Megathread for news/updates/discussion of Russian invasion of Ukraine - April 18-19
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.
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Google Maps Removes Blurring For Russia’s Military Sites (The Moscow Times)
Google denied they changed anything.
And… a potential styrofoam Potemkin Village of an Air Force.
Caveat: that might be an arms control thing, rather than styrofoam. Compare US combat aircraft boneyards. Which is to say, these might have been destroyed to comply with arms limitation treaties, and are sitting out in the open like that s.t. US satellites can verify destruction. An old runway of an airbase is a curious long term storage site though.
Thanks. I haven’t seen many counterpoints on this topic, but that is a sensible one. One other that I have seen is that these were meant to be decoys that would absorb attack fire and prevent it from concentrating on the real planes.
Zelenskky: Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine has begun (AP)
(edit: AP Live update page entry changed to full article link)
Second phase of war has started, says Ukraine president's chief of staff (Reuters)
Related twitter thread with more details (including video of Zelenskyy's announcement), from @ChristopherJM. Unrolled: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1516140383440449536.html
Curious timing, the evening hours. I was operating under the assumption that Ukraine had better night-fighting capabilities than Russia. Why would they start a major offensive in darkness?
Then again, the material I've read this far is sparse on details. Might be they're using the night to soften up defenders with artillery and air attacks, and the ground attack hasn't started yet. Then again, some Russian troops are definitely on the move already.
I suspect the fast approaching Orthodox Easter (Apr 24) and Moscow Victory Day Parade (May 9) are the major factors driving Russia's timing here, which are both clearly more important to them than any troop losses sustained by rushing things. :(
One thing that happened that I hadn't mentioned was the Batman promo disaster.
Y'all remember that the newest film about the Dark Knight got cancelled in Russia in response to the war, right? Well, I guess someone must've gone all in, anticipating the film's success.
Oreo, the cookie brand, has had its entire stock replaced with packages promoting the film. (Red-and-black of the film is in stark contrast with the blue-and-white of Oreo. You can't miss it.) Dodo Pizza, a Russian franchise, has also been promoting Batman via special offers: like their trademark meat roll in black with hints of green (pepper), mimicking the film's villian in color and theme. These are just the ones I've seen.
It's not particularly war-related, but it's funny to watch right now, so I figured I'd let you know.
The commander of the marines in Mariupol sounds rather more hopeful than my assessment yesterday - not sure what to make of this. Of course, this is not so much a factual report of the military situation on the ground as it is a plea for heavy armaments. But if we assume that this commander knows what he's demanding, he's sure to know that such shipments will take at least a week to pull off, I'd assume: Even if this is a stunt and he doesn't expect to get relieved by UA forces by land, he's still expecting to last at least long enough for those arms shipments to get underway. Or this is a stunt, and in between the lines we read "give my comrades the guns they need to reconquer Mariupol and find my body." But then I'd ask how effective that is if Mariupol can't hold out much longer.
Or maybe I'm completely wrong, and my attempts at figuring out what's going through the mind of such a soldier are completely in vain. Wouldn't be surprising, considering he's probably seen some shit that changes you, this last two months. I can imagine I would operate by rules that current-me couldn't decipher as rational anymore. Not that I'm calling him irrational.
Canada to send heavy artillery weapons to Ukraine, Trudeau pledges (The Globe & Mail)
Czech Arms Firms To Repair Damaged Ukrainian Tanks (Barron's)
Seven more flights with U.S. weapons to be sent to Ukraine in the next day, Pentagon says (WaPo)
U.K. to Revoke Moscow Stock Exchange Recognition in New Sanction (Bloomberg)
Russia central bank admits it's struggling to find foreign-currency options as sanctions spur 'structural transformation'
Russian oil sales have gone up — not down — after massive sanctions from the West
I'm still wondering how the payments happen and where the money goes. Does Russia have a bunch of Chinese and Indian bank accounts now?
What are impressions abroad of Steinmeier (German president) and him being unwelcome in Ukraine? I'm alright with that, though it's not great. But I've recently talked with someone who doesn't share my views on a lot of political issues. Can't really put a label on his views, but might be indicative for a lot of right-of-center people. Anyway, dude views this as an affront of sufficient magnitude to cut all German support for Ukraine. I guess what I'm asking is, how is Steinmeier perceived internationally?
I'm guessing maybe he's not well known internationally? I hate to admit it, but the only German politician I can name off the top of my head is Merkel. The only thing I remember about Steinmeier is what you've posted here.
