Patterico's Pontifications


Russia-Ukraine Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:41 am

[guest post by Dana]

Consider this an open thread about Putin’s war on Ukraine. The fact that Russia, with its history of false flag operations, is making the accusation and experts looking at the footage can’t positively identify whether it was a Ukrainian or Russian aircraft suggests it should be taken with a grain of salt until said confirmation can be made:

Russia said two Ukrainian military helicopters crossed the border and attacked an oil-storage facility in the city of Belgorod, causing a large fire early Friday.

Tass quoted Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov as saying the aircraft flew in at low altitude and struck the facility owned by Rosneft, the state oil company. Four of eight fuel tanks that had caught fire were extinguished by early afternoon, Interfax reported. Two workers were reported injured and nearby residents were being evacuated. A local industrial park also reported damage, according to Tass.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said officials had reported the incident to President Vladimir Putin. Peskov declined to comment on how Russian defenses had failed to prevent the attack. He said it “isn’t what could be seen as creating conditions conducive to the continuation of talks.” Negotiators from Russia and Ukraine are scheduled to meet via video-conference Friday

A Ukraine defense ministry spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report:

“I would like to emphasize that Ukraine is performing a defensive operation against Russian aggression on the territory of Ukraine,” Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, spokesman for Ukraine’s defense ministry, said in a televised statement Friday.

“That doesn’t mean Ukraine has to be responsible for every miscalculation or event or catastrophe that occurred on the territory of the Russian Federation. This is not the first time we are witnessing such accusations. Therefore, I will neither confirm nor deny this information.”

While it’s being reported that this incident could hinder progress in trying to reach a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine, it really doesn’t sound like Zelensky is buying into what Russia is attempting to sell:

Russian negotiators announced Tuesday that Moscow’s forces would de-escalate their combat operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv to “build trust,” focusing their fight on eastern Ukraine. The announcement caused outrage among prominent hard-line state television presenters, pundits and on social media.

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he did not trust Russia’s announcement of a de-escalation, telling Ukrainians in one of his regular addresses Thursday: “We don’t believe anyone, not a single beautiful phrase.” U.S. officials have also been skeptical of Moscow’s announcement, seeing it as a sign that Russia is probably taking time to regroup and reorganize its attack.

And then there is this:


52 Responses to “Russia-Ukraine Open Thread”

  1. God, this is just so awful.

    Dana (5395f9)

  2. Where are all the “No Blood for Oil” bumpersticker people?

    This is now clearly more than taking Russian speaking enclaves.
    Ukraine has to keep fighting because most of their natural resources are in the east, their wheat has to be shipped via their ports and Odessa’s ports are contolled by organized criminals with Russian ties (Ukraine should use the cover of this war to obliterate the mob)

    steveg (e81d76)

  3. Russia said two Ukrainian military helicopters crossed the border and attacked an oil-storage facility in the city of Belgorod, causing a large fire early Friday.


    Kevin M (38e250)

  4. “That doesn’t mean Ukraine has to be responsible for every miscalculation or event or catastrophe that occurred on the territory of the Russian Federation. This is not the first time we are witnessing such accusations. Therefore, I will neither confirm nor deny this information.”

    Interpretation? “You betcha!”

    Kevin M (38e250)

  5. Taking the fight to the enemy, and succeeding without incurring casualties of your own, is a good thing. If nothing else, it maintains your troops’ morale while damaging the enemy’s. Keeping the enemy guessing on who did it and how it was done is also good. More, please, President Zelensky! Supersize it!

    nk (1d9030)

  6. If the helicopter attack on Belgorod is true, it may have been the second time Ukraine has taken the war to Russia:

    One should never rule out a false flag by Moscow, but the Russian city of Belgorod is close enough to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in the northeast that it’s plausible Ukrainian forces might reach it with some sort of air asset.

    Unconfirmed reports that a Russian Military Munitions Depot has Exploded in the Belgorod Region of Western Russia near the Ukrainian Border, it is unclear what the Explosion was caused by but from the looks of it the Depot appears to be a Complete Loss.

    11:45 AM · Mar 29, 2022

    If Russia was planning to blow up Belgorod’s weapons depot itself, one would think they would have done so before the retreat from Kiev. “We were planning to withdraw, but now that the Ukrainians are attacking our people we have no choice but to redouble our efforts.”

