Megathread for news/updates/discussion of Russian invasion of Ukraine - February 26-27
This thread is posted daily - please try to post relevant content in here, such as news, updates, opinion articles, etc. Especially significant updates may warrant a separate topic, but most should be posted here.
I'm sorry, this is going to be a bit personal, but I need to vent.
My SO's family is still safe so far. But she has gotten 1 hr of sleep a day for the past 3 days. She's staying up every night, watching out for air raid alerts (edit: Like this one), calling her mom the moment there is an alert because her mom doesn't have Telegram.
Her sister is still on the way to the Polish border. She is out of Kyiv now thank fuck. I have a bag packed with clothes and 1 week provisions and a friend ready to drive with me there in case she needs to be picked up.
A friend of mine today started giving me some pro-putin rhetoric and got a gigantic slap and across the face with the gentlest of "shut the fuck up"s i could muster.
Another friend of mine is part of a group of first responders in Brussels and his unit is doing a roll call to see who is willing to join a special unit in Ukraine. He was hesitant. I've convinced him to accept.
I feel fucking useless right now and it's destroying me. I've joined a few donation matches on Twitter, and I'm trying to distract myself with some non-UA stuff, but it's very difficult.
Sorry for all the top level comments. More might be coming.
One ex girlfriend I talked to the day of the attack truly believes this is going to lead to Putin's downfall. I couldn't be as optimistic, and I didn't believe it at the time. There is a glimmer of hope and I'm starting to think I may have been wrong.
Russia is getting fallout from the entire world. Much, much harder than anticipated. It's now becoming obvious that Putin was relying on people not caring. On Ukraine being seen as a third world country not worth paying attention to. On Ukrainians surrendering quickly.
Historic miscalculation sums it up nicely. And with Russia being such a huge player in the internet, could this be the beginning of the end of the disinformation wars?
Obviously fake news and what not will always be around. But it's no secret that SO MUCH of the world's current ills originate in some way from Russia sowing chaos, and doing so very efficiently.
Maybe I'm projecting my own feelings on the rest of the world, but is it possible everybody's fucking fed up with that russian troll shit? Ukraine may be a spark that lit a fire under their asses.
My god. I hope she's right. I'm starting to think she could be. I want to think she could be. I want to believe in this huge silver lining to such a shit situation.
I live in Brussels, as some people here know. Living here is the European version of living in Washington DC: you're surrounded by people who work in or around politics. Though I imagine Brussels is more varied in that regard.
Anyway, I have a lot of friends in what we locally call "the EU bubble". Brussels is somewhere I found a home because I always considered myself not French but "European".
And here the growing sentiment is that Europe is under attack. It wasn't immediate, partly because of some countries' lackluster government reactions, but now it's becoming much more prevalent. I can attest to it. Ukraine may not be my home, but it is part of it.
And after this week's events, I feel renewed trust in Europe. I don't know if there are Americans around who are willing to give their point of view on this; here, you are told about the EU being the unifying force of good and peace after the second World War. But this was such a long time ago. Most people who fought in it have died of old age, very few can remember it anymore. It feels distant, abstract. Trust in the EU institutions has been faltering, moreso since the UK started talking about Brexit.
We all were expecting the EU to have a mild, disapproving reaction, by fear of upsetting the eastern neighbour. We are so used to the EU being "all talk". I'm very pro-EU but even I didn't think it would go beyond stern words and mild sanctions.
WEAPONS! Holy shit folks, we sent WEAPONS. And not just once! We sent more, and more, and more. And it's just the first days! Look at this, Belgium had sent a bunch of weapons, and it just decided to send more because why not!
I know this is not completely selfless. The EU would much rather have this war happen on Ukrainian soil than further west. And I think we all do, because frankly, we've all seen how incredibly badass Ukrainians are.
Ukraine will prevail. We will win, and we will never forget the day our Ukrainian siblings defended Europe. We will welcome them into the Union. Слава Україні!
