War in Ukraine

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eldin raigmore
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War in Ukraine

Post by eldin raigmore »

So Putin has invaded and attacked Kiev. [:(]
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Re: War in Ukraine

Post by Salmoneus »

Yes. And has now threatened "tactical" nuclear strikes against Sweden and Finland.
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Re: War in Ukraine

Post by sangi39 »

One of my closest friends, who I've known for, god, 14 years or so now, since university, has family out in Ukraine (Russian-speaking Ukrainians). His aunt and uncle live in Kharkiv and they left it too late to get out, and have been stopped by police checkpoints as they try to make it to his cousin in Ivano-Frankivsk

My friend currently lives in Canada, and his parents are still in the UK after moving here I think in the early 00s, but talking to him now, he's said he's finding it really hard to focus on anything else, worrying about his family, and his friends from when he was younger, and struggling with not knowing what will happen, or how long this might last (he's been talking to people at his work as well, and luckily they completely understand)

The thing that I think really hit me talking to him a couple of days ago, as the invasion began, was him saying that back in the 90s, when he was a kid, around the time his family moved to Russia, he and his dad read a fiction book about how, like, Russia would get the strong leader they needed, and they'd show the West, and they would reclaim all the lands of the Russian peoples, invading the Baltic states, and he and his dad, after the Soviet Union collapsed, and they felt like they'd been betrayed by their own leaders, and kicked down by the West, felt very strongly about this. His dad voted for Putin, and so did most of his older family members from what I can tell. It was their dream to see a strong Russia again, fighting for Slavs everywhere. 25 years later and his family have (barring a few exceptions, from what I've been told), given up on that. They despise what they've helped create. Putin didn't come from nowhere. They helped put him in power, giving in to their frustrations and their anger, hoping he'd be the one to save Russia and show the world that the Russian people were worthy of a place on the global stage

I know we don't really do politics on this forum but talking with my friend the past few days, this has really been on my mind. We were talking the day before the invasion happened, about what might happen, and he just knew it wasn't going to stop at Luhank and Donetsk, that it would be a full invasion, but I don't think either of us expected it to happen within the next few days

Honestly, I do really hope it's over soon, with as few deaths as possible, but beyond that there's just so much going on, so much news coming out so fast (even live, more or less, similar to what happened during the Arab Spring, or even Ukraine in 2014), that it's so hard to keep track of and come to any sort of conclusion on a "most likely best case scenario". Just hope it's over soon
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Re: War in Ukraine

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Salmoneus wrote: 25 Feb 2022 20:39 Yes. And has now threatened "tactical" nuclear strikes against Sweden and Finland.
If it's okay to ask, do you have a source for that? We can't find anything about it, but honestly, right now, there's a big chance we just missed it
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Re: War in Ukraine

Post by eldin raigmore »

My brother’s girlfriend is a Russian-speaking Ukrainian. Also a Ukrainian of Russian descent or Russian extraction.
She recently updated her Facebook profile to include a Ukrainian flag.
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Re: War in Ukraine

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Aaaaand I've just been told that his family in Kharkiv can't even think about evacuating. They were hoping to move west, but apparently most of the major bridges over the Dnieper are destroyed, effectively cutting the country in half. Luckily they started stockpiling food in their basement, unluckily they made the choice to sell their car a couple of months ago (how they were planning to make it to Ivano-Frankivsk, I don't know. Train maybe?)

He's said that everyone he knows in Ukraine is just existing now between waves of attack. Apparently it's quiet in Kharkiv now, and while he's terrified it's been taken over, it could just be a break as troops move around. Get those moments of people coming together as they try to stay safe (closest thing we can think of is the "Blitz Spirit" the UK had in WW2) which is something at least, but... literally what the hell?
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Re: War in Ukraine

Post by sangi39 »

eldin raigmore wrote: 26 Feb 2022 04:20 My brother’s girlfriend is a Russian-speaking Ukrainian. Also a Ukrainian of Russian descent or Russian extraction.
She recently updated her Facebook profile to include a Ukrainian flag.
I've seen a fair few of my friends of Facebook doing the same. Mostly Lithuanians, Polish people, and other Ukrainians and Russians


As anti-war as our friendship group is, it's started. It's happening. So we're passing on a message from him to our local MPs, and various local party leaders. We don't know what difference it might make, of any, but anything right now is worth the effort
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Re: War in Ukraine