    Second, a weapons depot is a legitimate military target, something you’d expect the Ukrainian military to try to neutralize in order to disrupt the attacks on Kharkiv. It’s *not* the sort of target you’d expect in a false flag operation. Russia would want to maximize civilian casualties for something like that to make the Ukrainians seem monstrous, part of the “neo-Nazi” narrative.

    Maybe it’s just another case of Russian incompetence at work……..

    Walter Lekh🇺🇦
    ⚡️BREAKING: Armed Forces of Ukraine used “Tochka-U” missile to hit and destroy ammunition depot in the village of Oktyabrskoe near #Belgorod, #Russia – according to [Ukrainian journalist] Yuri Butusov.

    If that’s accurate, then to the extent there’s a “message” behind this attack, maybe it’s this: “Just because you’re moving troops away from Kiev and towards the east, don’t expect us to stop fighting and accept whatever peace terms you offer.” Whatever the cause of the explosion, says Phillips O’Brien, ammunition is a precious commodity to Russia given its logistical problems. Having an entire depot go up like a fireworks barge short-circuiting is a bad development for Moscow.

    Since the Ukrainian military flies mostly Russian-built helicopters, a false flag attack would be easy.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  7. Russo-Ukrainian war, day 36: Russia prepares occupation authorities, Putin’s rating grows
    ……..To control the temporarily occupied territories of Southern Ukraine, the enemy is trying to create military-civilian administrations and has begun preparations for a referendum on a quasi-state entity in the Kherson region (the so-called “Kherson People’s Republic”).
    Yesterday, in the Russian city of Belgorod, due to neglect of safety rules and violation of the requirements for the transportation of ammunition, its unauthorized detonation took place. This situation is an example of the typical mass use of obsolete dangerous munitions by Russian servicemen, including during the Second World War………
    According to UNHCR 4,019,287 refugees has been registered as of 29 March. The UN says that so far Poland has taken in 2,336,799 refugees, Romania 608,936, the Republic of Moldova 387,151, Hungary 364,804, Russian Federation 350,632, Slovakia 281,172, and Belarus 10,902. After crossing the border to the abovementioned countries, many refugees have been relocated to other countries. The Republic of Lithuania alone has received around 36.000. As of March 29, OHCHR has recorded 3,090 civilian casualties in the country: 1,189 killed (108 children) and 1,901 injured (142 children). …….
    An initiative is being launched in Ukraine to help prevent a food crisis during the war, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. The war on the territory of Ukraine makes it impossible to use all agricultural lands, which could later lead to a food crisis. According to experts, due to hostilities in 2022, Ukraine may lose:

    about 42% of the annual harvest of cereals and legumes;
    53% of buckwheat harvest;
    68% of tomato harvest;
    36% of potato harvest;
    46% of the onion harvest;
    38% of carrot harvest;
    45% of the cucumber harvest;
    32% of cabbage harvest;
    35% of the harvest of beets and many other crops.


    Faced with foreign pressure, Russians rally around Putin, poll shows
    Eighty-three percent of Russians said they approved of Mr. Putin’s actions, up from 69 percent in January, according to a poll by the Levada Center, an independent pollster in Moscow. Ratings of many other government institutions, as well as the governing party, have also gone up, the poll indicated.

    Some observers believe polls in Russia do not reflect public opinion accurately, with many people giving answers they believe are socially acceptable, but they are widely considered useful tools in gauging the dynamics of people’s moods.

    Many Russians live in a world, as presented by state-run media, where there is no war with Ukraine. ……..
    The poll by Levada — which has been declared a “foreign agent” in Russia — was conducted among more than 1,600 people across the country, with the margin of error not exceeding 3.4 percentage points.
    “The confrontation with the West has consolidated people,” (Denis Volkov, Levada’s director) said, adding that some respondents said that while they generally did not support Mr. Putin, now was the time to do so.

    According to that line of thinking, he said, people believe that “everyone is against us” and that “Putin defends us, otherwise we would be eaten alive.”

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  8. Russian TV: Signing a treaty with Ukraine of any sort might mean the end of Russia
    Good news: If Russia’s own propaganda outlets are warning that anything short of total conquest is a defeat, Putin is in trouble. His prestige at home might never recover if Kiev remains unoccupied with Zelensky in charge.

