Daily megathread for news/updates/discussion of Russian invasion of Ukraine - March 1
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.
Some reactions within Europe:
I've written a short essay on why I believe Russia is heading towards a coup, here.
There is also this article about Putin and nukes: "Yes, he would" - It's a very good quality article. I would have posted it standalone but the homepage is getting crowded with Ukrainian news.
I will second this. Also thought about posting it here. Fiona Hill is superb and has the background to pick out the historical narratives being played out here.
No need to declare captured Russian tanks, other equipment of invaders as income – NAPC
Not sure if this was shared already, but RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency, accidentally released an article on the 26th declaring victory in Ukraine, with the planned reorganization of Ukraine into the Russian world, detailing how it signaled the beginning of a new world order.
No doubt this was written under the assumption that Russia would be able to quickly force Ukraine to capitulate, and it describes a frightening new reality where "centers of power" will create a new world with a divided west, unconstrained by the existing rules-based order.
Interesting statement from a few Lithuanian Left groups directed to Western progressives re: anti-imperialism and equivocating Putin and NATO.
From November 23, 2021: Feeding the bear: a closer look at Russian army logistics and the fait accompli
Can someone suggest some kind of video or podcast longform content that would give me a comprehensive and organized overview + regular updates of this whole thing? Something like a daily digest. Scattered news doesn't work for me.
The YouTube channel Good Times Bad Times is posting 10 to 15 minutes updates every day.
I've been enjoying American Prestige's Ukraine Explain series. It's kinda interesting, cuz they started the "explain" pre-Russian invasion and had to walk-back/update some of their expectations as the series goes on. However, overall I find it a pretty solid overview that avoids a lot of the jingoism I've been noticing on the subject.
"The special operation that was to be carried out directly by the Kadyrovites (Chechnya special forces/murder squad) to eliminate our president is fully known to us today. And I can say that we received information from representatives of the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, the successor to the KGB), who today have no desire to take part in this bloody war. And thanks to For this, I can say, that Kadyrov's elite group, which went here specifically to eliminate our president, was directly destroyed."
Ukrainian citizens do not need to report captured Russian tanks and other military equipment on their taxes
obviously it's mostly a joke, very few people in Ukraine are thinking about their tax returns right now...but nevertheless, kudos to whoever at the Ukrainian IRS thought it up, it's an effective bit of propaganda.
reminds me of Armageddon "they've made a few requests, though..."
Sent that to my wife and she responded, "I was just watching a Tiktok the other day about how to start your captured BTR! Go ahead, try and tax my armored vehicle."
Listened to War on the Rocks podcast titled Interpreting the First Few Days of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which interviewed Michael Kofman, the Research Program Director in the Russia Studies Program at CNA, who gave his thoughts on the (then current, now a few days old) state of the invasion. It's only 25 minutes and definitely worth a listen if the topic interests you.
Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline Lays Off All Employees (Wall Street Journal) (archive)
I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place to bring this up, but I feel like it is important to point out how the past few weeks of American media coverage of the Russia-Ukraine crisis is a great example of the power of manufactured consent. As I've read the news and watched the outcry of support for Ukraine flood my social media feeds, I keep thinking about America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan how different the coverage and reactions were. Many of my friends who have recently expressed their support for Ukraine were demanding that America send forces back to Afghanistan last year. I guess most Americans are only able to comprehend the true devastation of war when someone else is perpetrating it. It makes sense though, because American media hasn't shown the terror and destruction that the US military has spread across the world over the past five decades. We don't see people fleeing their homes or schools being bombed when America is behind it. When Ukrainians take up arms against Russia, they're portrayed as heroes fighting against oppression. What did we call the people of Iraq and Afghanistan who did the same thing when America invaded their countries? Insurgents? Terrorists? Bad guys? I don't remember, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't positive. I've also seen a lot of people pointing out the absurdity of Russian war propaganda but it is eerily reminiscent of the WMD and terror-colluding allegations during the lead-up to
the Iraq warOperation Iraqi Freedom.
Let's not forget the underlying influence of white supremacy in all of this and the implicit notion that other war-torn areas of the world are the way they are, not because of western imperialism, but because the people living there are backwards. "War in the middle east, you say? Well, obviously it's going to happen there, those people are savages. War in Europe? Somebody clutch my pearls for me, the fall of civilization is upon us." This whole attitude was probably best illustrated by this Michael Knowles tweet from a few days ago which, in classic alt-right fashion, said (most of) the quiet part out loud. Thanks, Mike.
Anyway, I don't know what else to say other than I hope someone much smarter and more popular than me points this out. This whole thing makes me feel angry and gross. Pardon my extremely hot take here, but war is bad. I wish I could dedicate more mental energy toward support for the Ukrainian people but I can't really get past the glaring hypocrisy (and racism? yeah, racism) in my own country. I hope people will freak out the way they are now next time America invades another country, but I'm not counting on it. I'm sure we'll have a good reason.