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sangi39 wrote: 26 Feb 2022 04:28 Aaaaand I've just been told that his family in Kharkiv can't even think about evacuating. They were hoping to move west, but apparently most of the major bridges over the Dnieper are destroyed, effectively cutting the country in half.
FWIW, I've seen several people on twitter - including the BBC chief in Kyiv - suggesting that it's actually safer to be in the east right now. The BBC chief evacuated east from Kyiv, toward the front line. The reasoning being that the assault is concentrated on Kyiv, and possibly on setting up a new border along the Dnieper (there's reports Putin is only planning to subjugate the east, and leave the west "independent" for now, as that's where the guerilla war is likely to be fiercest), so unless you're living on a major road or river invasion route, the east is probably going to see less violence. They'll be trapped the wrong side of the curtain, but probably safer. Whereas Kyiv may well end up flattened a la Grozny. That said, even if Kharkiv has fallen, there's a high chance there will be an urban guerilla insurgency. In the modern world of drones and air support, it seems as though it's safer to be in the countryside than in the cities?

Regarding sourcing: Russia's foreign ministry has made at least two comments, with a spokeswoman saying live that if Finland and Sweden were to consider joining NATO there would be "military consequences", and then the ministry confirming on twitter that there would be "serious military repercussions" for those countries (seemingly in response to the Finnish prime minister saying that the invasion of Ukraine would change the public debate on the issue in Finland).

The comment about nukes I saw or thought I saw from someone retweeting comments from the russian defence ministry. However, I can't find them now. It's possible that either I or an intermediary confused the specific threat to Scandinavia with a more general threats from a few months ago that there would be military responses to NATO 'expansion', with mention allegedly of medium-range nuclear strikes. The deputy foreign minister in december allegedly threatened nuclear strikes, but although many reports mention this I can't find him actually quoted (other than promising military responses in general), and there seems to be confusion on what he was promising responses to (whether a new nato accession would trigger it or only new military deployments).

More generally, last month there was a major deployment of nuclear-capable medium-range missile launchers as part of the pre-invasion buildup - these could hit Western European capitals. At the time it was reported that NATO and the US were concerned that these might be nuclear weapons (the missiles are designed to carry nuclear warheads, but can also be used with non-nuclear warheads) and were trying to find out whether they were, but I don't know what the conclusion was. Meanwhile, last week Putin launched a major demonstration of thei strategic nuclear capability by launching multiple ICBMs at Kamchatka; in his speech justifying the recreation of the soviet empire, he made a point of saying that russia was one of the strongest nuclear powers and that as a result any country who interfered with the conquest of Ukraine would face unprecedented and terrifying force.
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Re: War in Ukraine

Post by Nortaneous »

re: "one of the strongest nuclear powers", take this with several mines of salt, but the DC rumor mill says the US has lost the ability to manufacture hydrogen bombs (and at any rate we haven't tested a nuclear weapon since 1992)
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Re: War in Ukraine

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Nortaneous wrote: 27 Feb 2022 03:44 re: "one of the strongest nuclear powers", take this with several mines of salt, but the DC rumor mill says the US has lost the ability to manufacture hydrogen bombs (and at any rate we haven't tested a nuclear weapon since 1992)
I think that has to be either a conspiracy theory or a misunderstanding. I literally can't imagine how that could be possible. The US has had the technical know-how to manufacture hydrogen bombs for over half a century - and if they somehow lost all their books and CD-ROMs, their spies could simply regain the knowledge from one of half a dozen other countries capable of building them. As for the manufacturing ability, hydrogen bombs could be manufactured with the tools available in 1952, and manufacturing is far more sophisticated now than it was then.

Now, it's very plausible, even probable, that the US does not have a fully-functioning nuclear warhead factory up and running today. There's no reason they would have one. The thing about nuclear warheads is that, ideally, you never use them, so stockpiles rapidly increase to insane levels with even low production levels; America's main concern in recent decades has been managing to get rid of the damn things, not making more of them.

This isn't important in terms of strategy and geopolitics, because the existing stockpiles remain insane. The US has nearly 1,500 nuclear warheads deployed, with another 4,000-ish in reserve. For comparison, there are only a little over a thousand cities and towns in the whole of Russia.

In theory, if more warheads were required - in case of alien invasion, for instance - the US I'm sure could set up factories to make them in an extremely short span of time: they may not currently have the capability, but they certainly have the ability. But of course this is largely theoretical: not only would the US never need all the warheads they have now, but in any conceivable scenario where they DO need more than 5,500 nuclear warheads, nobody's going to be alive the next morning to build any more, whether or not there's a factory for the purpose...


EDIT: and speaking of which, Putin has now moved his nuclear weapons to "special alert" in response to Nato's war of aggression in the Ukraine...
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Re: War in Ukraine

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But it's OK, FIFA are here! As we know, football is the most important thing in most people's lives, so football is a hugely powerful tool for change, and FIFA have effectively decided to step in and end the war by announcing a crippling punishment for Russia that will force them immediately to change course:

From now on the russian football team will no longer be referred to as the russian football team, and will instead be referred to as the team of the football union of russia.They will also not be allowed to carry flags onto the pitch before matches or during prize ceremonies, they won't play their national anthem before games, and in a particularly brutal sanction their three-letter abbreviation will be altered from 'RUS' to 'RFU'.

