the value of the rouble.

And yet the ruble seems to be at an all-time high. I'm not a commodities trader or a forex analyst, so I don't really know why. NPR reported last month it was due to the rubles for gas program, but since that appears to be falling apart that should be reversing...

Russia is mirroring this back by saying "you can only use OUR currency to buy our products".

Unfortunately for Russia, they don't exactly have a lot of alternative buyers. George Soros points out that gas storage in Russia is almost maxed out, due last year's antics. Even if China and India wanted to buy the gas (with a healthy discount) the infrastructure to supply them doesn't exist, mirroring the challenge getting US gas into EU.
posted by pwnguin at 11:22 PM on May 30


Russian state TV is now floating the idea of de-nazifying all of Nato.
posted by Harald74 at 11:28 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


The presenter in that clip is suggesting "World War Three has begun".

I feel certain that if presenters on US controlled media were floating that idea I'd either be in the street protesting ASAP, or if I wasn't it would be because I thought I had some way of helping sabotage the madness.

I have a difficult time understanding how the Russian public can shrug it's shoulders at this, propaganda and police state notwithstanding. Talk like that ought to be a red flag.
posted by Reverend John at 11:57 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Harald74: Russian state TV is now floating the idea of de-nazifying all of Nato.

As such I'd agree.

Having Russia help with that, not so much. Especially not using their criteria of 'nazi'.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:38 AM on May 31


Both the subtitles in the video and the commentary in the tweet say "demilitarize" all of NATO, not "de-nazify" it.
posted by Flunkie at 2:21 AM on May 31


Also, that lady has said something like "This is World War III" pretty much every time I've ever seen her.

(I don't mean to minimize the crazy, just pointing out that it's constant, not new)
posted by Flunkie at 2:22 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


I have a difficult time understanding how the Russian public can shrug it's shoulders at this...

The tone seems very Fox-news to me. The few times I've seen Fox News (I'm not in the US and avoid it when I am) this is exactly the kind of crazy hyperbole they seem to trade in.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:34 AM on May 31 [10 favorites]


Re the rouble exchange rate, apparently the Russian central bank has been too effective in propping it up - now they're getting less roubles from their exports, and what industry products they're exporting (with costs in roubles) are too expensive abroad, while imports from the countries that still trade with them, mainly China, are cheaper for the Russian consumer and push out domestic consumption of local goods. Despite significant inflation at 17% they just lowered interest rates in an attempt to weaken the rouble, and domestic exchange restrictions were weakened a few weeks ago.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:45 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


this may become more trying as Russian fertilizer issued by a large portion of the world that grows food.

Ammonia (the N part of fertilizer) is made from natural gas.
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:50 AM on May 31


True. On the other hand, some countries (one of them being the Netherlands) have a manure surplus. That may prove to be useful. After all, manure is full of ammonia.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:02 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Paul Krugman wrote a column a few weeks ago explaining how and why Russia is propping up the Ruble. Non-paywalled link.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:03 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


> On the other hand, some countries (one of them being the Netherlands) have a manure surplus.

From what I hear, Moscow has offered a pretty good surplus of manure recently, too.
posted by jammer at 6:29 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


True. On the other hand, some countries (one of them being the Netherlands) have a manure surplus. That may prove to be useful. After all, manure is full of ammonia.

Stikstofcrisis ultra-long-game.
posted by atrazine at 8:48 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately for Russia, they don't exactly have a lot of alternative buyers. George Soros points out that gas storage in Russia is almost maxed out, due last year's antics. Even if China and India wanted to buy the gas (with a healthy discount) the infrastructure to supply them doesn't exist, mirroring the challenge getting US gas into EU.

Russia is fast running out of road on their natural gas gambit. Not long until they'll need to be forced to shutdown production of the fields themselves. Makes me wonder if they'll just start threatening to vent the gas to atmo before they shut down production in the arctic.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:51 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Now that we seem to have reached some kind of moment of relative silence — the war seems to have reached a stalemate of sorts, fewer big movements of troops and so on ... What happens now? I'm worried that there's a good chance that Ukraine is not getting the support it needs; Russia seems to be doing 'ok' despite sanctions; it's chomped off a very sizable chunk of Ukraine (like it did with Crimea previously which was quickly forgotten in the West); and now we may be seeing the new borders between Ukraine and Russia-Z being formed. In many ways it'll mean Putin has won: he knows the EU will not accept a new member under such conditions; likewise with NATO. It'd be the worst possible outcome. No future for Ukraine, Georgia and any bordering country that's not already well integrated into a bigger and more powerful bloc. Everyone is tired, and this is where it all can pay off for Putin & Co. They can wait, and we're losing.
posted by UN at 10:18 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


relative silence

I get where you're at, I was going to snark 'unless you're there.. booms'
(oh and texas.. justifiably 24/7 but..)

Russia seems to be doing 'ok'

So hard to know but really not. Not well at all. From the consolidation to one front, Orcs openly rebelling, steady losses, new weapons arriving, it IS NOT going well for Russia.

The fog of war makes real clarity for anyone so hard. "Churn" is such a sad terrible concept. The energy of Ukrainians with their backs literally at an extinction wall, is barely graspable but just inspiring.
posted by sammyo at 10:34 AM on May 31 [5 favorites]


the war seems to have reached a stalemate of sorts... What happens now?

It's not a stalemate exactly, but it's a war of attrition where significant changes will happen because attrition leads to unit collapse or significant redeployments, not because of bold dashes with tanks. It'll be slow and grinding until it's suddenly not.

I think this situation is good for Ukraine, not bad. Russia is isolated financially and for trade, and is drawing down its own stocks of weapons, ammunition, and heavy equipment, with little ability to resupply. There's also various economic pitfalls on the road ahead for them that further hurt their supply situation. In short, they've got a deadline based on material currently available.

Ukraine, OTOH, still has large numbers of citizens to mobilize and is receiving the equipment to do so; their military is trending upwards on every measure, and the status quo favours them: more weapons deliveries by NATO countries, more financing, closer integration with the EU, more time to train replacements... while Russia bleeds. Since their very successful counter-offensive around Kharkiv, they've started a new one in the north of Kherson Oblast that's already seen some defensive line collapses by the Russians, and made real progress.

And on top of all that, the Ukrainian military is doing very well now: lots of veterans, lots of experienced officers, and a general staff that seems very capable of fighting effectively (which is predictable after eight years of steady combat). Russia, OTOH, has chewed through most of its contract soldiers, is getting officers killed at an alarming rate, and is replacing both with conscripts or newbs. The Russian army's veterancy has certainly increased since February, but that's not being cared for properly: they're keeping units on the line until they're destroyed, not pulling them back and refreshing them.

So I'm pretty optimistic at this point about Ukraine's chances, given the current parameters of the conflict. Who knows what could change? Putin could nuke Kyiv, the unified European front could collapse with Germany and Turkey siding with Russia for cheap gas, China could enter the conflict with major military supply for Russia. Russia could also collapse financially, Putin could suddenly have a bullet-induced headache, etc... There's reason for cautious optimism now, but treat it like the weather: easy to tell what tomorrow will be like; much harder next week or next month.
posted by fatbird at 10:43 AM on May 31 [19 favorites]


Now that we seem to have reached some kind of moment of relative silence — the war seems to have reached a stalemate of sorts, fewer big movements of troops and so on ... What happens now? I'm worried that there's a good chance that Ukraine is not getting the support it needs; Russia seems to be doing 'ok' despite sanctions; it's chomped off a very sizable chunk of Ukraine (like it did with Crimea previously which was quickly forgotten in the West); and now we may be seeing the new borders between Ukraine and Russia-Z being formed

Stalemate is bad for an aggressor army. Conquering any place needs momentum. You can't give the defenders behind the line time to entrench. The breakout at Popasna has been a giant bust for instance. Russia hasn't even encircled Sievierodonetsk and yet they're fighting for it block by block. There is no worse way to fight for a city in terms of equipment losses and manpower.

Once you've got control of land you also need to keep control of it. There is plenty of Ukrainian partisan activity in Melitopol and Kherson already. The Ukrainians will make the occupiers bleed for every inch of territory they want to hold and there's going to be no shortage of supplies for the resistance.

Russia is doing whatever it can to stop its culmination (they're pulling T-62s out of storage which is in all likelihood just an act of desperation) but at this point I can only see it as inevitable. At that point, Russia will be hard pressed to keep the land occupied by the DPR/LPR. Then they could be looking at losing Crimea and then things really get spicy.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:45 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


Stalemate is bad for an aggressor army. Conquering any place needs momentum. You can't give the defenders behind the line time to entrench.

Of course, this also works in the other direction. Counter-offensives make the aggressor the defender on a limited front, and some of the same advantages come into play. Getting Russia back to the 2/24 line seems very doable -- or as much as it can be within the massive realm of uncertainty that fatbird highlights. But it gets harder from that perspective every day that the lines stay static, and pushing Russia completely out of Donbas, or even Crimea beyond that, to return to Ukraine its full sovereign territory will be a much harder slog.

It might be one that's entirely within their capabilities if the attrition ratios combined with Russia's economic isolation favor the Ukrainian situation as much as we hope, especially if Russia experiences a calamitous collapse rather than a slow degradation of capabilities. But I'm looking at that as something to be worried about when/if it gets that far.

(I also wouldn't be quite so casual about the state of the Ukrainian army... it seems like the Severodonetsk battle in particular is causing heavy losses on both sides and I'm seeing increasing stories about units on the front feeling abandoned and forgotten with corresponding morale losses. But for now it seems to be a minor factor, especially up against the "extinction wall" (great phrase). All told, if I had to be a soldier in either army, and was worried only about my own long-term survival without any concern for moral consequences, I'd still pay 1000 to 1 to be able to join the Ukrainian side, which probably says all that really needs to be said there.)
posted by jammer at 11:30 AM on May 31 [6 favorites]


Sanctions to the extent that the effects are felt at all take a while to propagate and build up. It's like if you and your partner both lose your jobs but are otherwise doing OK it takes months before you start showing major outward effects. You've got some savings; you can make minimum credit card payments instead of paying them off every month; your eating rice and beans but aren't starving. You stop paying your property taxes because it takes three years for the city to seize your property taxes. Maybe you stop paying your mortgage because foreclosure can take years. Maybe you stop paying your car insurance even though you are still driving it. Three months after your last paycheck and outwardly nothing has changed. Inwardly things are starting to get real.

The recent numbers that Russia hardware losses are decreasing isn't because of some new earned competency by Russian crews and commanders but rather a pretty telling statistic showing they are unable to replace previous losses reducing the target richness of the environment. While Ukraine continues to receive arms from across the globe. I don't see this trend reversing short of China stepping up as arms supplier.
posted by Mitheral at 11:39 AM on May 31 [9 favorites]


One hopeful sign is Russia's offer to allow Ukranian grain to be shipped through the black sea in return for lifting sanctions, which I take to mean that the effect of the sanctions are becoming onerous enough to become a point in peace talks.

As Zelensky said, it's unlikely that restoring the original borders will be done entirely militarily. I think what's more likely is a complete failure of the invasion and withdrawal to 2/24 borders, followed by peace negotiations in which restoration of Russia's relations with the rest of the world are traded for leaving the Donbas an perhaps Crimea. But there are very complicated issues to work out, such as repatriating the millions of Ukranians forcibly relocated to Russia; reparations; future security guarantees, etc. Cease fire might happen quickly, but peace is beyond a distant horizon, and in that time, Ukraine can continually grow stronger with Western aid and integration. We forget that they were in an actual state of war with Russia for 8 years before the invasion, with relatively static lines, and held their own without all the Western aid they're receiving now.
posted by fatbird at 11:45 AM on May 31 [7 favorites]


I'm really happy about the new EU sanctions, because they were a long time in the works (basically they're "if you warcrime in Mariupol we do THIS") and they're the keeping-up-momentum type. Some recent Russian data points to a collapse in a lot of consumer production - car sales are down 70+% - and they keep finding new things they plain don't make because they were as enmeshed in the global economy as any country nowadays except partly North Korea. They're running out of shrinkwrap labels on plastic bottles because no-one in Russia makes them.

Some weaponry promised months ago should also be making its way east shortly. Not always the newest (though Poland did send over howitzers straight off the production line), but very decent stuff that's 20-30 years old at most. And the Russians are down to tanks from the 70s, with rumours of de-mothballing tank models dating back to World War II.

I'm also keeping an eye on the grain issue, where Africa in particular is starting to raise a lot of noise about actually getting the grain they rely on. Any extra pressure on Russia is good.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:49 AM on May 31 [7 favorites]


> Cease fire might happen quickly, but peace is beyond a distant horizon

Sorry, I know we don't generally do QFT here, but I just wanted to highlight this because it's the trifecta of apropos, incredibly true, and poetic. That is all.
posted by jammer at 1:37 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Military History Visualized posted a video examining the claim that T-62s are being sent to Ukraine. TLDW, the reports look real, the tanks may not be from deep storage, but were available because they had been used in maneuvers recently (maybe to simulate the other side?). They use a 115mm gun, different from more modern tanks, and may not have much ammo in stock. T-62s are old, but they are still more combat effective than BMPs or BTRs.

They would be useful against partisans. If there are any.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:47 PM on May 31


T-62s are old, but they are still more combat effective than BMPs or BTRs.

They're also bringing back BMP-1s out of storage as well. They're scrambling for anything that can still move.

They would be useful against partisans. If there are any.

Up until the conflict cools enough for UAF to start running ATGMs to resistance members.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:35 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Today's ISW summary reports that Russians may now control 70% of Severodonetsk with gains increasing. It sounds as though Ukraine is again trading space for time here as they've done (fairly successfully) throughout the conflict.

They also get a bit more opinionated than they usually do on the overall state of the war, and in a way that serves as a bit of a tonic against some of the more grim recent news. I think it's worth quoting in full here, since I'd struggle to summarize it effectively. (All emphasis in the original.)
Moscow’s concentration on seizing Severodonetsk and Donbas generally continues to create vulnerabilities for Russia in Ukraine’s vital Kherson Oblast, where Ukrainian counter-offensives continue. Kherson is critical terrain because it is the only area of Ukraine in which Russian forces hold ground on the west bank of the Dnipro River. If Russia is able to retain a strong lodgment in Kherson when fighting stops it will be in a very strong position from which to launch a future invasion. If Ukraine regains Kherson, on the other hand, Ukraine will be in a much stronger position to defend itself against future Russian attack. This strategic calculus should in principle lead Russia to allocate sufficient combat power to hold Kherson. But Russian President Vladimir Putin has chosen instead to concentrate all the forces and resources that can be scraped together in a desperate and bloody push to seize areas of eastern Ukraine that will give him largely symbolic gains. Continuing successful Ukrainian counter-offensives in Kherson indicate that Ukraine’s commanders recognize these realities and are taking advantage of the vulnerabilities that Putin’s decisions have created.

