Daily megathread for news/updates/discussion of Russian invasion of Ukraine - March 5
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.
Day 10. Quick link dump as I have to get back to other things.
First, something really cool
I’ve heard from friends in my old magic circles that Butterfly Playing Cards is producing an absolutely gorgeous blue and yellow limited edition version of their deck, with all proceeds donated to Ukrainian charities. Shipping to various parts of the world is free.
Here is the link, I have preordered one for myself, it really is beautiful. Please share with anyone who might be interested.
Yandex update: https://ir.yandex/press-releases?year=2022&id=03-03-2022 (hn discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30562073)
SpaceX reprioritized to cyber defense & overcoming signal jamming.
Starlink refusing to block Russian media (this is a good thing imo):
A (not so) shocking example of Russian influence on western media:
Michael Kofman gives it a maximum of 3 weeks before Russian forces are exhausted:
Over 66 thousand Ukrainians abroad have returned to Ukraine to fight.
I didn’t think I’d ever see a Jamie Hyneman video message on the official Ukraine twitter account:
AFP- Russian oil giant Lukoil calls for halt to Ukraine war
The EU has made it clear it wants to accept Ukraine as a member “as soon as possible”, in a show of faith towards the Ukrainian people. War mobilisations are being prioritised right now however. (We won’t give up on Ukraine after the fight. Never.)
I think this has been the first time that Jamie's been on camera since Mythbusters ended, it's like some king of the mountain myth where he went to sleep and only awakens in times of dire need.
Adam and Jamie bought Tested, a maker site, and co-branded it for a while, then Jamie went off to live in the M5 mountain after a bit iirc.
I don’t think those Facebook top ten lists tell us much of anything about paid influence because online behavior changed greatly due to the Ukraine invasion.
Just look at how much discussion has changed here on Tildes. Ukraine has the world’s attention. Traffic to the big news sites goes up when there is an important news story like this.
I can't get this one powerful thought out of my head, it just keeps playing on repeat in my brain:
For the first time in any major war in the history of humanity, anyone in the world can instantly see on-the-ground, uncensored, HD footage of the NSFL carnage unfolding day by day. For the whole history of the world, war has been a constant... but not one that everyday people had this kind of realtime, vivid, up-close imagery of. We used our imaginations. We heard stories told after the fact, embellished to glorify the victors and vilify the slain. Who even knows how many of them were complete fabrications. But I think we're in a new era now. The ubiquitous streaming video era.
I've been watching the videos of apartment buildings being shelled, of civilians being massacred in the streets. My stomach's tied in knots hearing the screams of innocent Ukrainians dismembered and bleeding out. And I want everyone to share this experience with me. Yes, this footage is incredibly graphic. And it needs to be blasted everywhere. EVERYONE needs to be confronted with the reality of war in a way that has never been possible before this point in history.
If I had my way, giant screens would be erected in every Ukrainian city center to play these videos on loop, 20 stories tall. Giant loudspeakers would be set up to project the wails of the dying directly into the eardrums of the invading force. Show the Russian infantry in gory detail exactly what they are personally doing to these people, that they have only been able to observe from afar when they pull the trigger of their long-range artillery. Overlay the video with a message, directly to them, in Russian:
I've heard that Russian comms are being jammed to play the Ukrainian national anthem. I say, record a message like this one and broadcast it instead. Putin may not have any conscience, but surely there is some semblance of humanity that can still be appealed to in his military. We must pierce their disinformation armor and speak to the moral beings inside.
I wouldn't give that much credit to social media for giving this conflict so much more visibility. How many times has video been shared of bombings in Yemen, Palestine, and elsewhere that is simply ignored by people in the West? As far as I can tell, the reason the violence in Ukraine is held up to this high standard of visibility while acts of equal or greater violence in other parts of the world is quite simply because most of the people being affected are white. (Not all, though—note the discrimination against Nigerians trying to leave Ukraine by guards on both sides of the border with Poland.) There have already been pundits saying the quiet part out loud and lamenting how "blond, blue-eyed children" are being killed and that a "civilized European city" is under attack. And of course, there's been plenty of misinformation and falsely captioned content spread on social media, sometimes leading to unintentionally revealing results, like this retraction by AP: "Photo shows Israeli air strikes in Gaza, not Russia attack on Ukraine" (emphasis mine). This war has been a masterclass in how the media spins wars when they serve the West's interests. I have a really hard time stomaching this outpouring of sympathy on social media when it's so blatantly selective.