Not just "weapons" in the typical, small-arms + ammunition sense either, shit tons of modern, handheld anti-tank missiles which have clearly been making a huge difference based on all the on-the-ground footage I have been seeing of destroyed Russian tanks and mechanized infantry convoys. And apparently the EU supplying Fighter Jets to Ukraine is on the table now too which would help them continue to maintain air superiority over the country as well, which is something that has already cost Russia dearly (see: 2x IL-76 transport planes confirmed shot down, with unconfirmed claims of 3 more being shot down).
The US has been arming Ukraine for some time.
Trump's first impeachment was about holding up military aid to Ukraine. He called Zelenskyy (yep, same guy) and wanted him to find dirt on Hunter Biden. When the phone call became public, the holdup ended.
Here's a good Washington Post article about the short history of US military aid to Ukraine. It talks a bit about what other countries are doing too.
The U.S. has been rushing to arm Ukraine, but for years it stalled on providing weapons
Man-portable antitank and anti-aircraft missiles seem like appropriate weapons for the situation, since they require little in the way of logistics. Looking further back, the US supplied Stinger missiles to the Afghan mujahideen and they were used very effectively against the Soviets.
The problem with that is that the amount of training needed for big arms (jets, tanks, big anti-air missiles) is prohibitive for the time we have. We basically can't train Ukrainian troops to use them, so we either have to find ex-soviet materiel that they are already familiar with (which is likely what those jets talked about now are), send personnel along with it (escalation potential) or find arms that have a one-page manual (ATGMs, MANPADS) like we are doing now. Which is to say, our potential to deliver effective military aid is limited, and we are fast approaching the boundaries of what we can do without allowing trained western active-duty military personnel to form international brigades.
Still, great stuff. How many ex-soviet jets do we have around that the Ukrainians also have?
From the article I linked:
No numbers though, unfortunately.
I was reading this Twitter thread by a Politico writer born in Ukraine that someone posted on yesterday’s thread. She says that, like Chernobyl raised doubt in the Soviet leadership, this war may do the same for Putin’s regime, and Russians might question what he says a bit more than the state-run news would like them to. I hope she is right, and I hope your family and everyone else over there stays safe.
I know hope and wishes mean little right now, but looking at this from afar it is the least I can do. Stay well.
I am as insulated as any other American about most things outside of the continent, but my impression of Ukraine has never been negative. The internet has made the world a much smaller place and Ukrainian people have made plenty of contact with the rest of the world. I’ve even bought hobby products made in Ukraine before.
Thanks for sharing that article.
Agreed, this seems like it definitely could lead to Putin's end. I hope Russia will get a sane leader like Gorbachev again. It is terrible that so many people will have to pay for it with their lives.
No, the war in Ukraine wasn’t because of pronouns from the always wonderful Katelyn Burns
Russia vetoes UN demand that Russia stop attacking Ukraine
Related: India walks tightrope over calls for Russia’s isolation
That article is blocked for me so here is another one.
Bellingcat is compiling a comprehensive database of analyses of evident disinformation attempts.
Why the Russians Are Struggling (National Review)
This is a high-level description of the kinds of tactical mistakes that the Russian military seems to be making, compared to how the US military does it. I don't know enough to judge, but it seems plausible to me.
Some important/interesting tweets for the day:
If anyone here is unfamiliar with him, I can recommend Beau of the Fifth Column for interesting takes on this ongoing situation and others:
He always manages to come up with ways of looking at a situation that I hadn't considered before.
Another Way to Help Ukrainians: Let Them In (James Fallows)
Bellingcat: Tracking use of Cluster Munitions in Civilian Areas
World's largest plane reportedly destroyed in Ukraine
Edit: then again, maybe not?. It's a war, who knows.
Here's a Twitter thread by the CEO of Flexport about the roles of Ukraine and Russia in the air cargo industry.
Meanwhile: Global logistics giant Expeditors suffers cyberattack, shuts down operations systems
Their status page doesn't say much. Looks like it's been six days now.
An almost total loss. Here are pictures from the ground.
