20 votes

Megathread for news/updates/discussion of Russian invasion of Ukraine - April 15-17

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.

If you'd like to help support Ukraine, please visit the official site at https://help.gov.ua/ - an official portal for those who want to provide humanitarian or financial assistance to people of Ukraine, businesses or the government at the times of resistance against the Russian aggression.

22 comments

  1. [3]
    Adys
    Link
    Once again, apologies for not posting here more often. My mental health had severely suffered and this break from wrapping up the news is doing a lot of good. There isn't that much interesting...

    Once again, apologies for not posting here more often. My mental health had severely suffered and this break from wrapping up the news is doing a lot of good.

    There isn't that much interesting happening from day to day at the moment, anyway. You may have heard about Russians using or thinking about using chemical weapons and NATO being concerned, but truthfully, they already had done that earlier in the war.

    There are definitely tensions rising between Russia and NATO, which is concerning. Within one month, we might be able to see more clearly, as Russia has so much riding on the first 2 weeks of May as the "end of the war".

    Russia probably managed to avoid the worst of the worst for themselves for now, but they're still in an extremely bad spot. They will not have the stamina for a longer war. Their "refocusing" on the border cities only serves to make it look a bit better in terms of "victories", but … king of the ashes, you get me? Zelenskyy said it himself yesterday: 95% of Mariupol is just gone. Destroyed.

    People are going back to Kyiv. I think it's a bit optimistic, but I would never stand in the way of pushing that optimism forward. Even Anna (the sister) talked about it, but she's being a bit more realistic… there is nothing waiting for her there at the moment, beyond rubble. Here at least, she has her sister, and I'm currently helping her study programming, she wants to convert into IT and start with frontend development.

    I feel bad not having more to write about right now. In fact, there's a LOT out there, and I'm still sifting through tons every day. So instead let me ask you, Tildinistas: What do you want to know or talk about today? Let this be an AMA.

    15 votes
    1. HotPants
      Link Parent
      As much as I love your summaries, your mental health should always come first.

      Once again, apologies for not posting here more often. My mental health had severely suffered and this break from wrapping up the news is doing a lot of good.

      As much as I love your summaries, your mental health should always come first.

      15 votes
    2. ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      For one's information, the reason Russia is pushing for some sort of a victory early in May is for something to coincide with the Victory Day of May 9th. It's been celebrated here for decades as...

      as Russia has so much riding on the first 2 weeks of May as the "end of the war"

      For one's information, the reason Russia is pushing for some sort of a victory early in May is for something to coincide with the Victory Day of May 9th. It's been celebrated here for decades as if WW2 had only happened last year.

      Being able to wrap the "denazification" operation to the previous (legitimate) victory over fascism would do great things for Putin's PR. Or at least, that's the hope.

      We're already seeing massive spikes in prices of ordinary items, like milk and porridges (wheat, buckwheat, rice etc.): up to 30% over just a few weeks. Telecoms are warning about cutting off unlimited mobile Internet access for all users in the near future. Stuff either gets oddly expensive or disappears from the shelves.

      I think most people in Russia have a vague idea of what's happening, but there's no way to pry that out of them. Suppose they tell the wrong person: they could very well end up badly beaten in a police precinct, or charged with "defamation of the Russian armed forces" (which is anything remotely protestative of the war efforts), which could mean years in prison on what is essentially false charges.

      So, you end up with the notion that damn near everyone in Russia supports the war and the carnage.

      Even if I'm right about this, though, there's no way Putin and his cronies would relax the laws to allow for a little more freedom of expression. You won't see a sudden outburst of criticism, of cries of mothers of the dead Russian soldiers, of calls to change the political system so that it would never happen again.

      So, it may end up looking from the outside like people are generally supportive of the "victory" that Putin plans to present on May 9.

      11 votes
  2. [2]
    ThatFanficGuy
    Link
    If I may offer this excerpt from They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933—45: In case you wanted to know why Russia is today the way it is. This particular Rome was not built in a day. The...