I also think there is manufacturing of consent going on. Western governments and Ukraine are certainly pulling levers to manipulate western public opinion; Russia has long been trying to manufacture dissent.
I think that there is also an unplanned, organic cascade of cultural-political phemonena that are creating feedback loops that incentivize and enforce alignment of opinion.
I presume that you're American, but I think it's important to avoid using American racial dynamics as a lens to view racial dynamics in other countries. In the US, it's very white vs. black vs. Latino vs. Asians: distinctions between racial subgroups are glossed over; distinctions between white subgroups are seen as anachronistic.
In Europe, whiteness is not such a monolith. In Western Europe there exists strong anti-Slavic sentiment. Poles and other Eastern Europeans are negatively viewed by Western Europeans. Heck, a significant contributing factor to Brexit was the rejection of freedom of movement and the mass immigration of Poles (1+ million) and other Eastern Europeans that it brought to the UK. Violence and harassment against Poles are not uncommon.
Not even to mention Northern vs. Southern Europeans.
I think that it is not accurate to describe this as a phenomenon of white supremacy and white people coming together in solidarity. Surely there is racial bias, but not white supremacy. If 660,000+ Ukrainians tried to enter the EU on a semi-permanent basis in the absence of a war of aggression by Russia, the response would have been very negative instead.
Oh my god, fucking thank you. I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly why my feeling around this whole narrative of "Oh, people rise up for Ukraine, but when it's brown people, not a peep" is annoying me, but this is absolutely a huge reason why.
I want to add to that, there's plenty of other instances of "white people getting invaded" where the entire world is mostly ignoring the situation. Cyprus, for example, and that's in the EU!
Frankly, I'd like it if Americans could shut the fuck up with the self-whataboutism for a bit. For once that the world is united on something, maybe try not to make this about the US and its own conflicts elsewhere. I was also outraged by Afghanistan (and Iraq too, but very young at the time), but you don't see me going "Oh, yeah, and let's talk about all the other wars too while we're on the subject of this ongoing invasion of Europe".
@AnthonyB I understand you mean well with that post, and I agree manufactured consent and media play an uncomfortable role in a lot of things today, but please let us be united on a cause, for once in my lifetime. "What about Iraq and Afghanistan" is literally the argument Putin is throwing around to justify invading Ukraine, so can I ask you not to amplify it while we're at war?
I was worried I might get a response like this, which is why I prefaced my comment the way I did. I understand why someone would be irritated by an American barging in on a thread about Ukraine and making it all about America and its own bullshit. That wasn't what I was trying to do. My intention was to elaborate enough to make it a point about war, the media, and the west's blindness - or willful ignorance - towards its own imperialism. Unfortunately, I ended up making it all about American actions and perspectives. Mostly because that is what I am most familiar with as an American, but part of it was because I was worried I would get bogged down in a conversation about specific European details which would miss the point entirely. You know, internet stuff. Either way, I didn't do a great job and my comment didn't end up being exactly the way I wanted it to. My brain don't make words good. But since we're already here, I might as well bring up a few things to consider.
First, when is it a good time to bring this stuff up? Yes, I understand that reflecting on previous wars while we're in the midst of another one can be obnoxious or distracting, but I also think the timing makes it significantly more impactful since we are currently being bombarded by examples of how different the coverage is. I know we are in a rare moment of unity and I don't want to fracture it in any way, but I still think now is an important time to reflect on this issue. It would be one thing if I were pointing out a bunch of terrible things about Ukraine, but I'm not doing that. I just want people to take this moment where they recognize how awful war can be, and apply that knowledge next time they're on the other side of it. It shouldn't be that hard to do both things at once.
Also, I understand that Putin is making similar points about western hypocrisy, but I think my comment was clearly about something different. Pointing out our own wrongdoings doesn't justify Russia's actions. The whole premise of my post was, "Hey, isn't it fucked up what Russia is doing? Yeah, we do that all the time. Maybe we should recognize that and try to stop it." I think this type of reflection is helpful for gaining perspective. I work in child development, and children are unable to understand how their actions affect other people until they reach a certain point of cognitive development. In order to help a child understand how their actions might affect someone else, we use the child's own experiences as teachable moments. For example, we might say something like, "You're upset because he hit you and it hurt. People don't like it when someone hits them. That's why we don't hit people." It's the same concept. Both situations rely on the understanding that the action in question was wrong. Anyone who read my comment and saw it as a roundabout endorsement for Russian aggression or an amplification of Russian propaganda missed my point entirely.
Finally, even though my comment was made from an American perspective, I don't think this sort of introspection should be limited to Americans because the issue I brought up is not uniquely American. As I mentioned before, I'm not as familiar with European perspectives on the invasion of Iraq so I don't want to go into too much detail, but I do know that the response was noticeably different. Obviously, there were countries like the UK and Spain that participated in the invasion alongside the US, but there were also those that didn't support the invasion and their objections could be described as halfhearted at best. The opposition to the war in Iraq was nothing like the opposition to Russia's war in Ukraine even though it should have been. It might be hard for a lot of people to understand why, and that says a lot about the power of manufacturing consent.