    Bad news: Precisely because all of that is true, Putin may insist on nothing less than total conquest. There won’t be any peace deals or partitions, never mind what the Russian military implied on Friday. The Kremlin’s in it to win it, however many lives that requires.

    Are they in it to win it?
    It’s not a great sign for a near-term peace deal that Zelensky held a conference call with Russian reporters yesterday to discuss his terms for a settlement — and Moscow immediately censored news reports about it.
    Zelensky also said he’d be willing to pledge that Ukraine won’t acquire nuclear weapons, his form of a security guarantee for Russia. You can see his negotiation strategy in broad strokes there: He’s willing to make concessions about alliances and weapons that would let Putin save face (no NATO for Ukraine, no nukes, no foreign bases) but he doesn’t want to concede territory. Which is presumably a dealbreaker for Russia.

    Another dealbreaker: Zelensky wants the Ukrainian people to ratify the concessions he makes via a popular referendum, and he wants Russian troops out of the country before that referendum is held. What happens if Russia withdraws and then Ukrainians vote down the pledge of neutrality Zelensky agreed to?
    ………Putin might be calculating that if he can gain control of most of the east while offering the west to Zelensky, Ukraine’s western patrons will begin pressuring Kiev to accept Putin’s terms in the name of ending this war before it escalates further.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  9. CBS News confirms both attacks on Belgorod were conducted by Ukrainian forces:

    A U.S. official confirmed to CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin that Ukrainian helicopters did carry out the strike, and anther one a couple days earlier against an ammunition depot in the same area. The official told Martin there was concern in Washington about how Russia might react to the strikes.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  10. The official told Martin there was concern in Washington about how Russia might react to the strikes.

    Unfriend Zelensky on Facebook?

    nk (1d9030)

  11. Multiple videos of the oil depot attack.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  12. Faced with foreign pressure, Russians rally around Putin, poll shows

    We rallied around Carter, too, during the first part of the Iranian Hostage thing. Didn’t last.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  13. Russian TV: Signing a treaty with Ukraine of any sort might mean the end of Russia

    Getting into a war with NATO will mean the end of the current regime, at least.

    Bad news: Precisely because all of that is true, Putin may insist on nothing less than total conquest. There won’t be any peace deals or partitions, never mind what the Russian military implied on Friday. The Kremlin’s in it to win it, however many lives that requires.

    Then we’re in for it, as that will require weapons of mass destruction and that will prove intolerable.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  14. The official told Martin there was concern in Washington about how Russia might react to the strikes.

    There’s probably concern in Kiev about blabbermouths in Washington.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  15. There’s probably concern in Kiev about blabbermouths in Washington.

    I’m sure the Russians knew it was the Ukrainians that attacked them.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  16. Regarding the fuel storage attack, AllahPundit has a good rundown. It was definitely attacked by a couple of choppers. Occam’s Razors says Ukrainians did it, but it could’ve been done by disgruntled Russians.
    There was also an attack in Belgorod last week on an ammo depot, which speaks more to of an enemy strategy to inhibit Russian reinforcements. It’s good news for the Ukrainian freedom fighters.

    Paul Montagu (5de684)

  17. Paul Montagu (5de684) — 4/1/2022 @ 11:23 am

    See post 9.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  18. The invasion of Ukraine has serious, unintended consequences for Russia. Here are just 5 of them
    Just over a month into the war, Moscow is facing unintended consequences of its aggression in Ukraine, ranging from high casualties among its troops to economic ruin for years to come.

    Here are five of them:

    1) Russian casualties are high
    Ukraine’s authorities claim that more than 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the conflict, while a senior NATO official last week estimated that between 8,000 and 15,000 have been killed.

    If accurate, those numbers would be a heavy death toll for Russia — comparable to the almost 15,000 Soviet soldiers who died during the 10-year war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. To this day, that incursion is unpopular in Russia because it gained the country little but cost much blood.

    2) Ukrainians now loathe Russia
    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy summed up the mood in the country in early March when he stated that “we will not forgive, we will not forget, we will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war on our land,” before adding that “there will be no quiet place on this Earth except the grave.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has extolled the cultural, linguistic and historical ties between Russia and Ukraine, but he’s driven what’s likely to be a permanent wedge between the nations.