I don't disagree that there's a whiteness to the coverage (see: white women going missing media coverage), but I don't believe that it's the main reason for the outpouring of support or coverage in this case.
There are three superpowers in the world, the US, China, and Russia (although it appears that Russia may have all the tools to be a superpower, but not all of the skills to use them). Nobody likes a bully and everyone loves and underdog story. This war easily mirrors a David vs Goliath tale, in addition to being a resurgence/rekindling of the cold war/east vs west/democracy vs communism that both sides have almost fondly reminisced about.
Yemen and Palestine are, at least in part if not outright, religious wars that an increasingly non-religious world is long since tired of and largely doesn't understand. People don't like nuance, they don't like shades of gray, they like black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. Yemen, Palestine, et al are complicated; Ukraine, when you boil it down, is simple. Ukraine didn't want to be in Russia, Putin disagreed.
That's true, there's certainly a compelling narrative aspect to how the conflict has been presented. However, I don't think it's accurate to say that one type of conflict is more or less complicated than another. There's plenty of room to analyze where NATO and the US went wrong in the buildup of tensions with Russia without just blaming the Ukrainians for everything. More to the point, there are plenty of similar "David vs Goliath" stories where the US is the giant imposing its will on a smaller country, but for some reason, nobody would've gone to bat for Cuba's right to exercise self-determination and join the Warsaw Pact. I don't think that's purely due to racism, but the double standard exists regardless. Bringing up examples like that tends to be labeled as "whataboutism," and even if I disagree with that characterization, it's true that two wrongs don't make a right.
With that in mind, the West's humanitarian response to the plight of the Ukrainian people is not what needs to be criticized. What is worthy of criticism is that all of the empathy, heroism, and mobilizing on display in recent weeks still manages to overlook people in the global south who are apparently not worthy of receiving that largesse. It's not that those conflicts are so complex no one can ever understand them, it's that people just don't care enough to put in the effort (or more accurately, the media doesn't even bother) because they're used to seeing "shithole countries" getting destroyed.
There's some of that, but I think a lot of credit goes to Ukraine's current government for making sure their cause looks sympathetic to Westerners. Before that, Ukraine's government was corrupt and unpopular, I believe? And does anyone care much about the suffering of the people of Belarus?
That's true, Zelensky has been active in giving a human face to the struggle his country is facing. It hasn't been hard since popular perceptions of Russia in the US were never positive to begin with, but that's a whole different issue. My point about what's fundamentally wrong here is that the international community reacts totally differently when Russia invades Ukraine versus when the US invades countries in the Middle East. Your example of Belarus is also worth noting. What types of unjust violence are we conditioned to accept?
The counties I can think of in the Middle East that the US attacked were Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, which were ruled by two dictators (Sadaam Hussein and Khadafy) and a fundamentalist regime (the Taliban). Even when the reasons for the US attack weren’t very solid, these weren’t governments easy to sympathize with as the “plucky underdogs,” so it seems pretty understandable on those terms why they didn’t get much international assistance. I don’t believe many people protesting the invasion of Iraq were supporters of Sadaam Hussein’s regime?
It’s true that they weren’t white either, though.
But I don’t think shallow high-level comparisons like this are all that fruitful, because each one is a complicated situation where historical context needs to be taken into account.
Wheat Mounts Historic Week as War Sparks Deepening Supply Fears (Bloomberg)
Although it seems hard to prove, many people say that the Arab Spring was in part caused by higher food prices.
In a brilliant 2017 video interview, Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen provides a iluminating, comprehensive, and sometimes prophetic account of Vladimir Putin and its geopolitical ambitions, including Russia's relationship with Ukraine.
Aeroflot to halt international flights
Mastercard, Visa Suspend Operations in Russia After Invasion
From discussion on Hacker News it seems this will affect mostly travelers, because Russia has its own payment networks? It seems bad for Russian refugees.
PayPal suspends services in Russia over Ukraine invasion
Also, it seems like this would make it harder for Russians to use VPN's, unless they are offered for free?
Shell Says It Bought Russian Oil After Government Talks
Evacuation trains from war zone pour into Lviv in western Ukraine
From a couple days ago:
Lviv is turning its factories into improvised weapon centers
To save everyone a click - a hedgehog in this context is a road spike made from sharpened rebar.