    If I may offer this excerpt from They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933—45:

    "But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

    In case you wanted to know why Russia is today the way it is. This particular Rome was not built in a day. The nazification of the Russian society – or, specifically, the Russian kind of fatalist nationalism – came into broad daylight rather abruptly and very recently, ever since Putin'd started to campaign for the amendment of the Constitution, but the bearing of the "Russia strong" flag began long before that.

    12 votes
    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Related interview with Greg Yudin, professor of political philosophy at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, that provides even more perspective, and mirrors a lot of the same...

      Related interview with Greg Yudin, professor of political philosophy at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, that provides even more perspective, and mirrors a lot of the same sentiment:

      ‘Russia Is Completely Depoliticized’ A sociologist from Moscow explains how the nation learned to deny reality. (Intelligencer - NYMag)

      p.s. I don't want to quote parts of the article like I normally do, since the whole thing is worth reading, IMO.

      4 votes
  3. skybrian
    Link
    More about naval mines: Ukraine accuses Russia of releasing naval mines to hamper shipping (Washington Post) [...]

    More about naval mines:

    Ukraine accuses Russia of releasing naval mines to hamper shipping (Washington Post)

    The appearance of floating mines in the southwest Black Sea set off alarm bells in Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, drove up the costs of insuring cargo ships and stymied local fishermen. Since late March, Turkey’s military has defused at least three mines discovered in its territorial waters, including one in the busy Bosporus Strait, which bisects the country’s biggest city of Istanbul. Romania has also neutralized a stray mine.

    [...]

    Russia has accused Ukraine of laying the mines and alleged that hundreds of them broke free during bad weather in March. Ukraine has denied the Russian assertion. Turkey’s defense minister has said the mines’ origins have not been determined.

    A Ukrainian diplomat told reporters in Istanbul that “physically it is not possible” for the mines to have drifted southward into Turkish waters so quickly, saying Black Sea currents would have instead carried them farther west and north to Romania or Bulgaria’s shores. His government suspects that the mines were “deliberately … brought to the point where the stream is flowing” toward Turkey. The diplomat spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters.

    He said the devices appear to date to the Soviet period and had been stored at a military base in the city of Sevastopol in Crimea, a facility that Russia has administered since it annexed Crimea after a 2014 invasion. Ukraine has a limited number of mines that it is keeping in its waters to stop Russian ships and lacks enough ships to carry the mines out to sea, he said.

    7 votes
  4. skybrian
    Link
    Ukraine is scanning faces of dead Russians, then contacting the mothers [...] [...] [...]

    Ukraine is scanning faces of dead Russians, then contacting the mothers

    Ukrainian officials have run more than 8,600 facial recognition searches on dead or captured Russian soldiers in the 50 days since Moscow’s invasion began, using the scans to identify bodies and contact hundreds of their families in what may be one of the most gruesome applications of the technology to date.

    The country’s IT Army, a volunteer force of hackers and activists that takes its direction from the Ukrainian government, says it has used those identifications to inform the families of the deaths of 582 Russians, including by sending them photos of the abandoned corpses.

    The Ukrainians champion the use of face-scanning software from the U.S. tech firm Clearview AI as a brutal but effective way to stir up dissent inside Russia, discourage other fighters and hasten an end to a devastating war.

    [...]

    Clearview employees now hold weekly, sometimes daily, training calls over Zoom with new police and military officials looking to gain access. Ton-That [CEO of Clearview] recounted several “‘oh, wow’ moments” as the Ukrainians witnessed how much data — including family photos, social media posts and relationship details — they could gather from a single cadaver scan.

    [...]

    Beyond scanning corpses, Ukraine also is using facial recognition to identify Russian soldiers caught on camera looting Ukrainian homes and storefronts, an official with Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Ministry told The Post.

    [...]