    3) Economic ruin

    As a result (of sanctions), the Russian economy is expected to fall into a deep recession this year. The Institute of International Finance predicts Russia’s economy will contract by as much as 15% in 2022 because of the war. It also predicted a decline of 3% in 2023 and warned in a note last week that the war “will wipe out fifteen years of economic growth.”

    Analysts at TS Lombard predict Russian citizens will experience a “serious hit” to living standards from the combination of recession and high inflation. The annualized inflation rate stood at 9.2% in February and is expected to have risen markedly higher in March, and there is “a plausible end-year range of 30-35%,” Christopher Granville and Madina Khrustaleva said in a note Monday.

    4) Europe is dropping Russian energy
    The EU, which imported around 45% of its gas from Russia in 2021, has pledged to reduce its purchases of Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of the year, and the European Commission wants to stop buying Russian fossil fuels before 2030. In the meantime, the U.S. is looking to step into the breach by supplying its own liquefied natural gas to the region. The transition remains complex, however.

    5) Russia has united the West

    During Putin’s 22 years or so in power, he has systematically and repeatedly tried to weaken and undermine the West, whether it has been interference in democratic processes in the U.S. (with the 2016 election) and Europe (with the funding of right-wing political groups) or serious incidents such as the alleged use of nerve agents against his personal and political enemies.
    “The West’s reaction is unprecedented. It is beyond anyone could have anticipated — united and much more than anyone in Russia was preparing or prepared for,” Anton Barbashin, a political analyst and editorial director of the journal Riddle Russia, told CNBC.

    “Essentially it is the ultimate economic warfare that will destroy Russia’s economy as we know [it]. Will those sanctions deter Putin’s war in Ukraine – no, but it will certainly considerably limit the time we have with Putin’s Russia as it is today,” Barbashin added.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  19. About 60% of Russian bombs or shells or whatever fail to explode, probably besides those intercepted. (according to Ukrainian sources)

    There are people doing a clearing away operation. People notify military (?) authorities of unexploded ordnance. This stuff is considered dangerous, of course.

    They (the people defusing/detonating them) give an estimate (based on what? History of other conflicts?) that it would take ten years to clear them away – i.e make all places attacked safe.

    Sammy Finkelman (c04aa1)

  20. I heard about the oil-storage facility a day or two ago. It was considered fact. It could encourage Russia to agree to a ceasefire. This is very limited.

    Sammy Finkelman (c04aa1)

  21. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will be on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday (remotely of course, and probably re-recorded)

    Sammy Finkelman (c04aa1)

  22. It could encourage Russia to agree to a ceasefire.

    Why would Russia feel threatened by these pinprick attacks? Ukraine is punching above its weight, Russia could easily crush them if it conducted completely unrestricted warfare (which it so far hasn’t, but could easily do.)

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  23. What will make this worse are the likely famines, and the almost inevitable spread of diseases. As Rip described in #7, Ukraine will produce less food than usual, as will Russia, in my opinion. But the famines may not affect them, much, since both are large exporters of food. (Which shows how much has changed, for the better, from the bad old days of the chronic food shortages in the Soviet Union.) Poor countries in Africa are likely to be most affected.

    Three weeks ago, the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal included a short article describing the greater risks of infectious diseases as the result of Putin’s invasion. Especially troubling are the low rates of vaccination in Ukraine, including against common diseases such as polio, measles, and, of course, COVID.

    Diseases will increase in Russia, too, where the incompetence of Putin’s regime has weakened their medical system’s defenses. (I remind you that COVID deaths in Russia so far — which has about 44 percent of our population — are about equal to our 1.1 million.)

    There is some reason to believe that Putin is deliberately targeting hospitals in Ukraine. (In World War II, the Nazis mostly did not target British and American medical facilities, and would often hold their fire when an ambulance came out to retrieve injured soldiers.)

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  24. Some students of Russia believe that Putin has taken ideas from Aleksandr Dugin:

    Dugin is believed by some to have been the brains behind Russia’s annexation of Crimea,[13] as part of Dugin’s advocacy for Ukraine becoming “a purely administrative sector of the Russian centralized state,” which he refers to as Novorossiya.[14] Dugin calls for an illiberal totalitarian Russian Empire to control the Eurasian continent from Dublin to Vladivostok to challenge America and ‘Atlanticism’.