I don’t have much to add except posting a link to this article by The Intercept, covering Zelensky’s defiant response to the conflict and embeds his key speeches and videos, some of them with English subtitles or translations, and Putin’s attempt at justifying the invasion too. https://theintercept.com/2022/02/25/putin-floods-airwaves-lies-zelensky-punctures-social-media/
As a Brit, I admit I had never heard of him before Thursday. But his refusal to hide or flee shows who he is. Someone far more courageous than me.
BP to exit its 20% stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft (Tweet)
SpaceX Starlink satellite internet service activated in Ukraine, says Elon Musk
SpaceX shipment of Starlink satellite-internet dishes arrives in Ukraine, government official says
Is it useful, though? Maybe not?
I wouldn’t expect them to be used in battle. Maybe they would be useful as decoys? It seems like good PR, anyway.
I was thinking about using civilian internet radio infrastructure (starLink or cell network both work) in wartime. I'm not convinced it's as bleak: The fun thing about internet is that it's ubiquitous, so the enemy will have a hard time telling apart military and civilian users. Is that already a human shield or is that just camouflage? Either way, I don't think it's feasible to use those communications for target acquisition, given that you usually have no information on whether they're civilian or military. If "someone is over there" was good enough to call in a strike, Kiev would be leveled already.
Plus, internet is just the transport medium. You can upgrade your security on top of that as much as you like; cryptography is a thing.
Here's a Twitter thread about the previous history of air strikes on satellite phones.
Nice video from Real Life Lore on why Russia is invading: https://youtu.be/If61baWF4GE
I’d heard the argument for securing Russia’s borders from invasion before - but that didn’t seem convincing as Russia is not under threat of invasion thanks to its nuclear arsenal. The economic arguments make more sense. Capturing Ukraine is lucrative and MAD prevents retaliation.
It makes three key points.
1. Why start the war? Untapped gas reserves in the black sea that is a thread to Russias economic foundation.
2. Why start the war now? Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 giving it sovereignty over most of the untapped reserves, but Ukraine shut off water to Crimea, causing immense toll on the economy.
3. When will the war stop? Russia has already turned on the water to Crimea but may wish to cut Ukraine off from access to the black sea and control all Ukrainian gas reserves.
Honestly, I don't think capturing Ukraine the way it is happening now is going to be worth it at all. Great cost in materiel and personell to the russian military and great cost to Ukraine's infrastructure, nevermind its people. To break even on the damage caused by this war, it's going to take a very long time.
Now, that's not to argue against your point - it could very well be that that's exactly the calculus going on. But then maybe Putin is misjudging the fighting spirit of Ukrainians - which I find a quite credible argument.
Of course, you could argue that exploitation of natural gas resources don't necessitate new russian expenditures to repair most of Ukraine's infrastructure or replace lost military equipment. But with the fight the Ukrainians are putting up and, it seems, will continue to put up, this makes economic exploitation very hard: Military security will likely have to be kept up for years to come, meanwhile you can't rely on local labor for fear of sabotage, and western sanctions will also play their part, as that removes energy customers and hurts the economy more generally. And without restoring (and thus investing in) the infrastructure that gets destroyed in this war at least somewhat, the Ukrainian populace will be very unhappy, necessitating (imo) at least some expenditure there. Which is to say, if this is an economic move, it's likely to be (at least with the way things are going) a at best marginally successful defensive move; that is, Russia can continue to be Europe's major supplier of gas; they do not expand their presence in that market, but they at least don't lose it to a western-aligned nation, stripping them of their privilege entirely. All at great cost to themselves.
Even then, I don't think this will work out well for Putin, the way things are going. If the Ukrainian defense disintegrated the way the Afghan Army did, this would look different.
Response from Wise: https://wise.com/gb/blog/update-ukraine
Response from Revolut: https://blog.revolut.com/the-war-on-ukraine-our-response/
Revolut and Wise are both supporting fee-free transfers to UAH. Sending money to Ukraine is very difficult right now but they're both trying to make it as easy as possible.
The Institute for the Study of War is posting military-oriented updates. It seems to be a Washington-based think-tank. Here's the Wikipedia article.