I didn't know anything about Steinmeier until I started reading about him in relation to Ukraine. But now that I'm aware of him, IMO it's cool that he apologized for his past mistakes in supporting Russia and Nord Stream 2, but the "solidarity concert" he hosted featuring Russian musicians, that he then invited the Polish and Ukraine ambassadors to (which they refused to go to) was also a pretty insulting and a bizarre choice... so I absolutely don't blame Ukraine for not wanting him to visit Kyiv due to his past support of Russia, and even his present mixed messaging too.
p.s. But it should also be noted that Zelenskyy denied ever receiving a formal request for a visit from Steinmeier or his office, so it honestly sounds like this whole thing may be a bit of a manufactured controversy (meant to undermine support for Ukraine in Germany?), or due to a simple miscommunication which is being blown way out of proportion.
Yeah, I've heard the same. That said, that sounds also a fair bit like damage control from both sides. For example if a request was made and denied, then after all the media outcry over it, you just agree that that request was not an official request that was not officially denied, to save face. Ukraine seem to not want him there (I can understand) and Steinmeier doesn't want to be seen as rejected or undesired or whatever. Considering the first word on the matter came from Steinmeier, I doubt the point then was to manufacture any kind of controversy; that's just what happened once the media got their grubby little hands on it.
I dunno. Super bizarre to me. Not sure what even happened, who's saying what or who has a point or whatever. I'm utterly confused by this whole thing. What I do know is that this isn't good for popular support of Ukraine in Germany and that I can't blame Ukraine for not wanting the guy over right now.
Ohh, and another opinion I've heard (this one by more balanced journalists) is that this might delay Schulz's visit, as a visit of his might cast a bad light on the president or something. Ehh, I can see that. But I can also imagine that both are close enough that they can just sort that out among themselves and Steinmeier could officially ask Scholz to represent Germany in Ukraine, to save face, or something. As a clear signal of "actions speak louder than words right now, so get acting and let's not care about appearances too much".
Is that really the reason, or are the forces who were opposed to supporting Ukraine and sanctioning Russia from the start merely latching on to it as an excuse to push their agenda? From NYT a few days ago: Ukraine War Pushes Germans to Change. They Are Wavering.
No offense, but IMO something as insignificant as a rejected diplomatic visit being used as an excuse to suddenly stop supporting Ukraine (as your acquaintance now advocates for), especially in the face of a war of Russian aggression being fought on European soil, and atrocities being committed by Russia, is not a particularly good look for Germany. And TBH, had you asked how are Germany's action thus far are being perceived abroad, rather than thoughts on Steinmeier, I would have had far harsher words to say... especially since AFAIK Germany has been the main political force preventing stronger EU sanctions against Russia, and delaying more substantial military aid to Ukraine.
Maybe I should clarify that that acquaintance is a good bit more fringe than I had made him out to be. Possibly my best direct perspective into right-of-center politics, but certainly not a normal right-of-center voter. Whether he uses the diplomatic kerfuffle as an excuse I can't say.
In fact, the trend is that germans are generally happy to send more and heavier aid than we are doing. We're also more supportive of the more activist politicians like Habeck and Baerbock than Scholz and Lambrecht. From that perspective, the support in the population certainly isn't wavering. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Ukraine's behavior is doing damage to their reputation in Germany, as it really isn't just this Steinmeier thing; it's part of a larger narrative by Ukraine's government that nothing Germany does is ever good enough. I'm not saying that this justifies cutting aid. But I don't think Ukraine's tone is doing them favors in the long run.
As for how German actions are perceived vs what they actually are, that's a bigger issue that's hard to tell. The article you link below about Germany being framed has a point. Also, Germany's national hobby seems to be mild outrage at the state of the country and everything to do with it, irrespective of facts. So that could be fueling that fire too. In fact, it's a rare sight to have this narrative questioned, but it's starting to happen. Besides, if the biggest economy in the EU isn't the obvious target, particularly if it isn't defending itself from such accusations, I don't know who is.
As an anecdotal piece of evidence, tagesschau.de writes that "Scholz wants to support Ukraine militarily and financially, but those arms shall not come from Germany directly". Well, read the details and it actually says that Germany will bankroll Ukraine's orders from German arms manufacturers. How that aid isn't coming from Germany directly, I shall never know. Also, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany is grumpy because Germany doesn't give up actively used IFVs from Bundeswehr supplies? I don't think I've heard Ukraine make similar demands of e.g. France, Britain or the US.
Hard to say how this shakes out objectively, considering I haven't seen a by-the-numbers comparison of aid and sanctions per country, but I'm pretty sure 3/5 of your articles below were rectified by the government shortly thereafter.