    I wonder what the Irish — not mention all those between Moscow and Dublin — think of that goal. (The European Union, even without Britain, has a population about three times that of Russia.)

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  25. I’m sure the Russians knew it was the Ukrainians that attacked them.

    Could’ve been us with F-35s with Chinese markings, like Trump suggested.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  26. @18: It will also make China choose between Russia and everyone else.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  27. Dugin calls for an illiberal totalitarian Russian Empire to control the Eurasian continent from Dublin to Vladivostok to challenge America and ‘Atlanticism’.

    Nineteen Eighty-Four was not a guidebook.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  28. 22. Rip Murdock (d2a2a8) — 4/1/2022 @ 12:36 pm

    Why would Russia feel threatened by these pinprick attacks?

    Because of what it symbolizes/ it would mean they have no sanctuaries – and it is not that Russia would feel threatened, but Russia would feel it must fail.

    Ukraine is punching above its weight, Russia could easily crush them if it conducted completely unrestricted warfare (which it so far hasn’t, but could easily do.)

    I think the Biden Administration doesn’t want Ukraine to win for that kind of reason.

    Nor do they want them to lose.

    They want Russia to agree to a deal, and/or are just waiting for someone to yank Putin off the stage..

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  29. 23. Jim Miller (406a93) — 4/1/2022 @ 12:54 pm

    What will make this worse are the likely famines, and the almost inevitable spread of diseases.

    Neither is likely any time soon.

    World War I did not cause famines, and the link to the Spanish flu is distant. Armies tended to have diseases in the past.

    There is some reason to believe that Putin is deliberately targeting hospitals in Ukraine.

    That’s anew innovation.`

    (In World War II, the Nazis mostly did not target British and American medical facilities,

    Because they mostly abided by the Geneva convention vs a vs the western allies. And why did they do that? Because they wanted their POWs to get mail and packages.

    The United States has not fought a war since against an enemy that abided by the Geneva convention because we did not fight against an enemy that cared about their captured soldiers (or at least high ranking military officers did)

    The Nazis might have used poison gas against soldiers but Heydrich was assassinated in 1942, and they still had horses.

    The later enemies did not want anyone captured alive because they did not want them to talk. The Islamists tried to control and free their captured soldiders but they were not looking for co-operation from their holders.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  30. Russia could easily crush them if it conducted completely unrestricted warfare

    Russia has to consider what level of murder the West will stand by and just watch. It also has to consider what it would mean if China bailed on them, which it would do.

    Remember, the USSR failed, in part, due to the level of casualties in Afghanistan. Putin may be an autocrat but he’s not yet at that level of absolute power.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  31. Ukrainians have been telling war correspondents for some time that Russian military does not change its tactics and keeps on making the same mistakes.

    The one place that’s been most ignored till now by Russia is the Donbass

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  32. President Xi of China is supposed to make his first visit outside the country since Covid started to Saudi Arabia after Ramadan (foreign visitors won’t get state dinners if they come during Ramadan) Possibly in May. There’s a connection building between Saudi Arabia and CVhina (both are interested in preventing revolutions and study them for lessons.)

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  33. #29 “World War I did not cause famines . . ” Two selections from Wikipedia’s biography of Herbert Hoover:

    The German invasion of Belgium in August 1914 set off a food crisis in Belgium, which relied heavily on food imports. The Germans refused to take responsibility for feeding Belgian citizens in captured territory, and the British refused to lift their blockade of German-occupied Belgium unless the U.S. government supervised Belgian food imports as a neutral party in the war.[66] With the cooperation of the Wilson administration and the CNSA, a Belgian relief organization, Hoover established the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB).[67] The CRB obtained and imported millions of tons of foodstuffs for the CNSA to distribute, and helped ensure that the German army did not appropriate the food. Private donations and government grants supplied the majority of its $11-million-a-month budget, and the CRB became a veritable independent republic of relief, with its own flag, navy, factories, mills, and railroads.
    . . .
    World War I came to an end in November 1918, but Europe continued to face a critical food situation; Hoover estimated that as many as 400 million people faced the possibility of starvation.[84] The United States Food Administration became the American Relief Administration (ARA), and Hoover was charged with providing food to Central and Eastern Europe.[85] In addition to providing relief, the ARA rebuilt infrastructure in an effort to rejuvenate the economy of Europe.

