Megathread for news/updates/discussion of Russian invasion of Ukraine - March 16-17
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.
We are entering the fourth week of the war.
This will just be a quick link dump as I’m going through some personal things which are eating all of my time. I’ll edit in if there’s anything else important I see popping up.
Prime ministers of Poland, Czechia and Slovakia meeting in Kyiv: https://www.gov.pl/web/primeminister/prime-ministers-visit-to-kyiv
Russian troops opened fire on people standing in line for bread:
Further signaling of the Z symbol via latinisation of the Russian з letter: https://mobile.twitter.com/DAlperovitch/status/1503941344519147521
Lots of discussion on Ovsyannikova: https://mobile.twitter.com/SophiaFreuden/status/1503540543967608832
UK intel on Russian troops and movements: https://mobile.twitter.com/DefenseBaron/status/1503871848341196802
Italian kids welcoming Ukrainian refugees in school: https://mobile.twitter.com/benphillips76/status/1503311358699442178
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague Karim Khan arrived in Ukraine:
Article: NATO discusses new security reality for Europe. NATO officials meeting in Brussels (including Biden): https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/210915/nato-discusses-new-security-reality-in-europe
Statement from Navalny: https://mobile.twitter.com/navalny/status/1503800859863531529 - full article: https://meduza.io/en/feature/2022/03/16/this-will-lead-to-our-country-s-collapse
Explosions in various locations in Belarus. Sudden great increase in air activity. Suspecting explosions to be aircraft sonic booms.
Belarus has started mass conscripting soldiers. It looks like Belarus is about to join the war.
Will Belarusian conscripts be a net positive to the Russian forces? What do they think about the war?
It's a pretty desperate move, yes. Net positive, probably, but I somewhat doubt it'll make much of a difference.
The problem is beyond that. Belarus is already being sanctioned quite harshly but if they officially join the war, even as the puppet state they are, that's another country bringing its own affiliations into this geopolitical mess. It's one step closer to a world war.
I have not seen analysis of this, but as "WWIII" makes headlines I have wondered how many countries beyond Belarus could be dragged into the war on Russia's side. I doubt India or China would join, but maybe Iran?
North Korea maybe, I don't think anyone else is irrational enough to tank their economy alongside their opponents with little to gain.
Interesting webgame for our times
Putin lashes out at the Russian 'fifth column’, calling them "scum and traitors."
It's a naked call for violence against anti-war and anti-Putin activists in Russia. The video is here.
Exclusive: Secret CIA training program in Ukraine helped Kyiv prepare for Russian invasion
I feel like this isn't really news? The military has been deploying small training units to Ukraine since 2014, focusing on tactics and equipment familiarity training.
That's regular army training, which was overt and took place far from the front. This article is about (formerly) secret CIA training, where they were directly advising the Ukrainians fighting Russians.
Zelensky addresses the U.S. congress
H.R.6869 - To authorize the President of the United States to issue Letters of Marque and reprisal for the purpose of seizing the assets of certain Russian citizens, and for other purposes.
Interesting that this has been marked 'The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.'
There is a graphic video of some of the destruction embedded in the video, although I believe there are content warnings in the video itself as well.
yeah, that makes sense. They should give a more specific warning for gore, though.
A Ukrainian Town Deals Russia One of the War’s Most Decisive Routs
It's a long read with lots more details, and photos (none very graphic), but the above serves as a decent summary.
That town would enable Russia to bypass Mykolajiw on the way to Odessa. Given that both are being defended effectively, I don't see Odessa happening anytime soon. The landing ships are either a desperate attempt by a General to save himself from Putin's wrath (unlikely imo) or are a ruse to tie down Ukrainian troops in Odessa "just in case they are mad enough".
Unlikely? Even considering how many other offensive actions the Russians have blindly sent their troops into during this war without bothering to provide them proper support? I don't know. At this point, given that, and their increasing desperation to achieve Putin's objectives, I give it a 50/50 despite how mad such an attempt would be.
And also worth noting is that Japan recently spotted 4 more Russian amphibious landing craft loaded with equipment heading West through the Tsuruga Strait. So Russia may actually be trying to prepare for a large scale landing at some point. Although for that to happen the ships would have to get through the Suez canal, and Turkey would also have to let the vessels through the Bosporus, which thankfully seems unlikely given their recent denials to other Russian warships not registered as being berthed in the Black Sea. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Well, I'd say sending a BTG of 800 man into a fight with insufficient recon and air support, when they can always retreat the way they came and can be supplied the way they came is one thing, sending 5000 marines into certain death/captivity with no way out, no resupply and no reinforcement is another thing entirely. Any previous Russian blunder, I could at least understand how you could make it. This one... not so much. If Mykolajiw was easier to take from the west, I could see a way, but that city is built like a fortress from any direction.
No, I don't think their generals will be that stupid. Not until the situation on land changes. Any general who is compelled to do this will know they'll only dig their grave deeper. I'm not saying "never", because the Russians have been one hell of a wildcard so far, but certainly not 50/50. 80/20, I'd say.
