Megathread for news/updates/discussion of Russian invasion of Ukraine - March 7-8
This thread is posted Monday/Wednesday/Friday - 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.
Hello Tildes. It is day 12.
I'm going to start with a personal update, for I have not one but TWO good news to share.
My SO went to pick up her best friend in Poland after a volunteer group fell through. They got home last night and are now both safe and sound, at her place, and in good spirit albeit exhausted.
The second good news: Her twin sister is now OUT OF KYIV!! She is on her way to the border. Travel for her will be more complicated, and I won't share the plans here, but her survival chances are now way up, and she will likely be in Belgium in the coming couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, her mother and grandfather are going to stay there. There is no way of getting them out. We just hope they make it through the war. My next personal update will be once the sister is safe.
I would also like to give more visibility to my offer to organize Ukrainian group learning here on Tildes, if anyone is interested in learning the language. Please take a look at that post for more info!
Map of current advance of Russian troops
Good article about the Kyiv Independent: What It's Like for Ukrainian Journalists Reporting on the War in Their Country
Vadym Denysenko, advisor to interior minister of Ukraine: "Russian occupiers gathered sufficient troops near Kyiv and will try to seize the capital in the next few days."
A Twitter thread about Odessa, Crimea, and the Russian advance on the south of Ukraine
Ukraine EU membership: EU warns of obstacles to fast-track Ukraine membership. Fast tracking was never a realistic option, but the EU is sending a strong signal that we will do everything to get them in.
The EU is working on further sanctions against Russia, proposals to come tomorrow.
Macron continues demanding safety for civilians and nuclear infrastructure.
Protests across the world continue. Sunday, I got to see this one in Brussels.
Russia is turning into a fascist state at break-neck speed. This is not good. Millions of propaganda-fed Russians will be swept up in this. Have you ever wondered how Germans didn't stand up to Nazi Germany in the 30s-40s? The next months (or years…) will be a stark reminder.
Twitter thread: How Russia is going full fascist; and the "Z" symbol
Another pre-unrolled Twitter thread: My translation of the analysis of the current situation in Russia by an active FSB analyst.
Children protesting the war are being arrested in schools - audio and transcripts.
Protester women are being raped and tortured in Russian jails - audio and transcripts.
Despite all this, and after breaking the last two cease-fires, Russia announced humanitarian corridors to Russia and Belarus". You don't need to be a genius to understand how bad this sounds. Macron is calling out the bullshit
Russia announced some of what it will bomb today. Zelensky: "Think about the feeling of impunity that the occupiers have that they announce their atrocities in advance!"
Ukrainian intelligence believes that the Kremlin wants to make Viktor Yanukovych "president of Ukraine."
Please beware of Reuters. They've been subtly publishing and amplifying some russian propaganda and there's some good reasons for that. Remember, Russia is at war with the rest of the world, too.
Bonus: Where are donations going?
Here is an excellent donation report by "Come Back Alive". This is where donations to the UA army are going. (Direct link, FB)
People across the world have been booking AirBNBs in Ukraine to give money directly. AirBNB waived all their fees in the country. Here are some grateful messages from hosts.
Some photos from Belgium donations to Ukraine
A thread on US security assistance to Ukraine
Absolutely fantastic news. Very happy for them!
Here’s an example of the bullshit Reuters is pulling: https://mobile.twitter.com/DarthPutinKGB/status/1500837526529060867
I'm wondering what the lie is supposed to be? There are apparently Russian tanks somewhere near Kyiv. This seems... plausible? Didn't we already know that?
It's disinformation. Implies that there are tanks rolling into Kyiv (there aren't), and amplifies Russia's supposed position in Ukraine. Remember that a huge part of why Ukraine is getting international support right now is because they're fighting off the offensive, so discrediting their position benefits Russians on multiple fronts.
This article is another somewhat subtle propaganda piece, that colors Russia's demands as "perfectly reasonable", and puts Ukraine in a he-said-she-said situation by highlighting Ukraine's claim that "Russia wants Kyiv" as a lie.
Of course, this is written in a way where you'd almost forget that Russia's "demands" aren't a cutesy little ask, but a bully killing civilians left and right until their demands are met.
To put it another way, let's say I decided that New York should go back to the dutch because it used to be New Amsterdam, and started bombing Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Austin, and "this can just stop in a moment if you give up New York back to the Dutch, and recognize Texas as an independent state". What would that article look like, then?