All of which to say: I (and many other Germans) think Germany should and could do more than what we are doing. But also, let's keep it real: Germany is doing a lot as it is, and in an international comparison, I don't think we're lagging behind, yet we seem to be singled out as the one western country that's fucking up.
PS: Apologies for the German links. Feel free to use DeepL or something if you want the details.
E: Also, to clarify, since tone is hard in writing: Are you under the impression that I'm bent out of shape over the Steinmeier incident, or that it is affecting policy negatively?
I don't think Zelensky is ever going to be satisfied with outside assistance until the war is over. Why should he stop asking for more? This doesn't seem Germany-specific. He wants fighter planes, from anyone.
[Pre-Scriptum: I've been writing this for 2 hours now. It's a jumbled mess as a result, as the 30-ish articles and tabs I've opened writing this have changed my mind a bit. I don't have the nerve to polish this sufficiently, so take it as more scream-of-consciousness(sic!) than a well-thought out piece. And since that means I'm in conflict with my own opinion, read to the end. I could redact my previous opinions, but I think that'd be somewhat dishonest. So spare yourselves the criticism of said opinions.]
Oh, I agree. Not sure what other countries are getting back for their aid, but as far as I can tell, not only is nothing ever enough (sure, I get that part), the counter offers are unreasonable. Like, you're not getting any heavy equipment and your suggestion is that the Bundeswehr should give up 25% of its IFVs, when anytime the Bundeswehr deploys troops to e.g. the Baltic states, the deploying unit has to scrounge together what they can from other units in order to reach combat strength? And you want them to give up that equipment? (Yes, our armed forces are a bit of an embarrassment. We're working on it. Hopefully.)
It doesn't help that the government doesn't actually say what's in the military aid of the last few days.
I mean, maybe the media is misrepresenting what's being said. Doesn't help that I can't track down the original, complete statements of e.g. the ambassador on the recent aid package. But with what I'm getting from German media, the only thing we ever hear is "not good enough, please do the unreasonable". And I don't mind the "not good enough" part. But if the goal of the ambassador is to create pressure on the government by rallying popular support, he should understand that the government is newly elected and enjoys relatively broad support, so the relatively blunt attacks of his that are quoted in the media and that I can see on his twitter are probably not a great choice. He generally seems to associate with conservative news outlets that have a ... tenuous grip on reality and a "it's complicated" relationship with truth, which makes it hard to find out WTF is going on.
It's entirely possible he's a reasonable guy and his demands are reasonable. But I'm not seeing that. I am however, growing quite discontent with the media coverage of the overall situation. Fortunately, the Steinmeier story seems to be dying down.
Ahh, there it is - unfortunately in german and in image format (here's the online version, paywalled but this is the stuff I was looking for. Ukraine's ambassador in an interview with a reasonable media outlet on why the fuck he's choosing the tone he's choosing: To keep Ukraine a top story in Germany, even at the substantial cost to his own reputation. To make sure people keep hearing about Ukraine. To make sure they don't forget that there's a war in Europe. He assumes that it doesn't adversely affect Ukraine's reputation in Germany. [I wouldn't be so sure.]
I suppose that's part of why I'm not too happy with him: I actively seek out info about the war on a daily basis, so his agitations are redundant and irritating to me. But that interview is excellent and I'd recommend reading it if I could translate it with reasonable effort. If anyone finds a way to bypass the paywall, let me know, and I'll sort out the translation.
Thanks for taking the time to respond in detail, and providing your inside perspective. And sorry if I came across as attacking you or German citizens as a whole. I totally understand that you personally, and Germans citizens in general, are in full support of Ukraine and want your government to do more... as evidenced by all the truly impressive sized rallies/protests expressing that. My frustration is mostly with your government.
I don't know what sources you're reading, but AFAIK Ukraine has made almost the exact same demands of every country. Some of their demands have been reasonable, but many have also been just as unreasonable as those asked of Germany. However, most countries (their governments and people) seem to understand that them making unreasonable demands in the face of their annihilation is totally understandable, but which doesn't seem to be the case in Germany for some strange reason.
Most of them were eventually resolved, with Germany acquiescing. But even so, the problem (especially from a PR perspective) is that the German government seems to be the primary one constantly throwing up those roadblocks and causing delays in the first place. Them getting resolved in due time is great, but when every delay means more Ukrainians die, is it any surprise that Ukraine (and Germany's NATO allies) are running short on patience with your government?