Well, that'll stop them in their tracks.

Coupled with the complete ban from the Olympics that they've been suffering under for years now, I don't know how Russia will be able to go on.
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Re: War in Ukraine

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Still seems like a lot to take in at the moment, day by day, but I suppose that's the thing about wars. You get different reports and different times, each saying different things based on whatever information they could receive from the front lines or from military leaders (who, of course, won't want to give out too much information that's actually accurate), and then there's going to be a tough time actually verifying any of that information, so it all ends up muddled as anything.

Saying that, Kiev is still under Ukrainian control, from what I can tell, and Kharkiv has either not fallen at all, or has been taken back. Crimea, though, has been connected with Russia by land now, apparently, after Mariupol and Berdiansk have been captured (which seems to have been a possible invasion predicted by the UK's Ministry of Defence, alongside the move on Kiev through Belarus, and then sending troops through places like the far eastern regions of the country and Kharkiv, where there's a not insignificant Russian-speaking, pro-Russian population who, presumably, hopefully (for Putin) would have disrupted efforts by local administrations to counter a Russian invasion?).

This is still only the fifth day, though, so I'd be hesitant to say the invasion has "stalled", but would it make sense to say that the lines of future battles over the coming days have, effectively, been drawn up, and we're just waiting to see where those lines break down, and in whose favour? The Independent has also reported that the "first round" of peace talks have "concluded" a couple of hours ago, with some, presumably, on the table to happen in the future, but what any of that actually means right now could be anyone's guess.
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Re: War in Ukraine

Post by Salmoneus »

The problem for Ukraine is that the stalling of the Russian advance (outside of the south) is due to political considerations and a need for strategic readjustment, rather than substantive defeat.

In other words: Putin sent a half-arsed convoy to take Kiev on the assumption that there would be no resistance. It occured chaotically and without tactical planning - Russian commanders on the ground apparently had only a few hours to prepare, and were not able to organise successfully with one another (apparently one of the first 'units' into Kyiv was a small convoy of riot police, who happened to drive faster than the actual army). Their biggest problem is that nobody thought to work out the logistics of fuel resupply before invading, so their tanks have in many cases run out of petrol. [in one case, a Russian army vehicle couldn't find a working petrol station so decided to stop at a local police station to ask them to commandeer some for them; it's unclear whether they actually knew what country they were in].

It appears to have been a shambles, at least around Kyiv.

However, Putin still has four more options:
- take a moment, and arrange a serious invasion with logistics and battle plans and everything
- level the cities with artillery, missiles, and bombs (there have been explosions in the cities, but nothing remotely on the scale of Russian tactics in Chechnya or Syria)
- nuke the cities
- nuke the whole of Ukraine

Given these options, it's not really a matter of whether Ukraine can defend itself, but of how badly Putin wants to win. I don't think he'll use even the tactical nukes, but I do think that if a column of tanks can't get the job done he'll resort to carpet bombing - he's not a man who strikes me as someone who enjoys publically losing. I fear that there's a lot of pain and suffering to come for Ukrainians - they will probably be notionally conquered in the coming weeks, but transition to guerilla war for years to come. Putin's only 69, so it could be a long conflict.
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Re: War in Ukraine

Post by IvanGloryUA »

Hello everyone, my name is Ivan and I'm from Ukraine. I am in the capital of our country Kyiv.
What is happening here is really scary because every day our country is bombed with rockets and Russian troops are trying to take over our country.
I'm really scared for what's happening today because so many people are suffering and losing their homes. Fighting is taking place throughout our country, but people from eastern Ukraine have suffered the most.
The cities that were there today are completely wiped off the face of the earth. There is no target left in our buildings, because every day these cities are bombed by Russian troops.
Ukrainians really need the support of the whole world, so if you want to follow everything that happens, I advise you to visit this website https://www.pissedconsumer.com/blog/202. Here you can learn about the actions that are taking place in Ukraine.
The whole world needs to know the truth that Russia attacked Ukraine.
Unfortunately, a large number of media hide this information, so I advise you to trust only trusted sources.
All our soldiers are defending their homeland, so they also need support.

Glory to Ukraine !