The Ukrainian leadership has apparently wisely avoided matching Putin’s mistaken prioritization. Kyiv could have committed more reserves and resources to the defense of Severodonetsk, and its failure to do so has drawn criticism. Ukrainian forces are now apparently withdrawing from Severodonetsk rather than fighting to the end—a factor that has allowed the Russians to move into the city relatively rapidly after beginning their full-scale assault. Both the decision to avoid committing more resources to saving Severodonetsk and the decision to withdraw from it were strategically sound, however painful. Ukraine must husband its more limited resources and focus on regaining critical terrain rather than on defending ground whose control will not determine the outcome of the war or the conditions for the renewal of war.

Sound Ukrainian prioritization of counter-offensive and defensive operations pushed the Russians almost out of artillery range of Kharkiv City and have stopped the Russian advances from Izyum—both of which are more important accomplishments than the defense of Severodonetsk. Ukraine’s leadership has had to make incredibly difficult choices in this war and has generally made the right ones, at least at the level of strategic prioritization and in the pace, scale, and ambitiousness of its counter-offensives. That is why Ukraine still has a good chance to stop and then reverse the gains Russia is currently making.
posted by jammer at 5:08 PM on May 31 [14 favorites]


First of all, quick shout out for Spelling Ukraine. It's Sievierodonetsk not Severodonetsk. Severodonetsk is Russian transliteration not Ukrainian. I know ISW (annoyingly) spells it Severodonetsk.

The Ukrainian leadership has apparently wisely avoided matching Putin’s mistaken prioritization. Kyiv could have committed more reserves and resources to the defense of Severodonetsk, and its failure to do so has drawn criticism. Ukrainian forces are now apparently withdrawing from Severodonetsk rather than fighting to the end—a factor that has allowed the Russians to move into the city relatively rapidly after beginning their full-scale assault. Both the decision to avoid committing more resources to saving Severodonetsk and the decision to withdraw from it were strategically sound, however painful. Ukraine must husband its more limited resources and focus on regaining critical terrain rather than on defending ground whose control will not determine the outcome of the war or the conditions for the renewal of war.

I'm personally terrified that the Russian seizing of Sievierodonetsk is going to be the point where Putin tries to freeze the conflict with the coal/natural gas fields in hand. If he can't destroy/demilitarize/denazify Ukraine, at least stopping them from being a potential source for hydrocarbons to stop Russia's dominance in European energy must be a pretty big consolation prize.

I'm afraid with the freezing of the conflict the West will pressure Ukraine to settle on terms not attractive to them. While Central and Eastern Europe seem to support Ukraine making peace on their terms (Čaputová, president of Slovakia said as much today) the 800 pound gorillas of Germany and France would be pressuring negative peace. Not to mention Scholz and Orbán are both still chomping at the fucking bit to normalize relations with Russia. The US has probably front loaded so much equipment specifically because if they're the only ones supplying Ukraine with weapons it doesn't look good for warmongering/imperialism. Not that Biden is doing them any favors lately with his staff slow walking HIMARS over to them.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:01 PM on May 31 [6 favorites]


> It's Sievierodonetsk not Severodonetsk. Severodonetsk is Russian transliteration not Ukrainian. I know ISW (annoyingly) spells it Severodonetsk.

Thank you for the kind correction on that. I usually check any new town I've not heard of before through Spelling Ukraine but somehow I must have never done that with Sievierodonetsk even though I've seen it both ways. At least now I can get it right.

(Another one that I know ISW consistently gets wrong, even in that bit I quoted, is "Izyum", which should be "Izium").
posted by jammer at 6:34 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


From the NY Times editorial page: What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine, by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Nothing much new, but I found it interesting they went this route. Someone must be really unhappy with some of the mixed messaging that's been going out recently. I'm... not sure this helps, given that it still tries to ride the "We will give Ukrainians advanced rocket systems" / "We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders." line. I like that he states outright, though, that the US will not pressure Ukraine, publicly or privately, to make any territorial concessions. Sort of a reinforcer to some of the western European folks who may be losing a bit of backbone.
posted by jammer at 6:46 PM on May 31 [9 favorites]


I think Biden sounded most of the right notes in that op-ed. I'm thinking about putting together a new ResistBot message asking Congress and the Administration to expedite sending MLRS, HIMARS, and the Patriot missile system to Ukraine.

I think Biden says it well when it wrote:
I know many people around the world are concerned about the use of nuclear weapons. We currently see no indication that Russia has intent to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, though Russia’s occasional rhetoric to rattle the nuclear saber is itself dangerous and extremely irresponsible. Let me be clear: Any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict on any scale would be completely unacceptable to us as well as the rest of the world and would entail severe consequences.
I am deeply fearful of a potential Russian nuclear response, but at the same time I've become more persuaded that giving in to Russian nuclear blackmail is the more dangerous course in the long term, though I still think extreme caution is warranted.
posted by Reverend John at 7:52 PM on May 31 [5 favorites]


One point that sometimes comes up in discussions of Japan in WWII and the dropping of the atomic bombs, is that the Allies required unconditional surrender, which necessitated going all the way to the Japanese home islands and invading them if we couldn't force them to surrender with bombing. The obvious counterpoint is "why demand unconditional surrender, if conditional surrender ends the war and Japan is contained, without going to the extremes we did?"

I don't think it's a simple issue, but one thing I've been reflecting on a lot since the invasion of Ukraine: I now have a lot more empathy for the no compromise version of ending the war once and for all. This doesn't change my feelings about how it was ended, but previously, when I would sputter "it was just unacceptable to leave Japan intact as a warmaking state," I would have a guilty sense of "that's a really shit, emotional declaration, not an argument." No longer. It seems flatly obvious that Russia must be left unable to re-invade Ukraine. It looks like that means economic destruction rather than nuclear, which is great, comparatively! But no compromise should be possible with Putin or his successors-in-spirit because it would be insane to believe in them.
posted by fatbird at 8:25 PM on May 31 [11 favorites]


So, here's my ResistBot message. If you'd like to send it to the President and your reps as well you can text SIGN POURHW to 50409.
Please support Ukraine’s fight to maintain its independence and regain its lost territories from Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified invasion.

Ukraine’s success in defending itself is critical to deterring future aggression by Russia and other countries around the world. If Russian aggression is seen as being even partially successful it will encourage continued dangerous aggressive behavior.

For this reason I am asking you to support sending Ukraine the weapons it needs to defend itself with all possible speed. This should include the M270 MLRS, the M142 HIMARS, and the MIM-104 Patriot SAM system, and other systems requested by Ukraine for their defense.

While we should be cautious about potentially escalating the Ukraine conflict, and wary of a possible Russian nuclear response, allowing Russian nuclear blackmail to prevent us from giving Ukraine effective assistance is an even more dangerous course in the long term.

Please provide Ukraine what it needs to succeed in its critical defense and recovery of its stolen territories.
posted by Reverend John at 8:40 PM on May 31 [7 favorites]


I'm also leaning into the "Russia can't be allowed to continue as a state with war-making potential" mindset now, which is a bit painful for me, as I'm usually more of a "let's talk this through as adults" kind of person. But as the current regime is breaking every deal and promise, they can't be trusted not to lick their wounds, re-arm and come back at us (probably in less than a decade). But how do you de-fang a nuclear state? Or force a political collapse that doesn't turn into a stab-in-the-back myth and subsequent aggression? I hope someone smarter than me is working on this right now...
posted by Harald74 at 1:22 AM on June 1 [10 favorites]


> I hope someone smarter than me is working on this right now...

I'm sure lots of people smarter than us here (in this area at least) are working on this right now. I think, as always, the biggest question is going to be whether whatever comes out as the ultimate answer seems like the right thing to do if it harms the trans-national kleptocratic cabal that run most of the world right now.

In a sick and twisted way, we might be benefited here by the argument that war is good for business. All the munitions coming out of western stockpiles are not going to "go away" even if they're destroyed in the war or left in Ukraine's hands. They're going to be replaced, and that means buttloads of money for those with fingers in the military-industrial complex. (I hate that that phrase sounds so... college-level Marxist... but it's a useful one for a reason.)

Which basically means that the mid-term stability of Europe and the world may well depend on a struggle between the people who want to kill numberless people for the benefit of their pocket and those who want to destroy the world with petroleum emissions for the benefit of their pocket. I feel like that's one of those "laugh because otherwise you can't stop crying" things to think about.
posted by jammer at 6:11 AM on June 1 [7 favorites]


I hate that that [military-industrial complex] sounds so... college-level Marxist... but it's a useful one for a reason.

And yet it was coined by Eisenhower! Things in US politics sure have slid around in the last 60 years.
posted by aubilenon at 7:55 AM on June 1 [25 favorites]


Cliff notes from press conference by Undersecretary of Defense, Colin Kahl:

* Another $700m in drawdown
* Five counter-artillery radars
* Two air surveillance radars
* Another thousand Javelin missiles and 50 launchers.
* 6000 anti-armor weapons (not sure if all ATGMs)
* Another 15,000 155mm rounds
* 4 x Mi-17 helicopters
* 15 unspecified tactical vehicles
* HIMARS!

HIMARS has been authorized. They were prepositioned in Europe just waiting for Biden's authorization. Training UA troops is starting and will take 3 weeks. Formal assurances HIMARS won't be used to attack targets inside Russia that go all the way to Zelenskyy. US plans to surge production and deliver UAF all the HIMARS ammo they can get.

"The onus is on Russia to de-escalate" but "it doesn't want to take steps to widen the conflict"

Which basically means that the mid-term stability of Europe and the world may well depend on a struggle between the people who want to kill numberless people for the benefit of their pocket and those who want to destroy the world with petroleum emissions for the benefit of their pocket.

If my choices are fascist imperialism or a democratic military-industrial complex then give me my Raytheon cap and flag. Love without power is anemic and sentimental at best. If you want to help someone, lend them your power. We need wiser stewards of power, not to rid ourselves of it and leave ourselves unable to protect those without.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:32 AM on June 1 [22 favorites]


If you'd like to send it to the President and your reps as well you can text SIGN POURHW to 50409

Done! Thank you.
posted by corb at 11:37 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Americans get the money, Ukrainians get the launchers, and Russians get the missiles. What's not to like?
posted by ryanrs at 12:39 PM on June 1 [6 favorites]


Or, as someone said in a USENET signature aeons ago, “Wouldn't it be great if everyone renounced violence forever? Then I could conquer the whole stupid world with a butterknife.”
posted by acb at 12:44 PM on June 1 [4 favorites]


I first saw that quote in an old Dilbert cartoon.
posted by caphector at 3:01 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


It's only coming from our old friend "Sources", not even "Senior Sources", so take sufficient grains of salt, but nevertheless:

U.S. plans to sell armed drones to Ukraine in coming days
posted by jammer at 5:11 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]



If my choices are fascist imperialism or a democratic military-industrial complex then give me my Raytheon cap and flag.


I know some people in Raytheon. They used to feel conflicted about their work. They don't feel that way now.
posted by ocschwar at 6:46 PM on June 1 [4 favorites]


give me my Raytheon cap and flag

How about some Lockheed Martin Pride socks?
posted by ryanrs at 6:54 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


It's great that as a country we're doing what we need to do to provide Ukraine the arms it needs to defend itself, but we shouldn't turn a blind eye to the harm our weapons have done in other parts of the world.
posted by Reverend John at 7:09 PM on June 1 [13 favorites]


And we need to remember that we Mefis aren't all from the USA.
posted by NotLost at 7:17 PM on June 1 [22 favorites]


"Which basically means that the mid-term stability of Europe and the world may well depend on a struggle between the people who want to kill numberless people for the benefit of their pocket and those who want to destroy the world with petroleum emissions for the benefit of their pocket."

It's not that simple yet so simple as in the war hinges one man controlling significant assets like a Bond villian, like the first real bond villan like Karla is outed and took over with war and the surreal slow the world economy. Its a hot, cyber, economic, geo-political war with war crimes. That's the selling point, for me, Putin has to be stopped so peaceful commerce can commence. Folks sending missles and drones, heavy arty and I said it in February without air buddies and arty, a counter attack would be impossible and the world stepped up and up. I mean just take two months and train the troops to use like three battalions of us equipment, line it up all the Polish border leave the engine running say here you go.

Putin's big mistake was gambling on a protracted War when he cannot sustain the ratio of attrition. and you know who's really going to make the money- us, France, Germany and others in rebuilding, hundreds of billions and billions in rebuilding who's going to do that Russia, China I doubt it.

"Russian forces reportedly made incremental advances north of Slovyansk but likely have not yet been able to take control of the road into Slovyansk.

Russian forces are attempting to advance towards Lysychansk from the south and west in order to avoid having to fight across the Siverskyi Donets River from Severodonetsk but are having limited successes so far.

Russian troops made incremental gains north of Avdiivka.

Russian troops reportedly destroyed Ukrainian-built bridges over the Inhulets River near Davydiv Brid in response to Ukrainian counteroffensive pressure."

And we need to remember that we Mefis aren't all from the USA.


Absolutely. many countries have aided Ukraine including the United States I don't think there's alot of any " Ukraine should do this" in a war jest perhaps as a few mefis from all corners have served and are very adept at war. The water cooler talk happens, it's human. I live a military culture with a military family and the tendency to a jaded or jubilant poke at Russian tank go boom is a way of dealing with it. if one thing is shared by the many countries involved helping Ukraine, is that they fought the Soviet and Putin's Empire for years and something tells me that the monies spent and the blood spilled might finally crush Russian tendency for a authoritarian power structure.
posted by clavdivs at 7:49 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]


"we shouldn't turn a blind eye to the harm our weapons have done in other parts of the world."

There is a rub, yes. Called BLOWBACK, and the US is guilty but this isn't about that. John, notice how here in these threads Russia as a whole is not a focal point. These threads, hundreds of comments, on everything from poetry, diaries, music, videos, pictures, heartbreak, death.... there's one common element that I've discovered and it's not religious and that is righteousness and if you give weapons to fight a righteous cause then the rest should take care of itself.
posted by clavdivs at 7:56 PM on June 1 [6 favorites]


I'm personally terrified that the Russian seizing of Sievierodonetsk is going to be the point where Putin tries to freeze the conflict with the coal/natural gas fields in hand. If he can't destroy/demilitarize/denazify Ukraine, at least stopping them from being a potential source for hydrocarbons to stop Russia's dominance in European energy must be a pretty big consolation prize.
How?

