19 votes

Megathread for news/updates/discussion of Russian invasion of Ukraine - May 4-5

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.

12 comments

  1. cmccabe
    Link
    Russian warship Admiral Makarov ‘on fire after being hit by Ukrainian missile’ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-ship-admiral-makarov-ukraine-war-b2073007.html Still not fully...

    Russian warship Admiral Makarov ‘on fire after being hit by Ukrainian missile’
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-ship-admiral-makarov-ukraine-war-b2073007.html

    Still not fully confirmed.

    Russia’s Admiral Makarov warship has been hit by Ukrainian missiles and burst into flames, according to Ukrainian officials.

    The frigate would be Russia’s latest naval loss in a troubled campaign, coming after reports that US intelligence helped Ukraine locate and sink the Russian warship Moskva weeks ago.

    4 votes
  2. [3]
    skybrian
    Link
    Yandex data center in Finland loses power, runs on diesel [...] [...]

    Yandex data center in Finland loses power, runs on diesel

    The Russian search giant's 40MW facility in Mäntsälä, Finland, was cut off by the local energy company Nivos Energia Oy, according to Russian news service RBC. The reasons for the disconnection are not clear, as Yandex is not currently on sanctions lists, but its news and blogging services, as well as a senior executive, have been criticized for spreading Russian propaganda.

    [...]

    Before the weekend, Yandex confirmed to RBC that its data center was still online but "temporarily" running on diesel generators, saying the company was "renegotiating" its contract with Nivos.

    For its part, Nivos confirmed there was a power outage at Yandex, but did not give a reason for terminating the contract

    [...]

    The situation is potentially complicated by the fact that Nivos relies on waste heat from the Yandex facility to heat local homes in a district heating system, which has been in operation since at least 2015. The Yandex facility was built in 2014, and has two independent 110kV power feeds from Nivos.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      knocklessmonster
      Link Parent
      I was curious about broader implications of a Russian company opening offices in nearby countries (Finland's was established before this idea was floated), but this update changes the context a...

      I was curious about broader implications of a Russian company opening offices in nearby countries (Finland's was established before this idea was floated), but this update changes the context a tiny bit (bottom of the article):

      Update: Local news report that Yandex's electricity supplier Nivos has said that it was cut off because it has no energy contract after the previous agreement expired at the end of last month.

      Basically, it has nothing to do with Russia, but my question is still there:

      What will happen if Yandex opens a bunch of satellite offices? Can Yandex be sanctioned, or just its Russian offices, or the whole thing because it's technically a Russian company?

      2 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        We don't know why they couldn't negotiate a new contract because nobody is saying, but based on timing, I suspect it's somehow connected with the invasion anyway.

        We don't know why they couldn't negotiate a new contract because nobody is saying, but based on timing, I suspect it's somehow connected with the invasion anyway.

        2 votes
  3. [3]
    vektor
    (edited )
    Link
    PSA because even if you're interested and have been paying attention, YouTube's notifications and recommendations are still shit: Perun has released more videos on the Ukraine war. Since the last...

    PSA because even if you're interested and have been paying attention, YouTube's notifications and recommendations are still shit: Perun has released more videos on the Ukraine war.

    Since the last time I plugged him, he's released four more videos:

    First one (chronologically) covers the question of "who's winning" - why's that a tricky question, what can we even actually say? What are each sides war goals? Along the way, he'll go busting some myths (mostly those of Russian propaganda). Lastly, he'll reluctantly get dragged into assessing the situation on the ground - the conclusion of which is that Ukraine is doing a-ok. They're not exactly capital-w Winning, but they're at least holding on. They're not likely to take their territory back, but they're holding on well. Russia is "not in a position to realistically achieve it's stated goals at a reasonable cost and in a reasonable period of time". Also, a long war is stacking the odds even more in Ukraine's favor.

    The next two videos cover the exact scenario of a long war: Firstly in terms of plain old economics, secondly in terms of arms industry. Great videos.