Heroes of the word!
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Re: War in Ukraine

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As this is about a month after the initial events of the war and initial postings postings, I offer some observations.
As a Ukrainian-American, with relatives, some of whom we are still trying to locate within Ukraine, I have these thoughts, none very good.
I really really hope and pray that calmer Russian heads (or at least heads pressured towards a more diplomatic solution) will prevail upon Putin. Nonetheless…

- Missle Command: Not unlike the 1980s videogame, I think Putin's optimal strategy would be for attacks with longer-range missles. As Sal pointed out, longer-range carpet-bombing were used in Chechnya and Syria with success. Remote bombing would be a lot more effective than drafting more soldiers, or using his better troops, whatever remain. [:S] [:(]

- A redefinition of "Borderland" - I love my family's country of origin and its rich culture. It has a history stretching for centuries, as wide and broad as the Steppes themselves. Yet, the very name Україна means "Borderland, Outland". In some sick twist, Putin may simply require the whole of Ukraine to be nothing more than a border-zone, dare I say 'forbidden zone', and bomb/nuke it into near oblivion and uninhabitability, "Sibling Ukrainians" or "We are One People" be damned. Ultimately, I do not believe Putin cares a whit about the Ukrainian People, and would resort to this in order to prove that he could win, and be able to say that he won. [:'(] [:'(] [:'(]

- I am also of a worry that, as this war goes on, the combined economic effects of the war, and the older generations' (GEN.PL) nearer adherence to the alloyed nationalism of Imperial/Soviet mish-mashed 'good old days', will actually cause more bitterness towards Ukraine within Russia. This in turn could parlay into more sentiment and approval for Putin to use more dire measures to end the war (Viz. supra).
I really hope and pray that the younger generations of Russians will continue efforts to protest the war from within, and effect change. Otherwise, I think the number of Russians who will seek to blame Ukraine for the economic sanctions and their consequences will grow with time. [>:|]

- So Much Props to Ukrainians fighting this war - Слава Україні во віки віков!! The sticktoitiveness, the doggedness, the ingenuity: ἡ ἀρετή (aretê) !!!! Though I am a little leary of Ihor Kolomosky's connections to Zelenskyy ; Did Putin attack to prevent the Uke oligarchs from gaining full control of the gaslines/pipelines that run through Ukraine (⸘‽). Not that Ukraine wasn't already charging $billion$ to Russia in fees for transporting Natural Gas/Petroleum therethrough. :wat: :wat: Uff, another rabbit-hole…

Nonetheless, the Ukrainians are the embodiment of СВОБОДА - 'Freedom' and ВІДВАГА 'Doughtiness, Valor'.

Слава Україні во віки віков - Gloria Ucrainæ in sæcula sæculorum!!


*BTW: Apart from a slew of Arabic words I am learning from my son-in-law, I learned that Lviv in Spanish is Leopolis - City of Lions! ClearIy the name is of Greek origin. I had known Лев [lɛu̯] meant 'Leo' or 'lion', but I just never put two and two together (!) [:P]
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Re: War in Ukraine

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Lambuzhao wrote: 27 Mar 2022 01:37 As this is about a month after the initial events of the war and initial postings postings, I offer some observations.
As a Ukrainian-American, with relatives, some of whom we are still trying to locate within Ukraine, I have these thoughts, none very good.
I really really hope and pray that calmer Russian heads (or at least heads pressured towards a more diplomatic solution) will prevail upon Putin. Nonetheless…
I really hope your relatives are safe, wherever they are, and that it's down to a lack of ability to communicate (no phone, no internet, etc.) that has left them lost. My friend over in Canada (Russian-speaking Ukrainian) went through this as well, family disappearing for a few days, no way of knowing if it was because they'd been hit, if they'd suddenly just had to run, if communication lines had been cut, or what, but they've all been located again so far

I'm right there with you as well, hoping that those who surround Putin, in government, the military, and business owners, will turn round and try to pressure him into pulling troops back from Ukraine, but at least right now, I'm honestly not sure how likely this is. Seemingly every level of Russia's political body, from the regional parliaments up to the Duma and the Federal Assembly, are led by a United Russia majority (a political party that's most notable features seem to be Russian conservatism/nationalism as well as support for Putin and the strengthening of the position of the President of Russia), supported by a number of independents who have some ties to Putin.