    One of the reasons Imperial Germany accepted the allied demands in 1918 was that the British blockade was starving Germany.

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  34. The free or mostly free country where Russian propaganda has been having the most success is India.

    Some of the accounts used fake profile pictures, raising researchers’ suspicions. Others racked up thousands of retweets on their pro-Putin posts, despite having few followers and low engagement on the rest of their tweets….

    …The death of an Indian student in the fighting in Ukraine this month brought into focus India’s challenge of evacuating nearly 20,000 of its citizens who were in the country when Russia’s invasion began. Hundreds of Indian students remained stuck amid heavy shelling at the time. India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, who has avoided condemning Russia, appealed to Mr. Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, President Volodymyr Zelensky, for help.

    Russia’s local embassy used Twitter to instruct Indian media outlets to not use the word “war” but to instead refer to it as a “special military operation,” as media outlets in Russia have been forced by law to do. Some Indian Twitter users responded by mocking the embassy, while others chastised local media outlets as inept and needing instruction from Russia.

    Pro-Russian sentiment has taken hold in right-wing circles in the United States, misinformation that has spread within Russia claims Ukrainians have staged bombings or bombed their own neighborhoods, and myths about Ukrainian fortitude have gone viral across social media platforms. But in India and other countries where social media users joined the hashtag, pro-Russian narratives have focused on ethnonationalism and Western hypocrisy over the war, themes that have resonated with social media users…..

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  35. Evacuating civilians is like a game of rock, paper scissors – they have to guess what Russia will do – actually allow a humanitarian convoy, or fire on it.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  36. Speculation of the Day:

    Does Putin have thyroid cancer?
    1. There’s the small matter of Putin frequently not allowing his own advisors to come within 30 feet of him in public. Not even the most skittish progressive COVID hawk in the U.S. is as seemingly anxious as he is about catching the virus. For someone to be that concerned, one would think they’d need to have a serious underlying health problem that might plausibly put their life in danger if they’re infected.

    2. The war in Ukraine seems so misbegotten that the easiest way to explain it is as a desperate legacy play by a dying man. If Putin had the faintest idea about the strength of his forces and Ukraine’s, he surely would have done things differently — unless he’s so worried about imminent death that he thought this was his last chance to become the ruler who absorbed Ukraine into Russia, whether the Russian military was ready for that task or not.
    ………According to a new report from a now-banned Russian investigative outlet called Proekt (Project), comparing Putin’s movements with government records reveals that certain doctors have repeatedly found their way into his company over the last few years. And I do mean “repeatedly.”

    The Russian investigative outlet Proekt matched the dates of Putin’s official visits to Sochi or unexplained disappearances from public view with local hotel accommodation contracts published on the government procurement website to make the connection. An average of five doctors had accompanied Putin in 2016-17 and nine doctors in 2019, it said…

    According to Proekt’s investigation, a group of presidential hospital doctors, nurses and senior executives “may have performed surgery” on Putin in November 2016. At least two members of this group were later reportedly awarded and promoted…

    Proekt said the records showed a surgeon specializing in thyroid cancer had spent 166 days in Sochi between 2016 and 2019. This was the longest period spent there by a presidential hospital doctor with the exception of an ear, nose and throat doctor whose visits totaled 282 days.

    This Daily Mail story summarizes the Proekt findings at greater length. ……..
    If Putin really is in dire straits, which way does that cut for the future of the war in Ukraine? On the one hand, a Russian retreat in the north would seem unlikely since a dying man with delusions of grandeur would have no reason to back down. But that retreat really is happening, the WSJ reports: “Ukrainian officials were initially skeptical of Russian announcements that Moscow would limit military operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv, but lengthy convoys of Russian armor began leaving these areas Thursday, and scores of villages in northern Ukraine have been retaken by Ukrainian troops.” Evidence:
    If Putin’s willing to tolerate scenes like that by withdrawing, maybe he’s not desperate.

    On the other hand, the prospect of taxing his army with a futile task to the point that it breaks down in the field and disintegrates would be his worst nightmare, an historic humiliation for him and Russia. Faced with that possibility if he stuck with his plans for a national takeover of Ukraine, maybe he made a cold-eyed calculation that at least conquering the Donbas will give him some sort of legacy if not the one he was hoping for. If that’s his thinking then he really might be in dire straits.