Do not take my comment too personally; I fully understand where you're coming from. To be specific, when I said "I'd like it if Americans could shut the fuck up with the self-whataboutism for a bit", I was also referencing other instances of this popping up (not on Tildes) in the last couple of days.
This is whataboutism, though; and I've seen a lot of references to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem is when you have Putin asking it, then russian trolls amplifying it, and it reaches the ears of well-meaning americans who say "that's a fair question! let's talk about that", it looks a lot like the standard playbook that led to "all lives matter" and a bunch of other shit. Do not fall for it.
What makes it so difficult is that it is indeed a fair question. What I ask of you is that you be patient before asking it.
Please read yourself closely, and understand what this sounds like.
"I know this is distracting and taking attention away from a grave ongoing issue, but we could abuse the timing to the benefit of something we care about".
It's incredibly selfish.
A good time to bring this up is: Any other time than now.
I wasn't planning on checking tildes again for a while, but I kept thinking about our comments and came to a realization that might help me explain my perspective. I think the biggest part of the disconnect here is coming from my end and my failure to articulate my thoughts. What I was really trying to get at in the beginning was that the current coverage of the war is actually pretty good. And I wanted to make the point that this is what all war coverage should look like, but when I started to think about that, I got caught up in my anger at how this can all turn the other way if someone else is holding the gun. And to a certain extent, you're right, the conversation ended up being about something else.
I wouldn't go as far as to call it whataboutism because I think that term is better defined as someone intentionally trying to undermine and distract from an issue by bringing up a counter issue (e.g. What about the nazi militias? What about the Kurds? What about her emails?), whereas I was trying to make a critique about the wider media landscape which is related to, but ultimately separate from the Russia-Ukraine issue. But at the end of the day, it didn't really matter because my negativity and frustration turned the conversation much further away than it had to and I ended up making it more about Iraq, Afghanistan, and American imperialism. That part was unintentional.
I still think that we should always carve out some space to consider how something is being covered in the media, regardless of the issue at hand. I also think there is a way to illustrate the different types of coverage we've seen over the years without losing focus on Russia's unjust war or turning it into an airing of grievances against the US.
Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine are such different places that I think you might be better off picking one of them and going into depth about what you think should have happened there.
I can say in part, from the point of view of a "news junkie," it's nice to have something more interesting to read about than the pandemic for a change. This results in some excited chatter that I think shouldn't be mistaken for glorifying war, although there is some of that too.
Having fairly clear "good guys" and "bad guys" gives people something to root for. People like to root for the underdogs. The fact that they will probably lose, but might not, builds suspense. It's a narrative. In part this is because Ukraine is very good at making their case to Westerners.
It's also because Russia's narrative sucks and everyone knows it.
But I think all narratives should be questioned. We shouldn't expect the "plucky heroes" narrative to last. I wonder sometimes if they are really as clean as they seem, given that Ukraine's previous leaders were very corrupt. It doesn't seem like the time to get into that, though?
Do you think people will really take their favoring of Ukraine that far? What I feel is that I want Russia to lose, badly. I want Putin to lose all power. That means Ukraine is going to have to win. But they're still a new democracy. They're going to have problems. Hopefully those problems would be under more scrutiny if they join the EU.
Well, I'm rooting for Ukraine too, but I try not to let the narratives affect my judgement too much.
In particular, we shouldn't expect a satisfying ending. Much of history is about terrible things happening.
It feels more like to me that sentiment was strong in America for war when 9/11 happened, and Russia invading Ukraine is a situation bringing up the same feelings. Although that can only explain the initial enthusiasm for war.
As 9/11 faded, the sentiment against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan increased to the boiling point where politicians get dinged now for their support. Especially after Saddam was deposed and the lies became more apparent. Sure it isn't a main talking point, but the sentiment now is far different than 15 years ago and I would like to think American's have learned somewhat a lesson from that whole experience. I mean, trust in government is pretty low in part for all the actions that were taken during that time period.
And yeah there is racism. But on a deeper level there is just plain ignorance to believe state-sponsored lies. Same thing is happening in Russia for those who are justifying the assault against Ukraine now. That situation is more equivalent to America's and where insights can be gleamed about the psyche behind propaganda on a population. Especially as both America and Russia are the invading nations. Going further, the same people in America that were die hard about the middle east are the same one's simping for Putin now.
All in all though, you shouldn't let how other people react to a situation color your opinion and feelings on how you should react. I think anybody can see a hospital or kindergarten being bombed and civilians getting killed, and understanding that the whole thing is fucked up and completely unjustified and be against that. Right is right and wrong is wrong, regardless if the person next to me can't seem to process why they feel the way they feel.