    Clearview has stirred international controversy for years because of the way it gathered photos for its database, harvesting massive amounts from social media companies and other Internet sites without owners’ consent. The company has faced government investigations, ongoing lawsuits and demands from countries to delete their citizens’ data. Members of Congress have proposed blocking federal money from going to Clearview on the basis that its images have been illegitimately obtained.

    7 votes
  5. [6]
    cfabbro
    Link
    Russian disinformation campaign includes doctored images of CAF members on front lines in Ukraine: CSE p.s. CSE = Communications Security Establishment = "the Government of Canada's national...

    Russian disinformation campaign includes doctored images of CAF members on front lines in Ukraine: CSE

    In a series of tweets published on Wednesday, the government agency said the Kremlin is actively supporting efforts to promote non-state pro-Russia voices on social media “that have an influence over millions of viewers.”

    As part of these tactics, CSE said, Russia is spreading “false narratives” about Canada’s involvement in the conflict through controlled media outlets designed to look legitimate.

    “This included false narrative about the presence of Canadian Forces members in the Donbas regions, which was timed with news of the arrival of the Canadian Forces members in Ukraine to secure the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv,” a tweet reads.

    “These outlets were directed to include doctored images of Canadian Forces members on the front line and false claims about Canadian forces committing war crimes.”

    The CSE said the latest observations were pulled from its classified reporting on the issue. The agency has a mandate to inform the government of foreign entities’ activities that threaten Canada or its allies, including with disinformation.

    p.s. CSE = Communications Security Establishment = "the Government of Canada's national cryptologic agency. It is responsible for foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) and communications security (COMSEC)"

    5 votes
    1. [5]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      Maybe I'm biased but of all the countries you could accuse of committing warcrimes I would think Canada is the least believable.

      Maybe I'm biased but of all the countries you could accuse of committing warcrimes I would think Canada is the least believable.

      1 vote
      1. stu2b50
        Link Parent
        I guess it's the more believable proxy version of America? If US soldiers were in Donbas than surely everyone would know that WW3 began. I suppose Canada is more believable in terms of not...

        I guess it's the more believable proxy version of America? If US soldiers were in Donbas than surely everyone would know that WW3 began. I suppose Canada is more believable in terms of not immediately escalating into WW3? Not really sure that makes that much sense either.

        2 votes
      2. [3]
        cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Eh... Canadian soldiers have done some despicable shit in the past too. E.g. The Somalia affair, which actually led to the disbanding of the entire Canadian Airborne Regiment by Chrétien. But...

        Eh... Canadian soldiers have done some despicable shit in the past too. E.g. The Somalia affair, which actually led to the disbanding of the entire Canadian Airborne Regiment by Chrétien. But thankfully that kind of horrific conduct has been relatively rare.

        1. [2]
          Loire
          Link Parent
          Of course. And, despite the stereotypes, there are Canadian rapists, murderers and thieves. But on the average the Canadian armed forces aren't exactly known for committing war crimes, nor is the...

          Of course. And, despite the stereotypes, there are Canadian rapists, murderers and thieves. But on the average the Canadian armed forces aren't exactly known for committing war crimes, nor is the general Canadian temperament isn't one of committing atrocities while abroad.

          1 vote
          1. cfabbro
            Link Parent
            Yeah, I agree. Despite their occasional missteps (e.g. the recent sexual misconduct scandals), I am still proud of the CAF's role as an overall force for good in the world, and a proud Canadian....

            Yeah, I agree. Despite their occasional missteps (e.g. the recent sexual misconduct scandals), I am still proud of the CAF's role as an overall force for good in the world, and a proud Canadian. But I think it's still worth pointing out the few times where that hasn't been the case, since admitting our past mistakes and learning from them is important.