    Either way, says the Journal, Russia’s pivot to eastern Ukraine has all the makings of a long war of attrition……..

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  37. Zelensky fired two brigadier generals in the security service and called them traitors.

    No specifics announced and Zelensky says he hasn’t got time to decide on their punishment. But they’ve been fired.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  38. Russia has to consider what level of murder the West will stand by and just watch.

    The West has done so multiple times in the past in many parts of the world. There is a difference between supplying weaponry to someone else and letting them fight and die, and doing the fighting and dying yourself.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  39. #29 – From the Wall Street Journal article I mentioned in #23:

    “The conditions we see in Ukraine are the worst possible ingredients for the amplification and spread of infectious diseases,” said Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health-emergencies program.

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  40. The Risks of a Russian Ceasefire Offer

    Ukraine may soon face a new threat in this war—Russia’s ceasefire offer. It seems odd to say that a ceasefire is a threat. Once war begins, the default position in the West is to seize the earliest opportunity to “stop the fighting.” But while some ceasefires lead to peace, others lead to more war—as the Russians have repeatedly shown. The frontlines frozen in a ceasefire set the conditions for the negotiations and reconstruction that follow. They also set conditions for future conflict. Those seeking enduring peace in Ukraine must resist the temptation to accept a Russian ceasefire offer that sets conditions for renewed conflict on Russia’s terms or gives Russia leverage on Ukraine with which to force concessions and surrenders.

    Russia is on the ropes in Ukraine today. It has not achieved any of Putin’s central objectives. ……
    Any consideration of a Russian ceasefire offer must take account of six primary risks.

    Putin’s intentions toward Ukraine have not changed and likely never will.
    The Kremlin will use any ceasefire to adapt, not scale down, its ambitions to erode and ultimately destroy Ukraine’s sovereignty. We must help Ukraine ensure that any ceasefire it accepts makes it harder, not easier, for the Kremlin to resume political, economic, or military activities to deprive Ukraine of its independence.

    Russia has a long history of ceasefire violations.
    The Kremlin has also repeatedly violated ceasefire agreements in Ukraine since 2014. Russia exploited ceasefires in attempts to manipulate Ukraine in Russia-favorable peace frameworks. A ceasefire with Russia can only be acceptable, therefore, if it freezes the lines in positions favorable to Ukraine. The ceasefire must reflect a Russian defeat, not a draw.

    Russia would use a ceasefire to try to break the momentum of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.

    Ukraine has defeated Russian objectives in the first phase of this war. Russia has not achieved its explicit goals of seizing Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa and changing Ukraine’s government.
    A ceasefire is one of the few options Putin has available to him to interrupt Ukraine’s initiative, as well as to shift the Russian invasion off the losing trajectory it is currently on. Ukraine should seek, provided full Western support, to continue counteroffensive operations until it has reached a position and situation of its choosing at which to freeze the fighting.

    Russian forces would use a ceasefire to regroup.
    Russian forces are likely already regrouping and preparing to launch a new campaign. But Russian units are badly damaged and repairing them will take a long time. If the currently planned Russian push in Ukraine’s east does not quickly go Moscow’s way, Putin might offer a ceasefire to buy time to rebuild some of his units.

    Russia can use a ceasefire to consolidate gains and freeze the frontline in the best configuration Putin can hope for.
    A ceasefire would allow Russia to focus on consolidating its gains in the south, which would inevitably mean increased terrorizing of the local population as the Kremlin tries to establish governance and a military foothold. A ceasefire would also halt any Ukrainian military counter-offensive in the south.

    The Kremlin will use a ceasefire to introduce ambiguity in the information space.

    ……. The Kremlin would use a ceasefire to put Ukraine’s forces on the defensive in the information space by blaming Ukraine for any ceasefire violations.
    …….If given time, the Kremlin would likely find a way to solidify a new storyline domestically to explain the Kremlin’s failures and delays in Ukraine—and then prepare for and justify a renewed military effort to avenge its losses.

    The West should resist Russian ceasefire offers that give Putin leverage on Ukraine and instead provide Ukraine with everything it needs to win as long as the Ukrainians are willing to fight.

    Ukraine has a chance to defeat Russia’s objectives in the second phase of this war. The West’s highest priority should be providing all the lethal aid that Ukraine needs to do so.