In terms of financial contributions, maybe not, but as far as I understand it the problem is largely that the aid you're providing is generally not the kind Ukraine actually needs to hold off the Russians (other than the Panzerfaust 3s, which you only sent 50 of along with 400 rocket ammunition for, and stingers which you sent 200 of). Compared that to even Canada, which has already sent 4,500 M72 LAWs, 100 Carl Gustav M2/M3s (with 2000 rocket ammo), as well as $110Mn in assorted equipment (body amour, rifles, ammo, etc), earmarked an additional $500Mn for more, and also like yourself provided $1Bn in financial aid (despite us being half a world away and half your GDP). And as of yesterday, it's also been announced we're committed to sending heavy artillery to Ukraine as well, expected to be delivered within the week. And hell, at this point even the Netherlands, Lithuania, Czechia, and Estonia have given more materiel to Ukraine now than Germany has.
I don't mean to make this a dick measuring contest, but IMO Germany definitely seems to be falling way short of other EU/NATO countries, especially where it counts most (materiel support).
And how many weeks/months/years will those orders take to be fulfilled?
Honest question: I understand NATO not wanting to start WW3 so assistance is limited to providing somewhat indirect/discreet support, but even within those confines, if Ukraine were to lose this war in the next few weeks do you honestly think you would feel that Germany did enough to try to prevent it?
Because I can honestly say "Yes" to that with regards to Canada's response so far, especially thanks to our years of support efforts leading up to this war, e.g. via Operation Unifier which achieved impressive results.
Why do you say that? I was under the impression that that understanding was generally there.
This article lists 8100 AT rocket launchers and 3200 MANPADS and a bunch of other equipment. The stuff listed there seems to be pretty much exactly what Ukraine needed the most early on (light infantry equipment). Of course now we're looking to get more heavy equipment over there. And there Germany hasn't done enough yet. But I think this narrative that germany is so substantially lagging behind is quite overblown.
As for how long heavy weapons will take? Depends. If our govt can get their ducks in a row, I think we can send as many Marder IFVs as Rheinmetall has sitting in their courtyard immediately to Ukraine from Bundeswehr supplies and backfill from Rheinmetall stocks. We can also send Leo1 tanks from similar sources. Heavy artillery, I don't know. We probably have tons of towed guns, but I'm not sure if we can seriously spare PzH2000s. But there might be some sitting around somewhere, don't know.
If we can't get our ducks in a row, 3 weeks is the number quoted on getting the Rheinmetall courtyard underway.
I'm not sure. I suppose hindsight will give us a better analysis of what's going on right now. I think there's definitely things we could be doing now and things we should've done 8 years ago. But we're also giving substantial aid and doing other things (no oil imports from Russia after 2022, e.g.) that have substantial impact. I can't give a clear yes or no answer on this one.
By the way, I don't think our perspective should be entirely focused on the aid we can provide today; this war is going to go long I believe. No aid we can send now that isn't a declaration of war is going to end this war in the next weeks.
That's just the general impression I got from several articles (like the NYT one, as well as a few others complaining about Ukraine's demands, and snubbing of Steinmeier), and even your own first comment. It's entirely possible/probable that my impression may be entirely wrong on this though. And TBH, I certainly hope it is, since wavering support for Ukraine over something like that is pretty worrisome.
Thanks for that. That seems much better source for that sort of information than what I was relying on before, which was having to personally sift through dozens of news sources mentioning contributions. I had no idea Germany had sent that many ATGMs already, and was just going off an article I read from late Feb. So I should probably try harder to keep up with Germany's contributions, especially before criticizing them. Sorry about that.
That's good to hear. Lets just hope Ukraine still exists 3 week from now though. :(
I agree that long-term planning is a good idea, but their immediate needs are far far far more important right now, IMO. Since if they lose the battles on their Eastern Front, that could potentially spell the end for them as a nation now that Russia has managed regroup and reorganize.
Where could we read more about that? I didn't realize this was Germany's doing.
The NYT article I linked talked about some aspects of it, but Germany's resistance to sanctions and stalling on armaments has been a pretty constant thread throughout all this.
Germany Is Stalling EU Efforts to Broaden Russia’s SWIFT Ban
Germany, urged to ‘stop Putin’s war machine,’ resists embargo on Russian energy
Germany blocks Estonia from exporting German-origin weapons to Ukraine
German chancellor ‘stalling on heavy weaponry to Ukraine’
Germany's Scholz tries to dodge criticism over Ukraine heavy weapons deliveries
But there is also another side to this as well, with some claiming they are being made the scapegoat.
Opinion: Germany, scapegoat of the Ukraine war
So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Regardless, this newest row over the alleged diplomatic visit rejection certainly doesn't help Germany's perception abroad, and IMO it's a pretty petty thing to get so bent out of shape over.