            3 votes
  6. [3]
    cfabbro
    Link
    EU closes loophole allowing multimillion-euro arms sales to Russia (Reuters)

    EU closes loophole allowing multimillion-euro arms sales to Russia (Reuters)

    The European Union has closed a loophole that allowed EU governments to export weapons worth tens of millions of euros to Russia last year alone despite an embargo which took effect in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region.

    The EU had banned the export of arms to Moscow in July 2014 in reaction to Russia's annexation of Crimea, but a clause in the sanctions permitted sales under contracts signed before August 2014.

    Countries with large defence industries, such as France and Germany, were among the largest exporters.

    In a bid to weaken the Kremlin's war efforts in Ukraine, the EU has imposed five rounds of sweeping sanctions banning exports to Russia of a large variety of technology that could be used by the defence industry.

    But EU governments failed to immediately agree to scrap the exemption on arms sales until last week, when the loophole was closed as part of the fifth package of EU sanctions, EU diplomats and officials told Reuters.

    A spokesperson for the Lithuanian diplomatic mission to the EU said the exemption had been eliminated, but EU countries will be able to continue moving Russia-made weapons to Russia for repairs before they are returned to the EU.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      NoblePath
      Link Parent
      Am I missing something or is this pure insanity? Eu made weapons sold to Russia, Russian made weapons sold to EU, each sent back and forth for repairs? What is wrong with us? I get Ukraine using...

      Am I missing something or is this pure insanity? Eu made weapons sold to Russia, Russian made weapons sold to EU, each sent back and forth for repairs? What is wrong with us? I get Ukraine using russian weapons, that makes sense. But Eu and nato?

      1 vote
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        Eastern European countries used to be part of the Soviet Bloc. Whatever weapons they made or bought back then would have been traded with other countries in the Soviet Bloc. So they have that...

        Eastern European countries used to be part of the Soviet Bloc. Whatever weapons they made or bought back then would have been traded with other countries in the Soviet Bloc. So they have that legacy, much like Ukraine. I assume those are older weapons, but often they are upgraded.

        5 votes
  7. cfabbro
    Link
    Do people in Donbas want to be ‘liberated’ by Russia? (WaPo)

    Do people in Donbas want to be ‘liberated’ by Russia? (WaPo)

    We surveyed people in Ukraine’s contested eastern region to see what they wanted. Here’s what we found.

    In January, we conducted a large, computer-assisted telephone public opinion survey of people living in the two regions on both sides of the military line of contact. To enable cross-checking of the survey data, we used three companies: the U.K.-based agency R-Research and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology calling from Ukraine, and Levada Marketing Research calling from Russia. In total, 4,025 people were interviewed, with equal numbers on both sides of the line of contact dividing the Donbas. Data are weighted proportional to current population estimations separately in the Kyiv-controlled and separatist areas.

    The opinions of those forcibly displaced are thus absent. Estimates are that up to 3 million of the 6.5 million people who lived in the Donbas region in early 2014 had left by early 2022, with many more fleeing since the invasion began in February.

    But the figure in which we averaged data from all the survey firms summary data hides some big differences. While the Ukrainian and Russian pollsters found similar opinions in areas controlled by the Ukrainian government, in the breakaway area, pollsters calling from Russia found higher support (70 percent) for joining Donbas with Russia than did the pollsters calling from Ukraine (16 percent). (Some respondents may have decided whether to answer the call or participate in the survey according to whether it originated in Kyiv or Moscow, or may have replied with answers that they thought the interviewers wanted to hear.)

    In the Ukrainian government-controlled areas, almost 3 in 4 respondents (72 percent) wanted the breakaway territories back within Ukraine. These residents were twice as likely to say the Donbas should not have any special status as to say it should have special autonomous status within Ukraine.

    In the separatist-held areas, opinion was more splintered. Forty-nine percent said they wanted to be part of the Russian Federation, with a roughly equal proportion saying they wanted to be a special autonomous region or just an ordinary part of Russia. On both sides of the line of contact, fewer than 10 percent supported independence. Almost 1 in 5 respondents — on both sides of the line of control — said they did not know.