    To quote Adm. Ackbar: “It’s a trap!”

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  41. Tulsi Gabbard And Tucker Carlson Featured In Stunning Exchange On Russian TV
    During a broadcast on Russian state television this week, Gabbard was apparently referenced in very friendly terms by one of Putin’s most prominent propagandists, Vladimir Soloviev.

    He introduced Gabbard, a Democratic primary candidate for the 2020 presidential race, as “our girlfriend Tulsi,” according to a translation by Russian media analyst Julia Davis, a columnist for the Daily Beast.

    A clip was then aired of Gabbard’s appearance on Monday’s episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in which she suggested President Joe Biden was secretly plotting to remove Putin from power.

    After the clip aired, a panelist reportedly asked, “Is she some sort of Russian agent?”

    According to Davis’ translation, Soloviev said she was.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  42. Map of natural gas and oild fields in Ukraine.

    Putin is trying to annex the Ukrainian natural resources and if Ukraine makes concessions, it will lower their standard of living and they’d have to pay Putin for what used to be theirs.
    Thats a hard no if I’m negotiating

    steveg (e81d76)

  43. Instead of “pinprick attacks on ammo dumps and fuel depots” that cut off supply to Russian forces 16 km away in Ukraine territory, lets focus on the destruction Ukraine is wreaking on the Russians retreating from Kyiv.
    The Russians are leaving their dead behind and are losing a lot of equipment to ambushes along the narrow lines of retreat.
    Every armored vehicle hit, every truck is one that cannot rotate to Mariupol

    steveg (e81d76)

  44. That’s a hard no if I’m negotiating

    I think that the Ukrainian position is “Neutrality” in exchange for “GTF out of our country.”

    Kevin M (38e250)

  45. Here are some maps that show Russia’s corridors of control within southern Ukraine
    Scroll down to the second map entitled:
    “Evacuation of Mariupol underway”

    You will see a claimed area of Ukrainian counter attack in yellow.
    Think about what the Ukrainians are doing there and then look at the narrow line the Russinas hold along the coast and if that is breached, then it is anti ship missile time

    steveg (e81d76)

  46. The West has done so multiple times in the past in many parts of the world.

    Yes, it has. But that was different world. Once the US sent troops to foreign lands and all the people back home had were written news reports that got past the sensors. Then Vietnam, with the camera ever-present, and tolerance for lies and misadventure diminished.

    Now, we see the Ukrainian people fighting and dying. When Russia firebombs cities, or gasses them, we’ll see that too. And react. The past isn’t meaningful as a tool to predict.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  47. If Zelensky wanted to really stir stuff up, he would foment a coup in Belarus.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  48. 47

    Thinking the fact that the Belarus armed forces are ot in this fight means that unrest is there already. Also think you are right that if the Ukraine wins a big battle with several thousand Russian troops captured and killed – the blood is in the water for Georgia and the Belarus separatist’s

    EPWJ (0fbe92)

  49. This extensive Washington Post article describes Russia’s logistic problems:

    Weapons and fighters in any ground invasion would not last long without the support of mechanics, medics, engineers, truck drivers, cooks and other crew. That’s because the needs of soldiers fighting a modern war are enormous. On average, each Russian soldier goes through about 440 pounds of supplies a day, including food, fuel, ammunition, medical support, etc.

    Russia has sent more than 150,000 troops into Ukraine, organized into various formations.

    (Or, as I suppose the original source said, about 200 kilograms a day.)

    Russia and Ukraine have two long “mud seasons” each year, in the spring and the fall, that add to the logistic difficulties. The spring mud season typically lasts until June, which means those mud difficulties can be expected to last at least two more months.

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  50. Ukraine has the advantage of interior lines, against the Russian invaders. That need not have been so, had Putin concentrated his forces in the north, the center, or the south.

    The current map in the Washington Post makes me think that the Ukrainians are clearing railroad corridors to increase their geographical advantage.

    (My apologies for posting another Putin war comment on the main weekend open thread.)

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  51. Reports are that they are finding signs of mass executions of civilians as the Russians withdraw.

    Kevin M (38e250)

  52. Shout out to the Ukrainians who have held out in Mariupol since February 24.
    Yes I know some are Azov brigade militia but its Azor Brigade vs. Kadrovite Chechens so its almost a win-win

    steveg (e81d76)

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