Putin is bleeding resources at an alarming rate and the Russian economy isn't getting any better for at least the medium term and that's after sanctions are lifted. Germany, Hungary and maybe one or two others shovelling them money for hydrocarbons isn't going to be buying them anything useful for the war unless they intend to make a mountain of Roubles to hide behind.
I'm afraid with the freezing of the conflict the West will pressure Ukraine to settle on terms not attractive to them. While Central and Eastern Europe seem to support Ukraine making peace on their terms (Čaputová, president of Slovakia said as much today) the 800 pound gorillas of Germany and France would be pressuring negative peace.
Option A
Possibly remove Putin, certainly weaken Russian power for decades. Weaken France and Germany as a force within the EU. Strengthen ties with the USA and save Ukraine to the delight of your populous.

Option B
Save Putin, empower France and Germany as a power within the EU. Perpetuate the threat of Russian fuckery in Europe and abandon the Ukrainians to genocide.


Germany, the fascists and maybe France are the only people likely to choose option B and that may not matter as the US and the UK are never passing up the opportunity to damage Russia and weaken Germany respectively.


Not to mention Scholz and Orbán are both still chomping at the fucking bit to normalize relations with Russia.
I see some sobering parallels between Putin's missteps and Sholz's.

Germany may be the 800 pound gorilla historically and at 20 ish percent of EU GDP they are certainly the biggest economy in Europe. What if, like Putin, they have miscalculated how much this matters? What if Germany vetoes sanctions and the Central and Eastern EU states say, nah, we'll do it anyway. Where does that leave Germany? They have no control over the US and the UK and the recent LLoyds maritime insurance sanction shows there are ways to circumvent Sholz's attempts to help Russia. The EU is absolutely determined to act with the appearance of consensus but if Germany continues to pursue their solo agenda then they may find the rest of the EU less concerned with appearances of unanimity.

Sorry, Your Childhood Pet Rock I'm not arguing with you directly but you make points which I have been seeing a lot lately and I can't see how the scenario whereby Ukraine is forced to give up territory to end the invasion is remotely possible before the US midterms and by then there may not be a Russian economy to normalise trade with.
posted by fullerine at 2:00 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]




What The West (Still) Gets Wrong About Putin.
Asking whether to appease or not appease him is completely beside the point.

Tatiana Stanovaya in Foreign Policy:
One of the reasons it’s so difficult to understand Russian intentions—and what is at stake in the Ukraine war—is the significant divergence between how external observers see events and how they are viewed from the Kremlin. Things that appear obvious to some, such as Russia’s incapacity to achieve a military victory, are perceived completely differently in Moscow. The fact is that most of today’s discussions over how to help Ukraine win on the battlefield, coerce Kyiv into concessions, or allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to save face have little in common with reality.

Here I will debunk five common assumptions about how Putin sees this war. The West needs to look at the situation differently if it wants to be more effective in its approach and decrease the risks of escalation.


(Article can be read without subscription if you have not read anything else there this month yet)
posted by 15L06 at 2:48 AM on June 2 [4 favorites]


Some interesting assertions in that article for sure.
posted by some loser at 3:41 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]


Remember those Lithuanians who crowdfunded a Bayraktar? Turkey agreed to give that one for free so they're spending the money on ammunition and other aid to Ukraine.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 4:54 AM on June 2 [10 favorites]


> (Article can be read without subscription if you have not read anything else there this month yet)

Just to share here a quick tip I posted in another thread that might be helpful for people trying to read links here, since ones on sites with paywalls pop up frequently: the Bypass Paywalls Clean browser extension (Firefox, Chrome) works very effectively on a whole host of popular sites, including Foreign Policy. It is a lot more convenient than bouncing through proxies or clearing cookies and such. (I didn't realize Foreign Policy had a paywall until just now, it Just Works for me).
posted by jammer at 5:21 AM on June 2 [6 favorites]


Bypass Paywalls Clean is indeed excellent, in large part because the developer is red-hot about winning the arms race against the huge and growing range of sites whose paywalls it bypasses and issues updates at least weekly.

To make that update process as painless as possible, I suggest visiting the extension's preferences after installation and making sure that "Show options on update" is off and both "Enable new sites by default" and "Check for update rules at startup" are on.
posted by flabdablet at 5:28 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Russia's Catastrophic Oil & Gas Problem - A detailed explanation of the evolution of Russia's oil and gas export routes from the days of the USSR to the current war in Ukraine. It is possible to correlate Russian aggression against former soviet states with spikes in oil prices and with any threats by neighbours to circumvent its routes to the west. Interesting also to note the fairly precise relationship between the parts of Ukraine Russia is attacking and those which have proven fossil fuel reserves. Just as the article posted by 15L06 above seeks to explain Putin's perspective of the war, petro chemicals give a great insight.
posted by rongorongo at 6:25 AM on June 2 [6 favorites]


fladabet, how do I install Bypass Paywall Clean? I mean, how do I get from their download options to having it work?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:26 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


fladabet, how do I install Bypass Paywall Clean

1. download the zip file 2. unpack it 3. chrome - more tools - extensions - turn on developer mode 4. now on top of that chrome settins page will be button "load unpacked" pick that, point at the folder 5. chrome will open the settings page for the extension, and done!
posted by Meatbomb at 7:49 AM on June 2 [6 favorites]


On Firefox, click the triple bars on the top right of the screen and select"add ons and themes" and type "bypass paywalls clean" into the search box and press enter.
posted by porpoise at 8:57 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


I've tried to understand how to do this on mobile IE android where i do most of my reading like a lot of ppl at this side of the world and I'm not sure if it's applicable...

//Sorry for the derail!//
posted by cendawanita at 8:59 AM on June 2


So remember that drone that Lithuania was trying to crowdfund? They headed over to BAYKAR with the cash and BAYKAR are donating the drone for free and told them to use the cash for humanitarian aid.
The people of Lithuania have honorably raised funds to buy a Bayraktar TB2 for Ukraine.

Upon learning this, Baykar will gift a Bayraktar TB2 to Lithuania free of charge and asks those funds go to Ukraine for humanitarian aid.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:59 AM on June 2 [7 favorites]


Upon learning this, Baykar will gift a Bayraktar TB2 to Lithuania free of charge and asks those funds go to Ukraine for humanitarian aid.

While that's nice of them, I feel like maybe the Ukrainians should just get two TB2s instead?

The Lithuanians seem to also be doing what they can for Ukrainian refugees and other humanitarian issues... but they raised the money for a kinetic, Russian-killing machine.

Give the people what they want.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:03 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]


I've tried to understand how to do this on mobile IE android where i do most of my reading

According to the Bypass Paywalls Clean page linked above as Firefox, it can be made to work on Android by installing Firefox for Android Nightly, creating a custom extensions collection at addons.mozilla.org, and adding it to that collection.

I have not personally verified this process. It's a lot of hoops to jump through and a complete pain in the arse compared to just clicking an Add button in desktop Firefox, but frankly in 2022 I'm both pleased and surprised to find any way to snatch any degree of control over my mandatory personal surveillance device away from Big Advertising.
posted by flabdablet at 11:10 AM on June 2 [4 favorites]


cendawanita, if you still need help message me directly and I'll give you a hand. The same applies if anyone else wants help with the paywalls extension. I'm happy to help but I don't think anyone wants this thread clogged up with technical support. :)
posted by jammer at 11:10 AM on June 2 [10 favorites]


Kadin2048: Give the people what they want.

The Lithuanian people wanted to buy a TB2, then donate it to Ukraine. They got one, for free. Which they can, indeed, donate to Ukraine. So that bit is covered.

Those Lithuanian people now also have a sum of money to use on humanitarian aid. Another bit of help where it's needed.

Baykar giving a TB2 directly to Ukraine as a country at war and benefiting from that gift is a line they understandably may not want to cross.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:06 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]




So in another of Russia's wins, Taiwan is prohibiting export of anything more powerful than a 486 to Russia and Belarus.

Taiwan was the last country producing semiconductors in the Western economic system that was exporting to Russia. Only China remains and their native lithography capabilities limit them to the 28nm node. SMIC is supposedly going to 7nm using DUV but is yet to show anything off to the public.

So Russia has lost access to a lot of modern tech.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:18 PM on June 2 [12 favorites]


Related to the semiconductor export controls: “Everything is gone”: Russian business hit hard by tech sanctions (Anna Gross and Max Seddon, FT).
posted by mbrubeck at 4:15 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


I've been wondering when we might expect to see, if not outright collapse, then significant material degradation in large sectors of the Russian economy, especially if it might impact the war effort.

My naive impression from watching recent videos on the 1420 channel on Youtube is that many Russians are resigned for this thing to go on for at least another six months. But if sanctions really start to bite and things drag on past that without gains on the ground and mounting casualties I wonder if Russian public opinion might start to significantly sour on the war at that point.
posted by Reverend John at 4:36 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


So, I did a bit of poking around and think this guy is worth posting. Inside Russia, a streamer named Konstantin who has been doing Russia daily life stuff since 2018, spends 20 minutes describing what he sees as a coming Purge in Russia, and spends the balance of an hour responding to chat comments. That latter part is not as interesting, but his comments about what he is seeing in society in Moscow where he lives is... a bit chilling. (He admits as much.)
posted by hippybear at 6:45 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


then significant material degradation in large sectors of the Russian economy

Which part of the Russian international economy? The one that exports oil to Europe, or the one that exports grain to the middle east?
posted by pwnguin at 6:51 PM on June 2


I think the Lithuanians went "thank you so much for the drone, now we'll have more money for bombs and missiles for it!", but I can't seem to find the tweet.
posted by Harald74 at 2:26 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


OK, apparently the only used some of the funds for extra munitions, the rest going to humanitarian causes.
posted by Harald74 at 2:28 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


One of the best twitter accounts to follow is Dmitri. He provides regular translations of various Russian documents and communications. Specializes in translating intercepted or leaked communications of Russian troops.

The translations can also be found at his blog: WarTranslated.

Here's the latest translation Dmitri produced. A soldier reporting on the near complete destruction of Russia's 35th Army deployed from the Russian Far East to Izyum. "Fight with shoe polish and soaked toilet paper"
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 5:57 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


> "Fight with shoe polish and soaked toilet paper"

Holy cow. No idea about the veracity of that, but true or not I feel like I need at towel to wipe up all the sarcasm dripped on the floor.

For those who may otherwise scroll past, this is the first paragraph:
The 35th army of RF AF, fighting in the forests near Izyum – they asked me to convey a message that, generally speaking, the task of destroying own forces was successfully completed by army’s command – the army is almost gone. To celebrate this event, the army received KAMAZ trucks loaded with shoe polish and toilet paper. The toilet paper, having travelled half the way under pouring rain in trucks with leaky roofs, of course, has fully soaked and without drying it is unsuitable for use (the question of large-scale hanging of the toilet paper to dry is being agreed with the command right now).
(text version, for those who'd prefer that to images of text.)
posted by jammer at 6:08 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]


Taiwan to Russia: "No chips for you!" Russia to Taiwan: "Now, about those noble gas shipments..."
posted by aeshnid at 8:22 AM on June 3


The Institute for the Study of War has launched an interactive map of Russia's war in Ukraine.

"This interactive map complements the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW daily produces with high-fidelity and, where possible, street level assessments of the war in Ukraine.
...
This public map will allow anyone to zoom in on our map and explore the data at any resolution. Our team will update this map daily."
posted by Kabanos at 9:48 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Noble gases aren't located in specific geographic areas like metals and oil. Argon, neon, krypton, and xenon are extracted from air as a byproduct of making liquid oxygen and nitrogen. Any industrialized country with a big steel industry should be able to produce these gases, though perhaps not as cheaply as in Russia.
posted by ryanrs at 9:53 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


Any industrialized country with a big steel industry should be able to produce these gases, though perhaps not as cheaply as in Russia.

True - but the point stands that interconnected supply-chains mean that sanctioning a client who is also a supplier can have consequences. These consequences can be addressed, but not without time and effort, which may ultimately deliver more resilient supply chains in the west, but not without creating further short-to-medium term pain, exacerbating ongoing economic shocks currently being experienced by those applying the sanctions.
posted by aeshnid at 10:50 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


True - but the point stands that interconnected supply-chains mean that sanctioning a client who is also a supplier can have consequences. These consequences can be addressed, but not without time and effort, which may ultimately deliver more resilient supply chains in the west, but not without creating further short-to-medium term pain, exacerbating ongoing economic shocks currently being experienced by those applying the sanctions.

Ukraine was a bigger exporter of noble gases compared to Russia in the semiconductor industry. A week before Russia stepped foot over the border every semiconductor manufacturer in Taiwan were already sourcing additional supplies of noble gases, shoring up their existing supplies, and running contingency planning with their key long term suppliers.

If Russia wants to shoot itself in the foot by voluntarily denying itself more hard currency rather than waiting for sanctions to roll around then they can be my guest.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:02 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]


Insurance as a tactic in economic sanctions! I had read about how white segregationists tried to shut down the Montgomery Bus Boycott by denying car insurance to people using their private vehicles to drive boycotters, but I hadn't considered it at an international scale.

The EU's oil embargo (Meduza):
Another factor that threatens to restrain the growth of Russian exports to Asia is the ban on ship insurance, which could pose problems with transporting oil on tankers. That’s an important detail of the embargo: in order to undermine Russia’s efforts to redirect its exports to Asia, the EU and Great Britain have agreed on a ban (to come into force in six months) on insurance for tankers delivering Russian gas anywhere in the world.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:49 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]


It is the 100th day of the war.

In this time, Russia has destroyed 24,000km of roads and 300 bridges. The total economic damage is currently estimated to be over 3 trillion hryvnia ($100 billion).

"Everything is gone."

Also, while their daily update isn't out yet, ISW have released an interactive version of their control maps, which may be useful to folks who want a little more geographic context.
posted by jammer at 2:19 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


The future present is space age anti-drone jamming guns:

Ukrainian soldiers with Lithuanian EDM4S-UA C-UAS systems. (Russian system shown in the replies)
posted by meowzilla at 11:51 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]




Kabanos, thanks that's an enlightening commentary, everyone should read it.
posted by sammyo at 6:47 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]






Three POW captured by the #Belarusian "K. Kalinousky" regiment are from different #Russian air force units (heli. regiment, strike aircraft regiment, radar regiment). Looks like a bunch of volunteers collected across the Air Force to fight as infantry.