Don't forget, Russian propaganda is the best in the world, and the propaganda that targets the west comes in very different varieties. Some pieces are obvious (like the shit that republicans were amplifying the last few years), some are there to distract from the real issues, and some are very finely crafted to gently sway opinions on stuff that ultimately matters to Russia.
In that Reuters article, I think it's important to distinguish between what the Russian spokesman is doing (spewing Russian propaganda) and what the journalist is doing (getting a government's official statement).
It's true that the journalist plays up the importance of the story a bit: "It was the most explicit Russian statement so far of the terms it wants to impose on Ukraine [...]". Still, getting government statements is one of the jobs journalists do, even when it's distasteful nonsense. It's not nearly as important as reporting what's happening in Ukraine, but sort of useful to have it on the record because it gives us a little insight into how badly negotiations are likely to go. (Though, I don't think anyone expected much?)
Also, I don't think Russian propaganda is anywhere near the "best in the world?" It seems like the Ukrainians are doing a much better job. For example, the photos and stories about the refugees crossing the river didn't happen by accident. Someone did good work there.
How you take the statement and contextualise it, give it a meaning etc is the journalist’s role and to that end the Reuters article is very pro Russia.
I also agree that Ukraine has had fantastic propaganda so far (and I suspect a lot of it isn’t Ukrainian in nature), but I don’t think it’s better than Russian one. It’s just been “winning” the propaganda war but I can assure you that outside of tildes, the Russians are gaining ground because of some of these types of articles.
I’m guilty myself of having wanted to give context to the Russian side so people better understand why there is a conflict at all (eg the nato article I posted on the day of), but I don’t think even that is useful anymore because giving in to Russian demands is no longer reasonable. It might have been while bloodless resolution was possible but at this point we’re clearly in “negotiating with terrorists” territory, AND Russia has to go, for the sake of the west.
I agree that there isn't much context. There is some. For example:
It's the unsatisfying "he said, she said" variety, sometimes mocked "as people differ on the shape of the Earth."
Yeah, that one's actually pretty marginal. "Kyiv Region" is big. Sure, caution is advised, but Reuters clarifies this is basically a russion govt. statement.
I mean, I appreciate the caution that Reuters might be a bit close to the fire. Looking at their web site, I see quotation marks in the wrong places, for my liking anyway; but nothing to make me dismiss them as a source.
E: That said, I often find myself sticking to a more conservative reading of headlines that people will not necessarily agree with. The old "every headline that ends with a question mark can be answered with 'no'" is quite ingrained in my head, basically. I looked at that headline and took away from it that Russia claims to have tanks somewhere in the Kyiv region; A quick search confirms that Kyiv oblast stretches to the Belarussian border, so that is hardly surprising.
Does the Z symbol mark the vehicles as combatants as far as international law goes? As far as I know, combatants must be uniformed in order to not be considered partisans; partisans need not be taken as POWs. Whether for that reason, or for the reason of recognizing each other, they mark their vehicles with the Z. De facto, that's some kind of uniform, so I'd consider that to be a valid (though improvised) marking, same as yellow arm bands for Ukrainian infantry.
So... can civilians in Z-marked cars be considered combatants? Not saying that has any relevance, what with them being far from Ukraine, but my first thought was basically "you're marking yourself as a member of the russian military."
Even if I were in full support of the Russian invasion, this strikes me as a stupid decision.
Yeah. It's getting weird.
Per the Red Cross the evacuation route/so-called "humanitarian corridor" from Mariupol is mined.
No discussion in the article on what kind of mines, but Russia has been caught using the internationally-banned "butterfly mines". These are air dropped in an area and "look like toys". They're especially dangerous because they don't necessarily go off immediately. They have a 5-25kg pressure switch, but unlike many mines it is a cumulative pressure switch, gaining pressure each time it is disturbed. So if a child were to pick it up and throw it around a few times, marveling at how it slows down to land softly, it might not even go off, but would slowly accumulate pressure until the activation pressure is reached; where its charge is typically just enough to maim, but not be immediately lethal.
Ukraine is claiming a night raid last night destroyed 30 Russian helicopters on the ground at Kherson airbase. While unconfirmed, there is satellite imagery showing at least 49 helicopters were parked there earlier that day.
Statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland in connection with the statement by the US Secretary of State on providing airplanes to Ukraine
p.s. According to Janes World Air Forces, Poland has 21 single-seat and 6 twin-seat MiG-29s. And if other nearby nations follow suit:
cc: @vektor, since we talked about this in another thread but I couldn't find any numbers back then.