This would suggest that not many people are likely to challenge the war in Ukraine, nor would there likely be a move within the current political framework to remove him from power, unless, I suppose, it starts looking like United Russia and those who hold positions of power and wealth through Putin start to feel like this position may become unstable through a dramatic loss of popular support (I don't know numbers for this, but even if the war is unpopular [not saying it is or isn't, but just as an "if"], even people who don't want a war in Ukraine might still vote for United Russia in various elections, because they support them on other policies, meaning that the war can continue without United Russia losing any significant ground in Russia's political machinery)


Lambuzhao wrote: 27 Mar 2022 01:37 - Missle Command: Not unlike the 1980s videogame, I think Putin's optimal strategy would be for attacks with longer-range missles. As Sal pointed out, longer-range carpet-bombing were used in Chechnya and Syria with success. Remote bombing would be a lot more effective than drafting more soldiers, or using his better troops, whatever remain. [:S] [:(]
I suppose it depends on what Putin's aim actually is. Long-range attacks, targeting communications infrastructure and key locations, ahead of sending in troops to control those areas directly and to defend territorial gains does seem like a more reasonable strategy, but I suspect at least some of it was a "for show" invasion as well. As part of the "one people" idea, maybe his thinking was that putting a face to the invasion, allowing soldiers to be physically seen, might lead to some ethnic Russians, Russian-speaking Ukrainians, and even Ukrainians to perceive those troops as "people just like us" rather than some distant, foreign attacker. Whereas with Chechnya and Syria, I suppose, it was more a case of Putin wanting people and leaders there to literally just stop, projecting power purely through force

It also plays into the role of the Russian forces being "liberators" as well, I suppose. Putin saying he's there to take out Nazis, or to free Russians in Ukraine from an oppressive government that's denying them rights and safety, or whatever excuse, if you put troops on the ground there, it actually looks like you're physically fighting against Nazis or as a liberator. So maybe he talked his way into a reason for war that, at least in part, made him think "boots on the ground" was a better long-term strategy than simply destroying roads and cities and rolling in tanks afterwards

Me and my friend out in Canada (Russian-speaking Ukrainian) were asking why he didn't move troops in from the very west of Belarus, down through western Ukraine to target supply lines from Poland and Slovakia, along with securing the south of the country along the Black Sea taking various port cities, creating a sort of siege scenario for the remaining Ukrainian core, who would then have to fight to re-establish supply lines with its western neighbours (or switch entirely to moving supplies over the Carpathians), and regain port cities. It would also, potentially force supplies to the Ukraine to come in on planes, which could be targeted by Russian troops close to the border

The only thing we could think of was maybe the idea was to target Kyiv and take it quickly, because heavy mobilisation near Belarus' border with Poland, as well as moving troops along Ukraine's border with Poland, might have caused a more severe response from various NATO members, and it reduces the number of instances of Russian planes and helicopters accidentally (or "accidentally") flying over a NATO member's airspace, which could, again, potentially trigger a more sever response

If that's the case, it does suggest that Putin, while Russia could have done "more" to take Ukraine more successfully early on, might be trying to avoid a NATO response, while also trying to gain support for the invasion in Ukraine

Not triggering a NATO response a) means he's less likely, I'd hope, to be stupid enough to use nukes, and b) assuming a conventional war would be the outcome mean, he doesn't have to focus troops on multiple lines of offense and defence, which I assume would be good for him if he's planning to push further into Moldova through Transnistria, if he could gain significant enough control over Ukraine (either through complete annexation of the country and absorbing it into Russia, or through the establishment of a strongly pro-Russia political leadership who might allow movement of troops, as was seen in Belarus)

Obviously that's all just conjecture and guess-work, not the musings of some expert analyst but it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that it might the case that this is why Russian troops have been deployed the way they have (I mean, they've also just been indiscriminately bombing places like Mariupol to "fight the Azov Battalion", which would go some way to support Putin's "fight the Nazi" nonsense, but then flattening a city to do so isn't exactly going to make you popular with the people whose homes you just destroyed, no matter how much you try to spin the "we didn't know where they were, they were hiding in your hospitals, using you as shields" narrative)


Lambuzhao wrote: 27 Mar 2022 01:37 - A redefinition of "Borderland" - I love my family's country of origin and its rich culture. It has a history stretching for centuries, as wide and broad as the Steppes themselves. Yet, the very name Україна means "Borderland, Outland". In some sick twist, Putin may simply require the whole of Ukraine to be nothing more than a border-zone, dare I say 'forbidden zone', and bomb/nuke it into near oblivion and uninhabitability, "Sibling Ukrainians" or "We are One People" be damned. Ultimately, I do not believe Putin cares a whit about the Ukrainian People, and would resort to this in order to prove that he could win, and be able to say that he won. [:'(] [:'(] [:'(]
I'm definitely not convinced by Putin's "one people" narrative. I mean, he might think it, or he might just be saying it to appeal to Russian nationalist and Pan-Slavic sections of society in both countries, but, yeah, no, he doesn't appear to actually care about all those people in Ukraine who want to continue existing as a distinct national entity, with its own systems and its own future