    The latest video talks about Russia's nuclear saber rattling and why they do it, what they're messaging there, who they're even talking to. Importantly, we get insights such as (paraphrase) "if Russia's nuclear forces were on higher alert, as Putin ordered, then we would see increasing mobility of nuclear assets such as ICBM trucks or SSBN boats. There isn't, ergo Russia isn't serious about this. They're not trying to use these assets, they're not even trying to scare other governments into believing they are. Sleep tight." Good supplementary reading is this previously presented here blog post about deterrence 101

    The lot of it, well worth a watch if you have the spare time. Again though, it's a time commitment. This is 4h again. (Or less if you watch it on faster playback, @adys ;) )

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      If I can afford a guess without watching the long videos: is it because they want the overwhelming forces of NATO to stay the fuck away from Ukraine, since if they don't, Russia loses hard and...

      and why they do it

      If I can afford a guess without watching the long videos: is it because they want the overwhelming forces of NATO to stay the fuck away from Ukraine, since if they don't, Russia loses hard and Putin gets deposed?

      1 vote
      1. vektor
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Not so much, actually. I mean, Putin getting deposed would be a very plausible consequence of a NATO intervention, and in that vein it is possible for Russia to get into the "existential threat to...

        Not so much, actually. I mean, Putin getting deposed would be a very plausible consequence of a NATO intervention, and in that vein it is possible for Russia to get into the "existential threat to Russia" condition under which they're transparently clear they'll consider using nukes.

        The why is more about messaging and propaganda at civilians (domestic and foreign) rather than about deterring other nation states. Though in a way of course, they're feeding astroturfed pacifist movements that pressure their governments not to intervene, thus influencing other nation states too. But only indirectly via the civilians who buy their bullshit, rather than through the government directly, who can (or should at least) see through the bullshit.

        Edit: BTW: 10:21 is the relevant timestamp for this.

        4 votes
  4. [3]
    Autoxidation
    Link
    U.S. Intelligence Is Helping Ukraine Kill Russian Generals, Officials Say

    U.S. Intelligence Is Helping Ukraine Kill Russian Generals, Officials Say

    WASHINGTON — The United States has provided intelligence about Russian units that has allowed Ukrainians to target and kill many of the Russian generals who have died in action in the Ukraine war, according to senior American officials.

    Ukrainian officials said they have killed approximately 12 generals on the front lines, a number that has astonished military analysts.

    The targeting help is part of a classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine. That intelligence also includes anticipated Russian troop movements gleaned from recent American assessments of Moscow’s secret battle plan for the fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the officials said. Officials declined to specify how many generals had been killed as a result of U.S. assistance.

    The United States has focused on providing the location and other details about the Russian military’s mobile headquarters, which relocate frequently. Ukrainian officials have combined that geographic information with their own intelligence — including intercepted communications that alert the Ukrainian military to the presence of senior Russian officers — to conduct artillery strikes and other attacks that have killed Russian officers.

    The intelligence sharing is part of a stepped-up flow in U.S. assistance that includes heavier weapons and tens of billions in aid, demonstrating how quickly the early American restraints on support for Ukraine have shifted as the war enters a new stage that could play out over months.

    U.S. intelligence support to the Ukrainians has had a decisive effect on the battlefield, confirming targets identified by the Ukrainian military and pointing it to new targets. The flow of actionable intelligence on the movement of Russian troops that America has given Ukraine has few precedents.

    Since failing to advance on Kyiv, the capital, in the early part of the war, Russia has tried to regroup, with a more concentrated push in eastern Ukraine that so far has moved slowly and unevenly.

    Officials interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the classified intelligence being shared with Ukraine.

    The administration has sought to keep much of the battlefield intelligence secret, out of fear it will be seen as an escalation and provoke President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia into a wider war. American officials would not describe how they have acquired information on Russian troop headquarters, for fear of endangering their methods of collection. But throughout the war, the U.S. intelligence agencies have used a variety of sources, including classified and commercial satellites, to trace Russian troop movements.

    Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III went so far as to say last month that “we want to see Russia weakened to the degree it cannot do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”

    Asked about the intelligence being provided to the Ukrainians, John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said that “we will not speak to the details of that information.” But he acknowledged that the United States provides “Ukraine with information and intelligence that they can use to defend themselves.”

    After this article published, Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement that the battlefield intelligence was not provided to the Ukrainians “with the intent to kill Russian generals.”

    Not all the strikes have been carried out with American intelligence. A strike over the weekend at a location in eastern Ukraine where Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, had visited was not aided by American intelligence, according to multiple U.S. officials. The United States prohibits itself from providing intelligence about the most senior Russian leaders, officials said.

    But American intelligence was critical in the deaths of other generals, officials acknowledged.

    The United States routinely provides information about the movement of Russian troops and equipment, and helps Ukraine confirm the location of critical targets. Other NATO allies also give real-time intelligence to the Ukrainian military.

    The Biden administration is also supplying new weaponry that should improve Ukraine’s ability to target senior Russian officers. The smaller version of the Switchblade drone, which is now arriving on the battlefield, can be used to identify and kill individual soldiers, and could take out a general sitting in a vehicle or giving orders on a front line.

    American officials have acknowledged publicly that the United States began giving Ukraine actionable intelligence in the run-up to Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24. Ahead of the invasion, for example, U.S. intelligence agencies warned of an impending attack on the Hostomel airport north of Kyiv. That allowed Ukraine to strengthen its defenses. Russian airborne forces were ultimately unable to hold the airfield.

    While the information the United States has provided Ukraine has proved valuable, Russian generals have often left themselves exposed to electronic eavesdropping by speaking over unsecure phones and radios, current and former American military officials said.

    “It shows poor discipline, lack of experience, arrogance and failure to appreciate Ukrainian capabilities,” said Frederick B. Hodges, the former top U.S. Army commander in Europe who is now with the Center for European Policy Analysis. “It is not hard to geo-locate someone on a phone talking in the clear.”

    Russian military tactics have also left senior generals vulnerable. A centralized, top-down command hierarchy gives decision-making authority only to the highest levels — compared to the more decentralized American structure that pushes many battlefield decisions to senior enlisted personnel and junior officers — forcing Russian generals to make risky trips to the front lines to resolve logistical and operational issues.

    “When there are problems, the general officers have to go sort it out,” said General Hodges.

    Although the administration remains wary of inflaming Mr. Putin to the point that he further escalates his attacks — President Biden has said he will not send American troops to Ukraine or establish a “no-fly zone” there — current and former officials said the White House finds some value in warning Russia that Ukraine has the weight of the United States and NATO behind it.

    Some European officials believe, despite Mr. Putin’s rhetoric that Russia is battling NATO and the West, he has so far been deterred from starting a wider war. American officials are less certain, and have been debating for weeks why Mr. Putin has not done more to escalate the conflict.

    Officials said Moscow has its own calculations to weigh, including whether it can handle a bigger war, particularly one that would allow NATO to invoke its mutual defense charter or enter the war more directly.

    “Clearly, we want the Russians to know on some level that we are helping the Ukrainians to this extent, and we will continue to do so,” said Evelyn Farkas, the former top Defense Department official for Russia and Ukraine in the Obama administration. “We will give them everything they need to win, and we’re not afraid of Vladimir Putin’s reaction to that. We won’t be self-deterred.”

    But intelligence sharing is considered a safe form of help because it is invisible, or, at least, deniable. American intelligence has given secret information to Ukraine in a wide range of areas, from Russian troop movements to targeting data, officials said.

    Last month, the United States increased the flow of intelligence to Ukraine about Russian forces in the Donbas and Crimea, as Kyiv’s military forces prepared to defend against a renewed offensive by Moscow in eastern Ukraine, U.S. officials said.