So this is their plan to try and mobilize more troops while not technically mobilizing. They're pulling whatever they can from different branches to use them as infantry. Every time I think we've hit stupidity bedrock on how badly Russia can prosecute a war it turns out we're not quite there yet.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:17 AM on June 4 [11 favorites]


With the news that the Ukrainian fighting retreat from Severodonetsk was a feint, and that they've now retaken much of it (at great cost to the Russians), I'm starting to wonder why we never hear the names of Ukrainian generals or leaders who are doing such an incredible job of befuddling and destroying the Russian army. Maybe that's tactical, to avoid painting a target on them, or maybe there's no singular figure to put forward and instead it's the result of an incredibly strong general staff. I'll be very curious afterwards to read a military analysis of the inside of the Ukrainian campaign, though.
posted by fatbird at 11:39 AM on June 4 [10 favorites]


I suspect not publishing the names of Ukrainian soldiers is a considered tactic - with Russians occupying considerable Ukrainian territory, it would put their families in danger. Plus that way Ukrainian command losses, if any, are not publicised either.

Russians are apparently blowing up bridges in Severodonetsk. So much for crossing the river there...

And they're really pushing recruitment, including the police escorting young men to the military fitness commissions. This is even happening in Moscow university dorms.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:50 PM on June 4 [7 favorites]


What’s this about feints and retaking Sievierodonetsk?
posted by Quasirandom at 1:13 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Hey, I know this isn't like, A News Story, and flag it if it's off topic, but I thought Mefites might like to know that my family member's life was just recently saved by American-sent M777 artillery that was able to knock out a unit that was besieging their unit. So all of you who have sent letters to your representatives asking for us to send more equipment, from the bottom of my heart I am really grateful.
posted by corb at 1:33 PM on June 4 [59 favorites]


On Wednesday, Ukrainians stopped retreating, forming a strong defensive line at the western third of the city after a fighting retreat that's bled the Russians badly but giving them 70% of Sievierodonetsk. Thursday they counter-attacked, and as of today, the Russian share is less than 50%, potentially a lot less depending on how it goes today, and they're blowing bridges in their retreat, which reduces the strategic value of the city even more, but slows the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Basically, the Russians got played badly.
posted by fatbird at 1:33 PM on June 4 [9 favorites]


I've taken the blowing up of bridges by the Russian army as strategic monkey wrench and positive sign. They wouldn't be blowing them if they thought they'd want to cross them again.
posted by VTX at 1:42 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


> What’s this about feints and retaking Sievierodonetsk?

fatbird gave a pretty good summary of that, so here's a related Phillips O'Brien thread on the continued degradation of the Russian assault on Donbas in general and Sievierodonetsk in particular. As noted, there are a lot of reports from numerous sources of increasingly successful Ukrainian advances there -- this post has an image aggregating some of the OsInt and overlaying potential front lines on a map of the city.

Official sources are now talking about fully retaking S'donetsk. The situation there is really interesting.

We don't know how much of the withdrawal there was a forced move or a tactical gambit. What is known is that the Russians have relied very heavily through out this part of the war on artillery. I've seen a number of interviews from soldiers in that salient (I can try to find them again if anyone's interested) talking about how, with the lines mostly stabilized, they're basically under a continual rain of shells from dawn to dusk and into the night and haven't seen an actual Russian, sometimes, in days.

Russian artillery has, for the most part, outranged what Ukraine has, so they have the advantage in a protracted artillery duel (at least, until more of "our" stuff gets over there, but even then quantity favors the Russian side -- until their total lack of supply makes them combat ineffective). It seems like the Ukrainians may have decided to adopt a tactic used in the past by similarly overmatched armies: get under the artillery and into the face of the enemy. If you're nose to nose their troops, it's a lot harder for their back lines to lob shells on you without becoming large-scale friendly fire.

So yeah, the reason folks are talking about a feint is that it's possible they deliberately pulled out of S'donetsk to draw the Russians into the city, where they can then advance back into close contact, neutralize the artillery advantage, and force the Russians to commit the dwindling, demoralized ground forces they have to urban combat.

Or maybe it's just worked out that way... we probably won't know for a long time. But what we do know is that Russia have massively concentrated their forces in this area and imbalanced their lines to do so. This image from the most recent update by Jomini of the West illustrates the known positions of Russian forces; you can see the density around the area, and Sievierodonetsk in particular.

If the Ukrainians can not just absorb, but push back against, the schwerpunkt of all the forces currently comitted to the front, it bodes well for coming days.
posted by jammer at 2:25 PM on June 4 [12 favorites]




Here's a tweet showing a view of Sievierodonetsk from the Ukrainian-controlled heights outside the city. Also shows a highly detailed drawing (joking) of what the high points mean for the UAF. Here's a topographical map of the area around the city.

Gives a good idea why the Ukrainians decided to roll the dice here. Concentrate the Russians into a relatively small area in the lowlands. And then blow the hell out of them from the high points while also engaging them in the streets.

After the war, it will be interesting to know how much of a role the civilian government played in setting up this situation. For a few weeks, Zelenskyy et al were making some dire statements about the situation in the east. The rumor now is that those statements were a deliberate disinformation campaign to make Russia overconfident and set this battle up.

Have no idea if Zelenskyy was playing 5D chess, or was genuinely worried about the Russian offensive. But it's fun to think he and his people were ahead of the game.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 7:14 PM on June 4 [13 favorites]


Some sources are now claiming that the UA has recaptured all of Severodonetsk (no idea if I should be putting the i in there or not). This may end up being a strategic masterstroke, if true and deliberate, because word is also that all Russian offensive power was concentrated there to take the city, to the point of weakening other defensive lines to their regret (such as in northern Kherson oblast).

As the prisoners they're taking are now air force ground personnel who "volunteered" to fight as infantry, alongside tanks from the 1970s... I won't claim the Russian army has collapsed, but this very much feels like that "staving off collapse" phase.
posted by fatbird at 7:30 PM on June 4 [6 favorites]


> no idea if I should be putting the i in there or not

As Your Childhood Pet Rock noted above, Spelling Ukraine is a fantastic resource for people who want to be attentive to getting Ukrainian names right. I use it frequently (although less so as the names become increasingly familiar).

In this case, it's Sievierodonetsk.
posted by jammer at 7:59 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]


Some sources are now claiming that the UA has recaptured all of Severodonetsk (no idea if I should be putting the i in there or not).

https://spellingukraine.com/

There is no Є in the Russian language so Russians spell it "Северодоне́цк" while Ukrainians spell it "Сєверодоне́цьк". Є transliterates as "ie" while the Russian е transliterates as e.

You wouldn't like it if someone kept spelling Canada as Canadoux because the French pronounce it differently.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:04 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


I don't think "the French", or indeed the Quebecois, pronounce it "Canadoux."
posted by Rumple at 9:19 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


Sometimes they do pronounce it "les maudit anglais", but this feels like a derail. (And it was just post-FLQ when I lived there, so maybe not quite as often anymore.)
posted by bcd at 10:21 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


Canadians. Y'know, from Canadia.
(I continue the derail only for the theory that occasional ironic use of 'Ukrainia' deactivates whatever linguistic neuron it is which makes 'the Ukraine' persist for those afflicted.)
posted by bartleby at 10:30 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


A beautifully written account of the (ongoing) arrivals from Ukraine at Bucharest's Gara de Nord train station: We don’t talk about the war here.
posted by jpziller at 1:40 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


I have an increasingly strong suspicion that this is the last major Russian offensive they'll be able to mount. Slava Ukraine.

I've also thought for a while the bungled invasion of Kyiv made a lot more sense if they were supposed to be supported by the Belarus army.
posted by Jacen at 3:15 AM on June 5 [9 favorites]


So they're getting generals out of retirement to fly fighters, and sending fighter pilots (whom it takes a lot of resources to train) to the meat grinder of the infantry?

If I didn't know better, I'd guess this was some kind of tax writeoff scam, like a geopolitical version of The Producers or something.
posted by acb at 4:56 AM on June 5 [11 favorites]


There is no Є in the Russian language so Russians spell it "Северодоне́цк" while Ukrainians spell it "Сєверодоне́цьк". Є transliterates as "ie" while the Russian е transliterates as e.

You wouldn't like it if someone kept spelling Canada as Canadoux because the French pronounce it differently.


Well the thing is, if this is indeed how the Quebecois said it that would be cool. And there are Russian speaking Ukrainians, loyal to the state, who pronounce/spell it that way - probably people who lived in Sievierodonetsk. I think as outsiders it is OK to be aware of the issue but not worth ongoing thread battles about it.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:56 AM on June 5 [9 favorites]


(One of the excellent things about Ukraine is that it is not an ethnostate)
posted by Meatbomb at 5:57 AM on June 5 [11 favorites]


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9skW4Wvtxo

Excellent interview which includes the idea of civic nationalism as opposed to ethnic nationalism.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 7:09 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Major General Kutuzov Roman Vladimirovich has apparently died. Not many sources at the moment, but this is coming largely from Russian accounts. Not sure what the death count for Russian generals is at the moment. 12? 13?
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:51 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


So they're getting generals out of retirement to fly fighters, and sending fighter pilots (whom it takes a lot of resources to train) to the meat grinder of the infantry?
I might have missed something (and if so, could I please have a link?), but I read that the "air force -> infantry" thing was ground crew, not fighter pilots.

Not that that's not still absurd, but "fighter pilots -> infantry" would be an amazingly larger level of absurdity.
posted by Flunkie at 9:58 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Yes, it's definitely groundcrew who got Shanghaied into infantry positions. Even groundcrew need training, but with the loses to aircraft and pilots, what are they going to service anyway?
posted by porpoise at 10:27 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Today's ISW summary could be summarized as "Counter-attack ALL the things!"

In addition to the recapture of significant bits of Sievierodonetsk, they're continuing to pressure around Kherson, and have also begun retaking (or re-retaking) settlements around Kharkiv. One almost wonders if they're playing a deadly game of keepaway, prodding various parts of the front to keep the Russians off balance and shuffling forces back and forth.
posted by jammer at 5:06 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


The geography of Sievierodonetsk is particularly bad for the Russians. The city sits on the low side of the river with Ukraine’s army able to sit in the hills on the other side with their artillery and rain fire down on them.
posted by interogative mood at 6:26 PM on June 5


Zelensky visited Lysychansk today, which is those heights that Ukraine is shelling Sieverodonetsk from. Quite a statement of confidence in his troops, given how that's right at the tip of the Donbas salient.
posted by tavella at 7:34 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


UK is sending M270s to Ukraine as a response for Russia's renewed attacks on Kyiv.

The M270 being the equivalent of HIMARS (both are MLRS) on a tracked Bradley IFV instead of a wheeled truck like the M142 the US will be sending.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:45 PM on June 5


We're all war correspondents now’ How the war has changed Ukrainian journalism
11:54 am, June 6, 2022
Source: Meduza

The war in Ukraine has been deadly for reporters. The Ukrainian Institute of Mass Information has recorded 243 crimes against journalists and the media committed by Russian troops since the start of the invasion (as of the end of April). At least 32 journalists have died. Reporters have been tortured and kidnapped, and at the end of April, at least 15 Ukrainian media employees had gone missing. Over 100 regional Ukrainian outlets have had to shut down due to threats from Russia. In early May, the Pulitzer Prize committee dedicated a special award to all Ukrainian journalists — for “their bravery, resilience, and commitment to truthful coverage” of the Russian invasion. Five Ukrainian journalists told Meduza about what it’s like to live and work under these unprecedented circumstances.
posted by 15L06 at 6:17 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


Obviously in the short term Ukraine just need all the weapons they can get. But in the long term is it going to be a problem for them that they have a miscellany of donated weapons systems, all of which need different user training, spare parts, maintenance training and so on?
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:54 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Perhaps there will be a follow-on program where we help to demilitarize the place by buying back extra arms, for money that can be used to rebuild all those roads, bridges, hospitals, apartment buildings, and other destroyed infrastructure.

It would help to reduce the "falling into the wrong hands" problem, shrink the Ukrainians' maintenance footprint of too many disparate systems, and also jumpstart the rebuilding.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:06 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Just send whatever is left to Moldova and Georgia.
posted by ryanrs at 8:14 AM on June 6 [9 favorites]


Obviously in the short term Ukraine just need all the weapons they can get. But in the long term is it going to be a problem for them that they have a miscellany of donated weapons systems, all of which need different user training, spare parts, maintenance training and so on?

Not really since all this donated hardware is either NATO or Warsaw spec. Straight to the west of Ukraine is a massive NATO workshop that can do everything that the Ukrainians can't while they're still getting maintenance logistics up and going. Not to mention a lot of those countries can still repair Warsaw pact hardware. The Czechs are already repairing Ukrainian tanks and no doubt Poland can handle a lot of the heavy lifting or at least getting the hardware to someone who can via rail with their massive investment in getting Ukrainian rail linked to Europe.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:21 AM on June 6 [6 favorites]


Perhaps there will be a follow-on program where we help to demilitarize the place by buying back extra arms, for money that can be used to rebuild all those roads, bridges, hospitals, apartment buildings, and other destroyed infrastructure.

It won't demilitarize for at least a generation. Much like Finland, if Ukraine is going to be a Western bastion against Russian aggression on the border in Europe it will need to keep the lion's share of armor and anti-armor in country.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:31 AM on June 6 [7 favorites]


And if Ukraine wants to take on that role then all the hardware we've donated is right where NATO should want it.

There is still the problem of having to keep, maintain and train for having all these disparate systems in one military being inefficient for multiple reasons but that can be a long-term project. Maybe involving some arrangement where, say, Britain buys back it's M270s to get some cash for rebuilding and the US and/or NATO replaces them with additional HIMARS systems at no cost.

But there's no telling what the Ukraine military's inventory will be like by the time this is over and what preferences they'll have after having used all this stuff in the field.