I do think, though, that he wouldn't be crazy enough to nuke Ukraine off the map. On the one hand, that would kill millions or Russian-speaking Ukrainians and ethnic Russians, which would lose him a lot of support from the far right (presumably), and on the other hand, in completely irradiating the country, it would make access to what was once fertile agricultural land and exploitable oil fields entirely impossible. Not to mention it would also, I'd hope, make a lot of people in Russia see him as a mass-murdering, genocidal psychopath, and Putin and United Russia would lose any semblance of control over the Russian political system and its population (and that's excluding the possibility of a massive NATO counterattack, or any increase in attempted coups against Putin and members of the governmental system)


Lambuzhao wrote: 27 Mar 2022 01:37 - I am also of a worry that, as this war goes on, the combined economic effects of the war, and the older generations' (GEN.PL) nearer adherence to the alloyed nationalism of Imperial/Soviet mish-mashed 'good old days', will actually cause more bitterness towards Ukraine within Russia. This in turn could parlay into more sentiment and approval for Putin to use more dire measures to end the war (Viz. supra).
I really hope and pray that the younger generations of Russians will continue efforts to protest the war from within, and effect change. Otherwise, I think the number of Russians who will seek to blame Ukraine for the economic sanctions and their consequences will grow with time. [>:|]
Yeah, sooner or later, somehow, this war has to end, and how it ends, when it ends, and how that's reported at the time, and retold in the future, will likely have a large impact on how a number of Russians end up perceiving Ukraine. Will the be seen as people that Putin wronged? As Russians who were influenced by the west to turn on other Russians? Any number of other things. And, likewise, how will Russians be perceived by Ukrainians? Will people look to separate citizens from the actions of their governments, or will they been seen as effectively the same thing?

I'm like you, I hope that people in Russia will protest the war, and see any side-effects of sanctions as the result of the actions of their political leaders that could have been avoided if only they'd taken a different path, rather than as the fault of the people of Ukraine


Lambuzhao wrote: 27 Mar 2022 01:37 - So Much Props to Ukrainians fighting this war - Слава Україні во віки віков!! The sticktoitiveness, the doggedness, the ingenuity: ἡ ἀρετή (aretê) !!!! Though I am a little leary of Ihor Kolomosky's connections to Zelenskyy ; Did Putin attack to prevent the Uke oligarchs from gaining full control of the gaslines/pipelines that run through Ukraine (⸘‽). Not that Ukraine wasn't already charging $billion$ to Russia in fees for transporting Natural Gas/Petroleum therethrough. :wat: :wat: Uff, another rabbit-hole…
Me and my friend were talking about the potential reaction in Ukraine to an invasion I think in October, after talking about troops being pulled out of Afghanistan, and his main thought, after everything that happened in 2014 with Euromaidan, Crimea, and Donbas, that people in Ukraine wouldn't just roll over. They'd fight, and resort to local resistance and guerrilla tactics, continuing to push back in occupied territories with pots and pans if they had to (not leaving aside, though, that of course people would want to leave their homes, or the country, if they could - war is terrifying at the best of times, wanting to be somewhere safe? Go go go!). It looks like he was right. I mean, it's only been a month, but with help from supplies coming in from abroad, and people in Ukraine trying to set up aid centres, and fighting back against Russian troops, even just taunting them, or, hell, actually talking to them, it looks like, yeah, they're not going to back down until Russian troops are back over the border

The one thing that's really stood out for me is resistance from Russian troops. One of my friend's cousins, I've mentioned before, lives in Ukraine, but he has friends in Russia too. Apparently one of these friends was, long-story short, put into a tank and sent off with other troops in some undisclosed direction. Once he figured out he was in Ukraine, from what I've been told, his tank stopped, they got out, set it on fire so no-one could use it and ran, eventually making it to family they have in Ukraine, and is now helping with aid in the area and in fighting back against Russian troops

I know stories like that are, in reality, pretty few and far between, and these people make up a small fraction of Russian troops, but it's at least positive to know that, yeah, not everyone who's been sent over the border actually wants to be there, and that some of them will actively refuse to fight, especially when some of the people they're facing might be friends or relatives





Overall, I hope Russian troops retreat back across the border, either through Ukraine rising up against them, or Putin ordering them back (or some combination of that), and that Ukraine and the people living there will be free to make their own choices about their own future. Hopeful, but we'll see
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.
Salmoneus
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Re: War in Ukraine