    “There’s a significant amount of intelligence flowing to Ukraine from the United States,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate panel on Tuesday. “We have opened up the pipes.”

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      snakPak
      Link Parent
      I find it really disappointing that most takes on this story (even from "experts") are either: US Officials can't keep their mouths shut and are bragging US is releasing this in order to escalate...

      I find it really disappointing that most takes on this story (even from "experts") are either:

      • US Officials can't keep their mouths shut and are bragging
      • US is releasing this in order to escalate tensions and bring the world closer to an even larger conflict.

      Neither of these fit the broader pattern of how the whole conflict unfolded, with coordinated releases of intelligence from various NATO-member agencies to both drive home that this is a long-planned RU operation to the public and conduct diplomacy in the open to make RU into a pariah state.
      I think the more likely scenario is that this release is again coordinated with the same objectives, showing that the RU military is so weak that it cannot defend it's own high-ranking officers and therefore cannot project real power internationally (without nuclear weapons).
      The quotes from Dept. of State and Pentagon officials match this line of thinking.
      (Note, I view this similar to the killing of General Soleimani in Iraq, 2020, as a reminder that when it comes to blocs that can project military power, it's not even remotely close; NATO still dominates - even when other countries pull the trigger for them).

      • This puts countries like Brazil, India, and Gulf States on notice making them rethink security agreements and alignment going forward.
      • This shows China that they cannot be a direct party to a conflict anywhere in the world unless they want to risk being targeted by the west - and likely with massive losses. (Essentially maintaining the status quo).
      6 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        It also might not be any specific reason, but just that they thought about the consequences of being relatively open about it and decided they're okay with it. I don't think they're giving...

        It also might not be any specific reason, but just that they thought about the consequences of being relatively open about it and decided they're okay with it. I don't think they're giving anything away that the Russians don't already know?

        2 votes
  5. cfabbro
    Link
    AP evidence points to 600 dead in Mariupol theater airstrike (AP) Long read, with lots of photos, building blueprints, testimony, etc.

    AP evidence points to 600 dead in Mariupol theater airstrike (AP)

    Amid all the horrors that have unfolded in the war on Ukraine, the Russian bombing of the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol on March 16 stands out as the single deadliest known attack against civilians to date. An Associated Press investigation has found evidence that the attack was in fact far deadlier than estimated, killing closer to 600 people inside and outside the building. That’s almost double the death toll cited so far, and many survivors put the number even higher.

    The AP investigation recreated what happened inside the theater on that day from the accounts of 23 survivors, rescuers, and people intimately familiar with its new life as a bomb shelter. The AP also drew on two sets of floor plans of the theater, photos and video taken inside before, during and after that day and feedback from experts who reviewed the methodology.

    Long read, with lots of photos, building blueprints, testimony, etc.

    2 votes
  6. cfabbro
    Link
    First Ukrainian forces trained on US-based weapons system returns to Ukraine (Washington Examiner)

    First Ukrainian forces trained on US-based weapons system returns to Ukraine (Washington Examiner)

    The first Ukrainian forces learning how to use a new U.S.-based weapons system have returned to their country after being trained in Grafenwoehr, Germany, defense officials said Wednesday.

    The soldiers were artillery forces who were already familiar with Howitzer tanks and armored vehicles on their own system but were trained to use a U.S.-based system as well. A second wave is currently being trained, according to Brig. Gen. Joseph Hilbert, commander of the 7th Army Training Command.

    Since the training began in 2015, the U.S. has trained more than 23,000 members of Ukraine's armed forces from 17 different battalions and 11 different brigades, Hilbert said, noting that the total cost was approximately $126 million.

    U.S. troops are not the only ones helping to train Ukrainian forces. Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said Canada is also helping train troops on Howitzers, which are necessary to counter Russian forces in the Donbas region of Ukraine.

    2 votes