I'm more in favor of just giving Ukraine funds to rebuild just because it's the right thing to do but if they need to be more circumspect about it...whatever. As long as they're getting the funds.
posted by VTX at 10:54 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the "falling into wrong hands thing", originates with Ulrike Guerot. I refuse to link anything by / from her. Suffice it to say, after supplying first antivaxxers with an academic cloak, she now spouts statements on how Germany must not supply weapons. Her latest was that the weapons will potentially fall into wrong hands.
posted by 15L06 at 11:03 AM on June 6 [11 favorites]


One option for Ukraine is to divest itself of Soviet/Russian systems by selling or trading them to other NATO countries still using it, and accepting US aid to modernize on western hardware. There's a big transition there, but it would frequently be superior equipment, NATO standard, and absolutely current, which is preferable for a front-line country, I would think.

An alternative is to help other former soviet-armed countries transition to western systems by handing their gear over to Ukraine.

It'll be interesting to see which way the UA goes. They were incredibly effective with mostly Russian gear, and Russian systems tend to have much lower maintenance costs and be more rugged overall. Where western systems are proving decisive is in capability gaps--they want long range artillery and missiles; they don't want Abrams/Leopard/Challenger tanks. The tanks they have are sufficient.

Longer term, converting themselves to full western equipment makes them very dependent upon the West for ongoing military aid for both parts and the funds to maintain the gear. Ukraine actually makes a lot of the parts for the Russian systems they use. Just because they're very happy to have western aid and friendship, doesn't mean Ukraine wants to end the war firmly dependent upon NATO largesse.
posted by fatbird at 11:05 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


One option for Ukraine is to divest itself of Soviet/Russian systems by selling or trading them to other NATO countries still using it, and accepting US aid to modernize on western hardware. There's a big transition there, but it would frequently be superior equipment, NATO standard, and absolutely current, which is preferable for a front-line country, I would think.

There's very little left. It's all been modernized over the past couple of decades and of what's left most of it is being sent to Ukraine.

It'll be interesting to see which way the UA goes. They were incredibly effective with mostly Russian gear, and Russian systems tend to have much lower maintenance costs and be more rugged overall. Where western systems are proving decisive is in capability gaps--they want long range artillery and missiles; they don't want Abrams/Leopard/Challenger tanks. The tanks they have are sufficient.

Yes and no. Russia has no third generation ATGM which would be especially effective against NATO armor. They have nothing right now for getting through the active countermeasures being deployed on the next generation of main battle tanks. Soviet era tanks are cramped death traps that basically kill everyone inside when the turret gets popped, a legacy of the Soviet military doctrine of "we have more bodies than they have bullets". So while the tanks they have are "sufficient" for a life and death struggle of existence, in a future war that one is more prepared for, one would probably prefer a tank that's practically invincible against an aggressor or at least not killing everyone upon taking a hit.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:30 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Poland is backfilling the Soviet tanks its sending with Abrams, which is part of why it's willing to send so many. Some Soviet-based systems have proven to be as or more capable than expected (like the artillery, air defenses, some of the more recent fighting vehicles) but not the battle tanks. Especially the most plentiful (and affordable) models.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:51 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


I found this interesting timeline of news releases for a Canadian gold miner with Russian assets.
The Company is Kinross, they produce about 2 million ounces of gold per year.

February 23, 2022
Kinross Russia mines operating according to plan, unaffected by sanctions
"Kinross has successfully operated in Russia for more than 25 years and has previously managed through similar situations"


March 2, 2022
Kinross to suspend Russian operations
"The Company today is announcing a donation of $1,000,000 to the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine


March 29, 2022
Kinross plans to divest its Russian assets


April 5, 2022
Kinross announces sale of Russian assets
--
Quite the change of heart over a few weeks
posted by yyz at 12:24 PM on June 6 [10 favorites]


I wonder how much of that is key personel saying get bent when it was time to fly out of Canada for a rotation.
posted by Mitheral at 12:37 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


Yeah, even if you don't have moral issues with helping Russia, I would not care to be a valuable westerner in Russia right now. Going by the Griner case, they will certainly use any legal trouble to hold you hostage, and it's not hard to create those situations.
posted by tavella at 1:52 PM on June 6 [8 favorites]


Here's an obituary and photo that touched me:
This is Roman at #Kyiv #Pride    2021.
He wanted to live in a free & progressive country. But on May 31, Roman was killed in #Kharkiv in a battle against #russians.

We've lost Roman, but memory of him will live forever, as well as the values ​​he defended.
RIP
#pridemonth2022
Roman is the tall man in back. In the foreground is his beloved friend, Oleksa Lungu, who posted his own brief remembrance.

Kyiv's Pride Parade will be held in Warsaw this year, on June 25, as a joint effort with WarsawPride. But they will still celebrate Pride Week in Kyiv. One part of the celebration will be an exhibition of LGBTQ people who are fighting and those who had to become refugees. I hope elements of this exhibition will make it online.

And finally, Sergej Sumlenny posted some encouraging poll numbers:
Ukraine is a mega open country. 57,6% of Ukrainians look at LGBT people positively or neutrally. 63,7% of Ukrainians want that LGBT people enjoy the same rights as heterosexual people. 81% of Ukrainians welcome LGBT people who fight as Ukrainian soldiers against Russian invasion.

This huge democratic lap Ukraine has done within the last 8 years after Maidan is irreversible - and one of the reasons neo-Nazi Putin’s Russia has attacked Ukraine.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 3:44 PM on June 6 [13 favorites]


one would probably prefer a tank that's practically invincible against an aggressor or at least not killing everyone upon taking a hit.

In a fight, I would take an Abrams or a Leopard 2 over a modernized Russian tank any day, but Ukraine continues to be a demonstration of what's always been true about tanks: they require proper combined arms management to be effective and survivable, and if you have that, then you consider things like "100 Abrams, or 500 upgraded T-72s, once maintenance costs are factored in?" And I don't know what the ratio is there, I just suspect that the answer isn't as straightforward as the 1:1 matchup suggests. In fact, I think the UA's postwar evaluation of which route to take will be really, really interesting, especially since a lot of projected future tank development is for smaller tanks. The current Abrams-likes are already self-limiting due to their weight and maintenance costs.
posted by fatbird at 4:37 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Kyiv's Pride Parade will be held in Warsaw this year

I imagine PiS are somewhat conflicted about that.
posted by acb at 5:15 PM on June 6


In a fight, I would take an Abrams or a Leopard 2 over a modernized Russian tank any day, but Ukraine continues to be a demonstration of what's always been true about tanks: they require proper combined arms management to be effective and survivable, and if you have that, then you consider things like "100 Abrams, or 500 upgraded T-72s, once maintenance costs are factored in?" And I don't know what the ratio is there, I just suspect that the answer isn't as straightforward as the 1:1 matchup suggests.

The biggest problem is that any sort of Trophy equipped Abrams will undoubtedly be a monster of a thing for the Russians to deal with. Not a single one of the Merkava Mark IVs walking into Gaza was taken out despite intense ATGM fire and Hamas are going to be using mostly the same Kornets the Russians would be using. Meanwhile the US bought $200m worth of the equipment and where did they stick them? On 80 Abrams out in Eastern Europe.
The system has intercepted a variety of threats, including the Kornet ATGM, RPG-29, among others. The U.S Army has reported similar success in tests. “I tried to kill the Abrams tank 48 times and failed,” said US Army Col. Glenn Dean.
Given that Russia has no third generation ATGM and no real possibility to even create one with APS countermeasures with the complete lack of tech under sanctions, it's as close as one can get to a silver bullet for taking out Russian forces. Sure you might have less tanks but the ones you would have just wouldn't die. Plus you wouldn't lose nearly as many trained tankers during a war of attrition which is exactly what one is going to be fighting in any conflict with Russia.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:30 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


The biggest problem is that any sort of Trophy equipped Abrams will undoubtedly be a monster of a thing for the Russians to deal with.

US Army tankers will tell you -- with very little provocation -- that there is no currently fielded land-based weapons system in the world that can reliably defeat an Abrams platoon. (And they're counting Javelins in that.)
posted by Etrigan at 5:55 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


I wouldn’t worry too much about demilitarizing Ukraine after the war. Remember that a lot of this equipment has relatively short service life once put to use. For example gun barrels wear out after firing a set number of round. Military trucks, APCs and tanks need constant maintenance and once in actual combat get beaten up quickly.
posted by interogative mood at 6:02 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I think when this is brought up people are thinking about munitions being turned into IEDs. But any IEDs are going to be coming from pro Russia factions and they have a pipeline after the war to that sort of thing already from Russia directly.
posted by Mitheral at 6:06 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Abrams is like little land battleship. It's APC, supply trucks, medivac, air (Helo, jets, drones, bombers)/artillery support with HELLFIRE & TOW. A company is only 4-5 tanks. a company is 14-17.

"With the deployment of 3rd ABCT, U.S. Army will have three armored brigades in Europe at one time for the first time, since 2007. The other armored brigades currently in theater are the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. A"

"An ABCT includes 87 Abrams, 152 Bradley IFVs, 18 M109s and 45 armed M113 vehicles.[10] The operational cost for these combat systems is $66,735 per mile."

So....
Ukraine has a robust arms, aircraft and naval building capacity.
posted by clavdivs at 7:12 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


The biggest problem is that any sort of Trophy equipped Abrams will undoubtedly be a monster of a thing for the Russians to deal with.

So what if the choice for Ukrainians is 100 Trophy equipped Abrams, or 500 Trophy equipped T-84s, which is the T-80 they build domestically?
posted by fatbird at 7:31 PM on June 6


The interesting thing about the kinetic or "hard kill" active defense systems, is that once they get good enough to be relied on, a whole lot of metal armor on the tank starts to look obsolete. You could thin down the armor until it just protects against heavy machine-gun fire and flak, and let the active defense system take care of ATGMs (and maybe in the future APFSDS rounds, although that's a tall order). And what you end up with might be pretty different from a current Abrams, Leopard, Merkava, etc.

What I'd also expect to see -- and I am honestly a bit surprised the Russians seem to not have tried to pursue, given their current manpower deficiencies -- is hybrid (manned and remote-controlled / semi-autonomous) formations with multiple remotely operated tanks controlled by a single manned one. The manned one could be heavily armored both passively and with active defense, but maybe the unmanned ones could rely more exclusively on active defense, and use the weight savings for greater speed or range. And those 3-man Russian tanks with their deathtrap carousel autoloaders would actually be good candidates for automation and remote control. (They're certainly not great for human crews.)

It'd be hard to automate a tank like the Abrams that depends on a human loader, but it might make a good command vehicle to control lighter remote-controlled tanks over a difficult-to-jam NLOS link.

Ukraine seems likely to be on the forefront of this stuff, because they're (1) going to be highly motivated to field a credible defense force on a tight budget, and keep it credible against any future advancements by Russia, and (2) they are likely to have a mixed bag of old and new, East and West equipment, which they may not be able to just scrap and replace entirely at any point.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:36 PM on June 6


Ukraine's industrial capacity raises two larger question for me, which may be better as an Ask, but I'll try it here.

In the near term: one might have concerns about how vocal and detailed we've all been about what Russia has been doing wrong - a lot of 'what they should have done is X'. What if they regroup and rearm and follow that advice?
But what if they can't do that, sanctions or no, because they simply don't have the capacity anymore? What if there are no more MiGs, because their jet engines were made in Ukraine, and there's no existing facility within Russia that can copycat them? What if Uralvagon can still make tank hulls (provided they can get steel); but the complex targeting and control systems are beyond their ability to produce domestically?

Which brings me to the second, more historical question. Once upon a time, everything east of Berlin was 'Soviet', and since it was all micromanaged from Moscow, people in the west used 'Russian' and 'Soviet' somewhat interchangeably.
So whenever there was an achievement by the USSR, it was billed as another triumph of 'Soviet Science', 'Russian Engineering', etc. But how much of that was actually done by what are now Ex-Soviets, and how much by Russians?

(A dumb example of what I mean is Ukranian-American TV and movie star Mila Kunis grew up telling people her family moved from 'Russia'; because she would get tired of trying to explain where Ukraine was within the USSR, and her family spoke Russian at home. So 'Russian' was easier. No more!)

So I'm wondering if there's any scholarship about...how to put it.
'We shall rebuild, and innovate, and Make Russia Great Again!'
"Um, Sir? What you think of as 'Russian' achievements were only possible because as Soviets we had Ukranian grain and coal, and Polish engineers, and Czech mathematicians. Lithuanian sea captains and Croatian chess masters and Slovenian ballerinas."
How much of what westerners of a certain age thought of as 'Russian equals Soviet' power and capacity is now only the leftovers of 'Russia minus Soviet'?

Did Eastern Europe get the larger part of all the brains, resources, and skills in the divorce?
Like, Russia still has the Baikonur Cosmodrome space launch facility - but most of the rocket scientists moved west and got a better deal at the European Space Agency? And Russia can no longer educate and train sufficient replacements?

Is this a war against what is one generation away from being just a hollowed-out petrostate? Or is that a dangerous under-estimation?
posted by bartleby at 8:29 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Kind of seeming like maybe there's no "one generation away from being" about it.
posted by Flunkie at 8:55 PM on June 6 [8 favorites]


just a hollowed-out petrostate

I found two of the articles I was looking for that describe the basic economy of Russia as a gangster state: there are large, profitable enterprises, but they're low-level extraction industries or high level import and sell commercial concerns, because those are easy to understand and easy to skim from. Complex industry like machine tools is hard run as an oligarch because they aren't engineers, they're thugs. Consequently, they can't even build a domestic tractor: when Putin demanded a project to do so, they imported tractor kits from the Czech Republic and set up a factory to assemble them. They can't build the kind of precision tooling needed for optics, so they can make eyeglasses, but the tooling to do so comes from Germany. So yes, they can cast a tank hull, but they have no organic ability to make the gunsights.

Russia’s sanctions soft underbelly: precision machine tools
Putin tried to create a homegrown tech industry. His failure could be key to a Russian defeat, experts say
posted by fatbird at 9:32 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (right-wingers currently in power in Poland) have been intermittently vocally anti-LGBT whenever there's a corruption scandal they want to cover up, aka every other Tuesday, but they haven't tried banning Warsaw Pride since 2005. Last year was epic, and this year with our Ukrainian siblings it should completely block the city.

(I'm just glad we're in the EU because any time the idiots get up to legal discrimination, they get their EU money blocked until they backpedal.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:40 PM on June 6 [15 favorites]


Did Eastern Europe get the larger part of all the brains, resources, and skills in the divorce?