    Our research suggests that in a free and fair referendum held throughout the Donbas — under international supervision and with impartial, transparent and inclusive voting rules that allowed those displaced since 2014 to vote — the majority would be likely to vote to remain in Ukraine. However, a vote restricted to just those remaining in the Donbas would be likely to endorse joining Russia. Either way, war has hardened attitudes, so any such referendum would be bitterly contentious.

    3 votes
  8. [4]
    vektor
    Link
    Not looking good in Mariupol. About 2.5 - 3k fighters left in the pocket, as far as we know. Moscow has given a deadline for surrender which passed. Apparently that ultimatum was of the form...

    Not looking good in Mariupol. About 2.5 - 3k fighters left in the pocket, as far as we know. Moscow has given a deadline for surrender which passed. Apparently that ultimatum was of the form 'surrender now and you will be spared.' - after that, quote: “All those who will continue resistance will be destroyed,” - basically, a pretext for a war crime. 'After today, gloves are off and we will not take any prisoners. I mean, gloves were off before, but now we have a pretext too, which is cool.' So that's a thing now.

    Zelenskiy said if the Mariupol fighters are eliminated, that'd end negotiations.

    Mariupol was predicted to fall "any day now" for about 40 days now. Considering the locations still occupied by the UA troops, I don't expect any civilians to still be in the pocket(s). I wonder how longer they will last. Considering they are still talking about it, I suspect Russia is not in a position to easily collapse the pocket. If they were, they wouldn't pose ultimatums like this. They're talking because collapsing the pocket is still tied to heavy Russian casualties.

    I also wonder how the UA supply situation looks like in the pocket. On the one hand, they had weeks and weeks to move supplies from all of the city area to their base areas and fallback points. From what's known about Azovstal, that one makes for a very obvious stronghold, so maybe they started stockpiling cans of beans and ammo weeks ago, in which case they're in the clear. Or they stockpiled elsewhere and those stockpiles were taken. Or they didn't manage to build a substantial stockpile and are running on fumes now.

    3 votes
    1. ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      I've read somewhere in my Ukraine feed that the Mariupol fighters feel abandoned by their government because there's no longer even any communication happening. It's so far down I can't expect to...

      I've read somewhere in my Ukraine feed that the Mariupol fighters feel abandoned by their government because there's no longer even any communication happening. It's so far down I can't expect to find the source now.

      Simon Shuster, a reporter for TIME, tweeted this recently:

      I'm in touch with one of the last defenders of Mariupol. He's wounded. After Bucha massacre, he says, "surrender is not an option." He feels their stand accomplished its mission. They tied up so much Russian firepower it gave other cities a chance to survive.

      According to Nika, a Ukrainian independent reporter with writings for The Atlantic and The New York Times, among others, Russia is planning on bombing AzovStal, where about a thousands civilians also hide.

      2 votes
    2. [2]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      I’m wondering about the war crime part. If soldiers decide to fight to the end and are killed in battle, is that a war crime?

      I’m wondering about the war crime part. If soldiers decide to fight to the end and are killed in battle, is that a war crime?

      1. vektor
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        No. But if they surrender and you shoot them anyway, that definitely counts. My point above is Russia basically said that they won't accept any surrenders anymore. If UA forces keep fighting,...

        No. But if they surrender and you shoot them anyway, that definitely counts. My point above is Russia basically said that they won't accept any surrenders anymore. If UA forces keep fighting, that's fine. If they eventually surrender, then it's a war crime.

        ETA: There are however morale concerns at play here, and I think Russia is bluffing. You generally want to accept surrenders if you can at all afford it. Imagine what a combination of Mariupol and Bucha will do to Ukrainian morale: You're not safe if you don't fight (as a civilian). You're not safe if you fight and eventually surrender. Your best bet is to fight and never surrender. With how the "morale battle" is going, Russia can't want that.

        5 votes