Interesting that this is explicitly trading them with the USA and sending them to a base in Germany to do with as they please, and not, for instance, sending or giving them to Ukraine. That feels like a very thin pretext, but if it's needed, it's needed.
Pentagon nixes Polish plan to give MiG’s to Ukraine via Ramstein
What's the current US position on this? Last I heard, they were dithering about whether they were able to provide such trade-in aircraft.
From Mar 6:
But it sounds like Poland is trying to pass the responsibility to the US of actually making the transfer of the planes to the Ukrainians, and whether the US will actually be willing to take on that responsibility and provide replacements is still unclear. But now that the Polish government has made the offer official, we're likely to find out soon enough what the US is willing to do.
All three of those questions are the reason why it was never a realistic option. Ukraine does have corruption problems, is involved in an active war, and there are many other reasons why it wasn't let in before.
Like I said in a previous thread though, they are earning their membership not by politics but by blood. Russia's action have redefined the continent and the Union. Ukraine is defending Europe and the EU right now; we can't let them down.
The whole reason the process to join the EU usually takes on the order of a decade is that with a huge and internal market, the whole of society and the economy have to be well-integrated from the point a country joins the club.
The idea of fast-tracking doesn't seem realistic in practice, unless that also entails huge changes to Ukrainian society to become more aligned with the rest of the club as part of that fast-tracking.
It's politics and political posturing, at least in part.
Yeah. I suspect any fast-tracking of Ukraine will basically entail a guarantee and a huge commitment of the EUs part that we will integrate Ukraine as fast as possible. That integration could be, just guessing here
Most of that are processes that formal pre-membership processes demand. Which is to say, they have to happen and can't be sped up much. What we can do is support Ukraine much more (politically, economically) while these processes are underway.
We can also sign the contract before the conditions are in place; that is, instead of saying "get to our level, then we'll sign a contract and you'll be a member state", we can go "we'll sign a contract now that obliges the EU to help you get to our level and requires you to cooperate with that. You'll be considered a full EU member with representation immediately, but you can join the institutions and the European single market once you're ready."
Again, just somewhat educated guesswork of what could be done to substantiate those statements.
Also, if Ukraine jumps the line, wouldn't that piss off some of the other people who have been waiting or are stuck on some level of the application that Ukraine gets to leapfrog?
As far as I can tell, the countries currently "ahead in the queue" are all Balkan states. The Caucasus countries and Moldova aren't currently in line, and those are the countries that are currently making noise.
I'm not sure how pissed the Balkan states would be. Sure they won't be happy that someone gets to skip the line, but I can also imagine some compassion for the Ukrainian situation there. Currently, they are quite well shielded by Russian interference by a ring of EU countries, and they might still remember soviet interference well enough to appreciate Ukraine's urgency.
Very much so. That's why several other Eastern European countries have also said very clearly that they also want to join the EU more quickly, like Ukraine.
Other countries like Turkey joining (although they've been on a "track" to do so for years), doesn't seem realistic at all, currently at least.
Turkey is actively occupying an EU member state, and their president is an autocratic asswipe. Yeah, there's no way they're getting in with the current state of things.
Being an official candidate, they are technically on track to join the EU.
Running backwards currently, but on track nonetheless.
An elephant-in-the-room question is how much longer Russia would keep this up if they stopped receiving tacit support from other big countries like China and India. Here’s one article (sorry, CNN isn’t my favorite either) on the calculus behind those countries support: https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/07/asia/china-india-ukraine-reaction-intl-hnk-dst/index.html
🌻 Ukraine claims it killed Russian Army Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, other senior officers near Kharkiv 🌻
The article references an interesting Twitter thread by the director of bellingcat:
I searched for references to an "Era cryptophone" and didn't find much other than references to this news story. I wonder if there is a more common name for them? Also, what is this "bellingcat law?"
Named after this story in which soldiers’ selfies confirmed Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Insurgency-in-Waiting An interview with a commander of what is likely one of many insurgency groups forming in Ukraine:
There are good reasons to distrust surveys and it seems like this would be especially true in Russia where people might be afraid to share their real opinions. Plus, I don’t know who this is. Still, apparently an activist is trying to measure public opinion and reported some results.
European gas surges 79% as market mayhem takes prices to record
Russia releases lengthy list of 'unfriendly' countries - Direct link to the Russian Ria site here for the list.
Every little bit, pun intended, helps. They were one of the first to sever ties and had diplomatic relations with Russia since 1999 and probably have some of the most stringent requirements for rekindling the relations "when [Russia] demonstrates actionable commitments to peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity."
Which FE is that?