Post by Salmoneus »

sangi39 wrote: 03 Apr 2022 17:28 This would suggest that not many people are likely to challenge the war in Ukraine, nor would there likely be a move within the current political framework to remove him from power, unless, I suppose, it starts looking like United Russia and those who hold positions of power and wealth through Putin start to feel like this position may become unstable through a dramatic loss of popular support (I don't know numbers for this, but even if the war is unpopular [not saying it is or isn't, but just as an "if"], even people who don't want a war in Ukraine might still vote for United Russia in various elections, because they support them on other policies, meaning that the war can continue without United Russia losing any significant ground in Russia's political machinery)
It's unlikely Putin will be stopped from inside, but if he is it probably won't be from the Parliamentary system (at least, not acting alone). Parliamentarians lack any independent power base from which to challenge Putin; and, as you say, it would be very difficult to defeat Putin by defeating the whole of United Russia. A much greater threat to him is from the military and intelligence communities, as these people have their own sources of power and protection. This is why there have been all these rumours about senior military and intelligence leaders having been murdered, or arrested, or just sacked: Putin is worried about a coup (or people want us to think he is). These guys could act from a combination of national and organisational pride (generals hate it when soldiers get killed pointlessly, and hate it looking like their country is losing), or just from self-interest (between sanctions and the economic collapse their retirement plans are looking a lot less rosy now).

But it's a long shot, unless the economy is really hurting - and if the rest of the world is determined to keep Putin afloat by buying his oil and gas, that won't happen.
I suppose it depends on what Putin's aim actually is. Long-range attacks, targeting communications infrastructure and key locations, ahead of sending in troops to control those areas directly and to defend territorial gains does seem like a more reasonable strategy, but I suspect at least some of it was a "for show" invasion as well. As part of the "one people" idea, maybe his thinking was that putting a face to the invasion, allowing soldiers to be physically seen, might lead to some ethnic Russians, Russian-speaking Ukrainians, and even Ukrainians to perceive those troops as "people just like us" rather than some distant, foreign attacker. Whereas with Chechnya and Syria, I suppose, it was more a case of Putin wanting people and leaders there to literally just stop, projecting power purely through force
I think that's all true, but also I think he just didn't realise how hard this was going to be. He's kind of playing by the US playbook, and his strategy does make sense: decapitate the enemy command structure by capturing their capital (I guess it's the old Prussian playbook, come to think of it...), and while they're distracted by that move into the border regions you actually want to control. He probably thought the advance on Kyiv would be as easy as the advance on Baghdad* (the recent Taliban advance on Kabul probably didn't help either). In hindsight, I'm guessing all he really wanted to do was:
- remove Zelensky
- consolidate control of the Donbas
- create a landbridge between Donbas and Crimea to solidify his control of both and gain himself a major warm sea port
- ideally replace Zelensky with a puppet government (but even forcing the country into chaos and regime change and internal strife over a successor would be adequate)

Given those objectives, his plan makes sense... IF you assume that the first point on that plan is easily achieved (and that the fourth is enough to prevent a reconquest). In that plan, I guess you don't really need a bombardment of long-range missiles, and they're not much help anyway: Russia doesn't have a lot of guided missiles, and the sort of things it might strategically be helpful to destroy are probably too difficult for dumb missiles to effectively hit.

What really surprises me, however, is the ineffectiveness of the Russian airforce, which I'd assumed would be bombing everything that might slow down the tanks. In a way, this war has really reinforced the old doctrine about strategic air supremacy: without it, everything becomes so much more difficult. And Ukraine's anti-air weapons seem to be surprisingly effective. But also, Putin didn't even really try to get air supremacy - normally there's about a month of targeted air strikes to take out the enemy airforce and air defence - c.f. Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya etc. Putin got the element of surprise by just throwing his troops in unsupported, but it may also be why the initial invasion failed. I guess he thought the war would be so easily won it wasn't even worth taking basic steps to ensure victory, but that's an almost delusional level of optimism. Maybe he felt he needed boots on the ground before the West could reinforce Ukraine somehow?

Unfortunately, large scale missile bombardment is still an option as Putin reconsiders his strategy...
Me and my friend out in Canada (Russian-speaking Ukrainian) were asking why he didn't move troops in from the very west of Belarus, down through western Ukraine to target supply lines from Poland and Slovakia, along with securing the south of the country along the Black Sea taking various port cities, creating a sort of siege scenario for the remaining Ukrainian core, who would then have to fight to re-establish supply lines with its western neighbours (or switch entirely to moving supplies over the Carpathians), and regain port cities. It would also, potentially force supplies to the Ukraine to come in on planes, which could be targeted by Russian troops close to the border
I think you're right, as I say, that he was assuming a quick seizure of Kyiv, and didn't imagine that besieging the whole country would be necessary. He may also not have the troops to do so - enveloping the whole country would need a lot of men, and we've seen that he's already sort of scraping the bottom of the barrel...