It's not what you have; I suggest that probably every country has the same amount of per capita human potential in terms of brains and skills. But some of them are much better at converting their human potential into actual benefit. At the lowest rung of the economic ladder, some people don't the nutrition they need to physically develop (and the brain is a physical organ). A step higher up, they don't have the education. By the time you get to a reasonably developed country like Russia, it becomes more abstract, as in:

I found two of the articles I was looking for that describe the basic economy of Russia as a gangster state:

The original twitter thread from Kamil Galeev. Fundamentally, once a business gets complex enough, specialists have to be the ones running it, because they have the skills. You can use force to make someone pick fruit or to keep an oil well turned on, because the next guy can do it just as well. But you can't force someone to invent things that you're not capable of understanding; you can't tell if they're doing a good job or not. Knowledge is power, literally. The more knowledge a sector requires to operate, the less power the people nominally in control have over it. And so the Russians (per Galeev) have focused on basic sectors where the oligarchs can use their power to control and profit from industry. And systems like that are great at exporting two things; basic goods and highly trained, skilled experts -- because there's no future for them at home.
posted by Superilla at 10:14 PM on June 6 [14 favorites]


So whenever there was an achievement by the USSR, it was billed as another triumph of 'Soviet Science', 'Russian Engineering', etc. But how much of that was actually done by what are now Ex-Soviets, and how much by Russians?

Definitely it was both. There was a constant brain drain out of all of those countries. From what I've heard in my engineering family though, visiting the Soviet Union proper was a shock of inequality.
posted by UN at 10:26 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


whenever there was an achievement by the USSR, it was billed as another triumph of 'Soviet Science', 'Russian Engineering', etc. But how much of that was actually done by what are now Ex-Soviets, and how much by Russians?

This is a topic for an entire thread of its own. It cannot be answered meaningfully in a couple of comments.
Maybe make thread about Russia?
posted by 15L06 at 10:33 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Which brings me to the second, more historical question. Once upon a time, everything east of Berlin was 'Soviet', and since it was all micromanaged from Moscow, people in the west used 'Russian' and 'Soviet' somewhat interchangeably.
So whenever there was an achievement by the USSR, it was billed as another triumph of 'Soviet Science', 'Russian Engineering', etc. But how much of that was actually done by what are now Ex-Soviets, and how much by Russians?

So I'm wondering if there's any scholarship about...how to put it. (...) achievements were only possible because as Soviets we had Ukranian grain and coal, and Polish engineers, and Czech mathematicians. Lithuanian sea captains and Croatian chess masters and Slovenian ballerinas."
How much of what westerners of a certain age thought of as 'Russian equals
Once upon a time, everything east of Berlin was 'Soviet',

You conflate the Soviet Union with the Eastern Bloc or Warsaw Pact States. Ukraine was Soviet, as was Lithuania, but Poland and Czechoslovakia were not members of the Soviet Union.
Neither were Croatia and Slovenia, who did Not exist as states until seeking independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

A book that might help you:
Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 is a 2005 non-fiction book written by British historian and scholar Tony Judt who specialised in European history. The book examines six decades of European history from the end of World War II in 1945 up to 2005.

*People living East, West or anywhere on the same continent as Berlin know this.
posted by 15L06 at 11:22 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


PS Apologies for the snarky foot note. Wish i could delete it.
posted by 15L06 at 11:40 PM on June 6


The original twitter thread from Kamil Galeev.

Thanks Superilla. That's the thread I originally read.
posted by fatbird at 11:44 PM on June 6


Oh absolutely 15L06, I stand corrected. No worries.
(As ignorant of world geography as North Americans tend to be, there's a special blank spot for Eastern Europe for Cold War Kids. Blame the fact that for a generation, every school kid's maps and globes just had an undifferentiated red blob marked USSR.
You would have had to take an interest and asked someone to go over older/advanced maps with you; and they would point things out phrased as "this used to be Hungary, this was Poland before the war". It would get even more confusing later - "Dad, you said we were Russian Jews. But great-grandma and -granpa were from Minsk, and that's in Belarus?" 'Well, it is now. It's complicated.'
Even now, when you play the Watch an American Fill in a Blank Map of Europe party game, you'll sometimes get the chance to groan and roll your eyes when one asks 'Wait, which one's Yugoslavia? This one?')
posted by bartleby at 11:57 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


I'm an American cold war kid, and I always knew of Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and IDK East Germany as separate (but Soviet-aligned) countries. Belarus or Ukraine though I thought of as just part of USSR. The Baltic states I wasn't so clear on.
posted by aubilenon at 12:54 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


You can use force to make someone pick fruit or to keep an oil well turned on, because the next guy can do it just as well. But you can't force someone to invent things that you're not capable of understanding; you can't tell if they're doing a good job or not. Knowledge is power, literally

If you're Stalin, you can send highly skilled experts to be tortured to death in the gulag, just to demonstrate to others that skills won't protect them. If you're one of Stalin's heirs, you can repeat the trick, because while its results are shitty, it's a far easier trick than pivoting to a modern knowledge economy.
posted by acb at 2:07 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


Bartleby, thank you for being generous, much appreciated.

I have been pondering about a sort of concise scholarly source on the knowledge and labor drain following the break up of the Soviet Union (eg how much of that was actually done by what are now Ex-Soviets, and how much by Russians?).
If you like, i can ask a friend for her recommendation. I found some stuff online but i hesitate to recommend something because i do not know at least the names of the authors and don't want to accidentally recommend someone without a sound scholarly background. Re Ukraine this is easy, because of my job, which involves admin work for scholars of Ukraine.
But i also think this question is beyond the scope of this thread in many ways, simply because the topic of how Russia fared since 1991, economic and otherwise keeps thousands of Scholars busy 🤗
One book on Post Soviet Union Russia i really found helpful and have no hesitancy to recommend is Masha Gessen's The Future is History.
She manages to combine general information with individual histories into a very readable book. But it does not explicitly address your question.
posted by 15L06 at 2:40 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Bartleby, you might want to take a look at a Cold War era map again. Neither Poland or Hungary were ever a part of the USSR. (Unless you meant some territories changing hands, like Lviv.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 5:19 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Figured I might as well keep digging the hole deeper until only my ignorance was visible. [embarrassed face]
posted by bartleby at 5:33 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


It's okay. I would not be able to correctly place all states and am frequently confused how many states there are and also how those lands that the French invaded are related to todays states. If this makes sense.
posted by 15L06 at 7:06 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


In other news, a member of the Polish government (as above - rabid right wingers) has confirmed in a newspaper that depreciating the diplomatic efforts of France and Germany is their new tactic to convince Poles that the EU is useless/dangerous. Hence promoting Poland and the UK as Ukraine's only true allies. Something you might want to keep in mind when reading memes and Twitter.

(As a Pole, it's emotionally complicated, but Macron is clearly playing good cop and putting his own ego aside to keep diplomatic channels open, which wouldn't be a bad tactic if the EU camp was coordinated enough to play with actual tactics...)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 7:33 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


Like, Russia still has the Baikonur Cosmodrome

No, Baikonur is in Kazakhstan. If you think Kazakhstan is technologically backward you've fallen victim to a racist stereotype. I've taught engineering students from around the world and in my experience Kazakhstan is producing quite possibly the on average best prepared STEM students of any country I know. Another example of talent the Soviets had which the Russians lack.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:24 AM on June 7 [22 favorites]


The challenge with advanced Western weaponrs: the Ukrainian Army doesn't know how to use them.
"“It’s like being given an iPhone 13 and only being able to make phone calls,” said Sergeant Pysanka, clearly exasperated.

The range finder, called a JIM LR, is like a pair of high-tech binoculars and likely part of the tranche of equipment supplied by the United States, said Sergeant Pysanka.

It may seem like a perfect choice to help make better use of the antitank gun, built in 1985. It can see targets at night and transmit their distance, compass heading and GPS coordinates. Some soldiers learned enough to operate the tool, but then rotated elsewhere in recent days, leaving the unit with an expensive paperweight.

“I have been trying to learn how to use it by reading the manual in English and using Google Translate to understand it,” Sergeant Pysanka said."
posted by storybored at 10:41 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Hopefully the training and maintenance issues are just "growing pains" as the gear and training filter out to the Ukrainian army and they gain experience and expertise. Obviously we should be putting as many resources into the necessary training as possible.

By the same token I think its time we start training the Ukrainians on the gear which we have previously denied them because "they don't have the necessary training to use it". This war is going to continue for months if not years at this point, and the Ukrainians are going to need an air force and air defenses, the sooner the better.

I think its time to start training them on western fighters and SAMs.
posted by Reverend John at 1:03 PM on June 7 [7 favorites]


I've taught engineering students from around the world and in my experience Kazakhstan is producing quite possibly the on average best prepared STEM students of any country I know.

Russia has outsourced hard brainwork to ethnic minorities for a long time now.
posted by ocschwar at 1:34 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


With regard to something I keep hearing out in the world, I am just utterly stupified that so many people think Russia is communist. I feel utterly defeated by the scope of this ignorance — are so many people this confused about recent history and global politics?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:29 PM on June 7 [21 favorites]


I suspect many of them think "communist" means the same thing that Putin thinks "Nazi" means: "not doing what we want".
posted by Reverend John at 8:53 PM on June 7 [11 favorites]


I mean, both examples are evidence that a lot of stuff that's supposedly about ideology, really isn't.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:13 PM on June 7 [8 favorites]


With regard to something I keep hearing out in the world, I am just utterly stupified that so many people think Russia is communist.

They're clearly wrong factually, but given the reversion to the pervasive state propaganda, authoritarianism, sham elections, unceasing belligerence, and the persecution complex that typified the Soviet era (basically everything but the economics), I can see how they might be confused.

After all, the western propaganda of the Soviet era was way more focused on those things (and associating them with communism) than it was on the economic system.
posted by wierdo at 9:38 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


@franakviacorka
Three months of Russia’s war in Ukraine in 1.5 minutes. Russia launched at least 2100 missiles at Ukraine. 633 were launched from Belarus.
This ends on May 26, so it's not wholly up-to-date, yet I still found this quite illuminating. Looks like Russia has consolidated their hold in the south but hasn't really captured anything since March, while Ukraine has completed repelled Russia's offensive in the north, and pushing them back on several fronts.
posted by mikelieman at 4:32 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]


I asked about how much of Soviet achievement was from non-Russians on my facebook, and the answer was that between ethnic mixing and geographic chaos, it would be really hard to tell who's a Russian and who isn't.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 11:06 AM on June 8 [5 favorites]


... are so many people this confused about recent history and global politics?

Yes.

('Twas ever thus.)
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:39 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


hard to tell who's a Russian and who isn't.

this has come up on the maternal side of my family more than once over recent months -- half that side of emigrated from Ukraine, but ultimately we have no idea to what extent the conceived of themselves as Russian or Ukrainian (or whether the "Russian" they spoke to each other was actually Ukrainian -- none of their kids retained any of it, and are all gone now anyway). Under the USSR, their domestic passports would have had their nationality as Jewish, and they may have chiefly spoken Yiddish at home.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:49 PM on June 8 [10 favorites]


Anyone want to translate some Russian for me? It's not a ton of text, mostly labels on equipment and screens. Basic knowledge of radio and electronics is a plus for understanding context and abbreviations.

Ham radio operators who read Russian and support Ukraine, please PM me, this is right up your alley.

(For everyone else, I guarantee this is less exciting than you think. Also I only have a couple images so far.)
posted by ryanrs at 10:07 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


If you have an android phone with a camera, google's Translate app has an impressively good character recognition algorithm where you can point your camera at text and it translates on top of the original text in real time.

(earlier today, a coworker showed me on his phone a picture of a brand of tinned beef originating from Russia which is experiencing some popularity in China - the app on my phone was able to read the writing in stylized font on a picture of a tin can as 'Trooper's Special')
posted by porpoise at 10:23 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Ideally I want a translation by a human who understands how to operate the equipment.
posted by ryanrs at 10:31 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


This request should go to Mefi Jobs.
posted by 15L06 at 11:04 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


An important Twitter thread from German journalist Isolde Ruhdorfer on Putin influencers in non-English-speaking countries.

Reading it in English involves clicking on each individual tweet in turn to "Translate Tweet", so to save you the trouble, here's the thread (but do look at the thread as well for the influencers' war-selfies):

Do you know Alina Lipp, "Putin's "info warrior"? I have bad news: she is not alone. Across Europe, influencers and self-proclaimed journalists are making propaganda for Russia. This is a strategy of the Kremlin. I looked at that

Do you know Liu Sivaya? She is 28, a political scientist, comes from Krasnoyarsk in Siberia and has been living in Spain for 10 years. She claims that Zelenskyi "bombed his own people" in the Donbass and tells her followers in Spain about the alleged Nazis in Ukraine.

Or Vittorio Rangeloni, 30, Italian with Russian roots. He has lived in Donbass since 2015 and claims that the Ukrainian army constantly uses civilians as a shield. His audience: in Italy.

Why are they relevant? Because they have gained extreme reach. From sometimes a few thousand followers in January to tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands today.

And because the content of RT and Sputnik is now banned in the EU. These are two stations that belong to a Russian state media group and that the constitutional protection had in mind. Now that they are no longer allowed to broadcast, private actors are becoming increasingly important.

This strategy is not entirely new. Russian state communications in the EU and USA rely more heavily on external experts. That's what @alona_she
told me. Where, for example, a journalist scolds the West on Russian television, it was more of an external “expert” on RT.

Alina Lipp, Liu Sivaya and Vittorio Rangeloni sell themselves as just that: experts. They speak Russian, are at the front with the selfie camera, create serious-looking content and explain all of this in German, Spanish and Italian.

They claim to be independent, but a few things are suspicious. An example: Liu Sivaya created almost ALL social media accounts within a week in 2020 - and immediately started using them regularly. Does someone who starts blogging privately do this?

Similar to Alina Lipp. She has been making videos since 2019 that a few thousand people have watched. In November 2021 she moved to Donetsk (do you do it on your own?), a few months later her Telegram channel has 147,000 subscribers.

I don't know if the three are independent or not. Just a few things strike me as odd. But what is important is that you are not alone, there are more bloggers of your kind who - since RT and Sputnik stopped broadcasting - are the mouthpiece of Russian propaganda in the EU.

This is not a problem that only we in Germany have with our lateral thinkers. This applies to the whole EU. And it is no coincidence that individual actors are playing an increasingly important role.