Fire Emblem Fates as I believe.
Ukrainian truckers load up with donated supplies before going back to fight (Washington Post)
WSJ account of the battle of Hostomel airport in the opening hours of the war.
Seemingly stuck Russian convoy hides mysteries
It seems odd from a military perspective that they aren't attacking, and also that the Ukrainians aren't attacking them. Or have I missed something?
The Ukrainians are attacking the convoys... it even says so in the article you linked. And from CNN today:
According to retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the Ukranians have been repeatedly attacking both the southern and northern convoys using small unit and ambush tactics. They have just been specifically targeting their logistics elements (i.e. fuel and vehicle maintenance/repair supplies), which is a major reason why they have been stalled for as long as they have been.
And now this is just speculation on my part, but the reason why the Ukrainians may be doing that and not hitting the convoys' main bodies is because they can't really afford to risk doing that, and they also don't need to at this point either, since they now know that the convoys aren't going anywhere any time soon due to their complete lack of fuel and logistics support. So it's better to just focus on preventing resupply, and continuing to attack the support elements so the convoys continue to bleed even more fuel, food, soldiers, and morale by being stuck there indefinitely.
As another General on Sky News said today, those convoys are basically "mobile POW camps" at this point... though not so mobile anymore, and full of prisoners who aren't aware they're prisoners yet so still occasionally shoot back, but that the Ukranians also don't need to worry about feeding.
So I'm just a civilian but here's what I understand based on what I've read and seen. I'm referencing this map and similar ones which demonstrate the Russian advances to a pretty fine-grained level.
The Russians have reached and partially occupied Irpin on the northwest side of Kyiv. Everyday they are trying to push further into Irpin and they have been repeatedly pushed back by Ukrainian SOF. Decent article from the WSJ on that here.
Their goal still appears to encircle Kyiv first, to either siege the defenders or at least prevent them from resupplying during an actual offense of the city. On the east side of the Dnieper are still held up 100+ km to the north, in Chernihiv. Everyday there is fighting there too.
Further south on the east side, they have divisions that have bypassed Sumy to set up a presence outside of Brovary, but similar to Irpin that advance has stalled out when they have reached the more defensible dense suburbs. The Russian supply columns supplying the eastern side of the Dnieper are also much less controlled than the northern ones coming through Chernobyl and have been attacked regularly.
McDonald's, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Starbucks join a corporate exodus from Russia (NPR)
I wonder how that will work. Are they franchises? Maybe the restaurants will end up reopening under a different name?
I think this article A list of companies still doing business in Russia and others like it are what prompted the changes from some of these companies today. The article says of McDonalds:
The article has been updated since I read it earlier.
Here's a Twitter thread on the naval and maritime aspects of the war.
I don't see a March 9th thread yet, so I'll just post this here.
Ukraine warns of radiation leak risk after power cut at occupied Chernobyl plant
I assume the new topic will be up at 14:00 UTC (9:00 EST), since that is when all the other topics were created.
I have to say, it has a somewhat novel quality that there's basically a "natural" disaster in a conflict zone. I'm sure it's not the first time, but it's not everyday that a conflict zone requires relief efforts that are not a result of the conflict itself. Certainly once you consider that this is one where the incentives are structured such that it's useful for the parties to cooperate. If you had an earthquake in a war zone, each side would have recovery operations on its own side of the front. In this case, Ukraine is (at least in principle) interested in sending its relief forces across the front line to fix it, and Russia is (at least in principle) interested in permitting that. A radiation leak would be damaging to both sides and hard to weaponize against the other.
Internationally recognised as part of Moldova, Transnistria is home to Russian troops and lies on Ukraine’s border.
Also see Wikipedia
And as I wrote previously, Transnistria was recently used as a safe route for Russian naval cruise missiles as a safe route deep into Ukraine, basically drawing Transnistria into this war. Which is to say, we can reasonably safely assume that Transnistria isn't going to do anything about those CMs, so for all intents and purposes they allowed Russia to use their territory to strike Ukraine. If Ukraine were to attack Transnistria, it wouldn't (in my book) be an offensive war; it'd be defensive.
Anyway, Moldova is probably shitting bricks right about now. Transnistria is their Luhanks/Donetsk, except they were previously protected because Russia didn't have a land route into the country. Russia's casus belli is already there, all they need is for their army to be available again.
This is from February 27, but has interesting context about how Zelenskyy looked to a Ukrainian journalist before the invasion:
I did not vote for Ukraine’s president. His courage has changed my mind and inspired millions.