(however, it does seem russia has enough air control that bringing anything in by plane is currently impossible, or at least extremely risky)
Obviously that's all just conjecture and guess-work, not the musings of some expert analyst but it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that it might the case that this is why Russian troops have been deployed the way they have (I mean, they've also just been indiscriminately bombing places like Mariupol to "fight the Azov Battalion", which would go some way to support Putin's "fight the Nazi" nonsense, but then flattening a city to do so isn't exactly going to make you popular with the people whose homes you just destroyed, no matter how much you try to spin the "we didn't know where they were, they were hiding in your hospitals, using you as shields" narrative)
Mariupol seems like desparation: it was in their original plan, so they think they need to follow through (and now it would be a huge moral boost/blow if they just retreated), even though I've no doubt that Mariupol itself was one of the things of value they wanted to acquire, and they've kind of destroyed it. (that said, I don't know whether they've destroyed the port itself? that's more valuable to Putin than the people).

Without Mariupol, not only does Ukraine keep its port on the Sea of Azov, but Russia can't link up its two conquered territories, which makes them both more vulnerable to being retaken. And given that they basically already had (much of) the Donbas, and really did have the Crimea, if they come away from this without linking the two up and achieving nothing but a regularisation of the status of the Donbas republics, it'll kind of feel to them that the whole war was utterly pointless...
I'm definitely not convinced by Putin's "one people" narrative. I mean, he might think it, or he might just be saying it to appeal to Russian nationalist and Pan-Slavic sections of society in both countries, but, yeah, no, he doesn't appear to actually care about all those people in Ukraine who want to continue existing as a distinct national entity, with its own systems and its own future
To be fair, there's never been any sign that he's given a shit about Russian people either, so that doesn't mean he doesn't see Russians and Ukrainians as one people. It just means he's a sociopath. I mean, it's widely assumed that he came to power by murdering 300 of his own civilians in false-flag terrorist bombings, and he's murdered a whole swathe through the Russian political and intellectual classes.
I do think, though, that he wouldn't be crazy enough to nuke Ukraine off the map. On the one hand, that would kill millions or Russian-speaking Ukrainians and ethnic Russians, which would lose him a lot of support from the far right (presumably), and on the other hand, in completely irradiating the country, it would make access to what was once fertile agricultural land and exploitable oil fields entirely impossible.
While I agree he's hopefully unlikely to use them, I don't agree with your reasoning - bombing Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa, maybe a few other towns wouldn't contaminate much agricultural land (at least not in the long term).
Not to mention it would also, I'd hope, make a lot of people in Russia see him as a mass-murdering, genocidal psychopath
Well that's true, but you assume that being a mass-murdering genocidal psychopath would be seen as being a bad thing in Russia. It's really not clear that that would damage his popularity. Genocidal psychopaths have historically been popular in Russia, and watching some man-on-the-street interviews it kind of seems like genocidal psychopathy is exactly what a lot of Russian voters want right now.


The one thing that's really stood out for me is resistance from Russian troops. One of my friend's cousins, I've mentioned before, lives in Ukraine, but he has friends in Russia too. Apparently one of these friends was, long-story short, put into a tank and sent off with other troops in some undisclosed direction. Once he figured out he was in Ukraine, from what I've been told, his tank stopped, they got out, set it on fire so no-one could use it and ran, eventually making it to family they have in Ukraine, and is now helping with aid in the area and in fighting back against Russian troops

I know stories like that are, in reality, pretty few and far between, and these people make up a small fraction of Russian troops, but it's at least positive to know that, yeah, not everyone who's been sent over the border actually wants to be there, and that some of them will actively refuse to fight, especially when some of the people they're facing might be friends or relatives
Our Side even claim that military leaders have been shot by their own troops. I don't know if that's true, but it does seem as though morale is horrifically low.

Of course, the Russian infantry is famous for its lack of discipline and disinterest in fighting. In the Chechen wars, famously their tanks sometimes ground to a halt because the soldiers had drunk all their fuel...






*although Baghdad should have had some warning signs for Putin. The US invasion required over 350,000 troops (including the Peshmerga), most of them highly-trained professionals, and total air supremacy to conquer a country with a similar population to Ukraine, but only 66% the size, and with much more amenable terrain (sand isn't great for tanks, but it's better than mud and forests). Putin tried his invasion with only around 200,000 troops, most of them seemingly poorly-trained conscripts, and without the ability to quickly eliminate air defences. And while the invasion of Iraq was a remarkable success, it lead to a decade of guerilla war - even though the anti-Western forces in Iraq had only a tiny fraction of the support that the anti-Russian forces in Ukraine have... I mean, even the war that made Putin ruler, the Second Chechen War, took him 9 months of invasion followed by 9 years of guerilla war, and that was against a country with a population of only 1 million people...
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