If this is too short for you, this is the whole text (subscription)

posted by rory at 2:42 AM on June 9 [12 favorites]


FWIW, Chrome (at least on Android) will translate everything on a page at once. If it doesn't automatically, just hit the three dot menu and select translate. The only weirdness on Twitter is if the thread is long enough that it lazy loads the end of the thread when you get to it the newly loaded parts won't be automatically translated. That can be easily worked around by scrolling up slightly and tapping "English" (or whatever other language you are having it translated to) on the translation bar that pops up at the bottom.
posted by wierdo at 3:19 AM on June 9


Ham radio operators who read Russian and support Ukraine

I'd try the Radio Village channel in the Defcon discord.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:49 AM on June 9


Address by Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov

A lot of info on where the donated hardware has come from and gone.

Reading this is so heartening. So many people doing what they can for the greater good, not what they can pillage.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:21 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


re rory's Russian influencer post, I 've been using pinterest from about 6 months before the Russian invasion, and there seems to be a dramatic rise in Russian content, it went from near nothing to quite annoyingly common - and I wasn't following or tagging Ru content. Admittedly just one person point.

Are there services to, or are there any people who watch for changes in content on media platforms?
posted by unearthed at 8:52 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Geopolitical think-tanks, plus academics specializing in that area. 'Business intelligence' operations may, depending on their customers. There are also various 'media watchdog' groups, but that tends to be a little different. Plus state intelligence services, presumably.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:13 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Finland and Russia: a photo journey through the border zone
Russian security interests served as a pretext for attacking a militarily hopelessly inferior nation. But the Finns were able to resist the overwhelming enemy in the impassable terrain and deep winter, a resistance the Soviets did not expect. They actually believed that they would free the Finnish people from the yoke of the landowners and capitalists. But the opposite was the case: the enemy’s attack and the first victories of their own military made the camps, which had been hostile to each other from the civil war, grow together.
Sounds rather familiar, in a way.
“When Putin threatened Finland and said we shouldn’t join the Nato, I changed my mind completely; of course, we should join the Nato,” says Veli Merentie, 98. “He has nothing to say about what we Finns should do.” Merentie himself took part in the continuation war, and two of his brothers died in the winter war.
Putin, NATO's greatest promoter.
posted by Stoneshop at 10:44 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


And then there's Åland; nominally part of Finland, though almost exclusively Swedish-speaking, and located in the mid-Baltic halfway between the two. It was part of the Russian Empire before 1917, and was seen as a bastion of St. Petersburg, though is now demilitarised. Ironically, Russia oversees its demilitarised status, holding territory that had been held by German interests before the end of WW2.

If conflict in the Baltic escalates, I imagine Åland could be a more likely Russian target than Gotland. While Gotland would give Russia the ability to lay siege to the Baltic States, it is also heavily defended, with Sweden having moved armed forces there in recent years.
posted by acb at 11:14 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


And then there's Åland; nominally part of Finland, though almost exclusively Swedish-speaking, and located in the mid-Baltic halfway between the two.

Putin wasn't exactly subtle yesterday about "taking back" the territories that Peter the Great won in the Great Northern War.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:07 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Will two Brits and a Moroccan be executed?
Russia-backed court sentenced the foreigners to death by firing squad for ‘terrorist activity’ after fighting for Ukraine.
posted by adamvasco at 12:35 PM on June 10


Russia-backed court sentenced the foreigners to death by firing squad for ‘terrorist activity’ after fighting for Ukraine.

This is pretty much the treatment every Legionnaire expects from Russia at this point. It's kind of a shame they will be able to use these people as hostages to London, but I imagine the Brits don't have a lot of choice if there is public outcry.
posted by corb at 2:01 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


For at least one of them, and possibly all three of them, "foreigners" is not an appropriate word.

They were all living in Ukraine before the invasion, at least two of them for years. At least one was in the Ukrainian military at the time of the invasion, and at least one other had previously been in it. At least one holds dual citizenship. At least one has a Ukrainian wife, and at least one other has a Ukrainian fiancee.
posted by Flunkie at 3:17 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


From the 'huge if true' department:

@Michael Mackay: Kyiv was founded in 482.

In 1147, the Grand Duke of Kyiv and ruler of the Kyivan Rus’, Yuriy Dolhoruky, issued a decree founding Moscow.

In 2022, Kyiv City Council rescinded this decree, saying it was due to a “historical misunderstanding.”

Moscow no longer exists. (screenshot of announcement)


(Of course the facts as reported is true but it's also never going to be true.)
posted by cendawanita at 6:38 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


Yes, Kiev was the "Queen Of All Cities" centuries before Moscow is even mentioned as a settlement. That's part of why every shell that lands there is a tragedy. It's not just the destruction of a city, it is the destruction of what is basically a living archeological record.
posted by hippybear at 7:05 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Oh yes, indeed. I mean to say, 'huge' if anything would actually come out of the announcement. I am in continued admiration of Ukrainians' sense of the comedic.
posted by cendawanita at 8:05 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


In 2022, Kyiv City Council rescinded this decree, saying it was due to a “historical misunderstanding.”

This might be a reference to how Russia justifies invading and annexing Crimea: Sure, the Soviet Union transferred Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, but that was just a mistake.
posted by trig at 9:12 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


It's a reference to Russian Duma trying to cancel the recognition of Lithuanian independence (and thus the dissolution of the USSR because the Lithuanians were the first to formally leave).
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:38 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


unearthed: Are there services to, or are there any people who watch for changes in content on media platforms?

I came across this link in an article on how disinformation and lies are pulling Mali towards Russia.

Another worthwhile article is this one on Kaliningrad, with four impressions: a barista just out of the military, three teenage girls, a fully brainwashed sixty-year old:
When the conversation turns to NATO, his tone becomes sharp. "A defence organisation? Don't make me laugh. What did NATO do in Yugoslavia? They completely bombed Belgrade. Fortunately, the Russians in Ukraine are not so mindless. They are doing everything they can to spare the civilians and the infrastructure in Ukraine."
and an artist, angry at the repression and intimidation.

(articles in Dutch, so point a translator at them if that's all Greek to you)
posted by Stoneshop at 9:13 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Another worthwhile article is this one on Kaliningrad, with four impressions: a barista just out of the military, three teenage girls, a fully brainwashed sixty-year old:

They always forget that the reason that NATO had to come in there was that the Serbians were turning genocide of Kosovar Albanians into their national sport.

When the conversation turns to NATO, his tone becomes sharp. "A defence organisation? Don't make me laugh. What did NATO do in Yugoslavia? They completely bombed Belgrade. Fortunately, the Russians in Ukraine are not so mindless. They are doing everything they can to spare the civilians and the infrastructure in Ukraine."

In terms of lives lost in stopping the genocide it's a drop in the ocean compared to how much destruction Russia reigns down on a place when it drops in uninvited. Literally an order of magnitude more people were killed in the month long leveling of Grozny than died in Operation Allied Force in 11 weeks on both sides.

This is what pisses me off about Russian aligned propaganda. It's the sheer incredulity that the West has the nerve to come in and disrupt genocide in their sphere of influence.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:41 AM on June 11 [12 favorites]


Russia has a hunger plan. Vladimir Putin is preparing to starve much of the developing world as the next stage in his war in Europe. Twitter thread from Timothy Snyder, Levin Professor of history at Yale.
posted by adamvasco at 7:25 PM on June 11 [10 favorites]


Stonesoup thank you they are very helpful launching points - a few days ago I found this;

Strategic Latency Unleashed: The Role of Technology in a Revisionist Global Order and the Implications for Special Operations Forces (I think from Lawrence Livermore Lab.)

Naturally it seems to view all protest as dissent, but is a very in-depth critique of social media, from the little I've read it also reproaches the US for naivety in the digital space. e.g attempts to subvert daesh "which the State Department sought to defeat with a calamitously ill-judged Twitter account" p43

I really worry for my own country as the level to which state is responding to disinformation cults or not - beyond the police level is unknown - they have started publishing business advisories, and yet we have several groups which can be easily traced to Bannon, and other stateside movements, but little is happening to them except when they threaten to kill politicians , many are simply idiots, but some have real intent - this has ramped up a lot since Covid.
posted by unearthed at 7:54 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Increasingly concerned about the ammunition situation in Ukraine.... I hope to the high hells that the world continues to supply Ukraine with anything and everything it needs, since we won't do our duty and help them fight. Not since the defeat of the Kyiv campaign have I been more concerned that Ukraine would have to surrender territory to Russia. I keep hoping Russia scrapes the bottom of the barrel too hard and everything falls apart, but man. Stupid useless gruesome murderous invasion. What a waste of life and joy.
posted by Jacen at 10:12 PM on June 11 [8 favorites]


There seems like there are few signs that ammunition production in the West is ramping up. Ukraine is going through thousands and thousands of shells each day, and there are only so many in reserve to send them. I hope I am mistaken, though.
posted by Harald74 at 10:24 PM on June 11 [6 favorites]


The artillery ammunition issue will be tough to resolve. Likely the only sustainable way forward would be to get more Western/NATO bore artillery to them, but that also requires retraining, and every minute the guns sit is a minute Russia can move forward.

The discussions about manufacturing more are somewhat moot - the factory capacity isn't there, and it would be a step backward. So either you spend several months retooling factories for an outdated caliber, or you spend several months retraining on weapons you have the ammunition for and there's a supply chain in place. However, it is a logistics shift as well, the shells are bigger and harder to handle, and other countries have yet to supply them with the quantity of cannon they would need.

I'll be interested to see further analysis, and I hope this doesn't become a larger problem for Ukraine's self defense.
posted by jellywerker at 6:53 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


All the more reasons to accelerate the flow of NATO-standard artillery to Ukraine.
posted by acb at 8:15 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


I feel like the US and NATO are acting like a bunch of Texas Cops standing outside an elementary school while a maniac is loose.
posted by interogative mood at 8:39 AM on June 12 [8 favorites]


Perun's latest video, "All metal, no manpower - Russian infantry shortages and mobilisation in Ukraine"

Mechanized infantry units with no dismountable infantry is certainly eye raising.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:43 AM on June 12 [3 favorites]


jellywerker: or you spend several months retraining on weapons you have the ammunition for

M777's, French artillery and mobile howitzers supplied by Norway are already in use since a week or two now, so those either don't require that long a time for training or their crews have been trained elsewhere before they were handed over to Ukraine. Not sure about the status of other gear like the PzH2000, but I haven't been actively looking, just noting what I come across.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:37 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov: tales of Transcarpathia
Ukraine’s leading novelist on the struggles and surprises of becoming an ‘internally displaced person’.
posted by 15L06 at 12:59 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


The "Special Operation" now includes Looting.
A specialist gang is smuggling valuable historic artefacts out of Ukraine and into Russia, according to an international team of academics and digital technology experts who are tracking thefts.
posted by adamvasco at 2:47 PM on June 12 [4 favorites]


Kleptocracies gonna klept
posted by acb at 4:23 PM on June 12 [5 favorites]


Keep in mind that weapons in use doesn’t necessarily mean that they have deployed the weapons in large numbers or that there are enough trained units to make use of these weapons. We are now at the part of the calendar where the most optimistic of forecasters expected Ukraine to be able to punch back with any real force; but it is more likely to be July or August. It seems like the US and NATO are taking their sweet time to get systems like HIMARS and more modern tanks and other heavy weapons to Ukraine.
posted by interogative mood at 6:06 PM on June 12 [4 favorites]


The first delivery of HIMARS consists of 4 trucks and 48 missiles in total.

Atlantic Council: Russia Crisis Military Assessment: The impact of multiple rocket launcher transfers to Ukraine
The Biden administration announced that it initially plans to send forty-eight rockets to Ukraine. This is an extremely low quantity, considering the threat Ukraine is facing. Rocket supplies by the United States, the United Kingdom, and NATO must be increased substantially to significantly help Ukraine.
posted by ryanrs at 6:22 PM on June 12 [7 favorites]


From WaPo:

- Around 200 Ukrainian KIA daily
- Almost ten times more Russian artillery rounds fired than Ukraine
- New Russian strategy is simply to continually fire artillery at Ukrainian positions instead of attacking with low-quality units
posted by meowzilla at 7:16 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Stoneshop, they are at least receiving training on the PzH 2000, but only a small number has been pledged up to now (officially, at least). I think the rather larger number of Polish Krab SPHs being delivered will have more of an impact.
posted by Harald74 at 10:58 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


The SW for both PzH 2000, Krab and Caesar has been modified to integrate into Ukraine's artillery systems, which is actually quite a big deal. You can see a bit of the operation of the Caesar system in this video. Getting these systems to talk to each other increases operational tempo and decreases the possibility for human errors considerably.
posted by Harald74 at 11:04 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Here's a brief profile of Brahim Saadune, a Moroccan citizen who joined the Ukrainian Marines, fought in Mariupol, and was sentenced to death by the separatists after being captured. He was sentenced alongside two captured British volunteers, but hasn't gotten as much attention as they have.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 5:42 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


The World Food Programme has said it is suspending food aid to 1.7 million people in South Sudan, as the war in Ukraine sucks funding from the world’s crisis-plagued youngest country and causes the price of staples to soar.
posted by adamvasco at 5:45 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]




I posted here earlier about the Canadian Gold mining company (Kinross) and their Russian assets.

There's been an update today:
Kinross completes sale of Russian assets


Kinross announced today that it has completed the sale of 100% of its Russian assets to the Highland Gold Mining group of companies for total consideration of $340 million in cash.

the previously agreed total consideration for the transaction was $680 million,

But:

The transaction consideration was adjusted by the parties following review by the recently formed Russian Sub-commission on the Control of Foreign Investments, which approved this transaction for a purchase price not exceeding $340 million

With the approval and completion of the sale, Kinross has divested all of its interests in Russia
---

So they get half of the previously agreed price. Sorry about that.
posted by yyz at 7:52 AM on June 15


Five Blunt Truths About the War in Ukraine NY Times Editorial

Both Russia and Ukraine are running out of munitions.
The war is doing great damage to the world.
The Biden administration is running out of ideas for how to wage it.
The Chinese are watching.

Suggestions for how the US should proceed:

Dramatically increase military aide.
The Navy should escort cargo ships to and from Odesa.
Seize the estimated $300 billion in Russian central bank assets to fund Ukraine’s military and reconstruction needs.
posted by Bee'sWing at 9:52 AM on June 15 [8 favorites]


And now China is calling sanctions against Russia “illegitimate”, and stepping up cooperation with Russia.