Maybe this is a dumb question, but I'm wondering about the "no way out" thing. They couldn't board a ship like the way they came in?
You're free to try, but most of the doctrine and equipment around amphibious assault is tailored to, well, assault. Contested naval evacuations are much harder; before the assault you can maintain ambiguity about the actual location; you don't get that luxury during evacuation. Once you have a bridge head, because the enemy now knows where you are, you either have to move fast to secure the beachhead from enemy fire support, or you have to tolerate that the closest thing you have to a logistical base is getting attacked. Retreating out of such a situation, with enemy forces pushing, is going to be as costly as the landing itself, if not worse, I think.
Like, in principle it's possible, but it's about the most vulnerable situation I can imagine. In practical terms, amphibious assaults are rare, amphibious retreats are super rare. The only ones I can think of are Dunkirk and Saigon. Both were shit shows. If those are anything to go by, certainly the equipment you commit will be lost, quite possibly to be captured. Kabul last year also was a shit show, and it wasn't even really contested; the Taliban knew that if they were to attack US forces, this would not be pretty.
Don't forget about Dieppe, which involved both a failed amphibious assault and costly amphibious retreat, where over 900 Allied soldiers died, 2500 were wounded, and 2000 got left behind to be taken as POWs. It's rather infamous here in Canada since it was a total clusterfuck, and the landing force was comprised mostly of Canadians. At least the lessons learned from its failure supposedly helped the Allies succeed on D-Day though.
Statement by Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson on Synchronisation of the Continental European Electricity Grid with Ukraine and Moldova
Forgive me if this is old news, but I find it disturbing:
Apparantly Russian family members of some Ukrainians don't believe there is a war. (Forgive the source, People, the NYT article was paywalled, but the facts seem to be the same).
I don't know why I find this especially disturbing or surprising, as we see much the same circumstance in the US over so many issues these days. I guess that, one, I thought that Russians were more savvy about propaganda than the US (and maybe they are, neither article gives any indication about how widespread this is), and two, given this a 20th century ground war with tanks and columns and what not it would be so much harder to deny the truth of it.
From @christogrozev (of Bellingcat)
Russia didn’t default on its debt. Here is Matt Levine’s commentary:
Proposed neutrality plan apparently nearing agreement.
That sounds an awful lot like the white peace I previously prophesied. None of Putin's strategic goals actually get fulfilled, but he gets something he can point at and tell his people "See? Totally worth it."
I can't read the link, so I'm unsure about what happens to Luhanks, Donetsk and Crimea.
This of course leaves the door open for another invasion somewhere down the line. Ukraine is going to be substantially weakened economically, so its high level of arms spending is going to become unsustainable real quick. I hope, if this comes to pass, that NATO and the EU will go as close to the peace agreement as possible: Military aid, Marshall plan, security guarantees, EU membership; anything that doesn't give Russia a direct reason to attack again.
Yeah. Given that there was already an agreement surrounding the de-nuclearization of Ukraine that included security guarantees by Russia, it seems iffy to believe that Russia wouldn't violate this new round of guarantees.
Sounds like they will revert to pre-invasion borders, but no declaration from Ukraine of Russian sovereignty/independence over these areas. If this goes through concessions Russia is getting here are extremely small.
Agreed. Sanctions should have some sort of end goal clearly communicated, but a ceasefire isn't it. Perhaps tied to the creation of a DMZ or Russian acceptance of Ukraine EU membership or bilateral defense agreements.
If a ceases fire happens I guess Russia will revert back to psycho ops but they may have a hard time convincing Ukrainians to elect pro-Russian politicians in the future. I would not rule out another assault later on either.
Deepfakes enter the information war:
ugh, this is terrifying. the video itself isn't even that convincing, but they won't remain that way for long.
New $800M aid package for Ukraine details
https://mobile.twitter.com/POTUS/status/1504230358979600384 Video from President Biden.
Hats off to the USA on this one. 1bn in aid in just a week. Extremely useful aid at that.
Drones confirmed to be the loitering munition Switchblade drones.
This seems like a golden opportunity for weapons smugglers/traffickers.
Why do you mean? Because it's a warzone where military equipment will inevitably end up abandoned or unattended, or do you have further reasons? As in, does your concern lie before the equipment is in Ukraine's hands, during, or after?
The one item on that list that I'd be by far the most worried about getting in the wrong hands (but it's likely also being treated appropriately by Ukraine) are Stinger missiles.
A good article from five days ago by a Russian journalist in the Mykolaiv area. Touches on a lot of things, but includes a bunch of testimonials from Ukrainian civilians and their struggle to live. Warning: while there are no graphic images, some of the textual depictions are quite graphic.
Thank you for this.
A Private Company Has Evacuated 6,500 People From Ukraine
Sixteen Days in Ukraine: The first generation born after Ukraine won independence documents the beginning of the Russian invasion. (New York Magazine)
This is a long series of anecdotes telling the stories of many young Ukrainians in the first days of the war. It's not graphic (at least so far - I haven't finished), but the cumulative impact of it is quite powerful.
"Putin Needs an Off-Ramp." The Atlantic.