They haven't mentioned supplying arms or ammunition to Russia, but China does have new weapons systems which it could do with testing in action before it needs them (which may be soon, given its rhetoric on Taiwan), and Ukraine would be a good place for it to do that.
posted by acb at 10:28 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


That OpEd is by Bret Stephens, who has been a neocon hack since the George W Bush administration. He was wrong on Iraq, wrong on the Iran nuclear agreement, and continues to be wrong on climate change. That he won a Pulitzer for whining about America not properly running the world is a travesty. Maybe some of his points about Ukraine are valid but I refuse to hold him up as some oracle of American foreign policy just because he occasionally deigns to criticize Donald Trump in print.

Maybe seizing Russia's foreign currency reserves is a good idea but that's a card you can only play once per war and I have to assume that the relevant people inside State and the various EU foreign ministries have a better idea of when to play it than Bret Stephens does. Having US warships escort shipping could work but I'd love to hear its proponents explain to me what exactly the next move is for the US if some Russian captain fires on an American ship. When he proposed it Adm. Stavridis made a comparison to the US escorting oil tankers during the Iran-Iraq war, but didn't mention that that operation ended in the US getting fed up with Iran occasionally poking it and smacking down the Iranian navy with the largest U.S. surface engagement since the Second World War: an assault on Iranian oil infrastructure and the sinking of a number of Iranian vessels. If that's the next escalation step against the Russian Black Sea Fleet if they hit an escort it sounds like tapdancing on the edge of disaster.
posted by Wretch729 at 4:23 PM on June 15 [6 favorites]


The Navy should escort cargo ships to and from Odesa.

Wait, this guy wants to overturn the Montreux Convention and setup a direct confrontation between the US Navy and Russia? That sounds incredibly stupid! Not least because exporting grain from Odessa doesn't even help Ukraine defeat Russia.


(tho tbh I only ctrl+F'd the op ed, so I might have missed something)
posted by ryanrs at 4:58 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


Not least because exporting grain from Odessa doesn't even help Ukraine defeat Russia.

There are countries the majority of whose grain comes from Ukraine, and we're about to enter states approaching famine in many of them if we can't get them food.
posted by hippybear at 5:18 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]


Poor people starving in the Middle East is not a good reason to send the US Navy into the Black Sea. The risk of escalation is huge.

And if it is that important to US national security that people don't starve in the Middle East, use the DPA/whatever to prioritize US grain export. Ban ethanol production for fuel, restrict feeding of maize and soy to livestock. Export the surplus.

(I mean, I know neither is going to happen, but spiking US fuel and food prices to feed people in the Middle East is a better idea than sinking Russian ships over it.)
posted by ryanrs at 6:17 PM on June 15 [5 favorites]


The war is doing great damage to the world

…this is literally the conservative playbook every time they want to murder more people — this war is bad! Therefore, to stop it, you must kill 100x as many people!!

Like, really guys (it’s always guys) if you felt that way you could just off yourself and accelerate matters.
posted by aramaic at 7:59 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


Ban ethanol production for fuel, restrict feeding of maize and soy to livestock. Export the surplus.

There are different kinds of corn. The corn used for ethanol production, feeding livestock, and packing material isn't human food. Granted, in the long term we could encourage farmers to plant different corn, but that does nothing for anyone until next year(ish).
posted by wierdo at 8:11 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


I understand people are impatient and just want to get WW3 started already. But.

For the moment, I'm still on my 'send in the Latvian witches' stage.
If it's the Black Sea Fleet (all 26 vessels!) people are worried about, I say we put a dozen spooky widows from Belarus on a train to Odessa, and have them chant Stoj pa Moru over and over until a giant eagle appears and eats all the Russian boats.
posted by bartleby at 8:23 PM on June 15 [11 favorites]


There are different kinds of corn.

The kind of corn we feed to cows is the same staple food that people eat. As an American, most of the corn you eat is field corn, same as we give to cows.
posted by ryanrs at 9:02 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


The kind of corn we feed to cows is the same staple food that people eat. As an American, most of the corn you eat is field corn, same as we give to cows.

Really?

My knowledge of farming is limited to backyard gardening, but I know for corn on the cob you eat sweet corn--because we grew cow corn (as we called it) one time by accident and it is NOT the same thing. Is all the processed food using field corn then?
posted by mark k at 11:19 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


Draghi, Macron and Scholz hopped on a train and are on the way to Ukraine/Kyiv. Will they bring good news?
posted by UN at 11:45 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


The Wonderful World of Corn rabbit-hole avoidance derail:
The yummy stuff you eat as a vegetable is Sweet Corn. The stuff eaten as a grain (everything from cornbread to tortillas to animal feed) is Dent Corn.

Dent is also the stuff used to make cooking oil and all the 'starch' products- sweet syrup, soup thickeners, and those 'plant plastic' spoons that biodegrade. Oh, and ethanol of course; both as drinkin' whisky and fuel additive.
Most of the corn grown commerically is Dent corn.
You do not want to try boiling an ear of Dent corn and biting into it. (Unless you're a cow with a stove.)
To eat it, you first have to dry it out and grind it into flour - then cook it up as arepas or polenta or johnnycakes or Doritos.
[/maize]
posted by bartleby at 12:39 AM on June 16 [23 favorites]


So, let them eat nachos?
posted by acb at 1:04 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Will they bring good news?

I'd settle for an explanation for all the foot-dragging.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:58 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


No, no no, nononono. No more cow tools!


Sounds like the good guys are giving more weapons to Ukraine, thankfully. Can you imagine what the insurrection president would have demanded for this?
posted by Jacen at 2:50 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Wait, this guy wants to overturn the Montreux Convention and setup a direct confrontation between the US Navy and Russia?

Would it be against the Montreux Convention to send US-flagged cargo ships to Odessa to load and transport grain? Do we even have any US-flagged freighters?
posted by mikelieman at 4:11 AM on June 16


Presumably you would need to sweep for mines first...
posted by Harald74 at 7:03 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


From The Guardian, on June 6th: Ukraine needs many more rocket launchers from west, says adviser
On Monday Britain said it would donate a handful of M270 tracked rocket launchers, carrying missiles with a range of about 50 miles, a few days after the US said it would donate four similar truck-based high mobility artillery rocket systems (Himars).

Arestovych said Ukraine needed many times more multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), which have a range far greater than anything in the country’s existing arsenal.

“If we get 60 of these systems then the Russians will lose all ability to advance anywhere, they will be stopped dead in their tracks. If we get 40 they will advance, albeit very slowly with heavy casualties; with 20 they will continue to advance with higher casualties than now,” he said.

The US army has 363 Himars and 225 M270 rocket launchers, and the US Marines have a further 47, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, while the UK has 35 of its version of the M270s – indicating there could be capacity to supply more to Ukraine.
I'm having a hard time understanding why we haven't rushed these systems to Ukraine. I'm hoping its a matter of keeping quiet on weapons transfers while we train the Ukrainians to use them, and that the transfers are in the pipeline and will be made as soon as the Ukrainians can use them, but I'm worried that we're not doing everything we can. What's the point of having a humongous stockpile and military-industrial complex if we can't provide the weapons to the people who need them as fast as possible?
posted by Reverend John at 8:16 AM on June 16 [6 favorites]


Do we even have any US-flagged freighters?

We have the Merchant Marine, although it typically operates in territorial waters. The Maersk ship featured in Captain Phillips was US flagged at the time.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:20 AM on June 16


The first delivery of HIMARS consists of 4 trucks and 48 missiles in total.

That has to be 48 pods or there's a lot more coming in the logistics pipeline. Each pod contains 6 missiles; 48 missiles across 4 trucks would just be the pod on the launcher and a single reload.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:50 AM on June 16


UN: Will they bring good news?

To some extent.

European leaders support granting EU candidate status to Ukraine

Ukraine should "immediately" become a candidate member of the European Union. French President Emmanuel Macron said this during a press conference in Kiev on Thursday, Reuters reported. European leaders Olaf Scholz (Germany), Mario Draghi (Italy) and Klaus Iohannis (Romania) also expressed their support for the candidacy. The foursome visited the Ukrainian capital on Thursday.

Macron also announced the delivery of six additional howitzers to Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated during the press event his call to continue delivering more weapons to counter Russian aggression and liberate Russian-occupied territories. During his talks with European heads of government on Thursday, Zelensky said the topics discussed included new sanctions packages against Russia and post-war reconstruction.

The heads of government also spoke out in favour of a rapid end to the war. They emphasised that it is up to Ukraine to set the conditions for peace. According to Zelensky, the visit of Scholz, Draghi, Macron and Iohannis showed that Ukraine is not alone in the fight against Russia.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
posted by Stoneshop at 9:11 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


In re why governments aren't faster at supplying arms to Ukraine: it's possible that generosity just doesn't come naturally to them. Or maybe generosity to people who actually need it.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:23 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


Tracking the map day by day doesn't tell you who's going to win Uses the reversal of Nazi conquest as an example.

Remember the importance of lend-lease.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 1:25 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


I'm having a hard time understanding why we haven't rushed these systems to Ukraine.

German industry is probably still hoping for a relatively quick Russian victory and no government actions that jeopardise the swift resumption of business ties between Germany and Russia. If Scholz can say to Putin that Germany held off demands to arm the Ukrainians as long as they humanly could and, while he regrets the Russian lives lost to Ukrainian-launched German artillery, they would have been far greater if not for his government's efforts, then perhaps Russia will resume buying German machinery rather than shifting to China or somewhere, and Germany will be able to get Russian gas/oil on relatively favourable terms.
posted by acb at 3:08 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


I mean, sure, but that doesn't really explain why the US hasn't sent, say, a third of its HIMARS and M270s to the Polish-Ukrainian border, just waiting for Ukrainian crews to come and get them.
posted by Reverend John at 3:11 PM on June 16


I mean, sure, but that doesn't really explain why the US hasn't sent, say, a third of its HIMARS and M270s to the Polish-Ukrainian border, just waiting for Ukrainian crews to come and get them.

I seem to recall Colin Powell saying the US doctrine is to maintain enough capacity to fight two wars at the same time. This effectively gives us the ability to intervene in Ukraine to some degree without risking a collapse of the global order we built, but it means that some of the material has to be held in reserve.

In some cases we might commit our full stock and backfill, either because we want newer & better, or because we think it will be quick to do to so, or because we dont expect it to be critical in whatever the second theater is expected (i.e. south china sea). Wikipedia suggests that HIMARS is also deployed en Singapore so that last bit may be a reason to hold back.
posted by pwnguin at 3:26 PM on June 16 [4 favorites]


Would it be against the Montreux Convention to send US-flagged cargo ships to Odessa to load and transport grain?

It’s complicated. First of all the US isn’t a party to the convention, but we’ve generally adhered to it as a recognition of Turkish sovereignty. Second the convention generally only applies to military ships; not civilian vessels. It would come down to Turkey’s interpretation of the rules.

Do we even have any US-flagged freighters

The flag a vessel flies has nothing to do with ownership. The cargo ships would presumably be bulk grain carriers owned by some company like Maersk or Evergreen. The President would allow them to be US flagged for a portion of their journey and Issue some Jones Act waivers to let them avoid all the regulatory and legal implications of being a U.S. flagged vessel. The US would also have to provide insurance guarantees for the ships as they would not get normal insurance for the voyage to Odessa.
posted by interogative mood at 3:40 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Even given that it doesn't add up. If that Guardian article is right, the US alone is sitting on something like 635 MLRS, and Ukraine is asking for 80. Throw in what the UK + the rest of the willing NATO members might be able to spare, there doesn't seem to be any good reason why Ukraine should still be begging for MLRS, even if Germany is being stubborn. We should be able to supply Ukraine with what they need and still maintain our "two war" capabilities, especially by backfilling.
posted by Reverend John at 3:43 PM on June 16 [6 favorites]


The two wars posture — that the US defense budget should be set so the US could fight two regional wars at the same time — was eliminated under the Obama administration in 2012. The Trump admin made noises about reviving it but ultimately it settled for studying it.
posted by interogative mood at 3:47 PM on June 16 [4 favorites]


Why would Turkey even want the US Navy to help export Ukrainian grain?

I swear, the whole idea is so incredibly stupid, it belongs in a NYT op ed.
posted by ryanrs at 3:51 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]


The image of Trump studying something has a DALL-E-like level of incongruity to it.
posted by acb at 4:01 PM on June 16 [9 favorites]


Yeah I'm not sure why there's such foot-dragging on the MLRSs. The only thing that comes to mind is a large percentage of the existing rocket stockpile are probably cluster munitions. There are reportedly some 700,000 M270-compatible MFOM rockets in existence, but only about 3,700 ATACMS, and probably a small number of other experimental types. So the great majority sitting in stockpile are probably M26s. Which frankly are just what the Ukrainians probably want (they were literally designed to ruin a Soviet Motor Rifle company's day), but they are "cluster bombs", and the propaganda wouldn't be pretty.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:40 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


I'm having a hard time understanding why we haven't rushed these systems to Ukraine. I'm hoping its a matter of keeping quiet on weapons transfers while we train the Ukrainians to use them, and that the transfers are in the pipeline and will be made as soon as the Ukrainians can use them, but I'm worried that we're not doing everything we can. What's the point of having a humongous stockpile and military-industrial complex if we can't provide the weapons to the people who need them as fast as possible?

I'm also in the "empty the warehouses" camp. Yes, I understand the desire to not allow a large gap to develop while supplies are back-filled but the only credible scenarios for a war during that re-supply gap are:

1) Russian attempt to take the Baltic states. Can surely be deterred by a combination of airpower and concentration of existing weapons there? In any case, any Russian capability that is destroyed or occupied in Ukraine isn't available elsewhere so the best way to prevent such an attack is to destroy Russian capabilities where they are deployed on Ukrainian territory.

2) Taiwan? But that would be an entirely naval and air conflict anyway. MLRS and howitzers aren't very relevant for that kind of war.

Maybe on the propaganda but ultimately it will have to UA EOD who will have to sweep their own lands of unexploded cluster munitions (about 4% or so failure rate) after the war but realistically the Russians are using them, The UA will be using / have used whatever cluster munitions they had in stock already themselves already so any contested area will need extensive EOD anyway.
posted by atrazine at 3:11 AM on June 17 [4 favorites]


Are Chinese artillery shells/missiles compatible with Russian launchers? If China were to start supplying Russia with arms, would that require Russian troops retraining on systems a generation newer (as is the case with the supply of NATO arms to Ukraine), or could they just start firing Chinese shells in the same way as Russian ones?
posted by acb at 5:48 AM on June 17


« Older Newton's cradle, Gangnam style   |   "I think I'll be OK if I don't get the album back" Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments